THE ANATOMY OF DESIRE by L. R. Dorn

For fans of riveting true crime docuseries a la Serial and Making a Murderer, The Anatomy of Desire is a modern tale of crime and punishment exploring unbridled ambition, blinding passion, and the dark side of desire

Ambition. Passion. Betrayal. Murder?

Claire Griffith has it all, a thriving career, a gorgeous boyfriend, glamorous friends. She always knew she was destined for more than the life her conservative parents preached to her. Arriving in Los Angeles flat broke, she has risen to become a popular fitness coach and social media influencer. Having rebranded herself as Cleo Ray, she stands at the threshold of realizing her biggest dreams.

One summer day, Cleo and a woman named Beck Alden set off in a canoe on a serene mountain lake. An hour later, Beck is found dead in the water and Cleo is missing. Authorities suspect foul play, and news of Cleo’s involvement goes viral. Who was Beck? An infatuated follower? Were she and Cleo friends or lovers? Was Beck’s death an accident…or murder?

Told in the form of an immersive investigative docuseries, L. R. Dorn’s brilliant reimagining of Theodore Dreiser’s classic crime drama, An American Tragedy, captures the urgency and poignance of the original and rekindles it as a very contemporary and utterly mesmerizing page-turner that will keep you guessing. Did she or didn’t she?

Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: May 11, 2021
Source: Review copy from NetGalley

After reading the blurb, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect from this book, but I ended up enjoying it quite a bit. It tells the story of the Cleo Ray murder trial, with Cleo being a popular fitness “influencer” on social media accused of killing her girlfriend.

THE ANATOMY OF DESIRE is like a true crime podcast/documentary, and I knew after seeing the format of interview transcripts that I should switch to audiobook. The audio was so well done! Even with 14 different narrators, it wasn’t difficult to tell the many characters apart. The performances made the characters seem very real.

A large part of this book is the courtroom drama and ensuing social media circus. Though not usually my thing, I found Cleo’s trial quite fascinating. I kept going back and forth over whether I thought she was innocent or guilty as the trial progressed. The ending took me by surprise, for sure. Recommended to fans of unique and thought-provoking mysteries. Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

THE GIRL IN THE MIRROR by Rose Carlyle

Written with the chilling, twisty suspense of The Wife Between Us and Something in the Water, a seductive debut thriller about greed, lust, secrets, and deadly lies involving identical twin sisters.

Twin sisters Iris and Summer are startlingly alike, but beyond what the eye can see lies a darkness that sets them apart. Cynical and insecure, Iris has long been envious of Summer’s seemingly never-ending good fortune, including her perfect husband Adam.

Called to Thailand to help her sister sail the family yacht to the Seychelles, Iris nurtures her own secret hopes for what might happen on the journey. But when she unexpectedly finds herself alone in the middle of the Indian Ocean, everything changes. When she makes it to land, Iris allows herself to be swept up by Adam, who assumes that she is Summer.

Iris recklessly goes along with his mistake. Not only does she finally have the golden life she’s always envied, with her sister gone, she’s one step closer to the hundred-million-dollar inheritance left by her manipulative father. All Iris has to do is be the first of his seven children to produce an heir.

Iris’s “new” life lurches between glamorous dream and paranoid nightmare. On the edge of being exposed, how far will she go to ensure no one discovers the truth?

And just what did happen to Summer on the yacht?

Only Iris knows…

Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: October 20, 2020
Source: Review copy from NetGalley

½

That ending…WHAT?!? I had to go over the last couple of pages again just to make sure I read everything right. Ugh! It was so twisted, but I loved it.

THE GIRL IN THE MIRROR is an addictive thriller/family drama filled with characters with the worst qualities, but I couldn’t stop reading. What a vicious, tangled web they got themselves into. Sometimes it’s difficult to make unlikable characters compelling, but the author succeeded here. I also loved the settings in this book, including a yacht in the Indian Ocean sailing to the Seychelles. Absolutely gorgeous, but also the perfect spot for something sinister. Read this for an exciting summery escape! Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

SMILE BEACH MURDER by Alicia Bessette

From author Alicia Bessette comes an all-new mystery series featuring Callie Padget, a former reporter turned bookshop clerk in the Outer Banks who is pulled into a deadly web of secrets when a mysterious fall at a lighthouse echoes a tragedy from her past.

When Callie is laid off from her reporting job, she returns to her hometown of Cattail Island and lands a gig at the local bookstore — the same one where she found comfort after her mother died.

In fact, the anniversary of her mother’s infamous death is approaching. Years ago, Teri Padget tumbled from the top of the lighthouse. As islanders are once again gossiping about the tragedy, devastating news strikes: the lighthouse has claimed another victim. Eva Meeks, of Meeks Hardware.

The police are calling it suicide, but Callie does not believe Eva jumped any more than she believes her mother did — especially because Callie knows that before her death, Eva had dug up a long-forgotten treasure hunt that could have put a target on Eva’s back.

In Callie’s search for answers, she enlists the help of some beloved books and several new friends, including the handsome local martial arts instructor, Toby Dodge. But when another death rocks Cattail Island, Callie must face her fears alone. As she earns enemies in pursuit of the truth, Callie knows she will either uncover the killer or become a victim herself.

Series: An Outer Banks Bookshop Mystery, #1
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: May 10, 2022
Source: Review copy from NetGalley

Set on North Carolina’s Outer Banks, SMILE BEACH MURDER is the perfect cozy mystery for summer reading. After being laid off from her job as a reporter, Callie Padget heads home to Cattail Island to live with her uncle and work at the local bookshop until she decides what to do next. When a family friend dies under suspicious circumstances, similarly to her mother’s death years before, Callie uses her investigative skills to search for the truth.

The striking cover drew me in, but the intriguing mystery, complete with a treasure hunt, had me hooked. Callie is a smart, compassionate, and clever main character, though some of her risky choices had me gritting my teeth! I enjoyed getting to know her family and friends, and there’s definitely a strong sense of community. Her budding romance with Toby Dodge was a fun addition to the story. This book is a wonderful start to a new series, and I’m looking forward to returning to Cattail Island soon. Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing a free copy in exchange for an honest review.