1. The Wall by Mary Roberts Rinehart - The house called Sunset has been Marcia’s summer home for her entire life. Both of her parents died there, and she and her brother spent their youth exploring its rambling hallways and seaside grounds. They love the old house, but Marcia’s sister-in-law has never taken to it. Juliette loathes the sea, and soon comes to loathe her husband, as well. After they divorce, Juliette pays a final visit to Sunset, demanding alimony. She is there for a few tense days before she disappears. It takes them a week to find her body.
The peace at Sunset has been shattered, and Marcia must work quickly to keep her beloved childhood home from being forever spoiled. Somewhere in the creaky old mansion, a murderer lurks. Will Marcia be accused of the crime? Or will she be the next victim?
Mary Roberts Rinehart was to mystery novels in America what Agatha Christie was to mystery novels in the UK, however, MRR published 14 years prior to AC's first book. This book was easy to follow (another of hers which I read first and will post below was a tad confusing), and I highly recommend it if you enjoy AC. You can even download ALL of Mary's books for .99 cents on Amazon (which I recently did) here (no affiliate link).
2. The Yellow Room by Mary Roberts Rinehart - As far as Carol Spencer is concerned, the war has spoiled everything. She and Don had been engaged for years and were on the verge of marriage when he was shot down in the South Pacific, leaving Carol on the verge of spinsterhood at twenty-four. She wants to take some kind of job in the war effort, but her invalid mother demands that Carol accompany her to the family’s summer home in Maine. But when they arrive at the faded mansion, they find it completely locked up. The servants are gone, the lights are dark—and there is a body in the closet.
There is a killer on the grounds of the abandoned Spencer estate, and the police believe it is Carol. As war rages across the seas, Carol Spencer fights a private battle of her own—to prove her own innocence, and to save her mother’s life.
This was the first book of MRR's I read and as I stated above, I found it a bit confusing at times. I felt like I was missing something. Characters often seemed to appear in two places at once which I couldn't understand. Maybe it was just me, because as I said, I've been a bit out of it for 2 years. I still recommend this one, however. It's only $1.99 on Amazon at the moment.
3. White Bird in a Blizzard by Laura Kasischke - When Katrina Connors' mother walks out on her family one frigid January day, Kat is surprised but not shocked; the whole year she has been "becoming sixteen"—falling in love with the boy next door, shedding her baby fat, discovering sex—her mother has slowly been withdrawing. As Kat and her father pick up the pieces of their daily life, she finds herself curiously unaffected by her mother's absence. But in dreams that become too real to ignore, she's haunted by her mother's cries for help. . . .
I got this book from the library soon after it first came out in 1999. I was all of 21/22 at the time, and something about this book really struck me. I'd been wanting to re-read it for some time, but could never remember the name of it. I finally figured it out when I found the movie version on Netflix starring Shailene Woodley. It was a horrible movie. Don't watch it. I did decide to re-read it. Although it didn't strike me in the same way that it did almost 20 years ago, it was still a solid read. I'd recommend it for anyone who likes interesting coming-of-age stories. It's not always an easy one to swallow, but it says important things about family dynamics.
4. Emma in the Night - by Wendy Walker - One night three years ago, the Tanner sisters disappeared: fifteen-year-old Cass and seventeen-year-old Emma. Three years later, Cass returns, without her sister Emma. Her story is one of kidnapping and betrayal, of a mysterious island where the two were held. But to forensic psychiatrist Dr. Abby Winter, something doesn't add up. Looking deep within this dysfunctional family Dr. Winter uncovers a life where boundaries were violated and a narcissistic parent held sway. And where one sister's return might just be the beginning of the crime.
The ending was definitely a twist for me. I did suspect one part of it for a long time, but the way in which the ending occurred was not what I predicted at all. I like stories of missing people returned and things of that nature. I watch a lot of ID channel. If you like that type of mystery, you'll enjoy this.
5. The Killing: Uncommon Denominator by Karen Dionne - When firefighters respond to a suspected meth explosion at a trailer park, they discover a man's body, unburned but with terrible head wounds. Meanwhile, another man is discovered in a shipping container at the Port of Seattle, shot execution-style. For Homicide Detective Sarah Linden, two cases soon become one, and she must unravel a complex web of addiction, greed, and betrayal to reveal the killer.
This is a prequel to the TV show The Killing (all seasons can be found on Netflix). Loved the show and I wanted to read this book. It gave a bit of incite as to how Linden and Holder became who they were by the first episode of the first season. If you've ever seen the show, you'll want to read this gem!