The Swallows, How to Start a Fire, The Passenger and the Accomplice

by Lisa Lutz

Another fine mystery writer – her plots are believable, her denouements are never neat and tidy, her characters are smart and often witty. I didn’t read her Spellman series – they are much earlier works and didn’t appeal to me in the same way that these later books did.

In the Woods

By Tana French

Another mystery writer who has become another favourity (yes there are more than one!!!!). She has written (in order): In the Woods, The likeness, The Faithful Place, Broken Harbour, The Secret Place, The Trespasser, The Witch Elm and the Trespasser.

I discovered Ms. French at the beginning of the pandemic and read them all. She is masterful: Wise, witty and insightful (all of my boxes ticked!) despite some gruesome murders.

Dream Girl; Wilde Lake

by Laura Lippman

When the Covid pandemic started I found it really difficult to consecutive books that had challenging topics. I began delving into mysteries and, to my delight, I find a number of authors who help my attention with their clever dialogue, plausible investigations and satisfying, if not neat, endings. Laura Lippman has become a favourite!

The World gives Way

By Marissa Levien

In this dystopic novel, Myrra is a woman in servitude who is travelling on a ship that has been in space for two generations and is bound for a destination that is still fifty years away. At that time she will be freed. Her employers are of the wealthy elite who are privvy to a secret known by only a few. One evening, Myrra finds them dead and flees, taking their orphaned baby with her. I am generally not a Sci Fi reader (unless the novel is by Margaret Atwood – but I digress) but this novel is less about dystopia than it is about finding human connection and meaning through even the darkest of times. I really enjoyed this story and came to love Myrra’s fierceness, intelligence and courage throughout.

The Island of Missing Trees

By Elif Shafak

Her story is dedicated ‘to immigrants and exiles everywhere, the uprooted, the re-rooted, the rootless, and to the trees we left behind, rooted in our memories.’  A Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot meet beneath the branches of an olive tree and fall in love. Theirs is a story that centers on the olive tree, the most ancient of trees that has seen all of history, and bears witness to the battles between the Greeks and turks of that beautiful island. Shafak is a beautiful writer who never fails to capture my heart – she has endless compassion, is wise and thoughtful and never permits her readers to arrive at easy answers to difficult questions. I have eagerly awaited all of her books since I fist read The Bastards of Istanbul and have never once regretted that eagerness.

The Way of all Flesh; The Art of Dying; A Corruption of the Blood

By Ambrose Parry ( pen name for husband and wife Chris Brookmyre, crime novelist and Dr Marisa Haetzman, consultant anaesthetist.)

I’m usually not one for books written by a team but these three books (in that order) are an exception to my (loose) rule. In 1847, Will Raven is a medical student whose mentor is the famous (sometimes infamous) Dr. Simpson, innovator of modern anasthesiology. While working with the good doctor Will meets Sarah Fischer, housemaid and also budding assistant to Dr. Simpson. The three books see Will and Sarah’s developing relationship and a never ending parade of mysteries that need to be solved. The books are delightful portrayals of the underside of Scotland, the advancement of medicine, a burgeoning love story, a woman who will not settle for her lot in life and good old fashioned mysteries. Throw in great dialogue and nicely developped characters and presto, a winning trio!

A Narrow Door

by Joanne Harris

Rebecca Buckfast is headmistress of St. Oswald’s, an old elite boarding school. Getting that position was not easy and Rebecca has to be cunning to maintain her authority. Roy Straitley is a classics teacher whose life has become St. Oswald’s. The two have an uneasy relationship that must be navigated delicately by both. The book is signature Harris containing murder, intrigue, twists, turns and clever, often darkly humourous, dialogue. What’s not to love?

The Final Case

By David Guterson

This is the story of a writer who accompanies his father (a defense attorney) on one of his cases. The case involves the death of a 12 year old Ethiopian girl who has died at the hands of her adopted fundamentalist, Christian family. Guterson, who wrote Snow Falling on Cedars, is back and I am so very glad. He writes with compassion, wisdom and expertly blurs the hard lines we draw between us and them. This is another powerful, insightful and extremely timely book – To say that I loved it is an understatement.

Oh William!

by Elizabeth Strout

Welsome back Lucy Barton! In Oh William! Lucy reflects on her complex relationship, and intermittent friendship with her first husband, William. In quintessential Strout style, her exploration of characters and their relationships is filled with wit, wisdom and compassion. I love this author’s way of peeling back the layers of a life with such empathy and tenderness that you fall in love with even the most broken person being peeled!

Read all of her books if you can – start with Olive Kitteridge, then Olive Again, then My name is Lucy Barton, then Anything is Possible and lastly this one. Then you can move on to her stand alone novels. She is a gem.

The Other Black Girl

by Zakiya Dalila Harris

Welcome to the dog eat dog world of publishing where Nella Rogers is the only black girl at Wagner Books. Image her delight when another black girl, Hazel, is hired and she can share her frustration over the micro-aggressions she faces on a daily basis. But is Hazel really all that she seems to be? Is she the sender of the threatening notes that Nella is receiving? Can Nella maintain her integrity in the face of the confusing messages she’s hearing?

The Other Black Girl is an entertaining, clever commentary on feeling invisible, dismissed and overlooked in the workplace. It’s also a great thriller with a chilling conclusion.