ON THE SHELF: Suspense and intrigue in New Adult Fiction

Published 4:00 am Sunday, May 1, 2022

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

This week’s column features selections from our New Adult Fiction collection.

Author Daniel Black delivers a poignant novel full of empathy and forgiveness with “Don’t Cry for Me.” Jacob is a father who is on his death bed. He decides to write a letter to his only son, Isaac. The two have been estranged for many years and Jacob feels his son should know a few things. There are stories about his ancestral legacy in rural Arkansas that extend back to the days of slavery. Jacob also feels he needs to reveal the secrets of his rocky relationship with Isaac’s mother and the shame he carries from the breakup of his family. He also reveals to Isaac the tragedies that informed his role as a father and why he reacted to Isaac’s homosexuality the way he did. Jacob is hoping that he can create a space where he and his son can find forgiveness and peace.

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“Zorrie” is a heartrending novel about a woman searching for her place in the world by award-winning author Laird Hunt. As a girl, Zorrie Underwood’s only constant was her modest and hardscrabble home. When both of her parents die, she is sent to live with her aunt, but, when she dies, Zorrie begins to drift west from her Depression-era Indiana home. She survives doing odd jobs and sleeping in barns and under the stars. She finally finds a position working in a radium processing plant. At the end of each day, the girls glow from contact with the radium, but Zorrie finally finds the love and community she has searched for in the small town of Hillsburg. Little does she know that her tribulations are only beginning.

Ever-popular author Fern Michaels delivers the suspense with her latest “Fear Thy Neighbor.” Alison Marshal is a savvy twenty-nine-year-old who is ready to find a place to call home. Having no family and no one to tie her down, she has been drifting from one small Florida town to another since high school. She has been working odd jobs, saving hard and building a good nest egg, so, when she reaches Palmetto Island, she thinks she has found the perfect place. On a hunch, she contacts the only realtor on the island and learns that the old beach house is indeed on the market and within her budget. At first, Alison believes this home is everything she hoped it would be, but as the days turn into weeks, she uncovers a dark side. When she learns the secret that the locals have been keeping, Alison will face a hard choice. She can stay and join them — or escape. Leaving brings its own risks, however, and Alison is starting to wonder if coming to Palmetto Island is the absolute worst mistake she has ever made.

“Empty Vows” is the gripping follow-up to Mary Monroe’s Depression-era saga “Mrs. Wiggins.” A proper church-going woman is determined to snare the most sought-after widower in Alabama, but what price will she pay for that ambition? Forty-something widow Jessie Tucker is beloved in Lexington, Ala. for her kind heart and generous spirit, but she feels it’s high time she rewarded herself—especially now that up-standing Hubert Wiggins has tragically lost his wife and son. Jessie makes herself indispensable, but she is discouraged by Hubert’s lack of romantic interest, so she concocts a deceptive plan to force Hubert to do right by her. Hubert’s passionate side that he has long hidden from the world has a new, much riskier secret love. The naïve second Mrs. Wiggins will help him maintain his devout image in the community, but her new husband is not the passionate lover she had imagined him to be. Jessie turns her attention to the younger Conway. Suddenly the “good church wife” is unable to resist temptation. Too bad that Conway’s new girlfriend — and Jessie’s long-time rival — Blondeen is watching. Blondeen now has the perfect ammunition to destroy Jessie’s reputation and drive her out of town. Then, she can become the wife Hubert deserves. Too bad that this growing web of deceit threatens to destroy them all.

Brenda Novak’s latest is called “Summer on the Island.” Marlow Madsen has traveled to the small island off the coast of Florida where she spent her summers growing up. This is supposed to be the chance to reconnect with her mother and help her settle her father’s — the late U.S. senator’s — estate. This is also the perfect way for her to feel grounded in her life again. Her friends, Aida and Claire, are hoping to reset their lives as well. A leisurely beachfront summer is just what they need to breathe deeply and forge new paths. When Marlow’s father’s will discloses an earth-shattering secret that tarnishes his reputation and questions everything she knew about her family, Marlow finds herself reexamining her childhood and her future. Fortunately for her, Marlow has the best friend — and the most unlikely love interest — to help her move through these trying times.

Lisa Scottoline delivers another masterpiece of suspense with “What Happened to the Bennetts.” Jason Bennett is a suburban dad who owns a court-reporting business. One night, his life takes a horrific turn. While driving his family home after his daughter’s field hockey game, a pickup truck begins to tailgate them on a dark stretch of road. Suddenly, two men jump from the truck and pull guns on Jason demanding the car. In a horrific flash of violence, his entire family’s life is upended. Later that night, they get a visit from the FBI and the agents tell Jason that the carjackers were members of a drug cartel and now he and his family are in their crosshairs. The only way to keep them safe is to put the Bennett family into witness protection, and they reluctantly agree. WITSEC was designed to protect criminal informants, not law-abiding citizens. So, when the family is taken from all they know and become trapped in an unfamiliar life, the Bennetts begin to fall apart. When Jason learns a shocking truth, he realizes that he must take matters into his own hands and choose between the law and justice.