More Mysteries for discussion

Gary will be pleased to know that I’m finding more of the above for my book groups and this summer I’ve read three that I’ll be suggesting to the local mystery novel discussion groups. All are forthcoming this fall, but it’s never too soon to start looking for titles to add to the list of discussable works.

I’ve mentioned before my reluctance to include mysteries in my reading group selections because I don’t want my readers to fall into “whodunit and when didja know” conversations. I want mysteries with layered characters, rich settings, and complex plots. All three of the following novels fit the bill and go further than that. The topic I will be discussing more than any other is choice. The characters in these novels all make choices that greatly affect their lives and the lives of others. Of course, some of the choices are poor ones and some are not. What I want my book group readers to hone in on are the kinds of choices characters make that are neither good nor bad but have life-altering repercussions. How do these choices shape the characters and move the story and create a scene that readers have no trouble believing is real? These three novels will offer much to talk about.lippman

I’d Know You Anywhere by Laura Lippman is one of her standalones. A suspenseful drama about “the one that got away” and the irrevocable hold a criminal has on a victim. Eliza wasn’t Walter’s “type” but he kidnapped her anyway. He did not rape and kill her, however. For reasons both cannot explain, Walter kept Eliza alive and travelling with him for six weeks the summer of 1985. A stray photo of Eliza and her husband in a Washington society magazine makes its way to Walter’s death row cell and he enlists the help of a mysterious friend to contact her and ask for one final conversation.

Lippman’s novel is quickly paced but readers won’t know they’re swiftly turning pages. There’s some thoughtful passages here that will make readers stop and think about the choices Eliza has made and her reasons for making them. One of the most interesting relationships in the book is between Eliza and her sister, Vonnie. How does one sister learn to live with the horrific experiences of another sister? Look for I’d Know You Anywhere in September.

It seems shorter and more thoughtfully paced, but Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter is packed with tension and atmosphere. Childhood outcasts Silas and Larry become tentativlettere friends. Their friendship is severely strained when Larry’s father instigates a fight between the two young boys. Years later, Silas is the constable in their rural Mississippi hometown and Larry is the owner of his father’s business that no one will patronize. Larry is the favorite suspect in the disappearance of a young girl from a well-to-do family. He calls on his old friend Silas for help but Silas ignores the message. Both men will become caught up in a crime that has everything and nothing to do with them both.

The dialogue and setting propel the novel more than the action. All the clues to the mystery are dropped in conversation and character development and the suspense hides in the heavy heat of Mississippi. Readers should start a conversation about how an author uses character speech and sense of place to create apprehension. Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter will debut in October.

Fans of Dennis Lehane’s detective duo, Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro, will only have to wait until November for Moonlight Mile to see what the two have been up to since Gone, Baby Gone. That novel is a great choice for book groups. It’s not about who kidnapped the kid, it’s about society and the greater good and who gets to make the choices. Moonlight Mile picks up twelve years after Gone, Baby Gone left off. mile

Patrick and Angie are again looking for Amanda who was kidnapped twelve years before and has gone missing again. During their search, Patrick and Angie will meet all of the people from that long-ago case and learn how everyone’s lives were drastically changed. Is this a second chance to do good or do right? And what’s the difference between what’s good and what’s right?

Choices. These three books will have groups trying to decide which to talk about first.

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About the Author:

Kaite Mediatore Stover refuses to give up her day job as director of readers' services for The Kansas City Public Library to read tarot cards professionally or be the merch girl/roadie for her husband's numerous bands. Follow her on Twitter at @MarianLiberryan.

3 Comments on "More Mysteries for discussion"

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  1. gary warren niebuhr says:

    Very impressive. My only hesitation comes in reading a series title but if you have previewed it and it works, no problem.

  2. berns-r-j@comcast.net' REVEL says:

    Have you ever read any Jo Nesbo books? He’s a Norwegian writer who has been excellently translated by Don Bartlett. His series detective is Harry Hole and the first four available in the U.S. are all top-notch. Reminds me of early Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch. Start with The Redbreast, then Nemesis, Devil’s Star, and then the Redeemer. You benefit by reading them in order because there is an overriding story arc that carries from book-to-book as well as the self-contained storyline.

  3. jessicaemilymoyer@gmail.com' Jessica says:

    My bookgroup read Redbreast for August and they really enjoyed it. We also had a great discussion with Faceless Killers by Henning Mankell, which is going to be featured in this fall’s Masterpiece Mystery series with Kenneth Branaugh.

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