Changing Lara by Anna Jacobs

How is it that Anna Jacobs always swaddles you into a world that feels cozy and safe and hopeful?

Here is another story about a working woman who wants to retire but puts it off until she is at the edge of the world and has to fight her way back to home and to England. There she discovers that her financial advisor has emptied her bank account of everything but her last bonus.

She nevertheless sets up house, in a pleasant community where she has purchased a home, spontaneously, without permission, and without regret.

She is of course divorced and her ex-husband does not much like the fact that her next door neighbor is well off and cares for his ex-wife, carefully. Things move slowly and sweetly. All is well and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.

Colleen Hoover, Verity, read by Amy Landon and Vanessa Johannson

Within a minute or two we know that the female narrator is New York City tough; hard headed, unlike the pedestrian who was used to staring at his phone as usual while trying to cross the same street as usual. She calls it: “death by routine.” In that clever, wary, prudent way that a woman can get after a few years alone in the city.

Soon, the narrator lets us know that she is not that tough, not that citified, not social at all in fact. That the day we meet her is the first day out of her apartment in a long long while.

But still, she has just gotten both money and work today and now back in her apartment with her agent she may also get sex. Except that she doesn’t want sex with this man who will already take 15% off the top.

“…. just looking out for ya… Looking out for me? He knew my mother was dying. And he hasn’t checked in with me in two months. He’s not looking out for me. He’s an ex-boyfriend who thought he was going to get laid tonight but instead was quietly rejected right before finding out that I’d be staying at another man’s home. He’s disguising his jealousy as concern.”

So, a woman sharp as a tack.

It is not until later that we see again how a woman deceives a man, how one woman who lies deceives another woman who lies, and how the world between them, the world they create and inhabit is desolate, bereft, and bankrupt… and we too, reading it, become desolate, bereft and bankrupt.

Deadly Codes by JP O’Donnell

In a small town in bourgeois Massachusetts, the wife of an NSA agent is killed by a car bomb as she starts up her husband’s car. It seems obvious that the bomb was directed at the husband, but Jennifer, the twin of the dead wife, is not so sure. She contacts a private detective, Gallagher, and tells him about her sister. She tells him what nobody else knows: the sister was having an affair with a woman; who has since disappeared. … Gallagher is fascinated. Despite having promised his new wife that he would no longer engage in detective work, he decides to take on the case and find the woman with whom the dead wife had ‘fallen in love’.

So begins Gallagher’s neat, curious, compelling hunt for an absent woman…. whose real identity uncovers treachery, treason and betrayal.

Read by Jordan Rich

Front Page Fatality by Lyndee Walker

The Louboutin-loving print reporter makes us want to read her. She writes well because she knows how to talk well to……everyone in Richmond, Virginia. And seems to fit in everywhere, despite the heels.

Lyndee Walker tells us that “she has always wanted to be Lois Lane…” and gives us a character with curves and connections and a boss she calls “Chief”….

Cora Seton, Issued to the Bride, (books 1-4)

Adorable series that begins, improbably, with a scene from Pearl Buck’s The Good Earth — a seraglio of men sitting looking at a series of photos or paintings of women who are too beautiful to be real. But they are real. And they have a price.

In this case, the women all belong to a General; they are his daughters, and the men who have been looking at their photographs for months are waiting for their next mission. They don’t realize that the daughters are their mission.

Betrayed by Sharon Sala

A sister who witnessed her brother’s murder goes back to her home town after 10 years to find the killer. As usual with Sharon Sala, the main character is layered, magnetic, surrounded by friends and neighbors each of whom reflect her differently… There are also the usual divisions of wealth, of class, the separation of one person from another by virtue of their social position and place. And of course, there is the compelling and irresistible plot which draws us in, engages us and wraps us up — for a time.

Nightlife by Thomas Perry read by Shelley Frasier

When a computer salesman comes home she greets him with a smile which denies the need to talk about the bill, all the bills, for things he wants to deny her. Later, in the bath, she shoots him. His name is Dennis Poole. He is the kind of man who tips exactly 15% and not a penny more and is proud because it shows he can figure it out in his head. He is a man with a soft belly and thinning hair who sells equipment to other men like himself and he is the cousin of a Los Angeles hood who hires Joe Pitt to find out who killed him.

Dennis Poole is introduced on page 2, killed on page 4, but we have a clear and exact idea of him. Enough to groan a little when his blood drains into the bath. Just enough of a character to make us curious.

There are more clear and distinct ideas, probable, precise images of characters, types, and encounters. The character of the murderess, amateurish, superficial, but conniving, good at imitating emotions but unempathetic, is a live sketch of a psychopath.

The dialogues are witty and fun.

” ..I just sell sound-imaging machines to doctors and hospitals…I’m Brian Corey.” “Pleased to meet you. I’m Marsha.” “No last name?” “Corey. I’m going to be Marsha Corey, right?”

“The life she had constructed for herself was good. But this evening with Joe Pitt was better.”

Joe Pitt is cool, a private detective, hired to find a murderess who is getting better and better and a good match for the serious homicide detective on the case, Catherine Hobbes.

A smart, well crafted and engaging crime novel.