Staff Picks

Stephanie’s recommendation is a true story of murder, family secrets, and the unbreakable bond of sisterhood. After more than a decade, when sisters Nikki, Sami, and Tori Knotek hear the word mom, it claws like an eagle’s talons, triggering memories that have been their secret since childhood. Until now. For years, behind the closed doors of their farmhouse in Raymond, Washington, their sadistic mother, Shelly, subjected her girls to unimaginable abuse, degradation, torture, and psychic terrors. Through it all, Nikki, Sami, and Tori developed a defiant bond that made them far less vulnerable than Shelly imagined. Even as others were drawn into their mother’s dark and perverse web, the sisters found the strength and courage to escape an escalating nightmare that culminated in multiple murders.

In Pam’s recommendation, Ryder Creed and his dogs have been making national headlines. They’ve intercepted several major drug stashes being smuggled through Atlanta’s airport. But their newfound celebrity has also garnered some unwanted attention. When Creed and one of his dogs are called in to search a commercial fishing vessel, they discover a secret compartment. But the Colombian cartel’s latest shipment isn’t drugs. This time, its cargo is human. Meanwhile, FBI agent Maggie O’Dell is investigating a series of murders — the victims tortured, killed, and dumped in the Potomac River. She suspects it’s the work of a cunning and brutal assassin, but her politically motivated boss has been putting up roadblocks. By the time she uncovers a hit list with Creed’s name on it, it might be too late. The cartel has already sent someone to destroy Creed and everyone close to him. But Creed and his dogs have a few surprises in store on their compound in Florida. Will it be enough to stop a ruthless cartel determined to remove the thorn in its side once and for all?

In Cynthia’s recommendation, Cruella De Vil is the perfect villain: stylish, witty, relentless…and possibly cursed. From her lonely childhood, to her iconic fashion choices, to that fateful car crash (you know the one), Cruella tells all in this marvelous memoir of a woman doomed. Even the cruelest villains have best friends, true loves, and daring dreams. Now it’s Cruella’s turn to share hers. Valentino brings readers a tale told by the Evil Thing herself-a tale of the complicated bonds of female friendship, of mothers and daughters, and of burning, destructive desire. After all, nothing is as simple as black and white.

In Emily’s recommendation, a mysterious and violent predator committed fifty sexual assaults in Northern California before moving south, where he perpetrated ten sadistic murders. Then he disappeared, eluding capture by multiple police forces and some of the best detectives in the area. Three decades later, Michelle McNamara, a true crime journalist who created the popular website TrueCrimeDiary.com, was determined to find the violent psychopath she called “the Golden State Killer.” I’ll Be Gone in the Dark—the masterpiece McNamara was writing at the time of her sudden death—offers an atmospheric snapshot of a moment in American history and a chilling account of a criminal mastermind and the wreckage he left behind. It is also a portrait of a woman’s obsession and her unflagging pursuit of the truth. Framed by an introduction by Gillian Flynn and an afterword by her husband, Patton Oswalt, the book was completed by Michelle’s lead researcher and a close colleague. Utterly original and compelling, it is destined to become a true crime classic—and may at last unmask the Golden State Killer.

Nalani’s recommendation follows Lo Blacklock, a journalist who writes for a travel magazine, who has just been given the assignment of a lifetime: a week on a luxury cruise with only a handful of cabins. The sky is clear, the waters calm, and the veneered, select guests jovial as the exclusive cruise ship, the Aurora, begins her voyage in the picturesque North Sea. At first, Lo’s stay is nothing but pleasant: the cabins are plush, the dinner parties are sparkling, and the guests are elegant. But as the week wears on, frigid winds whip the deck, gray skies fall, and Lo witnesses what she can only describe as a dark and terrifying nightmare: a woman being thrown overboard. The problem? All passengers remain accounted for and so, the ship sails on as if nothing has happened, despite Lo’s desperate attempts to convey that something (or someone) has gone terribly, terribly wrong.

In Kris’s recommendation, we meet Gina Royal. She is the definition of average—a shy Midwestern housewife with a happy marriage and two adorable children. But when a car accident reveals her husband’s secret life as a serial killer, she must remake herself as Gwen Proctor—the ultimate warrior mom. With her ex now in prison, Gwen has finally found refuge in a new home on remote Stillhouse Lake. Though still the target of stalkers and Internet trolls who think she had something to do with her husband’s crimes, Gwen dares to think her kids can finally grow up in peace. But just when she’s starting to feel at ease in her new identity, a body turns up in the lake—and threatening letters start arriving from an all-too-familiar address. Gwen Proctor must keep friends close and enemies at bay to avoid being exposed—or watch her kids fall victim to a killer who takes pleasure in tormenting her. One thing is certain: she’s learned how to fight evil. And she’ll never stop.

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