Unusual Suspects

A Little Q&A with Tana French!

Hello mystery fans! I just binged Netflix’s new show On My Block and it had a mystery/adventure story running through which I had not expected but loved, so if you’re looking for a new show to binge it totally worked for me–until I finished and now I don’t know what to watch. So, more reading!

Sponsored by Flatiron Books

When five colleagues are forced to go on a corporate retreat in the wilderness, they reluctantly pick up their backpacks and start walking down the muddy path.

But one of the women doesn’t come out of the woods.

When Your Girlfriend is Murdered and the Government Takes Your Passport… (TW: rape/ transphobia & homophobia)

cover image: a large orange wall with pots and pans hanging and a small stove and oven and square kitchen tableDeath Comes in Through the Kitchen by Teresa Dovalpage: Matt is a writer/editor for a Spanish and English paper in San Diego who falls in love with Yarmilla, a food blogger living in Cuba. In 2003 he travels to Havana to propose to Yarmilla, but instead discovers her dead in her apartment. And that’s only the beginning of his problems since the Cuban government takes his passport, believes him to be an American spy, and he soon starts to realize he may not have know Yarmilla at all. Yarmilla’s coworkers take Matt in as the police and a Santero PI work on solving the case and we get to know Yarmilla through her published food blog posts. A satisfying mystery with multiple viewpoints, twists, and politics.

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

cover image: novel title in block and graphics that create tree branches growing out of the lettersIf you follow along with Book Riot posts/podcasts you probably already know French is a favorite amongst Rioters. It’s hard not to be: her Dublin Murder Squad series is amazing. There are six books so far that follow a new lead working in the Murder Squad, and while there’s a connection because of the Squad each novel also works perfectly as a standalone. The characters, the settings, the cases, the writing–it’s just all perfectly on point. It’s a must-read series for fans of procedurals as you’ll feel like you’re in the day-to-day operations of solving a case. Plus, I imagine every year that French has released a novel it’s been on that year’s Best of Lists. If you haven’t had the pleasure of reading her mysteries, I highly recommend you add them to the top of your reading pile, and you’re in luck because they’re equally fantastic in print and in audio and are all out in paperback. Okay, I’m done fangirling–for now.

Here’s Tana French:

What would you like to see more/less of in the mystery genre? I’d love more mysteries that are deeply rooted in a sense of place – stuff like Dennis Lehane’s stunning Mystic River. The greatest mysteries aren’t just whodunits; they use the mystery as a window into something bigger, an access point to a whole world. I’d also love more historical mysteries with a really strong sense of the time. Plantagenet/Tudor England, if I get to pick.

The last book you read that you loved? The Dry, by Jane Harper. Like I said, I like mysteries with a strong sense of place, and in this book the drought-ravaged Australian landscape is one of the most powerful characters.

Which non-mystery author would you love to see write a mystery? Louise Erdrich. She’s leaned towards mystery before, but I’d love to read what she’d do if she moved even further in that direction. That wonderful writing, that intense awareness of the intricate ways in which multiple lives and multiple stories interconnect, that sense of secrets waiting to be understood, just out of reach… They’d add up to an incredible mystery book.

Thank you Tana! I love a novel rooted in a place, especially when it feels as important as a main character.

Psychological Thriller (TW: suicide/ rape/ cutting/ eating disorder)

cover image: a white woman sinking under dark waterThey All Fall Down by Tammy Cohen: I am always cautious when I go into mysteries/thrillers set in mental health centers because this genre usually doesn’t help with the already dangerous stigma people with mental illnesses face, but I was happy to find that this one felt to have been written with great care. Told in alternating point of view between Hannah (a patient), Corrine (Hannah’s mother), and Laura (an art therapist) there are multiple mysteries: Why is Hannah in this facility? Why does she believe two residents suicides were not suicides? Hannah is already struggling with getting her health back on tract in order to go back home to her husband but now she’s wrestling with whether her gut is right or her mind is giving her misinformation. While I felt there was one too many coincidences (just a personal reading taste) it was a page-turner I inhaled, and I really liked the relationships in it.

Kindle Deals:

cover image: afridan woman's face with yellow graphic lines cut through and the title letters with tire marksWaking Lions by Ayelet Gundar-Goshen, Sondra Silverston (Translator) is $3.99 (On my TBR, sounds like a great literary mystery.)

Dead Letters by Caite Dolan-Leach is $1.99 (Think a fractured family is forced to reunite literary novel that is held together by a mystery and sprinkled with suspense. Full review)

Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson is $1.99 (Modern Mystery Nodding at the Old School Mysteries. Full review)

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.