Local Woman Missing by Mary Kubica

Local Woman Missing by Mary Kubica
Publisher: Park Row
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Cholla

People don’t just disappear without a trace…

Shelby Tebow is the first to go missing. Not long after, Meredith Dickey and her six-year-old daughter, Delilah, vanish just blocks away from where Shelby was last seen, striking fear into their once-peaceful community. Are these incidents connected? After an elusive search that yields more questions than answers, the case eventually goes cold.

Now, eleven years later, Delilah shockingly returns. Everyone wants to know what happened to her, but no one is prepared for what they’ll find…

When one woman goes missing, it’s an awful event. But when two women and a six-year-old go missing close together? It becomes a local tragedy. Just when the town thinks it’s starting to move past it all, to heal and grow, the missing child shows up out of nowhere, throwing everything and everyone into turmoil again. However, not everything is as it seems.

Leo, Delilah’s younger brother, is probably my favorite character. He was very young when Delilah and their mother disappeared – he was four, I think – so he has no memories of his sister at all. There are times when he doubts her, thinks she’s making things up, and yet, he still finds ways to make her feel at home. He’s probably the most honest of them all, even when he’s being awful about the situation at hand.

Kate is the kind of neighbor you want to have. She’s smart, friendly, and goes above and beyond to help when you need her. When Delilah and Meredith go missing, she’s on the front line searching and helping care for Josh and Leo, the father and son that are left behind to deal with the fallout. Her partner, Bea, is a musician and more of a free spirit than Kate, but she’s generous with her time and makes the perfect partner for Kate.

Meredith’s point of view is one of the more intense since she’s got a lot going on in her life, even before she goes missing. She’s caring for the two kids she has with her husband, Josh, running her business as a doula, and everything else that comes with motherhood. Plus, she had a few unpleasant things she was dealing with as well – an arrogant doctor and mysterious bruises that keep showing up on her son, Leo. I felt her struggle in my soul. Despite not being a single mom – she was very happily married – so much of her kids’ care fell on her and it was wearing her out. Something I could easily relate to. Still, she somehow managed to find a way to get it all done.

I’ve read several books by the author and she has a great way of making you want to believe everyone while not trusting anyone. I thought I knew who was responsible at least six times and each time, I was so wrong. The twist at the end threw me completely and was not something I was expecting at all. Sometimes, her twists aggravate me, but this one left me with my mouth hanging open. I can’t see where she goes next since each book seems to get better and crazier.

The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner

The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner
Publisher: Park Row
Genre: Contemporary, Historical, Suspense/Mystery/Thriller
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Cholla

A forgotten history. A secret network of women. A legacy of poison and revenge. Welcome to The Lost Apothecary…

Hidden in the depths of eighteenth-century London, a secret apothecary shop caters to an unusual kind of clientele. Women across the city whisper of a mysterious figure named Nella who sells well-disguised poisons to use against the oppressive men in their lives. But the apothecary’s fate is jeopardized when her newest patron, a precocious twelve-year-old, makes a fatal mistake, sparking a string of consequences that echo through the centuries.

Meanwhile in present-day London, aspiring historian Caroline Parcewell spends her tenth wedding anniversary alone, running from her own demons. When she stumbles upon a clue to the unsolved apothecary murders that haunted London two hundred years ago, her life collides with the apothecary’s in a stunning twist of fate—and not everyone will survive.

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Nella had thought that the first time she crossed the line from helping into harming that her fate had been set. And then Eliza Fanning comes into her life and her fate is rearranged, but is it for the better? What she – and Eliza – don’t realize is that their chance encounter will also shape the fate and future of someone in the far future. A woman named Caroline Parcewell, a woman dealing with her own demons.

I have to say that, although what I got was not anything like what I was expecting, I thoroughly enjoyed The Lost Apothecary. Stories that alternate timelines are a favorite of mine. It’s fascinating to me how they seem to run parallel right up until that point where they become intermeshed with one another.

Of the three characters, twelve-year-old Eliza is probably my favorite. She’s stuck somewhere between child and young adult in a world where young girls become women overnight. I thought the author portrayed her well. She’s a smart kid with a good work ethic, however she still has her childish fears and ideas as well. Seeing her determination overcome her fears and worries as she helps Nella was one of the best parts of the novel.

Nella is a conflicted character. As much as she wanted to follow in her mother’s footsteps and do no harm, betrayal in her past soured her on men. Especially men who lied, cheated, and betrayed other women. Her internal conflict really drives her and Eliza’s portion of the story. Her reluctant friendship with Eliza was her saving grace, I think.

I felt for Caroline and really loved that she decided to ditch her cheating husband and take their anniversary trip on her own. Honestly, I can’t blame her – she needed that escape. I related to Caroline more than any of the other characters due to her giving up so much for what she thought was good reasons, only to discover later she’d cheated herself out of what she’d wanted. Her drive and desire for answers also resonated with me and I lived for each little discovery she made.

One part contemporary mystery, one part historical fiction, with a dash of magical realism tossed in just for pizzazz, The Lost Apothecary is an interesting, engaging romp through both present-day London and the London of 1791. While I had gone in expecting something more action-packed and intense, the author still delivered an emotionally charged, engrossing story of three women separated by centuries and yet still tied together through time.

The Other Mrs. by Mary Kubica

The Other Mrs. by Mary Kubica
Publisher: Park Row
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full length (359 pages)
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Poinsettia

Sadie and Will Foust have only just moved their family from bustling Chicago to small-town Maine when their neighbor Morgan Baines is found dead in her home. The murder rocks their tiny coastal island, but no one is more shaken than Sadie.

But it’s not just Morgan’s death that has Sadie on edge. And as the eyes of suspicion turn toward the new family in town, Sadie is drawn deeper into the mystery of what really happened that dark and deadly night. But Sadie must be careful, for the more she discovers about Mrs. Baines, the more she begins to realize just how much she has to lose if the truth ever comes to light.

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Every area of Sadie’s life has been marred in some way. Her husband isn’t as devoted as he seems, her oldest child is in serious trouble at school, and a mistake at work nearly costs Sadie her career as a doctor. Moving to Maine was supposed to be a new beginning for them all. Instead, it only makes things worse. Just when Sadie doesn’t think anything else could go wrong, a brutal murder happens just a few houses down the street. Even more shocking, the police think Sadie has something to do with the crime. Will Sadie be able to prove her innocence, or is the culprit closer than she imagines?

Sadie’s situation is so sad. The more I read, the more I discovered just how many problems were plaguing Sadie and her family. Ms. Kubica chose to tell this story from multiple viewpoints. I found this intriguing as each character has something important to add to the plot. Each chapter peels back another layer, revealing the roots of the problems bit by bit. I will say that this format did slow the pacing down. Since the chapters alternates between the perspective of several of the main characters, I needed to re-adjust my mindset with each change. I interpret chapters from Sadie’s perspective much differently than those from the perspective of Camille, the woman Will has an affair with, or Mouse, a young girl whose true identity isn’t revealed until the novel’s conclusion.

The nature of the subject matter also made it more difficult to get through this book. This book contains a lot of heavy material including violence and child abuse. As I read, the weight of it all pressed on me, and I needed to set the book aside from time to time before picking it up again. Readers sensitive to this material are forewarned.

The conclusion of this novel is mostly satisfying. I think some of the twists are a little hard to swallow. However, I was able to set aside my disbelief, especially since many of the characters are well on their way to finding some semblance of happiness by the end.

Overall, I think The Other Mrs. is a good book. I recommend it to readers who enjoy a slower paced suspense.