Murder -- fiction
In Allegedly, Tiffany D. Jackson’s gripping and haunting debut novel, Mary was tried and convicted of murdering the three-month-old she was helping her mother babysit. The catch? She was only nine years old at the time of the alleged, as she often reminds us, incident. The baby was beaten and strangled, and her mother, who was present, was the individual who was actually supposed to be watching the baby. Mary didn’t stand up for herself and her role in the matter afterwards. In fact, she never uttered a sound.
Beware a calm surface—you never know what lies beneath.
The rural British town of Beckford is surrounded by water. No one can turn anywhere in town and not face the twisting river that snakes through its center. The river is dotted with high cliffs that lead down to what's called a drowning pool. Many unfortunate women have lost their lives there, either falling from the enormous, rocky cliffs, jumping on their own, or worse. The pool is even reported to have housed multiple witch drownings in the 17th century.
"All around her was rich, vibrant color; she was the only colorless thing."
School trivia nights are usually filled with laughter and brainy fun. Most trivia nights involve fundraisers for the good of the community. But in Liane Moriarty's Big Little Lies, Pirriwee Public School's annual trivia event begins with death.
Flashback to six months before: in a quaint, seaside Australian town, three women—newcomer Jane, outspoken Madeline, and troubled Celeste—have become friends through their school-aged children. The women realize that they are struggling with a multitude of troubles on the home front: Jane is still trying to get used to single motherhood with her feisty kindergartner, Ziggy; Madeline is trying to balance her daughters—the elder, a defiant teenager—along with her difficult ex-husband and his New Age wife; and Celeste, although beautiful and wealthy, has a toxic and violent marriage.
Her sister’s young twins came to Luce after a hard patch. Which is to say, having their mother meet her end most violently at the hands of their stepfather. They were odd children, quiet to the point of not speaking and not looking people in the eye. Ever. They had some disturbing habits, too, which spoke of far more having been done to their small selves than they would fess to. Not that they were fessing to anything, encased as they were in their eerie, shared silence. In Charles Frazier’s Nightwoods, their eccentric Aunt Luce and the North Carolina mountain she calls home promise nothing to them, yet they do provide a haven—for a while.
“I have a meanness inside of me, real as an organ.” - Libby Day
Sandy Blair was not having his best day, or decade for that matter, when he got word that Jamie Lynch had his heart cut out. In The Armageddon Rag by George R.R. Martin, the child of the Sixties has been orphaned by the "Me" Decade. Now, it's 1983, and all of Blair's political ideals have earned him a middling career as a novelist and a lot of writer's block.
Leo Stepanovich Demidov, a war hero and rising star in the MGB--Stalin’s state security force, is proud of his country. Yes, he has to do some unpleasant things, such as supervising the torture of suspected persons—and there are many suspected persons, the list growing daily. But all of that is surely necessary to protect post-World War II’s Russia in Tom Rob Smith’s Child 44.
The English Monster, by Lloyd Shepherd, blends two stories of horror—one short, sharp, and bloody while the other is a slow unraveling of a man’s conscience.
October, 1564: A handsome young man, just married and very much in love, travels a dangerous path to the port of Plymouth, England, where he hopes to find a berth on a ship bound for adventure, but more importantly, riches to make their new life together secure. It is try and succeed or fail and never return for William Ablass. His letter of introduction earns him a place on board Captain Hawkins’ vessel where he becomes shipmates and friends with Francis Drake, later “El Draco,” the terror of the Spanish fleet. Their adventures succeed in turning a golden profit but at a very dark cost.
This is a work of fiction that is actually closer to the truth than not. Sharyn McCrumb’s careful research has resulted in an exciting and informative book about the well-known story of Tom Dooley. You may remember The Kingston Trio's hit song called Hang Down Your Head, Tom Dooley. His actual name was Tom Dula, pronounced Dooley in the local dialect of the North Carolina mountain residents of the 1860s. Many of us know the story--or think we do, but Sharyn McCrumb’s research has revealed a slightly different story, well-backed up by her evidence. This in itself makes The Ballad of Tom Dooley worth a read.
Vee Bell has narcolepsy in Slide by Jill Hathaway. Or at least that’s what her family and friends think. Once, Vee tried to tell her father the truth, but he sent her to a shrink who didn’t believe her either. Now she doesn’t even dare tell even her best friend.
Sliding. That’s what Vee thinks of it as. When she gets too tired to fight it, she falls asleep, but doesn’t dream. Instead, she enters other people’s minds. She can hear, smell, taste, and feel everything that they’re experiencing. Sliding only lasts for moments, but it is long enough to exhaust and sometimes scare her. She’s slid into backstabbing friends and teachers behaving badly. As a result, Vee takes constant caffeine pills to stay awake and is always just barely functioning.