Undercover: What We're Reading in July

“Sometimes I play the what-if game and wonder, what if we hadn’t moved to Sewickley when I got pregnant ... and what happened to us might never have happened at all.”

Just Between Us 
By Rebecca Drake 
St. Martin’s Press; $15.99

How will you choose your summer vacation destination this year? Is your heart set on a sunny resort where the waiters are handsome and quick to deliver beach-side margaritas as big as your head? Do you plan on retreating to the family cabin with your trusty fishing pole and a tub of insect repellent? Have the kids lost their minds at the thought of finally meeting Mickey and Minnie?

Or will you leave it up to chance, don a blindfold, and let fate guide a dart straight to the heart of mystery in the shape of a map of the world? Wherever you go, though, be sure to stock up on some great summer reading!

“Sometimes I play the what-if game and wonder, what if we hadn’t moved to Sewickley when I got pregnant … and I wouldn’t have met the women who became my closest friends, and what happened to us might never have happened at all.”

So begins Rebecca Drake’s latest thriller Just Between Us, the story of four friends — Alison, Julie, Sarah and Heather — who share a deadly secret.

The story is told from shifting perspectives with each chapter offering the viewpoint of a different member of the foursome.

Alison’s discovery that Heather, the newest member of the group, may be the victim of an abusive and violent husband sets off a chain of events that will leave more than one person dead. “Just Between Us” asks, How well do we know our friends? And should we really trust what we think we see?

For fans of “Gone Girl” and “The Girl on the Train,” this mystery set in the western suburbs of Pittsburgh should hit the spot.


The Gone World 
By Tom Sweterlitsch 
G. P. Putnam’s Sons; $27

Pittsburgh and the surrounding area get the sci-fi treatment in Tom Sweterlitsch’s masterful and haunting The Gone World. NCIS Special Agent Shannon Moss is sent to solve the murder of a Navy SEAL’s family and find his missing daughter. The year is 1997, but deep space travel has been going on secretly for years. The Navy not only sails spaceships, but it also has learned how to time travel.

Time travel as a tool in solving crimes is a central tenet of the world Sweterlitsch builds. Each choice we make creates a new possible future, so the clues that Moss gathers as she travels through time are not necessarily to be trusted. 

As the investigation deepens, Moss uncovers a horrific conspiracy and countless more murders. But what do these killings have to do with the world-ending and seemingly inevitable event known as the Terminus? “The Gone World” is a mind-bending and disturbing ride. Anyone worried the author couldn’t possibly top his excellent debut novel, “Tomorrow and Tomorrow,” can rest easy. Tom Sweterlitsch is a master of thrilling science fiction.  


Speak up

July 19/ Touring music writers Mike Faloon and Mike Fournier park their van in Pittsburgh for a night discussing 1980s hardcore punk and free jazz, among other tasty sonic delights. Former DJ and drummer Faloon’s latest, “The Other Night at Quinn’s,” looks at the exciting jazz scene developing around a small diner in Beacon, N.Y. Fournier is the author of a full-length exegesis of The Minutemen’s classic album “Double Nickels on the Dime” for the popular 33-1/3 series. There’s a maxim that states rather unequivocally that writing about music is like dancing about architecture. While I can’t attest to ever witnessing an impromptu hip shake to the work of Frank Lloyd Wright, scores of words have been unleashed in response to nearly every papa-oom-mow-mow and diddy-wah-diddy to spark out of a transistor radio. Faloon and Fournier join a diverse rank of writers, from Lester Bangs to Ellen Willis to Amanda Petrusich, who have elevated the genre. Locals Karen Lillis and Jude Vachon provide back-up. (Nine Stories Booksellers, 5400 Butler St., Lawrenceville; 412/347-8635, ninestoriespgh.com

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