Hi mystery fans! I realized the other day that there are a lot of only children in the crime genre ...
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Mar 16, 2022

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Hi mystery fans! I realized the other day that there are a lot of only children in the crime genre OR siblings looking for a missing sibling, or trying to solve the sibling’s murder. Most of the intact families I could think of are siblings that don’t like each other much. So I thought I’d round up books with central sibling relationships this week to take a look at siblings in crime.

Siblings Who Don’t Totally Hate Each Other

Book cover of Cold by Mariko Tamaki

Cold by Mariko Tamaki

I really enjoyed this audiobook a lot. I’m a huge fan of Tamaki’s graphic novels and would also love to see this story adapted in her style and using a color story like she did for This One Summer and Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me.

In Cold we get a slightly outside-the-box mystery, which I really appreciated. Todd Mayer is found naked and dead in the snow. Classmate Georgia didn’t know him but becomes obsessed with the idea of how she can relate to him and his death. Then she suddenly realizes she had recently seen him before he died… We get narration from Georgia and from deceased Todd.

Siblings: Georgia’s mom is a bestselling author of children’s books where she uses Georgia and her brother as characters. While no longer close, much of the book is Georgia trying to connect with her brother or orbiting around him as she tries to figure out who Todd was, what happened to him, and who she is.

(TW homophobia/ fatphobia/ brief mention of child predators, not graphic nor detailed)

cover of Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty

Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty

The mother of a family has gone missing and the question is: could the father have had anything to do with it?

Siblings: We watch the relationship of four children, now adults, who were raised by tennis coaches and forced into tennis competitions growing up. They’re now all very different, struggling in their own ways, carrying grievances from childhood and now dealing with the disappearance of their mother.

(TW domestic violence/ briefly mentions past date rape, not detailed/ eating disorder/ mentions past teen having suicidal thoughts with no details/ anxiety)

White Smoke cover image

White Smoke by Tiffany D. Jackson

This has all the fun of an is-the-house-haunted horror with all the smarts of a social thriller.

Siblings: Marigold (Mari) has a younger brother and now a younger stepsister. This newly blended family has moved to a new city to help Mari leave the past behind, but does the present mean having an evil stepsister?

(TW addiction/ past overdose mentions, not graphic/ obsessive thoughts/ past child murder mentioned, not graphic or detailed)

Book Cover for All her little secrets by wanda morris, red-tinted photo close up of a Black woman wearing sunglasses

All Her Little Secrets by Wanda M. Morris

Ellice Littlejohn is a corporate lawyer who walks into work early one day to meet with her boss, also lover, and finds him dead. Wanting nothing to do with having to answer questions, she leaves and lets someone else find him. But the detective zeroes in on her as she’s suddenly fast tracked up the ranks. Now she has to keep herself from being the main suspect while also figuring out what actually happened, and how much danger she’s in…

Siblings: We get the past and present story of Ellice and her brother. In the past we watch them grow up with a surrogate mother as their birth mother deals with addiction and in the present we watch how the past still has its hooks in their relationship.

(TW main case questioned as suicide/ alcoholic parent/ dementia/ teen sexual assault recounted, not graphic/ child abuse/ brief mention partner abuse/ fatshaming)

Winter Counts cover image

Winter Counts by David Heska Wanbli Weiden

Virgil Wounded Horse lives in South Dakota on the Rosebud Indian Reservation and is now responsible for his younger brother. That’s why he takes a higher paying job he would rather not touch for reasons that include that it’s his ex-girlfriend’s father hiring him. But when the case hits too close to home, he has to team up with his ex-girlfriend and the FBI to figure out what is happening on their reservation.

Siblings: Virgil is an introspective and curious person who has cleaned up his life and is now in the position of being a parent to his younger brother.

(TW addiction/ mentions suicides, one with detail/ past rapes including children mentioned, not graphic/ child death/ pedophile, crimes off page/ fat shaming)

The Vanished Bride cover image

The Vanished Bride (Brontë Sisters Mystery #1) by Bella Ellis

For fans of historical mysteries, welcome to 1845, Yorkshire. A young mother has disappeared leaving only a pool of blood behind. Who will solve this case? The Brontë sisters! This works equally well for Brontë and classics fans and people who don’t care for either so long as you enjoy historical mysteries and old school detecting.

Siblings: Charlotte, Emily, and Anne all love each other while also bickering because they have totally different personalities.

(TW domestic violence/ addiction/ alludes to past statutory rape)

Sibling Is Missing Or Dead

Like A Sister cover image

Like a Sister by Kellye Garrett

Here’s a mystery I like to call a “for everyone” since it never goes cozy nor dark and is a solid mystery that understands the genre allowing readers to help put together the pieces of the puzzle. Lena Scott doesn’t quite believe the story surrounding her sister’s death and she sets out to find out exactly what happened.

Siblings: Lena and Desiree are estranged half-sisters. Desiree got to grow up with a relationship with her father, while Lena did not. Now Lena has to delve into all the family issues and find her way back to her sister, even if she’s no longer alive.

(TW addiction/ speculation of suicide conversation)

A graphic of the cover of The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley

The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley

Jess asks her brother Ben if she can crash with him for a bit, because as usual she’s in need. Ben isn’t ecstatic about it but surely he isn’t so upset that he just wouldn’t be at his apartment waiting for Jess like he planned? Except he’s not, and no one in the apartment complex seems to know where Ben is. So Jess starts trying to find out what happened to her brother…

Siblings: Ben and Jess are half-siblings who were separated as children in the foster care system and ended up with different lives.

(TW: diet culture, fatphobia/ brief mention past child abuse, not graphic/ potential partner abuse/ mentions past child predator, no details/ sexual harassment, flashing/ opiates/ mentions past statutory, not graphic/ date rape drug used, no assault/ stalking, obsession/ attempted suicide/ mentions past infertility/ forced prostitution/ brief mention of suicide, detail)

Sadie by Courtney Summers cover image

Sadie by Courtney Summers

After Sadie’s younger sister dies, she sets out a plan for revenge only to disappear herself. We follow Sadie’s path and also a true crime podcaster who is following Sadie to find out what happened to her.

Siblings: Sadie had been raising her sister Mattie when Mattie was found dead and we get to know their relationship as Sadie sets out for revenge and as the podcaster looks into what happened.

(TW child abuse/ pedophile/ attempted suicide mentioned)

Siblings Who Hate Each Other

cover of Not a Happy Family by Shari Lapena

Not a Happy Family by Shari Lapena

Fred and Sheila Merton are found murdered after Easter in their upstate New York home. The suspects: their three children. All claiming innocence, all wondering if the other did it.

Siblings: adult siblings who grew up wealthy who don’t get along and don’t trust each other not to be the murderer. They all look guilty.

(TW emotional abuse/ past child and domestic abuse, not graphic/ past suicide, detail)

cover image for He Started It

He Started It by Samantha Downing

Beth, Portia, and Eddie don’t get along and don’t even really speak to each other. And then they’re thrown into a car together, with spouses/partners, for a cross country road trip meant to relive a childhood vacation with their grandfather in order to inherit $3+ million. A thing I love about Downing is that you’re not even always sure you’re in a crime/thriller novel until she drives you off a cliff (figuratively).

Siblings: No one likes each other nor have even spoken in years. add in spouses and a clause in the will that nixes the inheritance if anyone is jailed, deviates from the plan, or doesn’t finish the trip: what can possibly go wrong?

(TW past partner abuse discussed discussions of molestation, not detailed or graphic)

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at Audiobooks.com with a free trial!

From The Book Riot Crime Vault

8 Page-Turning Gritty Thrillers

Browse all the books recommended in Unusual Suspects previous newsletters on this shelf. See upcoming 2022 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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