Did you enjoy The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill, the December 2022 selection for the Facebook Book Club? Check out some more well-plotted mysteries written by authors who love to keep their readers guessing. Then head over to the group to find out what January’s book will be and join in on our community conversations.
Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz
From Library Journal: Horowitz’s fourth adult novel presents two mysteries for the price of one, crafting a classic whodunit within a modern mystery. Susan Ryeland is an editor for a small press whose success rests on the old-fashioned mystery novels of Alan Conway. Returning from escorting an author on a book tour, she finds Alan’s latest Atticus Pünd manuscript, Magpie Murders, on her desk. Upon reaching the novel’s end, she finds that the last chapter is missing. When she informs her boss, Charles Clover, he tells her that Alan has committed suicide. Susan searches for the lost chapter, and in the process comes to believe that Alan’s death was no suicide. Using clues buried in the manuscript, she investigates his death. While Susan and the fictional Atticus are very different characters, they use similar techniques to tease out the clues and hints to bring each mystery to resolution.
The Verifiers by Jane Pek
Claudia has just been stealth-recruited by Veracity, a referrals-only online-dating detective agency. A lifelong mystery reader who wrote her senior thesis on Jane Austen, Claudia believes she’s landed her ideal job. But when a client vanishes, Claudia breaks protocol to investigate–and uncovers a maelstrom of personal and corporate deceit. Part literary mystery, part family story, The Verifiers is a clever and incisive examination of how technology shapes our choices, and the nature of romantic love in the digital age.
In Black and White by Jun’ichirō Tanizaki
Jun’ichirō Tanizaki’s In Black and White is a literary murder mystery in which the lines between fiction and reality are blurred. The writer Mizuno has penned a story about the perfect murder. His fictional victim is modeled on an acquaintance, a fellow writer. When Mizuno notices just before the story is about to be published that this man’s real name has crept into his manuscript, he attempts to correct the mistake, but it is too late. He then becomes terrified that an actual murder will take place–and that he will be the main suspect.
Dream Girl by Laura Lippman
Gerry Andersen, a best-selling novelist, is bedridden in his Baltimore penthouse after a freakish fall, tended by an assistant and a night nurse. Then the phone calls and letters start, purportedly from a fictional character, Aubrey, the heroine of Gerry’s breakthrough novel, Dream Girl, who claims she will expose how he stole her story without attribution. Knowing that Aubrey was a product of his imagination, Gerry is first baffled then panicked by this intrusion into his life, especially as there are no records of the phone calls. Has Gerry imagined the whole thing? Lippman brilliantly moves back and forth in time, gradually building the narcissistic Gerry into a confoundingly complex character, both repellent and vulnerable, a man whose ill treatment of the multiple women in his life suggests numerous possibilities for the person behind the newly arisen Aubrey. But don’t expect to figure this one out; Lippman never stops twisting the plot into a deliciously intricate pretzel, right up to the jaw-dropping finale
Found Audio by N.J. Campbell
Amrapali Anna Singh is an historian and analyst capable of discerning the most cryptic and trivial details from audio recordings. One day, a mysterious man appears at her office in Dutch Harbor, Alaska, having traveled a great distance to bring her three Type IV audio cassettes that bear the stamp of a library in Buenos Aires that may or may not exist. On the cassettes is the deposition of an adventure journalist and his obsessive pursuit of an amorphous, legendary, and puzzling “City of Dreams.” Spanning decades, his quest leads him from a snake-hunter in the Louisiana bayou to the walled city of Kowloon on the eve of its destruction, from the Singing Dunes of Mongolia to a chess tournament in Istanbul. The deposition also begs the question: Who is making the recording, and why?
Despite being explicitly instructed not to, curiosity gets the better of Singh and she mails a transcription of the cassettes with her analysis to an acquaintance before vanishing. The man who bore the cassettes, too, has disappeared. The journalist was unnamed. Here–for the first time–is the complete archival manuscript of the mysterious recordings accompanied by Singh’s analysis.
The Decagon House Murders by Yukito Ajaysuji
From Publisher’s Weekly: First published in 1987, Ayatsuji’s brilliant and richly atmospheric puzzle will appeal to fans of golden age whodunits. Six months after the bodies of architect Nakamura Seiji, his wife, and two servants were found in the burnt remains of a house on isolated Tsunojima, a small island off the coast of Japan, seven members of the Kyoto University Mystery Club decide to visit Tsunojima. They are to reside for a week in the bizarrely constructed Decagon House, where everything seems to have 10 sides and where they soon learn that a killer is targeting them. The tension in this sophisticated homage to Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None is expertly heightened by a parallel plot set on the mainland, where two other members of the Kyoto society have received threatening letters, ostensibly from the dead Seiji. As in the best fair-play mysteries, every word counts, leading up to a jaw-dropping but logical reveal.