The books Southern indie booksellers are recommending to readers everywhere!

Mystery & Detective

The Violin Conspiracy by Brendan Slocumb

The Violin Conspiracy is listed as a mystery and while the theft of a ten-million-dollar violin is at the heart of the book, the story is so much more than the theft and who stole it. It is about music and how someone who is a true musician can forget the terrible things around him and just live for the music. It is a story about the violin itself and what it meant to an enslaved boy who was subjected to horrors we can’t imagine. And most of all it is the story of Ray and how his grandmother, his violin, his mentor, and those few who believed a young Black boy could become a famous classical violinist helped him to become the man and the musician he came to be. I know absolutely nothing about classical music, and there was a lot that went over my head, but this was written in such a way I was moved by Ray’s dedication and how much music meant to him. This should be read by every aspiring musician, especially those who have experienced prejudice as Ray did. It is a lesson in how to transcend slights and injustice and become the best person you can be.

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

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

Murder Under Her Skin by Stephen Spotswood

What a fun read! A traditional mystery set in 1946 with two female private investigators who are called to a traveling circus to help find the murderer of the tattooed lady from the side show. This case is of particular interest to Willowjean (Will) Parker who has been working for the brilliant and world-famous detective Ms. Pentecost for the past few years) because she lived and worked at the circus for five years and considered it home and the employees her family. I can’t wait to read about more cases that this interesting and witty duo are able to solve.

Murder Under Her Skin by Stephen Spotswood, (List Price: $27.00, Doubleday, 9780385547123, December 2021)

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

Silent Parade by Keigo Higashino

Detective Galileo is back in another compelling puzzle-box mystery from the great Keigo Higashino. Whether you are a big fan of the series or a newcomer, Silent Parade is a excellent entry point into these engrossing mysteries. Set in Tokyo, a murder suspect has been able to avoid conviction twice because of lack on concrete evidence. Now the murder suspect has turned up dead during the community’s annual parade and Galileo is on the case to finally uncover the truth. Methodical, full of wonderful characters and an excellent sense of place, Silent Parade is a winning mystery experience.

Silent Parade by Keigo Higashino, (List Price: $27.99, Minotaur Books, 9781250624819, December 2021)

Reviewed by Caleb Masters, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Absence of Mallets by Kate Carlisle

The ninth in the Fixer Upper series has Shannon and her crew plugging away on the tiny home village for veterans. Shannon is starting up a new class for women to learn construction and Mac has a new group of writers coming in for a retreat. But this new group is…something else. They’re nothing but trouble from the start. Fans of this series will love to read more about this crazy cast of characters.

Absence of Mallets by Kate Carlisle, (List Price: $8.99, Berkley, 9780593201336, 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

Murder Under Her Skin by Stephen Spotswood

A Fall Read This Next! Selection I was already a fan of the series at the first book but this second really sold me on it. Great character development and originality make for a fun read. Murder Under Her Skin by Stephen Spotswood, (List Price: $27, Doubleday, 9780385547123, December 2021) Reviewed by Jamie Fiocco, Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, North Carolina

All Her Little Secrets by Wanda M. Morris

A Fall Read This Next! Selection

Ellice Littlejohn is a Black corporate attorney who is promoted after her white boss and lover dies violently, by his own hand or someone else’s? She has secrets, but so do her coworkers. This fast-paced legal thriller hooked me from page one. I so enjoyed having a kick-ass protagonist in a legal thriller which also touches on the challenges of Black women in the male dominated corporate law firm environment. Definitely a book for fans of Stacey Abrams and Laura Lippman.

All Her Little Secrets by Wanda M. Morris, (List Price: $16.99, William Morrow Paperbacks, 9780063082465, November 2021)

Reviewed by Lia Lent, Wordsworth Books in Little Rock, Arkansas


Fugitive Telemetry by Martha Wells

If Martha Wells wrote a Murderbot book every week, I would read a Murderbot book every week. Honestly, I’m pretty sure this series is what got me through 2020. Fugitive Telemetry (#6) can be read as a stand-alone or in order. It doesn’t matter. Our solitude-seeking killer robot protagonist is forced to solve the murder of a human on a planet. (He hates planets AND talking to humans! Why won’t everyone leave him alone so he can stream his media in peace?) Anyone who loves noir detective fiction will love this as well as sci fi fans. Just read it!!!

Fugitive Telemetry by Martha Wells (List Price: $19.99, Tordotcom, 9781250765376, 4/27/2021)

Reviewed by Kelly Justice, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

The Chestnut Man by Søren Sveistrup

Perfect for fans of Scandinavian crime fiction and gritty detective fiction, this story of a Danish serial killer was my favorite mystery of 2019! Beware–not for the faint of heart–this book is quite graphic. If you find one, he’s already found you!

The Chestnut Man by Søren Sveistrup (List Price: $16.99, Harper Paperbacks, 9780062895370, 9/8/2020)

Reviewed by Jen Minor, Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, North Carolina

The Windsor Knot by SJ Bennett

A charming twist on the British murder mystery with insight into the potential daily life of Queen Elizabeth, which is fascinating in and of itself, but also a fun mystery as the Queen’s able sidekick does the legwork and together she and the Queen push the facts towards the official investigators to get the puzzle solved. Enjoyable and I look forward to the next in the series. Also a very good audiobook.

The Windsor Knot by SJ Bennett (List Price: $27.99, William Morrow, 9780063050006, 3/9/2021)

Reviewed by Jamie Fiocco, Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Deep into the Dark by P. J. Tracy

A solid story with great characters and a really good story line…and a new series for P. J. Tracy. It’s set in the seedier area of Los Angeles and is the story of Policewoman Margaret Nolan working on a serial killer case. It’s also the story of Sam Easton, back from Afghanistan, just trying to make it through the day. Toss in a friendship with Melody Traeger who has her own set of demons, and you’ve got a complex plot with just the right amount of sub-plots to make it hard to put down. It’s a story of love and a story of betrayal. It’s a story of making a new life and attempting to keep those demons away as you do. And when it all comes together…ah, I’m not going to spoil it! A must read!

Deep into the Dark by P. J. Tracy (List Price: $26.99, Minotaur Books, 9781250754943, 1/12/2021)

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

Confessions on the 7:45 by Lisa Unger

A Fall 2020 Read This Next! Title
Park Row | 9780778310150
October 6, 2020

Bestselling and award-winning author Lisa Unger returns with her best novel yet. Reminiscent of the classic Strangers on a Train, Confessions on the 7:45 is a riveting psychological thriller that begins with a chance encounter on a commuter train and shows why you should never, ever make conversation with strangers.

Be careful who you tell your darkest secrets…

Selena Murphy is commuting home from her job in the city when the train stalls out on the tracks. She strikes up a conversation with a beautiful stranger in the next seat, and their connection is fast and easy. The woman introduces herself as Martha and confesses that she’s been stuck in an affair with her boss. Selena, in turn, confesses that she suspects her husband is sleeping with the nanny. When the train arrives at Selena’s station, the two women part ways, presumably never to meet again.

But days later, Selena’s nanny disappears.

Soon Selena finds her once-perfect life upended. As she is pulled into the mystery of the missing nanny, and as the fractures in her marriage grow deeper, Selena begins to wonder, who was Martha really? But she is hardly prepared for what she’ll discover.

Expertly plotted and reminiscent of the timeless classic Strangers on a Train, Confessions on the 7:45 is a stunning web of lies and deceit, and a gripping thriller about the delicate facades we create around our lives.

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