Detective and mystery stories

Sleepyhead

By Mark Billingham

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Dear Detective Inspector Thorne. What can I say? Practice makes perfect. And don't you just envy her that perfect...distance? I invite you to consider the concept of freedom. True freedom. Have you ever really considered it? I'm sorry about the others. Truly. I shall not insult your intelligence with platitudes about ends and means but offer in mitigation the thought that a massive undertaking often has an appropriate margin of error. It's all about pressure, Detective Inspector Thorne, but then you'd know all about that. Seriously, though, Tom, maybe I'll call you sometime.

"Mark Billingham's arresting debut novel Sleepyhead, an international bestseller, is a mesmerizing, psychological thriller. Tense and unnerving, this menacing tale of obsession is as scathingly witty as it is bone chilling, and it introduces a stunning new talent in detective fiction.

"Alison Willetts is unlucky to be alive. She has survived a deliberately induced stroke, and although she can see, hear, and feel, she is completely unable to move or to communicate. In leaving Alison alive, the police believe her assailant has made his first mistake. Until Detective Inspector Tom Thorne discovers the horrifying truth: Alison is the psychopath's first success; the three women he killed before her were the mistakes. 'An appropriate margin of error' is how their killer dismissed them; his true intention was to leave them just like Alison: put to sleep for the rest of their natural lives. And Thorne knows they won't be his last victims. To save innocent lives, he must find a criminal whose agenda is terrifyingly unique. But this untraceable, sadistic madman is smart, elusive, and cryptic -- he enjoys toying with the police almost as much as he savors pursuing his sick fantasy -- and the only lead Thorne has is the tragically uncommunicative Alison."

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Rules of Prey

By John Sandford

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"The murderer was intelligent. He was a member of the bar. He derived rules based on professional examination of actual cases: Never kill anyone you know. Never have a motive. Never follow a discernible pattern. Never carry a weapon after it has been used. Beware of leaving physical evidence. There were more. He built them into a challenge. He was mad, of course . . . .

"It is after the third murder that Lucas Davenport is called in. It is the opinion of his colleagues that everything about the lieutenant is a little different, and they are right – in the computer games he invents and sells, in the Porsche he drives to work, in the quality of the women he attracts, in his single-minded pursuit of justice. The only member of the department's Office of Special Intelligence, Davenport prefers to work alone, parallel with Homicide, and there is something about this serial killer that he quickly understands.

"The man who signs himself 'maddog' in taunting notes to the police is no textbook sociopath; he has a perverse playfulness that makes him kill for the sheer contest of it. He is a player. Which means that Davenport will have to put all his mental strength – and physical courage – on the line to learn to think like the killer. For the only way to beat the maddog is at his own hellish game. . ."

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Nine

By Jan Burke

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"When a brutal felon on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list turns up dead in Los Angeles County, few mourn him; in fact, the public begins to cheer his unknown assailants as heroes. But as more brutalized corpses of fugitive outlaws are found, Sheriff's Homicide Detective Alex Brandon knows that the vigilante group the public has nicknamed 'The Exterminators' may be far more ruthless and sadistic than its victims. The corpses bear eerie similarities to victims of a serial killer investigated by Brandon ten years ago."
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Cold, Cold Heart

By James Elliott

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"He's a Russian defector given a new life in America by the U.S. government. Now he's exploded into violence--driven by a mad lust to kill young women. An embarrassed CIA knows it must stop him--and that only one man can do the job. But former agent Mike Culley is in prison, sold out by his bosses, stripped of his family and everything he holds dear.

"Now they'll free him: to hunt down a killer before he kills again. The CIA has betrayed Culley once. It won't happen again. He will find his man. And with the help of a beautiful reporter, he'll bring him down. But suddenly the rules change. Culley's target has answered back: snatching the one person who means more to Mike Culley than life itself."

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Blood Work

By Michael Connelly

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"Thanks to a heart transplant, former FBI agent Terril McCaleb is enjoying a quiet retirement, renovating the fishing boat he lives on in Los Angeles Harbor. But McCaleb's calm seas turn choppy when a story in the 'What Happened To?' column of the Los Angeles Times brings him face-to-face with the sister of the woman whose heart now beats in his chest. From her McCaleb learns a terrible truth: that the donor of his heart was not killed in an accident, as he'd been told, but was murdered.

"Wracked with guilt over the fact that he's alive because another human being was slain, McCaleb springs into action. Reactivating his FBI connections and his expertise in crime scene interpretation, he embarks on a private investigation of his donor's murder -- a search that leads him to a crime more horrific than anything he ever encountered as a serial killer investigator for the FBI."

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1st to Die

By James Patterson

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"Imagine a killer who thinks, 'What is the worst thing anyone has ever done?'--and then goes far beyond it. Now imagine four women --a police detective, an assistant DA, a reporter, and a medical examiner --who join forces as they sidestep their bosses to track down criminals. Known as the Women's Murder Club, they are pursuing a murderer whose twisted imagination has stunned an entire city. Their chief suspect is a socially prominent writer, but the men in charge won't touch him. On the trail of the most terrifying and unexpected killer ever, they discover a shocking surprise that turns everything about the case upside down."
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The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen

The Peach Keeper

I am a hopeless romantic, so of course I fell in love with Sarah Addison Allen’s charming books. She writes adult fairy tales where love is worth the risks. Pack her four novels in your beach bag and enjoy. The books are magical. The Peach Keeper, her latest work, is about what happens when secrets come out in the open. Walls of Water, North Carolina, has strange breezes that sound like whispers of secrets. Regret haunts the main characters and smells like lemons. 

Twins Colin and Paxton Osgood, Willa Jackson, and Sebastian Rogers all went to high school together. They were known as the Princess, the Stick Man, the Joker and the Freak.  Happiness has eluded all of them.  Paxton Osgood is thirty years old, unmarried, and living at home, and president of the Women’s Society Club. Colin has run away from Walls of Water, his rigid ways, and his heritage. Willa has settled for a quiet life running a sporting goods store and doing laundry regularly every Friday night. Sebastian, now a dentist, has come back home but must face his difficult past.

The Pact

By Jennifer Sturman

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Rachel Benjamin and her friends aren't looking forward to Emma's wedding. The groom is a rat, and nobody can understand what Emma sees in him. So when he turns up dead in the morning of the ceremony, no one in the wedding party is all that upset. Not even Emma.

Rachel, who had the good fortune to find Richard floating facedown in the pool, is feeling as if she's woken up in an Agatha Christie novel. It doesn't help that everyone around her seems to have a motive for murder. So, while the cops detain Emma's family and friends at her isolated Adirondacks compound for the weekend, Rachel, an investment banker by trade, makes like Miss Marple (minus the gray hair and sensible shoes) and does some digging of her own. Her investigation gets especially tricky when Peter Forrest, the too-good-to-be-true best man, turns out to be the number-one love interest and her number-one suspect. And Rachel can't help remembering the solemn pact she and her friends made back in college--a promise to rescue each other from bad relationships, using any means required. Has someone taken the pact too far?

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Speak Now

By Margaret Dumas

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Charley Van Leeuwen can tell by a man's kiss whether he's been drinking Taittinger or Veuve Clicquot. Not that she kisses many men, a fact her friends deplore. So imagine their surprise when she comes home to San Francisco with her new husband. Jack Fairfax is the definition of tall, dark, and handsome. But is he the mild-mannered meteorologist he claims to be? Sometime between finding a dead body in her bathtub, tagging along on a ransom drop, and getting rescued by her husband in a hail of bullets, Charley begins to believe there's more to Jack's past than he's willing--or able--to admit.

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Sex, Murder, and a Double Latte

By Kyra Davis

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When a mystery writer cries bloody murder, everyone blames her overactive imagination . . .

"Thriller scribe Sophie Katz is as hard-boiled as a woman who drinks Grande Caramel Brownie Frappuccinos can be -- maybe it's from a lifetime of fielding dumb comments about her half-black, half-Jewish ethnicity. ('My sister married a Polynesian! I just love your culture!') So Sophie knows it's not paranoia, or post-divorce, living-alone-again jitters, when she becomes convinced that a crazed reader is sneaking into her apartment to reenact scenes from her books. The police, however, can't tell a good plot from an unmarked grave.

"When a filmmaker friend is brutally murdered in the manner of a death scene in one of his movies, Sophie becomes convinced that a copycat killer is on the loose -- and that she's the next target. If she doesn't solve the mystery, her own bestseller will spell out her doom. Cursing her imagination (why, oh, why did she have to pick the axe?), Sophie engages in some real-life gumshoe tactics. The man who swoops in to save her in dark alleys at night is mysterious new love interest Anatoly Darinsky. Of course, if this were fiction, Anatoly would be her prime suspect . . . "

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