I am trapped between elation over 2016 finally coming to an end and terror over 2017 beginning. Since I have yet to find a time traveling DeLorean, I have no option but to continue with time as it’s presented. Because of this I’ve decided to do a bit of a different newsletter this time and will be rounding up my favorite mystery-related things of 2016 and talking about upcoming things in 2017 that I am excited for.
We’ll start with Best Of 2016 lists for mystery books!
Or at least that’s what my intention was, BUT my plan crashed and burned like 2016 when I realized people are still putting out lists that would make readers think authors of color don’t even exist. Kirkus Reviews managed to choose 18 mysteries for Best of 2016 and 17 are by white authors. That feels like it takes effort to do. Or, you know, a lot of conscious/unconscious bias. The Wall Street Journal and The Seattle Times apparently met their quota of 1 out of 10, and in what I can only imagine is the worst game ever (where everyone loses) Publishers Weekly and The Washington Post tried to outdo everyone by actually having all-white author lists. I just finished writing about the problem with the Goodreads Choice Awards—spoiler, all white authors—and here we are again.
I know for a fact that there were a lot of great mystery books written by non-white authors this year because I read a bunch and quite a few are on my Best Of list. NPR also put together a great list—although I have to note that as much as I LOVE The Regional Office Is Under Attack! audiobook, I would not categorize it under mystery. I really wanted to use this space to talk about the various lists and books on them but I honestly would be doing readers a disservice if I did because the mystery genre, starting from the top of publishing, needs to have a long hard discussion/thinking about how and why anyone is still publishing lists that only promote white authors as being the best.
2016 mystery/thrillers that may not have crossed your path but should have:
Betty Boo by Claudia Piñeiro, Miranda France (Translation): The novel starts with a murder, but rather than having the urgency of must-solve, it becomes a character driven novel which follows a novelist (semi-retired after her last book bombed), a crime writing journalist (punished and moved off of his crime section), and the new wet-behind-the-ears crime journalist as they try to piece together the murder of a man three years after his wife was murdered. You get a good mystery that it is solved at the end, but what I loved most about this novel were the characters and the exploration of gender roles, youth vs. middle age, gated communities, and the secrets we live with.
The English Teacher by Yiftach Reicher Atir, Philip Simpson (Translator), Charlotte Albanna (Narrator): I really enjoyed the audiobook of this spy novel. It was different from what I’m used to, in that rather than being a fast-paced, heart-pounding thriller, it simmered and took you into former Mossad agent Rachel Goldschmitt’s life, sharing how she became an agent, while giving the details I find spy novels usually skip. While not comparable to the USA Network show Covert Affairs, the audiobook did manage to briefly fill that void I’ve been feeling since the show was canceled. For interesting backstory on the novel: A true Mossad spy story that didn’t really happen.
Want to see the gigantic list of submissions for the Edgar® Award? Here you go!
2016 mystery/thrillers I didn’t get to that are rolling over like cell phone minutes to my 2017 must-read list:
A Study in Scarlet Women (Lady Sherlock #1) by Sherry Thomas
I’m counting down the days for Attica Locke’s crime novels!
I haven’t actually heard any more news—fingers crossed it hasn’t been pushed back to 2018—but I haven’t forgotten the announcement that Attica Locke has two crime novels coming, the first in fall of 2017.
Kate Carlisle’s Fixer-Upper Mystery series sounds like a fun cozy-mystery series.
In case you missed these 2016 articles/posts:
Troy L. Wiggins’ The Unique Crime Fiction Perspectives of Black and Latinx Women
Elle’s 6 Books You Need to Read This December, including mystery.
Bill Morris’ Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine Turns 75
Leaving Netflix and premiere reminder:
Murder, She Wrote will no longer be streaming on Netflix starting January 1st so get your binge on now!
Reminder that Sherlock returns with ‘The Six Thatchers’ on January 1st.
Until next time, keep investigating! And in the meantime feel free to come talk books with me on Litsy, you can find me under Jamie Canaves.