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The Echo Killing: A Mystery by Christi Daugherty, Minotaur Books, US $24.99, Pp 368, March 2018, ISBN 978-1250148841

After Anna by Lisa Scottoline, St. Martin’s Press/Macmillan Publishers, US $27.99, Pp 400, April 2018, ISBN 978-1250099655

Memento Park: A Novel by Mark Sarvas, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, US $26.00, Pp 288, March 2018, ISBN 978-0374206376

American by Day by Derek B. Miller, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, US $26.00, Pp 352, April 2018, ISBN 978-1328876652

The Echo Killing is set in Savannah, Georgia. It is a beautiful city with Southern culture and heritage. It is known for its antebellum architecture, picturesque parks, and cobblestone streets. But, its timeless beauty and culture disappear for Harper McClain during dark and dangerous nights. When she was twelve, her mother was murdered in this city and her murderer was never caught. The unsolved murder of her mother pushed her towards becoming an ace crime reporter. She spends her nights with the police when they go after criminals. The latest crime scene she visits is where a female victim, Marie Whitney, is found naked. The victim had been stabbed multiple times in the kitchen. A young girl is led from the scene by a detective. This is not something new for Harper. However, there are similarities between the murders of Marie Whitney and her own mother. This leads her to believe that the two murders are committed by the same person. She feels she is about to solve the fifteen-year-old murder of her mother. She is ready to risk everything to catch the killer. She does not care if she is in the killer’s cross-hairs. Now when the murderer is finally caught, will this change anything for Harper? Christi Daugherty knows the art of weaving a mystery story. What makes The Echo Killing a mystery apart and particularly enjoyable is the strong set of characters and the creative way Harper McClain tries to help solve the two murders. It is a novel unlike any other.

Former crime reporter Christi Daugherty is the author of the international best-selling Night School series, which was published under the name CJ Daugherty. Before writing Night School, Christi worked as a newspaper journalist in American cities including Savannah and New Orleans. She won numerous awards for her reporting, particularly her investigative journalism into corruption and crime. These days, she writes novels and screenplays and lives in England with her husband, the filmmaker Jack Jewers.

*****

The life of a widower and a single father is not what Dr. Noah Alderman wanted. Therefore, he decides to remarry many years after the death of his wife. Both Dr. Alderman and his son were happy because they thought their lives will change for the better. Maggie Ippolitti, Dr. Alderman’s new wife is a wonderful woman. Maggie Ippolitti is happy too. Her marriage coincides with her reunion with her seventeen-year-old daughter, Anna, whom she had not seen since she was a baby. She believed she had lost her forever. This is her chance to be a mother once again. It’s is not just Maggie Ippolitti who is happy, Dr. Alderman is equally happy. Both believe that Anna would bring joy to the family. They were wrong as everything goes wrong and quickly. Anna is a gorgeous seventeen-year-old who refuses to live the way her parents want. Dr. Alderman’s and Ippolitti’s marriage may be breaking up but they are not able to see the red flags. The worst comes when Anna is murdered and Dr. Alderman is accused of the murder and tried. What could be more painful for a woman to think that her beloved daughter is murdered by her husband whom she loves? Maggie Ippolitti vows to discover the truth that will be darker than what appears on the surface. Lisa Scottoline maintains her reputation of being “a grand champion of the legal thriller genre.” After Anna is a disturbing story that explores marital relations and family dynamics. After Anna is an extraordinarily thrilling and entertaining mystery that will keep you guessing what is coming next until the end.

Lisa Scottoline is the New York Times bestselling and Edgar Award-winning author of the Rosato & DiNunzio series, as well as One Perfect Lie, Most Wanted, and many others. She has 30 million copies of her books in print in the United States. She has been published in thirty-five countries. Her critically acclaimed stories have been adapted into a series of memoirs, the first of which is entitled Why My Third Husband Will Be a Dog. She lives in the Philadelphia area.

*****

Matt Santos is puzzled when he receives a call from the Australian consulate. The caller tells him that there is a painting that was looted from his family house in Hungry during World War II. The name of the painting is Budapest Street Scene and its creator was celebrated painter Ervin Kálmán. Matt Santos is puzzled because he was not aware of the painting. The only person who can tell him about the painting is his father but Matt Santos has a very strained relationship with his father. He can recover the painting only with the help of his father. Therefore, he decides to reconnect with his father and remove misunderstanding between them. He decides to visit Budapest to learn more about this painting and recover it. He is accompanied by Rachel. As the process to recover the painting continues, Matt Santos feels torn between his beautiful fashion model girlfriend, Tracy, and his beautiful attorney. In Budapest, he not only rediscovers his family history but also restores his connection to Judaism, the religion of his family. Rachel plays an important part in this as she is an observant Jew who handles Holocaust restitution cases. What Matt Santos learns about his family’s past in Budapest is very disturbing. Mark Sarvas is the second generation Hungarian American. Memento Park is also about a second generation Hungarian American who was raised by his father without religion. Memento Park explores the family and father-son dynamics in this context. Most importantly, the question it tries to answer is how to leave your disturbing past behind. The story of Matt Santos may be your own story. It will absorb you from the very beginning and stay in your mind for a long time.

Mark Sarvas is the author of the novel Harry, Revised, which was published in more than a dozen countries around the world. He is a member of the National Book Critics Circle, PEN/America, and PEN Center USA, and teaches novel writing at the UCLA Extension Writers Program. A reformed blogger, he lives in Santa Monica, California.

*****

American by Day is a continuation of his earlier novel Norwegian by Night although both are standalone. Both are set in 2008 and the main character is Sigrid Ødegård. She is a brilliant Norwegian detective who has just been cleared of charges of taking mishandling the situation and having killed a man in the line of duty when a confrontation with a Kosovan immigrant turned deadly. Although it has officially been acknowledged that she took the appropriate action and saved the life of a child, she still feels disturbed. She decides to go to the family farm and relax. At the farm, she learns that her father has other plans for her. He wants her to go to America where his brother, Marcus, has disappeared. Her father wants her to go to America and find him. She agrees to this only reluctantly. Soon after her arrival in America, she feels that America is weird. As she makes progress in the case of his brother’s disappearance, it seems his disappearance is linked to the death of the woman he loved, Lydia Jones. Lydia Jones was an acclaimed African American professor with a heavy heart. The local sheriff Irving Wylie is also investigating Lydia Jones’ death. Sigrid finds Irving Wylie irreverent who wears cowboy-style boots. Both of them soon realize their divergent investigative paths are not leading them anywhere and they have to work together. American by Day explores the key issues in American politics such as justice, police brutality, and race relations. American by Day is an edge-of-your-seat mystery that is hugely entertaining. Every American should read it.

Derek B. Miller’s first novel, Norwegian by Night, was an Indies Choice Honor Book, an Economist best book of 2013, and a winner of the Crime Writers’ Association’s John Creasey Dagger Award. His second novel, The Girl in Green, was published in 2017. Born and raised in Boston, Miller has lived abroad for more than fifteen years, in Norway, Switzerland, Britain, Israel, and Hungary. He now lives in Oslo, Norway, with his wife and two children.

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