All Fall Down

Title: All Fall Down

Author: Ally Carter

Nutshell: Grace should probably be your typical Army brat. She gets into scrapes, has moved more than a dozen times, and knows way more than the average team about international relations. Instead, Grace is crazy. Her mother died in a fire three years ago, and her mind cracked from the trauma. Now, living with her grandfather in the US embassy to Adria, she is haunted by visions of her mother and surrounded by people who love and support her.

Or is she? You see, Grace doesn’t remember a store fire, tragic but accidental. Grace remembers a bomb. And a man with a gun. A man with a scar. A man that everyone claims does not exist.

A man Grace just saw in the streets of Adria.

While everyone around her tells her that she’s crazy, Grace must face her fears and her nightmares to stop her mother’s murderer from killing again.

Readalikes: The Gallagher Girls Series by (surprise!) Ally Carter. The Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz.Read More »

Strong Poison

Title: Strong Poison

Author: Dorothy Sayers

Nutshell: Lord Peter Wimsey is the extraneous brother of an English Duke in the 1930s. He is quite well off, and spends his time and money solving crimes. The case in his sights is the poisoning of a little-known author. The suspect is the author’s ex-lover (Shocked gasps are appropriate. Lovers simply were not had without social stigma in the ‘30s.), Harriet Vane, who was the only person with opportunity to poison him, had a clear grudge, and also had the misfortune to acquire a large quantity of arsenic before the murderous incident. Enter Lord Wimsey, who, on the premise that such a clear-cut case must have missed crucial information, determines to discover the true culprit and exonerate Miss Vane.

Also he has fallen in love with her.

Driven by love, punctuated by hilarity, Peter Wimsey must discover which is tougher to crack: a despicably airtight murder case, or the heart of the accused murderess?

Read-alikes: Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes is not too far removed from this, although more intellectual and less humorous. Agatha Christie knows somewhat more of humor. Georgette Heyer’s books, though neither mysteries nor set in the 1930s, have a similar flavor of ridiculous to their humor, especially in how close both authors run to satirizing their characters. And my recent read Her Royal Spyness has a similar setting, though obviously a more modern tone and content.

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Annabel Lee

Title: Annabel Lee

Author: Mike Nappa

Nutshell: Somewhere in the backwoods of Alabama, a little girl is hiding in an underground bunker. Her uncle locked her in with his attack dog for protection and told her to let nobody in. But her uncle’s dead. The only person who knows she’s down there is The Mute, an ex-special forces sniper who survived the raid. And even if he knew where the bunker was, he doesn’t have a key.

Trudy Coffey is a reasonably successful PI in Atlanta. She knows something’s up. A suspicious and sinister man came asking about an old acquaintance of hers. But she’s not expecting her ex-husband (and friendly neighborhood CIA agent) Samuel Hill to show up. And she’s certainly not expecting him to ask if he can borrow an old book of hers. And she most definitely isn’t going to just stay out of the way. Not when there’s a mystery just waiting to be solved.

They’d better settle at least some of their differences and solve it. Annabel’s time is running out.

Read-alikes: I simply don’t have titles for you yet.

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Top Ten: The Icarus Hunt

Title: The Icarus Hunt

Author: Timothy Zahn

Nutshell: Jordan McKell is a small-time smuggler for a crime lord. It’s not an ideal line of work, but it pays the bills. He’s between smuggling runs when he gets approached for a regular shipping job. Since he’s supposed to be an out-of-work shipper in between runs, he does what any good out-of-work cargo hauler does: he takes the job. He’ll explain it to the crime lord later.

The job does have a couple of oddities. First, the cargo is an entire ship, so he’ll have to fly it. Second, the ship is one of the ugliest, worst-designed ships in the galaxy. Third, he isn’t allowed to choose a crew. Besides his own partner, he has no say in the choice of crewmembers that are helping him. Fourth, there is something fishy going on. This small freight job might be a lot more like smuggling than he was planning. And fifth, one of the crewmembers is dead.

Read-alikes: Michael A. Stackpole’s science fiction is quite similar, as is Aaron Aliston’s. Avalon, by Mindee Arnett has many of the same features.Read More »