Ava Wong has always played by the rules. That is, until she reconnects with a old college friend, Winnie Fang, twenty years later. Winnie is managing a successful counterfeit handbag business, but she needs someone to help her out by running interference with her Chinese counterparts. Ava is dissatisfied with her former career as a lawyer, and is annoyed with her surgeon husband for leaving her to raise their behaviorally challenged toddler, Henri, most of the time. Winnie convinces Ava to work for her, and all is well for a while, until Winnie unwittingly hires a detective to work for her. Winnie disappears leaving Ava holding the bag; can Ava talk her way through the charges leveled at her? This was a bit of a departure from my usual choices, but it did hold my interest…

The Last Party

The latest offering by Clare Macintosh opens with a murder of a local man on New Year’s Eve in Cym Coed, Wales. Rhys Lloyd is co-owner of “The Shore,” an upscale resort on the boundary between Wales and England, but he is reported missing and soon after his body is found washed up on the shore of the lake. The novel jumps from present to past, and back again, and each chapter is a different narrator, so one has to pay close attention to the chapter headings. Detective Ffion Morgan of Wales is investigating the case with Leo Brady, a British detective, and together they must sift through the lengthy list of suspects to discover the murderer. It is a bit lengthy, but all in all I found it to be a good read.

The Rising Tide

I’ve read a few Vera Stanhope novels before and enjoyed them; this is the latest one. Vera is an older Detective Inspector who dresses quite frumpy, but underneath it all lies a very keen mind. She has a current murder to solve: a man is found hanging in his room on Holy Island. Several singles and couples meet every 5 years on Holy Island to reconnect, after having crossed paths as teenagers on a retreat here. One of the singles, Rick Kensall, is the victim. Vera doesn’t agree with an initial verdict of suicide, and it quickly becomes a murder case. Her two right hand detectives are Joe and Holly, and they are both called in to help. Spoiler alert: the ending is a SHOCKER for anyone who has read previous novels written by Cleeves. It’s a bit slow at times, but still worth a read.

How to Fall Out of Love Madly

Three young women looking to be recognized for being purely themselves, learn it isn’t easy. These single thirty-somethings are disappointed as they feel forced to be other than who they truly are in their search for love and happiness. Joy falls in love with her new roommate, Theo, even as she acknowledges the inevitable heartbreak she will face. Annie thinks she’s found bliss when her boyfriend finally says he’s ready to live together until the cracks threaten to destroy the relationship. Beautiful Celine moves through the world with men falling at her feet, but is unable to connect on a deep level with any man. Along the way, Casale uncovers the vulnerabilities of these characters when they fail to meet perfection or find their love unrequited. A modern- day examination of the contemporary young female in western society.