Hello mystery fans! I recently finished an excellent crime audiobook that left me thinking about mys...
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Jun 10, 2020

Sponsored by Our Summer Reading Pack Giveaway courtesy of Harlequin.com.

We’re giving away a Summer Reading Pack courtesy of Harlequin.com. The prize pack which includes the following titles: Sunrise on Half Moon Bay by Robyn Carr, The Sea Glass Cottage by RaeAnne Thayne, The Summer of Sunshine and Margot by Susan Mallery, Heartbreaker by B.J. Daniels, Family for Beginners by Sarah Morgan.

Hello mystery fans! I recently finished an excellent crime audiobook that left me thinking about mysteries that are either set in communities where you get to know a lot of the residents and/or mysteries set in a community where the community itself feels like a character. So–as you’ve certainly already guessed–that’s what I’ve rounded up for you today:

deacon king kongDeacon King Kong by James McBride: Set in1969, readers are taken into the Brooklyn Cause Houses housing project, which is filled with interesting characters, many of which are known solely by their nicknames. Like Sportcoat, a church deacon who’d taught a youth baseball team, who is also known as the drunk. In front of everyone, he walks up to the known drug dealer, Deems Clemens, and shoots him.

This surprises everyone, including Sportcoat who isn’t really aware he was responsible for the shooting and ends up with a price on his head for it. We follow the members of the community–including Colombian ants (yes, the actual insects)–after the shooting and get the history of so many characters–Latinx, white, Black, Italian–bringing not only this time period and place to life, but why Sportcoat shot Clemens, along with another mystery buried somewhere in the community… I can’t recommend this one enough: the writing is exceptional, the characters are fantastic, even though the subjects seem like it would make this a heavy novel it is not at all, and the audiobook is narrated by Dominic Hoffman who you may (should!) know as Whitley’s boyfriend from A Different World.  (TW alcoholism/ slurs/ past child abuse/ suicide)

Four Rabbi Small Mysteries: Friday the Rabbi Slept Late, Saturday the Rabbi Went Hungry, Sunday the Rabbi Stayed Home, and Monday the Rabbi Took Off (The Rabbi Small Mysteries #1-4) by Harry Kemelman: This collects the first four novellas (a bit over 200 pages each) in the Rabbi Small cozy mystery series. Also set in the 1960s, but this time in the Barnard’s Crossing’s Jewish community in Massachusetts, a small-town not lacking in small-town drama, and follows Rabbi David Small. We start with Friday the Rabbi Slept Late where a nanny has been murdered and the Rabbi is trying to solve the case, while also being a suspect… This is a really good series for fans of cozy mysteries, especially if you’re looking for characters and a community we don’t get to see a lot of in mysteries. Plus, there’s 12 books in the series for a nice marathon.

cover image: title and author name with brick wall inside lettersIQ (IQ #1) by Joe Ide: Taking us to modern day, and to the side of gritty crime novels, is Ide’s series set in East Long Beach. The series starts by jumping between Isaiah Quintabe’s (a character influenced by Sherlock) childhood and his current life as a PI where he helps his community by taking on cases for whatever the person can afford (sometimes chickens!). This series currently has four novels following IQ, and his reluctant side kick of sorts, Dodson (rhymes with Watson!), and really brings to life East Long Beach’s various racial and ethnic groups to life without feeling stereotypical. This is a great series for fans of modern, gritty crime novels, Walter Mosley, and characters that aren’t just good or bad caricatures but human. (TW I would say over the course of the series it probably hits on all the major ones.)

Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line cover imageDjinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara: And for fans of standalone novels here’s one of my favorite reads of this year. It’s an adult novel, following child characters, that shines a light on underserved communities, treatment of women, and the voices ignored by those in power while keeping focus on the victims and those silenced, rather than the perpetrators. A trio of kids head out through a slum in India to find a missing classmate; Led by nine-year-old Jai, a boy who has watched so much procedural shows that he believes himself able to solve this mystery. But as more kids go missing it quickly becomes clear this is nothing like fictional PI shows and this is far from a Nancy Drew mystery. Anappara brings to life an underserved community filled with different types of people, showing their lives and desires rather than creating a trauma porn novel. If you’re an audiobook listener, I highly recommend that format as Indira Varma, Himesh Patel, and Antonio Aakeel are fantastic narrators. (TW child, domestic abuse/ child deaths)

And here are three upcoming titles (totally worth prebuy dollars/telling your library to purchase) that are very much community focused:

When No One Is Watching by Alyssa Cole: A super good suspense novel you won’t be able to put down that is set in a gentrified Brooklyn neighborhood… (TW mentions past domestic violence/ panic attacks/ past suicide mentioned, detail)

The Silence of the White City (Trilogía de la Ciudad Blanca #1) by Eva García Sáenz: This is the start to a great translated serial killer series that will take you on a tour of northern Spain’s Basque Country. (TW child murders, not graphic/ attempted suicide and suicide/ partner, child abuse/ nonviable pregnancy/ date rape/ past statutory not on page)

Winter Counts cover imageWinter Counts by David Heska Wanbli Weiden: One of my favorite characters is Virgil Wounded Horse, a vigilante for hire living in Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota, who is forced to team up with his ex-girlfriend and the FBI… (TW addiction/ mentions suicides, one with detail/ past rapes including children mentioned, not graphic/ child death/ pedophile, crimes off page/ fat shaming)

Browse all the books recommended in Unusual Suspects previous newsletters on this shelf. See 2020 upcoming releases. An Unusual Suspects Pinterest board. Get Tailored Book Recommendations!

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

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