May Reads

I am finally recapping the books I read in May! There were a lot of dead bodies in my May reading. A LOT! The murder and mayhem began with Prime Time by Hank Phillippi Ryan, definitely continued with A Winsome Murder by James DeVita and The Obsession by Nora Roberts, and finished up with just two in The Flood Girls by Richard Fifield.

First, where have I been?? Hank Phillippi Ryan’s first novel Prime Time, which garnered many wonderful awards, finally made its way onto my reading list. I had the pleasure of meeting the author at the Writers’ Institute in April and gleefully brought my signed copy of her novel home. This suspense/mystery novel introduces us to the multi-faceted, well-written character of Charlotte McNally, a TV reporter in Boston. That’s definitely something Ryan knows a thing or two about! In addition to be an award-winning novel writer, she is also an Emmy-award winning investigative TV reporter (in Boston). Her experience in the TV-news industry was evident in the wonderful details in this novel. Can’t wait to keep following her characters in her other novels.

I was similarly enthralled with the well-woven murder mystery, A Winsome Murder, penned by James DeVita. (Many of you might know DeVita more for his work on and for the stage at American Players’ Theater and other venues.) DeVita’s descriptions and ability to capture the small-town feel that permeates most Wisconsin communities of a certain size was spot on. (I say this from experience as a resident of small-town Wisconsin.) He creates a layered, Shakespeare-quoting Chicago police detective to unravel murders that take us alternately from Wisconsin to Chicago and back. Masterfully written with enough twists and turns that keep you guessing until the end. DeVita was also kind enough to visit us at the May Books & Beer night in Columbus to talk about this novel.

The Obsession by Nora Roberts had been on my list since the pre-order notification came. I read all of Nora Roberts books, including those she writes as JD Robb. Sometimes I am more in love with a story than other times. The beginning of this novel is so starkly terrifying that I was sucked in from the beginning. (NOTE: What follows is a mini spoiler that recaps the first chapter.) Unable to sleep from the oppressive heat, almost twelve-year-old Naomi Bowes watches her father walk into the woods and decides to follow him. She thinks he may be seeking to cool off in the creek that runs through their property and hopes to join him, but when he veers deep into the woods, she continues to follow. When he enters an old root cellar next to a broken down cabin, she is both terrified and curious and waits for him to leave. Fighting her fear of being in the dark woods, she creeps to the cellar door and makes the horrific discovery that her father is holding a woman captive. Naomi frees her, thus revealing her father’s horrendous crimes and making him one of the most infamous serial killers of all time. Throughout the rest of the novel we follow Naomi’s life as she tries to find a place where she won’t be judged by her father’s actions. Gripping . . . could not put this down!

Finally, The Flood Girls by Richard Fifield rounded out my May reading. I have mixed feelings about this novel. While I like the redemption story of Rachel Flood returning home to her small town to make amends for her not-so-great behavior nine years prior, I had a hard time appreciating where the author took the story with many stereotypical characters that felt inauthentic to me. (Especially in contrast to how well James DeVita flawlessly incorporated the small-town experience in his novel.) I don’t want to spoil the ending for anyone else who might enjoy this story more than me, but it seemed to be overly engineered for maximum impact. I think a more thoughtful ending would have worked better. My two cents! (If anyone else has read this novel, let me know what you thought. I am curious!)

As always, let me know what you’re reading this month. After all this murder and mayhem, I’m reading some biographies, self-help, and middle grade in June. 

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