Want to know what the staff at the Mysterious Bookshop is reading these days? Check out our favorites below!
November 2017 Favorites
With last year’s IQ, newcomer Joe Ide introduced the world to Isaiah Quintabe, the young African American detective that the author describes as “Sherlock Holmes in the ‘hood.” A high school dropout in one of Los Angeles’s toughest neighborhoods, Quintabe is a genius puzzle-solver who investigates the crimes that the LAPD often ignores. In his second outing, IQ takes on two deeply personal investigations simultaneously: having discovered evidence that his brother’s hit-and-run death years before may have been murder, he searches for the killer. Meanwhile, his endeavor to help a long-time flame get her sister out of gambling debts brings Isaiah face-to-face with a deadly gang of Chinese Triads and a human trafficking operation. Deftly plotted and written with a sharp ear for dialogue, this wonderful installment in the IQ series shows that the character and his author are here to stay. Signed. $26.00.
Thomas Mullen’s Darktown novels, which follow two of Atlanta’s first African American detectives in the tail-end of the Jim Crow era, are one of the most enlightening series of recent years. Inspired by Philip Kerr’s Bernie Gunther and his investigative efforts within the rising Nazi regime, and by a definition of what the author calls “totalitarian noir,” Mullen’s books examine the difficulties faced by men who work to stop crime within a system that grants them little to no power. The protagonists are Lucius Boggs and Tommy Smith, who work cases that effect only the black community and are granted no authority over whites, who would be scandalized even to see them in uniform. When they discover a white-led moonshining operation, funneling corn liquor and drugs into black neighborhoods, the limitations of this policy are seen in stark relief. Meanwhile, the movement of African American families from overcrowded segregated areas into white districts is met with a surge of Ku Klux Klan activity which includes some of Boggs and Smith’s colleagues. Mullen’s sophisticated understanding of Atlanta’s history gives this fresh take on the detective novel a rich and illuminating historical setting. Signed. $26.00.
What would it take for you to risk your job? What if it was a public service job and your mission was ‘to protect and to serve?’ What would it take for you to walk away from friends, family, even basic notions of decency? Would you, could you, pull out all the stops to gain vengeance on your spouse’s killer or killers? In Allen Eskens’ new Max Rupert adventure, Max is surreptitiously given incontrovertible proof that his wife Jenni was murdered five years ago. The quest to learn the truth and find the murderer(s) consumes him to the point where Max himself is considering murder, even as he begins to question his own humanity. The killer or killers made it look like an accident, so even if he can get the goods on them, he’ll have a tough row to hoe reopening what to the department is an open and shut case of accidental death. As he searches relentlessly for the perpetrator(s), he also can’t help but wonder why anyone would want to kill his gentle social worker wife, who was no one’s enemy. Meanwhile Max’s rage and the grief he’s avoided dealing with threaten to turn him into the kind of person he’s spent his professional life fighting. A tense, pulse-pounding adventure. Paperback Original. $15.95.
Dolan's new novel offers a modern take on a hard-boiled detective that, though it touches upon common tropes from the genre, never feels cliche or nostalgic. After an author commits suicide, a private investigator believes he's found the clue to solving his wife's murder years before. Then he crosses paths with a man with a secret past, and the two of them are drawn into a tense plot that I, for one, never saw coming. Written with psychological depth and set against a backdrop drenched in noir atmosphere, The Man in the Crooked Hat is an unpredictable mystery that will keep readers guessing throughout. To be signed. $27.00.
An exciting debut set on the Canadian Northern Divide. Det. Frank Yakabuski is sent to a nearly abandoned village to investigate the brutal murder of a family. A snowstorm traps him in a hotel with several people, one of whom may be the killer. There are some evil villains in this one. I hope it's the begining of a series. Paperback Original. $14.95.
October 2017 Favorites
Though Michael Connelly started a new series with this summer’s publication of The Late Show, his latest Harry Bosch novel shows that he’s not through with the storied character just yet, continuing to develop his relatively new role as a reserve officer for the San Fernando Police Department. When we join Bosch, he’s just beginning to get comfortable in his office in a converted jail cell, but his past at the LAPD soon comes back to haunt him. A sadistic killer placed on death row thirty years before resurfaces with DNA evidence, made possible by new technological advances, that seems to prove his innocence. To make matters worse, he’s claiming that Bosch planted the evidence that led to his conviction decades before. Harry enlists the services of the Lincoln Lawyer, Mickey Haller, to face the impending court case and gets to work solving the mystery of the newly-discovered evidence, convinced of the defendant’s guilt. But even as Bosch works to contain his old case, a present-day investigation requires immediate attention, eventually finding him going undercover to dismantle a deadly prescription drug ring. The seamless interweaving of these two narrative threads—one of which involves straightforward detection, the other heavy on action in the field—illuminates Connelly’s skill as a storyteller, in a novel as finely crafted as the Pappy Van Winkle whiskey shared by Bosch and his former partner in one of its memorable scenes.
The Mysterious Bookshop will be producing the true first edition of Two Kinds of Truth in a limited, numbered ($150) and lettered ($275) printing, bound in leather with marbled boards and signed by the author. We will also have signed copies of the imported UK edition ($50), as well as the American trade edition ($29.00).
Launched in 1975 with Blue Eyes, Jerome Charyn’s Isaac Sidel saga is one of the longest-running series in American crime fiction, and certainly one of the least predictable. Winter Warning finds Isaac, the former street cop, serving as President of the United States. From making a pilgrimage to Prague on Air Force One, to walking solo into Rikers Island to end a jailhouse riot (and adopting an enormous feral cat in the process), President Sidel is hardly your conventional world leader. A populist commander-in-chief with a Glock in his waistband, Isaac is more concerned with ending poverty than courting big business. He quickly finds himself marooned within his White House, trapped in a battle between his own cabinet and a mysterious gang of international counterfeiters. Heartbreaking, violent, perverse, and hilarious: Winter Warning is a marvelous work of imagination and a fitting conclusion to the Sidel saga, though this is one president we’d be glad to hear from again, and again. Hail to the Chief! Signed. $25.95.
(While supplies last, all Winter Warning orders ship with a free "Make America Noir Again" hat)
In the fictional town of Lark, a rural East Texas enclave where racial tensions are as heightened today as in, say, the 1960s, and where the Aryan Brotherhood has a strong and visible presence, the discovery of two bodies—a black man and a white woman—seems to suggest an obvious racial motive and definite foul-play. So why are local officials treating the man’s death as an accident, even though it was caused by drowning in a desolate swampland shallow enough to walk through? Enter disgraced Texas Ranger Darren Mathews, a hard drinking law enforcement officer who distracts himself from his troubled marriage a county away by investigating the case with desperate vigor. But as his investigation develops, Mathews soon finds that nothing is quite as it seems, and that every one of the town’s deeply-rooted residents has a secret of their own. This is the land that produced Lightnin’ Hopkins, Blind Lemon Jefferson, and countless other Texas Blues players, and this musical tradition features heavily in the plot that follows. All told, Bluebird, Bluebird is a gripping and atmospheric mystery with a strong sense of place. The book is the first in a series to be set along Highway 59, a North-South route along Texas’s eastern edge. Signed. $26.00.
Everyone knows that there is no statute of limitation on murder, but is it fair to revisit wartime history to apply current standards to actions in the past? Even if it was a cold war and not (usually) a shooting war? If you’re reading this, you’re probably familiar with the inimitable John le Carre and his memorable characters, including George Smiley, who, with his colleagues, was at the front lines in the stories of the Cold War between West and East. In the author’s latest, A Legacy Of Spies, questions are being asked in high places about actions taken during an operation over half a century ago designed to infiltrate Stasi, the East German intelligence service. Peter Guillam is on the hot seat, set up by a smug Johnny-come-lately in the current iteration of ‘The Circus,’ who is forcing the retired agent to justify every step in the operation, as painful as those dredged up memories may be. Agent Leamas and an East German woman had a son during this time and the impetus for the investigation comes from this now middle-aged man who now burns with rage over the betrayals of ‘The Circus.’ There is a connection to le Carre’s earlier works and while the reader need not have read The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, it will certainly enhance the experience of this new, partly epistolary story. If the coda to the tale is indeed a farewell to Smiley et al, it is one that is worthy indeed of every plaudit the author has received. $28.00.
A gripping account of the environmental disaster caused by the an unusual weather pattern and the use of cheap coal which produced smoke by not heat, resulting in the deaths of thousand of Londoners, many more than the government was willing to admit. It's also the chilling account of the mild-mannered John Reginald Christie, who murdered at least eight people, including his wife, and buried the bodies in his kitchen and yard. The author does a wonderful job of combining the two events by recounting the personal stories of several people, including a member of Parliament which gives us insight into the all too familiar way a government avoids responsibility. $27.00.