New releases available at local libraries

Catherine Coles
Coles Notes

Interested to hear what book releases are creating a buzz this month? The following are a few ‘hot off the press’ or ‘almost off the press’ books that you may want to keep on your radar. Reserve them today by visiting and placing a hold.

Find You in the Dark by Nathan Ripley follows a retired tech millionaire with a disturbing (yet productive?) hobby: anonymously digging up the remains of murder victims that have long gone uncovered by police. The idea here is that Martin is a good-guy deviant (think Dexter), but then something happens that could implicate him in a contemporary murder spree.

This book didn’t really do much for me, but I appreciated its intricate plotting. It wasn’t so much creepy and atmospheric (my expectation) as it was twisty and suspenseful, although I think there is a likely a larger market for the latter. This book hit the shelves on March 6.

The Flicker of Old Dreams by Susan Henderson is all about atmosphere. Set in the small town of Petroleum, Montana, it follows a young woman named Mary Crampton. She’s a painfully shy mortician and something of a black sheep in her hyper-masculine community of farmers and ranchers.

The town is dying, her father’s funeral home is one of the only remaining businesses, and there is a sense of despondency in the air. One day a former resident, a man who was involved in a tragedy years ago, comes back to town to make arrangements for his dying mother. The community stirs and Mary finds herself wondering about her decision to stick around for so long.

There is not a lot of action in this novel, but if you enjoy quiet, character-driven stories with a strong sense of place, it is one to look out for. It transports you to one of these angst-ridden small towns in middle-America —the kind that the rest of the country has supposedly forgotten — composed of stragglers who yearn for the days when their town thrived with industry, and who are reluctant to acknowledge that those day are over. It presents a somber yet interesting slice of life. The Flicker of Old Dreams will be released on March 13.

Set in 1950s upstate New York, Hysteria follows Heike, a young mother with a muddled history. Under a haze of medication administered by her controlling doctor husband, she begins to witness strange happenings at an abandoned cabin near their summer home.

The events escalate with her son disappearing one night while she is at a party. This haunting genre-bending novel has definite Hitchcock vibes and a satisfying ending, but it was a bit slow going and convoluted. I almost quit halfway through, though I’m glad I stuck it out. If you read primarily for atmosphere, this could work for you. This one is also a March 6 release.

Another release this week is The Innocent Wife by Amy Lloyd. The Innocent Wife initially piqued my interest because it draws some inspiration from Netflix’s Making a Murderer. It follows a mousey British woman, Samantha “Sam”, who finds a sense of purpose through joining a campaign to free a man from prison. Dennis Danson, who was convicted of a grisly murder, was the subject of a well-known documentary that assumes his innocence — and Sam is not only on board, she begins a letter-writing affair with him.

Before long, she packs up her life and heads to Florida to marry the man. The campaign to free Dennis is eventually successful, he is exonerated…but Sam comes to realize that perhaps she was naïve in her belief that her husband was just a good guy who caught an unlucky break.

If you have ever wondered how convicted murders so often can find women to marry then — even while they are in prison! — then you might be interested to get inside of the head of Sam. She’s insecure and a bit off. It’s an interesting read from a characterization perspective, although I thought the plot had a bit too much stop-and-start.

Thank you to the publishers for providing me with advance reader copies of these titles in exchange for honest reviews.

Catherine Coles is manager of library services for L&ACounty.

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