Category Archives: mystery

Lost in the Never Woods by Aiden Thomas

book coverA modern retelling of Peter Pan, the book focuses on Wendy, who went missing with her two brothers in the woods, only to return months later by herself (and with no memory of what happened). Now five years later as other kids are starting to go missing, Wendy has a chance to get answers when she runs into a boy in the road, a boy Peter who she thought lived only in stories. The book is incredibly interesting as it combines the childhood story we know with a sinister mystery. Both the characters and the relationships are good, and it’s definitely a book that will keep you on your toes and eager to find out what happens next.

Availability: COSMOS
Review Submitted by:  Esther Markov
Rating:  Highly Recommended

206 Bones by Kathy Reichs

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One last review to toss into the ring–an interesting series (as long as you can replace the image of the TV show Bones character). As a recovering archaeologist myself, I thoroughly enjoy these types of books, with plenty to learn from forensic science. And not an eyebrow was raised suggestively!

Availability: COSMOS
Review Submitted by: Jane Kostenko
Rating:  Highly Recommended
Challenge: Book to TV

I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid

book coverMeeting your partner’s parents for the first time can be a bit tense, especially if you’re contemplating ending the relationship. That’s the premise for this amazing story, which on the outside seems relatively simple but is actually a very interesting and compelling dive into the mind of someone suffering from depression and grappling with the meaning of one’s life, among other things.

After seeing the movie adapted from this book on Netflix, I was really curious to see what differences it would have in book form. Without spoiling things I will say the movie is perhaps a little more surreal at times, but otherwise it was a very close representation of the novel. The audiobook narrator even sounded very much like Jessie Buckley, the actress playing the (nameless à la Rebecca) main character.

This is a novel that surprises, keeps you thinking and gives me goosebumps thinking about it as I write this, highly recommend!

Availability:  COSMOS, USMAI
Review Submitted by:  Emily Nelson Ringholm ’07
Rating:  Highly Recommended
Challenge: Book to film and audiobook

Triple Jeopardy by Anne Perry

book coverIf this wasn’t likely the final book I will review before the Summer Reading program ends, I wouldn’t post yet another set of comments on the same series as before. But, I might not finish my next book in time, so I will just repeat my comments that this set of books shows how murder can be presented and solved in a “clean” and decent way, with wits and observations instead of with high-tech devices. Vexing at times because of the reliance on characters reading so much into the most subtle expression, the book does bog down part-way through. But the ending makes it all worthwhile. Enjoy (she said, with her eyebrow raised ever so slightly)!

Availability: COSMOS
Review Submitted by: Jane Kostenko
Rating:  Highly Recommended

The Searcher by Tana French

book coverThe Searcher is the eighth book from mystery writer Tana French. I have read four of her other books, which is perhaps why I kept reading this one even when I wasn’t enjoying it as much as I expected. While her other books follow similar characters, this book was a stand-alone mystery.

I loved the other four books I’ve read by French so I kept waiting for this one to pick up, and while it did a little, I found much of the book too slow to really enjoy. The story follows a retired Chicago detective, Cal, who moves to a remote village in Northern Ireland, hoping to get away from the crime and the hustle and bustle of the big city. But like any retired detective in almost any book you’ll read, he finds a mystery where he least expects it. A young boy comes to him because his older brother is missing, and he wants Cal to help find him because no one else will. Interesting premise, but for me the story took way too long to get going. It is a slooow burn and this is not a short book by any means.

Much of the story follows Cal trying to fix up his house, his interactions with the locals, and then tidbits about the missing boy that he gleans slowly over time. It is not until about three-fourths of the way through the book that the reader starts to find out any real information about the mystery at hand. And while I ultimately enjoyed the ending, I think there was too much exposition in getting there.

Availability:  COSMOS, SMCM, USMAI
Review Submitted by: Kaylie Jasinski ’14
Rating:  Recommended with reservations

Wicked Witch Murder by Leslie Meier

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A light and fun read that seemed particularly pleasant in the hot summer. I will seek out more (older) books in this series.

Availability: COSMOS
Review Submitted by: Jane Kostenko
Rating: Recommended

 

The Night Swim by Megan Goldin

book coverIn The Night Swim, true-crime podcaster Rachel Krall travels to the small, seaside town of Neapolis to cover a rape trial for the second season of her hit podcast. While she’s there, she begins receiving notes from Hannah Stills begging Rachel to look into her sister’s case. Hannah claims that her sister was murdered in Neapolis 25 years earlier even though her death was ruled an accidental drowning. As Rachel takes a look at both of these cases, she finds some disturbing connections.

This book is mainly told through Rachel’s point of view, though a few chapters are narrated by Hannah and some others are snippets of Rachel’s podcast. I listened to this book as an audiobook because I think it lends itself particularly well to that format due to the podcast element in the story. Theme music was added at the beginning and ends of the podcast chapters to differentiate them from normal chapters and the narrator would speak in her serious, podcast voice as opposed to her natural voice. I normally prefer to read physical copies instead of audiobooks but, for this particular book, I found the audiobook version added to the overall reading experience because of that podcast vibe that can’t be translated the same way into a written format.

The Night Swim explores some heavy topics, but I think they were all handled really well. Though it can be tough and heart-breaking at times, the conversations that this book brings around the topics it confronts are really important. I found the ending to be a little dramatic and over-the-top. However, I still thought it was an enjoyable read.

Availability: COSMOS
Review Submitted by: Jamie Ourand
Rating: Recommended
Challenge: Audiobook

Force of Nature, Jane Harper

book coverThe sequel to The Dry (which I reviewed earlier this year) was a promising sequel that was a great second novel in what I hope will at least become a trilogy following Australian Special Agent Aaron Falk.

This book makes things less personal and a bit more slow and methodical – but it is a testament to Harper’s confidence in her storytelling that she feels she can shift to a mystery that is a bit more methodical. Falk this time is working on a financial crime case – which is his actual job description – only to find that his essential mole in the investigation has gone missing on a company retreat backpacking in the woods.

Harper keeps many things but tweaks them here. Her flashback sections that she uses heavily are given there own mini chapters here, and Falk gets a partner that is more structured and not by happenstance. There are plenty of directions readers can be pulled in this one to figure out the eventual solution, although I think the first one had red herrings that still had bigger and more meaningful pay offs.

While it may not be as good as the first, that is to the credit of her premiere novel, not the fault of this one, and it shows that Jane Harper didn’t simply get lighting in a bottle on her debut, but truly has the chops to have a number of successes ahead.

This book is good for those who enjoy:
1. Stories that reveal themselves thorough alternating past and present sequences.
2. Mysteries that are more grounded in reality instead of pulp and action.
3. A mystery set in the wooded wilderness!

Overall Rating: Highly Recommended
Availability: COSMOS, USMAI
Reviewer: Nick Huber 2013

One Fatal Flaw by Anne Perry

book coverAnother good read in the new (to me, anyhow) Anne Perry series that features Daniel Pitt as the main character. A fascinating glimpse into the early 20th century when women were just starting their (on-going) struggle for equality and rights. Painfully slow in its progression to the end is what kept me from recommending it more highly; I think I’d have screamed if another meaningful glance was described or yet one more reading of an unspoken message was being told by eyebrows. I guess when forensics was in its infancy, body language spoke louder than it does in today’s murder mysteries.

Availability: COSMOS
Review Submitted by: Jane Kostenko
Rating:  Recommended

 

Twenty-one Days by Anne Perry

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This is the first in the new series that features Daniel Pitt and it was delightful! Crispy, interesting, and just so well written, like all of Anne Perry’s books. I look forward to reading more in this series.

Availability: COSMOS
Review Submitted by: Jane Kostenko
Rating: Highly Recommended

 

No Place Like Home by Mary Higgins Clark

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If it helps with the recommendation at all, I actually realized within the first few paragraphs that I had previously read this 16-year old book by Mary Higgins Clark before, but kept re-reading it! (And that’s just not something I usually waste my time doing–too many books to read in life to spend time re-reading one!) There are enough twists and turns in this murder mystery to keep you guessing until the end. Not really dated at all, despite the 2005 copyright. Great summer read!

Availability: COSMOS
Review Submitted by: Jane Kostenko
Rating: Recommended

Fatal Tide by Iris Johansen

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Violence against women seems to be the theme throughout this awful book and it was enough to ruin even the faintest hint of interesting story line. Toss this one back with the fishes.

Availability: COSMOS
Review Submitted by: Jane Kostenko
Rating: Not Recommended