Three Must-Read Books

covers of three must-read books on shelf pink background

This is not a book review blog; it’s a blog to talk about my own books and related news. However, sometimes you read a book that is too good not to talk about. I’ve enjoyed a few of those lately, and I want to share these three must-read books with you. Making these books extra special to me is the fact that I know, in one form or another, each of the authors, as I explain.

Intrigue is a vital element of any novel, not just mysteries and thrillers, in my opinion. If there is no intrigue to tickle the reader’s brain and give them a question or conundrum to ponder while the story moves toward a revelation, then the impetus to read to the end declines considerably. These three novels have intrigue to spare.

As it would be impossible to pick a favorite here, I am listing in alphabetical order.

Dark Drink by Tina O’Hailey

I have had the distinct pleasure of becoming friends with Tina through a Writer’s Group set up by another esteemed author, Joseph Carrabis. In fact, I was an early reader of various scenes from this book in their infancy. Here’s my review of the completed, published novel:

O’Hailey’s latest novel is an action-paced thriller in which we’re reminded that even friends since childhood can harbor secrets from each other. Jude and Mercedes have a special relationship, linked in part by long-ago traumas. As adults, the vice presidential motorcade member, avid caver and amateur mixologist Jude, and the whip-smart, trans, social media whiz Mercedez, continue to support each other on a daily basis.

This story is a modern thriller with many twists and turns. Once I got about halfway in, I couldn’t stop reading. O’Hailey does a masterful job weaving flashbacks into the present-day narrative in a way that flows well and heightens the mystery. The dialogue is snappy, insightful and very funny in spots. The drink recipes are a fun addition.

But it’s the quirky, memorable characters that hooked me. Interesting jobs and hobbies were icing on the cake that is Jude and Mercedez. I cared about the two women and would love to spend more time with them. Sequel anyone?

Learn more about Tina and Dark Drink.

Disappeared by Bonnar Spring

I connected with Bonnar Spring and found her novels through the New Hampshire Writers’ Project, of which I am a member. Here’s my review of her second novel, Disappeared:

Disappeared is not a stereotypical thriller high on adrenaline and low on character — it’s a thriller with heart and soul, a quiet thriller with tension that builds throughout. In fact, I would describe it as part thriller, part travelogue, part personal journey, part geopolitical lesson, and even part MacGyver! (That last reference will make sense if you read the story.) The narrative felt very personal — in part due to the present-tense, first-person approach, in part due to Spring’s skill — and I almost felt I had climbed into Julie’s world and was traveling alongside her.

By the end, you’ll be on the edge of your seat, hoping for these women to extricate themselves from the nightmare in which they’ve become entrenched. And you’ll celebrate the female cunning and resourcefulness they employ to that end. This page-turner would make an excellent movie or limited TV series.

I am now adding Spring’s first novel, Toward the Light, to my reading list.

Learn more about Bonnar and Disappeared.

What I Hid From You by Heleen Kist

Heleen and I bonded over the shared #metoo theme of our last novels: Stay Mad, Sweetheart for her, and Horseshoes and Hand Grenades for me. Here’s my review of What I Hid From You:

Kist takes you into the world of dentistry and underworld drugs. It seems like an unlikely combination until you think about it and realize the potential overlap. The plot moves quickly as you wonder how Radha will get out of the pickle she’s put herself in.

But while this book has all the hallmarks of a thriller and it does have you on the edge of your seat at times, at its heart it is a family drama. Pain caused by a loved one’s death, trying to hang onto one’s identity, parent/adult child relationships, marriage difficulties, the feeling of loss as one’s children grow up, and of course secrets. They’re all there, portrayed realistically and sympathetically.

You’ll root for Radha. Even if you think she merely reaps what she sows, Kist does a thorough job letting us into Radha’s mind so we understand why she makes the choices she does. And the ending is masterful in its reserve and understatement.

A thoroughly engaging, thought-provoking story!

Learn more about Heleen and What I Hid From You.

That’s it – three must-read books to add to your collection. And for a refresher on my books, visit my Novels page.

covers of three must-read books on shelf pink background