Stories Matter: Back-to-School Reads

By Leslie Zemeckis   |   August 16, 2022

As the temperature rises… so does the current crop of sizzling reads. First up from Elaine Murphy is I Told You This Would Happen, a pithy, hilarious thriller that will have you rooting for at least one serial killer. Sisters Carrie and Becca are siblings that just barely get along, and it might have to do with all the bodies Carrie has helped Becca dispose of. Only now it seems a new killer is in town and risks exposing Carrie’s dark deeds. She can’t turn to her sister for help as Becca has disappeared. You’ll be kept guessing all the way to the end with this one.

Freya Sampson does not disappoint with her latest, The Lost Ticket. Strangers meet on a London bus in 1962. They plan to meet but Frank loses the bus ticket with the cute girl’s phone number on it. Flash forward to 2022 and Frank now has dementia when he meets another lovely young lady on the bus (same route by the way). Libby is a mess, dumped by her boyfriend, out of a job and now acting as a temporary nanny to her nephew. She feels sorry for Frank who is looking for the lost girl of his 1962 dreams. A heartfelt story about chance, loss, and aging, populated by messy characters you will root for in this delightful ride. 

In Robert Bryndza’s Fatal Witness, detective Erika Foster stumbles on a murder in her new neighborhood. The victim is Vicky Clarke, a podcaster who chronicles true crime. There is a creepy neighbor spotted getting rid of the remains of two dead cats, among various other suspects. This was a tense read, in the best of ways, a page turner and highly atmospheric. This is just one in a series by Bryndza starring detective Foster and trust me, you’ll want to read all of them. 

Heavier than your typical “beach read,” Sarah Gristwood’s The Tudors in Love is for us history geeks. The author investigates in great, smothering detail how courtly love shaped the Tudor dynasty, examining the origins of the threesome known as Guinevere, Lancelot, and King Arthur and how their legend and love gone wrong has been variously portrayed throughout literature, starting in medieval times. My favorite chapters dealt with the tragedy of Anne Boleyn. Gristwood makes the case her death was almost pre-destined because of the maneuvers involved in the game of love. 

Talk about an atmospheric read: Lauren Owen’s Small Angels is a tale that starts with a church near a possibly haunted woods in a small English town. Why do I always read these types of books when I’m in the woods? Anyway, Chloe is about to be wedded at the Small Angels church when she learns it is haunted, or cursed, or something menacing is going on there. Is it lore or is something malevolent at work? 

Many are headed back to school, but that doesn’t mean good reads can’t be squeezed in.  


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