A story with a dual timeline is something I’d consider an immediate book hook for me. Finding some relic that links to some mysterious story from the past? Discovering some family mystery from decades ago that suddenly becomes relevant in present-day? Uncovering a mystery from long ago that was buried for a very good reason? Oh my gosh, yes. And extra points if it has some creepy, gothic vibe.
Here are five that I’d highly recommend:
The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James
Upstate New York, 1982. Viv Delaney wants to move to New York City, and to help pay for it she takes a job as the night clerk at the Sun Down Motel in Fell, New York. But something isnʼt right at the motel, something haunting and scary.
Upstate New York, 2017. Carly Kirk has never been able to let go of the story of her aunt Viv, who mysteriously disappeared from the Sun Down before she was born. She decides to move to Fell and visit the motel, where she quickly learns that nothing has changed since 1982. And she soon finds herself ensnared in the same mysteries that claimed her aunt.
The Sun Down Motel was an eerie and thoroughly engrossing read. It’s a thrilling mystery with enough paranormal facets to please horror fans and enough cold crime investigation to interest true crime fans. This story has something for everyone.
The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton
During a summer party at the family farm in the English countryside, sixteen-year-old Laurel Nicolson has escaped to her childhood tree house and is happily dreaming of the future. She spies a stranger coming up the long road to the farm and watches as her mother speaks to him. Before the afternoon is over, Laurel will witness a shocking crime. A crime that challenges everything she knows about her family and especially her mother, Dorothy—her vivacious, loving, nearly perfect mother.
Now, fifty years later, Laurel is a successful and well-regarded actress living in London. The family is gathering at Greenacres farm for Dorothy’s ninetieth birthday. Realizing that this may be her last chance, Laurel searches for answers to the questions that still haunt her from that long-ago day, answers that can only be found in Dorothy’s past.
The Secret Keeper was my first Kate Morton and it was a real gem. This story has such intricate detailing, intersecting storylines that blended beautifully, and a mystery that kept me guessing till the very end.
Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio
Seattle, 1933. Single mother Vera Ray kisses her three-year-old son, Daniel, goodnight and departs to work the night-shift at a local hotel. She emerges to discover that a May-Day snow has blanketed the city, and that her son has vanished. Outside, she finds his beloved teddy bear lying face-down on an icy street, the snow covering up any trace of his tracks, or the perpetrator’s.
Seattle, 2010. Seattle Herald reporter Claire Aldridge, assigned to cover the May 1 “blackberry winter” storm and its twin, learns of the unsolved abduction and vows to unearth the truth. In the process, she finds that she and Vera may be linked in unexpected ways…
A definite page-turner and one that I enjoyed immensely. Blackberry Winter is a heartwarming story that at first glance appears to be hidden under a mountain of sadness with no hope in sight. As the story continues, the two stories slowly start coming together, questions become answered, and realization dawns at the immensity of what occurred so many years ago.
The Shadowy Horses by Susanna Kearsley
Archaeologist Verity Grey has been drawn to the dark legends of the Scottish Borderlands in search of the truth buried in a rocky field by the sea.
Her eccentric boss has spent his whole life searching for the resting place of the lost Ninth Roman Legion and is convinced he’s finally found it―not because of any scientific evidence, but because a local boy has “seen” a Roman soldier walking in the fields, a ghostly sentinel who guards the bodies of his long-dead comrades.
Here on the windswept shores, Verity may find the answer to one of the great unsolved mysteries of our time. Or she may uncover secrets someone buried for a reason.
This gothic tale felt more subdued than I had anticipated based on the enticing summary but still ended up being wonderfully intriguing and I absolutely loved the ghostly details.
Fiercombe Manor by Kate Riordan
In 1933, naive twenty-two-year-old Alice—pregnant and unmarried—is in disgrace. Her mother banishes her from London to secluded Fiercombe Manor in rural Gloucestershire, where she can hide under the watchful eye of her mother’s old friend, the housekeeper Mrs. Jelphs. But as Alice endures the long, hot summer at Fiercombe awaiting the baby’s birth, she senses that something is amiss with the house and its absentee owners.
Thirty years earlier, pregnant Lady Elizabeth Stanton desperately hopes for the heir her husband desires. Tormented by the memory of what happened after the birth of her first child, a daughter, she grows increasingly terrified that history will repeat itself, with devastating consequences.
Fiercombe Manor kept me fully invested to the very end with atmospheric writing and a haunting past revealed piece by piece.