Category Archives: Dutton

Review: I Did It For You by Amy Engel

Title: I Did It For You by Amy Engel
Publisher: Dutton
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 288 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher


A twisty thriller from the beloved author of The Familiar Dark, in which a woman returns to the town where her sister was murdered and finds a presumed copycat on the loose

It’s been fourteen years since Greer Dunning’s older sister, Eliza, was murdered, and Greer’s family has never been the same. And now there’s been a similar killing in Greer’s small Kansas hometown. A copycat, according to the authorities, but Greer is convinced there is more to the story. That Eliza’s murderer had help all those years ago.

So Greer returns home after more than a decade away, desperate to answer the questions that have haunted her for years. And in her drive to uncover the truth, she forms a bond with the unlikeliest of allies. One that puts her in grave danger, as almost everyone in her small town becomes a suspect.

At once a riveting mystery and a deep exploration of guilt, loss, and the ways in which a violent murder transforms both the family of the victim and the family of the killer, I Did It For You will keep readers captivated through the very last page.


I Did It For You by Amy Engel is a compelling mystery about copycat murders.

After learning about the new murders, Greer Dunning returns to her small hometown in Kansas. She immediately reconnects with her childhood friends Ryan and Cassie. But Greer does not make much headway in trying to repair her fractured relationship with her parents. She also pairs up with an unlikely person as she tries to find the connection between her sister Eliza’s and the present day murders.

With plenty of tension, this atmospheric mystery is fast-paced with well-drawn characters. Greer remains haunted by her sister’s death and being home provides her the opportunity to search for answers. Despite the murders, she is a little reckless and takes unnecessary risks. Greer also unearths stunning secrets that leave her wondering whom she can trust. The shocking dénouement is full of unexpected twists and turns. The conclusion of this suspense-laden mystery is somewhat bittersweet.

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Filed under Amy Engel, Dutton, I Did It for You, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, Suspense

Mystery Monday Review: Dead Eleven by Jimmy Juliano

Title: Dead Eleven by Jimmy Juliano
Publisher: Dutton
Genre: Contemporary, Supernatural, Suspense, Mystery
Length: 447 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher


On a creepy island where everyone has a strange obsession with the year 1994, a newcomer arrives, hoping to learn the truth about her son’s death—but finds herself pulled deeper and deeper into the bizarrely insular community and their complicated rules…

Clifford Island. When Willow Stone finds these words written on the floor of her deceased son’s bedroom, she’s perplexed. She’s never heard of it before, but soon learns it’s a tiny island off Wisconsin’s Door County peninsula, 200 miles from Willow’s home. Why would her son write this on his floor? Determined to find answers, Willow sets out for the island.

After a few days on Clifford, Willow realizes: This place is not normal. Everyone seems to be stuck in a particular day in 1994: They wear outdated clothing, avoid modern technology, and, perhaps most mystifyingly, watch the OJ Simpson car chase every evening. When she asks questions, people are evasive, but she learns one thing: Close your curtains at night.

High schooler Lily Becker has lived on Clifford her entire life, and she is sick of the island’s twisted mythology and adhering to the rules. She’s been to the mainland, and everyone is normal there, so why is Clifford so weird? Lily is determined to prove that the islanders’ beliefs are a sham. But are they?

Five weeks after Willow arrives on the island, she disappears. Willow’s brother, Harper, comes to Clifford searching for his sister, and when he learns the truth—that this island is far more sinister than anyone could have imagined—he is determined to blow the whole thing open.


Dead Eleven by Jimmy Juliano is a suspenseful debut.

Harper’s search for his missing sister Willow on isolated Clifford Island drives this fast-paced mystery. Clifford Island’s small population is not exactly helpful as Harper tries to not only find Willow but understand what drew her there in the first place. The cast of eclectic islanders do not want visitors and they do not have an online footprint. The storyline is cleverly written with the chapters alternating between text messages, interviews, Willow’s letters, and various characters’ perspectives.

A deliciously eerie mystery with supernatural elements and a chilling conclusion.

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Filed under Dead Eleven, Dutton, Jimmy Juliano, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, Supernatural Elements, Suspense

Review: Not Exactly What I Had in Mind by Kate Brook

Title: Not Exactly What I Had in Mind by Kate Brook
Publisher: Dutton
Genre: Contemporary, Fiction
Length: 350 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


An irresistible, funny, sharply observed debut novel in which two roommates, and two sisters, will learn that sometimes family–and love—find you in the most unexpected places

Hazel and Alfie have just moved in together as roommates. They’ve also just slept together, which was either a catastrophic mistake or the best decision of their lives–they aren’t quite sure yet. Whatever happens, they need to find a way to keep living together without too much drama or awkwardness, since neither of them can afford to move out of the apartment.

Then Hazel’s sister, Emily, and her wife, Daria, come for a visit, and Hazel’s and Alfie’s feelings about each other are pushed to the side in the whirlwind of their arrival. Recently returned from abroad, Emily and Daria are excited for a new life in a new town, and ready to start a family of their own.

As the lives of Hazel, Alfie, Emily, and Daria collide, a complicated chain of events begins to bind them all together, bringing joy and heartache, hope and anxiety, and reshaping their relationships in ways that no one quite predicted. Warm, clever, and devastatingly relatable, Not Exactly What I Had in Mind is by turns funny, heartbreaking, and a painfully true-to-life story about family, friends, and everything in between.


Not Exactly What I Had in Mind by Kate Brook is an engaging debut novel.

Flatmates Hazel Phillips and Alfie Berghan realize very quickly that sleeping together is probably not the smartest decision they have made. They agree it is a mistake not to be repeated and things are soon very awkward between them. Luckily, Hazel’s sister Emily and her wife Daria’s visit proves to be a much-needed distraction. Emily and Daria adore Alfie and a close-knit friendship is born.

A lack of communication prevents Hazel and Alfie from doing anything about their shared attraction. There are several near misses in which fear holds them back from confessing their feelings for one another. Instead, Hazel embarks on an ill-advised relationship with a man who is not exactly anyone’s favorite. She overlooks her boyfriend’s less than desirable attributes rather than find the courage to talk to Alfie.

Emily and Daria are relocating back to England after a few years away. They are at the point in their marriage where they are ready for children. Emily is excited for the pregnancy experience but does Daria share her enthusiasm? And then there is the question of who will help them achieve their goal. A solution presents itself, but are those involved making the right decision?

Not Exactly What I Had in Mind is a delightfully charming novel. The characters are appealing with relatable flaws. Despite utilizing the miscommunication trope, the storyline is very interesting and moves at a fast pace. The various relationships are intriguing and while some plot points are predictable, this does not lessen enjoyment in the unfolding story. Kate Brook closes her debut novel with a mostly satisfying epilogue but readers will be frustrated that not all the storylines are completely resolved.

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Filed under Contemporary, Dutton, Fiction, Kate Brook, Not Exactly What I Had in Mind, Rated B+, Review

Review: The Pilot’s Daughter by Meredith Jaeger

Title: The Pilot’s Daughter by Meredith Jaeger
Publisher: Dutton
Genre: Historical, Women’s Fiction
Length: 352 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


The glitzy days of 1920s New York meet the devastation of those left behind in World War II in a new, delectable historical novel from USA Today bestselling author Meredith Jaeger.

In the final months of World War II, San Francisco newspaper secretary Ellie Morgan should be planning her wedding and subsequent exit from the newsroom into domestic life. Instead, Ellie, who harbors dreams of having her own column, is using all the skills she’s learned as a would-be reporter to try to uncover any scrap of evidence that her missing pilot father is still alive. But when she discovers a stack of love letters from a woman who is not her mother in his possessions, her already fragile world goes into a tailspin, and she vows to find out the truth about the father she loves—and the woman who loved him back.

When Ellie arrives on her aunt Iris’s doorstep, clutching a stack of letters and uttering a name Iris hasn’t heard in decades, Iris is terrified. She’s hidden her past as a Ziegfeld Follies showgirl from her family, and her experiences in New York City in the 1920s could reveal much more than the origin of her brother-in-law’s alleged affair. Iris’s heady days in the spotlight weren’t enough to outshine the darker underbelly of Jazz Age New York, and she’s spent the past twenty years believing that her actions in those days led to murder.

Together the two women embark on a cross-country mission to find the truth in the City That Never Sleeps, a journey that just might shatter everything they thought they knew—not only about the past but about their own futures.

Inspired by a true Jazz Age murder cold case that captivated the nation, and the fact that more than 72,000 Americans still remain unaccounted for from World War II, The Pilot’s Daughter is a page-turning exploration of the stories we tell ourselves and of how well we can truly know those we love.


The Pilot’s Daughter by Meredith Jaeger is an absolutely riveting novel that features two different timelines.

It is 1945 and Ellie Morgan is deeply mourning her father’s probable death. He is a pilot during WWII and his plane has been shot down and there are no survivors. Her mother, Clara, is in a deep depression but Ellie keeps busy working and corresponding with the wives and parents of the other men on the plane. She is a secretary at a local newspaper but Ellie has aspirations of becoming a journalist. She is also engaged and her fiancé Tom Davenport is pressuring her to plan their wedding. But after her father’s belongings are returned to them, Ellie makes a shocking discovery. She finds a bundle of letters that give every indication that her father was involved in a long-time affair with a woman in New York. After planning to go to New York to find answers, she turns to her beloved Aunt Iris for information. She is completely shocked by her aunt’s reaction and Iris decides to accompany her on her trip.  Already in denial that her beloved father is dead, is Ellie prepared for what she might learn?

Ellie is in her mid-twenties and she still lives at home. Her relationship with Tom has been a bit of a whirlwind. Even though women have filled men’s jobs while they are off at war, they are still expected to marry and have a family. As Tom pushes her to plan their wedding, Ellie begins to realize that she is not at all happy at the thought of giving up her dream of writing a newspaper column. As she and Iris search for the author of the letters, Ellie begins to uneasily question whether or not she is making the right decision to marry Tom. But is she prepared to buck tradition and her mother’s expectations in order to pursue her dreams?

As a young woman, Iris leaves home and moves to New York. She becomes a Ziegfield Follies showgirl and by the early 1920s, she is the lead dancer and basks in the limelight. Although Iris finally returns home, her past continues to haunt her. Going with her niece to New York revives all of her memories of a very dark time in her life but she has some of the answers Ellie needs. Having carried a guilt secret for over twenty years, will Iris discover there is any truth to her fears?

The Pilot’s Daughter is a fascinating novel with an intriguing storyline. Ellie is an interesting character with a few irritating traits that sometimes make it difficult to fully like her. But she grows and evolves throughout the story as her aunt’s past experiences help her make a difficult choice. Iris is an incredibly well-developed character whose former life as a showgirl incorporates the real life Ziegfield Follies and the still unsolved murder of Dorothy King into the storyline. Meredith Jaeger brings the various settings and the past vibrantly to life in this captivating novel.

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Filed under Dutton, Historical, Historical (20s), Historical (40s), Meredith Jaeger, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, The Pilots Daughter, Women's Fiction

Review: Hush Little Baby by R. H. Herron

Title: Hush Little Baby by R. H. Herron
Publisher: Dutton
Genre: Contemporary, Domestic Thriller, Psychological Thriller
Length: 336 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


From the author of Stolen Things comes a twisty thriller that asks how tightly we are bound to our pasts, how much we can trust those around us, and how far a mother will go to protect her child.

Jillian Marsh is a survivor. She escaped her toxic upbringing at the hands of her religious zealot mother as a teenager, and after hitting rock bottom due to alcoholism in her twenties, she not only got sober, she built a successful marriage and medical career, even if she wasn’t able to make amends for all the mistakes she made during her drinking days. But nearly a decade later, things are once again going downhill for Jillian. Her wife, Rochelle, has left her while Jillian is pregnant with Rochelle’s biological child, and she feels constantly unsettled in her now-empty house—items missing from their usual place, burning candles she can’t remember lighting, the screen from her bedroom window removed. Even her mommies-to-be group isn’t the solace it once was. Bree, Camille, Maggie, and Jillian vowed to not only support one another in motherhood but in their sobriety, careers, and maintaining their independence after their babies are born . . . a sisterhood that begins to unravel when the secrets between the women come unwillingly to light.

As things in Jillian’s home begin to escalate, she’s forced to ask herself: Is one of her supposed friends not as trustworthy as she seems? Could Rochelle be gaslighting her in order to claim full custody of their daughter? Or, worst of all—is Jillian turning into her own mother, and imagining all of it in some sort of subconscious sabotage against her unborn child?

When the missing items turn into unambiguous threats, and as the circle of those she can trust continues to dwindle, Jillian knows only one thing for sure: she will do anything to protect her baby.


Hush Little Baby by R. H. Herron is a thoroughly captivating psychological thriller.

Jillian Marsh is a successful ob-gyn who is weeks away from giving birth. While her professional life is on track, her personal life is a bit of a mess. She and her soon to be ex-wife Rochelle split up a several months ago due to Rochelle’s affair. Jillian has barely adjusted to living without the woman she loves when strange occurrences around the house leave her fearful and afraid for her sanity. Luckily, she has a group of friends whom she can count on to be there for her. As her suspicions grow about who is behind what is happening inside her own home, who can Jillian trust as her due date draws closer?

After a dysfunctional childhood and her battle with alcoholism, Jillian thought she has it all: a successful career, a loving marriage and a baby on the way. But when she is five months pregnant, Rochelle yanks the rug out from under her feet when she moves in with her lover. Now resigned to single parenthood, Jillian focuses on her career and her friendship with a group of women who are also pregnant and in recovery.  But as the strange events continue, Jillian begins to look at the people in her life as she wonders which one of them is responsible. And why.

The tension grows as Jillian’s fears begin to spiral out of control. She is also facing finalizing her divorce and arranging custody arrangements. Rochelle is not exactly helping the situation and Jillian tries to keep a positive attitude. But Jillian grows more and more unsettled as the eerie incidents begin to escalate. With no one taking her seriously, are Jillian and her unborn baby safe from whomever is threatening her?

Hush Little Baby by R. H. Herron is an extremely fast-paced domestic mystery. The storyline is engrossing and the characters are well-drawn. The first part of the story explains important backstory while the latter half is quite suspenseful. With shocking twists and stunning turns, R. H. Herron brings this brilliant thriller to a hair-raising, edge of the seat conclusion.

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Filed under Contemporary, Domestic Mystery, Dutton, Hush Little Baby, Psychological Thriller, Rated B+, Review, RH Herron

Review: The Music of Bees by Eileen Garvin

Title: The Music of Bees by Eileen Garvin
Publisher: Dutton
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Length: 336 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


Three lonely strangers in a rural Oregon town, each working through grief and life’s curveballs, are brought together by happenstance on a local honeybee farm where they find surprising friendship, healing–and maybe even a second chance–just when they least expect it.

Forty-four-year-old Alice Holtzman is stuck in a dead-end job, bereft of family, and now reeling from the unexpected death of her husband. Alice has begun having panic attacks whenever she thinks about how her life hasn’t turned out the way she dreamed. Even the beloved honeybees she raises in her spare time aren’t helping her feel better these days.

In the grip of a panic attack, she nearly collides with Jake–a troubled, paraplegic teenager with the tallest mohawk in Hood River County–while carrying 120,000 honeybees in the back of her pickup truck. Charmed by Jake’s sincere interest in her bees and seeking to rescue him from his toxic home life, Alice surprises herself by inviting Jake to her farm.

And then there’s Harry, a twenty-four-year-old with debilitating social anxiety who is desperate for work. When he applies to Alice’s ad for part-time farm help, he’s shocked to find himself hired. As an unexpected friendship blossoms among Alice, Jake, and Harry, a nefarious pesticide company moves to town, threatening the local honeybee population and illuminating deep-seated corruption in the community. The unlikely trio must unite for the sake of the bees–and in the process, they just might forge a new future for themselves.

Beautifully moving, warm, and uplifting, The Music of Bees is about the power of friendship, compassion in the face of loss, and finding the courage to start over (at any age) when things don’t turn out the way you expect.


The Music of Bees by Eileen Garvin is a heartwarming novel of friendship, healing and new beginnings.

Forty-four-year-old Alice Holtzman is going through the motions as she grieves the loss of her husband.  She manages to go to her job every day, but she does not want to interact with anyone outside of work. Alice is most content when she is working with her bees so she decides to expand her beehives with hopes of turning her hobby into a viable business. She surprises herself when she spirits eighteen-year-old Jake Stevenson away from his abusive father. Alice then hires twenty-four-year-old Harry Stokes to help with her expansion plans.  How will Alice cope when she makes an impulsive decision that alters her future?

Alice has always been a solitary person so no one is more shocked than she is when finally accepts Buddy Ryan’s invitation to go out with him. They enjoy ten happy years together before his death and she is still struggling with his tragic loss. Alice has closed herself off from Buddy’s family and avoids other people she knows. She is also not exactly thrilled with her job but she needs her paycheck in order to go through with her plans. After Jake and Harry move onto her property, Alice is surprised by the positive impact they have on her life.

Jake is a gifted musician whose father did support not his plans for college. After a careless mistake, Jake is now a paraplegic who has withdrawn from his friends and given up music. He also spends most of his time avoiding his abusive father and depressing life. After going to stay with Alice, Jake discovers a natural affinity for beekeeping that gives him the purpose he has been lacking. But his excitement is tempered by the physical limitations he finds while working in Alice’s apiary.

Harry Stokes has always been a follower and rather aimless. He has trouble making friends which leads to poor decisions to please them. Harry has no idea how to navigate his way around the obstacles currently in his path. He is delighted when Alice hires him to work for her, but he is still afraid of making yet another mistake.

The Music of Bees is a captivating novel that is emotionally compelling. Alice, Jake and Harry are wonderful characters whose unexpected friendship helps them overcome their personal struggles. Their respective problems are realistic and their growth is gradual which makes it more believable. The rural setting is charming and the information about beekeeping is absolutely fascinating. Debut novelist Eileen Garvin brings this touching novel to an gratifying and deeply satisfying conclusion.

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Filed under Contemporary, Dutton, Eileen Garvin, Rated B+, Review, The Music of Bees, Women's Fiction