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Hello mystery fans! I have two mysteries for you that are a mashup of two genres: one with a coming-of-age novel and the other with a romance.
When You Look Like Us by Pamela N. Harris
A fantastic coming-of-age meets a missing person mystery. Jay Murphy is a junior in high school who has just started dating the girl he’s had a forever-crush on. He’s also saving as much money as he can (writing papers for wealthy students and working at Taco Bell) in order to retire his grandmother, Mimi, who has raised him and his sister Nicole. Jay is so sweet that, because his father died before he could live out his dream of retiring to Florida, he doesn’t want Mimi to miss out on that luxury, especially after raising him and his sister, so he’s just working to raise money to surprise her with a retirement.
But his life gets derailed when his sister Nic, who is dating the neighborhood drug dealer they are warned to stay away from, calls him high one night while out with her boyfriend. Annoyed, he doesn’t pay her much attention and then ignores her next phone call. When she doesn’t come home he assumes she’s doing one of her temporary disappearing acts, so he lies to Mimi and covers for Nic. But days pass and Nic doesn’t even reach out to Jay, which never happens, and he finally realizes it’s more likely she’s missing than hiding. This sets him, and an unlikely friend, in search of answers since Jay feels the police aren’t helping and Mimi’s blood pressure is too high.
There are books that require time to get to know a character and place, but this is one of those works where, from page one, you get a great sense of Jay and his life. He’s funny without trying to be funny, thoughtful, introspective, and trying to find his way in life after grieving two parents’ deaths. He’s fiercely loyal to his sister and grandmother, and I love that as real as this book is about the hardships of life, there is also very much hope.
If you listen to audiobooks, the audiobook is a must: Preston Butler III is an excellent narrator, and I will for sure pick up books just for his narration–I better see this submitted for the 2021 Audie Awards. And if this wasn’t Pamela N. Harris’s debut, I would be getting her entire backlist right now. I’ll just have to immediately get anything she puts out in the future.
(TW past parent cancer death mentioned, not detailed/ briefly mentions past sexual assault, no details)
A Lady’s Guide to Mischief and Mayhem (A Lady’s Guide #1) by Manda Collins
There are times when the right book comes into your life at the right time, and this book was that for me during the scary things happening in 2021. This was my temporary escape. It’s a cozy historical mystery smashed with a romance novel.
In 1865 there is a serial killer in London killing both men and women and branding them with Bible sins. Lady Katherine Bascomb, who owns a newspaper after her husband’s death, decides to start writing about the murders in order to help keep women informed and safe. Problem is, her first article gets the murders pinned on an innocent man, and now Detective Inspector Andrew Eversham is dealing with the consequences of her article and trying to undo the damage. While they do start off “hating” each other because they don’t understand the other’s point of view, it isn’t an enemies to lovers trope since it doesn’t really last long before they’re actually working together, and you can predict what is coming.
While this is very much a historical romance where the two main women buck at society–owning a newspaper, having affairs–it also isn’t the full “do as they please”, and they are very much aware of consequences. It’s also part of the story that Katherine is a do-as-she-likes woman because of how awful her husband and marriage was, and now, as a widow, she has found a kind of freedom she realizes would never have existed in marriage or under her parents’ roof.
If you want to watch a detective and widow try to uncover a serial killer while falling in love with each other, here’s a little escape from the world.
(TW briefly mentions past assumed suicide article, brief detail/ past case of domestic abuse, not on page but aftermath briefly detailed)
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