Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin Tessa Russo is the mothe rof two young children and the wife of a renowned pediatric surgeon. Despite her own misgivings, Tessa has recently given up her career to focus on her family and the pursuit of domestic happiness. From the outside, she seems destined to live a charmed life.
Valerie Anderson is an attorney and single mother to six-year-old Charlie, a boy who has never known his father. After too many disappointments, she has given up on romance – and even, to some degree, friendships – believing that it is always safer not to expect too much.
Although both women live in the same Boston suburb, the two have relatively little in common, aside from a fierce love for their children. But one night, a tragic accident causes their lives to converge in ways no one could have imagined.
In alternating, pitch-perfect points of view, Emily Giffin creates a moving, luminous story of good poeple caught in untenable circumstances. Each being tested in ways they never thought possible. Each questioning everything they once believed. And each ultimately discovering what truly matters most.
Where Are You Now? by Mary Higgins Clark It has been years since twenty-one-year-old Charles MacKenzie, Jr. (“Mack”) went missing. A columbia University senior, about to graduate and already accepted at Duke University Law School, he walked out of his apartment on Manahttan’s Upper West Side without a word to his college roommates and has never been seen again. However, he does make one ritual phone call to his mother every year: on Mother’s Day. Each time, he assures her he is fine, refuses to answer her frantic questions, then hangs up. Even the death of his father, a corporate lawyer, in the tragedy of 9/11 does not bring him home or break the pattern of his calls.
Mack’s sister, Carolyn, is now twenty-six, a law school graduate, and has just finished her clerkship for a civil court judge in Manhattan. She has endured two family tragedies, yet she realizes that she will never be able to have closure and get on with her life until she finds her brother. She resolves to discover what happened to Mack and why he has found it necessary to hide from them. So this year when Mack makes his annual Mother’s Day call, Carolyn interrupts to announce her intention to track him down, no matter what it takes. The next morning after Mass, her uncle, Monsignor Devon MacKenzie, receives a scrawled message left in the collection basket: “Uncle Devon, tell Carolyn she must not look for me.”
Mack’s cryptic warning does nothing to deter his sister from taking up the search, despite the angry reaction of her mother, Olivia, and the polite disapproval of Elliott Wallace, Carolyn’s honorary uncle, who is clearly in love with Olivia.
Carolyn’s pursuit of the truth about Mack’s disappearance swiftly plunges her into a world of unexpected danger and unanswered questions. What is the secret that Gus and Lil Kramer, the superintendents of the building in which Mack was living, have to hide? What do Mack’s old roommates, the charismatic club owner Nick DeMarco and the cold and wealthy real estate tycoon Bruce Galbraith, know about Mack’s disappearance? Is Nick connected to the disappearance of Leesey Andrews, who had last been seen in his trendy club? Can the police possibly believe that Mack is not only alive but a serial killer, a shadowy predator of young women? Was Mack also guilty of the brutal murder of his drama teacher and the theft of his taped sessions with her?
Carolyn’s passionate search for the truth about her brother – and for her brother himself – leads her into a deadly confrontation with someone close to her whose secret he cannot allow her to reveal.
I Heard That Song Before by Mary Higgins Clark At the center of her novel is Kay Lansing, who has grown up in Englewood, New Jersey, daughter of the landscaper to the wealthy and powerful Carrington family. Their mansion – a historic seventeenth-century manor house transported stone by stone from Wales in 1848 – has a hidden chapel. One day, accompanying her father to work, six-year-old Kay succumbs to curiosity and sneaks into the chapel. There,s he overhears a quarrel bretween a man and a woman who is demanding money from him. When she says that this will be the last time, his caustic response is: “I heard that song before.”
That same evening, the Carringtons hold a formal dinner dance after which Peter Carrington, a student at Princeton, drives home Susan Althorp, the eighteen-year-old daughter of neighbors. While her parents hear her come in, she is not in her room the next morning and is never seen or heard from again.
Throughout the years, a cloud of suspicion hangs over Peter Carrington. At age forty-two, head of the family business empire, he is still “a person of interest” in the eyes of the police, not only for Susan Althorp’s disappearance but also for the subsequent drowning death of his own pregnant wife in their swimming pool.
Kay Lansing, now living in New York and working as a librarian in Englewood, goes to see Peter Carrington to ask for permission to hold a cocktail party on his estateto benefit a literacy program, which he later grants. Kay comes to see Peter as maligned and misunderstood, and when he begins to court her after the cocktail party, she falls in love with him. Over the objections of her beloved grandmother Margaret O’Neil, who raised her after her parents’ early deaths, she marries him. To her dismay, she soon finds out that he is a sleepwalker whose nocturnal wandering draw him to the spot at the pool where his wife met her end.
Susan Althorp’s mother, Gladys, has always been convinced that Peter Carrington is responsible for her daughter’s disappearance, a belief shared by many in the community. Disregarding her husband’s protests about reopening the case, Gladys, now terminally ill, has hired a retired New York City detective to try to find out what happened to her daughter. Gladys wants to know before she dies.
Kay, too, has developed gnawing doubts about her husband. She believes that the key to the truth about his guilt or innocence lies in the scene she witnessed as a child in the chapel and knows she must learn the identity of the man and woman who quarreled there that day. Yet, she plunges into this pursuit realizing that “that knowledge may not be enough to save my husband’s life, if indeed it deserves to be saved.” What Kay does not even remotely suspect is that uncovering what lies behind these memories may cost her her own life.
I Heard That Song Before once again dramatically reconfirms Mary Higgins Clark’s worldwide reputation as a master storyteller.
The Shadows of Your Smile by Mary Higgins Clark At age eighty-two and in failing health, Olivia Morrow knows she has little time left. The choice: expose a long-held family secret, or take it with her to her grave.
Olivia has in her possession letters from her deceased cousin Catherine, a nun, now being considered for beatification by the Catholic Church – the final step before sainthood. In her lifetime, Sister Catherine had founded seven hospitals for disabled children. Now the cure of a four-year-old boy dying of brain cancer is being attributed to her. After his case was pronounced medically hopeless, the boy’s desperate mother had organized a prayer crusade to Sister Catherine, leading to his miraculous recovery.
The letters Olivia holds are the evidence that Catherine gave birth at age seventeen to a child, a son, and gave him up for adoption. Olivia knows the identity of the young man who fathered Catherine’s child: Alex Gannon, who went on to become a world-famous doctor, scientist, and inventor holding medical patents.
Now, two generations later, thirty-one-year-old pediatrician Dr. Monica Farrell, Catherine’s granddaughter, stands as the rightful heir to what remains of the family fortune. But in telling Monica who she really is, Olivia would have to betray Catherine’s wishes and reveal the story behind Monica’s ancestry.
The Gannon fortune is being squandered by Alex’s nephews Greg and Peter Gannon, and other board members of the Gannon Foundation, who camouflage their profligate lifestyles with philanthropy. Now their carefully constructed image is cracking. Greg, a prominent financier, is under criminal investigation, and Peter, a broadway producer, is a suspect in the murder of a young woman who has been extorting money from him.
The only people aware of Olivia’s impending choice are those exploiting the Gannon inheritance. To silence Olivia and prevent Monica from learning the secret, some of them will stop at nothing – even murder.
Clark’s riveting new novel explores the juxtaposition of medical science and religious faith, and the search for identity by the daughter of a man adopted at birth.
I’ve Got You Under My Skin by Mary Higgins Clark When Laurie Moran’s husband was brutally murdered only three-year-old Timmy saw the face of his father’s killer. Five years later his piercing blue eyes still haunt Timmy’s dreams. Laurie is haunted by more – the killer’s threat to her son as he fled the scene: “Tell your mother she’s next, then it’s your turn . . . “
Now Laurie is dealing with murder again, this time as the producer of a true-crime, cold-case television show. The series will launch with the twenty-year-old unsolved murder of Betsy Powell. Betsy, a socialite, was found suffocated in her bed after a gala celebrating the graduation of her daughter and three friends. The sensational murder was news nationwide. Reopening the case in its lavish setting and with the cooperation of the surviving guests that night, Laurie is sure to have a hit on her hands. But when the estranged friends begin filming, it becomes clear each is hiding secrets . . . small and large.
And a pair of blue eyes is watching events unfold, too . . .
The Lost Years by Mary Higgins Clark In The Lost Years, Mary Higgins Clark, America’s Queen of Suspense, has written her most astonishing novel to date. At its center is a discovery that, if authenticated, may be the most revered document in human history – “the holiest of the holy” – and certainly the most coveted and valuable object in the world.
Biblical scholar Jonathan Lyons believes he has found the rarest of parchments – a letter that may have been written by Jesus Christ. Stolen from the Vatican Library in the 1500’s, the letter was assumed to be lost forever.
Now, under the promise of secrecy, Jonathan is able to confirm his findings with several other experts. But he also confides in a family friend his suspicion that someone he once trusted wants to sell the parchment and cash in.
Within days Jonathan is found shot to death in his study. At the same time, his wife, Kathleen, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s, is found hiding in the study closet, incoherent and clutching the murder weapon. Even in her dementia, Kathleen has known that her husband was carrying on a long-term affair.
Did Kathleen kill her husband in a jealous rage, as the police contend? or is his death tied to the larger question: Who has possession of the priceless parchment that has now gone missing?
It is up to their daughter, twenty-eight-year-old Mariah, to clear her mother of murder charges and unravel the real mystery behind her father’s death.
Mary Higgins Clark’s The Lost Years is at once a breathless murder mystery and a hunt for what may be the most precious religious and archaeological treasure of all time.
Wrecked by Carol Higgins Clark Regan and Jack had considered going to Bermuda, but instead they decide to spend four days at his parents’ beautiful beachfront home on Cape Cod, a wonderful spot where they’d never been alone. During the summer the house overflowed with Jack’s family, bubbling with activity from morning until night. But to be up there for a weekend in April, just the two of them, sounded like a perfect escape.
Arriving at the Cape late at night, Regan and Jack are just in time to experience the beginning of a major storm. The next morning, Cape Cod Bay is quite a sight, churning with whitecaps. The wind is howling ferociously. Sheets of rain are pelting the house. Regan is looking forward to settling in the den with Jack and watching the storm.
However, the best laid plans . . .
In the bedroom, Regan opens the curtains to find Skip, the Reillys’ young caretaker, pressing his nose against the glass, supposedly checking for leaks. A moment later, Jack arrives home from the market, two gossipy older women who live up the street in tow. A branch crashed through their living room window, and they needed a place to stay. When Regan thought things couldn’t get any worse, Skip comes running into the house, distraught that he’d just discovered Adele Hopkins, the woman renting the house next door, in a heap at the bottom of her staircase to the beach. Regan and Jack run back down with him, but huge waves are crashing on the shore. Hopkins is gone, presumably swept out to sea.
Who was Adele Hopkins? No one knows. The sixty-ish loner, who moved in five months ago, shunned her neighbors. Even her landlords, friends of the Reillys, have no idea how to locate her next of kin. Discovered in her dining room are stacks of apology cards she’d not yet sent and bags of decorative pillows that are embroidered with the saying GRUDGE ME, GRUDGE ME NOT.
Regan and Jack begin an investigation to help their friends track down Hopkins’s family They start by interviewing two young women who own the shop where Adele had bought the pillows. Pippy and Ellen opened Pillow Talk after they both lost their jobs. When a newspaper article revealing the terrible way the women had been treated by their former employers was posted on the Internet, business took off, they stated to become well-known, and the Pillow Talk website became a place for people who had had similar experiences to vent their feelings.
Pippy and Ellen just received an anonymous e-mail from someone who spews venom about her former rowing coach – Adele Hopkins. Could she be the same Adele Hopkins?
Regan and Jack’s search for clues to this mysterious woman’s identity makes for an anniversary weekend they’ll never forget!
American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld A kind, bookish only child born in the 1940’s, Alice Lindgren has no idea that she will one day end up in the White House, married to the president. In her small Wisconsin hometown she learns the virtues of politeness, but a tragic accident when she is seventeen shatters her identity and changes the trajectory of her life. More than a decade later, when the charismatic son of a powerful Republican family sweeps her off her feet, she is surprised to find herself admitted into a world of privilege. And when her husband unexpectedly becomes governor and then president, she discovers that she is married to a man she both loves and fundamentally disagrees with – and that her private beliefs increasingly run against her public persona. As her husband’s presidency enters its second term, Alice must confront contradictions years in the making and face questions nearly impossible to answer.
The Smart One and the Pretty One by Claire LaZebnik Smart, successful Ava Nickerson is closing in on thirty and has barely had a date since law school. When a family crisis brings her prodigal little sister Lauren back to Los Angeles, Lauren stumbles across a forgotten document – a contract their parents had jokingly drawn up years ago betrothing Ava to their friends’ son.
Frustrated and embarrassed by Ava’s constant lectures about financial responsibility (all because she’s in a little debt. Okay, a lot of debt), Lauren decides to do some sisterly interfering of her own and tracks down her sister’s childhood fiance. When she finds him, the highly inappropriate, twice-divorced, but incredibly charming Russell Markowitz is all too happy to reenter the Nickerson sisters’ lives. And always-accountable Ava will soon realize just how binding a contract can be . . .
Whacked by Jules Asner Life promises to be perfect for Dani Hale. She has an almost perfect boyfriend named Dave, and a dream job writing for a TV crime series that allows her to indulge her macabre forensic passions. But something isn’t quite right with her relationship and Dani – a wily and inventive snoop – learns that Dave’s real creative talents are (1) lying and (2) cheating on her. Soon she is plunged into the world of Los Angeles singledom, enduring a battalion of bad dates with men whose peccadilloes would drive a lesser woman to kill. At her wit’s end, Dani is driven to a dramatic extreme that is as shocking as it is sensible in the girl-eat-girl world of Hollywood.
Storm Clouds Rolling In 1860-1861 by Ginny Dye Carrie Cromwell comes of age as the dark clouds of the Civil War swallow the country. Born with a fiery spirit and a strong mind, she finds herself struggling between the common wisdom of the South and the truth she has discovered. The activities of the Underground Railroad and her close friendships with the Cromwell Plantation slaves create difficult choices. But when her decisions put her at odds with her heritage, and challenge her dreams, will she be able to give up all that is precious to her?
On to Richmond 1961-1862 by Ginny Dye Burdened with the responsibility of running and entire plantation, Carrie Cromwell fights to understand her own internal war; tied to the South by family tradition, but pulled North by her emotions and beliefs.
Will Carrie’s actions push her further from her father and the Confederate soldier she loves? Will her attempts to aid Rose and Moses end in tragedy for all?
And when her life is placed in grave danger because of her beliefs, will she have the courage to do what she has to do?
Bitter is the New Black by Jen Lancaster This is the story of how a haughty former sorority girl went from having a household income of almost a quarter-million dollars to being evicted from a ghetto apartment . . . it’s a modern Greek tragedy, as defined by Roger Dunkle in The Classical Origins of Western Culture: a story in which “the central character, called a tragic protagonist or hero, suffers some serious misfortune which is not accidental and therefore meaningless, but is significant in that the misfortune is logically connected.” In other words? The bitch had it coming.
Me and Mr. Darcy by Alexandra Potter After a string of disastrous dates, Emily Albright decides she’s had it with love. SHe’d much rather curl up with Pride and Prejudice and spend her time with Mr. Darcy, the dashing, honorable, and passionate hero of Jane Austen’s classic. So when her best friend suggests a wild week of margaritas and men in Mexico with the girls, Emily abruptly flees to England on a guided tour of Jane Austen country instead. Far from inspiring romance, though, the company aboard the tour bus consists of a gaggle of littel old ladies and one single man, Spike Hargreaves, a foul-tempered journalist writing an article on why the fictional Mr. Darcy has earned the title of Man Most Women Would Love to Date.
The last thing Emily expects to find on her excursion is a broodingly handsome man striding across a field, his damp shirt clinging to his chest. But that’s exactly what happens when she comes face-to-face with none other than Mr. Darcy himself. And suddenly, every woman’s fantasy becomes one woman’s reality . . .
Atonement by Ian McEwan Ian McEwan’s symphonic novel of love and war, childhood and class, guilt and forgiveness combines all the satisfaction of a superb narrative with the provocation we have come to expect from this master of English prose.
On a summer day in 1935, thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis witnesses the flirtation between her older sister, Cecilia, and Robbie Turner, the son of a servant, but Briony’s incomplete grasp of adult movies and her precocious imagination bring about a crime that wil change all their lives, a crime whose repercussions Atonement follows through the chaos and carnage of World War II and into the close of the twentieth century.
The Japanese Mafia: Yakuza, Law, and the State by Peter B.E. Hill The Japanese mafia – known collectively as yakuza – has had a considerable influence on Japanese society over the pasty fifty years. Based on extensive interviews with criminals, police officers, lawyers, journalists, and academics, this is the first academic analysis in English of Japan’s criminal syndicates, offering a radical re-interpretation of the yakuza.
Peter Hill is British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow in Sociology at the University of Oxford.
We also got in a new board game, for those of you looking for something fun to do with family and friends, this weekend:
Balderdash, the classic bluffing game, has gone beyond hilarious. With outrageous questions that now include the category Laughable Laws, play the game that asks your friends to “call your bluff.” Each game card lists People, Words, Initials, Movies and Laws that you’ve probably never heard of. But that’s where the fun really begins, because you get to make up an answer that’s as silly or as serious as you want! Now mix in the real answer and vote. You score points for guessing correctly and for bluffing the other players. So grab the bull by the horns and play Balderdash, the game that’s hilarious beyond belief!
*Recommended for ages 12 to adult, 2 or more players.