Hello mystery fans! This week I’m coming at you with a historical fiction mystery I loved, a d...
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Aug 28, 2019

Sponsored by Forge Books.

Law student Rachel North will tell you what she knows to be true. She’s smart, she’s a hard worker, she does the right thing, she’s successfully married to a faithful and devoted husband, a lion of Boston’s defense bar, and her internship with the Boston DA’s office is her ticket to a successful future. Problem is—she’s wrong. And in this cat and mouse game—the battle for justice becomes a battle for survival. The Murder List is a new standalone suspense novel in the tradition of Lisa Scottoline and B. A. Paris from award-winning author and reporter Hank Phillippi Ryan.

Hello mystery fans! This week I’m coming at you with a historical fiction mystery I loved, a dark-ish British serial killer with a past and present mystery, and an exploration of true crime.

Historical Mystery (TW suicide)

The Frangipani Tree Mystery (Crown Colony #1) by Ovidia Yu: Set in 1936 Singapore a local teen, SuLin, was orphaned young and left with a limp from Polio but, thanks to her aunt, received an education. Now, rather than allowing herself to be married off, she wants to work. Which works out for her because the nanny in the Acting Governor’s house is murdered and a new nanny is needed. Not the work she wanted but SuLin–who is smart, perceptive, and kind–finds herself trying to help the girl in her charge while navigating the upstairs, downstairs and racial politics–Oh, and figuring out what happened to the nanny! She finds herself working in a way with Chief Inspector Thomas LeFroy as he tries to solve the murder and she tries to get a handle on the family living in the Governor’s House. Then there’s another death…I especially loved the setting, characters, “partnership” and am really glad it’s the start of a series with two more books already out!

British Serial Killer (TW addiction/ child abuse, murder/ pedophile)

The Whisper Man cover imageThe Whisper Man by Alex North: If you’re looking for a dark-ish British thriller and enjoy past and present mysteries, this was a good read–and audiobook! A recently widowed father, Alex North, moves to a small-town, Featherbank, with his young son hoping for a fresh start. But it’s hard to make a fresh start when a town has a grizzly past–a serial killer that preyed on children 20 years before. Now with a young boy missing, two DI’s on the case–one who thought he’d caught the serial killer years ago, but never found one of the children–and Alex’s young son seeing things and talking to an imaginary girl in their new home things take a creepy turn. What is happening now, and what happened all those years before?… It’s told from multiple points of view–giving you part procedural, part family drama–with a monstrous serial killer weaving in terror, but the core of the book is about father and son relationships.

Exploration Of True Crime (TW basically everything)

Savage Appetites cover imageSavage Appetites: Four True Stories of Women, Crime, and Obsession by Rachel Monroe: I have so many thoughts on this book I could write an entire review for each of the four sections. It starts and ends with the author attending a true crime con. In between it focuses on one fascinating woman and three cold cases which are looked at from a different angle then just the actual case–women’s obsession is the “thesis” for the book. First, we learn about Frances Glessner Lee who in the 1940s created true crime scene dioramas like dollhouses and was very influential about creating what we know as forensics science today. I loved learning about her and think she should be widely known! I could have done without blips of the author’s harsh-ish judgement of Lee which seemed unwarranted, and even if warranted unnecessary. The second section is about a woman who burrowed her way into the Tate family and I only read half of it–I’ve been done with everything Manson related for a long time. The treatment for so long has upheld everything that is wrong with true crime, and while it completely makes sense it’s in this book, I just personally couldn’t. The third section was back to fascinating for me: It focuses on a N.Y. landscape architect who saw a documentary about a convicted child murderer (West Memphis Three) and sought him out, married him, then dedicated her life to proving his innocence. This was one of those (in)justice system stories that should have more focus and brought me back to why I’d picked up this book. And finally a young woman’s obsession, and pockets of the internet/social media, with Columbine and her own attempt at a mass shooting–which sadly could not be more timely. If you read true crime and don’t know these stories this book will most likely work really well for you. If you read true crime and are starting to branch out in exploring the genre’s issues this is also a good pickup. If you firmly sit in the camp that true crime is exploitative and all the genre’s issues need to be addressed this book will probably meet you 1/2 way but everything else you want said will be just out of reach.

Recent Releases

Wonton Terror cover imageWonton Terror (A Noodle Shop Mystery #4) by Vivien Chien (Currently reading: Always enjoyable cozy mystery that leaves me starving for Chinese food.)

A Better Man (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #15) by Louise Penny (Excellent series for fans of procedurals/detectives who want a Canadian setting.)

The Truth Behind the Lie (Kouplan #1) by Sara Lövestam (TBR: Iranian refugee PI working in Sweden for clients who can’t go to the police.)

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.

If a mystery fan forwarded this newsletter to you and you’d like your very own you can sign up here.

Peaking in First Grade

Katie and Rincey talk about the Tiny Pretty Things adaptation, Tana French in the New Yorker, the real life Where the Crawdads Sing mystery and celebrate Women in Translation month. 

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