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5 Mysteries We Can't Wait to Read in Winter 2019
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5 Mysteries We Can't Wait to Read in Winter 2019

By kileyturner
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Canadian winters are THE BEST for reading mysteries!
Blindshot

Blindshot

edition:Paperback
also available: eBook

When financier Paul Carignan is hit by a stray bullet and killed in Beaufort, Quebec, the town leaders seem reluctant to investigate. Running out of patience, his teenage sons, Jack and Noah, take justice into their own hands -- and kidnap the locals they suspect are responsible. Things soon erupt and the boys find themselves besieged in their house with their captives. In the middle is their mother, Catherine, not sure which side to take. For Tom 'Brooder' Doran, Beaufort's Deputy Chief of Poli …

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The Spook in the Stacks

The Spook in the Stacks

A Lighthouse Library Mystery
edition:Paperback
also available: Hardcover
tagged : cozy

Halloween in North Carolina’s Outer Banks becomes seriously tricky when librarian Lucy Richardson stumbles across something extra unusual in the rare books section: a dead body.

Wealthy businessman Jay Ruddle is considering donating his extensive collection of North Carolina historical documents to the Bodie Island Lighthouse Library, but the competition for the collection is fierce. Unfortunately, while the library is hosting a lecture on ghostly legends, Jay becomes one of the dearly departed …

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Swimming with Horses

Swimming with Horses

edition:Paperback
also available: eBook

An unlikely friendship between a Canadian teenager and a South African girl sparks a journey to untangle an unsolved murder.

Eighteen-year-old Hilary Anson’s startling good looks and wanton ways scandalize the denizens of sleepy Kelso County, but young Sam Mitchell is instantly enthralled by his new friend. Over one sun-soaked summer, Hilary vastly improves Sam’s equestrian skills, while dropping inscrutable details about her past in apartheid-era South Africa. Mysteries mount until Hilary va …

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Excerpt

Prologue

They found Quinton Vasco’s body only a day after he went missing. Still clad in a black business suit, his corpse turned up amid a large field of alfalfa grass, a couple of hundred yards north of Number Four Sideroad in Kelso County. The site was not far from a trail that local teens had used in former days as a sort of lovers’ lane.

By this time, the police had discovered Vasco’s abandoned BMW nearby. It seemed he had walked from the vehicle into the field, entering by means of the padlocked gates; it was determined he had a key. He then proceeded on foot to the site of his death, evidently accompanied by a second person, his killer. There was no sign of a struggle.

Some said it was fitting that Vasco owned the property where he was murdered, although I can’t imagine what difference that would make, either to him or to anyone else, unless it was for the view. The view was stunning. Still, it all came to the same thing in the end. The man was dead, shot twice in the side of the head from very close range — this, according to the police report. The police also said there was something odd about the bullets that killed him. Their calibre — nine millimetres by eighteen millimetres — was pretty unusual, albeit not unknown. That summer, the Evanton detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police had received several baffling reports of local livestock being shot while grazing, invariably with bullets of this same unfamiliar configuration. Possibly, the killer had been getting in some target practice.

Many people would later insist that Vasco’s death must have been part of some deadly international plot, rife with intrigue and espionage. He was the inventor, after all, of the GC-45 howitzer, a massive cannon that was eventually sold to the white supremacist government in South Africa. But the actual verdict proved to be far more mundane. Kelso was a quiet region, you see, with little crime and few troublemakers. When acts of malfeasance did take place, suspicion tended to round pretty quickly upon a select group of known delinquents, a short list that included a certain Bruce Gruber. He was a grade eight dropout who worked as an apprentice mechanic at Weintrub’s Garage over in Hatton. He had a mean temper and had run afoul of the law more than once. He was not noted for his keen intellect.

What was more, Bruce Gruber confessed his guilt almost at once, and he stuck to his tale like a dog. He insisted that he shot Quinton Vasco “because I hated him,” which made sense if you know anything about human nature at all. It was said that Gruber acted in a jealous rage, which seemed on the surface to be entirely plausible.

All of this and more came out in the news and kept everyone jabbering for weeks. A murder? In Kelso County? Nothing like it had ever happened before. True, rumours would begin to spread toward the end of that summer about an alleged rape, a terrible business said to have involved that nice young Odegaard girl. Leslie was her name. For my part, I happen to have a fair idea of what was done to Leslie on that night, even if few others do. I may even have saved her from suffering worse harm. For almost everyone else, the episode was a matter of hearsay and conjecture — unproven and easily forgotten. Besides, the Odegaards quickly sold their store in Hatton and set out for parts unknown. People stopped talking about them before very long. I don’t believe that anyone was ever punished for the assault on that poor child, or not officially. Still, some higher form of justice may have been at work because, one way or another, Bruce Gruber went to jail.

As for the object of Bruce’s seemingly unrequited passion, she absconded, too. The South African girl, they called her. Colonel Barker drove her to the airport on the day that followed Quinton Vasco’s death, even before the man’s body was found. She left no message or, anyway, none for me. She just marched aboard an airplane and disappeared. Good riddance, everyone said. Her departure merely confirmed what they had believed all along.

That girl was trouble.

And she was. I know she was. I know that better than anyone.

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All the Wrong Places

All the Wrong Places

A Novel
edition:Hardcover
also available: Paperback

Four women--friends, family, rivals--turn to online dating for companionship, only to run afoul of a tech-savvy killer using an app to target his victims in this thriller from New York Times bestselling author Joy Fielding.

A husband's death, a difficult divorce, a brutal dumping, dissatisfaction with a boring relationship: for various reasons, four women turn to the app "Mr. Right Now," hoping to right-swipe their way to love and happiness.

Paige and Heather are cousins, locked in a lifelong riv …

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Excerpt

Chapter One

“So, tell me about yourself,” he says. He smiles what he hopes is a sweet smile—neither too big nor too small, one that hints at a wry, maybe even offbeat sense of humor that he thinks would appeal to her. He wants to charm her. He wants her to like him.

The young woman sitting across from him at the immaculately set table for two hesitates. When she speaks, her voice is soft, tremulous. “What do you want to know?”

She is beautiful: late twenties, porcelain skin, deep blue eyes, long brown hair, just the right amount of visible cleavage. Exactly as advertised, which isn’t always the case. Usually the photos they post are a few years old, the women themselves older still. “Well, for starters, why a dating app? I mean, you’re gorgeous. I can’t imagine you’d have any trouble meeting guys, especially in a city like Boston.”

She hesitates again. She’s shy, thoughtful as opposed to self-absorbed. Something else he likes. “I just thought it would be fun,” she admits. “All my friends are on them. And I’ve kind of been out of the dating scene for a while . . .”

“You had a boyfriend?”

She nods. “We broke up about four months ago.”

“You broke up with him?”

“Actually, no. He broke up with me.”

He laughs. “I find that hard to believe.”

“He said he wasn’t ready to be tied down,” she offers without prompting. Her eyes fill with tears. Several escape without warning, clinging to her bottom lashes.

Instinctively he reaches across the table to wipe them away, careful not to disturb her mascara. “You miss him,” he says.

“No,” she says quickly. “Not really. It’s just hard sometimes. It’s more being part of a couple I miss, our friends . . .”

“Were you together long?”

“A little over a year. What about you?”

He smiles. She’s trying, he thinks. Even though he can see her heart isn’t really in it. Still, some women never even think to ask. “Me? No. It’s been a while since I’ve been in a serious relationship. But we were talking about you.”

She looks toward her plate. She hasn’t touched her food, and he spent hours preparing it, letting the expensive steaks marinate all afternoon, wrapping the large Idaho potatoes in tinfoil for baking, arranging the watermelon and feta cheese salad just so on the delicate floral china, wanting to impress her. Maybe she’s a vegetarian, he thinks, although there was nothing on her profile to indicate that.

He should have asked when he suggested dinner. “Tell me about your childhood,” he says now.

She looks surprised. “My childhood?”

“I’m assuming you had one.” Again, the sweet smile hinting at greater depths.

“It was pretty ordinary. Nothing much to tell.”

“I’m guessing upper middle class,” he offers, hoping to stimulate the conversation. “Comfortable lifestyle, maybe a nanny or a housekeeper, parents who loved you, made sure you had everything your little heart desired.”

“Not really. Well, maybe at first,” she agrees tentatively. “Until I was about six and my parents got divorced. Then everything changed.”

“How so?”

“We had to move. My mom had to go back to work. My dad remarried a woman we didn’t like. We were always being shuffled back and forth.”

“We?”

“My brothers and I.”

“I like that you say ‘I,’?” he interrupts. “Most people would say ‘me.’ They have no respect for grammar. Or maybe they just don’t know the difference between the subject and the object of a sentence. I don’t know.” He shrugs, sensing her mounting discomfort. Not everyone is as concerned with grammar as he is. “How many brothers do you have?” he asks, aiming for safer ground.

“Two. One’s in New York. The other one’s in L.A.”

“And your mom? Where is she?”

“Here. In Boston.”

“Does she know where you are tonight? Well, how could she?” he asks, answering one question with another. “Don’t think she’d approve of your agreeing to have dinner in a stranger’s apartment, would she? Are you always this adventurous?” He cocks his head to one side, a gesture some have called charming, and waits for her response.

Another hesitation. “No.”

“Should I be flattered? ’Cause I’m feeling kind of flattered here, I gotta admit.”

She blushes, although whether the sudden redness in her cheeks is from embarrassment or anticipation, he isn’t sure.

“Is it because I’m so good-looking?” He says this playfully, accompanied by yet another smile, his sweetest one so far, and although she doesn’t respond, he knows he’s right. He is that good-looking. (“Pretty boy,” his father used to sneer.) Much better-looking than the picture he posted on the dating site, which in truth isn’t a picture of him at all, just some shirtless model with handsomely generic features and washboard abs whose photograph he saw in a Men’s Health magazine.

Good-looking enough to make a woman silence the nagging voice in her head warning her to beware, to follow him out of the crowded bar where they’d agreed to meet and go with him to his apartment near Sargent’s Wharf, where he’s promised a gourmet feast.

“You’re not eating,” he says. “Is the steak too rare for you?”

“No. I just can’t . . .”

“Please. You have to at least try it.” He cuts a piece of meat from his own plate and extends his fork across the table toward her mouth. “Please,” he says again, as blood drips from the steak to stain the white tablecloth.

She opens her mouth to receive the almost raw piece of meat.

“Chew carefully,” he advises. “Wouldn’t want you to choke.”

“Please . . .” she says, as the cellphone in his pocket rings.

“Hold on. I’ll just be a minute.” He removes the phone from his pocket and swipes its thin face from left to right, then lifts it to his ear. “Well, hello there,” he says, lowering his voice seductively, his lips grazing the phone’s smooth surface. Finally, he thinks.

“Hi,” the woman on the other end of the line responds. “Is this . . . Mr. Right Now?” She giggles and he laughs. Mr. Right Now is the name he goes by on the multiple dating sites to which he subscribes.

“It is. Is this . . . Wildflower?”

“It is,” she says, more than a trace self-consciously, not as comfortable with pseudonyms as he is.

“Well, Wildflower,” he says. “I’m so glad you called.” He’s been anticipating this moment for what feels like forever.

“Are you still in Florida?” she asks. “Is this a bad time?”

“No. It’s perfect. I just got back into town about an hour ago.”

“How’s your mother?”

“Much better. Thanks for asking. How are you?”

“Me? I’m fine.” She hesitates. “I was thinking maybe you were right, that it’s time we give this another try.”

“No maybes about it,” he says, eager to nail her down. “At least on my end. How about Wednesday?”

“Wednesday is good.”

“Great. Are you familiar with Anthony’s Bar, over on Boylston? I know it’s usually crowded and it can be pretty noisy, but—”

“Anthony’s is great,” she says, as he knew she would. Crowded, noisy bars are always a woman’s preferred place to meet.

He smiles at the woman sitting across the table, notes the tears now wriggling freely down her cheeks. He checks his watch, making no move to wipe the tears away. Anthony’s Bar is where he met her less than two hours ago. He is being rude and insensitive.

“Say six o’clock?” he says into the phone.

“Six is good.”

“No more last-minute cancellations?”

“I’ll be there at six on the button.”

“No!” his dinner companion shouts unexpectedly. “Don’t . . .”

He is instantly on his feet, his hand sweeping across the table to slap her hard across the face. It connects with such ferocity that the chair to which she is securely tied, her hands handcuffed behind her back, teeters on its hind legs and threatens to fall, causing the noose looped around her neck to tighten. He watches as she gasps frantically for air. Another minute of flailing uselessly about and she will likely lose consciousness.

He’s not ready for that. He isn’t done with her yet.

“What was that?” the woman calling herself Wildflower asks.

“What was what?” he asks easily in return, walking around the table to steady the chair, then covering the frantic woman’s mouth with his free hand. “Oh. Probably just the TV. Some guy getting the shit kicked out of him. Excuse the language.”

A second’s silence. He can almost feel Wildflower smile.

“Are you going to tell me your real name?” she ventures.

“I’ll tell you mine if you tell me yours,” he replies flirtatiously. A lie. He never tells any of the women his real name. “Although I gotta say, I kind of like Wildflower.”

“Then suppose we leave things the way they are for now.”

“Till Wednesday, then,” he says.

“Till Wednesday.”

“Looking forward to it.”

He returns the phone to his pocket and removes his hand from the woman’s mouth. “If you scream, I’ll stick this steak knife in your eye,” he says calmly, brandishing its serrated edge in front of her face. The noose around her neck is now buried inside her flesh. He doubts she has enough air to scream, even if she were so inclined. Still, he’d underestimated her before.

She’d been so easy. Almost too easy. Mesmerized by his beautiful exterior, she’d gone along with his every suggestion, agreeing to leave the dark, crowded bar to enjoy a home-cooked dinner in his apartment, then eagerly sitting down at the small, round table with its white linen tablecloth already in place, not comprehending the danger she was in until her hands were handcuffed behind her and the rope was literally around her throat.

She’d tried so hard, been so compliant, going along with his silly game of pretending they were on a real date, answering his stupid questions, even offering up a few of her own, undoubtedly hoping to save her life. And even when she recognized this for the pipe dream it was, when the phone call convinced her that she was simply one of many, that there was nothing special about her, and that he was already moving forward, who’d have thought she’d have the gumption to try warning his next victim? He admires that.

Not that it matters.

He resumes his seat at the table and calmly finishes his meal, careful to chew each piece of meat thirty times, as his father used to insist. He hopes she won’t do anything stupid, something that will make it necessary to finish her off quickly. He wants to take his time with her, show her he’s more than just a pretty face.

He smiles, hoping to convey that she has his full attention. She deserves that. But even as he lifts the last piece of steak toward his lips, his imagination is already leaping ahead.

To Wednesday.

And the woman who will be his crowning achievement: Wildflower.

Chapter Two

Three weeks earlier

At just after seven a.m. Paige Hamilton woke up to find her mother sitting on the side of her bed in her pajamas, her normally youthful features betrayed by a series of worried lines that made her look every one of her seventy years.

“Mom?”

“How was your date last night?”

“You woke me up to ask about my date?”

“How was it?

“Not good.” Paige pushed herself up on her elbows, recalling last night’s unfortunate rendezvous as she shook her shoulder-length brown hair from her eyes. The man had been at least twenty pounds heavier and five inches shorter than his profile on Match Sticks indicated. What was the matter with these guys? Did they think that women didn’t have eyes, that they wouldn’t notice the discrepancy?

“That’s too bad,” her mother said. “You thought he sounded promising.”

“Mom . . . what’s going on?”

“I don’t want to worry you.”

“Too late for that.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Don’t apologize. Tell me what’s wrong.”

Her mother’s sigh shook the double bed. “I think I might be having a stroke.”

Paige was instantly on her feet, dancing abstract circles on the hardwood floor. “What are you talking about? What makes you think you’re having a stroke?” She searched her mother’s face for signs of anything off balance. A drooping eyelid, a twitching lip. “You’re not slurring your words. Are you dizzy? Are you in pain?”

“I’m not in pain. I’m not dizzy,” her mother repeated. “You have such a lovely figure,” she said, as if this were a perfectly normal thing to say under the circumstances.

Paige grabbed her pink silk robe from the foot of the bed and wrapped it around her naked body, trying to make sense of what was happening.

“I didn’t realize you slept in the nude,” her mother continued. “I always wanted to do that, but your father preferred pajamas, so I followed his lead.”

“Mom! Focus! Why do you think you’re having a stroke?”

“It’s my vision,” her mother said. “It’s kind of weird.”

“What do you mean, it’s kind of weird? How weird?”

“I’m seeing all these flashing lights and squiggly lines, and I remember reading that a change in vision is often the first sign you’re having a stroke. Or maybe a detached retina. What do you think?”

“I think I’m calling nine-one-one.”

“Really, darling? Do you think that’s necessary?”

“Yes, Mom. I really, really do.” Paige grabbed her cellphone from the night table and pressed the emergency digits. “Try to stay calm,” she advised her mother, although she was the one on the verge of hysteria. She’d lost her father to cancer two years ago. She wasn’t ready to lose her mother, too. At thirty-three, she was much too young to be an orphan. “What are you doing?” she asked as her mother pushed herself off the bed.

“I should probably get dressed.”

“Sit back down,” Paige said, listening to the phone’s persistent ring against her ear. “Don’t move.” She threw her free arm into the air in frustration. “What’s the matter with these people? Why aren’t they answering the phone? I thought this was supposed to be an emerg—”

“Nine-one-one,” a woman’s voice said, interrupting Paige’s tirade. “What is your emergency?”

“My mother’s having a stroke.”

“Well, it could be a detached retina,” her mother qualified.

“We need an ambulance right away.” Paige quickly gave the dispatcher the address of her mother’s posh Back Bay condominium. “They’ll be here in five minutes,” she said, crossing to the en suite bathroom and throwing some cold water on her face, then applying deodorant before grabbing the first thing she saw in her closet and pulling it over her head.

“That’s a pretty dress,” her mother said. “Is it new?”

Paige glanced at the shapeless floral sundress that Noah had always despised. She quickly reminded herself that Noah’s likes and dislikes were no longer her concern. “No. I’ve had it a while.” She retrieved a pair of lace panties from the top drawer of her dresser and stepped into them, pulling them up over her slim hips.

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