If you are looking for your next great read, we’ve got something for just about every mood.
Spooky and Atmospheric
The White Hare by Jane Johnson
Jane Johnson sets The White Hare in the far west of Cornwall in the mid-1950s. She makes excellent use of the local lore to add mystery to a traditional plot of strangers settling in an established community. Three generations of women move into a long-neglected house on the coast with a view to renovating and restoring it to its former glory. Cue the handsome handyman, the crotchety neighbours, the mystery hanging over the house, the bloody history of the Cornish landscape, and the ongoing battle between Christianity and the Old Ways.
A heaviness hangs over the story, and although there are plenty of suspect and unlikeable characters, we are never quite sure what form peril will take. The characters are quite stock, and the plot is fairly formulaic, but I enjoyed this book for its propulsive plot and for all of the lore of nature-based spirituality. The White Hare is the ancient and mysterious presiding spirit. I love how her power manifests in spite of how history silences the voices and power of women and nature.
Twisty and Bookish
The Enigma of Room 622 by Joel Dicker
I raced through this whodunnit, not least because we don’t find out the identity of the murder victim until nearly the end of the book. A murder takes place in a Swiss hotel and is never solved. An author takes his holiday at the same hotel and is pulled into solving the crime. Layer after layer after layer of story and identity peel away as the story of Swiss banking, publishing, patrimony and spy craft unfolds.
Dicker’s previous novel The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair makes an appearance, and the NYT bestselling author has fun playing with his own success. I will be reading that book now that I have enjoyed this one so thoroughly. It kept me guessing right to the end.
Funny and Propulsive
The Bullet That Missed by Richard Osman
The third in Osman’s Thursday Murder Club detective series, this delivers all of the laughs and twists and turns of his previous books. If you haven’t yet had the pleasure, begin at the beginning with The Thursday Murder Club. It is a group of diverse characters who live in a retirement community, and their age means that they are both wildly underestimated and able to move invisibly to do their work. No one pays attention to the old ‘uns. The camaraderie of the group of sleuths is heart-warming, and while their adventures require a lot of suspension of disbelief, none of it feels strained because of his lightness of touch. Love these books.
Warm and Fuzzy
Sophie Go’s Lonely Hearts Club by Roselle Lim
Sophie Go is a newly minted professional matchmaker, but her path to her career has not been smooth. Her parents are unsupportive of her choice of work, and scandal follows her back to Toronto from Shanghai where she trained. Luckily, the members of the Old Ducks, a group of septuagenarian Chinese bachelors in her condo building, find that they need the services of the matchmaker on their doorstep, and she’s on her path once more.
This book is as saccharine as all of the mountains of candy that Sophie eats, but what kept me turning the pages was Lim’s representation of intergenerational friendships and the work of a matchmaker. In spite of the hints of magic that help Sophie make her matches, I found myself pulled in by the descriptions of the work of finding compatibility in life and love. The romance is very chaste, but the food porn is full on. Descriptions of food and restaurants on every page! Do not read on an empty stomach.
For more great reads, check out our recommended Unusual Sleuths.