Unusual Suspects

30 of the Best YA Mystery Books of All Time

Hi mystery fans! Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur is now streaming on Disney+ and I am so excited. Now let’s talk books.

Bookish Goods

an enamel pin of a bookshelf with colorful books and a ladder

Rainbow Bookshelf Sliding enamel pin by BookaholicStore

For those who dream of owning a library with a sliding ladder. ($12)

New Releases

cover image for My Flawless Life

My Flawless Life by Yvonne Woon

For fans of elite private schools and “fixers”! Hana Yang Lerner goes to an elite school in Washington, D.C. where she’s basically the school fixer — students hire her for whatever mess they need resolved, or disappeared. Her only problem is that her father, a senator, is in a car accident that almost kills a woman and has him arrested. It leads to Hana losing her friends, standing, and reputation and her fixer skills are no match for the situation. It’s why she takes a job from an anonymous person with the job of following her ex-best friend. What could wrong?!

cover image for Death of a Dancing Queen

Death of a Dancing Queen by Kimberly G. Giarratano

For fans of PIs, family drama, and decades old unsolved murder cases. Billie Levine lives in New Jersey with her mom, brother, and now grandfather who is a retired cop/PI, that moved to Florida but has returned since Billie’s mom has been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s. Her mom’s condition is why Billie has decided to take over her grandfather’s private PI firm — it’ll hopefully pay some bills and have flexible hours so her mom isn’t left alone at home. But what she thinks is a simple case — a boyfriend looking for his girlfriend — ends up getting very complicated quickly. The missing girl had a true crime podcast, and she was focused on an unsolved murdered woman case that Billie’s grandfather has files on, and connects to the Jewish mob Billie knows. And Billie is having to reckon with her own past — an ex connected to the Jewish mob — and her emotional state is thinking that she will inherit her mom’s diagnosis.

(TW addiction/ mom with early onset Alzheimer’s / mentions assumption of partner abuse/ alludes to past attempted sexual assault, no details/ alcoholism/ transphobia, transgender reveal used as a “twist”/ antisemitism)

For a more comprehensive list, check out our New Books newsletter.

Riot Recommendations

In a little behind-the-curtain moment for this newsletter I keep an Excel-style file by years (since I started) broken down monthly with the releases. And since I accidentally hit the 2020 tab I figured why not look at which books came out this week in that year.

cover image for Untamed Shore paperback

Untamed Shore by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

If you’re looking to get away from the winter cold, want a slow-burn suspense, and like recent historical (1979). Set in Baja California on a beach littered with dead sharks, we meet 18-year-old Viridiana. She wants to get the hell out of this town and has no plans on marrying the guy she just broke up with, no matter how hard her mom tries to make it happen. So she’s all in to move into a rental home with a wealthy tourist couple to be the assistant to the husband. But one of them may not make it out alive…

(TW domestic abuse/past suicide mentioned, detail)

cover image for Foul is Fair

Foul Is Fair by Hannah Capin

For revenge fans and anyone who hears the “Lady Macbeth meets Heathers” war cry and thinks, “yes, please!” Elle is assaulted on her birthday at a boy’s prep school party. She tells her parents, friends, and transfers schools. She now goes to the school where every boy who assaulted her goes. And that’s how she begins her revenge, with the help of her coven — popular girlfriends — in order to enact her plan to kill the boys one by one…

(TW Capin gives detailed notes here.)

News and Roundups

The Violin Conspiracy cover image

How a real-life stolen violin inspired Brendan Slocumb’s bestselling mystery

Simon & Schuster is Up for Sale Again

Penn Badgley Goes Deeper on Swearing Off Racy ‘You’ Sex Scenes: ‘That Aspect of Hollywood Has Been Very Disturbing’

Revisiting the True Crime Case That Inspired Edgar Allan Poe

Three Trans Crime Writers Talk Thrills and Challenges of Writing in the Genre

Viral TikTok boosts father’s thriller book to bestseller Offering Free Black History Audiobooks This Week

30 of the Best YA Mystery Books of All Time

Browse all the books recommended in Unusual Suspects previous newsletters on this shelf. See upcoming 2023 releases. Check out this Unusual Suspects Pinterest board and get Tailored Book Recommendations!

Until next time, keep investigating! In the meantime, come talk books with me on Spoutible, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, and Litsy — you can find me under Jamie Canavés.

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