Check It Out Category: Book Culture

For Fans of Psychological Suspense

Miranda Lapena program promo image

The dark underbelly of suburbia. Secrets kept from spouses, siblings, coworkers. Longtime friendships betrayed. And perhaps the most disturbing of all: the terrible thing someone just like you might do under just the right (or wrong) circumstances. These are some of the hallmarks of psychological suspense, in which no one – sometimes not even the hero or heroine – can be trusted, but readers of tense, twisty, moody stories tell us they can’t get enough. If this means you, please join us for a virtual conversation with summer sensations Megan Miranda and Shari Lapena on Thursday, August 12. While you are waiting to sample their newest releases, keep yourself distracted with these other stories of not-so-perfect neighbors.

Other Woman's House book cover

The Other Woman’s House by Sophie Hannah

A murder seems to have been committed in a house about which a woman named Connie is obsessing. Once Connie discovers the house has been put up for sale, she visits it constantly on the real estate website. During one view, she sees a body and the bloody evidence of a murder in the house, but the police cannot find any sign in the house that a murder took place there.

The Wrong Family book cover

The Wrong Family by Tarryn Fisher

Before moving in with the Crouch family, Juno thought Winnie and her husband, Nigel, had the perfect marriage, the perfect son – the perfect life. Only now that she’s living in their beautiful house, she sees the cracks in the crumbling facade are too deep to ignore. Still, she isn’t one to judge. After her grim diagnosis, the retired therapist simply wants a place to live out the rest of her days in peace. But that peace is shattered the day Juno overhears a chilling conversation between Winnie and Nigel…

Those People book cover

Those People by Louise Candlish

An idyllic suburban neighborhood is thrown into chaos by the arrival of new neighbors who disrupt the community with rude behavior, loud music and unsightly renovations, until a shattering murder exposes a network of secrets.

What She Knew book cover

What She Knew by Gilly Macmillan

Rachel Jenner is walking in a Bristol park with her eight-year-old son Ben when he asks if he can run ahead. It’s an ordinary request on an ordinary Sunday afternoon, and Rachel has no reason to worry–until Ben vanishes. Police are called, search parties go out, and Rachel, already insecure after her recent divorce, feels herself coming undone. As hours and then days pass without a sign of Ben, everyone who knew him is called into question, from Rachel’s newly married ex-husband to her mother-of-the-year sister.

Other Mrs book cover

The Other Mrs. by Mary Kubica

Unnerved by her husband’s inheritance of a decrepit coastal property and the presence of a disturbed relative, community newcomer Sadie uncovers harrowing facts about her family’s possible role in a neighbor’s murder.

Behind Closed Doors book cover

Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris

The friends of a seemingly perfect socialite couple begin to see cracks in the facade when they realize that the husband and wife are never apart and that there are bars on one of their upstairs windows.

Like These Authors? Try Talia Hibbert…and See Her This Saturday!

The Rom-Com Renaissance in book publishing is still going strong, and readers who are in the mood for meet-cutes, fake relationships, hating-to-dating, and all the accompanying feels have more meant-to-be possibilities than ever before! If you recognize your soul mate in any of the popular authors below, be sure you join us for a live virtual conversation on Saturday, July 17 to hear from Talia Hibbert in an MPPL-exclusive Meet the Author program.

Right Swipe book cover

The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai
Modern Love series

Cynical dating app creator Rhiannon Hunter must decide whether or not to give former pro-football player Samson Lima, who wooed her during one magical night and then disappeared, a second chance despite the fact that his in league with a business rival.

What do the stories have in common?
contemporary issues, passionate sensuality, complex and resilient heroine

Kiss Quotient book cover

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

A 30-year-old math whiz with Asperger’s tries to make her love life as rich as her career by hiring an escort to help her with her lack of knowledge and experience in the dating department.

What do the stories have in common?
ability-diverse heroine, steamy encounters, compulsively readable

Worst Best Man book cover

The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa

A wedding planner left at the altar? Yeah, the irony isn’t lost on Carolina Santos, either. But despite that embarrassing blip from her past, Lina’s offered an opportunity that could change her life. There’s just one hitch: she has to collaborate with the best (make that worst) man from her own failed nuptials.

What do the stories have in common?
enemies-to-lovers theme, culturally diverse couple, both comic and spicy

Headliners book cover

Headliners by Lucy Parker
London Celebrities series

For years, rival TV presenters Sabrina Carlton and Nick Davenport have traded barbs on their respective shows. The public can’t get enough of their feud, but after Nick airs Sabrina’s family scandals to all of Britain, the gloves are off. They can barely be in the same room together–but these longtime enemies are about to become the unlikeliest of cohosts.

What do the stories have in common?
hating-to-dating theme, banter-filled dialogue, both sweet and saucy

Grin and Beard It book cover

Grin & Beard It by Penny Reid
Winston Brothers series

When a new role takes Hollywood comic actress Sienna to the Great Smoky Mountains but she finds herself continually lost, she’s rescued by handsome, charming, and cheeky Park Ranger Jethro. Can she traverse the tenuous trails of Tennessee without losing her heart?

What do the stories have in common?
opposites attract theme, culturally diverse couple, folksiness but with heat

The Wedding Date book cover

The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory

Stranded together in an elevator during a power outage, Drew and Alexa agree to pose as a couple at an ex’s wedding and discover afterwards that they are unable to forget each other.

What do the stories have in common?
snappy dialogue, dynamic characters, interracial romance

Why MPPL Staff Love Talia Hibbert

Zoom Program: Meet the author Talia Hibbert, Saturday, July 17 at 11 a.m.

What is it about Talia Hibbert’s books that has won the hearts of our readers’ advisors? Peek over the shoulders of MPPL staff to learn six reasons why they are infatuated, and join us for a live virtual conversation on Saturday, July 17 to hear from the author herself. Can’t wait? Try a reading date with Get a Life, Chloe Brown, the first of the Brown Sisters trilogy, as ebook or e-audio on Hoopla.

Real and Relatable Characters

“I enjoy how real both her male and female characters are. They have many facets to them and they are normal people with things like tough pasts, mental health issues, and/or disabilities, and I find that so refreshing and relatable.”

What We Already Love but More

“I love that the sisters make reappearances throughout the whole trilogy and that there is overall a general kindness to these books even in the enemies-to-lovers trope. Speaking of tropes: Hibbert covers a bunch of them (fake dating, enemies to lovers, person teaching other person to LIVE), but because she has such superb character development and banter between characters it feels like fresh takes on the tropes.”

Ultramodern with Ease

“I liked that the writing was effortlessly contemporary. There are references to social media and other bits of modern life that don’t feel clunky like they sometimes do when an author is trying to seem ‘with it.’ It feels like the author could be writing about her own life — that’s how real the characters, places, and social media bits feel.”

Accessibility and Tone

“A way in for me was when I was trying to stretch my reading, and I was able to do so easily  thanks to the humor and not-often-talked-about issues. I’d probably recommend to a reader looking for a more contemporary/real-life (right now) romance with a bit of humor. I’d definitely mention the fun back and forth/quirkiness between the characters. So romantical!”

Inclusivity

“The book I read had two Black main characters, a bisexual lead, two non-Christian religions, and a mental health subplot, and still managed to be funny and fun to read.”

Delicious Audio Productions

“I love the snappy dialogue, and the audiobooks’ narrators are fabulous!! Yes, I’m swooning!”

Added note: Steamy Encounters 

Talia is renown for romance with lots of sizzle. Whether you are looking for more stories with equal heat or some that lean into slow-burn simmer instead, we can suggest just the right recipe!

Are Helene Wecker Books for You?

If You Liked These, Try Helene Wecker book collage

If you’ve enjoyed one or more of these titles, Helene Wecker’s imaginative storytelling may be a great match for your reading moods. She blends folklore, adventure, historical fiction, romance, and fantasy with lush worldbuilding and contemporary style. Learn even more by listening firsthand to a virtual conversation Tuesday, June 22, at 7pm. It’s the perfect opportunity to be enchanted!

The Golem and the Jinni series is for you if you liked….

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Why? Irresistible tales of real life infused with magic told in rich, lyrical style

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon

Why? Expansive, character-driven stories incorporating both mastery of craft and golem lore

Circe by Madeline Miller

Why? Atmospheric historical fantasy drawing from mythology but translated to innovative frame

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

Why? Fantastical epics with mystical soul mates that draw readers in to worlds beyond ours

Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman

Why? Supernatural characters navigate adventures while discovering their place in our world

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke

Why? Equal parts history and mind-bending fantasy presented in complex, rewarding style

The World That We Knew by Alice Hoffman

Why? Full immersion in historical setting combined with thoughtful reimagining of Jewish folklore

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Why? Enchanted tales inspired by myth from parts of world other than Western Europe

Please join us for an inspiring book conversation:

Helene Wecker program

Stay tuned for more information on our Summer of Author Visits!

Author Program: Carl Hiaasen Interviews John Sandford

Enjoy sitting in on a virtual chat with bestselling thriller author John Sandford on Wednesday, April 14 from the comfort of your own home. Whether you are an established fan, looking for a new series, or simply interested in hearing first-hand about life as an author, you’ll be treated to a lively conversation. This program will be presented via Zoom, and you may register here.

As the reader resource tool NoveList describes, “John Sandford stands out for his consistent delivery of riveting characters and intense, richly layered plots in his Prey series, Kidd series, and his stand-alone novels. Crime drives his stories, whether his heroes are the ones solving or the ones committing the crime. Intricate details and graphic violence lend a gritty realism to the tone of these books, while maintaining a fast, suspenseful pace. Quirky characters and witty dialogue relieve the tension. Sandford’s good guys and bad guys alike are intriguing, complex, and realistically flawed.”

If you are interested in giving his books a try but uncertain how to begin with such a long series, here are entry points you might use:

Golden Prey book cover

Golden Prey (2017)
Prey series, #27

A series of audacious robberies compels newly appointed U.S. marshal Lucas Davenport to investigate the possible return of a gang leader who once killed two FBI agents.

Why start here? Series protagonist Lucas Davenport has a fresh start with a new job, and you don’t have to know the backstory to enjoy the thrilling chase that unfolds.

Invisible Prey book cover

Invisible Prey (2007)
Prey series, # 17

Investigating the seemingly open-and-shut double homicide case involving a pair of wealthy elderly women, Lucas Davenport begins to suspect that the handful of small items that were stolen from the crime scene may have had more significant values.

Why start here? If your taste in crime fiction favors intriguing procedural, this entry offers all the Davenport flavor with heightened emphasis on the puzzles. Bonus: This is recurring character Virgil Flowers’ first appearance with Davenport, and he’ll even go on to have his own series.

Mad River book cover

Mad River (2012)
Virgil Flowers series, #6

When three teenagers with dead-end prospects begin a killing and robbery spree through rural Minnesota, Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigator Virgil Flowers joins a growing number of cops trying to stop them.

Why start here? New release Ocean Prey is the first to pair Davenport and Flowers in equal parts, and this entry shows Virgil’s distinct personality and approach.

Certain Prey book cover

Certain Prey (1999)
Prey series, #10

Clara Rinker is the best hit woman in the business. She’s been hired by an attorney in Minnesota who wants a rival eliminated. But the witness survives, the attorney starts acting strangely and a big cop named Lucas Davenport gets on her case. There are loose ends popping up everywhere and Lucas is in for the run of his life.

Why start here? For those fascinated by the interplay between hero and villain, such as in TV series Luther, The Fall, or Hannibal, the same dark, titillating satisfaction can be found in this pairing.

Rules of Prey book cover

Rules of Prey (1989)
Prey series, #1

Lieutenant Lucas Davenport is determined to track down a diabolically clever serial killer who leads a double life, carefully picks out his female victims, and taunts the police with notes signed Maddog.

Why start here? For those who cannot bear to jump in mid-series, here’s where it all began!