ON THE SHELF: Large Print fiction to open your eyes

Published 8:00 am Sunday, June 11, 2023

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

This week’s column features titles from our New Large Print fiction collection.

Stephen Amidon’s latest novel is called “Locust Lane.” Emerson, Massachusetts is a seemingly idyllic New England suburb, but when a young woman is found dead in the most affluent part of town, the influential and powerful neighbors close ranks. The deceased young woman’s name is Eden Perry, and the police start their investigation into the three teens who were partying with her that night. Hannah is a sweet girl with an unstable history. Jack is the popular kid with a mean streak. Christopher is an outsider who is desperate to fit in. Their parents — each with their own motivations — complicate the situation. They are so desperate to protect their children that they are ready to throw everyone under the bus. When the search for justice crosses paths with power and influence, can anyone be trusted?

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Allison Brennan’s novel “The Sorority Murder” is about the unsolved murder of a popular sorority girl. Lucas Vega is obsessed with the death of Candace Swain. She left a sorority party one night and never came back. Candace’s body was found two weeks after she disappeared, but three years after the incident, the case is cold. When Lucas finds new information, the police aren’t interested, and he is left to piece the clues together himself. So, he creates a podcast to revisit Candace’s last hours and encourages listeners to crowd-source what they remember. Lucas then invites former U.S. Marshal Regan Merritt to join the podcast and give her expertise. New tips convince Lucas and Regan that they are on the right track, but one of the podcast callers ends up dead. Then a caller hints that Candace had a secret life which paints a much darker picture of the murder. Finally, another caller implicates Candace’s other sorority sisters. Regan uses her personal resources to bolster their theory, but Lucas must tell the truth about his real motives for pursuing this podcast. If he doesn’t, then the killer may just silence him forever.

“My Darkest Prayer” is by S.A. Cosby. Whether it’s working at his cousin’s funeral home or tossing out the riff-raff at his favorite bar, Nathan Waymaker definitely knows how to handle the bodies. Nathan is a former Marine and deputy sheriff who has built a reputation in his small Southern town as a man who can help when all the official channels have failed. When a beloved local preacher is found dead, the congregants ask Nathan to make sure the death isn’t swept under the rug. Easy-peasy, right? Nathan’s easy payday quickly descends into mayhem fueled by wannabe gangsters, brutal crime lords, porn stars, crooked cops and a particularly deceitful minister and his wife. Nathan will need all his skills to wade through the quagmire of small-town corruption even as his own dark secrets come to light.

C.K. Crigger has penned a western called “The Woman Who Killed Marvin Hammel.” Shay Billings and January Schutt have only been married for four months when Shay is summoned by the local bank president for a meeting about their land. Tragically, Shay is murdered on his way home from that meeting. The bank president then declares their loan in arrears and informs January that the bank is taking everything except the clothes on her back. January knows something isn’t right and vows to fight back even as she grieves for her beloved husband. To add insult to injury, January will have to seek justice on her own because the local sheriff is as yellow as they come. The more she thinks about it, the more she realizes that the foreclosure is merely theft, and the murder is an act of revenge by the widow of Shay’s old enemy. January has friends, too, especially in Ford Tervo, a deputy U.S. Marshall who had been her husband’s friend. January isn’t about to go down without a fight, and she plans on taking the other widow with her.

Kimberly Duffy pens a historical novel about two women bound by blood and torn apart by circumstance in “The Weight of Air.” In 1911, Mabel MacGinnis is Europe’s strongest woman and has performed beside her father in the Manzo Brothers Circus her entire life. When he dies, Mabel loses everything and sets off accompanied by acrobat Jake Cunningham in hopes of finding the mother she was told was dead. Isabella Moreau is one of America’s top-feted aerialists and has given her whole life to the circus. However, age and injury have threatened her security and Isabella makes a decision that risks everything. When her daughter, Mabel shows up alongside the man who never wanted to see Isabella again, she is forced to face the truth of where, and in what she derives her worth. Mabel and Isabella’s lives become entangled under the glittering lights and the flying trapeze of Madison Square Garden and their resiliency and resolve are tested as they learn what it truly means to be strong.

Another new historical novel we have is “The Lipstick Bureau” by Michele Gable. Niki Novotna has just been married in Rome in 1944 when she is recruited by a new American spy agency to establish a secret branch in Italy’s capital. One of the OSS’s few female operatives abroad is multilingual and tasked with making up stories and distributing propaganda to lower the morale of enemy soldiers. Despite limited resources, Niki, and a rag-tag team of artists, forgers and others find success and form a bond amid the cobblestone streets and villas of the newly liberated Rome. For Niki, though, her work is also a way to escape the devastating truths about the family she left behind in Czechoslovakia and her future with a controlling American husband. As the war drags on and the pressure builds, Niki questions the rules she’s been instructed to follow, and a colleague unexpectedly steals her heart. But one step out of line, one mistake could mean life or death for them all.