Mystery Book Lovers’ Club January 2018 Update

January 2018 Mystery Lovers’ Book Club Suggestions:

Here’s the list of titles we’ll consider for the Mystery Lovers’ Book Club reading list. In the meantime, we don’t have a book to read beyond exploring the stories for discussion at the January meeting. Note: the location for January has changed to Marie-Susanne’s. E-mail me at if you need the address.


TO DIE FOR by Joyce Maynard

When her husband is shot dead by her teenage boyfriend, would-be television journalist Suzanne Maretto steps into the role of grieving widow with a brilliant performance. But few suspect her dark side. This chilling novel of ambition and sexual obsession goes behind the mask of an apple-pie beauty to probe the sinister manipulations of a mesmerizing femme fatale.

 It seems a little unusual. I tried a new method this time, I previewed the books — threw out some that made me crazy and chose these. – Rochelle (Dying to know which made you crazy, Rochelle!)

FACELESS KILLERS by Henning Mankell — I’ve never read a Wallander mystery!  I read the first three chapters and its good.

THE WILD INSIDE by Christine Carbo — Once again, tried out the first three chapters and is a good read.

THE TRAPPED GIRL Robert Dugoni Again, read the first three chapters and found it a good read.

THE DEVIL’S GAME by Sean Chercover (The Daniel Byrne Trilogy)

Daniel Byrne is an investigator for the Vatican’s secretive Office of the Devil’s Advocate—the department that scrutinizes miracle claims. Over ten years and 721 cases, not one miracle he tested has proved true. But case #722 is different; Daniel’s estranged uncle, a crooked TV evangelist, has started speaking in tongues—and accurately predicting the future. Daniel knows Reverend Tim Trinity is a con man. Could Trinity also be something more?

The evangelist himself is baffled by his newfound power—and the violent reaction it provokes. After years of scams, he suddenly has the ability to predict everything from natural disasters to sports scores. Now the mob wants him dead for ruining their gambling business, and the Vatican wants him debunked as a false messiah. On the run from assassins, Trinity flees with Daniel’s help through the back roads of the Bible Belt to New Orleans, where Trinity plans to deliver a final prophecy so shattering his enemies will do anything to keep him silent. – Rick

Re Rick’s suggestion for IN THE WOODS BY Tana French: I love Tanya French and I have not read her latest: THE TRESPASSER –  add that to the list? – Marie-Susanne

Review: When Reading Tana French’s Ingenious New Novel, Assume Nothing

And, another for fans of Tanya French:

HIMSELF by Jess Kidd

“Beautifully written blend of literary fiction and mystery set in Ireland that’s made for fans of Tana French,” says Emily Finley, Dir. of Operations Goodreads. -Jen

LOVE LIKE BLOOD by Mark Billingham. (Atlantic Monthly) Detective Inspector Tom Thorne investigates the murder of a Bangladeshi teenager in a novel that probes the phenomenon of honor killings and casts doubt on the work of the Metropolitan Police’s Honor Crimes Unit.’

A RAGE IN HARLEM by Chester Himes

A RAGE IN HARLEM is a ripping introduction to Coffin Ed Johnson and Grave Digger Jones, patrolling New York City’s roughest streets in Chester Himes’ groundbreaking Harlem Detectives series.

For love of fine, wily Imabelle, hapless Jackson surrenders his life savings to a con man who knows the secret of turning ten-dollar bills into hundreds—and then he steals from his boss, only to lose the stolen money at a craps table. Luckily for him, he can turn to his savvy twin brother, Goldy, who earns a living—disguised as a Sister of Mercy—by selling tickets to Heaven in Harlem.  With Goldy on his side, Jackson is ready for payback.


1947. In the chaotic aftermath of World War II, American college girl Charlie St. Clair is pregnant, unmarried, and on the verge of being thrown out of her very proper family. She’s also nursing a desperate hope that her beloved cousin Rose, who disappeared in Nazi-occupied France during the war, might still be alive. So when Charlie’s parents banish her to Europe to have her “little problem” taken care of, Charlie breaks free and heads to London, determined to find out what happened to the cousin she loves like a sister.

1915. A year into the Great War, Eve Gardiner burns to join the fight against the Germans and unexpectedly gets her chance when she’s recruited to work as a spy. Sent into enemy-occupied France, she’s trained by the mesmerizing Lili, the “Queen of Spies”, who manages a vast network of secret agents right under the enemy’s nose.

Thirty years later, haunted by the betrayal that ultimately tore apart the Alice Network, Eve spends her days drunk and secluded in her crumbling London house. Until a young American barges in uttering a name Eve hasn’t heard in decades, and launches them both on a mission to find the truth …no matter where it leads.

HUMAN ACTS by Han Kang

From the internationally bestselling author of The Vegetarian, a rare and astonishing (The Observer) portrait of political unrest and the universal struggle for justice.

In the midst of a violent student uprising in South Korea, a young boy named Dong-ho is shockingly killed.

The story of this tragic episode unfolds in a sequence of interconnected chapters as the victims and the bereaved encounter suppression, denial, and the echoing agony of the massacre. From Dong-ho’s best friend who meets his own fateful end; to an editor struggling against censorship; to a prisoner and a factory worker, each suffering from traumatic memories; and to Dong-ho’s own grief-stricken mother; and through their collective heartbreak and acts of hope is the tale of a brutalized people in search of a voice.

An award-winning, controversial bestseller, Human Acts is a timeless, pointillist portrait of an historic event with reverberations still being felt today, by turns tracing the harsh reality of oppression and the resounding, extraordinary poetry of humanity.

10 New Books We Recommend This Week (NYT)

THE QUANTUM SPY by David Ignatius 

I really enjoyed a radio interview with this author about how Cold War fears and spy novels have evolved to cyber crimes and scary countries like China. Most intriguing (and terrifying) for me was that Quantum computing allows programmers to crack the code of ANY encryption very quickly. Forget passwords and encryption — they’d get through anything. Yikes. And I heard an unrelated interview that China is using facial recognition software in big cities to track everyone everywhere. Double yikes! Anyway, QUANTUM SPY sounds like a great read. – Jen

From the best-selling author of THE DIRECTOR and BODY OF LIES comes a thrilling tale of global espionage, state-of-the-art technology, and unthinkable betrayal.

A hyper-fast quantum computer is the digital equivalent of a nuclear bomb; whoever possesses one will be able to shred any encryption and break any code in existence. The winner of the race to build the world’s first quantum machine will attain global dominance for generations to come. The question is, who will cross the finish line first: the U.S. or China?

In this gripping cyber thriller, the United States’ top-secret quantum research labs are compromised by a suspected Chinese informant, inciting a mole hunt of history-altering proportions. CIA officer Harris Chang leads the charge, pursuing his target from the towering cityscape of Singapore to the lush hills of the Pacific Northwest, the mountains of Mexico, and beyond. The investigation is obsessive, destructive, and―above all―uncertain. Do the leaks expose real secrets, or are they false trails meant to deceive the Chinese? The answer forces Chang to question everything he thought he knew about loyalty, morality, and the primacy of truth.

Grounded in the real-world technological arms race, The Quantum Spy presents a sophisticated game of cat and mouse cloaked in an exhilarating and visionary thriller.

AFTERLIFE by Marcus Sakey 

Marcus was a panel speaker at Murder & Mayhem last March. I enjoyed his perspective then, and again during an interview on The 21st (IL Public Media. ) A Triller/Love Story with an intriguing take. – Jen

The last thing FBI agent Will Brody remembers is the explosion—a thousand shards of glass surfing a lethal shock wave. He wakes without a scratch. The building is in ruins. His team is gone. Outside, Chicago is dark. Cars lie abandoned. No planes cross the sky. He’s relieved to spot other people—until he sees they’re carrying machetes. Welcome to the afterlife. Claire McCoy stands over the body of Will Brody. As head of an FBI task force, she hasn’t had a decent night’s sleep in weeks. A terrorist has claimed eighteen lives and thrown the nation into panic.

Against this horror, something reckless and beautiful happened. She fell in love…with Will Brody.But the line between life and death is narrower than any of us suspect—and all that matters to Will and Claire is getting back to each other.

From the author of the million-copy bestselling Brilliance Trilogy comes a mind-bending thriller that explores our most haunting and fundamental question: What if death is just the beginning?

FRACTURED by Karin Slaughter

I confess that although it sounds very interesting, my main motivation for suggesting it is that it is currently available on bookbub for $1.99. 😁Jeannie

Ansley Park is one of Atlanta’s most upscale neighborhoods—but in one gleaming mansion, in a teenager’s lavish bedroom, a girl has been savagely murdered. And in the hallway, her mother stands amid shattered glass, having killed her daughter’s attacker with her bare hands. Detective Will Trent of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation is one of the first on the scene. Trent soon sees something that the Atlanta cops are missing, something in the trail of blood, in a matrix of forensic evidence, and in the eyes of the stunned mother. When another teenage girl goes missing, Trent knows that this case, which started in the best of homes, is about to cut quick and deep through the ruins of perfect lives broken wide-open: where human demons emerge with a vengeance.

Here’re my two recommendations (below). Sue

HER LAST DAY by Jessie Cole

With action-packed twists and turns and a pace that doesn’t let up until the thrilling conclusion, Her Last Day is a brilliant start to a gripping new series from T.R. Ragan.” —Robert Bryndza, #1 international bestselling author of The Girl in the Ice

Ten years ago, PI Jessie Cole and reporter Ben Morrison each suffered a tragedy that changed their lives—and now these two strangers are about to share a nightmare.

For Jessie, who makes her living finding missing persons, no case has consumed her more than the disappearance of her younger sister, Sophie. But left alone to raise Sophie’s daughter, she realizes that solving the case has become an unhealthy obsession.

For Ben, a horrific car accident resulted in scars both physical and emotional—and amnesia that has made his life a mystery. But curiously, out of his shattered memories, there’s one person he recognizes without a doubt: Jessie’s sister. He just doesn’t know why. Yet.

But Sophie isn’t the only phantom drawing Jessie and Ben together. An elusive serial murderer known as the Heartless Killer has reemerged from the shadows. His next move will cut even deeper into Jessie’s worst fears. And for Ben, what happens this time is going to be unforgettable.


If you can’t trust yourself, who can you trust? Cass is having a hard time since the night she saw the car in the woods, on the winding rural road, in the middle of a downpour, with the woman sitting inside―the woman who was killed. She’s been trying to put the crime out of her mind; what could she have done, really? It’s a dangerous road to be on in the middle of a storm. Her husband would be furious if he knew she’d broken her promise not to take that shortcut home. And she probably would only have been hurt herself if she’d stopped. But since then, she’s been forgetting every little thing: where she left the car, if she took her pills, the alarm code, why she ordered a pram when she doesn’t have a baby. The only thing she can’t forget is that woman, the woman she might have saved, and the terrible nagging guilt. Or the silent calls she’s receiving, or the feeling that someone’s watching her…

THE CITY IN THE CITY by China Miéville

My husband had fun with this book. Natasha

MY NAME IS RED by Orhan Pamuk
It’s possible most of the group has already read this. I’ve been meaning to for ages.- Natasha

December 2017 Book Club Updates

We’ll be discussing JAR CITY by Arnaldur Indridason in December 2017, and will NOT have a book to read for January so we have time to prep for talking about our options at the January meeting. I’ve copied the list of the suggestions we’ve received so far. 

Also, Rochelle had a great idea to read a recipe-related book and meet at the Green Top Co-op Kitchen one meeting and make a dish/recipe from the book (not CHERRY TARTS haha 🙂) No wine is allowed at Green Top, but the change in venue could be fun. We can discuss during the January meeting, but keep that in mind as you think of books? 

Updates on past Mystery Book Lovers Club book selections and authors: 

  • THE ALIENIST has been adapted for TV, premiering on TNT Jan 22 at 8 pm Central. Here’s the link to the trailer and the description from TNT: The Alienist is a psychological thriller set in 1896 about the hunt for a serial killer responsible for the gruesome murders of boy prostitutes that have gripped New York City. Based on the novel by Caleb Carr.
  • L’ACCIDENT is a 6-party mystery thriller (Acorn TV) based on a novel by Linwood Barclay. (We read Barclay’s BAD GUYS) Dorothy Rabinowitz reviewed L’ACCIDENT in the Wall Street Journal on 12/14/17 and HERE. She called the series “predictable as it winds its suspense-filled way to its wholly improbable, shocking, and spectacularly satisfying ending” and closed the piece with this sentence: “It shows what happens when the French get hold of an American novel and turn it into one of their works—utterly smooth, dark, appetizing, and grotesque in all the right places.” Ooh, sounds interesting!
  • CRAZY LIKE A FOX by Rita Mae Brown is the latest in her Sister Jane Arnold, Master of Jefferson Hunt series set in the Virginia horse country. If you’ve ever get the chance to see her in person, you’ll find she’s entertaining, insightful about a wide range of social and political issues, and a huge fan of libraries. Click HERE for coverage of her December 8 visit to the Ocean City Free Public Library by Donald Wittkowski for the Ocean City New Jersey Daily. 


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