Unusual Suspects

Terrifying and Heartbreaking Search for a Serial Killer & More Mysteries!

Hi fellow mystery fans! I’m overfloweth with words so I’m just diving in this week–hope you’re well and well-read!

Terrifying and Heartbreaking Search for a Serial Killer that has Gone Far Too Long Without Capture (TW: rape)

cover image: a very dark black and white image of a house with shrubs in frontI’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara, Gillian Flynn (Forward), Patton Oswalt (Afterword): This book is the hard work and research born from McNamara’s obsession with discovering who the Golden State Killer was–originally known as the East Area Rapist who preyed in California during the ’70s and ’80s. If you digest a lot of true crime you know that the eye behind it is important because it’s the difference between a gross obsession with the perpetrator/violent acts and shows little or no regard for the victim(s), or a careful look into social behavior that understands there are victims and families destroyed by this person. McNamara wasn’t obsessed with him, or his crimes, but rather her obsession was with refusing to allow him to get away with his horrific crimes–she explains in the book how an unsolved murder from her childhood created her need to seek justice when it came to unsolved cases.

Sponsored by Mister Tender’s Girl by Carter Wilson

Alice Hill was only fourteen when she was viciously stabbed by two of her classmates and left to die. Her friends told authorities that Alice was supposed to be a sacrifice for a man called Mister Tender – but that’s insane. Mister Tender isn’t even real. He’s just a sinister character in a series of popular graphic novels. Isn’t he?

Over a decade later, Alice is trying to move on. But someone is watching her. They know more about Alice than any stranger could: her scars, her fears, and the secrets she keeps locked away. She can try to escape her past, but the threat of Mister Tender is never far behind.

Inspired by the Slender Man crime, this gripping thriller plunges you into a world of haunting memories and unseen threats, leaving you guessing until the harrowing end.

Sadly, McNamara passed away while working on this book. The majority of the book is written by her, some chapters start with a note that it’s been pieced together from her notes or previously published articles of hers, and then it ends with Billy Jensen and Paul Haynes (also working on solving this case) finishing the book by analyzing all the information, research, and notes McNamara had been working on. The afterword is written by her widower Patton Oswalt, so yeah have the tissues ready.

The book is excellent, but my favorite part is McNamara’s memoir chapter. She talks about her childhood and relationship with her mom, and it shows that not only was she a great crime journalist but she was also a gifted writer. Her honesty and her beautiful ability to analyze herself and the past, seeing the things we all miss when we’re in the present, has stuck with me the most out of everything in this book. (The audiobook is narrated by Gabra Zackman with a calm, smooth voice and Oswalt and Flynn narrate their own parts.)

A Little Q&A: Rachel Howzell Hall (I give authors I’m excited about six questions and let them answer any three they’d like.)

Land of Shadows cover image: sunrise LA city image blended into a dark street image with a silhouette of a person walkingI love a good detective series with a character that I know I’m going to want to follow for a long time, and that’s how I immediately felt about Elouise “Lou” Norton, a homicide detective in L.A. While Lou carries the disappearance of her sister with her, her current marital problems, and a new partner, nothing keeps her from solving her cases. Lou is a perfectly snarky, awesome woman who is one of my favorite detectives. If you’ve yet to discover this series start with Land of Shadows and read on!

And here’s Rachel Howzell Hall:

What would you like to see more/less of in the mystery genre? I want to see more women of color writing noir and crime. We have so many interesting, tragic, insightful stories. This comes from our weird place in America–to be black and female in this world today… There are so many mysteries with plenty of great characters, some of them that tell our story when we should be the ones doing that. And to go further, I want to see more writers getting attention than the one writer that is deemed to represent us and our experiences.

If you were to blurb your most recent/upcoming book (à la James Patterson): City of Saviors takes everything you love about LAPD Homicide Detective Lou Norton, then throws in cats, hording, peach cobbler, church and addiction, just in case you weren’t convinced that this story is unlike any other you’ve read.

Which non-mystery author would you love to see write a mystery? OMG, if Jon Krakauer wrote a mystery, I’d read it three times just like I read Into Thin Air. His writing leaves me breathless, anxious of ‘what’s gonna happen next cuz something is gonna happen next cuz that’s what he does.’ His stories are plotted and beautiful and tragic, and using his powers of storytelling for fiction would be some next-level s@*!

Thanks Rachel!

Over on Book Riot:

Book Riot is giving away $500 worth of Penguin clothbound books to 1 lucky–luckiest ever!–winner on Instagram.

Mysteries written by LGBTQ+ authors and People of Color

10 YA thrillers for fans of One of Us is Lying

8 Thrillers About Family

10 Suspense Novels

Recent Releases:

cover image: zoomes into womans face mostly covered by hair all tinted in redDead Joker by Anne Holt (Paperback) (Dark series starring a Lesbian Norwegian Detective.)

Don’t Let Go by Harlan Coben (Paperback) (review)

The Last Night at Tremore Beach by Mikel Santiago, Carlos Frías (translator) (Paperback) (On my TBR)

The French Girl by Lexie Elliott (Girl who disappeared is now found dead, someone in a group of friends must have done it.) (TW: suicide) (I inhaled the audiobook in one day.)

Waking Lions by Ayelet Gundar-Goshen, Sondra Silverston (Translator) (On my TBR, sounds like literary crime.)

Curses, Boiled Again! (A Lobster Shack Mystery #1) by Shari Randall (currently reading: cozy mystery where a judge may have been murdered during a food festival.)

Kindle Deals:

A Map of the Dark cover image: dark image of forest trees with title text in centerA Map of the Dark by Karen Ellis is $4.99 (review) (TW: cutting/ child abuse)

You Will Know Me by Megan Abbot is $2.99 (review)

Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner is $1.99 (character focused procedural)

Meddling and Murder (Singaporean Mystery #4) by Ovidia Yu is .99 cents (restaurant owning amateur sleuth)

Browse all the books recommended in Unusual Suspects previous newsletters on this shelf. And here’s an Unusual Suspects Pinterest board.

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