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October 18, 2020

2 New Thrillers to Read

by Susan Roberts

Summer is over so it's time to put away those beach reads and dig into some good suspense novels.  Here are reviews of two excellent thrillers that I've read this month.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. Free books were provided for an honest review.

Winter Counts by David Heska Wanbli Weiden 

Winter Counts
August 2020; Ecco; 978-0062968944
audio, ebook, print (336 pages); Native American Lit
One of Library Journal, CrimeReads, BuzzFeed, and BookRiot's most anticipated books of 2020!   

"Winter Counts were the calendar system used by the Lakota, but they weren't like modern ones.  I'd loved the little pictures in the calendars, each showing the most significant event from the past year." (p 11)

This is a wonderful mystery that is set on Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota and all of the main characters are Native Americans.  It's a real page-turner mystery but it also gives us a picture of the poor living conditions on the reservations and a lot of history about the Lakota tribe.

Virgil Wounded Horse is an enforcer.  He punishes people who are ignored by the justice system.  He is a recovered alcoholic and is has been raising his 14-year-old nephew since the boy's mother got killed in a car accident.  Virgil is approached by a man on the tribal council and asked to look into the heroin that has started to become available on the reservation and sold to the young people.  After getting more information, he agrees to find out who is behind bringing the drugs in and to make them stop no matter what he has to do.  When his search begins to affect his nephew and his old girlfriend, he realizes that he is dealing with more than Mexican cartels - he is also dealing with corruption by those who should be protecting the people on the reservation.

I don't want to give away any of the plot but I will tell you that once you start this book, you won't want to put it down.  The main character is a flawed person and a hero at the same time.  He wants to help his people but has long given up his trust in the old beliefs of the Lakota tribe.  Even though he is a very conflicted man, he stays protective of his nephew, girlfriend, and all of his friends.  He is a complex character who is very driven to protect those around him.

I enjoyed this debut novel and have just read that it is the first novel in a new series.  I am definitely looking forward to more books in this series.

Buy Winter Counts at Amazon

NOTE:  Most winter counts have a single pictograph symbolizing each year, based on the most memorable event of that year. For Lakota people, years ran from first snowfall to first snowfall. The glyphs representing significant events would be used as a reference that could be consulted regarding the order of the years. More extensive oral histories were passed down using the winter counts as guide posts.

The Suicide House by Charlie Donlea 

The Suicide House
July 2020; Kensington; 978-1496727152
audio, ebook, print (368 pages); psychological thriller
“What was it about being so close to danger that filled us with adrenaline?”

I enjoyed The Suicide House (Rory Moore/Lane Phillips #2) even though I was a bit confused in the first 50 pages with all of the characters.  I think if I'd have read the series in order, I'd have known some of the characters and that would have really helped.  Despite the confusion (which didn't last too long), I thought that this was an excellent well-written book that kept me guessing while I read the hints that were provided.   

The story is told in two timelines:

2019 -   Westmont Preparatory High School is an elite boarding school in Indiana.  It's tightly run and very strict.  On the outer edge of the school property is an old decrepit house that is used by the students as a late-night place to hang out.  Here, only one rule applies: don't let your candle go out--unless you want the Man in the Mirror to find you. . . .In 2019 two students were killed in a violent slaughter.  One of the teachers was charged so it was an open and shut case. Or was it?

2020 - The case has become the focus of a hit podcast because there are so many unanswered questions - the main one being why several of the students who were at the hangout when the students were murdered have returned to the house to commit suicide.  There are several people working on the podcast - the well known Mark Carter has stolen most of the story from investigative reporter Ryder.  Despite the fact that the podcast becomes very popular and Mark is getting all of the credit, Ryder continues to investigate.  The two main characters from book 1 also become a major part of the investigation.  Lane is a psychiatrist and Rory helps to solve cold cases.  Her mind works very differently than normal and she has been very successful in helping the police solve cold cases.  Tie all of these characters in with students and ex-students and it all got a bit confusing.  It all worked out in the end and every one of the characters was a needed part of the story.  The ending of the book was perfect and overall, I really enjoyed it.  Based on the way the book ended, I expect that there will be future books staring Lane and Rory.

This was an enjoyable fast-paced book and I really enjoyed reading it.  I have book one in the series on order and can't wait to read the next book from this author!

Buy The Suicide House at Amazon

An Apple Books Best of the Month Selection
A Publishers Weekly Summer Reads 2020 Editors’ Pick

Susan Roberts lives in North Carolina with her husband of over 50 years.  She grew up in Michigan but now calls North Carolina home. Since her travel plans had to be canceled for this year, she is starting to make plans for travel in 2021. She reads almost anything (and the piles of books in her house prove that) but her favorite genres are Southern fiction, women's fiction, and historical fiction. Susan is a top 1% Goodreads Reviewer. You can connect with Susan on FacebookGoodreads, or Twitter.

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  1. Suicide House sounds pretty scary but perfect for Halloween