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First Clue - After We Were Stolen by Brooke Beyfuss, How to Survive Everything by Ewan Morrison, Flight Risk by Cherie Priest, The Handler by M.P. Woodward

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Happy birthday to us!
Yes, this issue marks one year since we launched First Clue.
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We read on every device known to woman or man, and are grateful for NetGalley and Edelweiss. But we really, really pine for print.
So if you could pack a box or two with your fall releases, we’d be most grateful. Write me at thebriankenney@gmail.com and I’ll send on both of our addresses.
Thanks, and happy reading.—Brian Kenney

A Great Escape
⭐Beyfuss, Brooke. After We Were Stolen. July. 400p. Sourcebooks Landmark.
Avery lives outside in a tent while her family sleeps inside. Over the years, she’s learned to start her own fires; sometimes it doesn’t work and she’s freezing and hungry, but things aren’t much better for her nine siblings inside. Their parents, cult leaders preparing the family for when they’re the only ones left on Earth, emphasize toughness over all else. The children get their hopes up when the parents announce a buddy system, but it turns out that your buddy is the one who will be punished if you leave, so escape seems unthinkable. Avery finds a way out, though, accompanied by her little brother Cole, only to discover that they’re famous in the outside world as victims of years-ago child abductions. What happened the night the pair escaped and how they will navigate notoriety and society’s expectations are mysteries that will keep readers rapt. Also engrossing are the overwhelming emotions involved with both staying and going, the realization that just because the biggest problem is over doesn’t mean everything is rosy, and the ways tormented people treat one another even when survival is no longer at stake. Avery has grit and attitude to spare and will stay with readers long after the last page.Henrietta Verma
How to Survive Your Parents' Divorce
⭐Morrison, Ewan. How to Survive Everything. Harper. November. 368p. HarperCollins.
A brilliant look at pandemics through the eyes of Haley, a 16-year-old girl who, with her little brother, are abducted from their mother by their father and taken to a rural farm—no Internet, no cell phones—in northern Scotland. They join a handful of survivalists, Haley’s dad is clearly the ringleader, and they’re waiting for the next pandemic, which should be arriving any day; a new virus, more horrible than anything we can imagine, has just made its way to the U.K. Bleak? Indeed. But fascinating, and even comic at times. Haley writes the book as a sort of parody of her father’s survivalist manual, with her own sarcastic spin (“How to Abduct Your Own Children,” “Home Surgery for Beginners.”) Add to this rich details about life on the compound, a budding romance with the one other teen in lockdown, and continual speculation about her parents, both of whom she believes to be crazy—any reader would agree—and whose epic divorce left her having to always choose between them. At the heart of the book is the question of truth. Is the world beyond the barbed wire that surrounds the farm really erupting in chaos, with riots in the streets and bands of the infected roaming the countryside? Or is life as they knew it chugging along, little different except that Haley and her family have left it? And does Haley—or any of the survivalists—really want to know the answer? A bit of crime fiction, a lot of dystopia, and 100 percent compelling.Brian Kenney
A New Subgenre: Morbid Cozies
Priest, Cherie. Flight Risk (Booking Agent Series 2). November. 320p. Atria.
They’re back! The quirky duo of sort-of psychic Leda Foley—she’s also a travel agent and sometime chanteuse—and Seattle P.D. detective Grady Merritt reunites to find two missing people. Leda is approached by a man whose sister has gone missing for a month—driving a bright-orange antique Volvo and with $30,000 in cash—and hopes that Leda can use her psychic powers to locate the woman. Has she been murdered, or has she finally given up on her adulterous husband and run off? Meanwhile, Grady’s dog has gone missing on Mount Rainier, only to pop up with a limb in his mouth. A leg, to be precise. A human leg. Unfortunately, it’s a male leg, so not from Leda’s missing person, but DNA proves that there is a relationship between the two. But where’s the rest of the body? With help from a delightful circle of friends, including Grady’s police partner and Leda’s best friend, the two develop plenty of hypotheses but nothing that will hold water. Fortunately, Leda’s psychic skills kick in, providing some much-needed clues to help resolve the mysteries. As in the first book, Grave Reservations, readers will delight in the banter between Leda and Grady while enjoying Leda’s struggle with her psychic gift. For cozy fans who can tolerate a bit of the macabre.—Brian Kenney
A Risky Reunion
Woodward, M.P. The Handler. May. 448p. Berkley.
Meredith Morris-Dale used to work with her husband, John. Now they’re divorced and moving on, their daughter grown and out on her own and John retired and pursing his passion as an artist. Meredith’s job needs John for one last gig, though. That wouldn’t be too unusual except that the task is for him to re-up in the CIA and re-establish contact with a scientist who’s sabotaging Iran’s effort to build a nuclear bomb. John was suspended from “the company” for an operation that went wrong, the traumatic details of which are slowly revealed; he also doesn’t want back in, but Cerberus, as the Iranian scientist is known to the CIA, won’t deal with anyone else. Soon John’s on a perilous journey to find Cerberus, a journey on which he’s pursued by other global bad guys who are using him to pin down details of the international spy network and move up in the superpower ranks. From the opening, this is like the best kind of action movie—fast moving, smart subplots, hair-raising escapes from death. Adding to the action is John’s decency toward the good people he meets and ruthlessness with all the rest. If you’ve ever wondered what a much scruffier James Bond would be like, this is the book for you.Henrietta Verma
Extra Credit
Crime-fiction Anthology Delivers with 20 Stories by Authors of Color | Albuquerque Journal
Ruth Ware Is Back with a New Murder Mystery
Anthony Awards Nominations: Best Novel
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Henrietta Verma & Brian Kenney
Henrietta Verma & Brian Kenney @1stClueReviews

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