The books Southern indie booksellers are recommending to readers everywhere!

Mystery& Detective

Like a Sister by Kellye Garrett

Like a Sister is as much a story about today’s social media culture and societal issues especially those of race and class as it is a masterfully written twisty mystery. The story is narrated by the very relatable Lena Scott, half- sister of realty star Desiree Pierce who is found dead of a presumed overdose. Lena uses sarcasm and wit to hide her emotions because as a young Black woman in today’s world Lena believes what her mother has always told her – that she must always show her super-woman side to the world. While Desiree was a known alcoholic and coke user, one of the main reasons the sisters had not spoken in two years, Lena is convinced that Desiree didn’t die from an accidental overdose of heroin. She wouldn’t have been surprised if it were coke but never heroin, as Desiree hated needles and was too vain to ever leave track marks. Lena believes the last favor she can do for her sister is find out the truth behind her death even, as it turns out, at the risk to her own life.

Like a Sister by Kellye Garrett, (List Price: $28, Mulholland Books, 9780316256704,  March 2022)

Reviewed by Nancy McFarlane, Fiction Addiction in Greenville, South Carolina

The Violin Conspiracy by Brendan Slocumb

What would you do if you lost something you loved so much, it felt like an inextricable part of your being? This is the predicament Ray Mcmillian finds himself in after his beloved violin inexplicably disappears from his hotel room in New York. The mystery of the missing fiddle creates an international frenzy as everyone wants to know: who stole the violin, and where is it now? For Ray, though, this is about more than just a stolen instrument. This is about his livelihood, and the adversity he had to face to become one of the most renowned violinists in the country. While the theft is the backbone of the novel, moving the story forward, this is truly a story about what a young black man was forced to endure to be allowed to harness his gift. I have never read another book that could so expertly bring attention to the beauty of a subject while also showing the dark underbelly of the racism that runs rampant underneath. Whether it be a violin solo, an unjustified police search, or just a brunch with a loved one, I found Ray’s life to be richly detailed and an important window into the realities of black musicians in the classical music sector today. If you want a contemporary fiction read with themes of social justice, mystery, and unforgettably the power of music, pick up this debut.

The Violin Conspiracy by Brendan Slocumb, (List Price: $28, Anchor, 9780593315415,  February 2022)

Reviewed by Emma June Wood, Main Street Reads in Summerville, South Carolina

The Violin Conspiracy by Brendan Slocumb

There are so many captivating things about this novel…the insight the reader gets as to what it takes to be a classical musician, the background on the history of violins (and one violin in particular) and how they’re made, the main character’s determination in the face of struggle, family dynamics and expectations, racial issues that rear their ugly heads, and a mysterious theft of a priceless instrument…I could go on and on. Put all this together, and you get a beautiful story about a boy who loved his grandmother more than anyone in the world…one who persevered to become a classical violinist and prove to everyone that he could do it. Brendan Slocumb effortlessly keeps his story flowing, leaving the reader rooting for Ray McMillian while trying to put the pieces of the theft together. Such a great read!

The Violin Conspiracy by Brendan Slocumb, (List Price: $28.00, Anchor, 9780593315415, February 2022)

Reviewed by Mary Patterson from The Little Bookshop in Midlothian, Virginia


Pride, Prejudice, and Peril by Katie Oliver

Phaedra works as an English professor at the local college, lecturing her students about Jane Austen, while wearing garb from the time period. When a reality show starts filming in town called Who Wants to Marry Mr. Darcy?, she’s hired to consult. But when her best friend’s new husband is murdered (they own the estate where the reality show is being filmed), Phaedra has to solve the mystery before her friend is charged with murder. The first in the new Jane Austen Tea Society Mystery series, Austenites will see plenty of similarities to their favorite author’s stories.

Pride, Prejudice, and Peril by Katie Oliver, (List Price: $8.99, Berkley, 9780593337615, December 2021)

Reviewed by Jennifer Jones, Bookmiser in Marietta, Georgia

The Maid by Nita Prose

The Maid is a cozy mystery the way cozies should be written. It is beautifully written, extremely entertaining, has a great mystery, twists you don’t see coming and most of all one of the most endearing and interesting characters you will ever meet. Molly Gray is on the autism spectrum. She does not react to people and circumstances like normal people do because she doesn’t understand their facial expressions and their emotions. But her Gran has taught her over the years to be honest, to be a hard worker and to be very, very polite. Molly is a maid in a luxury hotel. A job she loves and is very, very good at because she loves order, and neatness, and routine. When she finds a dead body in one of her rooms it is not surprising that the police keep thinking that she is hiding something because, while always answering truthfully, she takes things very literally. It is also not surprising when she is eventually arrested for the murder. What is surprising is everything else that happens. I normally like more thriller type books but this was one of the most delightful books I have read in ages and the mystery was top notch.

The Maid by Nita Prose, (List Price: $27.00, Ballantine Books, 9780593356159, January 2022)

Reviewed by Nancy McFarlane, Fiction Addiction in Greenville, South Carolina

An Elderly Lady Must Not Be Crossed by Helene Tursten

Maud is back and better than ever in this second tale of murder and revenge! This collection of stories takes us back to her youth and how she became who she is–and what happened to those left in her wake! Picking up where we left off in her previous collection, Maud is trying to evade the authorities that won’t leave her alone. This pocket-sized book is perfect for the mystery lovers in your life!

An Elderly Lady Must Not Be Crossed by Helene Tursten, (List Price: $14.99, Soho Crime, 9781641291675, October 2021)

Reviewed by Andrea Richardson, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

Lightning Strike by William Kent Krueger

Easily one of the best books I’ve read this year. Krueger effortlessly weaves lilting language, thought-provoking issues, and an extremely compelling mystery into a historical, small-town setting. A young boy follows in his father’s footsteps as he searches for “crumbs” to help solve a crime and discovers some much larger truths along the way. The characters are unforgettable, the story is suspenseful, and the writing is beautiful. Especially for readers who enjoy murder mysteries, coming of age stories, Native American stories, and well-written fiction. It is almost Southern Gothic, but maybe not quite dark or southern enough. Some of the theological threads remind me a bit of Marilynne Robinson as well.

Lightning Strike by William Kent Krueger, (List Price: 27, Atria Books, 9781982128685, August 2021)

Reviewed by Angela Rawls, The Snail on the Wall in Huntsville, Alabama

Clark and Division by Naomi Hirahara

After Pearl Harbor, Aki Ito and her family, American citizens living in Los Angeles, are sent to Manzanar, an internment camp. Upon release, they are relocated to Chicago — they are not allowed to return to their home in Los Angeles. Rose, Aki’s older sister, is released first, and many months later, Aki and her parents are released. Upon arriving in Chicago, they learn that Rose has died in a subway train accident and further information reveals that she committed suicide. Aki and her parents are filled with grief and shame. Aki, who idolized Rose, knows that Rose would never kill herself, so she begins to investigate Rose’s life in Chicago. As Aki turns over every last stone, she learns important information about herself, her sister, her new city, and her place in this country. This powerful historical mystery is well written and filled with information about the lives of Japanese Americans during WWII. Highly recommended.

Clark and Division by Naomi Hirahara, (List Price: 27.95, Soho Crime, 9781641292498, August, 2021)

Reviewed by Mary Patterson, The Little Bookshop in Midlothian, Virginia

False Witness by Karin Slaughter

Leigh has a steady life. She works as a lawyer and has a great daughter. Even her divorce is amiable and she still adores her Ex. But when she’s pulled in to work on a rape case with a super tight timeline, her carefully crafted facade threatens to crumble. Slaughter continues to weave a carefully crafted, edge-of-your-seat thriller in this new standalone novel. The twists are surprising and the tension is high!

False Witness by Karin Slaughter, (List Price: 28.99, William Morrow, 9780062858092, July 2021)

Reviewed by Jennifer Jones, Bookmiser in Marietta, Georgia

City Problems by Steve Goble

Ed Runyan is an ex-NYPD detective who left the big apple for the relative quiet of rural Ohio after a particularly gruesome case involving the brutal murder of a young woman. Now it seems his past has caught up with him when he finds himself in a case of another missing young woman on his own turf in the quiet fields of Ohio. The girl, Megan Beemer was reported missing from the Columbus area and was last seen at a party where a high school band from Ed’s area was performing. Between the band and the local kids who were or may have been at the same event, and with the help of a woman detective from Columbus, Ed has to unfold the story of who was at the party and how they might have interacted with Megan. When Megan’s body is found in a local creek, Ed has to struggle with his past and the demons that have stayed with him from the earlier murder in NY which has been the center of his nightmares for years. Ed Runyon is a damaged character, but one who shows his human side in his empathy and depth of commitment to solve this crime and find justice for the victim. We can only hope we’ll see more of Ed Runyon. This one was a great read!

City Problems by Steve Goble, (List Price: 26.95, Oceanview Publishing, 9781608094431, July 2021)

Reviewed by Brent Bunnell, Fiction Addiction in Greenville, South Carolina

Razorblade Tears by S. A. Cosby

S.E Crosby is the real deal. He is rejuvenating the mystery scene in a way not seen since Elmore Leonard during his prime. And his new novel is the perfect example of how. This story of two ex-cons, fathers, seeking answers to the murders of their married sons has it all. Fast-paced and relentless, it is an excellent look at our culture wars through the eyes of a parent who can’t understand his child’s choices. Super smart, incredibly entertaining, and all-around satisfying this is a book no one should skip!

Razorblade Tears by S. A. Cosby (List Price: $26.99, Flatiron Books, 9781250252708, 7/6/2021)

Reviewed by Pete Mock, McIntyre’s Books in Pittsboro, North Carolina

My Mistress’ Eyes are Raven Black by Terry Roberts

Creating a “page-turner” has always seemed to me to require something beyond writing. An author may be an excellent wordsmith, have brilliant ideas, and yet never achieve the deep understanding of human psychology or the precise timing and rhythm that is needed to hook a reader. My Mistress’ Eyes Are Raven Black is a true page-turner. It took me only two sittings to course through its pages.

Author Terry Roberts sets his propulsive historical murder mystery on Ellis Island in 1920, amid American nativism and White Christian supremacy culture. On the surface is the disappearance of a young white Irish woman with connections in high places, connections who want her found. Stephen Robbins, from Hot Springs, NC, is contracted by a nameless man to solve the woman’s disappearance. It seems that she is not the only person to have gone missing from Island 3, the location of the isolation hospital for immigrants who arrive sick or pregnant at Ellis Island, presenting a potentially contagious situation. At the hospital, Robbins meets Lucy Paul, an undercover nurse who is investigating the high rates of patient death and disappearance. Roberts creates a spookily atmospheric setting in the creepy and mysterious hospital, and Robbins and Paul make a gutsy detective duo. But Roberts offers more than a compelling atmosphere.

My Mistress’ Eyes explores what brings humans to predicate superiority based on genetic expression. What is behind the belief that this assumed superiority excuses the right to commit violence? Roberts intersperses original texts from “scholars” of the time who espoused the superiority of White Christian Americans and proclaimed the dangers of letting immigrants into the United States. These lend credibility to the story, yet never detract from Roberts’ gift for spinning a wonderful yarn-filled humor, romance, intrigue, passion–and murder.

My Mistress’ Eyes are Raven Black by Terry Roberts, (List Price: 31.99, Turner, 9781684426959, July 2021)

Reviewed by Erin Fowler, Malaprops Bookstore/Cafe in Asheville, North Carolina

The Consequences of Fear by Jacqueline Winspear

It’s 1941, and Britain continues to be bombed by Nazi Germany. This is good news for fans of Maisie Dobbs, as she truly shines when she is thrown into a stressful wartime situation. This is a tricky mystery with a satisfying conclusion… and also features some welcome progress in Maisie’s social life.

The Consequences of Fear by Jacqueline Winspear (List Price: $27.99, Harper, 9780062868022, 3/23/2021)

Reviewed by Anne Peck, Righton Books in St Simons Island, Georgia

Smoke by Joe Ide

Dodson’s back. Back again. Dodson’s back. Tell a friend. Or two. Or ten. My apologies to Eminem and to you, dear reader, for the possible ear worm I may have just planted but, THANK YOU Joe Ide! I’ve not laughed that loud, while reading, in some time. Truth be told, my wife tired quickly of me barging into her reading time to say, “Honey, wait until you have hear this bit”. Yeah, too much coffee and great writing so that to me. I’ve enjoyed all of the IQ series and, if I’m being honest, I was fairly sure this would be another solid run of the series but, probably not exceptional. Wrong. Just. Plain. Wrong. I love where Joe is taking us. The depth of the characters continues to develop at a wicked pace. The plot lines are becoming even more ferocious. And IQ keeps getting… smarter? Yep. And the ending? YIKES. Book six Mr. Ide? Bring. It. ON!

Smoke by Joe Ide (List Price: $28, Mulholland Books, 9780316531061, 2/23/2021)

Reviewed by Berkley McDaniel, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala

Lila has moved back home and is living with her Filipino family after a bad breakup. She’s also come back to help with the family’s restaurant. But when the local fool critic has never met a dish about which he had something nice to say passes out in his food at the restaurant and later dies, Lila’s the number one suspect. I love cozies and this was a nice, new addition to the genre with some Filipino flair! I loved the characters and look forward to reading more!

Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala (List Price: $16, Berkley, 9780593201671, 5/4/2021)

Reviewed by Jennifer Jones, Bookmiser, Inc. in Marietta, Georgia

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