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Book Jam readers - you are in for a treat. Today, author Sarah Stewart Taylor reviews some superb mysteries for our summer reading. She's too modest to do it herself, so we will add her terrific Maggie D'arcy mystery series - the initial novel, The Mountains Wild and book #2, A Distant Grave, which is available for purchase and in public libraries on June 22nd - yes tomorrow, to this list. So without further ado, Sarah's picks. ~ Lisa and Lisa
OK - one more "ado" - Sarah's book launches June 23rd with a Norwich Bookstore virtual event. Just click here for details. And now, with no further ado we present Sarah's recommendations. ~ Lisa and Lisa
I love summer reading and I don’t think there’s a better genre for the long reading days of summer than mystery fiction. It’s so satisfying to become completely absorbed in a puzzle and suspicious cast of characters and so many crime narratives take place in locations I’ve always wanted to visit.
So, Book Jam readers, here I’m sharing with you some of the crime novels I’m looking forward to diving into this summer. Find a hammock or a perfect chair and dive in. All of these can be found at your favorite independent bookstore! ~ Sarah Stewart Taylor
Transient Desires by Donna Leon (2021) — I love Donna Leon’s Venice-set Guido Brunetti mysteries and I am so excited to read Brunetti’s latest adventure, in which the seemingly accidental deaths of two American women leads him down a dangerous and twisted path. I am looking forward to revisiting these beloved characters and also Brunetti’s wife Paola’s inspirational cooking. ~ Sarah Stewart Taylor
The Killing Kind by Jane Casey (2021) — I love Irish crime writer Jane Casey’s Maeve Kerrigan mysteries and I am so excited to read this standalone thriller about a young London barrister whose stalker may be the only one who can save her from another threat . . . ~ Sarah Stewart Taylor (Note from the Book Jam: this mystery is available to be read September 21st, but can be preordered now.)
City of Saviors: A Detective Elouise Norton novel by Rachel Howzell Hall (2017) — I love Hall’s series featuring Los Angeles homicide detective Elouise Norton, but I just realized I haven’t yet read this fourth installment. Hall is getting a lot of attention for her standalone novels (These Toxic Things will be out September 1) and I can’t wait to get caught up on the most recent “Lou” Norton novel. ~ Sarah Stewart Taylor (Book Jam Note: City of Saviors is Book #4 in this series, the first three are also available from your local indie bookstore.)
The Lost Village by Camilla Sten (2021) — Despite the fact that I write murder mysteries, I’m a bit of a wimp about spooky stories that contain elements of horror or the supernatural. But I’ve heard great things about this one, featuring a documentary filmmaker who travels to an abandoned mining village to try to figure out where the village’s residents went and what happened to them. ~ Sarah Stewart Taylor
Red Widow by Alma Katsu (2021) — I love espionage fiction and I’ve heard great things about this novel by former CIA intelligence officer Katsu, featuring two women whose careers and lives intersect over exposed Russian intelligence assets and a possible mole in the CIA. ~ Sarah Stewart Taylor
These Women by Ivy Pochoda (2021) — Ivy Pochoda will be visiting the Upper Valley later this summer (see the Norwich Bookstore website for details). And, I am so excited to finally read her award-winning novel, about a cast of women from different corners of L.A. whose voices combine to create what I’ve heard is a stunning portrait of a city and a dangerous man. ~ Sarah Stewart Taylor
Razorblade Tears by S.A. Cosby (2021) — S.A. Cosby’s Blacktop Wasteland was one of my — and many other readers’ — favorite reads of 2020. His new standalone novel is getting big pre-publication buzz. Two very different fathers set out on a journey to avenge the deaths of their sons, a murdered gay couple. Everyone I know who has read this novel has raved and says you should have a tissue box ready. ~ Sarah Stewart Taylor
What about you? What are you looking forward to reading this summer?
Sarah Stewart Taylor is the author of the Maggie D’arcy novels, about an American homicide detective in Ireland, and the Sweeney St. George novels, about an art historian who specializes in funerary art. The first Maggie D’arcy mystery, The Mountains Wild, was on numerous best of 2020 lists and was called “perfect summer reading” by BookPage. It’s out now in paperback.
The second Maggie D’arcy novel, A Distant Grave, will be out June 22. Library Journal calls it “as intricately plotted at The Mountains Wild . . . a tense thriller” and Kirkus says that, “Taylor pulls out all the stops―subplots, threats, red herrings, warning bells―to keep the pot boiling till the end". You can find her on the web at www.SarahStewartTaylor.com.
Summer is here -- at least if today's heat in Vermont (93 degrees!) is any indicator. Summer means reading and paperbacks so you don't mind as much if they get wet after those refreshing swims. Luckily two notable hardcovers we recently read are out soon in paperback. Enjoy our recommendations as well as a few dips in a cool lake or pond. And, a delicious Maple Cremee (visit Vermont soon if you are unfamiliar with this treat) wouldn't be a bad idea either...
Want by Lynn Steger Strong (published July 2020, coming out in paperback July 2021). This is an excruciatingly modern, thoroughly unsettling, but often surprisingly funny novel told in a bold, minimalist voice. We are taken on a journey through one woman's version of motherhood/womanhood/career-hood where Elizabeth - though we don't learn her name until nearly the last page of the book, which I think gives us the sense that she could be any or every woman - is living psychologically on the edge in a one-bedroom in Brooklyn as she and her husband decide whether or not to declare bankruptcy. In her thirties with two young girls, Elizabeth is an overqualified and underemployed teacher with a PhD and a love of literature, working two jobs to help make up for her unemployed husband's lack of income (he lost his banking job in the 2008 financial crisis and hasn't landed back on his feet). It's a very quick read at 224 pages, but it has the reader thinking from page one about capitalism, downward mobility, modern friendship, and marriage. We start out early in the book on an early morning run with Elizabeth and the feeling of constant movement and just trying to keep up never dissipates. Despite the looming challenges faced by the characters and the ever-present sense of breathlessness, this story left me with a sense of hope and grace. What an excellent, relevant and important book. ~Lisa Cadow
Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (first published in June 2020; coming in paperback on 15 June 2021). This novel was published to great acclaim; it was named one of the best books of 2020 by The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, NPR, The Washington Post, Tordotcom, Marie Claire, Vox, Mashable, Men's Health, Library Journal, Book Riot and LibraryReads. And yet, even knowing all that, I somehow missed reading this last year. Luckily, my fantastic neighbor lent me her copy a few weeks ago and it was my perfect Memorial Day Weekend read. Creepy house, interesting family dynamics, and just the right amount of horror for me -- a person who prefers to ignore horror movies and honestly is conveniently popping popcorn for most of the ones I see with my family. The novel begins when Noemí Taboada is sent by her father to visit her cousin at High Place, a house in the Mexican countryside and find out what is wrong after he receives a mysterious letter complaining of secrets, disturbing visions, and her English husband. Once Noemi arrives the question becomes -- will she also need to pen a letter asking for help from this house of horrors? And yet, the house may have met its match -- while Noemi is a glamorous debutante, most knowledgeable about which red lipstick works best with which gown, she's also smart, and she is not afraid. I heard it described as Bronte goes to Latin America; that's not far off. Now that it is out in paperback on June 15, it makes the perfect beach or vacation read. ~ Lisa Christie