First line: I don’t know what made me determined to go to the hanging.
Summary: Hannah Masury has spent her life working along the Boston harbor, seeing the ships and crew coming and going each day. When she needs to flee the city she decides to disguise herself as a cabin boy and stows away on a pirate ship, captained by Ned Low. As she chooses her own destiny she knows that there could be rewards as well as danger lurking in her future.
In 1930, Marian Beresford is given a manuscript by one of her students which leads them on the hunt for Hannah Masury’s buried treasure. Marian, a professor, believes that this mystery will help her career if she is able to authenticate the document and discover the history that has been left for them in the beaches of the Caribbean.
My Thoughts: Like Howe’s other books, this a dual narrative spanning centuries. She does this very well and it makes for an interesting and enjoyable story. As I was traveling to the Caribbean at the time, this felt like a good book to listen to as we prepared for our trip.
I have been fascinated with pirates ever since the Pirates of the Caribbean movie came out years ago. And then with the show Black Sails I really got hooked on the real life pirates who actually sailed the seas. It seems like such a crazy life but one that could be very lucrative.
Hannah is a tough girl who is able to deceive many of the men who she sails with. Marian is struggling with her career and is sucked into the thrill of adventure. I definitely enjoyed the parts with Hannah much more than Marian. Marian was more of a supporting character who never seemed too developed while Hannah was the star with a full life and more of a personality.
The end has a big twist which I did not see coming and then another twist that seems to shift the other twist completely out of whack. It was an interesting ending to the story but this was definitely not my favorite of the author’s books.
First line: “Hello, there,” she said.
Summary: On a flight from London to Boston, Ted meets a young woman named Lily. As they talk Ted begins to discuss his marriage which he feels is not as happy as he hoped. He suspects his wife of having an affair and he lets slip that he would like to kill his wife. But rather than being turned off by the talk of murder, Lily offers to help Ted with the task. Once back in Boston the two conspirators continue to meet and discuss the details of Ted’s wife’s murder. However, there is more to Lily than Ted ever could have imagined. Including her own experience in the art of murder.
My Thoughts: This book was one twist after another. I was shocked so many times that I thought there was nothing else that could be revealed but I was wrong! I have read several of Swanson’s books but this one is his best. At the beginning it seemed to be following the plot lines of Strangers on a Train but that went out the window pretty quickly.
Even though Lily has such a dark past and did some rather dastardly things I really liked her. Her chapters were always my favorite because of how twisted her thoughts were. She was able to think herself out of situations and justify any of her actions. Her character was truly scary but easily the best part of the book.
I have wanted to read this for years but never got around to it. But when I saw and requested the next book on Netgalley, it moved up the list. And I am so glad I picked it up. I sped through it. I loved the narrators and the pacing of the novel. If I was reading it I can see it easily being a book I could have finished in a day. It was that good!
FYI: The Kind Worth Saving is coming out in March 2023.
First line: It was always possible that the Devil was present.
Summary: Mary Deerfield, a young married woman in 1662 Boston, has been hiding a secret from her friends and family. In the years that she has been married her husband has hit her numerous times while drunk for imagined slights against him. But then one day he takes his cruelty one step further. He drives a three-tined fork, the Devil’s tines, into her hand. With a strong conviction of finally divorcing her abusive husband she also faces suspicion from the Puritan community. She finds that she is suspected of things that could lead her to a death on the gallows.
My Thoughts: This book started very slowly for me. Much of it dealt with the time period, life and getting to know the characters and their history. I felt that story finally picked up after the divorce trial. The pace seemed to be faster and the story more intriguing. But once the story picked up I was completely enthralled but disgusted by everything.
It is hard sometimes to read historical books, especially if the author writes them accurately. I feel like the author brought to life the true sense of the ridiculousness of Puritan Boston. Their views on women, the Devil and anything that was different. I rolled my eyes so many times during the trials because of the hearsay, circumstantial evidence and belief system of the time. Reading these types of books we see how far society has come but we still have a long way to go as well.
I enjoyed Mary’s story. She was a strong woman in a very restrictive society. She endures a lot throughout the book and much of it at no fault of her own. I was definitely rooting for her the whole time. I wanted things to be better for her with every disappointment and injury. But her husband and many of the other characters were awful people that I could not wait to see the end of.
I do not know how I feel about the ending. It almost seemed like a cop-out. Too easy of an ending but at the same time I liked aspects of it. Rating this was difficult but I think that it was worth the read.
FYI: Wonderful historical fiction. Perfect if you are interested in colonial America and the Salem Witch Trials.
First line: The front door opened, and I heard the stamp of the FBI agent’s feet on the doormat.
On a snowy morning Malcolm Kershaw gets a call from an FBI agent asking
about a list of his favorite fictional murders he wrote years ago on
his bookstores blog. What does an old blog post have to do with a string
of recent murders? According to Gwen, the FBI agent, it appears that
someone is using this list to commit their own murders. Malcolm starts
doing his own search into the suspects. Who are they and how are they
connected to him? Sometimes life can be stranger than fiction.
My Thoughts: While reading this I found myself comparing it to The Woman in the Window. I don’t think it had much to do with the actual mystery but more with the books/movies recommended by the narrator. I even put holds on several of the movies and looked for copies of the mystery novels mentioned.
I love how the author calls out how so many thrillers are trying to follow the unreliable narrator like in Gone Girl. It has become a mystery trope but not one that is truly new. However, we still continue to read them because they are just so much fun. I think Malcolm though is not an unreliable narrator. He is very upfront about things but he omits some stuff as well until the end.
was a fun fast paced journey through snowy Boston. I kept trying to
figure out the twist. I can honestly say I did not consider how it would
end. But he even leaves us wondering if the conclusion is 100% true.
This is my first Peter Swanson novel and I think I will read more in the
FYI: Be prepared to add old mystery novels to your TBR list.
*This is my pick for category #1 (A book with a number in the title) for the ReadICT challenge.*
The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda
First line: The cat under the front porch was at it again.
Summary: Leah Stevens was once a reporter in Boston but when a story she wrote ruined her reputation she decided to pack up and move to a small town in the middle of the Pennsylvania wilderness with an old roommate. However, the sleepy town is anything but. First, a woman, who looks strikingly like Leah, is attacked and then her roommate, Emmy, disappears. Very little is known about either woman. Leah uses her skills as a journalist to help her find her friend and get the answers to who attacked the woman in the woods.
Highlights: Creepy. Stalkers and mysterious voices on the phone. Roommates with secrets. A lookalike attacked nearby. I was filled with many theories but each seemed to fall through as each new detail was revealed. Megan Miranda has once again delivered a great psychological thriller that is hard to put down.
Lowlights (or what could have been better): The last chapter was a little anti-climactic. It wrapped everything up which was good but at the same time disappointing. I wanted to be left with a “didn’t see that coming” feeling.
FYI: It is number two in the All the Missing Girls series but it does not have to be read in any order. The stories are completely unconnected.