Unusual Suspects

Sarcasm, Cynicism, and A Unique PI Novel

Hello mystery fans! I have a literary mystery that explores the fallout of a crime, a P.I. in New Orleans, and an equally hilarious and emotional true crime memoir.

Sponsored by ad lets you purchase audiobooks directly from your favorite local bookstore. You can pick from more than 100,000 audiobooks, including New York Times best sellers and recommendations from booksellers around the country. With you’ll get the same audiobooks, at the same price as the largest audiobook company out there (you know the name), but you’ll be part of a much different story, one that supports community. In June, is launching their Kids Club and YA Club, which will offer select audiobooks priced under $10 each month, as well as their Summer Listening Challenge–each person to finish will get free audiobook credit and the chance to win free audiobooks for a year! Sign up here to get three audiobooks for the price of one.

Literary Mystery (TW addiction/ PTSD)

The Other Americans cover imageThe Other Americans by Laila Lalami: This one works really well on a few levels: it’s great for fans of literary works, murder mysteries, multiple points of view, love stories, and explorations of the effects of a crime on a family and community. Driss Guerraoui is killed in a hit-and-run and we follow as his adult daughter, Nora, and wife, Maryam, cope with the grief, waiting for the case to be solved, and remembering the relationship they had with him. We also follow the life of Efraín, a witness to the hit-and-run, whose wife wants him to come forward but refuses because he is undocumented. There’s also the detective working on the case and a fellow officer, who is not directly on the case, but grew up with Nora. The audiobook had multiple narrators, which really worked well, and I enjoyed getting to know all the characters so even if it hadn’t solved the mystery–it does, you get the full solve and explanation–I still would have really enjoyed this one as a look at the effects of a crime.

New Orleans P.I. (TW mentions suicide/ pedophile)

Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead cover imageClaire DeWitt and the City of the Dead (Claire DeWitt Mysteries #1) by Sara Gran: It just so happened that I read this one right after reading Kate Atkinson’s start to her Jackson Brodie series, Case Histories, and I realized that fans of each would like the other if they enjoy the sarcasm, cynicism, and unique entry into the P.I. world of novels. In Sara Gran’s novel, though, it is much less a character study of various characters, and more just of Claire DeWitt as she focuses on solving her current case–and regales us with bits of her childhood, how she came to be a P.I., her mentor, and the lessons she learned from French detective Jacques Silette’s Détection handbook. We follow her in hurricane-destroyed New Orleans as she’s hired to find a missing District Attorney. Thanks to DeWitt’s sarcasm, drug using with potential suspects, quirky stories, and the overall meditation on the P.I. genre, this managed to make itself a fun read even though it’s in part a bleak novel.

True Crime Memoir (TW rape/ eating disorder/ addiction/ suicide)

stay sexy and don't get murdered cover imageStay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered: The Definitive How-To Guide by Karen Kilgariff, Georgia Hardstark: Two things to know about this book: First, you don’t have to know anything about the podcast before reading this book; Second, if you’re an audiobook listener go with the audiobook! Not only because, being narrated by the authors, you get their personality but they got Paul Giamatti to narrate bits! And there are a few sections recorded in front of an audience and it really gives you a feel for their fan base. Okay, now on to the book: Kilgariff and Hardstark started the now very popular true crime podcast My Favorite Murder. This book talks about how they met and came to create the podcast, what they’ve learned so far from the podcast, their childhoods, the true crime genre, and very personal stories about addiction, mental illness, being in danger of a predator, victim blaming, and specific true crime cases. The women are equally funny and frank and I personally really related, having grown up in the ’80s with the popularity of true crime shows like Unsolved Mysteries during a time when kids played unsupervised outside with instructions to come inside when the sun set. It’s interesting to see the fine line they walk between being obsessed with true crime and the reasons why, and true crime being used as entertainment.

Recent Releases

The Betel Nut Tree Mystery cover imageThe Betel Nut Tree Mystery (Crown Colony #2) by Ovidia Yu (Great historical mystery series set in 1930s Singapore.)

The Last House Guest by Megan Miranda (I’ve liked all of Miranda’s mysteries so I’m looking forward to this murder mystery set in a vacation spot that pits locals vs tourists.)

The Poison Thread by Laura Purcell (TBR: A Victorian Gothic mystery.)

Conviction cover imageConviction by Denise Mina (Currently reading: A true crime obsessed woman realizes she once knew the victim accused in a podcast and decides to do her own sleuthing. I’m halfway through and really enjoying this one.)

The Cutting Room (Carver and Lake #2) by Ashley Dyer (British serial killer police procedural–curious to read this series.)

The Labyrinth of the Spirits (The Cemetery Of Forgotten Books #4) by Carlos Ruiz Zafón (Paperback) (Historical mystery)

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.

If a mystery fan forwarded this newsletter to you and you’d like your very own you can sign up here.