Unusual Suspects

Modern Agatha Christie Remake 🔪

Hello mystery fans! This week I have for you a great modern And Then There Were None, a fun dark domestic thriller, and a really good crime novel about secrets and survival.

Sponsored by The Center of the Universe by Ria Voros from KCP Loft

The Center of the Universe cover imageGrace Carter’s mother — the celebrity news anchor GG Carter — is everything Grace is not. GG is a star with a following of thousands, while Grace — an aspiring astrophysicist — is into stars of another kind. Then one day GG disappears. News shows speculate about what might have happened and Grace’s family struggles as they wait for answers. While the authorities unravel the mystery behind GG’s disappearance, Grace grows closer to her high school’s golden boy, Mylo. She also uncovers some secrets from her mother’s long-lost past. The more Grace learns, the more she wonders. Did she ever really know her mother?

Great Modern And Then There Were None! (TW suicide/ eating disorder/ anxiety attacks)

They All Fall Down by Rachel Howzell Hall cover imageThey All Fall Down by Rachel Howzell Hall (April 9): I went into this with high expectations because I love Hall’s detective series and “remakes” of And Then There Were None (strangers suddenly deserted together and one by one they start to be murdered). Hall totally delivered! I don’t want to say much on plot, because the not knowing is a fun element of these stories, so I’m going to focus on why this really worked for me. I loved Miriam Macy–who accepts a trip to a Mexican island in hopes of winning a reality show and getting her life back in order–as the point of view because she clearly has baggage but is a fighter. And Hall used a lot of clever crime genre elements that all blended really well together: a main character known to lie who has anxiety and doubts what she sees; everyone has a motive so the killer can be anyone; they’re all stuck together because of a storm so they’re forced to solve the mystery or fight; the challenge of who we are as people when we’re forced to face our worse self; everyone’s got a secret they’re hiding; the boiled frog fable–you’re in danger and you didn’t even realize it until it’s too late! Hall is also brilliant in how she modernized this tale while staring the problematic aspects of the genre dead in the eyes. I’ll read anything she writes.

Fun Domestic Thriller! (TW suicide)

My Lovely Wife cover imageMy Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing: For me, this one did a really good balance of being bonkers enough to be fun, while also not going too off the rails where I think it’s too ridiculous to care–the details of the family dynamics worked really well. This starts with the husband out in a bar trying to get laid and, immediately, you have a few WTF moments which perfectly situate you for the ride you’re about to go on. Because why is this seemingly ordinary couple with two teenage kids straight up hunting women to murder? I told you it’s banana pants! But it also balances it so well with the day-to-day child care and marital issues that it gave the novel a good depth. I went with the audiobook and was pleasantly surprised that being in the husband’s head all the time didn’t make me want to murder dudes. If you’re looking for a dark-ish murder thriller that reads like fun–yes, you can judge me–pick this one up!

Really Good Crime Novel! (TW domestic and child abuse/ rape/ suicide)

The Night Visitors cover imageThe Night Visitors by Carol Goodman: This was a great crime novel where no one is who they seem, but why and how will that change the course of their lives? Alice and ten-year-old Oren have escaped an abusive home and need to hide. Mattie is a social worker living in the middle of the woods who takes them in. But both women clearly have secrets, and while they can spot the deception in the other both assume it’s just for survival reasons. Add a storm, tempers flaring, and secrets rising and you’ve got a volatile mixture destined for explosions. If you like crime novels, slow-burn suspense, and character driven reads, this was really good. I especially enjoyed the audio narrated by Jane Oppenheimer.

Recent Releases

The Killer in Me cover imageThe Killer in Me (Frankie Sheehan #2) by Olivia Kiernan (Really enjoying this dark Irish procedural series–bonus: audiobook has an Irish narrator.) (TW suicide/ animal cruelty/ domestic abuse)

Bluff by Jane Stanton Hitchcock

The Loch Ness Papers (Scottish Bookshop Mystery #4) by Paige Shelton

The Execution of Justice by Friedrich Duerrenmatt, John E. Woods (Translator)

The Poison Bed cover imageThe Poison Bed by Elizabeth Fremantle

An Artless Demise (Lady Darby Mystery #7) by Anna Lee Huber

Black and Blue (Doug Brock #3) by David Rosenfelt

Treason (Trident Deception #5) by Rick Campbell

Who Slays the Wicked (Sebastian St. Cyr #14) by C.S. Harris

Nancy Drew: The Palace Of Wisdom by by Kelly Thompson, Jenn St. Onge

And in case you missed it last week, and are looking for picture books, we have a new podcast, Kidlit These Days, hosted by New York Times bestselling author Karina Glaser and children’s librarian Matthew Winner.

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 Canavés.

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