Unusual Suspects

Not-to-be-Missed Mystery Comics

Hi fellow mystery fans! This week I’ve rounded up some great comic volumes that are perfect for mystery fans. If you’re not a comic reader (I highly recommend giving them a try!) and would like to dip your toes into the world of comics but don’t even know where to begin, here’s a glossary of basic terms that Swapna Krishna put together. Also, keep in mind that many bookstores and libraries now carry volumes (usually about 5 single comic issues bounded together) so they’re easier to get your hands on if you don’t have (or are overwhelmed by) a comic book store. There are also digital comics that you can also purchase from many stores or even checkout from many libraries! Anyhoo, these are some recent reads that satisfy both my mystery loving heart and my comic loving heart.

Sponsored by Blackout by Marc Elsberg.

When the lights go out one night, no one panics. Not yet. The lights always come back on soon, don’t they? Surely it’s a glitch, a storm, a malfunction. But something seems strange about this night. Across Europe, controllers watch in disbelief as electrical grids collapse. There is no power, anywhere.

A former hacker and activist, Piero Manzano investigates a possible cause of the disaster. The authorities don’t believe him, and he soon becomes a prime suspect himself. With the United States now also at risk, Piero goes on the run, desperate to uncover who is behind the attacks. After all, the power doesn’t just keep the lights on—it keeps us alive.

For Nancy Drew fans!

Goldie Vance Vol 1 by Hope Larson, Brittney Williams, Sarah Stern: Goldie’s dad manages a Florida resort, and at sixteen Goldie is determined to one day become the in-house detective for the hotel–she’s currently technically the valet but really can’t help meddling and solving cases for the real in-house detective. While I’m not sure I’d want to stay at a hotel that needs a detective on the payroll, I love everything about this comic, from Goldie’s mom working as a live mermaid (I so miss Pushing Daisies) to Goldie drag racing! I especially love the retro feel to it.

For procedural fans!

The Beauty Vol 1 by Jeremy Haun, Jason A. Hurley, John Rauch: This starts with a really interesting concept: what if there was an STD that would make you our society’s “ideal” beautiful? In other words, becoming beautiful is the side effect of this STD. In the graphic novel it seems society is now split between those who’ve intentionally become “infected” in order to be gorgeous  (the majority) and those disgusted by the idea or trying to stop it. There also seems to be this not-so-tiny issue where the beauties seem to just be blowing up. Like, exploding people. So maybe there is more to this STD than just becoming beautiful? That’s what Detectives Foster and Vaughn are trying to figure out. Throw in corrupt politicians and big bad pharma and you’ve got an interesting case!

Unique and clever!

My Favorite Thing is Monsters by Emil Ferris: 10-year-old Karen Reyes is trying to navigate through uptown Chicago during the ’60s without a dad, a mom who’s sick, an artistic brother usually in trouble, and a community of different ethnicities living together. Reyes is clever, intuitive, artistic (this is her graphic diary after all) and obsessed with monsters–so much so, she identifies as one. When an upstairs neighbor is murdered, Reyes puts herself on the case.  Ferris has created a page-turner that takes you into Reyes’ home life, community, and the murder victim’s past while also forcing you to linger on each page to catch every single detail in this wonderfully drawn graphic novel. Each page looks like Reyes sketched out her day, thoughts, memories, and nods to pulp magazines and b-movie horror in her school notebook, and it’s perfect.

I leave you with:

After the hit of Big Little Lies novel and HBO adaptation it’s no surprise there’s more of Liane Moriarty’s work in the adaptation pipeline: Blake Lively will exec produce and star in The Husband’s Secret.

At EW author’s explain how their characters (many detectives) got their names.

At Book Riot Charley Macron recommends 5 True Crime Comics That’ll Keep You Up at Night.

AND in super exciting news for podcast listeners starting June 9th Book Riot will have a mystery/thriller podcast Read or Dead  hosted by fantastic Rioters Rincey Abraham and Katie McLain. You can subscribe now to not miss the first episode and listen to their introduction podcast.

Browse all the books recommended in Unusual Suspects previous newsletters on this shelf.

Until next time, keep investigating! And in the meantime come talk books with me on Twitter and Litsy— you can find me under Jamie Canaves.

Unusual Suspects

Tess Gerritsen Q&A, International Crime Thrillers, & More

Hello again my fellow mystery fans! I say if we can train a cat to ring a bell for food, we can train them to turn our book pages for us!

Sponsored by Not a Sound by Heather Gudenkauf.

When a tragic accident leaves nurse Amelia Winn deaf, she spirals into a depression that ultimately causes her to lose everything that matters—her job, her husband, David, and her stepdaughter, Nora. Now, two years later and with the help of her hearing dog, Stitch, she is finally getting back on her feet. But when she discovers the body of a fellow nurse in the dense bush by the river, deep in the woods near her cabin, she is plunged into a disturbing mystery that could shatter the carefully reconstructed pieces of her life all over again.

Just one more chapter!

Milena, or The Most Beautiful Femur in the World by Jorge Zepeda Patterson, Adrian Nathan West (Translation): A Mexican newspaper owner dies while in the throws of passion, leaving his lover, Milena, with no choice but to go on the run since the men who’d once kept her in sex slavery will now be after her. This has a lot of interesting characters that get involved in finding Milena—starting with a trio of childhood friends, now adults with complicated relationships. And like any good crime novel/thriller, you wonder who amongst the “good guys” actually are good guys? For me, Milena’s character unfolded into a very nice surprise and I loved how the chapters were structured: the group of characters currently working together; how Milena was sold into sex slavery, got to where she currently is, and why people are after her; the characters scheming behind the other character’s backs; the johns. If you’re looking for an international crime thriller, I really enjoyed this one.

A Little Q&A: Tess Gerritsen (I give authors I’m excited about five questions and let them answer any three they’d like.)

Looking for an author with a hefty catalog you can take a deep dive into? Meet Tess Gerritsen! Not only is she the author of the Rizzoli & Isles series but she also has a lot of great stand-alone novels ranging in genre from romantic suspense to medical thrillers–and since Gerritsen is a physician that means readers can count on accuracy! I’m super *excited for I Know A Secret (Ballantine Books, August 15), a new installment in the Rizzoli & Isles series, so I thought a little Q&A was in order. (*Already read it and it’s soooo good!)

Here’s Tess Gerritsen!

What would you like to see less/more of in the mystery genre?  I’d like to see more mysteries set in unusual settings and occupations. For example, I’ve just read a mystery by Danish writer Sara Blaedel about the world of undertakers, and it was both grim and utterly refreshing. I’d also love to read contemporary mysteries set in countries such as Egypt or Turkey, because those cultures are so seldom featured in books available to Americans.

If you were forced to live the rest of your life as one of your characters, who would it be? I feel I already am living the life of one of my characters. Maura Isles is very much modeled after my own personality. We both have scientific backgrounds, we like to think we’re logical, and we tend to seek out the dark side of the story.

The last book you read that you loved? It’s a new suspense novel coming out early next year called THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW by A.J. Finn. Don’t miss it!

Thanks, Tess! *Adds The Woman in The Window to TBR and glares at publishers until they give us mysteries from Turkey and Egypt.

Great read for fans of Who Do You Think You Are? (Genealogy shows):

Murder in Matera: A True Story of Passion, Family, and Forgiveness in Southern Italy by Helene Stapinski: A true crime/memoir that takes you to Italy in the 1800s and modern day as Stapinski tries to unravel a family mystery. Stapinski had grown up hearing a story about her great-great-grandmother Vita that ended with her committing murder and immigrating to the U.S. Stapinski had always worried that somehow this one person in her family had passed down something that created criminals throughout the generations, but she really didn’t know enough about Vita because the story had been told word-of-mouth. So Stapinski sets off to uncover the true story of who her great-great-grandmother really was. Told in parts as memoir as Stapinski travels to Italy to uncover the truth, and in parts as an imagining of Vita’s life (by Stapinski, based on research and how she would have felt), this is a really interesting read from the look at Southern Italy in the 1800s to the truth uncovered about Vita’s life.

Crime fiction for fans of true crime:

The Long Drop by Denise Mina: While this a fictional crime novel, it is based on true events of a serial killer. The narration reminded me almost of a distant historian, which gave it a true crime feeling. Basically, it’s the merging of a novel and true crime, which follows one case from beginning to end in 1950s Glasgow. Peter Manuel is on trial for eight murders, but he’s not confessing. Actually, he’s telling his own stories of how three of the victims, women in William Watt’s family–William being a suspect of murdering his own family–must have been killed. Oddly enough, Watt actually turned to Manuel to help him clear his name, which are the chapters between the trial taking you into a night of drinking, storytelling, and trying to figure out who is actually telling the truth?! As for the title of the novel, well that’s a method of execution…

Recent paperback releases:

Charcoal Joe (Easy Rawlins #14) by Walter Mosley

Lady Cop Makes Trouble (Kopp Sisters #2) by Amy Stewart

A Great Reckoning (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #12) by Louise Penny

Murder Between the Lines (Kitty Weeks Mystery #2) by Radha Vatsal

I have to go shopping now:

Lovely J.B. Fletcher Murder, She Wrote print.

Browse all the books recommended in Unusual Suspects previous newsletters on this shelf.

Until next time, keep investigating! And in the meantime come talk books with me on Twitter and Litsy— you can find me under Jamie Canaves.

Unusual Suspects

Mystery Adaptations to Watch Now

Hello fellow mystery fans! I’m back again with some mystery adaptations currently streaming that are worth your viewing time. Pop some popcorn and enjoy!

Sponsored by Sister Sister by Sue Fortin

From the USA Today bestselling author comes a brand new psychological thriller…
Alice: Beautiful, kind, manipulative, liar.

Clare: Intelligent, loyal, paranoid, jealous.

Clare thinks Alice is a manipulative liar who is trying to steal her life.

Alice thinks Clare is jealous of her long-lost return and place in their family.

One of them is telling the truth. The other is a maniac.

Two sisters. One truth.

Streaming on Netflix:

Detective Byomkesh Bakshy!: Set in 1940s Calcutta during World War II, the film is based on Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay’s detective mysteries, and after enjoying this adaptation I’m going to have to read whatever has been translated to English. The film felt like a mixture of so many things, but rather than feeling like a strange mishmash it ended up blending really well: there’s a vintage movie feel, noir-ish feel, action, drama, a laughing evil genius… While I enjoyed the story and characters (some side characters I actually wanted more of), I really fell in love with the sets and the feeling of the film. Being transported to Calcutta felt like a treat, even if it was set during a war-torn period.

Banerjee asks Byomkesh to please help him find his father, who is missing. They don’t get off to a great start since Byomkesh isn’t really interested, and Banerjee keeps withholding information. Once Byomkesh is on the case, things don’t get easier. There seems to be more mystery surrounding what type of a person Banerjee’s father was, creating even more of a challenge in figuring out where he may be or what might have happened to him. I found myself crushing on the actor playing Byomkesh, loving the sets and clothing, and enjoying the film so much that the things I could point out as not having worked really ended up not weighing down the fun experience for me. And I am so here for the sequel!

Streaming on Hulu:

Elementary: I’m always surprised by the amount of people who perfectly fit this show’s target audience who’ve never watched even a minute of it. I always tell them to watch, that they’ll really enjoy it. They nod. This usually goes on for a year or two before they finally watch and then I find myself getting texts saying how much they like the show and that Lucy Liu and Jonny Lee Miller were perfectly cast. My response is always, “I know!

This Sherlock Holmes modern reimagining really works because it’s a good television show whether you’re a fan of Holmes or never read the classic works and just enjoy procedurals. Holmes is living in Manhattan and his father has forced a sober companion on him: enter Joan Watson, a doctor no longer practicing but instead working to help addicts out of rehab transition back into their lives. This is where the series starts, but not where it stays: Watson and Holmes find themselves (and their careers) changing as they help the police solve cases–as only Holmes can. And Watson. The supporting cast and characters are great, the weekly police mystery along with the longer arc mysteries are always satisfying, and Liu and Miller are fantastic as Watson and Holmes. So not only do I recommend you read Conan Doyle’s Holmes (or listen to it, narrated by Stephen Fry!) if you never have, but also go watch Elementary. You can find the 1st four seasons streaming on Hulu.

I leave you with:

The official trailer for TNT’s The Alienist, adapted from Caleb Carr’s Dr. Laszlo Kreizler series.

It looks like there’s a Clue: The Golden Girls edition coming from USAopoly! (It was Rose, with a St. Olaf story, in the kitchen!)

Sherlock season 4 is now streaming on Netflix.

The real, unsolved murder that inspired Twin Peaks.

Next week’s newsletter has a little Q&A with Tess Gerritsen!!

And now you can find all the books recommended in Unusual Suspects previous newsletters on this shelf.

Until next time, keep investigating! And in the meantime come talk books with me on Twitter and Litsy–you can find me under Jamie Canaves.

Unusual Suspects

How We Treat Violent Women, True Crime Memoirs, and More

Hello again my fellow mystery fans! These high school journalist investigating their principal is the beginning of a great mystery book, so someone get to writing that!

Sponsored by Invisible Dead by Sam Wiebe—a gritty private-eye series from Quercus.

An ex-cop who navigates by a moral compass stubbornly jammed at true north, Dave Wakeland is a talented private investigator with next to zero business sense.

He continues to be drawn to cases that are usually impossible to solve and frequently don’t pay. Whatever ghosts drive him, they seem to drive him inexorably toward danger –a journey he’s content to take so long as it means finding out what happened to someone the rest of the world seems happy enough to forget. With nothing to protect him but his wit and his empathy for the downtrodden and disenfranchised, Wakeland is on the case.

Great crime novel with a casino setting!

Overturned by Lamar Giles: It is an understatement to say that Nikki Tate has a lot on her plate. While her dad sits on death row she’s using everything she’s learned from the family casino to play in illegal games to save up for college, she’s also practically running the family casino, going to school, playing soccer, and trying to figure out what exactly is going on with her mom and a man that is not her father. And then her dad is released from jail, exonerated from killing his best friend. But Nikki’s life doesn’t get easier because her family doesn’t go back to being the family they once were, and her dad isn’t acting the way she remembers him. Then people start to die… Nikki is a great character, with great friends, who is not only determined to live her life on her own terms but to unravel the mystery of her father’s setup and make those responsible pay. I loved the scenes that sat me at the poker tables and that the novel stayed within the realm of possibility, even in the ending.

An interesting article from 2016 that looks into how we treat and view violent women differently from men. It’s left me thinking about how this applies to fictional violent women in mystery/thrillers, and readers–especially now that there’s a rise in books with Amy Dunne-type characters.

In adaptation news:

Phyllis Nagy is adapting The Trap by Melanie Raabe and it seems the film has found its director.

Jo Nesbø’s Blood On Snow will be Tobey Maguire’s first time behind the camera as director.

NOT an adaptation but

For psychological thriller/true crime/serial killer fans: Zac Efron will play Ted Bundy in an upcoming psychological thriller.

Awesome contemporary women + mystery detective mashup!

I’ll Eat When I’m Dead by Barbara Bourland: I passed this cover so many times before realizing the book was a mystery! It’s this perfect blend of the “chick-lit” type women working in fashion (think The Devil Wears Prada–except the women are friends and activists! And there are dead people.) with a mystery detective novel (hot detective!). Hillary Whitney is found dead in a locked room in the magazine’s office, apparently from starvation. Detective Hutton has a weird feeling about this case even after it’s closed, so when a postcard mailed by Whitney appears, he gets to dig in deeper. As he does, so do Whitney’s friends/coworkers Cat and Bess who are funny, smart, determined, a bit of a mess–and also focusing on their careers. The more everyone digs, the more strange things start to happen–including another death… This was like eating a delicious box of sour, sweet, and juicy candy!

A difficult yet unputdownable read:

The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich: And by difficult, I mean this was brutal. Marzano-Lesnevich has written a successful true crime memoir, and I say successful because I’ve read others that were really only memoirs that the writers did terrible jobs with when it came to the case. M-L did this mix of genres properly: while abuse in her childhood made this specific case something she couldn’t let go of, she did not make the other case about herself, nor impose herself on it, nor sensationalize it. The chapters alternate between Marzano-Lesnevich’s childhood and her trying to grasp the things about her family that she was still too young to understand; the true crime case of Ricky Langley and the young boy he murdered; Langley’s childhood and struggles as an adult in and out of therapy for pedophilia; and M-L as an adult trying to find humanity in people and come to terms with her childhood. If child murder/pedophilia are topics you can’t read, skip this one because it does not shy away from details and it’s filled with tragedy. But if you can read about those types of cases, I really recommend this one. It’s an excellent memoir and true crime novel.

Over on Book Riot: Rabeea recommends 5 Psychological Thrillers that Aren’t Formulaic. And Annika Barranti Klein explains why modernizing Nancy Drew doesn’t work.

I have to go shopping now:

Looking for bookmarks? How about an Agatha Christie magnetic bookmark set of Hercule Poirot and Miss Jane Marple.

Until next time, keep investigating! And in the meantime come talk books with me on Twitter and Litsy–you can find me under Jamie Canaves.

Unusual Suspects

“Did He or Didn’t He?” Mysteries and Thrillers

Hello fellow mystery lovers! This week I’ve rounded up books that center around the Did he or didn’t he? mystery–think just the opening mystery of Gone Girl and whether Nick did or didn’t have something to do with his wife’s disappearance…

Today’s newsletter is sponsored by Threads of Suspicion by Dee Henderson.

New from USA Today Bestselling Author Dee Henderson!

With the public eye fixed on the governor’s new Missing Persons Task Force, Detective Evie Blackwell and her new partner, David, are under pressure to produce results. As they investigate two missing-persons cases in Chicago—a student and a private investigator—they try to find patterns in the threads left behind. But when their personal lives get entangled with the cases and time runs short, will their theories still have too many holes?

“Henderson displays her usual keen understanding of the human psyche…These mysteries take unexpected, intriguing turns on their way to a satisfying finale.”—Publishers Weekly

Did he or didn’t he? for fans of Law & Order:

The Ex by Alafair Burke: Jack Harris has just been arrested for the murder of three people, including a person connected to Jack’s wife’s murder. Lucky for Jack his ex-fiance Olivia Randall is a criminal defense lawyer and believes him that he didn’t do this. But could she be right about someone she knew long ago? Could she have not really known him that well when they were together? Is she blinded by her own guilt from a past event and not seeing things clearly? Or is he really innocent?…

Did he or didn’t he? with a vicious bite!

follow me downFollow Me Down by Sherri Smith: Mia Haas is forced to return to her hometown when she’s alerted that her twin brother is missing. While Mia is trying to prove that something awful must have happened to her brother, everyone else is linking his disappearance to the death of one of his students. Mia can’t, and won’t, believe that the brother she’s always known to be the golden boy of the town would have any improper involvement with a student, let alone their murder. The problem is Mia is struggling with an addiction to prescription drugs while trying to lead her own secret investigation and the evidence she’s finding can read both ways to her: as possibly exonerating her brother or the nail in his coffin.

Did he or didn’t he? past & present mystery!

The Dry by Jane Harper: Aaron Falk returns to his hometown for the funeral of Luke, a childhood best friend. Making an already awful return home even worse is that he’d fled the town that turned on him twenty years earlier and his friend is believed to have died by his own hand in a murder-suicide. Now Falk finds himself being urged to look into whether it really was a murder-suicide and he’s forced to face a secret that him and Luke shared so many years before. Will the past make Falk look elsewhere for a killer or lead him to admit that Luke was capable of murdering his family? (Reese Witherspoon optioned the film rights back in 2015 and I’m hoping for another HBO type miniseries.)

AND unrelated to this Did he or didn’t he? theme BUT related to your give-me-more-mysteries desire here are four recent paperback releases:

You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

The Verdict by Nick Stone

The Kingdom by Fuminori Nakamura (Author), Kalau Almony (Translator)


I leave you with:

Over on Book Riot Deepali Agarwal takes a deep dive into the top 100 mystery/thrillers on Goodreads–sadly, none of the results are surprising.

An Author-to-author Interview: Fiction vs. True Crime where Celeste NG (Everything I Never Told You) and Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich (The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir) have a chat.

A real life mystery: Who is buried in H.H. Holmes’ grave? (You may know him as the “White City Devil” or from Erik Larson’s The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America) It turns out there is question about whether this serial killer is buried in his grave…or was someone else hanged and buried in 1896?…

And more news from the Patterson book machine: James Patterson will be partnering with former President Bill Clinton for a thriller novel titled–wait for it… The President is Missing. (<—You can already pre-order.)

Until next time, keep investigating! And in the meantime come talk books with me on Twitter and Litsy— you can find me under Jamie Canaves.


Unusual Suspects

Mystery/Thrillers For Shakespeare Lovers, and More!

Hello fellow mystery fans! Family Councils Ontario has created a reading program for Long-Term Care Homes and if they pick their books wisely this could turn into some awesome mystery party events–just sayin’!

Nevertheless, she persisted!

Murder Between the Lines by (Kitty Weeks Mystery #2) by Radha Vatsal: I adore Capability “Kitty” Weeks and her persistence to live her life as she chooses. While she’s finally gotten the writing job she wants she’s always pushing for more, and to actually be treated as a proper journalist—something believed only men can be in the early 1900s. (Good luck getting Kitty to stand down!) After visiting an all girls school for a writing assignment Kitty finds herself needing to dig deeper into the death of one of the girls since she’s unable to accept the sleepwalking explanation. Set in N.Y. at the beginning of WWII the novel is filled with historical facts and puts Kitty into women’s suffrage events, visits from President Wilson, and even has her looking into Thomas Edison’s battery invention. I’m looking forward to more of this series!

James Patterson plans to write a true crime book about Aaron Hernandez, the former NFL star who took his own life while serving life in prison.

Even though I must solve everything I loved this quote in The New York Times article In Praise of Agatha Christie’s Accidental Sleuths by Radhika Jones: “I never tried to piece together the clues. I vastly preferred to hear it from Hercule Poirot or Jane Marple. Why spend time with such endearing, clever characters if you’re not going to let them do their job?”


Pretty Fierce by Kieran Scott: When I read too many disappointing or problematic books in a row I usually try to pick up a fun book to wash my brain clean and Pretty Fierce delivered! Kai’s parents are contract killers who’ve raised her around the world as they moved from job to job–that is until a job goes very wrong and Kai ends up orphaned and living with strangers. She’s also finally attending high school and has a boyfriend she loves to pieces, which is of course when the past comes back for her. It seems there are people out to kill (?) kidnap (?) clearly cause Kai harm and since she still doesn’t know what her parents last job was nor what happened to them she has to find out who is after her in order to stay safe. And her boyfriend is coming along for the action-packed ride because let’s just say those two haven’t been very honest with each other and they’ve got some stuff to work out while trying to stay alive. I can totally see this being adapted into a CW series starring Aimee Carrero kicking ass.

Emil Ferris’ unique and clever mystery graphic novel My Favorite Thing is Monsters created a four studio bidding battle for the screen rights. Sony won.

For Shakespeare Lovers:

If We Were Villains by M. L. Rio: Ever wanted to solve a murder while being submersed in Shakespeare’s words? Have I got a book for you! Seven students attending Dellecher Classical Conservatory as Shakespeare actors have bonded and created a click as they eat, sleep, breathe Shakespeare–that is until a real life tragedy! The novel starts with Oliver being released from jail and a detective coming to ask if he’ll now finally reveal what really happened ten years ago at the Conservatory. As Oliver finally tells what led to the tragedy, and the roles each student played before and after, you’ll wonder how much is life imitating art and vice versa… This one had a type of ending that I love–but I can’t tell you.

And if you’ve been dying to get your hands on Paula Hawkins’ Into the Water it is now out in the wild! If you’re a must-read-before-the-adaptation reader DreamWorks Pictures is already working on the film so times a ticking.



On Book Riot: Since mystery fans are usually fans of plot twists here are 100 must-read novels with twists!

And Amanda Nelson, Jenn Northington, and Katie McLain did a special mystery/thrillers themed Get Booked podcast!

I have to go shopping now:

If you’ve always wanted a Scooby-Doo Mystery Machine bag dreams do come true!

Until next time, keep investigating! And in the meantime come talk books with me on Twitter and Litsy— you can find me under Jamie Canaves.

Level up your reading life with Book Riot Insiders! We’ve got exclusive content and goodness for subscribers, including a new releases calendar, an Insiders-only forum, and more. Join us! 

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Unusual Suspects

Why the FBI Recruits Mormons, and More Mystery/Thrillers

Hello my fellow mystery fans! Netflix is remaking Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? with Gina Rodriguez as the voice! Exploding emoji heart eyes over here! Maybe we’ll also get a new series of books?! Comic series?! I am here for it all!

Today’s newsletter is sponsored by Saint Death by Marcus Sedgwick.

On the outskirts of Juarez, Arturo scrapes together a living working odd jobs and staying out of sight. But his friend Faustino is in trouble: he’s stolen money from the narcos to smuggle his girlfriend and her baby into the US, and needs Arturo’s help to get it back. To help his friend, Arturo must face the remorseless world of drug and human traffickers that surrounds him, and contend with a murky past.

Past and present mysteries!

I Found You by Lisa Jewell: Alice Lake is a single mum to three kids who finds a man on the beach who’s lost his memory and (against a bit of common sense) takes him in. That’s the thing about Alice: she doesn’t think she’s always made the greatest choices and now, having tried to correct that, she’s ended up quite lonely. So maybe this man is her chance at happiness? Except, unbeknownst to Alice there’s a young, recently married woman named Lily who has just reported her husband missing. Once the police start to ask her questions about her husband, Lily starts to realize that the very brief time they’ve known each other was not enough time to have really gotten to know him. As for the past, mystery readers are taken back to the early ’90s when a family with a teen daughter and son are vacationing, and let’s just say these chapters reminded me a bit of the movie Fear. I read this one in two sittings because I quite liked getting to know Alice, Lily, and Kirsty, and both the mysteries definitely had me hooked.

Still talking about Big Little Lies: Liane Moriarty talked about the adaptation of Big Little Lies and I’m always here for authors critique on the adaptations of their books. And I wrote about 4 things about HBO’s Big Little Lies that need discussing.

Not Hollywood’s FBI.

Three Minutes to Doomsday: An Agent, a Traitor, and the Worst Espionage Breach in U.S. History by Joe Navarro: I’m a big fan of behind-the-scenes and making-of type things, which is what I found interesting about this book, along with the reminder that the FBI we see on TV is generally not realistic. Navarro is intense AF, he literally almost killed himself more than once with his obsession over proving his hunch about Rod Ramsay. Navarro is retelling the investigation from the ’80s that started with him having to beg his boss to give him leeway to keep looking into Ramsay, all because of Ramsay’s body language from an interview. This was before it was apparently popular because it seems his boss thought Navarro was ridiculous for thinking he could read anything into suspects based on their body language. If you enjoy in-depth type procedurals and how things really work, I’d pick this one up. It sent me down a few rabbit holes, including why the FBI recruits heavily at schools with large populations of Mormons. (Just don’t expect wild car chases and shootouts type excitement–it is literally just Navarro’s obsession with proving he’s right about Ramsay and the real process–at least in the ’80s–of how suspected spies are treated.)

For Fans of Making a Murderer: Read an excerpt from Illusion of Justice by Jerome F. Buting.

Paula Hawkins upcoming novel adaptation news: With the success of The Girl on the Train many readers have been eagerly anticipating her upcoming novel Into the Water, and it appears so has Hollywood. And while the release of Into The Water is only a week away, here’s still a good round-up: 14 novels while you wait on Read it Forward.

Put your seat belts on, hell of a ride!

Gone Without A Trace by Mary Torjussen: Hannah Monroe returns home from a business trip to discover that her boyfriend has left. Which sucks, but this is a thriller and it isn’t just that he’s left but that he’s basically extracted himself from her life as if he never existed to begin with. (What?!) I started this book wondering if this was going to be the most intense gaslighting ever or if something happened to him? I honestly couldn’t put this one down because I needed to know–and the more I read the more intense things got. It builds and builds and—ha, not gonna tell! You may want to read with a friend so you can swap theories along the way. And did I mention twists and an ending with a big bite!

On Book Riot: Katie McGuire wrote about Nostalgia, Murder, and Comic Book Adaptations.

If Booknerdlandia sounds like a place for you: Book Riot has a new subscription program called Insiders! You can track new releases (it’s an amazing database), listen to a dedicated podcast, behind-the-scenes newsletter… starting at $3/month—and one of the levels has an Insiders-only forum on Slack with a mystery channel (We’re currently talking about the creep factor of Perfect Days, and forensic books)!

I have to go shopping now:

There’s a James Bomb gift set with a bath bomb and muscle relaxer that sounds perfect for Bond fans–and pun lovers.

Until next time, keep investigating! And in the meantime come talk books with me on Twitter and Litsy–you can find me under Jamie Canaves.

Unusual Suspects

Watch Now: Zombie, & Cuban Detective Mystery Adaptations

Hello fellow mystery fans! This newsletter will go great with popcorn–or whatever snacks you enjoy while watching TV–as I’ve found two great adaptations currently streaming on Netflix. Don’t worry I’ll be back next week (yay!) with a bunch of mystery/thriller book recs and news–but this week it’s all about adaptations.

This week’s newsletter is sponsored by I Found You by Lisa Jewell.

Two decades of secrets, a missing husband, and a man with no memory are at the heart of this brilliant new novel, filled with the “beautiful writing, believable characters, pacey narrative, and dark secrets” (Daily Mail, London) that make Lisa Jewell so beloved by audiences on both sides of the Atlantic.

“Jewell is a wonderful storyteller. Her characters are believable, her writing is strong and poetic, and her narrative is infused with just enough intrigue to keep the pages turning. Readers of Liane Moriarty, Paula Hawkins, and Ruth Ware will love.” —Library Journal (starred review)

Oh, before I get started and forget: If you’re a Book Riot fan who wants more of us (!) there’s a new subscription program called Insiders! Starting at $3 a month different levels get you different access like a dedicated podcast/newsletter, store deals, new book release index (which I am obsessed with!)…AND there’s an Insiders-only Slack forum where we all chat that has a mystery channel!

Veronica Mars’ zombie cousin!

iZombie: This TV show is loosely adapted from the same titled comic series by Chris Roberson, Laura Allred, Mike Allred, Todd Klein and I’m actually glad it was only loosely adapted because it allowed me to enjoy both, without either spoiling the other’s plot. Basically the comic is a zombie gravedigger, Gwen, who eats dead people’s brains to stay alive but has the side effect of now getting the deceased person’s thoughts/memories. In the comic she has a ghost and werewolf friend and it’s more urban fantasy with mysteries.

Enter Diane Ruggiero and Rob Thomas who took just the concept of a zombie woman who eats dead people’s brains and temporarily inherits their “brain” from the comic and turned it into a procedural TV show. Gwen is now Liv Moore (get it?!) and rather than a gravedigger she’s a medical student–er, was until she woke up a zombie. The whole zombie thing is part of the show’s mystery but every episode is also a case that Liv is helping the police department with. She kind of lied and pretended to be psychic on account of she probably shouldn’t tell them she’s eating the case’s victim’s brain and getting their memories to help. Did I mention she works at the morgue? Easy brain access! She also takes on a bit of the deceased’s personality/quirks which makes for some funny and entertaining TV. This is one of my fun shows, with a lot of heart (and brains!), that has great characters (especially looking at you Ravi!), and the added bonus of special guests from Veronica Mars popping up here and there. You can binge the 1st two seasons on Netflix and the 3rd is currently playing on the CW.

Welcome to Havana/ Bienvenidos a Havana

Four Seasons in Havana: A Netflix original four-part series adapted from Leonardo Padura’s hard-boiled detective series. Set in the 90s each part is about an hour and a half in a different season of the year following a case assigned to Mario Conde: a depressed detective who’s always grumpy about any case assigned to him–he’d much rather be a writer–and seems to be perpetually having an existential crisis. The show, filmed in Havana, does a great job of giving a look into life in communist Cuba and bringing Padura’s noir series to life. While it was difficult at times to see this once beautiful island in its current destroyed state it was refreshing to see an honest portrayal. I also really liked the characters in his circle of friends, their friendships, and their shit talking gatherings.

The Winds of Lent: A young teacher is found murdered and Conde quickly finds himself placing a friend in danger while tracking a drug dealer and also having a hard time focusing since he’s fallen head over heels for a woman.

Past Perfect: Conde is assigned a case of a missing businessman which quickly gets complicated because it’s Conde and of course the businessman’s wife is an old obsession of his.

Masks: Conde, and his homophobic/transphobic attitude/language, doesn’t want–but has no choice–in being assigned the case of a murdered gay man. The man is a diplomat’s son, complicating the case further, and sending Conde into Cuba’s gay communities–and into the arms of a new woman.

Autumn Landscapes: Conde finds himself on a treasure hunt of sorts after a murdered man is found in the sea–but his time is limited as there’s a hurricane on its way to the island.

I really enjoyed this series and hope Netflix continues to adapt mystery/thrillers from around the world as limited series–Dear Netflix, More of this, please!

Until next time, keep investigating! And in the meantime come talk books with me on Twitter and Litsy— you can find me under Jamie Canaves.

Unusual Suspects

James Patterson Blurbs Himself & More Mystery/Thrillers

Hi my fellow mystery fans! The Zoological Wildlife Conservation Center in Oregon lets you have a sleepover with sloths and this is where I want to spend the rest of my life reading all my books! Who’s coming with me?

This week’s newsletter is sponsored by Marlena by Julie Buntin.

An electric debut novel about love, addiction, and loss; the story of two girls and the feral year that will cost one her life, and define the other’s for decades

Everything about fifteen-year-old Cat’s new town in rural Michigan is lonely and off-kilter, until she meets her neighbor, the manic, beautiful, pill-popping Marlena. Cat is quickly lured into Marlena’s orbit, and as she catalogues a litany of firsts—first drink, first cigarette, first kiss, first pill—Marlena’s habits harden and calcify. Within the year, Marlena is dead, drowned in six inches of icy water in the woods. When a ghost from that pivotal year surfaces unexpectedly, Cat must try to forgive herself and move on, even as the memory of Marlena keeps her tangled in the past.

Kendra Donovan is back!

A Twist in Time (Kendra Donovan Mysteries, #2) by Julie McElwain: Kendra Donovan is still stuck in 1815 England after a mysterious wormhole that seems to have moved her from being a modern FBI agent to being in an English castle. But as much as she still wants to find a way to return to her home–and time period–just as in the first book, she’s got more pressing matters in the form of solving a murder. Lady Dover has been murdered and there are plenty of suspects, considering she had quite a few lovers–and no qualms about pissing people off. Speaking of lovers, Donovan’s current love interest is a suspect since he was a former lover of Ms. Dover–juicy stuff, filled with plenty of society gossip! If you’re looking for a fun, feminist, historical fiction mystery here you go. I love watching Donovan fight sexism while also trying to remember the things she can’t reveal because they happen in the future.

Japanese crime fiction always delivers for me!

Penance by Kanae Minato, Philip Gabriel (Translation): This is a dark, character driven crime novel that unfurls from one event: a group of girls are tricked into letting one of the girls help a stranger and that girl is later found dead. The four surviving girls from that day find themselves threatened by the murdered girl’s mother and it changes the course of their lives along with the actual event. I love the construction of the novel where each of the surviving girls (Sae, Maki, Akiko and Yuko) tells a part of that fateful day from their perspective, along with how their life has turned out, now 15 years after the crime. Running throughout the novel is also the mystery of who that stranger was and whether he’ll ever be caught… If you’re a fan of dark, character-driven novels get thee this book!

Lambda literary award finalist have been announced and I just added all the books from the mystery categories to my TBR list.

I kind of love that James Patterson blurbed his own book: Like was Dan Brown too busy so Patterson said “I got this!”? Also, it’s kind of working–I mean I haven’t read a Patterson novel in a bazillion years but now I’m debating that maybe I should read The Black Book. I mean if it is the best one in 20 years!

Watch the always delightful Kristen Bell read the original proposal for Veronica Marswhich was originally meant to be a novel, and was very different from the show we came to know. (I still want more Veronica Mars novels, please!)

When everyone is potentially shady!

The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda: Leah Stevens was a journalist who refused to name a source and also had a restraining order taken out on her so when her friend Emmy offers for them to room together in a small Pennsylvania town Leah thinks the move will be a new life start. But it seems her new life comes with its own new problems: a woman is attacked and left in a coma unable to say who her attacker was, and the victim looks an awful lot like Leah! That’s frightening enough, but now Leah is wondering if the guy who’s been harassing her is responsible? Is she in danger? And then Emmy disappears… Seriously what is happening in this town?! This was a page-turner for me with an ending with bite!–which I love.

On Book Riot: Kate Scott brilliantly reimagined three classics as murder mysteries and Tiffani Willis spent a month reading Sherlock Holmes retellings.

AND the cover for the final installment in the Jackaby series has been revealed! <—–look how pretty and striking!

I have to go shopping now:

Why yes we have earned ourselves mystery solver patches–and they glow in the dark!

Until next time, keep investigating! And in the meantime come talk books with me on Twitter and Litsy— you can find me under Jamie Canaves.

Unusual Suspects

My Best Mystery Read of February, & More Mystery/Thrillers

Hi my fellow mystery fans! Did you hear that humpback whales got together and started a mystery book club? Okay, not really but since Mother Nature seems to be weeping especially loud lately I’m just gonna pretend that’s what is happening until scientist figure this one out. (I’d just really like to be invited to a whale book club–or a game of Clue!)

Sponsored by John Darnielle’s Universal Harvester.

universal harvesterIt’s the late 1990s and Jeremy works at the Video Hut in Nevada, Iowa. A local schoolteacher comes in to return Targets and says: “There’s something on it.” Two days later, a different customer returns a different tape and says: “There’s another movie on this tape.”

Jeremy discovers that in the middle of each movie, the screen blinks dark and the movie is replaced by a few minutes of jagged, poorly lit home video.

“This chilling literary thriller follows a video store clerk as he deciphers a macabre mystery through clues scattered among the tapes his customers rent. A page-tuning homage to In Cold Blood and The Ring.” — O: The Oprah Magazine

My best read in February and I’m still raving about it!

The Secret History of Las Vegas by Chris Abani: Abani is an excellent writer who wonderfully mixed literary fiction, mystery, crime, and horror together. And by that I mean the writing was perfect, the depth of character fantastic, the mystery interesting, and the horror breath-stopping the way only a reminder of how truly awful humanity can be can do. The novel begins with conjoined twins (named Fire and Water) bathing near a barrel that turns out to be filled with blood, which leads a detective desperate to solve unsolved murders to swear it must be them. Sunil, a doctor specializing in sociopaths, is tasked with evaluating the twins–and more importantly proving they are sociopaths. But he doesn’t really think they are and seems more drawn to understanding them and their lives. That is of course when Sunil isn’t remembering his life in South Africa–a dark past–and falling in love with Asia, a prostitute.

Betty Rhyzyk is my new favorite detective!

The Dime by Kathleen Kent: To be totally honest, I had planned on skipping this one since I wasn’t really in the mood for the whole Mexican gang rapist/drug dealers thing (what I assumed it would be about–it’s not!) BUT Mulholland Books has yet to disappoint at all AND Liberty recommended it. I AM SO GLAD I READ THIS ONE. After a huge weekend reading slump where nothing I picked up made me want to keep reading, this one enveloped me into its pages and wouldn’t let me go. I tell you all this because I don’t think the summary does this awesome book justice. Rhyzyk is a hard-ass, take-no-shit detective trying to balance her career, her personal relationship with her doctor girlfriend, and the ghosts of her past. And by ghost I mean her recently deceased uncle who’d always been the only true family and good advice giver in her life. While she may start out investigating a Mexican cartel in Texas, this takes some hard turns into different territory and leaves you with an ending you wouldn’t expect. Kent has written a brilliant detective with hard-edges and heart while striking the perfect balance of humor, violence, action, and procedural. I want more!

The Woman in Cabin 10 is getting a film adaptation! There was apparently some competition for the rights that CBS Films ended up winning and Hillary Seitz will be writing the script. This was one of my favorite 2016 mystery releases and I’m really looking forward to the film.

The Girl in the Spider’s Web is coming to theaters in 2018: And I should finally read it! Seems all the issues with continuing the U.S. adaptation of the series have been resolved by adapting TGITSW and deciding to cast all new actors for the parts. Have any thoughts who should play Lisbeth? Blomkvist?

Have you been watching HBO’s Big Little Lies adaptation? While I agree that this was a perfect opportunity for women writers and directors to helm a project–it’s written by David E. Kelly, directed by Jean-Marc Vallée– I am really enjoying the series. The acting is A+ and the dark mood from the book and the flashbacks are perfectly portrayed… If you like think-pieces about the shows you’re watching Emily Nussbaum wrote a nice piece for The New Yorker: The Surprising Generosity of “Big Little Lies”

J.K. Rowling uses Twitter, and humor, to reveal the title for the next Cormoran Strike novel: EW rounded-up the fun.

MacMillan Audio has a sample of Six Four by Hideo Yokoyama narrated by Richard Burnip: Listen to Chapter Two. (And if you want to read my review: here.)

Has your life been missing Murder, She Wrote guest star playing cards? Have I got great news for you!

Now in paperback:

Alligator Candy by David Kushner: This is a memoir where Kushner talks about growing up after his older brother was murdered at the age of 11, and the two times in his life he faced actually learning all the circumstances of the crime. He had only been four at the time so he’s always questioned whether his memories–especially of the last moment he saw his brother before the murder–were even real. He also looks back at how his other family members dealt with the tragedy, now from the perspective of an adult. While raw in parts and gut-wrenching in others–the crime was brutal–the book is also a reminder of the healing power of community and is written without the gross sensationalizing of a crime, which sadly happens too often.

Over on Book Riot: Katie McGuire has recs for Feminist Crime Comics for Fans of My Favorite Murder and I talk about 5 Japanese crime writers I love.

I have to go shopping now:

This “Cereal Killer” spoon is awesome.

And I am all emoji heart eyes for Book Riot’s Agatha Christie “The Body in the Library” t-shirt.

Until next time, keep investigating! And in the meantime come talk books with me on Twitter and Litsy–you can find me under Jamie Canaves.