Over the course of the summer months I will be sharing the recommended authors who feature in the Smorgasbord Bookshelf along with their books and a selected review.
The first featured author today is Carol Balawyder – with her coming of age crime thriller...Just Before Sunrise
About the book
A coming-of-age story with a domestic noir twist.
Nadine, tired of running her call-girl agency has upgraded to gold digger as she finds the perfect rich widower to marry. Discovering that her wealthy widower is an abuser she seduces his stepson, Charlie, to plot her husband’s murder.
But things don’t go as planned and soon she is turning to her experience hiring young call-girls to find the perfect girl to save her from going to prison…
Homeless Maya is drifting on the streets, grieving the recent loss of her mother.
When she is offered the opportunity to prepare a lake-side house to be used as a half-way home for delinquent girls, she doesn’t think twice.
She soon falls for Charlie, the attractive boy next door, who has a seriously dark side. She is drawn into his murderous schemes, doing anything he asks her to, risking her own safety for the promise of a future with him. When she finds herself party to murder, and she realises he is more concerned with his older female accomplice than with her, she must learn to trust her instincts and use all of her courage to get out of their trap alive.
As a subplot there is the rocky romantic relationship between an older woman and a younger man who become involved in investigating the murder for which young Maya is accused of committing.
Just Before Sunrise is a story about loss and survival. About loneliness, betrayals and deadly desires.
One of the reviews for the book
Jacqui Murray The twisted turns of love Reviewed in the United States on July 2, 2021
Carol Balawyder’s Just Before Sunrise (2021) is the story of a wealthy older man who marries a former owner of a high priced call girl business (which is how the two met). Nadine accepts this proposal as her chance to escape her past life but soon realizes (shock!) that he is not the knight in shining armor she had hoped for. It isn’t long before she dislikes him as much as he disrespects her. She is a master of manipulating men–
“Nadine had the kind of body you read about in pulp fiction novels”
So she persuades the older man’s thirty-something son–Charlie–to help her kill him so the two can be together. To cover their tracks, they involve a recently homeless and orphaned teen–Maya–who has been entrusted with the job of preparing a lakefront home to be used as a halfway house which happens to be next door to Carlie’s home. Maya falls for Charlies and not-so-reluctantly agrees to help him cover up the murder. If you read “cover up” as “take the blame for the homicide”, you have the gist of what will happen.
Tangentially, thirty-something Adam falls in love with an older woman (the same one who hires Maya to fix up the home) but leaves her because he wants children and she doesn’t. That sounds simple but it sure isn’t. You’ll see when you read it. The overlap between these two plots is clever and intriguing.
At its core, this is a love story but filled with hate and lies and hurt feelings and unusual events and so much more. Love in this book isn’t a synonym for blissfully happy or the answer to dreams. In this case, it’s more fake than real but young Maya doesn’t realize that.
A clever, enticing read that you won’t want to stop once you start. Recommended for those who like unusual love stories that are darker than cozy but still fulfilling.
A selection of books by Carol Balawyder
About Carol Balawyder
I hold an undergraduate degree with a major on English Literature and a graduate degree in Criminology. I taught Criminology in Police Technology and Corrections programs in Montreal. My area of expertise was in drug addiction and I worked in a methadone clinic with heroin addicts. I helped set up a writing workshop for women in prison and worked in halfway homes and drug rehab centers.
My short stories have appeared in Room Magazine, The Canadian Anthology of Fiction, Mindful.or, Between the Lines and Carte Blanche. I was awarded an honorary mention for a play submitted to The Canadian Playwright Competition.
I manage a blog where I write about: Women Nobel Prize Winners for Literature, Famous Writers’ Desks, Femmes Fatales, India, Book Reviews and my dog, Bau. Carol Balawyder Blog
The next book today is that I have read and can recommend is Vanished the debut thriller set in Haiti by Mark Bierman.
About the book
Tragedy . . . heartache . . . how much more can Tyler Montgomery and John Webster take? This missions trip, the “healing” one, has only added fresh layers of pain. Construction of an orphanage in Haiti’s northwest . . . yes. But a doomed rescue operation, human traffickers, human anomalies, extreme personal danger . . . risk of death? They hadn’t signed up for those.
Turning their backs on the crisis, however, is unthinkable, it’s just not who they are.
One of the recent reviews for the book
John and Tyler arrive in Haiti on a missionary trip. Their goal is to help with the construction of a much-needed orphanage on the island. But the men soon learn of the terrible dark underbelly of life in the Caribbean nation. The scourge of human trafficking soon invades their insulated world when a young girl they’ve come to know is taken. The two men decide the only thing to do is find the child and reunite her with her mother. Obstacles and hazards attempt to thwart the pair with life and death situations. The action is rapid and harrowing throughout.
Human trafficking is a dark subject—no matter the area of our world in which you live. Author Mark Bierman tackles this story with an eye on reality. He digs deep into the human psyche and sheds a light on monsters that are always close by. Vanished is one of those reads that will open your eyes and give you reason to re-think your comfortable lives. This one is worth a read.
50% of the proceeds from Vanished go to an organization that helps victims of human trafficking.
About Mark Bierman
Born and raised on a farm near Brockville, Ontario, Mark Bierman’s childhood consisted of chores, riding horses, snowmobile races across open fields, fishing trips to a local lake, and many other outdoor adventures. He was also an avid reader of both fiction and non.
Transitioning towards adulthood also meant moving from the farm and into large urban areas that introduced this “country boy” to life in the big cities.
After a short stint as a private investigator, he moved into the role of Correctional Officer, working at both Millhaven Institution and Kingston Penitentiary, until it closed.