Jul 17, 2019

Hi mystery fans! This week I have for you a dark Japanese crime novel, a historical mystery, and a Scandinavian whydunnit.


Sponsored by A Murder On Jane Street by Cathy Cash Spellman.

A Murder on Jane Street cover imageA brutal murder.
A heinous secret.
A deadly conspiracy.
The brutal murder of the little old lady next door puts FitzHugh Donovan on the case. A retired New York City Police Chief, he knows a cover-up when he sees one and his Irish Cop conscience can’t let that happen. Now, Fitz, his family and his quirky band of Bleecker Street Irregulars are ensnared in the bizarre secret the woman died to protect. Is this a cold case turned hot again, or an unspeakable conspiracy that could alter the course of history?”


Dark Japanese Crime Novel! (TW rape/ past suicide attempt/ graphic violence/ statutory relationship)

In the Miso Soup cover imageIn the Miso Soup by Ryū Murakami, Ralph McCarthy (Translator): If you’ve been listening to me blab about crime books for a while you know my love for Japanese crime novels, and here’s another great one. Once again we have a crime novel that doesn’t use guns, is dark, explores Japanese subculture, and compares U.S. and Japanese societies. This one is a quick read that starts with an American in Japan hiring a tour guide for the sex industry in Tokyo. But from the beginning Kenji starts to feel like something is off with Frank, and while he doesn’t care at first, as the night continues he starts to question whether he’s in danger and you start to feel his dread… This one also works for fans of psychological thrillers since as the night progresses we’re really in Kenji’s mind, and it works for horror fans who like the exploration of a killer’s mind.

Historical Crime Novel! (TW there are brief mentions of news headlines containing rape and suicide)

Girl Waits With Gun cover imageGirl Waits with Gun (Kopp Sisters #1) by Amy Stewart: This one straddled a line between historical mystery and cozy mystery with a dash of crime novel and family drama–and I loved it. In the early 1900’s Constance Kopp and her sisters live together, unmarried, since their mother’s passing when they find themselves in a buggy accident. When Constance tries to get the man who caused the accident to pay for the damage she sets off a chain of events that puts the sisters in danger and also places Constance on the path of trying to find a missing child. You get to know the sisters, especially in a past storyline, while following as Constance navigates a tough world for a single woman who needs to find a way to make a living. This really sets up how she comes to be in a position of working in law enforcement, and it’s based on the true story of one of the first woman deputy sheriff’s in the U.S. I especially recommend the audiobook narrated by Christina Moore, who also narrated The Spellman Files, if you like to feel like you’re friends with the character as they tell you their story.

Multi-Point Of View, Scandinavian Whydunnit! (TW rape on page, statutory/ domestic abuse/ partner abuse)

A Nearly Normal Family cover imageA Nearly Normal Family by M.T. Edvardsson, Rachel Willson-Broyles (Translation): This is another crime drama that blends a few things well: family drama; courtroom trial; whydunnit; told in three sections from three different points of view. We start with a pastor, husband, father, whose eighteen-year-old daughter is on trial for murder. Then we get Stella’s story from jail as she meets with her lawyer, tells us about her parents, her best friend, and the man she was dating. Finally, we hear from Stella’s mother, who is a lawyer, as the trial comes to its conclusion. This was another great audiobook that had a different narrator for each character’s section.

Upcoming Titles

The Missing American cover imageIt’s summer and publishing takes a bit of a power nap before all the fall releases so rather than new releases this week I’m going to highlight two upcoming 2020 titles I’m excited for, and that you should have on your radar: Kwei Quartey, author of the Darko Dawson police procedural, will start a new P.I. series set in Ghana with The Missing American. And we’re getting a sequel to Two Girls Down which will take us to San Diego with Alice Vega: The Janes. If you’ve yet to read either author’s previous work I very much recommend you do so while you wait for their upcoming titles!

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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