Laura is devastated when her husband dies, leaving her and their almost grown-up daughter, Tilly, alone. When the insurance company refuses to pay out, Laura is in danger of losing the house and has no choice but to seek help from elsewhere.
Oak Leaf Farm, a community that lives just outside of town, seems to be everything that Laura and Tilly need, so when this self-made family offer Laura the lifeline she’s been looking for she gratefully accepts.
But all is not right on the farm and when both Laura and Tilly are drawn to the community’s handsome and charismatic leader, mother and daughter find themselves on opposite sides of the battle lines…
When a ready-made family and community are offered to Laura and Tilly, red flags appeared, reminding me that such an apparent solution could be anything but the answer they need.
Each of the community members offer apparent friendship and help, but it didn’t take long to realize that the fear Laura is beginning to feel is probably warranted.
The Family offered up many plausible twists and turns, so that by the end, I knew that there were so many evil possibilities that I couldn’t stop reading. 4 stars.
Evie Boyd is a middle-aged woman, living alone in her friend Dan’s house in LA, ruminating about the past. Her life up until now has been ordinary, but somewhat disappointing. So when she is visited by intruders in the middle of the night, and is reminded of how unsafe life can be—before she realizes that the intruders are Dan’s teenage son and girlfriend—she is once again back in the unsafe world she once inhabited. Even though she was merely on the fringes of that world. And feeling unsafe is better than feeling nothing at all.
But as her mind takes her back to the summer of 1969, we soon learn how the life she lives now was informed by her choices back then. How her fascination with a free-living group in the Bay Area, living on what they called the ranch, had captivated her. How she was mostly drawn in by one of the girls, a young woman of nineteen named Suzanne. What had drawn her to Suzanne back then, and why is her mind still working out the details of that time, even now, all these years later? Was it an infatuation? Did Suzanne and the other girls fill an empty space inside, the part that emphasized the blankness of her life? Would she have done what those girls finally did, or did she have a moral compass after all?
The Girls is a reminder of another story from that same year. The true story of Charles Manson and his followers, and while they are not mentioned in this novel, those who have lived and learned from the horrors will certainly see some similarities.
Was Evie simply a product of the times? Did her middle class life seem so empty that she was drawn into the colorful world of the family at the ranch? Was her attraction to Suzanne more about the appeal of the other girl’s dismissal of ordinary values? Or did Suzanne’s occasional dismissal of Evie herself only enhance the appeal?
I felt sorry for Evie, who had avoided the fate of the others because of a chance maneuver on Suzanne’s part, and who seemed to always be wishing she could have been more involved. Her flat life in the present made me feel sad, since she could have been grateful for what she somehow managed to escape. A story that kept me reading, even though the ending seemed inevitable. 4.5 stars.
***My e-ARC came from the publishers via NetGalley.
In the opening pages of Ice Cold, we catch a glimpse of a group of people living on a compound in Plain of Angels, Idaho, called The Gathering. Their leader, Jeremiah Goode, is fixated on a beautiful young woman named Katie.
What happens next will remain a mystery to the reader until the very end.
Sixteen years later, Dr. Maura Isles is headed to a medical conference in Wyoming, and when she arrives, she meets up with an old friend in attendance, also a doctor. Meanwhile, she has left behind a relationship in Boston that is not working; she is grateful to have a breather.
What will happen to Maura, her friend Doug Comley, and two other associates of his in the upcoming days? How will a ski trip turn into a life and death situation? Why does everyone back in Boston believe that Maura is dead? How will Jane Rizzoli convince the authorities to keep searching? And what will Jane, and then Maura, uncover about the mysterious happenings at Kingdom Come?
I was on the edge of my seat as the suspense built rapidly, and at every turn, a new threat would present itself. I rooted for Maura, and even as danger mounted, the author offered a glimpse of Jane and her husband, Gabriel, an FBI agent, working to follow the clues and discover what had happened to her. There were several realistic characters who played a part in what unfolded in this story, including a young teenager who helped Maura, and a ferocious social worker who turned out to have a surprising history. This was my first read from the series, but I’ll be back for more. 4.5 stars.