Unusual Suspects

Bananapants, I Tell You!

Hello mystery fans! This week I have for you 5-star YA, bananapants nonviolent true crime, and a suspense novel. Plus, a whole bunch of recent releases.

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John Wick cover imageWhen a young John Wick embarks upon an epic vendetta, he comes up against a strange, powerful community of assassins and must learn how to master the rules that guide their lethal business. What are the Three Bills? Who is Calamity? And why is John Wick seeking vengeance?

Let Me Hear a Rhyme cover imageLet Me Hear a Rhyme by Tiffany D. Jackson: All of Jackson’s novels have been different from each other, while all still being very much written by her, which I love. This one doesn’t neatly fall into one genre (also a thing I love), but the true brilliance of this novel is how Jackson is able to transport you to a very specific music scene, time, and place in the ’90s. In Brooklyn, 1998, Steph has been murdered in the street with no known cause or assailant. His grieving sister, Jasmine, and two best friends, Quadir and Jarrell, hatch a plan to pretend Steph is still alive and get him the record contract he deserved for his musical talents. Jasmine plans to use the money to hire a P.I., since her mother won’t let her, but they’re immediately in over their heads–not to mention about to have to reckon with their actions. I loved the characters–even a side character had an amazing scene showing off Jackson’s talent for seeing the depths of people and putting it on the page–and watching their journey through grief and discovering you don’t always know everything about everyone, as they carve a spot for themselves in a difficult world. And even though they don’t spend the book Nancy Drew-ing, the mystery runs throughout and unfolds at the end. Jackson continues to be an author whose work I’ll read sight unseen.

Nonviolent True Crime

Billion Dollar Whale cover imageBillion Dollar Whale: The Man Who Fooled Wall Street, Hollywood, and the World by Tom Wright, Bradley Hope: This was another really good nonviolent true crime that was bananapants, except this one could have just been titled Obscene Amounts Of Money. The book lays out how Jho Low conned his way into a multi-BILLION dollar financial heist over years, continents, while using A-List celebrities, shell companies, and Wall Street. The dude was stealing billions and managed to fund the movie The Wolf of Wall Street, which is a true story about another dude who defrauded investors. Bananapants, I tell you! There’s a lot of behind-the-scenes Hollywood partying stuff–glares at Leonardo DiCaprio who keeps showing up in all the nonviolent true crime books I read–but there’s a very serious look at how financial institutions and wealthy people in power are willing to overlook what is every single red flag so long as they will profit directly or by standing closely to the power/money source. I switched from print to audiobook on this one and parts ended up feeling like one of those True Hollywood Story documentaries–I had literally forgotten about Paris Hilton.

Psychological Suspense (TW stalking/ animal cruelty/ infertility)

Looker cover imageLooker by Laura Sims: This is a slow-burn psychological suspense that feels like a character study of a woman unraveling. The narrator remains unnamed as we watch her grappling with a recent separation and infertility, which gets projected onto a neighbor, who we only come to know as the actress. A famous actress, with seemingly the perfect life, who lives only a few doors down from the narrator…The exploration of a woman’s grief, anger, obsession, and unraveling in this compact novel really worked for me–this is not the unlikable woman for entertainment’s sake. I think the audiobook also really helped place me in the character’s mind and world.

Recent Releases

The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins cover imageThe Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins (Currently reading: really good, different from the rest historical mystery.)

Necessary People by Anna Pitoniak (Frenemies suspense I really liked.)

Cari Mora by Thomas Harris (New novel from the creator of Hannibal Lecter.)

The Summer of Ellen by Agnete Friis, Sinead Quirke Kongerskov (Translator) (Scandinavian mystery)

The Queen by Josh Levin cover imageThe Queen: The Forgotten Life Behind an American Myth by Josh Levin (Currently reading: True crime)

White Peak by Ronan Frost (Thriller)

The Favorite Daughter by Kaira Rouda (Thriller)

The Island (Hidden Iceland #2) by Ragnar Jónasson (Scandinavian procedural)

Sweet Little Lies (Cat Kinsella #1) by Caz Frear (Paperback) (British procedural about a police officer who thinks her father may be connected to a case.) (TW suicide)

What You Want To see cover imageWhat You Want To See (Roxane Weary #2) by Kristen Lepionka (Paperback) (Super good P.I. series–Full review)

The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton (Paperback) (Historical mystery)

Find You in the Dark by Nathan Ripley (Paperback) (Serial killer)

Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter (Paperback) (Edge Of Your Seat Thriller!–Full review) (TW suicide/ child abuse/ child rape / domestic violence)

Death Notice cover imageDeath Notice by Zhou Haohui, Zac Haluza (Translator) (Paperback) (Great cat and mouse thriller–Full review) (TW suicide/ rape)

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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