If you love books and you love mysteries, it would make sense that you'd love mysteries with a bookish backdrop. Or "bibliomysteries," a "small but elevated category of literature" that Otto Penzler (owner of the Mysterious Bookshop and the publisher of Mysterious Press) recently discussed over on the Open Road Media blog.
And there are so many good ones out there! Might I recommend a few?
Love cozy mysteries: Death on Demand by Carolyn G. Hart
The very first in Hart's Death on Demand mystery series introduces mystery bookshop owner Annie Laurance Darling and the endearing cast of characters who populate this South Carolina setting. The prime suspect of a murder, Annie becomes a reluctant sleuth, and her adventure is peppered with references to classic mystery authors that will undoubtedly lengthen your TBR list.
Love historical mysteries: Anna's Book by Ruth Rendell / Barbara Vine
Originally published as Asta's Book in the U.K. (long out of print but now available in eBook), this is an unexpected gem from Rendell's extensive oeuvre. A diary written by a young Danish woman in turn-of-the-century London becomes a huge commercial success; years later, these memoirs shed light on two unsolved murders.
Love literary thrillers: The Salinger Contract by Adam Langer
It seems fitting that the author and narrator of this book have the same name; it is, after all, a mystery about writers and writing. It's packed with bookish delights, including a sinister book collector, lots of literary references and shrewd insight into the publishing world.
Love collecting rare books: Bookscout by John Dunning
After years out of print, this one's now available as an eBook—though it's short enough to be considered a short story. Things get desperate for a rare book hunter, and the result is an interesting balance of book-collecting facts and mystery.
Readers, chime in! What bookish mysteries do you recommend?
It's been an especially fun Women's History Month here at BookPage! Our March issue featured amazing real women who blazed the trail for change. We highlighted the 14 women writers we're most excited about this spring and summer. And we loved choosing 10 favorite heroines in new children's and young adult books.
It's wonderful to see we're not the only ones celebrating Women's History Month in such a big way. Open Road Media is paying special attention to the Women in Mystery this month, spotlighting crime-writing pioneers like Dorothy L. Sayers, Anne Perry, Charlotte MacLeod and many more. Check it out, mystery fans—they've also downpriced several of their eBooks this month, from $1.99!
"I don't want a job at a newspaper, I want to get my book published!" - Ruth Rendell
"Growing up, I had friends whose fathers said, 'You're pretty.' They would say it every day. 'You're pretty.' But that doesn't help a girl get on in the world."
- Susan Isaacs
Watch the full video from Open Road Media:
How are you celebrating Women's History Month?
House of Glass by Sophie Littlefield
MIRA • $14.95 • ISBN 9780778314783
Published on February 25, 2014
Jen Glass lives with her husband and two children in a beautiful home in a suburb of Minneapolis. From the outside, the family couldn't look better. But on the inside, things are falling apart: Jen and her husband, Ted, are barely speaking; their teen daughter is sullen and distant and their young son has developmental delays. Just when Jen thinks things can't get any worse, they do. One night, two men break into the Glass home, but the routine robbery becomes something much worse when the family is held hostage in their own basement. Jen and Ted must overcome their differences in order to make sure their family survives the days to come.
Jen put her hand on the brass knob. Later, she would remember this detail, the warmth of the old brass to her touch, the way she had to tug to clear the slight jam.
Standing in the hallway was her beautiful daughter, her face exquisitely frozen, her lips parted and her long-lashed eyes wide with terror.
On her left, a man Jen had never seen before held Teddy in his arms, her little boy flailing ineffectively against his grip.
On her right, a man who looked unnervingly like Orlando Bloom pressed a gun to Livvy's head.
What are you reading this week?
Good news, Stephen King fans: There'll be double the thrills from the best-selling author this year. We've already told you about Mr. Mercedes, the noir detective story scheduled for June 3—yesterday, the author announced that 2014 would also bring Revival, the story of a charismatic preacher who takes a small New England town by storm in the mid-20th century. Reverend Jacobs creates a special bond with Jamie Morton, a young boy who shares the pastor's "secret obsession." Here's more from King's site:
When tragedy strikes the Jacobs family, this charismatic preacher curses God, mocks all religious belief, and is banished from the shocked town.
Jamie has demons of his own. Wed to his guitar from the age of 13, he plays in bands across the country, living the nomadic lifestyle of bar-band rock and roll while fleeing from his family’s horrific loss. In his mid-thirties—addicted to heroin, stranded, desperate—Jamie meets Charles Jacobs again, with profound consequences for both men. Their bond becomes a pact beyond even the Devil’s devising, and Jamie discovers that revival has many meanings.
Sounds appropriately ominous to me. Look for the book on November 11.
Today's guest post is from author M.D. Waters, whose debut novel, Archetype, goes on sale today. Set in the near future, it's the thrilling tale of a woman who wakes up after a horrible accident with no memory of who she is. Luckily, Emma has a handsome and loving husband, Declan, by her bedside to fill in the blanks. But as Emma recovers, she begins to have strange dreams that contradict what Declan is telling her—dreams that feature another handsome man who claims to love Emma as well. We asked Waters, who lives in Maryland, to share the secret of how she constructed such a suspenseful love triangle.
I’ve been dubious about love triangles since the creation of Edward-Bella-Jacob. Not that I didn’t love the idea. My issue was this: I didn’t believe it. The doubts about guy #2 were right there in the heroine’s thoughts, and you just can’t turn doubt into reality. If she’s in doubt, well, so am I.
As a writer, I understand the difficulty for the author. To resolve a love triangle, there has to be a clear winner, and the reader must be completely satisfied with the heroine’s choice. I even attempted and failed at writing one in an early novel. Why was it a big, fat fail? Because, like Bella, my heroine liked guy #2, but she loved guy #1. Where’s the conflict in that? I gave up attempting to write the triangle after that and didn’t look back.
I’ve only come across two triangles I believed, and to this day I’m envious they pulled it off so seamlessly. The first happens to be a popular TV show, “The Vampire Diaries,” and the second is Cassandra Clare’s Shadowhunter spinoff series, The Infernal Devices.
To resolve a love triangle, there has to be a clear winner, and the reader must be completely satisfied with the heroine’s choice.
I once heard Cassandra Clare speak on this very subject at a conference in New York City, and what she said about love triangles really made sense. No triangle is complete unless a conflict exists between the boys. (Or girls?) Making them friends, or in the case of “The Vampire Diaries,” brothers. What was missing from all these triangles I’d been reading, and what she managed to show in her Will-Tessa-Jem triangle, was a three-way connection.
It was, in a word, brilliant. But now that I understood, I still faced an industry sick of love triangles, so why bother writing one? Little did I know that I’d already done it. Oy, the horror!
That’s right. It wasn’t until Archetype was in the hands of my Dutton editor that I heard the words “love triangle” applied to my story. Someone even said it was “the best love triangle in years.”
I was in shock. Yes, I’d written about two men in love with the same woman. And yes, she loved them both in return. But for some insane reason I never saw it as a triangle. Probably because I never had the intention of writing one. It was just another accident in a long line of accidents in the history of Archetype. (That’s another story for another day.)
So upon hearing these words, I had to analyze what the heck I’d done. I never set out to make the reader fall in love with both men. All I’d wanted was to mask my real villain and hero from the reader. How? By giving them equal parts good and bad qualities, from personality to lifestyle.
Ultimately, what I’d done was write two men that, as a reader, I wanted to win the girl. I had to stomp on the fact that one of them was destined from the start to be Emma’s #1. I made sure to write scenes with both men that made even me second-guess my plans. I had to—had to—believe every word, because any doubts I had would show in Emma. (Ah, the dilemma of writing first person, present tense!)
Ultimately, what I’d done was write two men that, as a reader, I wanted to win the girl. I had to stomp on the fact that one of them was destined from the start to be Emma’s #1.
This worked really well for me until it came to revealing the entire truth to Emma. She (and I) suddenly had to hate a man she (and I) loved. I couldn’t just point to him and call him “Bad Guy” and let things play out. Motivations played such a huge part in this story. Just about every square inch of this novel hinged on them, quite literally right to the very last page.
I came away from all of this seeing the love triangle in a whole new light. Cassandra Clare was absolutely right about the three-way connection, but I think too that, as the creator of these characters, we have to fall in love with all angles of the triangle or it won’t work. I’m already seeing a ton of Team Declan fans, as well as Team Noah fans. But then there are some, like me, who are Team Both, and I can’t fault them one bit.
Author photo by Crystal Bingham.
Kelly Parsons is a board-certified urologist with degrees from UPenn, Stanford University and Johns Hopkins, and he takes all that surgeon's knowledge and puts it to better use (in my opinion, but I'm biased) with his debut medical thriller, Doing Harm.
We meet chief resident Steve Mitchell, a rising star with a bright surgical future who our reviewer calls "engagingly flawed." But then a patient dies of mysterious circumstances, and the killer starts toying with Steve, threatening his career, his marriage and even his life. And with an actual surgeon behind it, Doing Harm is the perfect blend of authentic hospital atmosphere and tense life-and-death moments.
To find out more about the high-stakes hospital world, we chatted with Kelly Parsons in a Q&A about patients, medical school and the fascinating character of Steve Mitchell—who we're reluctant to trust, or even like. And Parsons agrees:
"Readers shouldn’t necessarily trust Steve. They certainly don’t have to like him. But what I hope they do, on some level, is relate to his dilemma. I want readers to understand why he makes the choices he makes, however flawed those choices may be. The story is essentially about Steve’s moral journey. With some help along the way, Steve finishes the book a much different individual than when he began it."
Doing Harm is out today! Will you check it out?
In one of the biggest author comebacks ever, master of suspense Greg Iles returns this spring after a five-year hiatus following a near-fatal car accident that resulted in the amputation of part of his right leg.
And with the return of this beloved author comes the return of an unforgettable character: Coming April 29 from William Morrow, Natchez Burning is the first in a new trilogy starring Penn Cage, the Southern lawyer and former prosecutor first introduced in The Quiet Game (1999).
Penn has always gained inspiration from his father, Tom Cage, an honorable doctor in Natchez, Mississippi (where Iles lives in real life). But Tom has become the main suspect in the murder case of his own nurse assistant. In Penn's pursuit of the truth, he unearths secrets behind horrific, unsolved murders from the 1960s—as well as connections to a secretive KKK sect called the "Double Eagles," a group of malicious and wealthy men with a bloody past stretching back 40 years.
The publisher's got us raring to read:
"Rich in Southern atmosphere and electrifying plot turns, Natchez Burning is a high-water mark for Greg Iles. It is the return of a genuine American master of suspense and a sensational new page in a brilliant career."
According to his website, Iles is wrapping up the second book in the trilogy, The Bone Tree, and is working with his son to create a short documentary about some of the real-life, unsolved civil rights cases that inspired these books.
Also, for readers who want a jump-start on Penn Cage's long-awaited return, Iles is releasing an eBook novella that resolves the cliffhanger at the end of The Devil's Punchbowl. Look for it a month before the release of Natchez Burning.
Who else is excited?
We couldn't get enough of Elizabeth Haynes' debut novel, Into the Darkest Corner, a troubling thriller about a woman who falls hard for the wrong man.
It touched on topics as heavy as PTSD, obsessive-compulsive disorder and much more, as haunted protagonist Catherine Bailey finds herself suffering from the effects of an abusive, violent relationship long after it comes to an end—though perhaps she never really escaped him after all. I was only able put it down long enough to double-check behind the shower curtain.
Haynes' next two books continued in this vein, with standalone women fighting for their lives.
But Haynes heads in a new direction with her fourth novel, Under a Silent Moon, coming April 15 from Harper. The first in a new series, this police procedural introduces an English police team with investigator Louisa Smith at the helm.
The basic premise: A beautiful young woman is found dead, brutally murdered in her cottage in a small English village, and there's evidence that connects her death to the reported suicide of another woman. The book is also packed with witness statements, emails, forensic reports and charts to even further draw readers into the intrigue.
It's being called "P.D. James meets E.L. James," so we can expect some sex (ahem, LOTS of sex) mixed up in all the sleuthing.
If there's anything Haynes excells at, it's addictive, tension-filled reading, so look for Under a Silent Moon this April. Will you read it?
In Sherryl Woods' romance, A Seaside Christmas, songwriter Jenny Collins returns to her family home to nurse a broken heart. But ex-beau Caleb Green—a country superstar that was unfaithful—has followed Jenny back to Chesapeake Shores, and he's aiming to right his wrongs and win her back. Romance columnist Christie Ridgway calls this "A warm tale about understanding, forgiveness and the persuasive power of love." We caught up with her in a 7 questions interview and asked about her love of country music:
"I'm a huge fan of country music. Give me a guy with a great voice, a good love song, a snug pair of jeans and a tight T-shirt and I'll follow him anywhere."
Read the full interview to learn about breaking genre rules, her favorite Christmas movies and more!
Diane Setterfield returns this month with Bellman & Black, an irresistible Gothic and ghostly read that is absolutely perfect for these dark winter months. William Bellman makes a grave mistake as a child when he thoughtlessly kills a rook with his stone catapult. He goes on to build a successful and enviable life, until a mysterious stranger appears and threatens to rip away everything he holds dear.
Our reviewer Matthew Jackson calls it "a slow-burning, creepily realistic tale, woven together with practical but often magically transformative prose." Although the suspense is often center stage, Setterfield also includes some breathtaking meditations on nature, mortality and love that make this a very well-crafted novel indeed.
Watch the short and spooky trailer below:
What do you think, readers? Are you in the mood for some post-Halloween creepiness?