Apr 17, 2019

Hello mystery fans! I have for you this week a fantastic courtroom drama/mystery, a fun murder mystery, and a nonfiction about con artists!


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Fantastic Mystery + Courtroom Drama (TW child abuse/ suicide/ sexual assault)

miracle creek cover imageMiracle Creek by Angie Kim: I couldn’t put this one down, even in the parts that hurt I couldn’t even flinch because I might miss something. This book works on so many levels, including as a courtroom drama, a mystery, an exploration of being an immigrant, marriage… The way Kim has layered everything between the current courtroom trial and the unraveling of everyone connected’s lives and lies is *chef’s kiss.* We start with a mother accused of setting a fire that caused an explosion, killing and injuring patients getting treatment inside a pressurized oxygen chamber. The oxygen chamber, the Miracle Submarine, was being run by the Yoo family in a small Virginia town. The mystery surrounds the woman on trial: did she set the fire on purpose to kill her son who was in the tank? Once you start meeting the Yoo family, the other patients, and watching the court testimony it starts to feel like everyone could have somehow been connected to the fire–including the mother on trial who has overwhelming evidence, including child abuse, against her as she tried to “cure” her son of autism. If you like courtroom dramas, small-town mysteries, and literary novels I wouldn’t miss this one–it’s definitely one of the best of 2019. And this is Kim’s debut novel so I can’t wait to see more from her.

Fun! (TW suicide)

Real Murders cover imageReal Murders (Aurora Teagarden #1) by Charlaine Harris: This has a fun premise: a group of people who meet to discuss true crime find themselves embroiled in a true crime. When the members of Real Murders Society show up to discuss a historical true crime they instead discover a murder–or at least Aurora “Roe” Teagarden finds the body. Being a group of true crime buffs, they can’t help but point fingers and think they can solve this (there is a journalist and cop amongst the group!), except soon there are more murders and it’s clear someone is framing people. Who would do this and why is what Roe, especially, wants to find out, being that she finds herself the target of poisoned food. She’s a librarian who has never had much luck dating but suddenly finds herself courted by two gentlemen: a writer and a police officer. But it’s hard to focus on dating when everyone is in danger and everyone is a suspect! This was one of those fun murder mysteries that stays fictional enough to be entertaining while also real enough to not be ridiculous. I’m curious to see how the characters and story will develop over the next nine books.

True Crime Memoir For Social Science Fans (TW suicide/ rape/ briefly mentions cases with pedophile)

Duped cover imageDuped: Double Lives, False Identities, and the Con Man I Almost Married by Abby Ellin: I love true crime memoirs–any memoir especially where the author just bares all–and have always loved social science so this hit a lot of yeses for me. Abby Ellin was basically duped by a conman and she tells her story here–interestingly enough, the two things I thought should have been the biggest red flags were actually the things he wasn’t lying about. She then also looks into why people lie, con, cheat, sociopaths, and those who fall victim. It’s a book that is very easy to judge and say, “Well, you should have known better,” or “I would never have fallen for that,” but that’s the whole point of the book–why do we blame the victims? And is it better to live life assuming everyone is out to get you or to have faith that they aren’t? I also found myself thinking about how victims are chosen and how someone who wants to be, and feels they need to be, loved can make easier marks, and how predators know this. I felt like this had a good balance between her story and accessible social science that the book works well for most readers–and I recommend going with the audiobook if you have the option.

Recent Releases

diary of a murderer cover imageDiary of a Murderer: And Other Stories by Young-Ha Kim, Krys Lee (Translator)

Alice’s Island by Daniel Sánchez Arévalo (Mystery/family drama)

Flowers over the Inferno (Teresa Battaglia #1) by Ilaria Tuti (Italian police procedural)

The Department of Sensitive Crimes (Detective Varg #1) by Alexander McCall Smith (Humorous procedural)

Before She Was Found by Heather Gudenkauf (YA mystery/thriller)

The Better Sister by Alafair Burke (Family secrets/ murder mystery)

Cult X cover imageCult X by Fuminori Nakamura, Kalau Almony (Translator) (Paperback) (For fans of cults.)

The Banker’s Wife by Cristina Alger (Paperback) (I really enjoyed this thriller starring a journalist–Full review.) (TW suicide/ rape)

Bearskin by James A. McLaughlin (Paperback) (For fans of crime novels in the wilderness.) (TW rape/ animal cruelty)

Browse all the books recommended in Unusual Suspects previous newsletters on this shelf. And here’s an Unusual Suspects Pinterest board.

Until next time, keep investigating! And in the meantime, come talk books with me on Twitter, Instagram, and Litsy–you can find me under Jamie Canavés.

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