The season is changing in the Pacific Northwest, turning the air chilly and damp in the morning then crisp and fresh in the evening. The long, bright days of our Indian summers are shortening, with the sleepy sun slowing to rise for a short trip across the sky before it tucks away for winter rest. It is the perfect time of year to curl up with a blanket, a cuppa tea, and a dark and mysterious book (and in my case, also a cuddley Pomeranian).
This time of year brings about buzzing discussions of thrillers any mysteries, but I personally think that any time is a good time to read one of those. That being said, I have compiled a few suggestions for this autumn season ranging from newly released thrillers to old school true crime. While these little gems are still on my reading list, I am focused on a stack of pre-releases that a few publishers were kind enough to send me (thanks!) so I may or may not get to these before the end of the year.
Here we go:
Mysterious Stories and Thriller Tales
The Child Finder, by Rene Denfeld – published Sept 2017 by Harper
This one takes place in the Pacific Northwest (where I live!), specifically in the Skookum National Forest in Oregon. A five year old girl disappeared while her family was choosing a Christmas Tree and after years of searching the family takes their case to Naomi, a private investigator nicknamed by the police as “The Child Finder”. Something about this case reminds Naomi of her past, but she can’t put her finger on what, so we have more than one mystery to unfold.
This book has gotten amazing reviews so far and also brought Denfeld’s debut novel, The Enchanted, to my reading list. According to her Goodreads profile, she is a licensed investigator so I look forward to the investigative methodology and plot as much as I look forward to the characters.
First Person, by Richard Flanagan – expected publication Nov 2017 by Chatto Windus
A young and destitute writer, Kif Kehlmann, is woken in the middle of the night by a phone call from the notorious con man and corporate criminal, Siegfried Heidl, who is about to go to trial for bank fraud to the tune of $700 million. Heidl offers Kehlmann ten grand to ghost write his memoir in six weeks, but questions, corruption, lies, uncertainty, crime and literature all ensue while Kehlmann questions reality and his own self.
This is not Flanagan’s first novel (he received the Man Booker Prize in 2014 for The Narrow Road to the Deep North), but I have never read any of his books. I noticed this title while I was browsing for ARCs and was disappointed that US readers were not authorized for this pre-release. It may take a bit longer to get to the states, but when it does…
Here in Berlin, by Cristina Garcia – expected publication in October 2017 by Counterpoint LLC
Described as a “portrait of a city through snapshots, an excavation of the stories and ghosts of contemporary Berlin; its complex, troubled past still pulsing in the air as it was during the years of WWII”*, this novel (collection of stories?) appears to deal with the juxtaposition of personal guilt against the greater flow of history, picking away at the layers of the collective memory we carry from our ancestors and pass on to future generations in our DNA.
As a youngster, my family lived in Germany while the wall was coming down, and I have some very distinct memories of walking by tanks on my way to school and the hush that fell over the room while my parents listened to the news reports. There is so much here that appeals to me that I can’t wait to get to this.
The Rules of Magic, by Alice Hoffman – expected publication in October 2017
Who here isn’t excited to learn the history about the two (scary) aunts in Practical Magic? No one? Thought so.
Murder in Little Egypt, by Darcy O’Brien – first published in 1998 by Running Press
In a small town in southern Illinois, during the winter of 1984, a beloved and revered physician is charged with the murder of his son. During the trial, a disconcerting story about the so-called good doctor emerges, shocking the town and possibly leading to answers regarding another unsolved murder of his other child.
My time on crime scenes pretty much killed any love I have for reading true crime, but this book came recommended by a trusted book-nerd friend (hat-tip: Tony). It sounds super creepy and I expect to thoroughly enjoy it, so I am putting my skepticism aside and diving in.
OSS Operation Black Mail: One Woman’s Covert War Against the Imperial Japanese Army, by Ann Todd – Expected publication in September 2017
This is the non-fiction story of Elizabeth “Betty” P. McIntosh who spent over a year serving in the Office of Strategic Services on the “front lines” of psychological warfare in China-Burma-India during WWII where she met and worked with people like Julia Child and Ho Chi Minh. Her mission was to use black propaganda to demoralize the enemy into surrender; not everyone survived, and she sounds like a complete bad-ass in the few lines of the synopsis.
Oh. Em. Gee. I was SO excited to come across this book. Psychological warfare and the use of influence in the military are not things that the average person thinks about (I am completely fascinated by it, I digress), but it is very powerful and something that I think we should be aware of, particularly with the barrage of ads and media that we are surrounded by these days.
Aside from that, this looks like an amazing story with a kick-butt female at the center. Yes please!
History of Wolves, by Emily Fridlund – published in January 2017 by Grove Atlantic
Set in the woods of northern Minnesota, Madeline is navigating between her counterculture childhood home and surviving school where she feels drawn to the new history teacher. When the teacher is charged with a crime involving the exploitation of children, implications of his arrest have a deep affect on her. She later starts babysitting for a new family across the lake and gets drawn into secrets that don’t make sense. While she struggles to find a way out, she confronts the consequences of people’s actions – or inaction – and the impacts that ripple through her life.
This appears to be dark and disturbing on some deep, deep levels. The reviews are mixed; I have the feeling that you will either love it or hate it, and its probably a train wreck that you can’t look away from. I think I’m afraid to read it. But I will. Maybe. Eventually…
The Age of Perpetual Light, by Josh Weil – published September 2017 by Grove Press
This collection of stories begins in the early days of electricity and follows characters through different eras of American history. I expect the stories all revolve around electricity in some way (I do love it when something other than a character becomes a character), but the summary that really pulled at my heart strings was ” a Jewish dry goods peddler who falls in love with an Amish woman while showing her the wonders of the Edison Lamp”.* <swoon>
I recently listened to an interview with Stephen King where he extrapolated that short stories are a dying art and are much more challenging to write than a novel, so I made it a goal to read more of them. I loved reading short story collections in college (the first time I attended university, way back in the day), so when this floated by on my local library’s website, I quickly added it to my TBR pile.
Artemis, by Andy Weir – expected publication in Nov 2017 by Crown Publishing Group
Artemis is the first and only city on the moon, and life is pretty rough – unless you are wealthy and eccentric (not much different than Earth?). A bit of contraband smuggling here and there can’t be so bad, until Jazz see’s an opportunity to commit a crime with a payoff to desirable to turn down. But this is just the start of her problems – she finds herself in the middle of a conspiracy to control Artemis itself.
Sounds fun and gritty, just the The Martian. Sign me up!
Six Stories, by Matt Wesolowski – published in December 2016 by Orenda Books
This novel is comprised of a series of podcasts in which an investigative journalist describes the death of a teenage boy by interviewing witnesses, suspects and people close to the victim and incident. The six interviews make up the thriller, and explore human perception, reality and loyalty.
I spent a lot of time researching the statistics for the accuracy of eye witness accounts and how science has poked holes in the human memory, so I am looking forward to reading how the author handles that. Its fascinating how two people can witness the same traumatic event and have two completely different descriptions.
If you decide to read, or have read, any of these please let me know what you think. If you have any suggestions for what I should read and review next, send them my way at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Happy fall, and happy reading!
Note: This post was not sponsored in any way.