Friday Book Whimsy: The Mother-in-Law

A thriller involving the death of a mother-in-law with the daughter-in-law being the prime suspect sounds juicy, doesn’t it? And, in fact, it was a really good thriller that kept me guessing until the very end.

The Mother-in-Law, by Sally Hepworth, features Ollie and Lucy, who have a good life with their three kids. Lucy had always dreamed of having a mother-in-law to take the place of her own mother. Alas, though Ollie’s mother Diane has always been cordial to Lucy, she is not warm and fuzzy, and their relationship isn’t like Lucy had hoped.

The family is surprised one night by a visit from the police, who are there to tell them that Diane was found dead that day, an apparent victim of suicide. Though it seems impossible that the woman whose strength Lucy has always admired could be dead by her own hand, there are traces of poison in her body, and a suicide note near the body supports the theory. And, of course, she had recently been diagnosed with cancer.

Except, an autopsy indicates absolutely no sign of cancer. Oops. How can this be?

Eventually, the police begin to suspect that it might be murder rather than suicide, and Lucy is the only person who has had problems with the apparently generous Diane.

The police investigation brings them closer and closer to charging her with murder. Family secrets are brought to the surface as Lucy begins her own investigation into the truth.

I really enjoyed The Mother-in-Law.

Here is a link to the book.


Friday Book Whimsy: The President is Missing

Call me crabby, but I stopped reading James Patterson a long time ago. Oh, I made an exception sometime in the recent past to read I, Alex Cross, one of the series of over 25 books about fictional detective Alex Cross. I read that particular book because the series was selected in the PBS-sponsored Favorite Book Ever Read as one of the 100 chosen by readers. Upon reading the book, I remembered why I’d stopped. I found that book, like others in that series, to be predictable, and more graphically violent than I’d remembered. I’m getting old.

Having said that, I was intrigued last year to learn that Patterson had teamed up with President Bill Clinton to write a mystery/thriller involving the president of the United States. I don’t know how much involvement Clinton had in the writing The President is Missing, but I’m sure he contributed to the details involving the presidency.

Enjoying this novel (which I did) requires an incredible amount of suspension of disbelief. Most significantly, a reader would have to believe that a president could hide from everyone — even his own Secret Service. But I think many novels require a suspension of disbelief.

President Duncan faces a threat more serious than any threat faced by a past president. The bad guys (who are unbelievably smart and computer knowledgeable ) have created a computer virus that will shut down every segment of the United States, from security to finance to airports and highways. Through this virus, life as we know it will come to an end.

To prevent this from happening, Duncan (who happens to have been a special forces agent in his past) goes rogue. He hides where no one can find him and works with other really smart computer guys to stop the virus using intelligence rather than brawn. During this period of three or four days, the world faces disaster, but is ultimately saved. I don’t think that’s a spoiler.

The novel is long, and I approached it with some trepidation. To my surprise, I found the writing to be rather driving, and the story — though unrealistic — to be interesting. The villain behind the virus caught me by surprise.

The President is Missing ends with a speech by President Duncan to Congress that I found to be a bit political for my taste. However, I recommend the book with no hesitation.

Here is a link to the book.