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  • Molly Schoemann-McCann 4:00 pm on 2019/09/27 Permalink
    Tags: a bitter feast, a book of bones, , best new mysteries, dachshund through the snow: an andy carpenter mystery, , deborah crombie, , , Mysteries, , nicholas meyer, owl be home for christmas: a meg langslow mystery, , the adventures of the peculiar protocols: adapted from the journals of john h. watson md, the shape of night, to the land of long lost friends,   

    October’s Best New Mysteries 

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    October’s new mysteries are filled with cozies, humor, and hilarious animal puns, but if you’re also looking for a searing gothic nightmarescape, a sexy ghost captain, or a new gem in the Sherlock Holmes canon, you’re in luck there too! Adjust your deerstalker caps and get ready for a mysterious fall, gumshoes!

    To the Land of Long Lost Friends, by Alexander McCall Smith
    In the 20th novel in McCall Smith’s delightful No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, Precious Ramotswe takes up with an old friend, who is having some trouble with her daughter, and is reminded once more that getting involved in family matters is often a complicated endeavor. In the meantime, Charlie has decided to propose to his girlfriend, Queenie-Queenie, but he’s having some difficulty drumming up a suitable bride price. With its likable characters and deft writing, this is a series that’s as much about humanity’s foibles and shining moments as it is about its mysteries.

    A Book of Bones (Charlie Parker Series #17), by John Connolly
    Connolly’s latest supernatural thriller in the underrated Charlie Parker series blends chilling gothic horror with an adept police procedural, resulting an almost unclassifiable—but extremely compelling—tale of good verses inter-dimensional evil. Throw in human sacrifice, a book that could end the world, and some of the creepiest villains since Hannibal Lecter, and you have a rollicking ghostly thriller that’s also superlatively entertaining.

    The Shape of Night: A Novel, by Tess Gerritsen
    In an effort to put a terrible tragedy behind her, Ava flees Boston for a sleepy seaside town in Maine. There she rents a rambling house called Brodie’s Watch, named for a long-dead sea captain who is rumored to still haunt the place. When the ghost of Captain Jeremiah Brodie shows up seeming all-too-real (and all too sexy), Ava finds herself wondering if she’s lost her mind, even as she also finds it impossible to ignore the specter’s considerable charms. But when Ava digs deeper into the house’s history, she discovers its horrible secret: every woman who has ever lived there has died. A haunting romantic thriller with an irresistible Gothic twist, this is one of Gerritsen’s best.

    A Bitter Feast: A Novel, by Deborah Crombie
    Scotland Yard detectives Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James and their children are excited to spend the weekend at Beck House. It’s a magnificent estate in the beautiful Cotswalds region, and the family has been invited Gemma’s detective sergeant, Melody Talbot. A charity luncheon has been planned for the weekend, catered by rising-star chef Viv Holland, who is hoping to gain a career boost from the event. But a terrible car accident, followed by several suspicious deaths, makes it a working weekend for Gemma and her husband, who are pulled into an investigation that seems to point squarely at Viv—or even at Beck House and its occupants. Crombie’s novels are full of nuanced characters, twisty plots, and local color.

    Dachshund Through the Snow: An Andy Carpenter Mystery, by David Rosenfelt
    There’s a Christmas tree at Andy and Laura Carpenter’s local pet store, decorated with wishes instead of ornaments, and one such wish touches defense attorney Andy’s heart: it’s a three part wish from a little boy named Danny: a coat for his mom, a sweater for his dachshund, and to find his missing dad. As it turns out, Danny’s dad is actually on the run after being arrested for a murder, but he swears he’s innocent. It looks like an open-and-shut case, but when Andy begins investigating, he learns that not everything quite adds up. Dog lovers will especially love the wry, clever Andy Carpenter series.

    Owl Be Home for Christmas: A Meg Langslow Mystery, by Donna Andrews
    This charming whoo-dunit takes place just before Christmas, during the annual Owl Fest Convention in Caerphilly, Virginia. A freak snowstorm strands all of the attendees at the Caerphilly Inn, which is unfortunate, as many of them are, as you might imagine, extremely eccentric. Trapped among them is Meg Langslow, there to assist her grandfather, conference host Dr. J. Mongtomery Blake, with general logistics. When one of the guests, a visiting ornithologist, is murdered, it looks like Chief Burke is set on keeping all of the attendees/suspects at the hotel until the crime is solved. Everyone is in danger of missing being at home for the holidays; that is, unless Meg can rise to the occasion and solve the murder.

    The Adventures of the Peculiar Protocols: Adapted from the Journals of John H. Watson, MD, by Nicholas Meyer
    The author the beloved Holmes mystery The Seven-Per-Cent Solution is back with his fourth “discovery” of a previously unknown case found in Watson’s journal. In this mystery that will delight Sherlock Holmes devotees, Watson and Holmes find themselves in pursuit of a document whose provocative contents have already cost a British Secret Service agent her life. The chase brings them to Russia aboard the Orient Express—on a case so dangerous, that is part of a conspiracy so shocking—that it presents an unprecedented challenge even to Sherlock Holmes.

    What mysteries are you excited to read this month?

    The post October’s Best New Mysteries appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Molly Schoemann-McCann 4:00 pm on 2019/07/30 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , love and death among the cheetas, Mysteries, new mysteries, , terns of endearment, the bitterroots, the last widow,   

    The Best New Mysteries of August 2019 

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    Summer is heating up, gumshoes! Time to shrug off your sticky trench coat, put down your magnifying glass (which is now a fire hazard), and lounge on the beach with one of the scorching reads below!

    A Better Man (Chief Inspector Gamache Series #15), by Louise Penny
    Things are in an awkward place for Chief Inspector Gamache in the 15th novel in Louise Penny’s unsurpassed series. Gamache is taking up the reins in his new position as head of homicide, after his recent demotion from head of the whole force. To make matters even touchier, he’s now working alongside his former subordinate, Jean-Guy Beauvoir. Although he’s being viciously attacked on social media, Gamache focuses on the task at hand: Finding woman, Vivienne Godin, who has gone missing. The further he goes in his search, the more he finds himself sympathizing with Vivienne’s agonized father. The father of a daughter himself, Gamache finds it difficult not to put himself in the father’s shoes, and ask himself what he would do. When a body turns up, the question becomes even more urgent, and the answer more unsettling.

    The Bitterroots, by C. J. Box
    Cassie Dewell is done being a sheriff’s investigator and is striking out on her own with a private practice. The last few years have been tough on her, and she relishes finally being her own boss. But things get complicated when an old pal asks Cassie to help prove the innocence of a man, part of a prominent Montana family, the Kleinsassers, who has been accused of assault. Although up on first glance this seems like an open and shut case, before long Cassie begins to realize that the accused is the black sheep of the family, and many of its members seem dead-set on his conviction. The deeper she digs into the past to find the truth, the darker and more malevolent this family’s roots grow.

    The Last Widow, by Karin Slaughter
    Will Trent and Sara Linton are back for the first time in three years in this pulse-pounding, set-aside-two-days-to-read-this-one-cover-to-cover thriller by Karin Slaughter. A month after a scientist from the Centers for Disease Control is kidnapped, a bustling neighborhood in Atlanta is decimated by a series of bombs. Two hospitals, a university, the FBI headquarters, and the CDC are impacted by the destruction. Sara and Will rush to the scene, and find themselves entangled in a dangerous web that leads to Sara’s abduction. Will must go undercover to save her—and prevent the loss of many more lives. If you’ve read Karin Slaughter before, you know you won’t be able to put this one down before you reach the last page.

    Love and Death Among the Cheetahs, by Rhys Bowen
    Georgiana is finally Mrs. Darcy O’Mara, and the two are honeymooning Kenya’s Happy Valley (which Darcy soon admits is in large part because he was sent there to track down a London jewel thief, and the place is a vacation spot for the aristocracy). There they meet the terrible Lord Cheriton, who makes a pass at Georgie, who is scandalized (it is her honeymoon, after all!). Though she’s not a fan of Lord Cheriton, she’s still nonplussed when his body is discovered by the side of the road, looking as though it’s been mauled by wildlife. Lions, everyone suspects…until it begins to look as though the most obvious answer isn’t actually the right one, and there’s a devious killer in their midst.

    Terns of Endearment (Meg Langslow Series #25), by Donna Andrews
    Assorted members of the Langslow family have been invited to join Meg’s grandfather aboard a cruise where he’s been booked to give lectures on birds and the environment. But what initially appears to be a lighthearted vacation turns grave when the passengers learn that the ship has broken down in the Bermuda Triangle. Worse still, it is announced that a passenger has jumped overboard, leaving behind her shoes, and a note. It turns out she is the nemesis of a group of writers, who booked the cruise as a retreat, and some members of the group are suspicious of her death, believing that suicide doesn’t seem like her style. The ship’s captain isn’t interested in investigating the murder, feeling that it can be sorted out once they reach their destination. But Meg’s father is convinced they should investigate while the suspect is still on board. As if all this weren’t enough, grandfather’s assistant, Trevor, is nowhere to be found. The hilarious Meg Langslow mystery series is as funny and charming as it is clever—this summer is the perfect time to get on board!

    The post The Best New Mysteries of August 2019 appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Jeff Somers 4:00 pm on 2019/07/18 Permalink
    Tags: , , , crime authors, curtain, , , , , Mysteries, , new yorked, potter's field, rob hart, , sleeping murder, their time had come,   

    6 Crime Writers Who Ended a Series Voluntarily 

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    Having a hit series of books and a popular character that readers respond to is usually the dream of an author of an genre, but especially the authors of detective novels. But it can also become a burden, trapping the writer in a universe and a type of story that remains in literary amber. Still, most writers happily plug away at a series as long as readers keep showing up, and usually the only reason a popular detective stops accepting new cases is because the author retires…from this mortal coil. But not always; sometimes a writer decides to retire a character voluntarily for their own private reasons—like the six authors on this list.

    Sherlock Holmes, authored by Arthur Conan Doyle
    Doyle famously tried to walk away from Holmes in 1893’s The Final Problem, sending him over the Reichenbach Falls as he struggled with archenemy Professor Moriarity. Doyle regarded his Holmes stories as literary trifles and wanted to focus on more serious writing; he managed to resist the constant pleas for more Holmes stories for eight years before giving in and writing The Hound of the Baskervilles, published in 1901 and kicking off a second wave of Holmes stories that continued until Doyle passed away.

    Pete Fernandez, authored by Alex Segura
    Segura’s Pete Fernandez has been one of the most interesting noir detective characters in recent years, going from a shambling wreck of a life and career to something resembling stability over the course of four tightly plotted, Miami-infused novels. Segura has decided that Miami Midnight, the fifth book in the series, will be the last Fernandez mystery. Which is a shame, because Midnight digs deep into Pete as a character as he’s pulled from unofficial retirement from his unofficial career as a detective, asked by a local gang kingpin to look into the death of his son, a musician. One of the great things Segura has done with Fernandez is make his personal struggles as compelling as the cases he investigates without resorting to overblown mythology. Pete’s interesting because of the sort of personal mysteries we all carry around with us, and he’ll be missed.

    Ash McKenna, authored by Rob Hart
    McKenna’s an interesting character, a self-described “blunt instrument” who begins a journey to being a real, complete person in Hart’s New Yorked, and then continues that journey through three more books that take him all over the world. Hart’s decision to make Potter’s Field the last McKenna novel had everything to do with ending that story of personal development, of finishing the character’s tale purposefully. While he hasn’t ruled out another McKenna story at some point, it’s refreshing to see an author so in control of their character they end their series when the time feels right to them.

    Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple, authored by Agatha Christie
    Christie is an unusual case, because she did, in fact, write about her two most popular characters, Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot, until she died. But she also voluntarily ended both series—three decades earlier. During World War II Christie worried she might not survive, and worried that meant her greatest literary creations would be orphaned without a proper send off. Her solution was to write a final case for both Poirot and Marple, then lock them away with a stipulation that they not be published until she passed away. As a result, Poirot’s final novel, Curtain published in 1975 and Marple’s, Sleeping Murder, published in 1976 just after Christie’s death. While locking novels away for thirty years on the assumption that people will still care in the future is pretty presumptuous, it certainly paid off for Christie and her fans.

    Peter Wimsey, authored by Dorthy Sayers
    Dorothy Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey isn’t as famous as his contemporaries like Poirot, but he was one of the stars of early-20th century detective fiction—and the ultimate “gentleman detective” character. Wimsey was quite popular, but Sayers’ last Wimsey novel was 1937’s Busman’s Honeymoon, and aside from a short story and some references she never returned to the character. There’s speculation that Sayers, horrified at the violence and terror of World War II, decided she could no longer write about murders and the like. Which is a shame, because Wimsey, who began as a somewhat comical figure, developed into a marvelous and subtle character, and the world could have done with two or three more Wimsey novels.

    Kurt Wallander, authored by Henning Mankell
    Mankell seemed to be planning the end of Kurt Wallander, the depressed, junk food-addicted Swedish detective, more or less since his debut in 1991’s Faceless Killers. Wallander aged with the march of time, and Mankell at one point tried to pivot into a spinoff series with a new character before returning to Wallander. 2009’s The Troubled Man was the definitive final adventure for Wallander, and the character was depicted as dealing with the first symptoms of oncoming dementia, perhaps the worst thing that could afflict a man who relies on his mind and his memory. Mankell continued to write until his death in 2015, but he never returned to Wallander.

    There’s a power in deciding when and where to end your creation. What’s your favorite character’s ending?

    The post 6 Crime Writers Who Ended a Series Voluntarily appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Molly Schoemann-McCann 3:00 pm on 2019/04/29 Permalink
    Tags: , , , kylie logan, murder she wrote: murder in red, Mysteries, , , ragnar jonasson, sujata massey, the island, the satpur moonstone, the scent of murder: a mystery,   

    May’s Best New Mysteries 

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    Good thing there’s a long weekend coming up in May, because you’re going to need some serious down time to get caught up on all the top-notch mysteries that are coming your way this month. There’s a new meta-detective novel from Anthony Horowitz, Jessica Fletcher is back in a shivery Murder She Wrote installment, and the newest Icelandic crime fiction virtuoso is back with the second book in a brand new series.

    The Sentence is Death (B&N Exclusive Edition), by Anthony Horowitz
    The second novel in the already addictive Daniel Hawthorne series features Hawthorne’s investigation into the murder of a famous divorce lawyer—found bludgeoned to death with a very expensive bottle of wine. But the victim wasn’t a drinker. And what’s to be made of his enigmatic last recorded words: “You shouldn’t be here. It’s too late…”? Horowitz’s famously recalcitrant detective is accompanied once again by novelist Anthony, whose inexperience in the arena of crime solving is made up for by his enthusiasm. This elegantly written series full of twists and turns is very much worth getting into in its early days.

    Murder, She Wrote: Murder in Red, by Jessica Fletcher and Jon Land
    Clifton Care Partners is a brand new private hospital in town that seems promising, but when Jessica’s close friend and favorite gin rummy partner, Mimi Van Dorn, checks in there for a minor, routine procedure, she never checks out. Alarmed, Jessica is convinced that Mimi’s unexpected death is due to foul play, and begins investigating the hospital in earnest. When her erstwhile beau, George Sutherland, ends up at the same hospital, her worries intensify. Can Jessica unearth the truth before someone else falls play to deadly medical malpractice?


    The Scent of Murder: A Mystery, by Kylie Logan
    Jazz Ramsay is enjoying a pretty comfortable existence in the artsy part of Cleveland. She owns her own home, has a nice job as an administrative assistant at a St. Catherine’s, a Catholic high school, and has, shall we say, a “quirky” volunteer hobby: training dogs to detect human remains. Then one day her current dog, a German Shepherd named Luther, discovers not the tooth she has hidden in an abandoned building, but the body of a young woman, dressed in Goth clothes, whom it turns out Jazz recognizes. She’s a former student of St. Catherine’s, and Jazz becomes obsessed with discovering how she met her end, unearthing much more than she bargained for in the process.

    The Island, by Ragnar Jónasson
    The Island is the followup novel to 2018’s bleakly brilliant novel The Darkness, also featuring the inimitable Insp. Hulda Hermannsdóttir, a memorable female detective of a certain age who is a bright spot in a genre rife with male detectives.  In 1987 a couple took a romantic  trip to an obscure island—with an unexpectedly tragic ending. A decade later, four friends visit the same place for a reunion of sorts, and one ends up dead at the bottom of a cliff. Jónasson’s astonishing Dark Iceland series took the US by storm in recent years, and his new series is no less breathtaking.

    The Satapur Moonstone, by Sujata Massey
    In the exciting followup to the highly impressive series debut The Widows of Malabar Hill, Bombay lawyer Purveen Mistry, a rare female attorney in British-ruled India in 1922, is enlisted to settle a dispute in the tiny state of Satpur over the education of the current maharajah, who is ten years old. Mistry soon discovers that the Satapur palace is a spider’s nest of power grabs and vengeance, and vows to protect the young maharajah from the tragic fates that suspiciously befell his predecessors.

    What mysteries are you excited to dig into this May?

    The post May’s Best New Mysteries appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Jeff Somers 3:00 pm on 2019/04/24 Permalink
    Tags: , alex michaelides, , , Mysteries, ,   

    Agatha Christie, Sleight of Hand, and Psychological Complexity: An Interview with The Silent Patient Alex Michaelides 

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    There’s no shortage of excellent thrillers to read in the modern world, but every now and then a book comes along that rises above the rest and becomes that book that gets passed from person to person like a virus, accompanied by breathless endorsements and the sort of giddy joy only book lovers recognize. Well, we have our first bona-fide phenomenon thriller of 2019, the twisty, buzzy The Silent Patient, by Alex Michaelides.

    The Silent Patient has the bones of an old-school mystery, fused with a modern energy similar to The Girl on the Train or Gillian Flynn’s novels. It’s the sort of book you immediately want to recommend to your book club or best friend or, you know, strangers on your morning commute, just so you’ll have people to discuss it with. And then we thought, wait a sec, we’re Barnes and Noble, we can excitedly discuss the book with the author. So we reached out and sat down with Alex Michaelides himself to fanblog all over him, chatting about Agatha Christie, working as a scriptwriter in Hollywood, and, of course, the genesis of his remarkable debut novel.

    You obviously have a deep love for old-school mystery-thrillers like the works of Agatha Christie or Patricia Highsmith. How did those old-school cool novels influence The Silent Patient?

    Well, I grew up on the tiny island of Cyprus, in the Mediterranean. It was before the internet, and there was nothing to do in the summers except read. I was thirteen when I discovered Agatha Christie, and devoured all of her novels over one summer at the beach. It was probably the happiest reading experience I ever had, and it made me into a reader—and, I suspect, a writer. So later on, when I began thinking about writing a novel, I knew I wanted something to replicate that experience I’d had on the beach. And the plan was to take a Christie-style plot and marry it with a deeper psychological complexity. I tried to imagine what Christie might be writing now, if she were alive and had my life experience. Of course it’s not just Christie—I’m a huge fan of Patricia Highsmith, P.D. James, Ruth Rendell, Dorothy L. Sayers, all women actually! There is something so satisfying about encountering a story that works on one level and yet when you reach the end you realize you have been looking at everything the wrong way up. I think that sleight of hand, like a magician’s trick, is what appeals to me the most.

    Like all magic tricks, at its core writing is all about process. They say write what you know, and you drew on your experience working at a therapeutic community to write The Silent Patient. How much ‘real life’ is in the story?

    I was pretty messed up as a teenager, neurotic, anxious, depressed—and I had a lot of personal therapy for many years. I also studied it a couple of places at a postgraduate level—but never finished my studies, as I felt strongly that I was a writer not a therapist. As part of my studies, I worked at a secure psychiatric facility for teenagers. It was one of the most formative experiences of my life, and certainly the most humbling. It was incredible, helping kids heal and get well—and it went a long way to healing the messed-up teenage part of myself. I didn’t know I was going to write The Silent Patient then, but later on when I knew that I wanted to write a Christie-style book, I needed an enclosed location—the kind of thing she does so brilliantly—and I suddenly thought of the psychiatric unit. And instead of a detective, I could have a psychotherapist. Everything went from there. I didn’t use any of the people I encountered at the unit, but I did use the atmosphere and the emotions that I felt while I was working there. I kept notes at the time, and that helped me a lot when I came to write the book.

    Many have noted the symbolism of a woman who doesn’t speak, combined with the themes of Alcestis in The Silent Patient, which ties into what’s going on today with #MeToo and other movements. Was this intentional?

    You know, it wasn’t intentional, as I wrote The Silent Patient before the #MeToo movement began. But there was a synchronicity there, for sure. When they were bidding for the movie rights, I had many producers, male and female, comment on the fact that Alicia does not speak and asking me how I felt it related to #MeToo. It was quite clear to me that when a person is imprisoned, and not believed, not being heard, then her only recourse is not to speak. So silence in my thinking is a last resort; the last weapon available, when everything else has been taken away from you. That was what interested me about Alicia—as well as the silence in the Greek myth of Alcestis. Alcestis dies to save her husband, and yet when she’s brought back to life at the end of Euripides’s play, she refuses to speak when confronted with her husband. Why? Is she overjoyed, overcome with emotion? Or is she deeply furious, angry with him, betrayed and hurt that he let her die? The refusal to conclude, the refusal to supply a definite answer, is so powerful, and has been haunting me my whole life.

    We hear you’re adapting your own novel for a film version—are there any special challenges to turning your own work into a different medium? Did you think about a film version as you were writing it?

    I think writing for screen and for novels is very different. A friend of mine is a critic, and he always says something I find very helpful—that screenplays are about contraction, and novels are about expansion. Meaning that for a movie you try to keep everything going, keep the plot ticking along. Whereas in a book you can slow down and go into someone’s thoughts and spend a day with them as they walk round the park or think about their life. And discovering that transformed me as a writer. I feel very much that I’m more of a novelist than a dramatist. I never really imagined it as a film. And I think the silence will be extremely challenging. Having said that, making the film is an incredible opportunity. It will be very exciting to take the book apart and put it together again for another medium. I am very pliable these days. I think you have to be, if you’re going to succeed as a writer. It’s never good to get stuck on ideas or lines or bits of dialogue.

    What’s harder—writing a novel or getting a movie made?

    I would say each is hard. The motivation to keep writing every day, for months at time, is a big part of writing a book. But it’s much harder—as in emotionally more painful—to make a movie. I personally have found film-making to be a soul destroying process. A movie with a decent script and a great cast can be derailed by production problems that are nobody’s fault. It’s heartbreaking. So the decision to write The Silent Patient was a last ditch attempt to try and be in control of the creative process from start to finish, and get away from movies. So the irony I am now writing the screenplay is not lost on me. I have a feeling it’s going to be different this time, as I’m working with some amazing people.

    Speaking of writing, The Silent Patient contains a DefCon-5 kind of plot twist that has people’s heads spinning, yet it works perfectly. Did you start with the twist, or did you start with the premise or the characters and find the twist as you outlined? What’s your position on ‘spoiler etiquette’?

    It was rather a magical moment, the way it happened. As I have said, the various strands came together—Greek Mythology, Agatha Christie, psychotherapy—and the idea was born in one moment, as I was walking through the park near where I live. I was trying to imagine a psychological detective story about a woman who doesn’t speak and the therapist trying to help her. I was trying to come up with an ending—and I remember asking myself, ‘what would Agatha Christie do?’ And then suddenly, I saw it. I sat down on the nearest bench and pulled out my phone and wrote down the whole plot, which I still have on my phone. The details changed of course, but the general movement of the story and the twist have remained the same. It was a really good day, that day.

    Regarding spoilers, I will always remember going to see The Mousetrap in London, when I was a kid. At the end of the performance, one of the actors steps forward and asks the audience not to reveal the ending to anyone else as it would spoil their enjoyment of the play. So I think it’s just good manners, don’t you?

    We do! So we’re not going to spoil The Silent Patient, we’ll just encourage everyone reading this to buy a copy immediately so we can all discuss it freely. Thanks, Alex, for taking the time to talk about your book with us!

    Shop all thrillers >

    The post Agatha Christie, Sleight of Hand, and Psychological Complexity: An Interview with <i>The Silent Patient</i> Alex Michaelides appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

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