North Carolina author Charlie Lovett has always had a passion for books and writers—his father was an English professor, and Lovett is an expert on the Victorian writer Lewis Carroll and a former antiquarian bookseller. His 2013 novel The Bookman’s Tale combined these interests to create a compelling story about a bookseller who uncovers a mystery in a used bookstore. In his latest novel, First Impressions, Lovett again combines antiquarian intrigue and a literary mystery—and this time, Jane Austen herself is at the center. We asked Lovett a few questions about books, collecting and, of course, Jane.
Fans of Tana French's Dublin Murder Squad novels have undoubtedly been eager to discover the protagonist of her fifth book, The Secret Place. The wait is over, and this time Detective Stephen Moran takes the spotlight in this clever, fast-paced mystery set at an all-girls Irish boarding school.
September is a big month for mysteries this year, both in terms of excellence and page count (close to 2,000 pages in the four books here—truly a reviewer’s marathon!). If ever there were a month deserving of four Top Picks, this is it.
Elizabeth Little is making waves with her clever debut mystery, Dear Daughter. Written with what our Whodunit columnist calls "one of the cheekiest voices in recent memory," Little follows a now-notorious Los Angeles socialite's investigation into her mother's grisly murder: a murder that's been pinned on her. We caught up with Little and asked her about life in LA, her favorite heroines in mystery and more in a 7 questions interview.
The last thing Emma saw before going blind was the bright, spinning colors of fireworks—and then it all went dark. In the sensitively rendered and beautifully written Blind, Emma shares her story of courage and resilience as she comes to terms with a world that is forever changed. And when her insular hometown is shaken by a local teen's suicide, Emma's own tragedy is placed in sharp relief.
“Vietnam Vietnam Vietnam, we’ve all been there.” So says war correspondent Michael Herr on the persistent reality of a war curiously prone to re-examination. In The Lotus and the Storm, by Vietnamese-American author Lan Cao, this revisiting takes the form of a dialogue of sorts between a daughter and a father, lotuses swept to America’s shores by the storm of the American intervention.
The best new mysteries include a standalone Scandinavian thriller, murderous mothers and daughters and a tale of Cold War espionage.
For most mere mortals, a position as a full-time historian and tenured professor at the University of Southern California would be sufficiently demanding. But not for Deborah Harkness, who has also managed to squeeze “best-selling novelist” onto her list of already impressive credentials.
Rebecca Makkai’s The Hundred-Year House is an appealing mixture: part archival mystery, part ghost story, part historical novel, starring a house with as much personality as Manderley or Hill House. Told in reverse chronology, it unfolds as a kind of bookish scavenger hunt, uncovering clues and putting pieces of the fictional puzzle in place.
S.E. Grove’s debut novel is set in 1890s Boston, a place that anyone who has read history or historical fiction set in that era will recognize—or will they? This world shares geography with our own, but thanks to the Great Disruption, which happened almost a century earlier, the Earth’s regions became unmoored from time. Although New Occident (where Boston is located) lies firmly in the 19th century, other countries are in the Dark Ages, prehistory or even the future.