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With thousands of books published each year and much attention paid to the works of bestselling and well-known authors, it is inevitable that some titles worthy of praise and discussion may not get the attention we think they deserve. Thus throughout the year, we will continue this feature that we started in 2009, to spotlight books that immediately struck a chord with us and made us say “just read this.” We will alert our readers about these titles as soon as they’re released so you can discover them for yourselves and recommend them to your family and friends.

Below are all of our selections thus far. For future "Bets On" titles that we will announce shortly after their release dates, please visit this page.

The Mystery Guest: A Maid Novel by Nita Prose

December 2023

THE MAID was such a terrific debut, and I was wondering if Nita Prose could either match it or top it with THE MYSTERY GUEST. I am very pleased to say that she did. Once again, we have Molly the maid, who I came to love in the first book. She now is the Head Maid at the Regency Grand Hotel. When the book opens, mystery author J. D. Grimthorpe has come to the hotel to make an announcement. But at the start of the program, he takes a drink of tea, collapses and dies. From there the mystery unfolds.

The Spectacular by Fiona Davis

December 2023

When I heard that Fiona Davis had written a book set at Radio City Music Hall, I decided to hold off on reading it until November when the Christmas Spectacular kicked off there. Pun intended. I am glad I did. THE SPECTACULAR opens in 1956 when 19-year-old Marion Brooks seizes an opportunity and auditions for the Rockettes. And she is selected. Her father, Simon, is furious. He had plans for her --- she would marry her boyfriend, Nathaniel, and they would continue to live in Bronxville. Instead, she moves into a rooming house with other Rockettes and theater folks and embarks on a grueling yet invigorating schedule to perfect the tightly choreographed routines.

The Manor House by Gilly Macmillan

December 2023

I first read Gilly Macmillan when she wrote THE NANNY and have looked forward to each of her books since then. With THE MANOR HOUSE, she once again does not disappoint. Here we have a young couple who has won the lottery; I know many of us have dreamed of this. Nicole and Tom move into The Glass Barn, with state-of-the-art features and a design that is the envy of a lot of people. They have cool cars, and we know that their lives feel very grand.

The Spy Coast by Tess Gerritsen

November 2023

In May, I had the pleasure of hearing Tess Gerritsen talk about THE SPY COAST, which had me excited about it. When I read the book, it really lived up to her description and enthusiasm for it. The idea for the characters came from some people in her Maine town who “had worked in government in Washington, DC.” And they said not much more. She realized along the way that they were retired CIA agents.

The Leftover Woman by Jean Kwok

October 2023

Jean Kwok’s THE LEFTOVER WOMAN is the story of two women and one child. In China, Jasmine Yang had a baby girl. Her husband told her the infant died, but instead he had their girl given up for adoption. The One Child Policy was in place in China, and he wanted a son, not a daughter. Jasmine later learns what happened and heads to New York to find her child. To get there, she sells her wedding ring and entrusts her safe passage to snakeheads, to whom she owes a huge financial debt.

Veil of Doubt by Sharon Virts

October 2023

VEIL OF DOUBT, Sharon Virts’ second novel, is a historical mystery set in 1872. In it, Maud, the three-year-old daughter of Emily Lloyd, has died after a short illness, from which she seemed to be rebounding. This would be tragic enough if the other three children in the family and her husband had not died previously under mysterious circumstances. Emily is accused of poisoning Maud and quickly is charged with murder. Powell Harrison and his brother, Matthew, take on what appears to be an unwinnable case. Powell has experienced a personal loss recently and watches Emily, projecting some of how he feels onto her. But he is convinced that something is not ringing right. She does not seem capable of murder, yet the child is dead, as are the other family members.

Bright Young Women by Jessica Knoll

October 2023

Jessica Knoll’s BRIGHT YOUNG WOMEN brilliantly looks at an unnamed serial killer who we will recognize as the man who murdered two young women and seriously hurt two more in a horrific crime spree at a sorority house in Tallahassee in 1978. I remember this real-life incident so well, as I was in college at the time and thought how completely terrifying that situation had to be. This was the same person who had been on the prowl in the Seattle area before making his way to Colorado, where he killed and then escaped from prison twice. Along the way, at least 20 women were murdered, but the number could have totaled as many as 100.

The Museum of Failures by Thrity Umrigar

October 2023

In Thrity Umrigar’s THE MUSEUM OF FAILURES, Remy Wadia is headed back to India for the first time since his father died. He and his mother have a very fractured relationship. She is tough and cold towards him, and he has no idea what he did to warrant this treatment. He has returned with a mission in mind: to adopt a baby. He is married and living in Ohio with his American wife, Kathy. Life there is full and brilliant, and he has a loving relationship with her family. But they both long for a child, and the opportunity to adopt an Indian baby has been shared with Remy's good friends in India. They know a woman who is pregnant and in the wrong relationship to keep her child. 

Bright Lights, Big Christmas by Mary Kay Andrews

September 2023

Mary Kay Andrews is back with BRIGHT LIGHTS, BIG CHRISTMAS, and it’s my favorite of all her holiday titles. I do confess that reading such a book in September had me panicked that I was way behind on “making my list and checking it twice.” But putting that aside, this is just the kind of Christmas story set in New York City that you want to read.

Happiness Falls by Angie Kim

September 2023

HAPPINESS FALLS by Angie Kim is a beautiful, poignant family story with a mystery layered inside it. Fourteen-year-old Eugene has Angelman syndrome. While he smiles and laughs, he cannot verbalize, so his loved ones have been dealing with these challenges. His father, Adam, has assumed the role of house husband and his caretaker. As the book opens, Eugene and Adam have been out hiking in a suburban park and are late coming home. When only Eugene appears at the door, he is very disconcerted and has blood caked under his fingernails and on his clothing. He is agitated and takes to his room to jump and make the sounds that he uses to soothe himself in these circumstances.