Here's what we're reading in March:
Sarah Penner's new novel The Lost Apothecary brings dual-timeline adventures and memorable friendships to life. In London of the late 1700s, Nella has turned her apothecary skills to a sideline in poison, in a hidden shop. In modern-day London, Caroline finds herself alone in what should have been a romantic anniversary trip. She bumps into a group mudlarking along the Thames, and then happens upon a strange old apothecary vial washed up in the mud... This one is perfect for fans of Fiona Davis novels.
I also loved the suspense of Laurie Elizabeth Flynn's The Girls Are All So Nice Here, another dual-timeline novel, although the friendships are dark and twisted. Ambrosia doesn't like to talk about her college years, especially one night in particular, but somehow winds up at her 10-year reunion, looking for the classmate who claims to know what happened that night. It's a story about manipulation and revenge, with Amb's freshman year told in flashbacks as she wonders who knows about her secrets. This novel manages to be incredibly creepy and tense without turning gory, which is just what I like in a thriller.
Lightseekers, by Femi Kayode, is a detective story and a look at social class in Nigeria. After a brutal triple murder of college students at the hands of a mob, psychologist Phillip Taiwo is brought in to investigate. He's not a detective or a police officer, instead he's an academic with research in the mentality of mobs, and a thorough, questioning style. There's a lot going on in this book, with complicated and layered loyalties between different characters and surprising connections. Lightseekers works both as a twisting, surprising mystery (well, the mystery is not so much about whodunnit but more about why and how this murder happened) and a thoughtful look at complicated factions.
And in March, we have the sweet queer romance Knit, Purl, A Baby And A Girl, by Hettie Bell. Our heroine Poppy is expecting a baby after a drunken hookup with her ex, and she decides to go motherhood alone. No boring problems about paying for things or getting medical care! But she does meet a beautiful girl early on in her pregnancy, and she starts to navigate pregnancy and a new relationship. This one follows the familiar Harlequin beats a little too well, but sometimes you just want a meet-cute and easily resolved misunderstandings.