Bio:Nicholas Nash is the exciting new author of The Girl At The Bar, a psychological thriller about the mysterious disappearance of a brilliant cancer researcher and the quest to find what happened to her. Nicholas resides in the concrete jungle of Manhattan in New York City with his wife and three children. An accomplished finance professional, he has a passion for reading fiction and non-fiction books which inspired him to write an intriguing thriller. Nicholas hopes you enjoy his work. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Favorite thing about being a writer: Working at your own pace and interacting with readers.
Biggest challenge as an indie author: Being good at marketing and promotion, in addition to being a good author. Wearing multiple hats basically and doing a good job in multiple roles to be able to get some success.
Favorite book: Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand and The Prize by Daniel Yergin.
Is it my imagination or are genres starting to merge? When is a mystery just a mystery and when is a suspense only a suspense? And when did historical fiction sneak in? No matter, the good books keep coming and that’s all we want!
Here’s a list of some quality mystery/suspense/historical fiction that are sharing space on my bookshelf.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Art by Ellen Forney
A Book That Has Been Banned
Arnold “Junior” Spirit is trapped in a life of poverty on the Spokane Indian reservation and he has to do something about it. Everyone around him is poor, but Junior has the additional problem of not fitting in on the reservation. Skinny with a big head, thick black plastic glasses and prone to seizures, he’s been picked on and beat up his whole life. Drawing cartoons helps him cope, but Junior knows what will happen if he stays. It’s what has already happened to his mother and alcoholic father. “They dreamed about being something other than poor,” he writes, “but they never got the chance to be anything because nobody paid attention to their dreams.”
Junior is good in school and knows that’s his ticket. So when he asks his parents if he can switch to the all-white Reardon High School, one of the best schools in the state, they say okay. They do that because they love him.
The switch costs Junior his best and only friend, Rowdy. And it’s very different at Reardon where the kids have everything they want. Will he be able to live in both worlds? Junior’s sense of humor carries him through much, but he must reach deeper to survive a series of tragedies at home.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is a semi-autobiographical account of Alexie’s life and is a terrific Young Adult coming-of age story. Ellen Forney’s fantastic cartoon illustrations add an extra dimension to Junior’s character. I chose it as part of my summer reading challenge to read a book that has been banned.
The Diary has been banned by many schools because of its depiction of sex and violence in the story. (Click here to read more about Sherman Alexie and his response to this criticism.) It has also won many awards, including the 2007 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature and has been named to several annual lists including “Best Books of 2007” by the School Library Journal and the 2008 “Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults” by the Young Adult Library Services Association. I highly recommend it for older young adults, high school and adult readers.
When children’s author Sarah Phoenix wakes to see her neighbor’s house engulfed in flames, she dials 911 and makes a quick call to her husband, Johnny McDonald, a prominent dermatologist, who is away on a business trip. Then she rushes out to help. Four-year-old Mia Kimball screams from an upstairs bedroom and Sarah scrambles up a ladder to save her. Flames jump from the burning house to her own and Sarah’s efforts are cut short when she is struck in the head by a piece of burning timber.
In the tragedy’s aftermath, Sarah, her neighbors and the fire marshal in the sleepy town of Shadow Cove, Washington question how the fire could have started. What had Sarah heard in her sleep, just before the fire broke out? She remembers seeing Jessie, her teenage neighbor across the street that evening and wonders about Jessie’s suspicious-looking new boyfriend. Who was in the road just before the fire broke out? What had her neighbors seen? And why hadn’t her husband answered her frantic call that night?
Something funny is going on as Sarah and Johnny salvage what they can from their home and move to a nearby cottage, owned by the town’s well-known realtor, Eris Coghlan. Sarah becomes increasingly suspicious of her husband as she wonders about his past, his connections on their old street and to their new neighbors.
Many twists and turns muddle the mystery, but the truth comes out on the banks of a rushing river when love and obsession collide.
The Good Neighbor is a light romantic suspense story, a quick and enjoyable read. Its strength is the story’s brisk pace. Limited character development and some loose and implausible plot connections may frustrate some readers, but I was entertained and pleased with my “a book you can finish in a day” selection.
Now that summer is around the corner, maybe you’re looking for something gripping to read on the beach, near a pool, in your backyard or on an airplane. If you haven’t read Stieg Larsson’s suspenseful series about Lisbeth Salander, one of the most enigmatic but admirable characters I’ve ever encountered, consider picking up The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and see if you’re not hooked and working to get your hands on the whole series.
Stieg Larsson was a Swedish writer and journalist. He died unexpectedly in 2004 and the three books were discovered and published after his death. Larsson had written them for his own pleasure and had not tried to get them published until just before he died. All three books make clear Larsson’s outrage over child abuse, sexual abuse and violence against women. His answer to these atrocities is Lisbeth Salander, small in size, but one of the toughest female characters you will ever meet.
Now there are four books in the series. The fourth book, The Girl in the Spider’s Web, is written by David Lagercrantz and is available in paperback today, May 24, 2016.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a murder mystery, family saga and love story and revolves around the search for Harriet Vanger. Vanger is a descendant of one of Sweden’s wealthiest families and has been missing for more than forty years. Harriet’s uncle hires investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist to find out what happened and Lisbeth Salander steps in as an ace investigator and computer hacker.
The Girl Who Played with Fire begins with two brutal murders, just as Blomkvist is about to publish an exposé on a huge sex trafficking operation. When Blomkvist learns that Salander’s fingerprints are on the murder weapon, he knows he must prove her innocence.
In The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, Salander is near death in a Swedish hospital. If she recovers, she will face charges for three murders. Once again, Mikael Blomkvist helps Salander continue their fight against violence and abuse. Separately, Salander has some revenge to exact against the man who tried to kill her and the government institutions that have nearly ruined her.
Here is Amazon’s description of The Girl in the Spider’s Web by David Lagercrantz:
“Late one night, Blomkvist receives a phone call from a source claiming to have information vital to the United States. The source has been in contact with a young female superhacker—a hacker resembling someone Blomkvist knows all too well. The implications are staggering. Blomkvist, in desperate need of a scoop for Millennium, turns to Salander for help. She, as usual, has her own agenda. The secret they are both chasing is at the center of a tangled web of spies, cybercriminals, and governments around the world, and someone is prepared to kill to protect it . . .”
Readers may be uncomfortable with the brutal violence in this series, however, the author’s disgust for abuse makes a very clear divide between right and wrong.
I read the Larsson series about four years ago. I may have to read them again before I check out Book Four!
Click here to read about Stieg Larsson on Wikipedia. You can find more information on Stieglarsson.com, a website dedicated to Larsson’s works.
I enjoy unraveling a story and figuring out what motivates characters and this story is full of things to analyze. While the The Good Girl is a bit of a mystery, I’d describe it more as a psychological thriller in which the main players are good and bad, have grown up in dysfunctional families and have complicated ideas about love and family.
The story begins when Mia Dennett, a 24-year-old art teacher, doesn’t show up for work. Her father, James Dennett, a wealthy and influential judge in Chicago, uses his connections to build an investigative team. Then he goes back to work while Mia’s mother Eve sits at home and worries. Gabe Hoffman is the detective on the case. He has a chip on his shoulder and is determined to find Mia if for nothing else than to improve his credibility.
Because the book is structured with a “Before” and “After”, the reader knows a little about its resolution, however, the “After” is full of complications, some of them predictable and some surprising. It is told through the points of view of Eve, Gabe and Colin, the man responsible for Mia’s disappearance, and it isn’t until late in the book that the reader begins to fully understand her.
I enjoyed most of the story, bought into Mia’s character and developed sympathy for Colin, however, I don’t think the ending’s surprise twist fits the story.
But the author’s poor decision to describe the previously unseen villain in the Epilogue as “black, like the blackest of black bears, like the blubbery skin of the killer whale” ruins what could have been an entertaining read.
When the mutilated body of Helen Emerson washes up in New York’s Riverside Park, it’s not just the city detectives who are on the case. Selene DiSilva, a striking figure with jet black hair and silver eyes, has a special interest in the crime. A former cop, Selene has made it her mission to protect women against violence and she’s not about to let this murder go unsolved. Clues point to a violent cult ritual and Selene knows she must act before more women become victims.
The above description could outline all kinds of murder mysteries, but The Immortals is an altogether different kind of story because Selene is no mortal. She is a modern-day Artemis, daughter of Zeus and Leto and goddess of the hunt, virginity, archery, the moon, and all animals. Selene and her family of gods and goddesses are using aliases and living in New York and around the world. Although they aren’t exactly close, these Greek deities are connected by thousands of years of family dynamics, complicated relationships and rivalries. Imagine carrying around all that family baggage!
Selene is drawn deeper into the mystery when she learns that Helen had been obsessively researching papyri fragments found in an ancient Hellenistic city. And shocking details about a second murder convince Selene that the people behind this violence are reenacting the Eleusinian Mysteries, a ten-day ceremony and “the most important religious ritual in ancient Athens and the surrounding area for almost two thousand years.” This connection to the Mysteries will bring Selene’s dysfunctional family together in new ways.
While it may sound great to be immortal, Selene and her extended family have found themselves in a strange state. Their godly powers are fading and they are coping with the very human side of aging. Selene’s senses aren’t quite as strong, her strength has diminished and she’s noticed lines and wrinkles in the mirror. Caught somewhere between being mortal and immortal, she wonders if she can do enough.
She has help from Professor Theodore Schultz, a classics expert at Columbia. This unlikely duo combine their knowledge and connections to chase after the cult before its next sacrifice. There are plenty of twists, turns and road blocks in this race to stop the hierophant and his followers. Selene and Theo land in a multitude of dangerous situations, complicated by Selene’s sudden and inexplicable strengthening powers.
The Immortals is more than an action thriller, however, as its characters navigate through relationships, family issues, university politics, love and forgiveness. Romantic tension torments Selene, who has kept her vow of chastity for thousands of years, a promise that landed her long-ago love, Orion, in the heavens, twinkling down at her. And Selene’s bitter rivalry with her twin brother Paul has modern relevance despite its ancient history.
In addition to these sub-plots, Brodsky introduces the interesting conflict between a world shared by gods and mortals and the idea that academics view myths as manmade creations, “not to be taken literally, but to be torn apart and dissected and put back together.” Who’s to say the gods aren’t living among us?
I thoroughly enjoyed The Immortals. It’s an ambitious but fun combination of mythology, mystery, romance and real-life figures in the modern world. It’s full of facts about Greek mythology, but don’t worry about keeping up. The author explains and repeats enough so you will soon understand the dynamics. I loved the author’s descriptions of New York and how she places scenes at interesting places in the city, especially the City Hall subway station, the secret railway beneath the Waldorf Astoria, Central Park waterfalls and a hidden cave. It’s exciting to imagine Brodsky’s story at these sites:
In addition, Selene’s character is nicely introduced in this Olympus Bound series. She’s a strong female, but a long-time loner and her lack of social skills can get her into trouble, especially when it comes to romance. I’m looking forward to seeing how this endearing character manages in Book Two – Winter of the Gods.
If you liked my review of The Immortals, you may also be interested in these preview posts of Brodsky’s book.