ON THE SHELF: Murder and Intrigue at the Library

Published 4:00 am Sunday, March 13, 2022

This column was submitted by Evangeline Cessna, Local History Librarian at the Warren County-Vicksburg Public Library.

This week we have another round of titles from our New Adult Fiction collection.

Author Jillian Cantor reimagines the death of Jay Gatsby as a murder mystery in her latest “Beautiful Little Fools.” When Jay Gatsby is shot dead on a sweltering August day in 1922 in his West Egg swimming pool and the body of mechanic George Wilson is found in the woods nearby, the police think they have an open-and-shut case of murder/suicide. However, when a diamond hairpin is found in the bushes next to the pool, three women fall under suspicion. Daisy Buchanan thought she would marry Gatsby before her family was torn apart by a tragedy and she was pushed into the arms of the womanizing Tom Buchanan. Daisy’s best friend Jordan Baker keeps the secret that derailed her promising golf career and threatens her friendship with Daisy. Catherine McCoy, a suffragette who fights for women’s rights and freedoms, especially for her sister Myrtle Wilson who is trapped in a horrible marriage. The long, hot summer of 1922 sees all three of these women’s lives unravel and concludes with the murder of the tormented Jay Gatsby.

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“The Overnight Guest” is by bestselling author Heather Gudenkauf. True crime writer Wylie Lark isn’t bothered being snowed in at the isolated farmhouse where she’s retreated to write her newest book with a cozy fire and complete silence. It would be perfect, except that decades earlier, in this very house, two people were murdered in cold blood and a girl disappeared. As the snowstorm worsens, Wylie finds herself trapped alone with her thoughts and secrets in the house. She then discovers a small child in the snow just outside the door and brings the child inside for warmth and safety. Wylie looks for answers to who this child is and why the child is out in a snowstorm. This house is not as isolated as Wylie thought because someone is out in the snowstorm trying to get in.

In Elle Cosimano’s “Finlay Donovan Knocks ‘Em Dead,” the titular character is once again struggling to finish her next novel and keep her head above water as a single mother of two. She does have her live-in nanny and sidekick Vero to rely on. The only dead body she’s dealt with lately is that of her daughter’s pet goldfish. Someone wants her ex-husband Steve out of the picture, permanently. Whatever else Steve is, he is a good father, but trying to keep him alive will send Finlay down a rabbit hole of hit-women disguised as soccer moms, and a brush with the Russian mob that leaves her shaken. Meanwhile, Vero’s keeping secrets, and Detective Nick Anthony seems determined to come back into her life. Finlay doesn’t have time for this hot cop, however, because she is busy trying to keep her family from being whacked — even if she must bend a few laws. With her next book’s deadline looming and an ex-husband to keep alive, Finlay is coming to the end of her rope.

Charles Cumming’s latest is called “Box 88.” Lachlan Kite is a member of an elite transatlantic black ops group — so covert that not even MI-6 and the CIA are certain of its existence — called Box 88. Not even the best secret agent can anticipate potential threats in a world where danger lurks around every corner. Lachlan himself falls into a trap at the funeral of his childhood best friend. He finds himself in a potentially deadly interrogation with his pregnant wife who was just kidnapped and held as collateral for the information Lachlan has sworn on his life to protect. Thirty years earlier, Lachlan was just out of his posh boarding school when he was recruited into Box 88. His gap year is a haze of studying spycraft and a journey of self-discovery. He cut his teeth on a special assignment on the coast of France, where a friendship allows him access to Iran’s most dangerous men. Now, Lachlan’s nostalgia for that time is corrupted by the deceit that accompanied it but, to save his family, he’ll be forced to revisit those painful memories.

“Quicksilver” is the latest title from bestselling author Dean Koontz. Quinn Quicksilver was abandoned at three days old on a desert highway in Arizona and raised in an orphanage, never knowing his parents. Though Quinn had a happy if unexceptional life, the day of “strange magnetism” compelled him to drive out to the middle of nowhere, helped him find a coin worth a lot of money, and practically saved his life when two government agents showed up in pursuit of him. Now on the run from said agents, Quinn meets his destined companions: Bridget Rainking, a beautiful woman gifted with foresight and firearms, and her grandfather Sparky, a romance novelist with an unusual past. Bridget too is hunted and the only way for them to stay alive is to keep moving. As they race through the Sonoran Desert, the trio is propelled toward the inevitable confrontation with an enemy that is more than a match for Quinn.

“Hell of a Book” is by Jason Mott. This book is about a Black author who sets out on a cross-country publicity tour to promote his bestselling novel. It also tells the story of Soot, a young Black boy living in a rural town in the recent past, and The Kid, a possible imaginary child who appears to the author on his tour. These characters’ stories build and converge as the nation must reckon with a tragic police shooting playing over and over again in the news. Who has been killed? Who is The Kid? When the author finishes his book what kind of world will he leave behind?