Harlan Coben’s “Hold Tight” Now a Netflix Movie

From the Book Jacket

How well do you really know your child?

Tia and Mike Baye never imagined they’d spy on their kids. But their sixteen-year-old son Adam has been unusually distant lately, and after the suicide of his best friend Spencer Hill, they can’t help but worry. Within days of installing a sophisticated spy program on Adam’s computer they are jolted by a cryptic message from an unknown correspondent that shakes them to their core: “Just stay quiet and all safe.”

As if Mike Baye isn’t dealing with enough, he also learns that Lucas Loriman, the sweet kid who grew up next door, is in urgent need of a kidney transplant. As the boy’s doctor, Mike suddenly finds himself in possession of an explosive secret that threatens to rip the Loriman family apart at the seams.

Nearby, while browsing through an online memorial for Spencer, Betsy Hill discovers a surprising detail about the night of her son’s death. Before she can find out more, Adam disappears, taking the truth with him and sending shockwaves through the neighborhood.

As the lives of these families collide in tragic, unexpected, and violent ways, long-hidden connections in their small suburb begin to work their way to the surface. And when an unidentified Jane Doe is beaten to death not far away, those connections threaten to turn this quiet community upside down—and force these desperate parents to decide whether there is any line they won’t cross to protect those they love most in the world.

About Harlan Coben:

With over 75 million books in print worldwide, Harlan Coben is the #1 New York Times author of thirty three novels including WINTHE BOY FROM THE WOODSRUN AWAYFOOL ME ONCETELL NO ONE and the renowned Myron Bolitar series. His books are published in 45 languages around the globe.

Harlan is the creator and executive producer of several Netflix television dramas including STAY CLOSE, THE STRANGER, SAFE, THE FIVE, THE INNOCENT and THE WOODS. Harlan was also showrunner and executive producer for two French TV mini-series, UNE CHANCE DE TROP (NO SECOND CHANCE) and JUST UN REGARD (JUST ONE LOOK). KEINE ZWEIT CHANCE, also based on Harlan’s novel, aired in Germany on Sat1.

Spooky and Scary: Beneath the Stairs

An abandoned octangular home hidden away from the main road, a mysterious door leading to a dark and haunted basement. What is beneath the stairs?

              A mysterious and abandoned octangular house, hidden in the woods, a mysterious disappearance, and tales of hauntings. A scary and spooky place indeed and one that attracts—no make that lures—Clare and Abby, two young friends, into taking a peek inside.

              Or rewind even further, into the memories of author Jennifer Fawcett, a playwright who worked with a theater company in Canada before moving to upstate New York to teach at Skidmore College. Fawcett, the author of the just released Beneath the Stairs, accepted a dare from a friend to participate in NaNoWriMo about a decade ago. Short for National Novel Writing Month, it’s a way for writers to jumpstart the process by setting a goal of completing a 50,000=page book within a month.

              Make that a decade for Fawcett. That’s how long it took her to complete Beneath the Stairs as there were plays to write, a baby that came along, a move to upstate New York,  and classes to teach. But what emerged was a story based upon her own experience when she was 13 of riding bikes with three friends to explore an old decrepit octangular home.

              “We didn’t stay inside for long,” says Fawcett, who has an MFA from the Iowa Playwrights Workshop. “I remember it being very cold.”

              Decades later, that short visit and the feelings of cold and creepiness flowed into Fawcett’s story about the aftermath of Clare and Abby’s visits. Long estranged from her childhood friend,  Clare is living in Chicago when she receives a call that Abby is hospitalized after attempting to commit suicide in the basement of the octangular house. Clare, who has had a miscarriage and is seeing her relationship dissolve, reluctantly returns home. There are all sorts of  reasons why she wants to avoid the place where she grew up and one of them is Abby’s older handsome brother.

              Trying to understand what happened to Abby leads Clare back to the octangular house. As she remembers from all those years ago, there is an icy chill to the house and a feeling of unseen beings. Almost irresistibly, she’s drawn to the basement where the distilled evil of the house seems centered. The door to the basement is an animate object, opening on its own, and more frightening, occasionally locking in someone who has walked down the stairs into the basement.

              In the book, Fawcett added a widow’s walk to the top though there wasn’t one when she and her friends visited when they were 13. She recently found out that home originally had one. She also came to discover, after the book was published, that the names she used for characters were the actual names of people associated with the home. It was almost as if the house was channeling its history through Fawcett when she was writing. Spooky stuff indeed.

              Fawcett isn’t necessarily a believer in the supernatural but we both get a slight shiver when I ask her if she would  go into the house, which is located in Canada, now if she had the chance.

              “I can’t,” she says. “It burned down a few years ago. On Halloween.”

This book story previous ran in the Northwest Indiana Times.

This Might Hurt

         

          While her sister Nat is successfully climbing the corporate ladder in Boston, Kit has embraced life on a remote Maine island where she enjoys the structure imposed by the leaders of Wisewood. For most, Wisewood is a temporary respite from the world—a place for self-improvement and a total immersion into life totally off the grid as they work at maximizing themselves. One of the requirements for anyone staying  there is having no contact with friends and family for the length of their stay and not using their computers and cell phones. Not that they easily could. As Nat quickly discovers, cell service on the island is practically non-existent.

           None of this daunts Kit who is fully committed to Wisewood. Still reeling from the death of her mother, she’s excited when she is asked to join the staff even though it means undergoing a ritualistic—and painful—hazing. And she’s less than happy when Nat shows up to check on her.

           For her part, Natalie senses the hostility of the staff from the beginning when she shows up to take the boat to the island. It only gets worse when she arrives. The rooms have no curtains and she constantly feels as though she’s being watched, her cell phone disappears, and she sees her sister seemingly controlled by Wisewood’s leader, a woman known as the Teacher.

          In her first novel, the USA Today bestseller Darling Rose Gold author Stephanie Wrobel explored the relationship between a mother and the daughter that she had systematically made ill for the attention and praise it got her.

          “For this book I wanted to take a deeper look at cults and what makes them so appealing,” says Wrobel about her second novel, the aptly named This Might Hurt. “If you dive deep enough, you find the shades, it’s not all black and white. I think the major commonality when it comes to cults is that people are searching.”

          Told from three different points of view—Kit, Nat, and an unidentified woman who was psychologically and physically abused by a demanding sadistic father—Wrobel, who is from Chicago but is now living in England, shows us how each character developed and what led them to the island. And, what, ultimately happens to all three when the time comes to make choices.

These Toxic Things

          Michaela Lambert has a career I’ve never heard of and indeed doesn’t quite exist yet (but someone should start doing it) as a digital archaeologist for a new start-up run by her boyfriend. No make that ex-boyfriend. Well, like everything in Rachel Howzell Hall’s These Toxic Things, a wonderfully intricate mystery about the secrets that we keep and those that others keep from us, the relationship is complicated.

          But Mickie, as she’s nicknamed, loves her job. She’s a thoroughly modern woman but she loves the curios of the past. For Memory Bank she catalogues items that her clients deem most valuable in highlighting important aspects of their life. Unfortunately, Nadia Denham, her new client and owner of Beautiful Things Curiosities Shoppe, a fascinating store in a somewhat seedy strip mall, is found dead. Denham has a plastic bag over her head and left a suicide note but the death looks suspicious none the less. And there is of course, the shark-like developer who wants to buy the land and bulldoze it for his own upscale development.

          Since the dead woman already purchased the Mega-Memory Package, Mickie decides to go ahead and create the memory book and suddenly finds herself in a sinister, shadowy world. In ways, Mickie is sheltered, she lives in a tree-lined Los Angeles neighborhood behind the pretty home owned by her loving parents. Her uncle, a LAPD cop is equally protective and dedicated to her well-being. She graduated from USC, over-borrows her mother’s expensive and beautiful clothes and the two giggle over her stories of boyfriends while chowing down tacos. And yet even in this cocooned bubble, there are secrets as well.

          Once entering the world of Denham’s beautiful things, she makes good friends at the nearby diner but she’s also suddenly receiving threatening notes and feels as those someone who knows where she lives.

          Hall, a self-described control freak and thoroughly plots out her numerous novels (she has one already written coming out next summer and another next year), draws upon her own life and experiences, the stories she hears from friends and co-workers, and what she reads including newspapers, blogs, and social media.

.         She and her college bound daughter share clothes, munch on popcorn while gossipping, and she has some secrets she will in the future share with her—though none, I’m sure, are as stunning as the one Mickie will discover about her family.

          “Writers are like magpies—we grab shiny things and take them with us,” Hall says and of course that’s true, everything is material for writers. Hall is able to keep track of her complex novels because she is all about organization and has a daily to-do list.

          “If I do something that’s not on the list, I add it later so I can cross it off,” she says. “We all have our rituals.”

          These Toxic Things is one of an emerging mystery subgenre—that of feisty, independent, and intelligent Black woman who while bravely finding her way in the world also has her vulnerabilities.

          “It’s a great awakening of Black female mystery writers, who burst out about three years ago,” says Hall.

          It’s a very welcome one as well.

The Appeal By Janice Hallett

        An ever escalating review of email, letters, and documents by two young lawyers at the behest of their supervisor, The Appeal tells the story of a small-town fundraising appeal for a little girl’s life-saving cancer treatment and all the machinations that go along with it.

        “While the alpha family, leading lights of a community drama group, desperately try to raise funds any way they can, some members throw themselves into the campaign, while others harbor nagging suspicions,” says Janice Hallett, a former magazine editor, award-winning journalist, and government communications writer, and author The Appeal. “When a body is found, 15 suspects come under the spotlight.”

        It’s an intriguing way to draw us into the small town theater group and the many assorted people involved.

        “We approach the story in hindsight, from the point of view of two law students, set the task by their tutor to read correspondence pertinent to a legal case of appeal – because he believes the wrong person may have been convicted,”  says Hallett, who was struggling with trying to get a succession of screenwriting ideas off the ground and decided to instead write her first novel.

        “I wrote The Appeal with no expectations that it would ever be published, no deadline and no pressure,” she says. “If I’d thought more about it, I may well have decided against these formats. Ignorance was confidence in this case – it didn’t occur to me it wouldn’t work.”

        And worked out it did. Her book has been named The #1 bestselling debut in the UK in 2021, An Apple Books 2021 Bestselling Crime & Thriller (UK) and an Amazon UK Editors’ Picks: Best Books of the Year, 2021.

        Before she branched out into writing screenplays and mysteries (Hallett has a new mystery out next year titled The Twyford Code), she spent 15 years writing about bubble bath, mascara, sun cream, cologne, soap, and more.

        “ I wrote about every beauty and personal care product on the shelves,” says Hallett. “I edited trade magazines for people who sell beauty products to the public – whether they work in high-end department stores or local drug stores. It’s a dynamic industry that blends science, art, psychology and creativity. I loved it for about 12 twelve years, but by 15 I fancied a change.” 

        As complex her book is, Hallett says she’s no planner when it comes to writing.

        “You won’t find swathes of sticky notes or a dry-wipe board in my study,” she continues. “I set off, let the story evolve, and allow the characters to develop in an organic way. Planning everything beforehand would take all the joy and exploration out of the process for me. Years of screenwriting and playwriting have worked in my favor because you develop a sense of story, pace and timing. If there’s a potential downside, it’s that I never know what the story is about until I reach the end of the first draft. At that point I go back, make the beginning fit the end and put in all the glorious twists and details that make the story so rich and satisfying. I’m a reverse engineer.”

CrimeReads: 10 New Books Coming Out This Week ‹ CrimeReads

CrimeReads: 10 New Books Coming Out This Week ‹ CrimeReads. https://crimereads.com/10-new-books-coming-out-this-week-february-21-2022/

Windy City Blues

In her fun very readable Windy City Blues (Berkley 2017; $16), Chicago author Renee Rosen again takes another slice of the city’s history and turns it into a compelling read.

Rosen, who plumbs Chicago’s history to write such books as Dollface, her novel about flappers and gangers like Al Capone, and What the Lady Wants which recounts the affair between department store magnate Marshall Field and his socialite neighbor, says she and her publisher were racking their brains for her next book which encompassed Chicago history.

“She suggested the blues,” says Rosen, who didn’t have much interest in the subject.

But Rosen was game and started her typical uber-intensive research.

“When I discovered the Chess brothers, who founded Chess Records, I fell in love,” she says, noting that when researching she was surprised about how much she didn’t know about the subject despite her immersion in Chicago history for her previous books. “I thought this is a story.”

“As part of my research, I drove the Blues Highway from New Orleans to Chicago,” she says. “I also met with Willie Dixon’s grandson and with Chess family members.”

Combining fact and fiction, Rosen’s story follows heroine Leeba Groski, who struggling to fit in, has always found consolation in music. When her neighbor Leonard Chess offers her a job at his new Chicago Blues label, she sees this as an opportunity to finally fit in. Leeba starts by answering phones and filing but it soon becomes much more than that as she discovers her own talents as a song writer and also begins not only to fall in love with the music industry but also with Red Dupree, a black blues guitarist.

Windy City Blues was recently selected for Chicago’s One Book project, a program designed to engage diverse groups of Chicagoans around common themes. Rosen says she is very honored to be a recipient.

“I put my heart and soul into this book,” she says. “I think it’s a story with an important message. In it are lessons of the Civil Rights movement, what it was like for Jews and people of color along with the history of the blues and the role of Jews in bringing the blues to the world. After all, as the saying goes: Blacks + Jews = Blues.”

The Other Black Girl

         For the past two years, Nella Rogers, the only child of two college professors, has held a job as an editorial assistant at Wagner’s, a publishing house filled with Ivy League trust funders who work for low wages with the dream of becoming an editor one day. That’s Nella’s dream too, though she knows she has a long way to go. The only Black in the editorial assistant pool since the editor disappeared some 20 years ago muttering loudly and scratching he hear. By the way, this is a major clue in The Other Black Girl (Atria 2021) a book that is way beyond your typical business competition story. The first novel by Zakiya Dalila Harris, it’s a zinger showing not only the tricky waters Blacks must navigate—I mean how many White people, myself included, have had to worry that there were too many Whites in the business?

         The impetus for the book says Harris is something similar. Harris was in the bathroom washing her hands when a Black woman walked out of one of the stalls. Her first thought was who was she?   “I was not used to seeing other Black people on the floor,” he says. “I knew who was in the company and how many Black and Brown people there were on my floor—which was me and a Black editor at Pantheon/Knopf. So, I looked at this woman and hoped we would have a moment, but there was nothing. Which was cool, I get it. But on my way back to my desk it got me thinking, why was I so excited? Why was I so starved? But of course, I was starved.

         Becoming a Wagner editor requires a host of abilities—the ability to work hard, a knack of understanding he Zeitgeist so well that’s it easy to define the winners from the losers when it comes to selecting what novels have that certain something that make them most likely to become best sellers.

         Oh, and keeping your mouth shut and fitting in.

         Nella has got all the above checked except for the last two. Sure, she works hard at developing contacts, and she’s super bright but she blows it big time when she suggests that one of the publisher’s star writers, who is introducing a Black character in his newest book, that the woman is a racist stereotype. Of course she , Shartricia Daniels is the fictional character–a pregnant black opioid addict. But when she tries to point this out, her editor is outraged as is the writer, and unfortunately, The Other Black Girl, Hazel-May McCall, a pretty woman with just the right sense of style, a killer resume, and the sweet guile pretends to agree with Nella. But then later Nella overhears her talking to their shared boss praising the Shartricia character and the book. Or even worse, trying to get her to quit. After all, is there room for two Black Girls at Wagner’s? In any office>

         Someone doesn’t think so as Nella soon finds warning notes, seemingly written to scare her aware from Nelson’s. But there’s something even more sinister going on at Nelson’s and Nella is facing a crisis that is impacting all of the Other Black Girls in offices throughout the city.

CrimeReads: Bad Love, Good Sex: The Best Thirst Traps in Crime Fiction

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