Unusual Suspects

Crime Fiction and Social Justice recommended by Karin Slaughter

Hello mystery fans! I had been highly anticipating Polite Society so I was thrilled to see it streaming on Peacock. It’s fun, funny, clever, has great action scenes, and is just an overall reminder of how many great creative people there are.

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Bookish Goods

book mark with DW Read from Arthur cartoon holding a library card saying "now I know what power feels like"

DW True Power Bookmark by BloominLoonCo

If you’re looking for a new bookmark this one has all the nostalgia if you grew up watching Arthur. ($3)

New Releases

cover image for Invisible Son

Invisible Son by Kim Johnson

For fans of YA mysteries, social justice, contemporary stories of trying to get your life on track, and When You Look Like Us.

This is one of my favorite reads this year and I absolutely judged this cover because I loved it so much – it’s why I pressed play on the audiobook, knowing nothing about the book.

Andre Jackson has just been released from juvie but the life he was excited to get back to is no longer the same: the public has just learned about Covid-19; he has an ankle monitor, restrictions on his release, and six months of probation; there are protests against police brutality, and his friend is the reason he was in jail and now he is missing.

Andre is a sweet kid close to his family – his mom is a nurse, his dad owns a bookstore, he lives with his grandparents – and now finds himself needing to navigate a few things, including the pandemic and the reality of the danger vs. what is being said; his crush on his best friend’s sister; figuring out how he got framed with his friend’s backpack of stolen goods; and why his friend has just disappeared with only his sister worried?

The audiobook is narrated by Guy Lockard who has a great voice, and really made me feel like Andre was beside me at all times. Even though I am very much a person who avoids entertainment with pandemic stuff at the moment I loved Andrew so much that I stuck with this book and was glad I did. I’ll definitely be sure to read Kim Johnson’s previous novel, This Is My America, and all future work.

(TW grandparent death/ pandemic/ mentions of teen girl sexually assaulting teen boy, no graphic detail/ child abuse, not on page/ mentions past attempted murder-suicide, detail)

cover image for Lay Your Body Down

Lay Your Body Down by Amy Suiter Clarke

For fans of main characters returning back home to deal with the past, murder mysteries, past told through diary entries, and cults.

Lay Your Body Down keeps readers turning pages to solve the mystery as the danger ramps up into a thriller ending. Del Walker fled her upbringing with a town that worships an Evangelical pastor and while she may not have the best life she at least got out. Until she finds out that her ex-boyfriend, who ended up marrying her best friend, has died in a hunting accident leading her to return to the town. We get to know Del and her past relationships through her diary entries and in the present as she feels something is off with the story of how her ex died. Not only will she force her way into sleuthing but she’ll have to face her difficult childhood, abuse, and finally deal with her ex-best friend, now widow of the man Del loved – the same man who left her a strange voicemail right before his death…

(TW mentions finding a suicide scene, detail/ mentions stories of past physical domestic abuse, not graphic nor on page/ stories of past emotional abuse/ non-consensual sharing of intimate images/ fatphobia recounted/ recounts non-physical sexual assault of teen girl/ women recount abuse stories, not graphic/ brief mention past molester)

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

Riot Recommendations

Depending on if you’re trying to escape the heat or want to be on a summer island – I’ve got a freezing winter escape and an island setting during the summer.

cover of Bad Things Happen Here

Bad Things Happen Here by Rebecca Barrow

For fans of past and present murder mysteries in exclusive places.

Parris is thought of as an exclusive private place for the wealthy, but to believe that you’d have to ignore the unsolved murders. Murders that include Luca Laine Thomas’ best friend three years ago and now her sister.

cover image for North of Boston

North of Boston by Elisabeth Elo

For fans of thrillers with an amateur sleuth looking for freezing temps!

Pirio Kasparov narrowly escapes death after the boat she’s on is hit and she spends hours in freezing water before being rescued. Wanting to know what happened she naturally asks questions but only gets unsatisfactory, at best, answers. Surely she didn’t almost die for nothing? And that’s how she ends up getting sucked deep into an investigation…

I do not remember TWs but there are animal killings.

News and Roundups

Start Reading the Queer Murder Mystery Manslaughter Park

Megan Abbott goes Gothic in Beware the Woman

Oklahoma Teacher Didn’t Violate State Law in Providing Books, But May Lose License Anyway

Crime Writers of Color Podcast: Alessandra Harris, author of Last Place Seen, is interviewed by Robert Justice.

Crime Fiction and Social Justice recommended by Karin Slaughter

The End of “Happy Valley,” an Unusually Intimate Crime Drama

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 Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, and Litsy — you can find me under Jamie Canavés.

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