City on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg - I read this last summer (maybe even the summer before) and somehow it slipped through the cracks in this space. First off, it's super long, so be aware of that. Sometimes when you're reading on your Kindle, you don't know how long something is. Ok, it's New York City in the mid-1970s. Punk is happening. Art is happening. 'Zines are happening. Following a barrage of characters who are all connected seemingly through one incredibly wealthy family, you get a picture of New York, the scene, the culture, the city itself. And when the July blackout occurs, everything comes to a head. I loooved this book. The characters are incredible, they are realistic, they are relatable. Give this one a go.
Last Words by Michael Koryta - Mark Novak's job sends him to the small town of Garrison, where the body of a young girl was carried out of a cave by the eccentric local spelunker. Dealing with the recent death of his own wife, his potentially dwindling career, and various other personal issues, Novak finds himself floundering in Garrison, especially when a mystery woman poses as the dead girl's mother. I really enjoyed this book. It was a little long and could have benefited from some editing, but overall, it is a really good story with compelling characters.
The Beautiful Bureaucrat by Helen Phillips - Josephine and her husband Joseph have left the Hinterlands to move to the big city. They both get jobs as bureaucrats, but can't discuss their work with each other. While they move from terrible apartment to terrible apartment, work begins to grate on Josephine. What exactly is she doing when she enters names and dates into the database? The story here is odd, unsettling, and weird, but good. Everything pays off with a truly great ending.
Blood Defense by Marcia Clark - Yes, that Marcia Clark. Samantha Brinkman is a young, up-and-coming criminal defense attorney struggling to pay rent on her office and keep the lights on. When a beautiful young actress and her roommate are found brutally slain in their apartment and the number one suspect is a police officer, Brinkman takes the case. There is a HUGE twist that makes the stakes even higher for Samantha. This is really well-written, fast-paced, gritty, and awesome. It was a really fun read. Excited to follow the series.