Best thrillers and mystery novels

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Best thrillers and mystery novels

The Butterfly Girl by Rene Denfield, Harper, US $26.99, Pp 264, October 2019, ISBN  978-0062698162
The Christmas Boutique by Jennifer Chiaverini, William Morrow, US $19.99, Pp 304, October 2019, ISBN 978-0062841131

If you have read Rene Denfield’s The Child Finder, you must be remembering the amazing character Naomi — the investigator who specializes in recovering missing children. In The Butterfly Girl, Naomi returns to the dark, mean streets of a city where young, homeless girls go missing and, after a few days, their bodies are found in an unthinkable situation and, sometimes, unthinkable condition. Naomi’s sister went missing years ago, but Naomi could not take it up as she was too busy looking for other girls. A year or so ago, Naomi vowed not to take another case before she succeeds in recovering the younger sister. The difficulty is that Naomi has no pictures. She even does not have a name. All she remembers vaguely is it was a strawberry field at night as she ran for her life with bare feet. Her search takes her to Portland. Oregon, where dozens of homeless children roam around in the streets from where they suddenly disappear and are later found in the dirty waters of the river. Naomi does not want to get involved in these children, but it becomes increasingly difficult for her to ignore them. They are all around her and she cannot just ignore them. The fear she sees in the eyes of twelve-year-old Celia changes everything for her. Celia has run from an abusive stepfather and addict mother. Celia has lost all hope except in butterflies which are everything for her — her guardians and guides on the dangerous streets. Celia brings about memories of her past — the Butterfly Museum — she thought she had left behind and buried. The Butterfly Museum symbolizes a place where they are all safe and out of harm’s way. It looks like Naomi and Celia discover each other. The question that both of them face is whether you are still lost when you have been found. But will they find the answer? The Butterfly Girl is a chilling mystery novel like no other. The Butterfly Girl may break your heart, but it also creates hope. Written in beautiful prose, The Butterfly Girl is a highly entertaining page-turner.

About the author

Rene Denfeld is an internationally bestselling author, journalist, licensed investigator, and therapeutic foster mother. She is the author of the novels The Child Finder and The Enchanted. She has also written for the New York Times Magazine, The Oregonian, and the Philadelphia Inquirer. She lives in Portland, Oregon.


It is winter and everybody is planning how to celebrate this winter. They are also thinking of going to the church and buy gifts from the Christmas Boutique. Every year, the church hall hosts the Christmas Boutique. The annual sale at the Christmas Boutique in December attracts a lot of people who come for the handcrafted gifts for their loved ones and baked food items. Another reason for its popularity is that the profits go to support the county food pantry. The winter is colder than usual. One night, the speedy wind damages the church hall and the Christmas Boutique. For some time, it looks that the Christmas Boutique will not be able to offer the pre-Christmas sale this year. But, then, Sylvia Bergstrom Compson invites the Christmas Boutique to hold the event at her ancestral family estate that is also sometimes home to Elm Creek Quilt Camp. Sylvia’s estate with recently restored rooms is a perfect place to hold this event. As the Christmas nears, Sylvia and the Elm Creek Quilters begin setting up market booths in the church hall. They also deck the hall with beautiful handcrafted quilts to make the event a success. Each quilter brings one of the best to put on display. Many of these quilts evoke memories of past holidays and the coming Christmases. As people start putting their quilts on display, they discuss their life worries as well. Sarah is a first-time mother who is expecting twins. She is unsure if she will be able to raise two babies as they deserve when her husband is often away on business. White-haired Agnes thinks of a beautiful appliqué quilt she made as a young bride. Occasional rivals Gwen and Diane are worried about their family heirlooms and unfinished projects. As everything seems going in the right direction, a few dark events overshadow the Christmas festivities which leads two quilters to debate if they are going to make any difference to the event. Will the Elm Creek community outcast them? But the Elm Creek community is a forgiving community. However, it takes an unexpected miracle to make this event a roaring success. It is a warm portrait of a forgiving society. There is something irresistible about this made-for-the-movies story. Jennifer Chiaverini knows how to pleasurably wind us up. As another festive December nears, The Christmas Boutique is what you should be looking for.

About the author

Jennifer Chiaverini is the New York Times bestselling author of Fates and Traitors, Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker, Mrs. Lincoln’s Rival, The Spymistress, Mrs. Grant and Madame Jule, and other acclaimed historical novels. She also wrote the beloved Elm Creek Quilts series, as well as six collections of quilt patterns inspired by her books. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame and the University of Chicago, she lives with her husband and two sons in Madison, Wisconsin. About her historical fiction, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes, “In addition to simply being fascinating stories, these novels go a long way in capturing the texture of life for women, rich and poor, black and white, in those perilous years.”

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