August Picks

Wiggs, Susan (2020) The Lost and Found Bookshop. Morrow. Natalie inherits her mother’s bookshop in historic San Francisco following a tragic accident. She reluctantly takes over the debt-ridden business and plans to close it, but her grandfather who owns the building is suffering memory loss and refuses to sell. As Natalie mourns, a financial crisis imminent, there are unexpected revelations about her family’s history and her own heart. A gentle, albeit forgettable, tale. Rating: 7.5/10.

Robotham, Michael (2020) When She Was Good. Scribner.  In this follow-up to Good Girl, Bad Girl forensic psychologist Cyrus Haven begins to dig into Evie Cormac’s past. After her rescue Evie’s true identity remains a mystery and she is made a ward of the court, placed in a secure children’s home. Evie is once more at risk as corrupt and powerful men are after her. She is the last witness to their crimes and they want her silenced at all costs. Cyrus and Evie are both trauma survivors and as the horror mounts we finally get to learn more about Cyrus and discover what happened to Evie. I suspect Evie has more secrets to share – don’t look away. Dark and scary. Rating: 8.5/10.

Bishop, Catherine (2019) Women Mean Business: Colonial businesswomen in New Zealand. Otago UP. New Zealand has a proud history of entrepreneurial women. Colonial women were not only wives, mothers and domestic servants, but were businesswomen too, supporting themselves and their families, sometimes partnering with their husbands. This book tells the stories of the hard working women who were educators, milliners and dressmakers, boarding house keepers and publicans, laundresses and brothel keepers, and in sundry other commercial ventures. An informative reference on the contribution women made to early New Zealand. Rating: 8.5/10.

Campbell, Michelle (2020) The Wife Who Knew Too Much. St Martin’s Press. Waitress Tabitha’s first love, Connor Ford, seeks her out a decade later and declares his undying love, but he is married to a very rich and powerful woman, who could break him and leave him penniless. When the first Mrs Ford meets an untimely death Tabitha becomes the second wife and is drawn into a life she is ill-prepared for, with a target on her back. Who is Connor Ford – is he villain or victim?  A story of those who will do anything for love and money. A blockbuster thriller.  Rating: 8/10.

Wiener, Anna (2020) Uncanny Valley: A Memoir. Farrar, Straus & Giroux. Anna in her mid-twenties left her New York dead-end publishing job for the promise of Silicon Valley.  As a non-technical woman in tech she joined the exclusive genius boys club of digital start-ups and ventures. This coming-of-age narrative exposes the toxic “young, white and male” inspiration culture – unchecked ambition, corporate fealty, unregulated surveillance, bullying and sexual harassment, excess and arrogance, perks and wild money. Anna unsparingly chronicles the dawn of the myopic tech industry from the disillusioned vantage point of 2020.  A cautionary and intimate tale on panning for digital gold in San Francisco. Rating: 8/10.

Taylor, Sarah Stewart (2020) The Mountains Wild. Minotaur Books. When Maggie’s cousin Erin vanishes mysteriously in Ireland, in 1993, she goes to Ireland to help the Gardai search, but no trace is found. Twenty-three years on Maggie, now a mature and high-profile Long Island homicide cop, is called back to Dublin when Erin’s scarf is unearthed, just as another young woman goes missing in the Wicklow Mountains. Maggie’s narrative alternates between past and present, with her investigations chronicling her volatile relationship with Erin, whilst showing unshakable commitment to solving the mystery of her disappearance, alongside her Gardai colleagues. Plot a bit nebulous and ending contrived. New series launch I suspect. Rating: 8/10.

Tursten, Helene (2019) Winter Grave. Soho Crime.  The latest Swedish feminist crime fighting detective to hit the bookshelves is Embla Nyström. Winter Grave is her second outing. After missing the school bus home, nine-year-old Amelie hitches a ride with Kristoffer. That’s the last that anyone sees of her, then shortly after a second child goes missing.  Embla returns to the Violent Crimes Unit to search for the two missing children, as well as investigating arson, and a policeman’s murder. Embla relishes the thrill of the hunt, but she is a complex character which I am sure will be drawn out in future books in the series. More upbeat than the usual Scandi-noir. Rating: 8.5/10.

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