What If Social Media Turns Murderous?

scared female teenager with computer laptop suffering cyberbullying harassment

Social media use has become so ubiquitous that it’s no wonder mystery plots are mining social networking for clues, motives and even psychological weaponry.

follow meOne example is the Social Media Murders Series by Angela Clarke, starting with Follow Me. If you think social media feeds fame monsters, you’ll appreciate a plot in which recent graduate Freddie, who is trying to get her journalism career started via online contacts and posts, bumps into old friend Nasreen, now a police officer, and seeks a scoop by following her to a crime scene where a dead man lies slumped over his computer. Social media-savvy Freddie realizes the victim was a troll and finds the Twitter account of the “Hashtag Murderer,” who takes credit for the murder and posts cryptic clues to the next target, titillating press and public. Freddie and Nasreen are soon in the crosshairs as they race to catch the fame-crazed killer.

other twinOr, maybe you fear that some folks in your social network of “friends” are playing unfriendly games.Then you won’t find any comfort in The Other Twin by L.V. Hay. In the British thriller, Poppy returns home after her sister India dies from a fall off a railway bridge and hacks into her sister’s laptop seeking the truth about her death. Poppy finds a social media world where resentments are played out online, identities are made and remade, and secrets outnumber truths.

 

 

mercedesNow if you’re a person who feels vulnerable to online-savvy miscreants, join tech-impaired, retired Detective Bill Hodges of Mr. Mercedes, the first entry in Stephen King’s Bill Hodges Trilogy. In an unsolved case at the end of Hodges’ career, the “Mercedes Killer” used a stolen Mercedes to mow down a crowd of people waiting outside a job fair. Miserable in retirement, Hodges is jolted back to life by taunting messages from the killer and drawn into a cat-and-mouse game on an anonymous social media chat site, leading to a race to stop a psychopath.

 

secretsMaybe you’re worried social posts are attracting undesirable followers who’ll try to move from virtual to actual contact. Then you’ll be terrified by The Secrets She Keeps from Michael Robotham. Unwed and pregnant Agatha, who works part-time stocking shelves at a grocery store, is fascinated by chic customer Meghan, who writes a droll parenting blog and boasts two perfect children and a happy marriage. When Agatha learns her blog idol is pregnant again, and that their due dates fall within the same month, she approaches the unsuspecting Meghan and sets something terrible in motion.

 

youOr test your social nerves with Caroline Kepnes’ novel You. Beautiful Guinevere Beck shops in a New York bookstore where smitten employee Joe “Googles” the name on her credit card. Joe soon finds all he needs to know from her public Facebook account and constant Tweets. He begins to orchestrate meetings and events designed to push her into his arms, and removes any obstacles to his passion–even if it means murder.

For thrillers featuring social media, check out https://strandmag.com/seven-thrillers-featuring-social-media/

ABOUT  KATHERINE SHARMA

Katherine Sharma’s family roots are in Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas. But after her early childhood in Texas, she has moved around the country and lived in seven other states, from Virginia to Hawaii. She currently resides in California with her husband and three children. She has also traveled extensively in Europe, Africa and Asia, and makes regular visits to family in India. After receiving her bachelor’s degree. in economics and her master’s degree in journalism from the University of Michigan, Katherine worked as a newspaper and magazine writer and editor for more than 15 years. She then shifted into management and marketing roles for firms in industries ranging from outdoor recreation to insurance to direct marketing. Although Katherine still works as a marketing consultant, she is now focused on creative writing.

Honor Valentine’s Day With Romantic Mysteries

Woman with cereal bowl in bed, man reading, smiling, close-up

Happy Valentine’s Day reading!

First, a bit of personal background: My husband and I went on our first date 42 years ago on Valentine’s Day. It was a disappointing event, to be honest, but there was enough spark to encourage another outing, and the rest is history.

rebeccaIt seems appropriate to celebrate the romantic holiday with some romantic-mystery/mystery-romance genre mating. Maybe start by revisiting the popular “gothics” of my teen reading years: Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart, Dragonwyck by Anya Seton and Wings of the Falcon by Barbara Michaels.

 

 

 

belongFor more modern fare, try You Belong to Me by Karen Rose, in which a sexy widower cop and a troubled medical examiner find love while investigating a serial killer, or Heartbreaker by Julia Garwood as against-the-odds romance blossoms amid another serial murder case.

 

 

 

moneyOr, embrace Stephanie Plum, the protagonist of Janet Evanovich’s popular series, for her debut with One for the Money, in which Stephanie takes a job hunting bail jumpers for a quick buck and is soon on the trail of a hot ex-beau with a price on his head while getting training from the studly “Ranger.”

 

 

 

 

possessionAll of these are sturdy romantic mystery entries, but, if you’re looking for more literary prose, read the Booker Prize-winning best-seller Possession by A.S. Byatt. Described as a “novel of wit and romance, an intellectual mystery, and a triumphant love story,” the tale is built around a pair of young scholars researching the lives of two Victorian poets through their letters, journals, and poems, and tracking the dead poets’ movements from London to Yorkshire, with seances and fairy lore along the way.

For additional romantic mystery options: http://bestmysterybooks.com/best-romantic-mystery-books.html

ABOUT  KATHERINE SHARMA

Katherine Sharma’s family roots are in Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas. But after her early childhood in Texas, she has moved around the country and lived in seven other states, from Virginia to Hawaii. She currently resides in California with her husband and three children. She has also traveled extensively in Europe, Africa and Asia, and makes regular visits to family in India. After receiving her bachelor’s degree. in economics and her master’s degree in journalism from the University of Michigan, Katherine worked as a newspaper and magazine writer and editor for more than 15 years. She then shifted into management and marketing roles for firms in industries ranging from outdoor recreation to insurance to direct marketing. Although Katherine still works as a marketing consultant, she is now focused on creative writing.

Had Enough of Earthly Politics? Try Other Planets’ Troubles

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By late October, I find myself exhausted by our political mud-wrestling and yearning for escape to some other galaxy. The sci-fi mystery genre is rife with tales of a futuristic, usually post-apocalyptic, Earth, but I’m hearing enough apocalyptic talk in the election race!

red planet bluesI long to sleuth where the sky is red and home to two moons, where the aliens come from other worlds and not other countries, and where our unhappy Earth is a spaceship’s time-warp away. So here are some choices for those seeking justice in an alternative universe. Start with Red Planet Blues, by Robert J Sawyer, who is a Hugo and Nebula award winner. Set on Mars, the story takes place in the domed city of New Klondike (a future Elon Musk destination maybe). The town was built for miners seeking “fossils” that sell for big bucks on Earth, but the fossils ran out and the town has gone bust. Alex Lomax, a traditional PI character, is hired to find out who has killed the miners who first started the fossil rush, with the possibility of finding a cache of fossils worth millions.

kopThen there’s KOP by Warren Hammond. It’s about a policeman named Juno Mozambe whose family moved from Earth to the planet Lagarto, a promised utopia unfortunately dependent on a single export that has been replaced by cheap knock-offs. Amid the planet’s slums and poverty, cop Juno faces bribes from organized crime and a frame-up by a new partner.

 

 

 

mountainsNow if you want to land on a planet without unethical Earth pioneers, try acclaimed writer Lois McMaster Bujold’s Hugo and Nebula award-winning Mountains of Mourning, set in an imaginary galaxy. Interstellar investigator Miles Vorkosigan is sent to uncover the truth about a murder in a society that values physical perfection. A baby has been killed because of a physical defect, calling up an outlawed custom and prejudices against “mutants.” With the Village Speaker determined to hide the truth, Miles and his team, despite the advantages of special truth serum, must use all their skills to find the real killer.

ruschFinally, there is the Retrieval Artist series by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, which portrays a universe where humans and alien races try to coexist and respect each other’s differing laws. The penalties in this inter-species legal balancing act can be severe, and Miles Flint, a “retrieval artist,” is tasked with tracking down fugitives across worlds, torn between the demands of his police job and his sense of justice. Rusch is deft with cross-genre writing, as proven by her Endeavor and Hugo sci-fi awards as well as her Edgar mystery award nominations. For more options, check out http://bestsciencefictionbooks.com/best-science-fiction-mystery-books

ABOUT  KATHERINE SHARMA

Katherine Sharma’s family roots are in Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas. But after her early childhood in Texas, she has moved around the country and lived in seven other states, from Virginia to Hawaii. She currently resides in California with her husband and three children. She has also traveled extensively in Europe, Africa and Asia, and makes regular visits to family in India. After receiving her bachelor’s degree. in economics and her master’s degree in journalism from the University of Michigan, Katherine worked as a newspaper and magazine writer and editor for more than 15 years. She then shifted into management and marketing roles for firms in industries ranging from outdoor recreation to insurance to direct marketing. Although Katherine still works as a marketing consultant, she is now focused on creative writing.

Emily Blunt Is The Girl On The Train

train

The tracks take surprising twists in this entertaining mystery starring Emily Blunt. This sexy thriller is getting mixed reviews, with some claiming the movie is actually better than the book for a change.

John and Emily: Love at First Site

Unraveling the convoluted chronology, we are introduced to Rachel (Emily Blunt), our narrator and the titular character, who spends long stretches of each weekday riding the train back and forth into New York City. Along the way, there’s a particular house she looks for. Living there is her vision of the ideal couple: pretty, blond Megan (Haley Bennett) and her husband, Scott (Luke Evans). Every time she sees them, they seem so much in love. She overlays her fantasies and hopes on these two, whom she has never met, and feels betrayed when she glimpses Megan sharing a kiss with her psychologist, Dr. Abdic (Edgar Ramirez).

We learn that Rachel once lived only a couple of houses away from Megan and Scott. That was before alcoholism claimed her marriage. Now, her ex-husband, Tom (Justin Theroux), lives there with his new wife, Anna (Rebecca Ferguson). Things become complicated for Rachel when Megan disappears under mysterious circumstances on the night when Rachel decides to confront Megan about her possible infidelity. And, due to a booze-induced blackout, Rachel has no memory of what happened during that encounter.

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It’s an intriguing premise, and Blunt melts into the role like ice in a glass. She looks lost, ravaged by hopelessness, her voice thickening into syrup, her gait a confused stumble.

The resolution of the film’s central mystery is a slight letdown and comes after the story has written itself into a corner. But the journey is so good it doesn’t matter that the destination comes as a disappointment.

train2

And many, many people already know where the story is headed, since Paula Hawkins’ 2015 novel sold like an Adele album. Upon its release it was looked at as the new “Gone Girl,” and the movie is pegged to the same weekend when “Gone Girl” opened two years ago.

There are problems with “Girl on the Train” — it’s often hard to tell Megan and Anna apart (they’re supposed to look similar, but it’s not a problem in the book as you see the name on the page), the male characters feel underwritten, and the tone at times feels overwrought. But, if you’re asking whether it’s as good as the book, you should pause before answering — the book, alas, didn’t have Blunt in it.

Thrillers Resonate This Political Season

Freedom and statue of liberty

By Katherine Sharma

Recently, Russian digital hacks of the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee were revealed, raising the specter of foreign government interference in U.S. elections. That’s a plot you’d expect to find in a Cold War-era political thriller, not 2016 news stories.

black widowSo this very unusual political season has inspired me to take a closer look at political thrillers. An example is the just released novel about ISIS terrorism in France from bestselling political thriller author Daniel Silva. In The Black Widow, the spy hero is poised for promotion to chief of Israel’s secret intelligence service but takes on one final operation after ISIS detonates a massive bomb in Paris, and the desperate French government asks him to eliminate the man responsible before he can strike again.

 

manchurian candidateThe classic political thrillers emerged after World War II when the West faced a nuclear-armed world divided by Cold War ideologies and post-colonial chaos. Among the best-known works is Richard Condon’s 1959 The Manchurian Candidate about the son of a prominent U.S. political family who is brainwashed into becoming an unwitting Communist assassin controlled by his domineering mother, who seeks to make her husband, a McCarthy-esque senator, into a puppet dictator.

 

quiet americanIn 1955, Graham Greene’s prescient The Quiet American depicts French and British colonialism in Vietnam being uprooted by American involvement during the 1950s, revealing a blind American “exceptionalism” that fails to see disaster looming.

 

 

 

jackalColonialism’s poisonous roots in the Muslim world are exposed in 1972′s Edgar Award-winning The Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth, about a mysterious professional assassin contracted to kill French President Charles de Gaulle by the OAS, a French dissident paramilitary organization upset by France’s Algeria policy.

 

 

 

justiceMore recently, America’s racial politics are the subject of A Certain Justice by John Lescroart, published in 2006: When an angry white mob in San Francisco murders an innocent black man, the only man who tried to stop the killing is framed and goes on the run amid riots, political posturing, and pressure on police to subvert justice.

 

 

 

gardnerOf course, money is at the root of political evil, and in 2001′s The Constant Gardner, by famed British spy novelist John le Carré, a British diplomat’s search for the truth about his activist wife’s murder in Africa uncovers an international conspiracy of corrupt bureaucrats and pharmaceutical industry money. For Amazon’s latest political thrillers, see https://www.amazon.com/gp/new-releases/books/7538395011/ref=zg_bs_tab_t_bsnr

ABOUT  KATHERINE SHARMA

Katherine Sharma’s family roots are in Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas. But after her early childhood in Texas, she has moved around the country and lived in seven other states, from Virginia to Hawaii. She currently resides in California with her husband and three children. She has also traveled extensively in Europe, Africa and Asia, and makes regular visits to family in India. After receiving her bachelor’s degree. in economics and her master’s degree in journalism from the University of Michigan, Katherine worked as a newspaper and magazine writer and editor for more than 15 years. She then shifted into management and marketing roles for firms in industries ranging from outdoor recreation to insurance to direct marketing. Although Katherine still works as a marketing consultant, she is now focused on creative writing.

Physical Challenges Can’t Stop These Sleuths

beautiful fashionable woman detective

By Katherine Sharma

If you like triumph-over-physical-adversity tales, you may want to check out mystery writing’s long tradition of physically challenged detectives. There are many reasons for authors to create sleuths who are blind, deaf, paralyzed or otherwise physically limited. By literally handicapping crime-solving via a detective’s impaired ability to personally gather clues from crime scene inspection or interrogations, an author boosts the puzzle-solving challenge.

The social stigma often faced by people with physical issues also creates reader empathy and increases reader satisfaction in the protagonist’s ability to overcome and triumph. Authors usually offset a character’s physical disadvantage by honing intellect, senses, instincts or determination to a point beyond the skills of ordinary sleuths. A disability, because it can be misread as incapability, can even give a surprise edge in outwitting arrogant suspects, deceptive witnesses or uncooperative authorities.

Man in blackAmong the well-known detectives in this group is bestselling author Jeffery Deaver’s Lincoln Rhyme, a quadriplegic New York City detective. NYC culprits also find a nemesis in George Chesbro’s dwarf criminology professor and private-eye Robert ‘Mongo’ Fredrickson. Proving lack of sight is not lack of insight is Jane A. Adams’ Naomi Blake, a blind ex-policewoman in the Midlands of England, while reading lips doesn’t hinder reading clues in Penny Warner’s Connor Westphal mysteries about a deaf newspaper journalist in California. For a list of more mysteries featuring physically challenged detectives, go to https://beyondrivalry.wordpress.com/2009/07/02/crime-fiction-book-list-disabled-isnt-unable/

ABOUT  KATHERINE SHARMA

Katherine Sharma’s family roots are in Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas. But after her early childhood in Texas, she has moved around the country and lived in seven other states, from Virginia to Hawaii. She currently resides in California with her husband and three children. She has also traveled extensively in Europe, Africa and Asia, and makes regular visits to family in India. After receiving her bachelor’s degree. in economics and her master’s degree in journalism from the University of Michigan, Katherine worked as a newspaper and magazine writer and editor for more than 15 years. She then shifted into management and marketing roles for firms in industries ranging from outdoor recreation to insurance to direct marketing. Although Katherine still works as a marketing consultant, she is now focused on creative writing.

‘Bad Seed’ Characters Exist in Fact and Fiction

Dark series - vintage killer doll

By Katherine Sharma

Psychopathic villains–manipulative, aggressive, remorseless and unemotional–abound in murder mysteries, but when those psychopaths are children, an element of horror enters.

Remember Rhoda, the too-perfect little girl murderess in the 1954 novel The Bad Seed by William March? Or Kevin, a school massacre perpetrator, whose mother suspects his evil capacity long before his final horrific acts in Lionel Shriver’s We Need to Talk About Kevin. Agatha Christie’s Crooked House also featured a deadly child in scheming 12-year-old Josephine Leonides, who kills her grandfather because he won’t pay for ballet lessons–and almost gets away with it.

Author Jonathan Kellerman, a clinical child psychologist who writes New York Times best-selling mysteries featuring psychologist sleuth Dr. Alex Delaware, gives support to fictional “bad seed” characterizations. He notes in his nonfiction Savage Spawn, inspired by the spate of 1997-1998 schoolyard shootings, that “psychopathic tendencies begin very early in life, as young as three, and they endure.”

Upset and angry boy

Though research shows psychopathy is 50% genetic, biology is not destiny for our complex human personalities, and nurture can guide nature. Budding pre-psychopaths can be tempered by a non-aggressive environment and by a parenting style that is neither too permissive nor too authoritarian while providing structure and limits, according to psychology experts. After all, children with psychopathic traits do not all become killers; many grow up to use the daring, charming and manipulative aspects of their personalities as successful business tycoons, political leaders or sports stars.

Still, the fictional tales of young murderers are not just fantasy and are reinforced every year by headlines about preteen killers and school shootings. We need to be alert to signs in children that presage criminal acts–violence toward people or animals, lack of guilt or remorse, social isolation, defiance and sensation-seeking–and commit to timely intervention. For more on youthful violence prediction and intervention, see http://crimefeed.com/2016/01/predicting-violent-criminal-behavior-how-to-spot-the-warning-signs-intervene/

ABOUT  KATHERINE SHARMA

Katherine Sharma’s family roots are in Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas. But after her early childhood in Texas, she has moved around the country and lived in seven other states, from Virginia to Hawaii. She currently resides in California with her husband and three children. She has also traveled extensively in Europe, Africa and Asia, and makes regular visits to family in India. After receiving her bachelor’s degree. in economics and her master’s degree in journalism from the University of Michigan, Katherine worked as a newspaper and magazine writer and editor for more than 15 years. She then shifted into management and marketing roles for firms in industries ranging from outdoor recreation to insurance to direct marketing. Although Katherine still works as a marketing consultant, she is now focused on creative writing.

Mystery on Board: Cruising Into Murder

ocean

By Katherine Sharma

It’s vacation time, and maybe you’re longing to sail away from it all. You may even be one of the folks actually taking a cruise ship to exotic destinations. But what if there is a murderer hunting among the passengers trapped on that floating hotel?

nileIf you don’t mind a frisson of anxiety with your real or imagined cruise adventure, add some of these noted mystery authors’ tales of shipboard murder to your reading list. A well-known classic is Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie, in which her Belgian sleuth Hercules Poirot plans a leisurely cruise down the Nile but ends up sifting through suspicious passengers and false leads to solve the murder of a wealthy young woman.

 

 

belongBestselling suspense author Mary Higgins Clark also penned a thriller with a cruise setting. In Clark’s You Belong to Me, a killer stalks lonely women on board cruise ships as a radio-show psychologist rushes to catch the murderer before he can literally stop her dead.

 

 

 

shroudsFamed New Zealand writer Ngaio Marsh even introduced her mystery series’ police detective Roderick Alleyn to the high seas in Singing in the Shrouds, sending Alleyn on a ship voyage in pursuit of a serial killer. But the King of Ocean-Liner Fiction is Conrad Allen. Allen’s eight mysteries in the “Murder on the…” series are all set aboard pre-World War I cruise ships, starting with Murder on the Lusitania, and feature a husband and wife sleuthing team.

 

 

murderFor an updated ocean liner tale, fans of the “Murder, She Wrote” mystery series will appreciate Murder on the QE2, by Donald Bain and “Jessica Fletcher,” as Jessica, invited aboard as one of seven guest lecturers, tries to solve the murder of a fellow speaker. For more mysteries with cruise ship settings, see http://www.cozy-mystery.com/blog/mystery-books-that-take-place-on-cruise-ships-mystery-books-at-sea.html

ABOUT  KATHERINE SHARMA

Katherine Sharma’s family roots are in Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas. But after her early childhood in Texas, she has moved around the country and lived in seven other states, from Virginia to Hawaii. She currently resides in California with her husband and three children. She has also traveled extensively in Europe, Africa and Asia, and makes regular visits to family in India. After receiving her bachelor’s degree. in economics and her master’s degree in journalism from the University of Michigan, Katherine worked as a newspaper and magazine writer and editor for more than 15 years. She then shifted into management and marketing roles for firms in industries ranging from outdoor recreation to insurance to direct marketing. Although Katherine still works as a marketing consultant, she is now focused on creative writing.

Dark Mysteries Shine In Las Vegas Neon Lights

Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Sign

By Katherine Sharma

Last week I took relatives visiting from abroad to Las Vegas–because foreign tourists see its neon-magicked, cigarette-and alcohol-hazed glamorization of fantasy and vice as a top American entertainment experience.

history of vegasThe glitz of Sin City long ago ceased to enthrall me, but I admit that the “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” world is a perfect setting for mystery novels that I do enjoy. For example, 2015 Edgar Award-winner Chris Albani’s The Secret History of Las Vegas: A Novel offers an original plot in which a near-retirement Las Vegas detective and a South African doctor studying psychopaths join forces to solve a spate of murders implicating a pair of conjoined twins.

 

 

dark eyeDark Eye by William Bernhardt features psychologist Susan Pulaski, a Las Vegas police consultant whose life has spun out of control after the death of her cop husband, ending with an LVPD pink slip and a trip to detox. As a serial killer begins decorating Sin City with the horribly disfigured bodies of once beautiful young women, Pulaski is trying to regain her job and reputation, and stop a madman. She gets surprise help from a 25-year-old autistic savant whose unusual perspective forces her to see the crimes from a bizarre–but ultimately insightful–viewpoint.

For a different Vegas journey, try Ron Chaney’s Tony Hillerman Prize-winning The Ragged End of Nowhere, which stars a former CIA agent seeking his war veteran brother’s killer in the Vegas criminal underworld, a case complicated by allegations that the victim was in possession of a stolen ancient relic. For more mysteries set in Vegas, check out http://www.indianprairielibrary.org/books-movies-more/book/1199-all-time-faves-what-happens-in-vegas-mysteries-set-in-las-vegas

ABOUT  KATHERINE SHARMA

Katherine Sharma’s family roots are in Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas. But after her early childhood in Texas, she has moved around the country and lived in seven other states, from Virginia to Hawaii. She currently resides in California with her husband and three children. She has also traveled extensively in Europe, Africa and Asia, and makes regular visits to family in India. After receiving her bachelor’s degree. in economics and her master’s degree in journalism from the University of Michigan, Katherine worked as a newspaper and magazine writer and editor for more than 15 years. She then shifted into management and marketing roles for firms in industries ranging from outdoor recreation to insurance to direct marketing. Although Katherine still works as a marketing consultant, she is now focused on creative writing.

‘Poison Pens’ Find Dangerous Cyber Power

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By Katherine Sharma

The poison pen letter has been a plot device in some classic murder mysteries. For example, Dorothy Sayers’ Gaudy Night and Agatha Christie’s The Moving Finger featured these cruel communications–anonymous notes sent to the targeted recipient or third parties to humiliate, intimidate and discredit.

A pen and ink letter seems quaint in this digital age. But the malice of the poison pen not only still exists, it has been further empowered by technology. Cyberbullying is one modern manifestation. Hurtful words and images can be unleashed 24/7 with free, anonymous clicks and delivered to large online and mobile social networks. The consequences have been especially devastating for vulnerable teenagers. Statistics show that 15% of high school students reported they were victims of cyberbullies in 2013, and the rising number of highly publicized teen suicides due to cyberbullying has sparked national concern.

splinterSome well-known mystery authors have taken note and incorporated cyberbullying in their plots. Start with Val McDermid’s Splinter the Silence, featuring psychologist Tony Hill and former police detective Carol Jordan. The plot centers on the mysterious deaths of several outspoken feminists who were the victims of vicious cyberbullying. It is assumed that the torrent of abuse overwhelmed them and caused them to silence themselves in high-profile suicides. But Hill begins to see something even more sinister at work.

 

 

roadside crossesIn Roadside Crosses by Jeffery Deaver, his protagonist Kathryn Dance of the California Bureau of Investigation is called in when roadside crosses start appearing along the highways of the Monterey Peninsula–not as memorials to past accidents but as markers for fatalities to come. After the driver in a recent fatal car crash, a gaming-obsessed teen who’s been the target of cyberbullies, vanishes, Dance’s manhunt takes her into the illusory world of bloggers, social networks and cyberbullying.

 

boar islandFinally, veteran mystery writer Nevada Barr has penned Boar Island (an Anna Pigeon Mystery). Anna Pigeon, a National Park Service Ranger, finds out that the adopted teenage daughter of a friend is being victimized by cyberbullies and offers an escape by asking them to join her at her new post in Maine’s Acadia National Park, staying in a house on nearby Boar Island. But a cyberstalker follows them, and soon Anna is dealing with a brutal murder as well.

For more information about cyberbullying, read https://www.stopbullying.gov/cyberbullying/what-is-it/

ABOUT  KATHERINE SHARMA

Katherine Sharma’s family roots are in Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas. But after her early childhood in Texas, she has moved around the country and lived in seven other states, from Virginia to Hawaii. She currently resides in California with her husband and three children. She has also traveled extensively in Europe, Africa and Asia, and makes regular visits to family in India. After receiving her bachelor’s degree. in economics and her master’s degree in journalism from the University of Michigan, Katherine worked as a newspaper and magazine writer and editor for more than 15 years. She then shifted into management and marketing roles for firms in industries ranging from outdoor recreation to insurance to direct marketing. Although Katherine still works as a marketing consultant, she is now focused on creative writing.