The books Southern indie booksellers are recommending to readers everywhere!

Mystery & Detective

Spotlight on: City Under One Roof by Iris Yamashita

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Iris Yamashita, photo credit Anthony Mongiello

The real isolated town of Whittier, Alaska was something that has been in the back of my mind for over 20 years. I had watched a documentary back when the city could only be reached by train or boat and the tunnel had not yet been open to car traffic. When I started thinking of setting a murder mystery there, I watched a video driving through the two-and-a-half-mile one-way tunnel and it made me think of falling through a rabbit hole where I was going to end up in a strange Wonderland with some odd characters, and then the pieces started to come together.” ―Iris Yamashita, Interview, The Nerd Daily

 

City Under One Roof   by Iris Yamashita

What booksellers are saying about City Under One Roof

  • The setting for City Under One Roof was so intriguing that I immediately looked up whether such a place existed – and it does! Couldn’t help feeling claustrophobic with the closed in atmosphere of the bldg and being cut off from the outside world. Sinister goings-on because almost everyone there is hiding from something, but you don’t know what. Or who to trust. Loved it!
      ―Eileen McGervey from One More Page Books in Arlington, VA | Buy from One More Page Books

  • If Twin Peaks and Fargo had a baby, it might look like this book. Based on the real town of Whittier, Alaska, a crime is committed in this a snowbound burg where everyone lives in the same high-rise and everyone, literally, knows everyone. 205 residents and no one is talking about the severed hand and foot that have washed ashore on Point Mettier. Anchorage detective Cara Kennedy has reasons to investigate the discovery beyond her job. Accessible only by tunnel, the storm traps her in the town with its secrets, a murderer, and a memorable moose.
      ―Kelly Justice from Fountain Books in Richmond, VA | Buy from Fountain Bookstore

  • The setting for City Under One Roof (literally a 205 unit high rise with infirmary, police department, etc. all under one roof) in an isolated area of Alaska that has been cut off from the outside world due to an avalanche in the tunnel which is the only road in or out is only part of what makes this debut novel such a page turner. The mystery, which involves a hand and foot washing up on a beach, and a head found buried in a barn definitely gets your attention. But, best oi all are the cast of quirky characters all with background and baggage. Perfect for fans of City of the Lost by Kelley Armstrong.
      ―Nancy McFarlane from Fiction Addiction in Greenville, SC | Buy from Fiction Addiction

About Iris Yamashita

Iris Yamashita is an Academy Award–nominated screenwriter for the movie Letters from Iwo Jima. She has been working in Hollywood for fifteen years developing material for both film and streaming, has taught screenwriting at UCLA, and is an advocate of women and diversity in the entertainment industry. She has also been a judge and mentor for various film and writing programs, and lives in California.

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The Hunter by Jennifer Herrera

It’s a great debut, spooky, atmospheric, with family drama, and full of small town secrets. Gotta love a strong female main character, who is unafraid of danger. There are twists and turns in every moment…the suspense is palpable. This book is impossible to put down.

The Hunter by Jennifer Herrera, (List Price: $27, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 9780593540213, January 2023)

Reviewed by Amy Loewy, Garden District Book Shop in New Orleans, Louisiana

Liar, Dreamer, Thief by Maria Dong

A beautifully odd and weird story, full of imagination, obsession, and layers upon layers of intrigue. Katrina Kim is living on the edges of life, barely able to afford her shared apartment, struggling with her temp job, and lowkey stalking her coworker Kurt. There’s something about him and his strangeness that compels her to watch him. Then one night she sees Kurt jump off a bridge, drawing Katrina into the mystery that was his life. I can’t recommend this strange book enough!

Liar, Dreamer, Thief by Maria Dong (List Price: $28, Grand Central Publishing, 9781538723562, January 2023)

RReviewed by Kate Towery, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

Hemlock Hollow by Culley Holderfield

Culley Holderfield writes poetically about the magical mountain hollow where we meet Caroline Mc Alister as she mourns her father and her marriage. A college professor, Caroline has just discovered that her deceased father has bequeathed her the family cabin—the cabin which has always haunted her. While restoring the old cabin she finds a century-old journal written by Carson Quinn and the mystery it reveals about the death of his brother haunts her too. This novel has so many facets: Leprechauns and Emerson and Darwin and Socrates and religion and love and death are all found in its pages. The main character is an archaeoastronomy professor and is studying the Grand Octal! This is the most fascinating novel I have read all year and is perfect for a bookclub discussion. I can’t recommend it highly enough as a page-turner that will stay with and haunt the reader.

Hemlock Hollow by Culley Holderfield (List Price: $18.95, Regal House Publishing, 9781646032860, December 2022)

Reviewed by Nancy Pierce, Bookmiser in Marietta, Georgia

Station Eternity by Mur Lafferty

Mallory is a self-aware mystery magnet, seemingly causing murders that only she can solve to happen spontaneously around her, to the point that she now feels responsible for the murders. To stymie her mysterious power, she escapes to the space station Eternity to be one of three humans among throngs of aliens. This works for months until a shuttle of humans is scheduled to arrive from Earth and the cycle of murders and mysteries starts anew around Mallory. The world-building is impeccable, with multiple alien species bringing their own biology, culture, and politics into the narrative. Lafferty also manages an intricate, compelling mystery by weaving together multiple viewpoints with a web of connections and "coincidences," yet still wrapping up the mystery without dangling loose ends. I look forward to more tales of Mallory’s exploits in this intriguing world Lafferty built.

Station Eternity by Mur Lafferty, (List Price: $17, Ace, 9780593098110, October 2022)

Reviewed by Kelly McLeod, The Haunted Book Shop in Mobile, Alabama

Spotlight on: Shutter by Ramona Emerson

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Ramona Emerson

It was important to me to share a contemporary story of a Navajo woman living today. Being Navajo is a small part; the book is about a woman and her work. That’s what’s different. It’s not about creating a Navajo persona, or about delegating myself to show a certain way of life for a woman. I have a responsibility to Navajo people, and to all people, to tell the truth. I want people to see that Navajos are dynamic and that they do a million different things. I show some of them.” –Ramona Emerson, Interview, Terrain.org

 

Shutter by Ramona Emerson

What booksellers are saying about Shutter

  • Rita Todacheene has seen ghosts since she was a child growing up in the Navajo Nation. Now a forensic photographer, Rita’s life is upended by these spirits seeking justice for their murders, while her friends and coworkers question her sanity. This thrilling mystery left me hoping to see more of Rita Todacheene in future novels. ―Lia Lent from Wordsworth Books in Little Rock, Arkansas
    Buy from Wordsworth Books

  • I really enjoyed this story about an indigenous crime scene photographer who can see ghosts. Dark and atmospheric! I’ll recommend SHUTTER to mystery and psychological suspense readers. Loved the dual timeline of present day and main character’s childhood.
      ―Jessica Nock from Main Street Books in Davidson, North Carolina
    Buy from Main Street Books

  • What a stunner! I couldn’t put down this story of a young Navajo forensic photographer in Albuquerque, New Mexico who can also communicate with the lost spirits of the dead. A mystery mixed with the myth and mysticism of the Navajo people with was a page turner that almost had me calling in sick to work because I wanted to read this from cover to cover, and almost did much to my boss’s chagrin.  ―Pete Mock from McIntyre’s Books in Pittsboro, North Carolina
    Buy from McIntyre’s Books

About Ramona Emerson

Ramona Emerson is a Diné writer and filmmaker originally from Tohatchi, New Mexico. She has a bachelor’s in Media Arts from the University of New Mexico and an MFA in Creative Writing from the Institute of American Indian Arts. After starting in forensic videography, she embarked upon a career as a photographer, writer, and editor. She is an Emmy nominee, a Sundance Native Lab Fellow, a Time-Warner Storyteller Fellow, a Tribeca All-Access Grantee and a WGBH Producer Fellow. In 2020, Emerson was appointed to the Governor’s Council on Film and Media Industries for the State of New Mexico. She currently resides in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she and her husband, the producer Kelly Byars, run their production company Reel Indian Pictures. Shutter is her first novel.

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The Kingdoms of Savannah by George Dawes Green

A July 2022 Read This Next! Title

I loved The Kingdoms of Savannah. It read like a dark, gothic Conroy novel, concerned as much with the grit of the city as the moonlight and magnolias. The Musgrove family are some rare birds. I really hope Mr. Green is planning to bring them back for more.

The Kingdoms of Savannah by George Dawes Green, (List Price: $27.99, Celadon Books, 9781250767448, July 2022)

Reviewed by Ashley Warlick from M Judson, Booksellers in Greenville, SC

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

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

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