Readers' Favorite

March 6, 2022

2 Thrilling Novels to Read Now

by Susan Roberts

Both of these new books have a female lead character who is evil.  It's an interesting perspective and both are fantastic books.

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Fake by Erica Katz

cover of Fake by Erica Katz
February 2022; Harper; 978-0063082588
audio, ebook, print (320 pages); political thriller

Can you spot the difference?  Emma Caan is a fake.

I've been to art museums all over the world and had no idea that some of the paintings might be fake or that there are painters who don't create art - they copy great paintings for museums and art collectors so they can place the original in a bank vault for insurance purposes or for tax reasons.  Is it forgery? Not if the owner knows that it's a copy and the person who copied it has their name on the back of the painting.  In most cases, the copier does such a fantastic job that you can't really tell the difference.

Emma Caan is an artist who works for a large firm that makes reproductions of famous 19th-century paintings. Even though the person that the painting is done for is always thrilled with her work, it's often a painful reminder of her unfulfilled artistic dreams.  Emma lives in a tiny apartment in New York because that's all she can afford with her low-paying job.  She is approached by a Russian millionaire who she's done replicas for in the past and he invites her to a party and then manages to get her hired by one of the most prestigious galleries in the city.  She loves her new job and all of the perks that come with it - including a trip to a prestigious art event in Hong Kong and spending time with her benefactor at fancy parties with his other ultra-rich friends.  He provides her with an apartment and helps support her mother as long as she will do copies of some of his most famous art on the side.  She agrees and accepts all of his assistance until things began to look too good to be true and she begins to question the validity of copying famous paintings.  As her world begins to disintegrate, she is approached by the FBI and asked questions about her work and the people that she works for.  She begins to ask herself if she is a fake and if reproducing paintings is really a means of forgery.

It's apparent that the author did a lot of research into the art world -  both 19-century paintings and into the way galleries attain and sell artworks.  Emma is well written and comes across as a talented painter even though she's a bit naive with what is going on behind the scenes.  Along with the plot about the paintings, there is a subplot about the death of her father and the nightmares that continue to happen almost nightly. Has she remembered her childhood correctly or have her memories changed over time so that she's now remembering a fake scenario that is as fake as her forgeries.

I really enjoyed this novel.  The setting is NYC is well written as is the scenery in Hong Kong and the plot kept me in suspense until the end.  I especially enjoyed that each chapter begins with small parts of her discussion with the FBI so the reader knows right from the beginning that things are not as they appear to be in Emma's life.

Buy Fake at Amazon

Chloe Cates is Missing by Mandy McHugh

cover of Chloes Cates is Missing by Mandy McHugh
February 2022; Scarlet; 978-1613162682
audio, ebook, print (312 pages); domestic thriller

The disappearance of a young internet celebrity ignites a firestorm of speculation on social media, and to find her a detective will have to extinguish the blaze.  

We all know that social media is often misused.  Too many people get hooked on it and spend all of their time on the popular sites. Chloe Cates is Missing is a look at one blogger who spent too much time on social media and her family is suffering due to her obsession.  This book is about how an obsession to social media makes life even more precarious for a dysfunctional family.

This story is told by three main characters:

Jennifer, Chloe's mom is the manager of Chloe's youtube show and also the final decision maker on every aspect of Chloe's life.  She is obsessed with making Chloe an internet influencer who makes money from advertisers.  She doesn't care how much she embarrasses her daughter, she is only worried about her daughter becoming popular on the internet and taking her along.  She has a husband and a son but her main concern is her daughter and their youtube channel 'Chloe and Me."  Everything that she does is for her daughter's success and she controls every aspect of Chloe's life.  She has spent much of her daughter’s young life crafting a child celebrity persona that is finally beginning to pay off.   But now Chloe is missing and Jennifer is desperate to find her-not because Chloe is her daughter but because her disappearance could cause the end of the youtube channel.  She's thrilled when their story becomes a trending story on the internet.

Chloe is a 13-year-old girl who is fed up with her mother's obsession.  She wants to have friends, a boyfriend, and a normal life.  So she disappears - but is she really gone or is this just a way to gain more popularity for her show?  Most of what we know about Chloe comes from her diary that gives us a look at her life before her disappearance.

Emilina is the police detective who is in charge of the investigation.  She is shocked when she realizes that Jennifer is a former toxic best friend from her younger days.  There is no love lost between them and Jennifer doesn't make the search any easier by making it all about the history that they have together and not about her missing daughter.   

This was a fast-paced story that had me quickly turning pages.  I had a clue about part of the ending but not the big secret at the end.   This is one messed up family and Jennifer is one of the cruelest mothers that I've read in a long time.  To say the rest of the family is dysfunctional is putting it mildly.  This is a book about obsession with fame and how this obsession affects other members of a family.

Susan Roberts lives in North Carolina with her husband of over 50 years.  She grew up in Michigan but now calls North Carolina home. She enjoys reading, traveling, and spending time with her family. 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 Facebook.

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  1. as soon as you said evil i perked right up. lol sounds like a perfect fit for me
    sherry @ fundinmental