The best new books this month chosen by us and other
independent booksellers across the country.

This Month's #1 Indie Next List Pick...

The Guest Book

By Sarah Blake

(Flatiron Books, 9781250110251, $27.99)

"I began The Guest Book expecting an excellent family saga set, in part, on an island in Maine. The magic of the family home is palpable as three generations build loyalty, identity, and memories there. But what I read was far, far more. This is a history of our country's evolution through matters of race, class, and politics, and it relates compellingly to our current struggles with those topics as the characters grapple with the underpinnings of privilege, familial love, and morality. Sarah Blake has written a stunning and complex novel that lingers in your mind long after the last page."
--Dana Brigham, Brookline Booksmith, Brookline, MA

This Month's #1 Indie Next List Pick Author Interview

photo: Liz Norton

Booksellers across the country have chosen The Guest Book (Flatiron Books, May 7), the new multigenerational novel by Sarah Blake, as their number-one pick for the May Indie Next List.

The Guest Book witnesses a changing America across three generations of the Miltons as they pass through the family's lavish estate on an island in Maine. After her mother's death, historian Evie looks more closely at the longstanding myths that undergird the Milton family dynasty, a personal journey that yields a wealth of secrets. As the book follows the Miltons from 1936 to 1959 to the present day, readers discover a family--and a country--that buries the secrets of the past until the present brings a reckoning, demonstrating the subterranean currents of class and power that have shaped America.

Blake is the author of two other novels: Grange House (Picador) and 2010 New York Times bestseller The Postmistress (Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam). Blake taught high school and college English in Colorado and New York and has taught fiction workshops at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts; the Writer's Center in Bethesda, Maryland; the University of Maryland; and George Washington University. She lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband, the poet Joshua Weiner, and their two sons.

Here, we talk to Blake about her latest novel, which received starred reviews in BooklistKirkus, and Library Journal.

How did you get the idea for this book?

I always, always wanted to write a big, juicy multigenerational novel. I grew up loving The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende, Virginia Woolf's The Years, and The Forsyte Saga, [and reading about] the ways in which families evolve by both keeping secrets and telling secrets; I wanted to wade into that. When I started writing this book, it was 2009 and Obama had just been sworn in, and I was really affected by his speech in Philadelphia on the campaign trail in which he quoted Faulkner. In the speech, he was trying to address issues of race in the presidential campaign and in the country, and he said, "The past isn't dead. It isn't even past."

At the time, it seemed to me that the conversation around race was really shifting; for the first time in my adult life, it seemed like, black and white people were having conversations about the way in which our racial past was inflecting the present, and it was something I had not been privy to. It was incredibly exciting, so I wanted to enter that and really think about my own place in terms of the history of this country, as a white woman and a sort of old-money WASP. When the time came to start this novel, those two things were very much in place. I thought that writing a family history might be a way to think about this country's history and the ways that we echo and repeat the past when we claim not to know things, or when we "forget" what has happened. That's the terrain where I started.

Did the form or focus of this book change as you wrote it over this past decade, which has been exceedingly politically tumultuous?

It's incredible what has happened. In fact, I handed it in last summer, so it was written basically from 2010 to 2018, and it seemed like that conversation just kept getting bigger and bigger and broader and broader. When Trump was elected, it became inescapable to see the ways in which we were inflecting our histories over and over and over again. We keep repeating the past, in so many ways. One of the things I wanted to do in writing this story was to show how who we are and who we were are always going on at the same time, which seems to me the best way to think about this country's racial past and present. I wanted to write the book so that the story alternated back and forth in time periods, so that the '30s, the '50s, and the present were carrying on side by side.

Another thing that was instrumental for me in writing this was when my family and I moved to Berlin. I was really affected by how that city has externalized its history. There is a project there called the "stumbling stones," where paving stones are inscribed with written commemorations of the tragedies that happened there. It feels like with American memory, we keep passing on these ideas of race and class and who we are in the structure without externalizing them. That is what gave me the idea of setting the story in one place that would be the thing to bind and define who this family was, and so was also the place they would constantly return to. In this one place, we see what happens when memory is set loose and how that can create its own kind of reckoning.

Do you feel that great historical fiction can help portray the kinds of essential truths that the mere recalling of facts cannot?

Yes, absolutely. I think that is one of the great powers of literature: you take the facts, or the credible world, the real, and you make it true in a way that allows you to see past facts, to see around facts, to understand in a way that brings that world to life and allows for greater insight. There's power there, for sure. One of things that I realized by the end of this book was the ways in which historical fiction can be incredibly subversive. If the writer has created a credible historical world, reading a good historical novel will force you to really ask yourself, who would you have been in that past? The pleasure of historical fiction is that you get transported, but the sneaky subversion of it is that you are also brought face to face with that idea of who you would have been, which begs the question, who are you now?

You mentioned having an old money, WASPy background. How did having that sort of past influence what you were writing and the lifestyle you were depicting?

I come from the kind of family in which there has always been an implicit sense of our own history, of being upstanding and noble and right. I was really ready to take a look at all the ways in which the structures of this country were set up and the ways in which my family was part of that. I wanted to take on my own place in the structural injustices of this country and look at this notion that we carry inside of us all the voices of the past, that we just repeat the words of our parents and grandparents, often without hearing or knowing it. There's a sense of just passing this stuff on and on and on without seeing it, even when you think you do see, as with the character of Evie. You can say that you see, but at the same time, you can keep on sounding and behaving just like your grandmother. That goes back to the idea that when memory isn't externalized, when it isn't made physical, this is the way it is carried on.

In writing The Guest Book, did you research the different time periods you were writing about (the '30s, the '50s, and today)?

Oh yes, I did a lot of research. The Postmistress, the novel I did before this, was a World War II novel so I had spent quite a lot of time researching the '40s and before that the late '30s. For this one, I wanted to amplify that even more so I spent a lot of time researching the '30s and thinking about, what was the level of resistance, especially in the early '30s, to the Nazi takeover as it was moving? In some ways it was moving unbelievably quickly, and in the other ways it was moving very, very slowly, so that people could think, this is not that bad, he's doing this for this or that reason. I was very interested in the time before it all exploded, before the Final Solution, before Kristallnacht, those years when history was moving but the people inside it couldn't see that this was a historical moment and a catastrophe. And with 1959, it was the same reason I was interested in setting this in a period right before things broke open on the surface, into the '60s and the civil rights movement. In '59, everything was incipient; it was the year when all kinds of forces were at work, but they still remained under the surface. That was interesting to me, so I spent a lot of time there.

In the acknowledgements, you note that the poet Claudia Rankine is a longtime friend and was a reader of this book as you wrote over the years. Do you feel like her involvement helped clarify your message?

Claudia and I have been friends for a very long time, but the conversation specifically around being white and being black in this country is one we've been having for decades, especially this idea of who we are in the moment as a white person or a black person as it is connected to the history that we carry with us, and the idea that there might be a historical self and then a self that imagines itself separate from history. She and I talk all the time about these issues; it seems like the most important conversation you can have. So yes, along with my own reading, I feel like I've talked my way toward whatever understanding I have of these issues very much through these conversations with her. --Liz Button

More Indie Next List Great Reads

Normal People

By Sally Rooney

(Hogarth, 9781984822178, $26)

"What a treat to discover Sally Rooney! This novel stands out shining from the current onslaught of mediocre prose and less-than-suspenseful thriller plots. Normal People is the story of a relationship between two high school classmates in a small town in Ireland, and how it changes over time, through their last year of college in Dublin. Rooney's spare and brilliant writing illuminates her insight and makes the unfolding of these two personalities completely compelling."
--Georgiana Dix Blomberg, Magnolia's Bookstore, Seattle, WA

The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna

By Juliet Grames

(Ecco, 9780062862822, $27.99)

"Stella Fortuna: With a name like this, she should not be subjected to so many near-death accidents. Is she unlucky or cursed? Juliet Grames does a masterful job of parsing out Stella's story, from growing up in an isolated mountain village to immigrating to America and navigating the perils of a patriarchal society along the way. This story explores familial bonds, discontentment, betrayal, and the damage of keeping secrets. Readers, get comfortable because you will not want to put this book down. I loved Stella."

--Patricia Moody, Hickory Stick Bookshop, Washington Depot, CT

Rough Magic: Riding the World's Loneliest Horse Race

By Lara Prior-Palmer

(Catapult, 9781948226196, $25)

"Lara Prior-Palmer's journey in the Mongol Derby is one of excitement, pain, and profound inner dialogue. There was not a moment in this fast-paced memoir where my attention wavered. Prior-Palmer weaves a coming-of-age tale with expert grace and worldly knowledge alongside an intensely riveting competition against herself and the land. Rough Magic is a fantastically written and introspective memoir worthy of great praise."

--Travis McGuire, Skylark Bookshop, Columbia, MO


By Max Porter

(Graywolf Press, 9781555978402, $24)

"The genius of Max Porter is that he can write a village in its entirety--a mother's love for her son, a brilliant artist's loneliness, a young boy's whimsical adventures, a mythological creature's inner monologue, a whole village worth of secrets and wishes and terrible thoughts--and make it into a bizarre but highly enjoyable little novel. You'll find yourself thrilled by the dark humor Porter captures in his story of one village and its characters, both real and mythologized, as Lanny follows the eponymous young boy and the lives he impacts around him."

--Erin Mazza, BookBar, Denver, CO

Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee

By Casey Cep

(Knopf, 9781101947869, $26.95)

"In Cold Blood and To Kill a Mockingbird kept me up reading all night as a teen, and I can now add Furious Hours to the list of couldn't-put-it-down tomes. I was enthralled, educated, and awestruck by Casey Cep's well-researched and masterfully written true-crime account of a rural minister, his lawyer, and his killer. Thankfully, Cep discovered and brought to light what surely could have been Harper Lee's second bestseller. Now... off to get a good night's rest!"

--Beth Stroh, Viewpoint Books, Columbus, IN

Out East: Memoir of a Montauk Summer

By John Glynn

(Grand Central Publishing, 9781538746653, $27)

"I absolutely loved Out East. It kept me up until 2:30 in the morning because I needed to read one more scene, one more chapter, to find out what happened with all of the characters. As I read, I was able to put myself into the Hive along with the rest of the housemates. The sensory details--music, food, descriptions of the people who populate Montauk--allowed me to step into this world as if I were a housemate myself. The emotional experience, too, was vivid and relatable, and brought me back to my own roller-coaster experiences of first love, longing, and heartache."

--Chris Klim, Buffalo Street Books, Ithaca, NY

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek

By Kim Michele Richardson

(Sourcebooks Landmark, 9781492691631, $25.99, hardcover; 9781492671527, $15.99, trade paper)

"I loved this wonderful story about Cussy Mary, a pack horse librarian in eastern Kentucky in the 1930s and one of the last of the blue-skinned people of that area. As Cussy faces pressure to marry and difficulties maintaining her arduous book route through twisty and dangerous mountain passes, she earns the respect of the mountain people she serves so faithfully. Beautifully written and heartbreaking at times, this is a story I will never forget."

--Mary Patterson, The Little Bookshop, Midlothian, VA

Courting Mr. Lincoln

By Louis Bayard

(Algonquin Books, 9781616208479, $27.95)

"This is a beautifully rendered, historically compelling exploration of the idea that the powerful and unseen gravitational force acting on what we know to have been a complicated courtship between Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd was Lincoln's ambiguous friendship with Joshua Speed. Bayard's complex characters live believably on these pages, reminding us that love is not--and never has been, even for the iconic figures of history--a this-or-that thing, but instead takes on many forms, depending on its circumstances. A great book club selection!"

--Nina Barrett, Bookends & Beginnings, Evanston, IL

Southern Lady Code: Essays

By Helen Ellis

(Doubleday, 9780385543897, $22)

"I had forgotten how to laugh, but after opening this book and starting to read, I couldn't help myself--it just came bubbling up. What a wonderful thing it is to hold in your hands something that has the power to make one erupt with hoots and howls. Helen Ellis is a treasure and a gift from the gods; she tells it like it is in Southern lady speak and we love her all the more for the joy she has given us."

--Beth Reynolds, Norwich Bookstore, Norwich, VT

Rules for Visiting

By Jessica Francis Kane

(Penguin Press, 9780525559221, $26)

"A skillful writer can show how things that seem unrelated are actually intertwined. In this way, Kane quietly reminds us that friendships and plants may be deeply rooted but need tending to bloom completely, that words matter, that going back to their roots may change how we think about what we say, and that a quiet life can be a full one. This gentle book grows on you (the puns just keep coming), but it is a refreshing change from the stresses of our digital age or the angst of so many recent books about contemporary life. Entertaining and erudite, I highly recommend this book."
--Ann Carlson, Waterfront Books, Georgetown, SC

Disappearing Earth

By Julia Phillips

(Knopf, 9780525520412, $26.95)

"Julia Phillips is an author to watch. She beautifully transports us to a region of the world that I had never heard of and now can't stop thinking about. The stories of the women there--their family dynamics, their hopes and fears, the economic and cultural divide of various communities--tell a moving story about this place in a moment in time, but ultimately about the universal struggle of women living with the expectations placed on them. A remarkable debut."

--Casey Coonerty, Bookshop Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA

Loudermilk: Or, the Real Poet; Or, the Origin of the World

By Lucy Ives

(Soft Skull Press, 9781593763909, $16.95, trade paper)

"Lucy Ives has created something special in Loudermilk. The early 2000s setting is unmistakable, and while all the characters are both familiar (in all the right ways) and written with at least some degree of love, none are spared by Ives' razor-sharp satire. Unlike so many other satirical novels, Loudermilk is nuanced and feels like it has something to say, rather than just skewering for the sake of skewering. And it's consistently laugh-out-loud funny throughout."

--Lane Jacobson, Paulina Springs Books, Sisters, OR

The Bride Test

By Helen Hoang

(Berkley, 9780451490827, $15, trade paper)

"This follow-up to The Kiss Quotient is an incredibly diverse and fun story about Khai, Michael's cousin from the previous novel. He is Vietnamese-American, autistic, and believes himself to be incapable of the emotions that matter. I would recommend this to those who enjoyed The Rosie Effect and Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine. Hoang is making important waves, one sweet, sexy romance novel at a time."

--Stephanie Csaszar, Books Around the Corner, Gresham, OR

Cape May

By Chip Cheek

(Celadon Books, 9781250297150, $26.99)

"This book is extraordinary. In a small, empty beachside town after the season ends, a couple on their ill-planned honeymoon, slowly awakening to all the ways they can disappoint each other, stumble across a Gatsby-ish household of worldly beautiful people who embrace them wholeheartedly. The days pass in a glorious gin-soaked daze; erotic tension charges every encounter. Chip writes like James Salter, with a sense of a humor and a fuller appreciation and understanding of female desire. Moving, so gorgeous, and absolutely brilliant."

--Mary Cotton, Newtonville Books, Newton Centre, MA

Indies Introduce -- outstanding debuts as selected by independent booksellers

Once More We Saw Stars: A Memoir

By Jayson Greene

(Knopf, 9781524733537, $25)

"Some memoirs transcend the author's experience and become universal--I always thought of those as the good ones. Then I read Jayson Greene's memoir of loss and grief and was forced to confront the fullness of his individual humanity in a way I hadn't experienced before. Grief is distinctly personal and Greene's story of the death of his two-year-old child is simply unfathomable to me, yet his honesty and willingness to sit in the fearfulness of this new life resonated deeply. Once More We Saw Stars is a wonderfully written memoir that connects on the most basic human level."

--Michelle Cavalier, Cavalier House Books, Denham Springs, LA

Indies Introduce -- outstanding debuts as selected by independent booksellers

Miracle Creek

By Angie Kim

(Sarah Crichton Books, 9780374156022, $27)

"Miracle Creek is a courtroom drama with impeccable pacing, an original plot, and stellar writing. It's also a remarkably empathetic book, exploring the ripple effects of causality and the urgent need to do right by each other in big and small ways, recognizing that even the best of us will fail once in a while. It is a lovely reminder that even when doing the right thing feels like swimming upstream, we never know what harm may be prevented and what good might come from our actions. A great read that deserves broad success."

--Sara Hinckley, Hudson Booksellers, Marietta, GA

Exhalation: Stories

By Ted Chiang

(Knopf, 9781101947883, $25.95)

"WOW. My first experience with Ted Chiang absolutely blew me out of the water. Each story left me with wide eyes and a racing mind, running to my husband to read a passage so we could both be knocked over with wonder. Exhalation filled me with so many questions about our collective past, present, and future, I'll be coming back to this book again and again trying to find the answers."

--Kasey Kane, Country Bookshelf, Bozeman, MT

The Binding

By Bridget Collins

(William Morrow, 9780062838094, $26.99)

"An absolutely gorgeous novel! Collins writes Emmett in such a way that readers will experience his confusion and frustration and then have it unknotted simultaneously as his tale unfolds. The three parts of the novel are brilliantly ordered to deliver a powerful tale that will tear your heart to pieces slowly and, in one spectacular scene, mend it completely with hope and love. Do Binders provide healing and comfort, or are they wicked magicians determined to leave you empty? What are you willing to risk for someone you love?"

--Angela Shores, Adventure Bound Books, Morganton, NC

Light From Other Stars

By Erika Swyler

(Bloomsbury Publishing, 9781635573169, $27)

"It's a little tricky to set up the premise of Light From Other Stars without giving too much away and alienating readers who might have a knee-jerk reaction to a plot involving space travel and a temporal anomaly. But at its heart--and it's a big, generous heart--this book is about love and what ultimately makes us human. The sci-fi/magical realism elements act like a series of lenses that magnify and, in wonderfully odd and unexpected ways, deepen our connection to those themes."

--Steve Haruch, Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN

The Book of Essie

By Meghan MacLean Weir

(Vintage, 9780525436072, $16)

"The Book of Essie is a captivating debut. The original plot moves at lightning speed while giving the reader characters to hang on to, care for, and sympathize with. The novel focuses on 16-year-old Essie Hicks, a star on a reality TV show following her preacher father and her ultra-religious, conservative family. When Essie finds out she is pregnant, she must protect herself and her future in the face of public scorn. Weir proves herself to be a brilliant new talent with a sensitive but unflinching take on child exploitation and life in the public eye. A must-read!"

--Liv Stratman, Books Are Magic, Brooklyn, NY


By Jesse Ball

(Ecco, 9780062676146, $16.99)

"Jesse Ball, you brilliant weirdo, how did you do it? Census is a novel about everything big, told in the miniature, heart-wrenching tableau of a census. We are grazed by the notion that something is a bit different in this world, breathing down our necks. Sentences inspire double takes, characters jump from the page into life, and a transformative journey is undertaken for both the reader and the characters. As the end of the alphabet approaches, the landscape becomes more haunting, and the reader learns more about love and death than I thought was possible in a single book."

--Halley Parry, Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN

Clock Dance

By Anne Tyler

(Vintage, 9780525563020, $16.95)

"Anne Tyler's extraordinary ability to tell a story in the simplest language has helped her become one of our most beloved authors. Here she brings us Willa Drake, who has been seeking something all her life, it seems. It's not until she's reached middle age that she finally opens a new door in her heart and welcomes in the most unusual group of people: an entire neighborhood, ready to bring her a new perspective and understanding of. Tyler's newest is one for book groups, one for book lovers, and one for you, too."

--Linda Bond, Auntie's Bookstore, Spokane, WA

Dear Mrs. Bird

By A.J. Pearce

(Scribner, 9781501170072, $17)

"What initially seems like a breezy career girl story quickly turns into a gripping novel set in the WWII London blitzkrieg. During the nightly bombing runs, Emmeline volunteers at a nearby fire dispatch center. She dreams of becoming a journalist, but instead lands a day job screening advice-seeking letters for a weekly magazine, Women's Friends. All too soon, she and her friends become victims of the bombings and must deal with losses and new horrors each night. A most memorable story about both the visible and hidden casualties of war. Recommended for all, including book clubs!"

--Nancy Simpson-Brice, Book Vault, Oskaloosa, IA

The Death of Mrs. Westaway

By Ruth Ware

(Gallery/Scout Press, 9781501156250, $16.99)

"Does Ruth Ware keep getting better and better? Yes, she does. A down-on-her-luck protagonist, a too-good-to-be-true inheritance, and a creepy old mansion combine for a deliciously suspenseful tale. The plucky heroine, Hal, believes she's mistakenly been identified as an heir to a great estate, but she decides to play along in the hopes of scamming a couple thousand pounds out of the situation. Once she's arrived at the reading of the will, she quickly realizes that she is in way over her head. This is a deceptive and suspense-riddled thrill ride!"

--Connie Brooks, Battenkill Books, Cambridge, NY

The High Season

By Judy Blundell

(Random House Trade Paperbacks, 9780525508731, $17)

"What would you do to keep your home by the sea on Long Island? Maybe rent it out for the summer to get some cash to pay the bills? But what if the person who rents the house this summer is out to get more than the house? Ruthie's about to find out what she's capable of when the rich and famous Adeline Clay takes over her nest. The parties, guests, and nasty business keep building until Ruthie reaches the end of her patience and there's only one thing left to do. You'll be glad you decided to go along on this ride!"

--Linda Bond, Auntie's Bookstore, Spokane, WA

The Mars Room

By Rachel Kushner

(Scribner, 9781476756585, $17)

"Rachel Kushner writes some seriously smart and gorgeous prose, so when she headed to prison in The Mars Room, I went. It is dark. It is painful. At times, the level of detail in the book and its fabulously invented and drawn characters make it feel like a documentary. We are struggling with so many social justice issues across the country right now it is overwhelming, and I worried that The Mars Room would push me over the edge. Instead, I couldn't stop reading. What really happened? Who is to blame? How will things turn out? How can we make things better? Ultimately, Kushner's great success is profoundly illustrating a very simple message: It's complicated."
--Sara Hinckley, Hudson Booksellers, Marietta, GA

My Ex-Life

By Stephen McCauley

(Flatiron Books, 9781250122445, $16.99)

"This story of loves both great and small is most certainly not saccharine sweet. My Ex-Life reminds us that there is a reason for everything, and that sometimes it's wise to go back to the familiar (albeit old) parts of ourselves to remind us just how far we've come. Stephen McCauley writes like your best friend--the one who always says what you're thinking but you'd never have the guts to utter out loud. His perception of even the mundane tasks of life reveals a witty tone dripping with self deprecation and amusement. This book is most certainly one you should put at the top of your to-be-read pile!"
--Jordan Arias, Anderson's Bookshop, Naperville, IL

Spinning Silver

By Naomi Novik

(Del Rey, 9780399180996, $17)

"In her second standalone fantasy, Novik once again mines the tales we know to create something completely modern yet timeless. This reimagined version of Rumpelstiltskin, set in a tsarist, Eastern Europe-like country called Litvas, is breathtaking. It explores female autonomy, class, Jewish life, and oppression while telling a compelling and richly realized fantasy tale. I just wanted to spend more time with Miryem, Wanda, Irina, and the story's other vibrant, compelling voices. If you loved Uprooted, don't hesitate to dive into this one. If you haven't read Novik's earlier work, begin here--you'll be hooked."

--Anmiryam Budner, Main Point Books, Wayne, PA

There There

By Tommy Orange

(Vintage, 9780525436140, $16)

"There There is the kind of book that grabs you from the start and doesn't let go, even after you've turned the last page. It is a work of fiction, but every word of it feels true. Tommy Orange writes with a palpable anger and pain, telling the history of a cultural trauma handed down through generations in the blood and bones and stories of individual lives. He also writes with incredible heart and humor, infusing his characters with a tangible humanity and moments of joy even as they are headed toward tragedy. There There has claimed a permanent spot in my heart despite having broken it, or maybe because it did. I think this may be the best book I've ever read."

--Heather Weldon, Changing Hands Bookstore, Tempe, AZ

Welcome to Lagos

By Chibundu Onuzo

(Catapult, 9781948226219, $16.95)

"A disparate and electric ensemble cast--sad, hopeful, honorable, conniving, quixotic, and just plain wacky--drive Chibundu Onuzo's remarkable debut, but it's the character of Nigeria itself--the air and soil of its countryside and the high-voltage freneticism of its largest city--that so often shines through, undeniably alive. Equally madcap, heartbreaking, and redemptive, Welcome to Lagos unflinchingly and beautifully captures the ambitions and contradictions of a nation on the brink."

--Sam Kaas, Third Place Books, Lake Forest Park, WA

The Word Is Murder

By Anthony Horowitz

(Harper Perennial, 9780062676801, $16.99)

"When a healthy 60-year-old woman is found strangled in her London home the very day she had organized and paid for her own funeral, former police detective--now consultant--Daniel Hawthorne convinces author Anthony Horowitz to shadow his investigation to eventually publish this very story. Imagine sitting in a darkened English pub listening to Horowitz as he tells the story of the unlikeable but captivating Hawthorne. Readers will quickly join in playing detective as characters, plot twists, clues, and red herrings escalate. Delicious!"

--Jennifer Gwydir, Blue Willow Bookshop, Houston, TX