Bacchanal by Veronica G. Henry


Bacchanal, Veronica G. Henry, 2021 My favorite quote: “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”  Notable characters: Eliza (Liza) Meeks, the new recruit; Clay, the talent scout; Jamey, his assistant Most memorable scene: There are a few that stand out, but my heart will always belongContinue reading “Bacchanal by Veronica G. Henry”

Live and Let Die by Ian Fleming


Live and Let Die, Ian Fleming, 1954 My favorite quote: “The gain to the winner is always less than the loss to the loser.” Notable characters: James Bond, agent 007; Felix Leiter, Bond’s friend in the CIA; Mr. Big, the Voodoo Baron of Death; Solitaire, Mr. Big’s fortune-telling employee Most memorable scene: The note pinnedContinue reading “Live and Let Die by Ian Fleming”

A is for Alibi by Sue Grafton


A is for Alibi, Sue Grafton, 1982 My favorite quote: “Except for cases that clearly involve a homicidal maniac, the police like to believe murders are committed by those we know and love, and most of the time they’re right – a chilling thought when you sit down to dinner with a family of five.Continue reading “A is for Alibi by Sue Grafton”

The High Window by Raymond Chandler


The High Window, Raymond Chandler, 1942 My favorite quote: “The moonlight was cold and clear, like the justice we dream of but don’t find.” Notable characters: Philip Marlowe, the world’s favorite wise-cracking PI; Elizabeth Bright Murdock, the wealthy widow who hires him to locate a very valuable missing coin; Leslie Murdock, her irritating negative-Nelly sonContinue reading “The High Window by Raymond Chandler”

Dark Lover by J.R. Ward


Dark Lover (book 1 in the Black Dagger Brotherhood), J.R. Ward, 2005 My favorite quote: “Whoa. Fangs. She had fangs. She leaned in, prodded them a little. Eating with those puppies was going to take some getting used to, she thought. On impulse, she brought up her hands, turned her fingers into claws. Hissed. Cool.”Continue reading “Dark Lover by J.R. Ward”

The Throwaway Girls of Olympia by Ian Totten


The Throwaway Girls of Olympia, Ian Totten, 2020 My favorite quote: “In the last month, two young women, both brunettes, have been tossed to the side of the road in Olympia, both dead from apparent strangulation.” Notable characters: Alan O’Tool, the haunted small-town sheriff; Darcy, his not-very-likable ex-wife; James, his son; Amy, his deceased daughterContinue reading “The Throwaway Girls of Olympia by Ian Totten”

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson


The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Robert Louis Stevenson, 1886 My favorite quote: “With every day, and from both sides of my intelligence, the moral and the intellectual, I thus drew steadily nearer to the truth, by whose partial discovery I have been doomed to such a dreadful shipwreck: that man isContinue reading “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson”

The Bad Seed by William March


The Bad Seed, William March, 1954 My favorite quote: “She will destroy us all. I did not escape, either. She will destroy us all, in time.” Notable characters: Rhoda Penrose, the bad seed; Christine Penmark, her long-suffering mother; Leroy Jessup, the warped maintenance man who recognizes (and relates to) the evil that dwells in  littleContinue reading “The Bad Seed by William March”

Lock Every Door by Riley Sager


Lock Every Door, Riley Sager, 2019 My favorite quote: “Never take anything you haven’t earned, my father used to say. You always end up paying for it one way or another.” Notable characters: Jules Larsen, the apartment-sitter; Nick, another resident Most memorable scene: The fire Greatest strengths: The character motivation. I think most people wouldContinue reading “Lock Every Door by Riley Sager”

Craven Manor by Darcy Coates


Craven Manor, Darcy Coates, 2017 My favorite quote: “For the few brief days he’d worked at Craven Manor he felt as if he’d escaped into a better life. His work mattered … even if it was just to a ghost and a man made of shadows.” Notable characters: Daniel, the new caretaker; Bran, his not-quite-normalContinue reading “Craven Manor by Darcy Coates”

The Silent Companion by Laura Purcell


The Silent Companions, Laura Purcell, 2017 My favorite quote: “Sometimes, the brain cannot cope with the information it has to process. It makes sense of trauma in odd ways.” Notable characters: Elsie Bainbridge, co-manager of a factory; Rupert, her recently (and mysteriously) deceased husband; Sarah, Rupert’s unusual cousin Most memorable scene: When the locked doorContinue reading “The Silent Companion by Laura Purcell”

Return to Howliday Inn by James Howe


Return to Howliday Inn, James Howe, 1992 My favorite quote: “‘My fate is a mirror in which to see / One will look in and end like me.’” Notable characters: Harold, our narrator; Chester (also known here as Cute Whiskers, his friend; Howie, their young companion; Felony and Miss Demeanor, two cat burglars; Bob andContinue reading “Return to Howliday Inn by James Howe”

Dolores Claiborne by Stephen King


Dolores Claiborne, Stephen King, 1992 My favorite quote: “An accident is sometimes an unhappy woman’s best friend.” Notable characters: Dolores Claiborne, a housekeeper who’s had enough; Joe St. George, her husband, with whom she’s had enough; Vera Donovan, the woman who employs Dolores … and lets her know that sometimes, it’s okay to have hadContinue reading “Dolores Claiborne by Stephen King”

Nighty-Nightmare by James Howe


Nighty-Nightmare, James Howe, 1987 My favorite quote: “‘In the woods it’s always dark,’ he said. ‘In the forest of the soul it’s always night.’” Notable characters: Harold, our canine narrator; Chester, his feline friend; Howie, the young punster, the Monroes, their oblivious human family; Bud, Spud, and Dawg, their mysterious camping companions Most memorable scene:Continue reading “Nighty-Nightmare by James Howe”

Shattered by Dean Koontz


Shattered, Dean Koontz, 1973 (originally published under the pseudonym K.R. Dwyer My favorite quote: “The things we regret most in life are the things we don’t do.” Notable characters: Alex Doyle, the new groom; Courtney, his bride; Colin, her little brother Most memorable scene: The ax attack (even though they really, really should have reportedContinue reading “Shattered by Dean Koontz”

Endless Night by Agatha Christie


Endless Night, Agatha Christie, 1967 My favorite quote: “‘Nobody shall drive us away,’ I said. ‘We’re going to be happy here.’ We said it like a challenge to fate.” Notable characters: Michael Rogers, a young man who can’t quite figure out what he wants to do with his life; Fenella Goodman, a business-smart heiress; GretaContinue reading “Endless Night by Agatha Christie”

The Rats by James Herbert


The Rats, James Herbert, 1974 My favorite quote: “Harris smiled thinly at him. ‘Are there any safe places around here anymore?’” Notable characters: Harris, an art teacher; Mr. Foskins, the Minister of Health; Stephen Howard, a researcher; Ferris, an exterminator Most memorable scene: Karen Blakely and her baby. Yikes. That’s all I’m gonna say aboutContinue reading “The Rats by James Herbert”

Darkness by John Saul


Darkness, John Saul, 1991 My favorite quote: “Tonight, she was certain, she was finally going to find out who she was, and why she had always known she was different from anyone else.” Notable characters: Kelly Anderson, a teenage outcast in a new town; Michael Sheffield, her new friend; Amelie Coulton, a swamp dweller; TheContinue reading “Darkness by John Saul”

Moonfall by Tamara Thorne


Moonfall, Tamara Thorne, 1996 My favorite quote: “Midnight. A dark, moonless shroud of midnight that closed in around Minerva Payne, starving her lungs, chilling her soul with its blackness.” Notable characters: Sara Hawthorne, a woman returning home; Minerva Payne, a mysterious local with mysterious abilities; St. Gertrude’s, aka, St. Gruesome’s, a girl’s school run byContinue reading “Moonfall by Tamara Thorne”

The Howling by Gary Brandner


The Howling, Gary Brandner, 1977 My favorite quote: “A few minutes later he was very glad that she was asleep. Because in sleep she could not hear what he heard off somewhere in the night. The howling.” Notable characters: Karyn and Roy Beatty, a young couple looking for a new start; Chris Halloran, Roy’s BFF;Continue reading “The Howling by Gary Brandner”

Haunted by Tamara Thorne


Haunted, Tamara Thorne, 1995 My favorite quote: “He’d always thought of supernatural horror as something that arose in daydreams and nightmares, fantastic thoughts born of facts and twisted to the imagination’s wishes. It seemed to be the other way around now.” Notable characters: David Masters, author an new owner of Baudey House; Amber, his daughter;Continue reading “Haunted by Tamara Thorne”

Winterwood by Dorothy Eden


Winterwood, Dorothy Eden, 1967 My favorite quote: “She had never felt so radiantly alive — nor so aware of potential danger and heartbreak Notable characters: Lavinia, the beautiful, strong-willed new governess; Daniel, the distant, broad-shouldered, square-jawed master of the house; Winterwood, the sprawling, mysterious manor Most memorable scene: The opium poisoning situation Greatest strengths: TheContinue reading “Winterwood by Dorothy Eden”

Vertigo by Lauren Baratz-Logsted


Vertigo, Lauren Baratz-Logsted, 2006 My favorite quote: “John always said writing was a way to cheat the rules of the living. ‘Without it,’ he would say, ‘I would only get to live one life.’” Notable characters: Emma Smith, a Victorian wife; John, her husband the novelist; Chance Wood, a man serving a sentence for theContinue reading “Vertigo by Lauren Baratz-Logsted”

Hallowe’en Party by Agatha Christie


Hallowe’en Party, Agatha Christie, 1969 My favorite quote: “You and I have a principle in common. We do not approve of murder.” Notable characters: Hercule Poirot, the sleuth with a really, really great mustache; Ariadne Oliver, an author who calls on Poirot for help; Joyce Reynolds, a bratty little busybody with whom you should neverContinue reading “Hallowe’en Party by Agatha Christie”

Bad Things by Tamara Thorne


Bad Things, Tamara Thorne, 1994 My favorite quote: “Icky Ricky, icky Ricky, come out and play.” Notable characters: Rick Piper, a single father looking to rebuild his life; Robin Piper, Rick’s abbreviated (and very creepy) little brother; Jade Ewebean, their wonderfully nasty aunt; Dakota O’Keefe, Rick’s good friend; Big Jack, a dude you don’t wantContinue reading “Bad Things by Tamara Thorne”

The Lady in the Lake by Raymond Chandler


The Lady in the Lake, Raymond Chandler, 1943 My favorite quote: “He was quite easy to hate,” she said emptily. “And poisonously easy to love. Women — even decent women — make such ghastly mistakes about men.” Notable characters: Philip Marlowe; the best PI ever; Derace Kingsley, the wealthy businessman who hires him; Crystal Kingsley,Continue reading “The Lady in the Lake by Raymond Chandler”

The Circus of the Damned by Laurell K. Hamilton


Circus of the Damned, Laurell K. Hamilton, 1995 My favorite quote: “The serpent must have smiled at Eve like that: pleasant, amused, dangerous.” Followed closely by, “If you came here to call me names, get the hell out of my office. If you have real business, state it, then get the hell out of myContinue reading “The Circus of the Damned by Laurell K. Hamilton”

The Rome Affair by Laura Caldwell


The Rome Affair, Laura Caldwell, 2006 My favorite quote: “I understand now that innocence is relative.” Notable characters: Rachel Blakely, a software salesperson; Nick, her husband, the surgeon; Kit, her BFF Most memorable scene: For me, it was the description of the Roman mornings Greatest strengths: Great plot structure Standout achievements: Its surprises. I didn’tContinue reading “The Rome Affair by Laura Caldwell”

The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Spear


The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Elizabeth George Spear, 1958 My favorite quote: “People are afraid of things they don’t understand.” Notable characters: Kit Tyler, an orphan (with a really cool name); Hannah, a Quaker who is rumored to be a witch; Nathaniel “Nat” Eaton, Kit’s true love Most memorable scene: When the angry mob burnsContinue reading “The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Spear”

The Woman in Black by Susan Hill


The Woman in Black, Susan Hill, 1983 My favorite quote: “Whatever was about, whoever I had seen, and heard rocking, and who had passed me by just now, whoever had opened the locked door was not ‘real’. No. But what was ‘real’? At that moment I began to doubt my own reality.” Notable characters: ArthurContinue reading “The Woman in Black by Susan Hill”

Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie


Death on the Nile, Agatha Christie, 1937 My favorite quote: “Love can be a very frightening thing. That is why most great love stories are tragedies.” Notable characters: Hercule Poirot, the investigator; Linette (Rideway) Doyle, an heiress; Simon Doyle, her new husband; Jacqueline de Bellefort, Simon’s ex-lover; Colonel Race, Poirot’s friend; Miss Van Schuyler, aContinue reading “Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie”

Francesca’s Party by Patricia Scanlan


Francesca’s Party, Patricia Scanlan, 2001 My favorite quote: “Her energies rubbed off on him. He never felt middle-aged with her. He glanced surreptitiously at the tell-tale grey hairs threading the brown tangle of chest hair that Nikki liked to run her fingers through. He wondered, was it possible to dye them?” (Idiot, lol) Notable characters:Continue reading “Francesca’s Party by Patricia Scanlan”

Wait Till Helen Comes by Mary Downing Hahn


Wait Till Helen Comes, Mary Downing Hahn, 1986 My favorite quote: “A breeze sighed through the leaves of the oak. It was the loneliest sound I’d ever heard, as lonely as a ghost who had been lying alone in the dark for a hundred years.” Notable characters: Molly, the twelve-year-old main character; Michael, her littleContinue reading “Wait Till Helen Comes by Mary Downing Hahn”

Make Them Cry by Kevin O’Brien


Make Them Cry, Kevin O’Brien, 2002 My favorite quote: “‘Why am I standing in this stupid empty tub?’ she asked. ‘So it catches all the blood,’ he replied.” Notable characters: Father Jack Murphy, a widower and spiritual advisor at Our Lady of Sorrows seminary; Johnny Costello, Jack’s friend who dies under mysterious circumstances; Maggie Costello,Continue reading “Make Them Cry by Kevin O’Brien”

The Damnation Game by Clive Barker


The Damnation Game, Clive Barker, 1985 My favorite quote: “Hell is reimagined by each generation. Its terrain is surveyed for absurdities and remade in a fresher mold; its terrors are scrutinized and, if necessary, reinvented to suit the current climate of atrocity; its architecture is redesigned to appall the eye of the modern damned.” NotableContinue reading “The Damnation Game by Clive Barker”

The Shadow Man by Stephen Gresham


The Shadow Man, Stephen Gresham, 1986 My favorite quote: “She haunted herself from within like an old house.” Notable characters: Joey Stuart, ; Jeb “The Dixie Strangler” Stuart, Joey’s father; CAP, Joey’s Computer*Assisted*Playmate; Sharina Marie, Joey’s stepmother; Mr. Zeeker, a former engineering professor; The Shadow Man, an evil entity whose existence could use a littleContinue reading “The Shadow Man by Stephen Gresham”

The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty


The Exorcist, William Peter Blatty, 1971 My favorite quote: “Head propped against a pillow while eyes bulging wide in their hollow sockets shone with mad cunning and burning intelligence, with interest and with spite as they fixed upon his, as they watched him intently, seething in a face shaped into a skeletal, hideous mask ofContinue reading “The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty”

Happy All the Time by Laurie Colwin


Happy All the Time, Laurie Colwin, 1978 My favorite quote: “Most of his time appeared to be spent bumming cigarettes from people whose annual income was about a fifth of his own.” (Because we all know guys like this)  Notable characters: Holly Sturgis; Guido Morris; Vincent Cardworthy; Misty Berkowitz  Most memorable scene: It’s been aContinue reading “Happy All the Time by Laurie Colwin”

The Body in the Library by Agatha Christie


The Body in the Library, Agatha Christie, 1942 My favorite quote: “What I feel is that if one has got to have a murder actually happening in one’s house, one might as well enjoy it, if you know what I mean.” Notable characters: Miss Marple, a spinster with a penchant for solving murders; Arthur Bantry,Continue reading “The Body in the Library by Agatha Christie”

Murder in the Wind by John D. MacDonald


Murder in the Wind, John D. MacDonald, 1956 My favorite quote: “Johnny Flagan would look over his glasses at you and grin wryly about his morning hangover and you would never notice that the grin did nothing to change the eyes. The eyes were small and brown and watchful and they could have been theContinue reading “Murder in the Wind by John D. MacDonald”

Fog Hides the Fury by Paula Minton


Fog Hides the Fury, Paula Minton, 1967 My favorite quote: “I could snap my fingers and suddenly the gray strands of fog would begin to curl around my body in a strange and mystical garment.”  Notable characters: Arlene Dade, a young woman who inherits a house of unhappiness; Alan Caswell, the handsome with mysterious intentionsContinue reading “Fog Hides the Fury by Paula Minton”

Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin


Rosemary’s Baby, Ira Levin, 1967 My favorite quote: “She opened her eyes and looked into yellow furnace-eyes, smelled sulphur and tannis root, felt wet breath on her mouth, heard lust-grunts and the breathing of onlookers.” Notable characters: Rosemary Woodhouse, the mother; Guy Woodhouse, her husband; Minnie and Roman Castavet, their strange, flamboyant neighbors Most memorableContinue reading “Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin”

Second Child by John Saul


Second Child, John Saul, 1990 My favorite quote: “But though her lips smiled warmly as she accepted the embrace, her eyes — had anyone noticed — betrayed an emotionless chill.” Notable characters: Melissa Holloway, a shy young girl; Teri MacIver, her older half-sister; D’Arcy, Melissa’s not-so-imaginary friend; Phyllis Holloway, the horrible mother; Charles, the excruciatinglyContinue reading “Second Child by John Saul”

In the Devil’s Snare: The Salem Witchcraft Crisis of 1692 by Mary Beth Norton


In the Devil’s Snare: The Salem Witchcraft Crisis of 1692, Mary Beth Norton, 2002  My favorite quote: “They believed that, in the colony, they lived in a moral and spiritual wilderness, corruption on all sides, and this made them particularly vigilant, even paranoid, when it came to threats, either real or perceived.” Notable characters: BridgetContinue reading “In the Devil’s Snare: The Salem Witchcraft Crisis of 1692 by Mary Beth Norton”

Midnight Bayou by Nora Roberts


Midnight Bayou, Nora Roberts, 2002 My favorite quote: “From this nice, safe distance, I’ve realized I actually like my family.” Notable characters: Declan Fitzgerald, the handyman; Lena Simone, the bar owner; Miss Odette, Lena’s grandmother Most memorable scene: The tragedy of Lucian and Abigail in the beginning. That’s what drew me into the story andContinue reading “Midnight Bayou by Nora Roberts”

The Sentinel by Jeffrey Konvitz


The Sentinel, Jeffrey Konvitz, 1974 My favorite quote: “My dear Miss Parker, aside from the old priest, and now you, no one has lived in that building for three years!” Notable characters: Alison Parker, the new tenant; Michael, her boyfriend; Charles Chazen, her strangle little neighbor; Gatz, the detective; Miss Logan, the realtor; Father Halliran,Continue reading “The Sentinel by Jeffrey Konvitz”

Guilty Pleasures by Laurell K. Hamilton


Guilty Pleasures, Laurell K. Hamilton, 1993 (book 1 of the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series) My favorite quote: “Most hatred is based on fear, one way or another.” Notable characters: Anita Blake, the animator/vampire hunter; Nikolaos, the Master vampire of St. Louis; Jean-Claude, owner of Guilty Pleasures, a vampire strip club Most memorable scene: ForContinue reading “Guilty Pleasures by Laurell K. Hamilton”

Cold Moon Over Babylon by Michael McDowell


Cold Moon Over Babylon, Michael McDowell, 1980 My favorite quote: “Two cars had passed in the last ten minutes: the fishing hearse and the car from Alabama. Why didn’t someone else come along? How could that happen within sight of her own house?”  Notable characters: Margaret Larkin, a fourteen-year-old girl; Jerry, her brother; Everlyn, theirContinue reading “Cold Moon Over Babylon by Michael McDowell”

Killer Triggers by Joe Kenda


Killer Triggers: Murder Comes Down to Sex, Drugs, or Money, Joe Kenda, 2021 (non-fiction) My favorite quote: “They say life is random. Death has it beat.” Notable characters: Lt. Joe Kenda, the retired homicide detective Most memorable scene: When a sweet little girl kicks Kenda right in the shin for (rightfully) sending her daddy toContinue reading “Killer Triggers by Joe Kenda”

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett


The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett, 1911 My favorite quote: “That is the Magic. Being alive is the Magic …” Notable characters: Mary Lennox, a lonely 10-year-old; Mrs. Medlock, the housekeeper; Dickon, her friend; Colin, a sickly boy Most memorable scene: When Mary discovers Colin Greatest strengths: Description  Standout achievements: Its ability to pull inContinue reading “The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett”