Looking for your next summer read? Here are a few suggestions
If you're into mysteries or short story collections, we have some books for you
Kate Atkinson treats us to another book in her Jackson Brodie series of mystery novels. Big Sky finds Jackson in a village in North Yorkshire. His son Nathan is living with him and Jackson is doing his best to deal with Nathan's adolescent moodiness and work on a case that involves surveilling a philandering husband. A group of Yorkshire businessmen are involved in sex trafficking and slowly but surely, Jackson finds himself drawn into investigating these crimes. There are a couple of subplots that reference earlier crimes in Yorkshire and another that Jackson investigated and resolved. In Big Sky, Jackson is reunited with a character from an earlier novel in a totally unexpected way.
John Delacourt's novel Butterfly combines elements of a murder mystery, a thriller and literary fiction. A Bosnian woman, Nataša Ružić, becomes involved with a writer, Lucien Bollinger, and with the artist Dejan Vidić, who is murdered. The novel is written from the perspective of multiple characters in short chapters — sometimes no more than two pages. The novel goes beyond the mystery genre and a key question: is the past ever truly behind us? Everything we do is recorded in one form or another, so we can never know when the past will intrude on the present and what the effects will be.
The Sentence is Death
Mystery readers rejoice — Anthony Horowitz has come out with another novel, The Sentence Is Death. In this novel, divorce lawyer Richard Pryce is murdered and Daniel Hawthorne, a disgraced and retired detective, is brought into the investigation. Horowitz, who has written himself into the book, reluctantly plays the role of amanuensis. Horowitz and Hawthorne delighted readers in a previous novel, The Word is Murder. Hawthorne is just as unpleasant as he was in the earlier novel, but we have the opportunity to see him in a more sympathetic light when Horowitz is invited to his book club. Another level of conflict is added with the introduction of Detective Inspector Cara Grunshaw, who hates Hawthorne and, by extension, Horowitz. However, she is not as clever as either of them and this leads to delightful plot twists.
This Wicked Tongue
Summer is a great time to read short-story collections such as Elise Levine's book, This Wicked Tongue. There are a dozen stories in the book, each of them a standalone literary treat. Levine writes from the perspective of a variety of characters, and the stories are set all over, from the modern day to a medieval religious community. One story is told from the perspective of an 11-year-old boy, while another is told using a woman's stream of consciousness as she attends a funeral and listens to a Rabbi drone on. Levine's readers will unquestionably want to read more by this author after reading these stories.
Denise Mina sets her novel Conviction in Glasgow. Protagonist Anna McDonald is informed by her husband that he is taking their daughters on a week-long vacation to Portugal with his girlfriend and that he expects Anna to be out of the house when he returns. It does not take long for the reader to learn that Anna McDonald is an identity she assumed when trying to escape from her earlier life. A crime podcast Anna listens to every morning opens up the possibility that her past may cause more damage to her carefully constructed present than the breakup of her marriage. In alternating chapters we follow Anna as she seeks to regain control of her life and the podcast that threatens to upend it.
The Dead Celebrities Club
In The Dead Celebrities Club by Susan Swan, hedge fund magnate and embezzler Dale Paul is brought to justice and sentenced to incarceration in a country-club-type prison. But Dale has plans for his resurrection. One of them involves working with old chum Tony Nugent, a writer, to tell his story in a book. Another plan, the idea that gives the novel its title, is a betting pool he organizes while in prison involving the anticipated death of celebrities. Delightful sketches by Mariel Marshall add to the pleasure of reading this novel.