Hello mystery fans! I have two reads this week that sucked me in. One is noir and historical with a...
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Sep 08, 2021

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“Initially satirical and then spectacularly creepy” (The Washington Post), The Other Black Girl is an electric debut about the tension that unfurls when two young Black women meet against the starkly white backdrop of Corporate America.

Hello mystery fans! I have two reads this week that sucked me in. One is noir and historical with a missing person case at the center and the other is a murder mystery where you don’t even know at first which of the two people is dead.

Velvet Was the Night Book Cover

Velvet Was The Night by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Noir set in Mexico City! I think I’ve read all of Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s novels, and I love that she writes in basically all genres. I went with the audiobook for this one and was completely sucked into this world. I also remain obsessed with the cover!

Maite is a secretary in Mexico City in the ’70s who views herself as not enough. She reads a lot of romance comics and imagines the situations she’s in compared to the stories she reads, and thinks she fails at being as pretty and glamorous. She imagines her neighbor, Leonora, fits the bill, however. When Leonora asks Maite to feed her cat and watch her apartment, Maite accepts: not out of the goodness of her heart, but because she asks to be paid (she needs to get her car from the mechanic) and because she has a habit of stealing an item from everyone’s apartment and this will make that easy.

But Leonora never returns, and Maite is left with a cat she does not want and questions. Also looking for Leonora is Elvis, a criminal in training whose been put on the task of finding the missing woman. We follow these two very different personalities, with a common love of music and comics, as they search for the woman, leaving the reader wondering how and when will their paths meet…

I really enjoyed following Maite and Elvis as they navigate through the political climate of the time (highly recommend you read Silvia Moreno-Garcia afterward on the history), their desires, passions, and interactions. If you’re a fan of Megan Abbott’s noir titles, definitely pick this up.

56 Days cover image

56 Days by Catherine Ryan Howard

If you’d told me I was not only going to really like a book set in the beginning of the pandemic but also not be able to put it down, I would have laughed and laughed and laughed. Yet, here we are!

I’ve really liked Howard’s books. She always snags me at the start with a hook and keeps me invested. The setup is interesting: two people meet and are excited about each other. For different reasons, they’re in a city without many ties, so when the pandemic starts and they find out there will be a two week lockdown, they think “Why not? Let’s do it together”.

But one ends up dead.

You follow two pairs of people over 56 days. There are two detectives in the present day trying to solve what happened (you don’t get to know who is dead for a while) and get a lot of good banter between them, as they are quite different, while they try to solve the case. In the past chapters – starting 56 days before – you watch from both perspectives as Ciara and Oliver meet. Ciara has recently moved to the city, leaving behind her sister and her mom, who is entering hospice from a long illness. Oliver is starting fresh again, running away from some sort of past.

Oliver originally believes Ciara to be a journalist and only speaks to her to flush her out, but then finds that her answers are too good and maybe he’s being paranoid. Ciara is trying to overcome thoughts like “Was that ridiculous to say?” and “Wait, don’t let him get his feelings hurt” while hoping that she’s finally made a connection with a cute man. As they go on a few dates, the first cases of Covid-19 hit Ireland, and they learn that there will be a two week lockdown. So Ciara moves in with Oliver, which is exciting at first, but she quickly realizes maybe she doesn’t know him well enough, especially when a neighbor doesn’t have great things to say about him…

Because of the setting at the start of the pandemic, it took me a while of circling this book before being able to pick it up. And even then I thought, “I’ll just dip a toe in, and if it gives me anxiety, I’m out for now.” But it was completely fine for me, which kind of shocked me. In a strange way, it being set at the very start of the pandemic when there was no information made it feel okay, because I was reading those bits already knowing the information and how it turned out. Also, the mystery element was very much a page-turner that overrode any potential uncomfortable feelings from the pandemic for me. And it was interesting to compare how it unfolded in the US versus Ireland.

(TW brief suicidal thoughts, detail/brief mention past suicide, detail/tween murder/panic attack/terminally ill parent)

From The Book Riot Crime Vault

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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!

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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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Translated works of crime and mystery

Tune in as Katie and Nusrah talk about translated works of crime and mystery written by women authors for Women in Translation Month....

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