Hello mystery fans! I have two different historical mystery series starters, both of which I am loo...
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Jun 09, 2021

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Perfect for book clubs or the beach, Aggie Blum Thompson’s I Don’t Forgive You is a page-turning, thrilling debut “not to be missed.” (Wendy Walker) An accomplished photographer and the devoted mom of an adorable little boy, Allie Ross has just moved to an upscale DC suburb, the kind of place where parenting feels like a competitive sport. Allie’s desperate to make a good first impression. Then she’s framed for murder.

Hello mystery fans! I have two different historical mystery series starters, both of which I am looking forward to continuing. While completely different in so many ways both novels have a noir or noir-ish feel, leads this genre has historically not centered, and both are set in New York pre-1950s.

cover of dead dead girls

Dead Dead Girls (Harlem Renaissance Mystery #1) by Nekesa Afia

If you’re about to skip over this one because you don’t read, or aren’t in the mood, for cozy mysteries (which the cover may make you think it is), come back this is not a cozy!

Set during the Harlem Renaissance, Louise Lloyd has never been able to avoid the spotlight after escaping a kidnapper as a teenager, and setting free the other girls in the process. The press has remembered her, as has the Harlem community. When she’s arrested for assaulting an officer, this comes in handy for the police who recognize her and want to use her. There’s a serial killer, killing young Black girls, and the detective in charge thinks a young Black woman like Louise will make it easier to get people to help with the investigation, rather than white cops asking questions. She doesn’t want to but is backed into a corner, so she goes out asking questions, putting herself in danger…

Louise is a great character who, after being kidnapped as a teen, being forced to raise her younger siblings, and thrown out by her father, wears no rose colored glasses when viewing the world. What she does love is dancing with her girlfriend and friend until the morning hours at a speakeasy, with zero intention of marrying or doing any of the things expected of women.

If you’re looking for a historical mystery, set during the exciting Harlem Renaissance, with a bit of a noir feeling to it, pick up this book. I’m excited that it’s a series starter and look forward to more of Louise and the time period.

(TW attempted rape/ kidnapping/ homophobia/ racism)

Fortune Favors the Dead (Pentecost and Parker #1) by Stephen Spotswood

The characters in this story, with nods to Sherlock and Watson, bring a delightful and fun feel to this mystery. Set in 1940s New York, the most famous woman PI in the country, Lillian Pentecost, has multiple sclerosis and needs help with mundane tasks related to her job so she can continue to focus on the important things. So she offers the job to Willowjean “Will” Parker, who ran away from home and has been working with the circus.

Will narrates the story, bringing us in to see how she met Pentecost and now recounting a major case they took on: after the patriarch of a family died by suicide, the matriarch was found murdered in a locked room on fire. The murder remains unsolved and so the children, twins, and their godfather hire the detective to find out who murdered their mother as society is now gossiping that it must have been the ghost of their father. Toss in family drama, business drama and political contracts, secrets, dating, and a spiritual advisor, and you have a twisty mystery filled with danger.

My favorite part is the voices of Will and Pentecost, complete opposites who bump heads in a loving way. Will has a quick dark humor as she navigates life and her new career, and Pentecost is cranky, smart, and resourceful while navigating life with a slowly progressing, but progressing nonetheless, disease.

(TW recent past suicide, detail/ mentions of past child abuse and domestic abuse, not graphic/ homophobia)

From The Book Riot Crime Vault

Where to Start Reading Keigo Higashino


Browse all the books recommended in Unusual Suspects previous newsletters on this shelf. See upcoming 2021 releases. Check out this Unusual Suspects Pinterest board and get Tailored Book Recommendations!

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

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