Reviews by librarians at the Sam Gary Branch, Denver Public Library
Beyond the Bright Sea
by Lauren Wolk, ideal for fourth grade and up
Crow washed ashore on an island off Massachusetts when she was a baby. Fisherman Osh took her in and raised her with the help of a beloved neighbor. People avoid Crow because they think she’s a diseased orphan from nearby Penikese island, which once housed an abandoned leper colony (a real place in the early 1900s—you can look it up). One night, Crow spots a fire burning there and can’t figure out why—it’s a bird sanctuary now. When they investigate the next day, they find a new scary keeper who’s digging for something. Crow’s search for answers leads her to discover secrets from her past about who she really is, and sets her on the trail of possible buried treasure! A great historical mystery that’s hard to put down.
by Emily Bain Murphy, ideal for seventh grade and up
Aila and her brother are living with their mom’s childhood best friend and her family in the isolated, mysterious town of Sterling. Their mom has just died and their drafted dad is off to fight in WWII. They have nowhere else to go. Every Sterling resident devastatingly loses something every seven years. The smell of flowers, colors, their reflection in the mirror, and dreams, to name a few. No one knows why. Aila’s mom was the only person to leave and regain the things she lost. Townsfolk are suspicious she’s the cause and they don’t welcome Aila. Now it’s one month before the next disappearance and tensions are high. Can they stop the next one? Do clues hidden in their mom’s Shakespeare book hold the answer to what’s happening? I loved this debut novel. It has a very memorable setup, and a unique story unlike anything I’ve read before.
Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore
by Matthew J. Sullivan
Lydia Smith lives a low key and quiet life as a bookseller at a local Denver bookstore. When a regular named Joey commits suicide at the bookstore and Lydia finds his body, things take a drastic and gruesome turn. Joey leaves Lydia all of his possessions, which contain a trail of clues that are somehow connected to the dark past she has tried to forget. As she works to solve the puzzle of Joey’s death, Lydia must come face-to-face with her own history and deal with it once and for all. This debut author once worked at the Tattered Cover Book Store and the book contains lots of local flair.
The Fact of a Body: A Murder and A Memoir
by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich
The author writes a story about Ricky, a pedophile who killed a 6-year-old neighbor. He stuffed him in his closet and then helped in the days-long search for the missing boy. It’s never in doubt that Ricky committed the crime; just what was his intent? A frustrating legal distinction relevant to his punishment. A staunch opponent of the death penalty, the author is a lawyer working on Ricky’s death row appeal case. She can’t understand why she believes Ricky deserves to die. Heartbreakingly, it’s revealed that the author also suffered sexual abuse at the hands of her grandfather and the toll it took on her when her family never talked about it, and covered it up, even though both her parents are lawyers. For fans of true crime fiction, and devastatingly honest memoirs.