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March's Must-Reads: Mystery, Romance, and Thrills Await!


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Amy Gail Hansen | October: a month by any other name would not be such a treat

Mysteries are a good read any time of year—I spent many a childhood summer afternoon on the front lawn reading Nancy Drew—but the fall, especially the month of October, seems the most thematic season for the mystery/suspense/thriller genre. Yes, there’s the 'spook'tacular lead up to Halloween, but there’s also the crisp air, the chilly breeze, and the crunch of dead leaves underfoot. Night falls earlier and the moon glows brighter. Backyard fires emit that ethereal glow and that pungent, nostalgic scent of burning wood. Cornfields rustle with empty dried husks. Gray clouds and gloomy rain creep in overnight.

Talk about setting a scene.

I have always loved October, so it’s no coincidence that my debut novel, The Butterfly Sister (William Morrow), takes place mostly in this month. Sure, it plays an important part in the storyline—the main character, Ruby Rousseau, returns to Tarble College for Reunion, the all-girl school equivalent of Homecoming, which traditionally takes place in October. But it’s also the perfect, mood-setting backdrop for a mystery that begins in the very first chapter.

One October evening, a mysterious suitcase arrives at Ruby’s house. When she tries to return the luggage to its rightful owner, Beth Richards, an acquaintance from Tarble, she receives some shocking news: Beth has been missing for several days, and the suitcase is the only tangible evidence of her whereabouts. To find out what happened to Beth, Ruby must revisit the demons of her own emotionally fragile past, and her storyline converges with Beth’s in ways she never imagined.

All of this could have happened in May, I suppose. But “One May night…” just didn’t do it for me, and I’m pretty sure it would have lost its efficacy on readers as well. The word October connotes so much to the reader, all the things I mentioned earlier like chilly air and rustling cornfields, which just makes my job as a writer easier. Of course, I described autumnal colors and mist-like rain in The Butterfly Sister, but I didn’t have to hit the reader over the head with scene setting. Mother Nature had already done it for me.

Well done, Mother Nature. Well done.

If you’re looking for a thematic book this time of year for yourself or your book club, of course I recommend The Butterfly Sister, but I also recommend The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield, Salem Falls by Jodi Picoult, The Surgeon by Tess Gerritsen, The Last Will of Moira Leahy by Therese Walsh and Post-Mortem by Patricia Cornwell…these were the first five books to spring to mind recently when a friend asked for an October book recommendation. These books are ghosts of my autumn-reading past, and I associate them with the cool weather and spooky vibe of fall.

They are atmospheric, haunting page-turners to curl up with as night falls early… and house shutters creak…and tree branches scrape window panes…

The Butterfly Sister

"My past was never more than one thought, one breath, one heartbeat away. And then, on that particular October evening, it literally arrived at my doorstep."

In The Butterfly Sister by Amy Gail Hansen—a moving Gothic tale that intertwines mystery, madness, betrayal, love, and literature—a fragile young woman must silence the ghosts of her past.

Ten months after dropping out of all-girl Tarble College, Ruby Rousseau is still haunted by the memories of her senior year, a time marred by an affair with her English professor and a deep depression that caused her to question her sanity.

When a mysterious suitcase arrives bearing Ruby's name and address, she tries to return it to its rightful owner, Beth—a dorm-mate at Tarble—only to learn that Beth disappeared two days earlier.

With clues found in the luggage, including a tattered copy of Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One's Own, which Ruby believes instigated her madness, she sets out to uncover the truth.

 

 

Comments

40 comments posted.

Re: Amy Gail Hansen | October: a month by any other name would not be such a treat

I love the title for this book!
(Callie Stuck 12:28pm October 19, 2013)

Love all you October book recommendations! Three of them I have read and I will certainly be checking out the rest! Thanks very much!
(Amy Baker 12:59pm October 19, 2013)

Thanks so much for the recommendations. I love mysteries.
(Debra Guyette 7:48am October 19, 2013)

Your book sounds like a real page-turner!! I better have a cup of hot chocolate nearby, to keep the chills and goose-bumps away!! It's been a while since I've read a good mystery, and with all the books that you used to read that brought back memories, which you had in your memory bank for background, it should make for great reading!! When I finish your book, I'll have to check out your recommendations as well. Congratulations on your book!!
(Peggy Roberson 9:41am October 19, 2013)

I love mysteries, especially ones set in autumn. The chill in
the air, twigs snapping, it all adds to the suspense! Can't
wait to read this book.
(Becky Muth 9:42am October 19, 2013)

I can't wait to era your book. It's been on my Amazon wish list since before it
was published.
(Amy Feld 9:58am October 19, 2013)

I loved Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden books growing up. And I always love a good mystery, regardless of the time of year. Thanks for the new recommendations.
(Pam Howell 9:58am October 19, 2013)

I love the title and can't wait to read this book. Thanks for the great giveaway!
(Bonnie Capuano 10:05am October 19, 2013)

I love October and I've read most of the books you recommend as October reads. My favorite books are mysteries and I will be adding your book to my list of books to read. It sounds fantastic! Thanks for the chance to win!
(Juli Lear 10:10am October 19, 2013)

This is by far the best book I have ever read!!!! I picked the book up an
couldn't put it down...a must read for everyone!!!
(Andrea Staroske 10:41am October 19, 2013)

Your recommendations are excellent. Your novel is captivating
and very special.
(Sharon Berger 11:05am October 19, 2013)

Sounds fascinating!
(Richard Proctor 11:21am October 19, 2013)

This sounds like a mystery I'd really enjoy reading!
(Maria Proctor 11:27am October 19, 2013)

I love mysteries. I love October. I love to read a good book that makes me snuggle in my favorite chair, drinking a good cup of tea just reading away. Your book sounds so inviting and meets all the things that I love. Thank you for the opportunity.
(C Culp 11:54am October 19, 2013)

would love to win & read!!!
(Pamela Faye Howell 2:22pm October 19, 2013)

I love fall and snuggling up with good books. I can't wait to read The Butterfly Sister. It sounds like a really good mystery, and a book that would be hard to put down! I love the book cover very much, too.
(Linda Luinstra 3:11pm October 19, 2013)

Wow, Congrats on your new book: THE BUTTERFLY SISTER. Your
new book sounds like a fascinating mystery book to win and
read this October. Thank You very much. Cecilia CECE
(Cecilia Dunbar Hernandez 3:54pm October 19, 2013)

Nice book
(Makenna Wolf 4:31pm October 19, 2013)

I enjoy reading mystery/suspense/thrillers. THE BUTTERFLY SISTER definitely fits the bill for a good mystery read! I would love to read this Oct. Sounds excellent!
(Rich Cook 4:41pm October 19, 2013)

If this is anything like Butterfly's Child, count me in. If not, I still would like to win it because a good mystery is my forte.
(Susan Coster 4:58pm October 19, 2013)

This sounds like a good one! Keeping my fingers crossed !
(Melanie Backus 5:35pm October 19, 2013)

What an unusual storyline. Sounds like a heck of diverting
read.
(G. Bisbjerg 5:51pm October 19, 2013)

New to me author with a book that sounds most interesting!

Pat C.
(Patricia Cochran 6:44pm October 19, 2013)

This is the first time I'm hearing about this book.
(Sandy Giden 7:03pm October 19, 2013)

Yup, I agree. There really is something spooky about Fall and
Oct.
(Vicki Hancock 7:05pm October 19, 2013)

Sounds like a very exciting story, love reading mysteries.
(Jean Patton 7:33pm October 19, 2013)

Cool weather and more reading--especially mysteries---certainly goes together.
(Sue Farrell 7:58pm October 19, 2013)

Looks awesome!
(Alexa W 8:06pm October 19, 2013)

Looks like a great story I would enjoy reading!
(Margaret Branca 8:40pm October 19, 2013)

Oh, this sounds like an intriguing book!
(Margay Roberge 9:47pm October 19, 2013)

The story has a mystery. I would love to read this book to find out whom the luggage belongs to.
(Kai Wong 11:16pm October 19, 2013)

Sounds like a keeper to me. Happy October, and Happy Happy Halloween. Keep writing!
(Patricia (Pat) Pascale 11:00am October 20, 2013)

I have loved a good mystery since my early love of Nancy Drew Mysteries.
The Butterfly Sister sounds like a great read! Thanks for the chance to
win!!!
(Linda Brennan 12:54pm October 20, 2013)

WOW! I love the sound of THE BUTTERFLY SISTER and would love to be a winner!!
(Britney Adams 7:55pm October 20, 2013)

My grandmother took me to the library as a child and introduced me to
Nancy drew. I'm 61 now but mysteries have my favorite genre ever since.
(Kathi Bryan 9:34pm October 20, 2013)

This looks & sounds like such a fantastic read.
(Mary Preston 3:06am October 21, 2013)

Definitely sounds like a good read for a chilly evening.
(Carol Gowett 3:16pm October 21, 2013)

Congratulations on the publication of The Butterfly Sister! It sounds like an intriguing book. Love mysteries and would love to win a copy of this book.
(Bonnie H 1:08am October 22, 2013)

Sounds like a really good read
(Patricia Lambert 1:51pm October 22, 2013)

I read more mysteries in the fall and winter. The book cover
is intriguing and a suitcase holds a lot more than luggage.
(Alyson Widen 7:14pm October 31, 2013)

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