In the Mail: The Body in the Gazebo

The Body in the Gazebo: A Faith Fairchild Mystery

From Publishers Weekly

Two puzzles tax Faith Fairchild in Agatha-winner Page’s genial 19th mystery featuring the Aleford, Mass., caterer and amateur sleuth (after 2009’s The Body in the Sleigh). When an audit finds more than ,000 missing from the minister’s discretionary fund at Aleford’s First Parish Church, suspicion falls on Faith’s husband, the Rev. Thomas Fairchild, the only person with access to the account. To complicate matters, Ursula Rowe, Faith’s friend Pix Miller’s elderly and ailing mother, asks Faith’s help in dealing with the disquieting letters she’s recently received. Secrets, the kind that fester and can make even strong people ill, reach back to the 1920s. Faith juggles her many roles of wife, mother, businesswoman, and confidant with steadfast assurance as she looks into the missing church funds and provides relief for Ursula. Series fans will relish the descriptions of tempting culinary offerings. Recipes round out the volume.

In the Mail: The Map of True Places

The Map of True Places: A Novel by Brunonia Barry

From Booklist

Psychotherapist Zee Finch is dealt a blow when one of her patients, a troubled bipolar housewife named Lilly, leaps off a bridge to her death. The tragedy brings up memories of Zee’s own mother’s suicide, prompting her to go see her father, Finch, in Salem. She is startled to find Finch’s Parkinson’s disease is much more advanced than she’d been led to believe, and that he has kicked his partner, Melville, out of the house. Zee decides to take a leave of absence from her practice to care for Finch, a move that puts a strain on her engagement to Michael, one of her mentor’s closest friends. As her relationship with Michael comes to an end, Zee tries to puzzle out what caused Finch to abruptly break up with his beloved Melville. She also tries to make sense of Lilly’s death, unaware that the dangerous man Lilly was involved with now wants to exact revenge on her. Like her hit debut, The Lace Reader (2008), Barry’s second novel features an involving, intricately woven story and vivid descriptions of historic Salem.

In the Mail: Alone With You

Alone With You: Stories

Publishers Weekly

Unwellness is woven through these eight beautiful and brutal stories from Silver (The God of War), who gives readers finely wrought slivers of lives scarred by sickness and the intermingling of hope and despair. The characters in the first two stories, “Temporary” and “The Visitor,” carry scars from their mothers’ illness into adult life. In “In the New World,” a 14-year-old boy gets a classmate pregnant, leading his hardworking immigrant father to reflect on his son’s future and his own battle to get away from an overprotective father. In “Leap,” a pet-owner’s wounded heart heals along with her injured dog, who she believes tried to kill himself. “Three Girls” tells the story of sisters who have to raise themselves in the face of incapable parents, while the title story details the resolution, made while trekking through the Sahara, of a woman recovering from a nervous breakdown. While the stories contain woes that can befall anyone—addiction, brain tumors, heart disease, disability—Silver infuses her characters with a fatalistic resilience that’s revealed through tiny, perfect details.

In the Mail: Infamous

Infamous by Ace Atkins

Publishers Weekly

Set in 1933, Atkins’s winning fourth history-based novel focuses on two figures who, as the author explains in an introduction, have been undeservedly lost in the shuffle of Depression-era gangsters: George Kelly, who ironically gets saddled with the nickname Machine Gun, and his wife, Kathryn. The fast-moving narrative spans a three-month period, starting with a fatal ambush in a parking lot outside Kansas City’s Union Station in which hoods gun down several lawmen and the prisoner they were about to drive to Leavenworth. This massacre leads to the FBI obtaining the authority to make arrests and carry weapons. The bulk of the action concerns the Kellys’ kidnapping of Charles Urschel, a wealthy Oklahoma oilman, and its aftermath. Atkins (Devil’s Garden) brings to vivid life the henpecked George and the bloodthirsty Kathryn as he convincingly conjures up a past era. Not just for crime fans, this should appeal to a wide readership.