I’m trying to make up for the fact that I’ve been too busy to write daily recs by combining some of the categories I drew up in advance to dole out over a longer period. Please do drop me a line, here or on other social media, to let me know if you’re reading. I was away from blogging for so long, and I wonder if I’m too old school. Do people only do videos these days on TikTok or Instagram? Do I need to learn an entirely new “language”? Inquiring minds want to know! (Also, I’d love to hear what you’re reading to add to my teetering TBR pile!)
In the meantime…the past few posts have been about the fabulously fun, but dark and suspenseful can be such great escapes as well. Sometimes nothing gets me out of my head like being sucked into someone else’s world and dragged along for the ride, unable to take a full breath until I know that the characters will come out okay or the bad guy will be brought to justice. So here are some reads that will do just that:
Dark & Gritty:
THE BLUE BAR by Damyanti Biswas
On the dark streets of Mumbai, the paths of a missing dancer, a serial killer, and an inspector with a haunted past converge in an evocative thriller about lost love and murderous obsession.
After years of dancing in Mumbai’s bars, Tara Mondal was desperate for a new start. So when a client offered her a life-changing payout to indulge a harmless, if odd, fantasy, she accepted. The setup was simple: wear a blue-sequined saree, enter a crowded railway station, and escape from view in less than three minutes. It was the last time anyone saw Tara.
Thirteen years later, Tara’s lover, Inspector Arnav Singh Rajput, is still grappling with her disappearance as he faces a horrifying new crisis: on the city’s outskirts, women’s dismembered bodies are being unearthed from shallow graves. Very little links the murders, except a scattering of blue sequins and a decade’s worth of missing persons reports that correspond with major festivals.
Past and present blur as Arnav realizes he’s on the trail of a serial killer and that someone wants his investigation buried at any cost. Could the key to finding Tara and solving these murders be hidden in one of his cold cases? Or will the next body they recover be hers?
“Meticulous local color matches sensitive characterizations, including of brave Mumbai police who try to overcome the deadly hazards of the corrupt system they have to work in. This searing portrait of marginalized people struggling for survival is unforgettable.” —Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
“The Blue Bar is one of those books that tattoos itself onto your bones—the luscious language, the glorious sense of place, a mystery that draws you in deep, so deep that you forget there’s a world around you. Best of all is Inspector Arnav Singh Rajput, the tender, lionhearted man at the story’s center who will stop at nothing to see that justice is done. I’ll be thinking about this one for a long time.” —Jess Lourey, Edgar-nominated author of Unspeakable Things
“An intense, visceral thriller that…will leave you breathless!” —Lisa Gardner, #1 New York Times bestselling author
WHEN NO ONE IS WATCHING by Alyssa Cole
An instant NEW YORK TIMES and USA TODAY BESTSELLER!
“I was knocked over by the momentum of an intense psychological thriller that doesn’t let go until the final page. This is a terrific read.” – Alafair Burke, New York Times bestselling author
*Marie Claire’s September Book Club Pick*
Rear Window meets Get Out in this gripping thriller from a critically acclaimed and New York Times Notable author, in which the gentrification of a Brooklyn neighborhood takes on a sinister new meaning…
Sydney Green is Brooklyn born and raised, but her beloved neighborhood seems to change every time she blinks. Condos are sprouting like weeds, FOR SALE signs are popping up overnight, and the neighbors she’s known all her life are disappearing. To hold onto her community’s past and present, Sydney channels her frustration into a walking tour and finds an unlikely and unwanted assistant in one of the new arrivals to the block—her neighbor Theo.
But Sydney and Theo’s deep dive into history quickly becomes a dizzying descent into paranoia and fear. Their neighbors may not have moved to the suburbs after all, and the push to revitalize the community may be more deadly than advertised.
When does coincidence become conspiracy? Where do people go when gentrification pushes them out? Can Sydney and Theo trust each other—or themselves—long enough to find out before they too disappear?
Featured in Parade, Essence, Bustle, Popsugar, Elle, Shondaland, Marie Claire, Buzzfeed, Entertainment Weekly, Good Housekeeping, Brit + Co, Real Simple, Lit Hub, Crime Reads, Blavity, Ms. Magazine, Hello Giggles, The New York Times, Town & Country, Newsweek, New York Post, Refinery29, Woman’s World, Washington Post, the Skimm, Book Riot, Bookish, Huffington Post, and more!
Serious Agatha Christie Vibes
Okay, this first one not only has serious Agatha Christie vibes, but also features a book within a book!
MOONFLOWER MURDERS by Anthony Horowitz
From New York Times–bestselling author Anthony Horowitz comes a new novel featuring ex-editor hero Susan Ryeland, set to solve another murder mystery
Farlingaye Hall is a beautiful hotel in Suffolk on the east coast of England. Unfortunately, it is also the site of the brutal murder of Frank Parris, a retired advertising executive. Stefan Codrescu, a Romanian maintenance man, is arrested after police discover blood spatter on his clothes and bed linen. He is found guilty and sentenced to eight years in prison. It appears to be an open-and-shut case, but there is more to it than meets the eye.
Alan Conway, the late author of the fictional Magpie Murders, knew Frank Parris and once visited Farlingaye Hall. Also, the third book in Conway’s detective series, Atticus Pund Takes the Cake, was based on the hotel. Cecily Treherne, the daughter of Farlingaye Hall’s owner, has read the book and believes the proof of Stefan’s innocence can be found in its pages.
But now . . . Cecily Treherne has disappeared. So Conway’s former editor, Susan Ryeland, leaves her own hotel in Crete and travels to Suffolk to investigate the murder and Treherne’s disappearance.
Masterfully intriguing, brilliantly clever and relentlessly suspenseful, Moonflower Murders is a deviously dark take on vintage English crime fiction in which the reader becomes the detective.
Then, of course, there is MARPLE, itself! I was so excited to get an early copy because of Alyssa Cole’s excellent story and to read all of the other amazing stories in here, because I’ve been an Agatha Christie fan since childhood! You will not be disappointed. Stories by Naomi Alderman, Leigh Bardugo, Alyssa Cole, Lucy Foley, Elly Griffiths, Natalie Haynes, Jean Kwok, Val McDermid, Karen M. McManus, Kate Mosse, Dreda Say Mitchell, and Ruth Ware.
“Each author captures Christie—and Marple—perfectly, while also displaying just a bit of her own unique touch. . . . This new and entertaining collection by some of our favorite writers will hook a new group of readers to the formidable Miss Marple.” — Rhys Bowen, Washington Post
“Marple is the best loved [detective]. Also the most influential. . . . It is Miss Marple who introduced the revolutionary notion that people are essentially the same wherever one goes.” — Los Angeles Times
Agatha Christie’s legendary sleuth, Jane Marple, returns to solve twelve baffling cases in this brand-new collection, penned by a host of acclaimed authors skilled in the fine art of mystery and murder
One doesn’t stop at one murder…
Jane Marple is an elderly lady from St Mary Mead who possesses an uncanny knack for solving even the most perplexing puzzles. Now, for the first time in 45 years, Agatha Christie’s beloved character returns to the page for a globe-trotting tour of crime and detection.
Join Marple as she travels through her sleepy English village and around the world. In St Mary Mead, a Christmas dinner is interrupted by unexpected guests; the Broadway stage in New York City is set for a dangerous improvisation; bad omens surround an untimely death aboard a cruise ship to Hong Kong; and a bestselling writer on holiday in Italy is caught in a nefarious plot. These and other crimes committed in the name of love, jealousy, blackmail, and revenge are ones that only the indomitable Jane Marple can solve.
Bringing a fresh twist to the hallmarks of a classic Agatha Christie mystery, these twelve esteemed writers have captured the sharp wit, unique voice, and droll ingenuity of the deceptively demure detective. A triumphant celebration of Christie’s legacy and essential reading for crime lovers, Marple is a timely reminder why Jane Marple remains one of the most famous detectives of all time.