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The Windsor Knot

When a Russian pianist is murdered at Windsor Castle on the eve of her 90th birthday celebrations, Queen Elizabeth decides to do some investigating of her own, since it seems the authorities are on the wrong track. With help from her assistant private secretary, Rosie Oshodi, the Queen is able to uncover information that she can covertly use to help the police apprehend the killer.

The Windsor Knot (2021) by SJ Bennett is a delightful mystery filled with lots of details about the Queen's everyday life and her relationship with her family. Hoping this becomes a series...

Visit Overdrive to check out the eBook.



The Lemesurier Inheritance

A medieval ancestor of Hugo Lemesurier killed his wife and child. Her dying words put a curse on the family. No first-born son will be allowed to inherit the substantial Lemesurier estate. The curse proves lethal over the centuries.

Fast forward to the twentieth century: Hugo's frantic wife calls in Poirot and Hastings to investigate suspicious accidents happening to eight-year-old Ronald, Hugo's first-born son and next in line for the inheritance. Since this is Agatha Christie, there's a surprise at the end.

This little-known Poirot short story is read by Charles Armstrong. He's the British voice of narrator Hastings. He then switches to the French accent and delivery I've come to expect from Poirot.

The Lemesurier Inheritance (1923) takes twenty-two minutes to hear: perfect for when you need a quick interesting mystery. Visit Hoopla to listen to the audiobook or read the ebook—plus discover the rest of Hercule Poirot's adventures.



The Kindest Lie

Ruth lives with her husband, Xavier, on Chicago's South Side. As an African-American engineer with a degree from Yale, she feels she's made it. However, Xavier is putting pressure on her to start a family, and Ruth cannot stop thinking about the secret she's kept from him--at 17 years old she had a baby, but gave it up. Ruth then finds herself back in her working-class hometown of Ganton, Indiana, wanting answers from her grandmother, who raised her, about the adoption of her baby. While there, Ruth befriends a white boy, Midnight, who is the same age as her son. The Kindest Lie (2021) by Nancy Johnson explores poverty, racism, and family ties. A story with likable characters and situations to ponder, which would also be a good choice for book clubs.

The Kindest Lie is available as an eBook or eAudiobook on Overdrive.

For more book club choices, check out our list of favorites from 2020.



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The Rose Code

Secrets, romance and treachery abound in Bletchley Park, the center of Britain's code breaking program in WWII, which is the setting for this highly entertaining book by Kate Quinn. We follow the lives of three women who are pulled into this mysterious world from different walks of life and soon become the best of friends while navigating their new lives as secret code breakers. The story switches between two timelines - during the war and several years later when we find out that something happened at the end of the war to tear them apart and land one of the girls in an insane asylum. What happened and who was the traitor?

The characters in The Rose Code (2021) are based on the lives of real people, as are many of the events, including a royal romance. A fascinating insight into a highly secretive part of Britain's war effort.

Go to Overdrive to check out the eBook or eAudio.

If you want more Historical Fiction, take a look at our curated book lists for Novels Based on Real People and Novels of WWII.



Big Little Lies

Set in Australia, Big Little Lies (2014) starts with a dead body at trivia night attended by all the parents of the elementary students. Was it murder? Liane Moriarty creates suspense, then goes back in time and skillfully guides the reader full circle to return to this moment. It follows three women, each with a secret, whose lives converge when their children attend the same kindergarten. The book is about fitting in, being a parent, the interpersonal lives of women, and the little lies we live with every day. By the end, you will become attached to these characters.

Read the ebook or listen to the audiobook on Overdrive. After you read the book, check out the TV show adaptation starring Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Laura Dern, and Zoe Kravitz. Big Little Lies. Season 1 follows the book, and season 2 goes beyond.



The War Widow

It's 1946 and Billie Walker is back home in Sydney running her own private investigation agency. During the war, Billie was a journalist who met her photographer husband, Jack, in Paris. Jack then went missing two years ago, presumed dead. Billie came back to Australia when her father, also a private eye, fell ill. After her father's death, Billie took over his office and has an assistant--war veteran Sam.

Most of Billie's cases involve marital disputes, but client Mrs. Brown hires her to find her son, Adin, who is missing. Billie's investigation leads her through both the upper and lower classes of society along with providing a great sense of place of post-war Sydney for the reader in addition to the fashions of the time.

The War Widow (2020) by Tara Moss is a great new addition to the historical mystery genre. I can't wait for the next book in the series!



My Antonia

Willa Cather's My Antonia (1918) describes growing up in frontier Nebraska during the end of the eighteenth century. It is told from the point of view of ten-year-old orphan Jim Burden, who leaves Virginia to live with his paternal grandparents. He soon befriends Antonia Shimerda, who lives on the next farm, and they go on adventures that are indelibly etched into their memories. They grow up together and become lifelong friends, keeping in touch even after Jim moves east, eventually settling in New York. When he comes to visit later in life, Antonia has aged considerably, but despite her change in appearance, she is still the dear friend he remembers.

My Antonia leaves you with a deep feeling of nostalgia for a person and place you never knew. Visit Hoopla to read the ebook or listen to the audiobook.



The Prophets

Powerful and confronting, yet also beautiful, The Prophets (2021) is a story of two young male slaves who find forbidden love on an antebellum Southern cotton plantation. The solace they find in each other either fascinates or repels those around them until the envy, fear, and hatred of both their owners and fellow slaves forces a reaction.

Robert Jones, Jr. depicts the harsh reality of a shameful time in history with emotional and lyrical prose, creating an epic story which highlights the injustices and dehumanization faced by the multitudes of Africans torn from their home soil and thrown into slavery.

For readers who enjoy Toni Morrison and Brit Bennett.

Read the ebook or listen to the audiobook via Overdrive today.

The Lost Jewels

Bostonian Kate Kirby is asked to write a magazine article about the Cheapside Hoard, a large amount of jewelry from the 16th and 17th centuries which were found in 1912 by workmen excavating a cellar in London. As a jewelry historian, Kate is excited about being able to see some of the collection up close since most of it is off-view. As she views the jewelry, Kate notices that it's similar to some drawings her great-grandmother Essie had in her possession. Kate wonders if there is some connection between the jewels and her family.

In an alternate storyline, it's 1912 and Essie lives in poverty in London with her mother, brother, and three sisters. The family is barely able to make ends meet when her brother, Freddie, happens to be one of the workers on a job site where a large amount of jewels are discovered. The Lost Jewels (2020) by Kirsty Manning follows Kate on her journey of discovery. A great readalike for Jennifer Robson and Fiona Davis.



Zoo 2

In this short story sequel to Zoo, the adventure starts with Jackson Oz narrowly escaping from a polar bear. He and his family have set up housekeeping in the arctic thinking they would be safe from infected animal attacks.

Oz and wife Chloe were considering the dubious safety of Greenland when Oz gets invited to join a new effort to end the pandemic of animal attacks. There is a concern that the infection could spread from animals to microbes. Then the infection begins to be noticed in some humans in remote areas. Oz joins a team of researchers to capture an infected human alive. Infected humans are as savage as their animal counterparts but can speak and know how to use weapons.

This is an exciting standalone story but I recommend reading Zoo first—and check out my review of that title. Jay Snyder's excellent reading won't let you put this audiobook down till the end. Listen to the audiobook via Hoopla or read the ebook via Overdrive. Check out Zoo 2 (2016) by James Patterson and Max DiLallo today.



Chlorine Sky

This #OwnVoices story follows teenager Sky through her journey to self-acceptance. Told in verse, this touching story perfectly displays the often overwhelming feelings of uncertainty and angst that will resonate with teens and adults alike. Poet Mahogany L. Browne's lyrical writing is inspiring without being cliché and will stick with you long after you've finished reading.

Check out Chlorine Sky (2021) and other works by Mahogany L. Browne today.


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Wild Symphony

Yes, you read the author correctly. This picture book is, in fact, written by the Dan Brown of The Da Vinci Code fame. I was shocked just seeing his name on the cover, and even more so learning that Brown is also an incredibly impressive composer. On the surface, each page features a poem about the animals on that spread with a little life lesson from Maestro Mouse. But there are so many extras! Find hidden letters to unscramble, decode a secret message, and look for the reveal of each animals' instrument on the page following.

To top it all off, the book itself has a free, corresponding app of the same name with music composed for each poem by Dan Brown himself. Once you listen through the book on the app, you just might uncover one extra surprise.

All in all, I am very impressed by Brown's first picture book Wild Symphony (2020) with all of the bells and whistles to boot. I can't wait to see what he does next.



Save Me from Dangerous Men

Nikki Griffin is a private detective. She also owns a bookstore and practices her own brand of vigilantism against men who abuse women. She is hired by Silicon Valley CEO Gregg Gunn to follow an employee Gunn believes is stealing information from the company. As Nikki observes the employee, Karen Li, she notices that Karen acts more like someone who is scared rather than an errant employee. Soon, Nikki is involved in something that puts her in great danger--and she knows that she has limited time to figure out the puzzle of what Gunn is really involved in before people lose their lives.

Save Me from Dangerous Men (2019) is the debut of a new series by S. A. Lelchuk and doesn't disappoint--an intriguing main character, engaging story, and a solid sense of place.

Listen to the novel in Hoopla instantly or read the ebook in Overdrive.



Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore

Clay lost his Silicon Valley job due to the recession and takes a job at an unusual bookstore, working odd hours. The few customers that patronize the store are a curious bunch and seem to return again and again without buying anything, but rather check out very old books. He soon discovers a pattern to the activity which leads to a 500-year-old mystery.

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore (2012) by Robin Sloan is a fun read, with elements of suspense and mystery, plus plenty of quirky characters. For those who like to listen, narrator Ari Flakos sets the tone just right. Listen to the audiobook or read the ebook on Overdrive.

We have an entire list of Books for Book Lovers—check it out!


The Bell in the Lake

Wonderfully atmospheric and steeped in local legends and lore, The Bell in the Lake (2020) is a captivating historical novel set in rural Norway during the late 19th century. The story revolves around a local farm girl, Astrid Hekne, whose ancestors donated the mysterious 'sister bells' to the local stave church. When the new pastor decides to sell off the historical church to Germany, he stirs up ancient myths and endangers his budding romance with Astrid.

Lars Mytting's writing conjures up images of Norway's remote villages, the stoic people who inhabit them and their historic stave churches; describing the unique architecture and designs which mix Viking paganism and Christianity.

Read the novel instantly via Hoopla.