You wait and you wait for that next book in a genre series you’ve been following and then, like buses, two of them arrive at once. One is the third book in a series featuring an unusual relationship between two women, one a homicide detective and one a consulting criminologist who is also a suspected murderer. The other is the second book in an epic space opera that I’ve been waiting for since I finished the first book eight months ago.
I’m hoping that I can lose myself for hours in both books and that both of them leave me hungry for more.
‘See It End’ by Brianna Labuskes (2023)
I downloaded the first Dr Gretchen White book, ‘A Familiar Sight’ (2021) because it was offered free as part of Amazon’s First Reads programme. I knew nothing about it but I’d enjoyed Brianna Labuskes’ ‘Her Final Words’ so I opened it as soon as I downloaded it and then lost a weekend to reading it. It had a wonderful plot that was full of twists that I could almost see coming but which always caught me by surprise. It was well-written, effortlessly telling two stories in parallel, one linear and one that moved up and down timelines.
But what hooked me was the character of Dr Gretchen White, an allegedly non-violent sociopath who is an acknowledged expert in antisocial personality disorders with a track record of helping Boston PD solve violent crimes and the relationship she builds with Lauren Marconi the detective assigned to ‘babysit’ her in this investigation.
Gretchen isn’t a hero or an anti-hero, she’s just someone with an odd set of skills and peculiar appetites. She thinks differently from ’empaths’. She’s good at reading power and politics but poor at reading some emotions. She controls her violent impulses, most of the time. She enjoys taking risks and pushing people’s buttons. Getting a close-up view of the recently killed is a bonus but what she most needs is to know what happened.
I pre-ordered the second book in the series ‘What Can’t Be Seen’ (2022) and settled in to see how Brianna Labuskes would solve the problem of writing a sequel that felt fresh and had new things to reveal. She did it by putting White under so much pressure that she’s likely to crack, by putting Marconi’s trust in her under strain and by revealing a backstory that made me question everything I thought I’d learned about Gretchen White in the first book.
The third book in the series, ‘See It End’ (2023) was published this week and, according to the publisher’s summary, makes another twist. This time it’s Marconi whose past is putting her under pressure and White who has to figure out if Marconi can/should be saved. I’m looking forward to a tense ride as I find out what happens next.
‘Furious Heaven’ by Kate Elliott (2023)
The first book in this series, ‘Unconquerable Sun’ was one of my Best Reads for 2022 and one of those rare audiobooks where seventeen hours of narration flashed by in what felt like no time at all as I stole hours from my day to find out what would happen next.
I was already waiting impatiently for the second book, then I saw the cover reveal back in October and I began to resent the six months I’d still have to wait before I could read it.
Well, it’s here now, all thirty-one hours and forty-five minutes of it. That’s 1,081 pages. This is going to be epic. At least it will once I figure out how to put the rest of my life on hold for a while.