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“Above the Line: My Wild Oats Adventure”

By Shirley MacLaine

(Atria Books)

Shirley MacLaine is a creative force. Not only has the Oscar-winning actress performed in more than 50 films, she’s also the author of many best-sellers.

In “Above the Line,” MacLaine chronicles the ups and downs of navigating production details for the film “Wild Oats.” As a veteran actress, MacLaine knew the project felt insecure from the start. The cast roster often changed at the drop of a hat, and the financial backing was ambiguous. No one worried about money; they just wanted to make a movie.

These elusive details raised red flags for MacLaine’s agent and friends, yet there was something about the project that interested her. The film was scheduled to shoot at a location that intrigued her — the Canary Islands. So she got on a plane and flew across the world against all odds. It was a decision she wouldn’t regret.

While production puttered along due to financial constraints and unpredictable shooting schedules, MacLaine used her spare time to absorb any information she could obtain about the lost continent of Atlantis. Since it is believed that the Canary Islands are the remnants of Atlantis, MacLaine finds herself constantly questioning and comparing what happened on the set with the lost island’s fate.

Always seeking to grow and learn, she examines the concept of always being aware of where you have been and where you are going: Ask questions. Embrace the laws of cause and effect. Let your imagination roam free. You never know where it’s going to take you.

— Lincee Ray

“The Widow”

By Fiona Barton

(NAL)

A woman loses her husband in an accident and must confront his past with both the press and police in Fiona Barton’s psychological thriller, “The Widow.”

Comparisons between “The Girl on the Train” and “Gone Girl” are rampant in reviews of Barton’s novel. While thematic elements are similar, the ultimate pay-off provides a vastly different outcome. The story line jumps back and forth in time and requires special attention to keep things straight.

In 2010, Jean Taylor is visited by Daily Post reporter Kate Waters, who is interested in the death of Jean’s husband, Glen. Four years earlier, a little girl named Bella disappeared from the front of her home and was never seen again. The police investigation led authorities to Glen, a delivery driver in the area. He was exonerated at trial, but the general public believed he was responsible.

Now that Glen has died, Waters sees this as an opportunity for Jean to tell her side of the story. While Jean slowly opens up, readers also follow detective Bob Sparkes as he investigates the disappearance of little Bella.

Barton’s writing is compelling and top-notch, which is rarely seen in a first novel, but the story line provides few of the surprises expected in a thriller. The plot is basically straightforward, but the main focus becomes not whether Glen Taylor is guilty or innocent, but how well does Jean truly know her husband?

— Jeff Ayers

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