Category Archives: Harper

Review: The Sacred Bridge by Anne Hillerman

Title: The Sacred Bridge by Anne Hillerman
Leaphorn, Chee & Manuelito Series Book Seven
Publisher: Harper
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 320 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss


An ancient mystery resurfaces with ramifications for the present day in this gripping chapter in the Leaphorn, Chee & Manuelito series from New York Times bestselling author Anne Hillerman.

Sergeant Jim Chee’s vacation to beautiful Antelope Canyon and Lake Powell has a deeper purpose. He’s on a quest to unravel a sacred mystery his mentor, the Legendary Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn, stumbled across decades earlier.

Chee’s journey takes a deadly turn when, after a prayerful visit to the sacred Rainbow Bridge, he spots a body floating in the lake. The dead man, a Navajo with a passion for the canyon’s ancient rock art, lived a life filled with many secrets. Discovering why he died and who was responsible involves Chee in an investigation that puts his own life at risk.

Back in Shiprock, Officer Bernadette Manuelito is driving home when she witnesses an expensive sedan purposely kill a hitchhiker. The search to find the killer leads her to uncover a dangerous chain of interconnected revelations involving a Navajo Nation cannabis enterprise.

But the evil that is unleashed jeopardizes her mother and sister Darleen, and puts Bernie in the deadliest situation of her law enforcement career.


The Sacred Bridge by Anne Hillerman is a suspenseful mystery. Although this latest release is the seventh installment in the Leaphorn, Chee & Manuelito series, it easily stands on its own.

After a much-needed vacation, Navajo Nation tribal police Sergeant Jim Chee stays for a few extra days while his wife Officer Bernadette “Bernie” Manuelito and her sister Darleen return to their home in Shiprock. Jim is at a bit of a crossroads as he decides whether or not he wants to remain in law enforcement.  While out hiking, he spots a body floating in Lake Powell. Although he is out of his jurisdiction, Jim agrees to assist Park Ranger Ted Morris and Sheriff Bo Carter in the investigation into Curtis Walker’s death.

While her husband finds himself in the midst of an unexpected case, Bernie is on her way to work when she spots a man who appears to be in some kind of trouble. Before she can get any helpful information from him, he becomes the victim of a deliberate hit and run. Fully invested in finding out who murdered the unidentified man, Bernie becomes involved in an investigation of a local hemp farm run by Dino Begay Perez. But the case is quickly complicated by Dino’s friends and family’s concern about his whereabouts. Then there is an unexpected discovery in the hit and run victim’s belongings. Bernie goes undercover at the hemp operation in order to uncover the truth about Dino’s whereabouts and the suspicious goings on the farm.

The Sacred Bridge is an intriguing mystery with fascinating story arcs. Jim, Bernie and Darleen are well-drawn, multi-layered characters who continue to grow and evolve.  The various settings are interesting and  spring vividly to life.  As in previous novels, the Native American elements provide readers with riveting details about the Navajo culture. The storyline is engrossing and while some elements are easy to predict, this does not lessen the story’s enjoyment. As a dangerous situation heats up, Anne Hillerman brings this brilliant mystery to a breathless conclusion. Old and new fans enjoy this latest addition to the stellar Leaphorn, Chee & Manuelito series.

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Filed under Anne Hillerman, Contemporary, Harper, Leaphorn Chee & Manuelito Series, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, Suspense, The Sacred Bridge

Review: The Cage by Bonnie Kistler

Title: The Cage by Bonnie Kistler
Publisher: Harper
Genre: Contemporary, Legal Mystery, Suspense
Length: 352 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss


Combining the propulsive narrative drive of The Firm with the psychological complexity of The Silent Patient,a gripping and original thriller about two professional women—colleagues at an international fashion conglomerate—who enter an elevator together . . . but only one is alive when they reach the ground floor.

On a cold, misty Sunday night, two women are alone in the offices of fashion conglomerate Claudine de Martineau International. One is the company’s human resources director. Impeccably dressed and perfectly coiffed, she sits at her desk and stares somberly out the window. Down the hall, her colleague, one of the company’s lawyers, is buried under a pile of paperwork, frantically rushing to finish.

Leaving at the same time, the two women, each preoccupied by her own thoughts, enter the elevator that will take them down from the 30th floor.

When they arrive at the lobby, one of the women is dead. Was it murder or suicide?

An incredibly original novel that turns the office thriller on its head, The Cage is a wild ride that begins with a bang and picks up speed as it races to its dramatic end.


The Cage by Bonnie Kistler is an absolutely brilliant “locked room” mystery.

Lucy Barton-Jones is the human resources director at Claudine de Martineau International. She is married with two children and she is very loyal to the company. Lucy’s family has a bit of a past that she has worked hard to distance herself from. Working from the office on a Sunday evening, she and employee, Shay Lambert, are on the same elevator as they depart from work.

Shay is a lawyer whose excitement over her new job has waned a bit with her first assignment. She and her husband, David, were hit hard during the downturn in the economy and she welcomes this opportunity to get back on her feet. Shay has noticed a few anomalies on the case she has been to but she brushes it off to just a mistake. She has not had very many interactions with Lucy when they are both trapped on the elevator that fateful Sunday.

When the elevator finally makes it to the lkobby, one of the two women is dead. The survivor claims it was suicide, but will the police believe her? When the evidence begins pointing to murder, can she find the evidence to prove her innocence? Following the leads where they lead, the truth is within her grasp if only she can find someone to believe her.

The Cage is a clever legal mystery that is fast-paced and engaging. The characters are interesting but not all of them are easy to like. The storyline is engrossing and well-developed with interesting twists and turns. With danger moving ever closer, Bonnie Kistler brings this captivating mystery to a stunning conclusion.

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Filed under Bonnie Kistler, Contemporary, Harper, Legal Mystery, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, Suspense, The Cage

Review: Find Me by Alafair Burke

Title: Find Me by Alafair Burke
Publisher: Harper
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 304 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss


The disappearance of a young woman leaves her best friend reeling and an NYPD homicide detective digging into her own past in this twisty mystery about the power of female friendships. From the New York Times bestselling author of The Better Sister and The Wife.

Some pasts won’t stay forgotten . . .

She calls herself Hope Miller, but she has no idea who she actually is. Fifteen years ago, she was found in a small New Jersey town thrown from an overturned vehicle, with no clue to her identity. Doctors assumed her amnesia was a temporary side effect of her injuries, but she never regained her memory. Hope eventually started a new life with a new name in a new town that welcomed her, yet always wondered what she may have left behind—or been running from. Now, she’s leaving New Jersey to start over once again.

Manhattan defense lawyer Lindsay Kelly, Hope’s best friend and the one who found her after the accident, understands why Hope wants a new beginning. But she worries how her friend will fare in her new East Hampton home, far away from everything familiar. Lindsay’s worst fears are confirmed when she discovers Hope has vanished without a trace—the only lead a drop of blood found where she was last seen. Even more ominously, the blood matches a DNA sample with a connection to a notorious Kansas murderer.

With nowhere else to turn, Lindsay calls NYPD homicide detective Ellie Hatcher, the daughter of the cop who dedicated his life to hunting the Kansas killer. Ellie has always believed there was more to the story of her father’s death twenty years earlier—and she now fears that Hope’s recent disappearance could be related.

In pursuit of answers, the women search for the truth beneath long-buried secrets. And when their searches converge, what they find will upend everything they’ve ever known.


Find Me by Alafair Burke is an intriguing mystery with an interesting cast of characters.

Lawyer Lindsay Kelly is very worried when her best friend Hope Miller does not return any of her calls. Hope has long term amnesia and has recently moved to the East Hamptons. Lindsay becomes increasingly concerned and cannot be dissuaded from checking on her friend. What she discovers is even more troubling since Hope has seemingly vanished without a trace. Detective Carter Decker does not seem too concerned so Lindsay investigates Hope’s disappearance on her own.

During her search for Hope, Lindsay crosses paths with NY Detective Ellie Hathaway. A drop of blood from a long-ago serial murder case in Wichita is found at the house where Hope is last known to have been. Ellie is immediately interested since the Wichita case consumed her father before the killer was eventually caught and prosecuted.

When another East Hamptons missing persons case takes a murderous turn, Detective Decker is suddenly very interested in finding Hope. Lindsay knows her friend had nothing to do with the death and she knows she has to locate Hope before the police do. With Hope’s future on the line, will Lindsay uncover what the connection is between Hope, Wichita and the East Hamptons murder?

Find Me is an engrossing mystery that is full of tension. Lindsay is a devoted friend who is determined to prove Hope’s innocence. Hope is an enigmatic character due to her amnesia. Ellie is still troubled about her father’s death so she hopes to new information will provide answers. The storyline is engaging and moves at a brisk pace. With shocking plot twists, Alafair Burke brings this suspenseful mystery to a stunning conclusion.

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Filed under Alafair Burke, Contemporary, Find Me, Harper, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, Suspense

Review: The Surrogate by Toni Halleen

Title: The Surrogate by Toni Halleen
Publisher: Harper
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense
Length: 352 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss


A probing novel about a newly married couple, the surrogate they hire to carry their baby, and the unexpected consequences of their decisions. 

Ruth is a no-nonsense fortysomething journalist from the Midwest desperate for a child with her new husband, Hal. A divorced attorney and the father of two teenage boys, Hal is open to having another child. But more than anything he wants Ruth to be happy—to become the mother she’s always wanted to be. Their hope rests with Cally, a nineteen-year-old who wants to go to college—but doesn’t have the cash. The arrangement seems perfect for everyone.

All through the pregnancy, Ruth and Hal look forward to the new baby that will make their family complete. But within a day of the baby’s birth, Cally has a change of heart – and engineers a harrowing escape from the hospital with the newborn. When Ruth and Hal discover that she and their daughter are gone, a whole series of doubts and secrets are revealed, and it’s no longer clear what’s “right” and what’s “wrong.”

Set in the vast, sparsely populated upper reaches of northern Minnesota in the middle of winter, The Surrogate follows Ruth, Hal, Cally, and her boyfriend through the ice and snow, from the city to the dark, frozen north country as they run away from, and ultimately towards, one other.

In The Surrogate, Toni Halleen raises thought-provoking questions about the nature of family, love, and relationships. What would you do for your partner, when the going gets tough? How much is a pregnancy “worth?” And who, if anyone, “deserves” to be a mother?


The Surrogate by Toni Halleen is a compelling novel that is very suspenseful.

When Ruth Martin and Hal Olson meet in 1997, the sparks fly and they begin dating. But their relationship is complicated by Hal’s not quite ex-wife and his two sons who are less than enthused with their father dating. Ruth and Hal are soon married and while happy, Ruth is eager to have a baby. Unfortunately, she has fertility issues so she and Hal turn to surrogacy to expand their family. Their surrogate, Cally Scott, is soon pregnant and Ruth excitedly prepares for the upcoming birth.

Ruth is wound tight and she is a little controlling. She pretty much smothers Cally throughout the pregnancy but the two otherwise get along. Ruth is thrilled at the prospect of becoming a mother but she feels like she is being judged for turning to surrogacy. She gets frustrated by Hal’s lack of enthusiasm and constant reminders he is not new to fatherhood.

Hal is a lawyer and he draws up the surrogacy contract. He takes a much more laidback approach to the upcoming birth and he is sometimes a little irritated with Ruth’s over the top preparations.  Hal wants his wife to be happy so he acquiesces to her decisions.

Cally answers the Olson’s ad for a surrogate in order to earn money to return to college. She is not ready for motherhood when she enters into the agreement which is why she is shocked by her reaction when she gives birth. Cally is not ready to turn the baby over to the Olson’s so she takes off from the hospital with the newborn.

After Cally departs with their baby, Ruth is angry and resentful of what she perceives as the unfair treatment she receives since she has no biological ties to the newborn. Hal is equally upset but he feels the agreement is ironclad and once they locate Cally, he and Ruth will gain custody. But Ruth is anxious to find the baby and she reaches out to a family member for help. She is often unable to contain her anger and fear which results in outrageous behavior and irrational demands.

The Surrogate is a well-written novel that reveals both the positive and negative aspects of surrogacy.  The characters are well-drawn but not all of them are likable. Ruth is almost impossible to like despite understanding her fears. Hal is a little too complacent and when tragedy strikes, he becomes very unreliable. Cally is young and her impetuous decisions lead to a seemingly no-win situation. Her ex-boyfriend is kind of sleazy and he is definitely not father material. The storyline is interesting and Toni Halleen brings this fast-paced novel to an unpredictable conclusion.


Filed under Contemporary, Harper, Rated B, Review, Suspense, The Surrogate, Toni Halleen

Review: Friends Like These by Kimberly McCreight

Title: Friends Like These by Kimberly McCreight
Publisher: Harper
Genre: Contemporary, Domestic Mystery
Length: 320 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss


In this relentlessly twisty literary thriller from New York Times bestselling author Kimberly McCreight, a desperate intervention brings together a group of college friends 10 years after graduation—a reunion marked by lies, betrayal, and murder.

Everyone has those friends. Doesn’t matter how long it’s been, or how badly they’ve occasionally behaved, or how late it is when that call finally comes—you show up. No questions asked.

Honestly, that’s how the five of us ended up here in the Catskills. We did have the best of intentions. Especially after what happened to Alice all those years ago, we can’t bear to think of losing anyone else. In fact, we’ll do anything to make sure that doesn’t happen. We’ll go so much farther than we ever thought we would.

In the end, maybe that’s what caught up with us. That, and the fact that we’re such a complicated group—so much history and so many big personalities. Secrets, too, that can slip out at the most inopportune moments. Of course, we love each other despite all of those things. We love each other no matter what.

There’s something so beautiful about that kind of unconditional love. It can turn ugly, though. Or maybe that’s just us. After all, we’ve already been through so much together. And we have so very much to hide.


Friends Like These by Kimberly McCreight is a suspense-laden domestic mystery that is fast-paced.

Jonathan Cheung is hosting his longtime college friends for a weekend at his guest house in the Catskills. Although years have passed since graduation, he, Maeve Travis, Stephanie Allen, Derrick Chism and Keith Lazard have remained fairly close. Their weekend is off to an uneasy beginning when art gallery owner Keith brings his star artist Finch Hendrix with him. Then Jonathan’s contractors show up angrily demanding money for unpaid bills. He is in the complete dark about the past due bill since his fiancé Peter has been handling the renovation.  By Sunday morning, one of the group is dead and Kaaterskill Detective Julia Scutt is asking uncomfortable questions they would very much rather not answer. Who is the victim? And who is responsible for what might just be murder?

Although one member of their friends died back in college, she is very much a part of the weekend get together. Jonathan, Maeve, Stephanie, Derrick and Keith have been keeping a huge secret about something that occurred while they were college students.  Despite what happened back then, most of them have gone on to have lucrative careers. But have any of them truly moved on with their lives?

Over the course of the weekend, the chapters alternate between the various characters’ points of view. Jonathan has the best of intentions with the reason for the weekend but Finch’s unexpected appearance disrupts their plans. He is deliberately provoking reactions from everyone, but for what purpose? Everyone is already on edge when their first evening comes to a tense end. It will be up to Detective Scutt to attempt pry the truth out of them about what happened between then and the death of one of their own. Will she be able to uncover the secrets the group is obviously trying to keep hidden?

Friends Like These is an edge of the seat domestic mystery that is impossible to put down. The characters are well-developed but most of them are not easy to like. The chapters alternate between the different characters perspectives which provides interesting insight about each of them. The victim’s identity is kept tightly under wraps which adds an extra layer of stress to an already fraught weekend gathering. With jaw-dropping plot twists, Kimberly McCreight brings this stunning domestic mystery to an absolutely unpredictable conclusion.

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Filed under Contemporary, Domestic Mystery, Friends Like These, Harper, Kimberly McCreight, Mystery, Rated B+, Review

Review: The Comfort of Monsters by Willa C. Richards

Title: The Comfort of Monsters by Willa C. Richards
Publisher: Harper
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Historical ’90s
Length: 400 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss


Set in Milwaukee during the “Dahmer summer” of 1991, A remarkable debut novel for fans of Mary Gaitskill and Gillian Flynn about two sisters—one who disappears, and one who is left to pick up the pieces in the aftermath.

In the summer of 1991, a teenage girl named Dee McBride vanished in the city of Milwaukee. Nearly thirty years later, her sister, Peg, is still haunted by her sister’s disappearance. Their mother, on her deathbed, is desperate to find out what happened to Dee so the  family hires a psychic to help find Dee’s body and bring them some semblance of peace.

The appearance of the psychic plunges Peg back to the past, to those final carefree months when she last saw Dee—the summer the Journal Sentinel called “the deadliest . . . in the history of Milwaukee.” Serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer’s heinous crimes dominated the headlines and overwhelmed local law enforcement. The disappearance of one girl was easily overlooked.

Peg’s hazy recollections are far from easy for her to interpret, assess, or even keep clear in her mind. And now digging deep into her memory raises doubts and difficult—even terrifying—questions. Was there anything Peg could have done to prevent Dee’s disappearance? Who was really to blame for the family’s loss? How often are our memories altered by the very act of voicing them? And what does it mean to bear witness in a world where even our own stories are inherently suspect?

A heartbreaking page-turner, Willa C. Richards’ debut novel is the story of a broken family looking for answers in the face of the unknown, and asks us to reconsider the power and truth of memory.


The Comfort of Monsters by Willa C. Richards is a grim mystery which weaves back and forth in time.

In 1991, Margaret “Peg” McBride is completely enthralled with her boyfriend, Leif Gunnarson. They live together in a hovel and spend a lot of their time drinking and partying. Peg is also trying to convince Leif to do better by his younger brother Erik. Erik is gay and the majority of his family turned their back on him so he is completely on his own in a time when gay men keep going missing.

Peg’s younger sister Candace aka Dee is attending college and she is involved with Frank, who is in his mid-thirties. The sisters’ relationship is fraught but they are quick to forgive when things go wrong between them.  After a blurry July fourth together, Dee leaves Peg’s apartment and seemingly vanishes into thin air. Unfortunately, her disappearance occurs just as the Milwaukee police arrest Jeffrey Dahmer so a missing young woman is extremely low on their radar.

Fast forward to 2019 and Peg’s mother is close to dying and her only wish to find Dee’s body. Peg does not agree with her mother’s method of trying to locate her sister but her brother Pete convinces her to go along with the plan. Peg has never gotten over her guilt about Dee’s disappearance and she has now has a string of lost jobs and broken relationships behind her. She drinks too much and she remains convinced that Frank is responsible for Dee’s disappearance. The family has kept in contact with the detective assigned to Dee’s case and Peg veers between anger and shame as they work together to find Dee.

The Comfort of Monsters is a dark mystery with a unique storyline. Despite being the story’s narrator, Peg is a difficult character to get to know. There is little context for why she chooses the wrong men or deliberately sabotages decent relationships. She is teeming with guilt and drinks too much as she obsessively tries to solve Dee’s disappearance. Willa C. Richards provides a bleak portrait of a family who remains defined by Dee’s inexplicable disappearance. This intriguing mystery comes to a realistic, yet unsatisfying, conclusion.

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Filed under Contemporary, Harper, Historical, Historical (90s), Mystery, Rated B, Review, The Comfort of Monsters, Willa C Richards