“So many of the characters in Decent People are on a quest for respectability–– their own and/or that of their children. I wanted to show what lengths people would go to just to conceal truths: a child’s queerness, an addiction, hypocrisy. I don’t know that I was going for nuance, exactly. I think I was just portraying people the way I’ve often encountered them. ” ―De’Shawn Charles Winslow, interview, PEN America
What booksellers are saying about Decent People
A complex, engaging story of a small Southern town grappling with racial justice, human rights, religion and murder in the mid 1970’s. Family ties and long-buried secrets are tested as a woman fights to clear the name of her beloved. An absolute page-turner filled with colorful characters in a rich setting.
―Jamie Fiocco from Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, NC | Buy from Bookmarks
Decent People is a compelling mystery that also deftly contends with racism, homophobia, classism and corruption. Charles De’Shawn Winslow’s fluid writing and pacing combine with wonderfully drawn characters–including the glorious busybody Josephine Wright–to make a truly marvelous novel.
―Stephanie Jones-Byrne from Malaprop’s in Asheville, NC | Buy from Malaprops
The shooting deaths of two sisters and their brother, prominent members of the African-American community, set tongues wagging in West Mills, NC. Except for those holding their voice over secrets. Told from alternating perspectives, the mystery unfolds amid lives threatened by the racism and homophobia of the 1960s and 1970s. This is a great read on so many levels, can’t wait to hand sell this one.
―Jessica Nock from Main Street Books in Davidson, NC | Buy from Main Street Books
About De’Shawn Charles Winslow
De’Shawn Charles Winslow is the author of In West Mills, a Center for Fiction First Novel Prize winner and a Los Angeles Times Book Prize, Lambda Literary Award, and Publishing Triangle Awards finalist. He was born and raised in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, graduated from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and now lives in New York.
Decent People is a compelling mystery that also deftly contends with racism, homophobia, classism and corruption. De’Shawn Charles Winslow’s fluid writing and pacing combine with wonderfully drawn characters–including the glorious busybody Josephine Wright–to make a truly marvelous novel.
Decent People by De’Shawn Charles Winslow, (List Price: $28, Bloomsbury Publishing, 9781635575323, February 2023)
Holmes rendered the campus in great detail. “I built the world in my head,” he says. “I wanted to know it so well that I could give a guided tour,” which is one reason the book took so long. Holmes started writing Murder Your Employer more than a decade ago and did “exhaustive preparatory.” He was also writing shows, adapting John Grisham’s book A Time to Kill for Broadway in 2013, among “many projects and challenges.” But when the pandemic closed theaters, he had time. “And I needed an escape,” Holmes says. “We all did. So I decided to sidestep into the portal of the early 1950s.” ―via Publishers Weekly
What booksellers are saying about Murder Your Employer
I took this book home in self-defense, hiding it from my booksellers and ended up reading it. So fun! It’s got everything! Potter-esque academic setting? Check! Monty Python-like humor? Check! Knives Out suspense? Check! Three students at a school for the homicidal arts want to murder their employers. Who hasn’t fantasized about that, really? (Hopefully, not our booksellers…) Incredibly amusing book. Devoured it in a few sittings. Written by the guy who wrote “Escape (The Piña Colada Song)”? Another check! Bet you didn’t see that one coming. Sorry for the earworm. Not.
―Kelly Justice from Fountain Books in Richmond, VA | Buy from Fountain Bookstore
What a fun book! Set in the early fifties and written the slightly stilted style of the times this is the story of three people attending a secret school teaching the art of murder. Each has a different reason for being but each has passed the first tenet of the school which is; Does this person truly deserve to die? Three resounding yeses and it’s time to move onto the curriculum… but keep your eyes on your fellow students, they are killer wannabees after all. Great wordplay that had me chuckling throughout, and great characters that grow on you, this is one not to miss.
―Pete Mock from McIntyre’s Books in Pittsboro, NC | Buy from McIntyre’s Books
Being the boss I was a little afraid to read this. The title was what drew me in. I am usually not a fantasy reader but I am trying to look at new genres. This book fit the bill! It was so fun. Mystery, mayhem and murder make you turn pages into the night. We are introduced to the murders and then the victims and you become invested in them and feel bad that you are rooting for them. Lots of laugh out loud moments.
―Suzanne Lucey from Page 158 Books in Wake Forest, NC | Buy from Page 158 Books
Death is a sweet release… Unless it’s your own. Darkly enriching…this intriguing tale of mystery, mayhem and murder is the perfect blend of intelligence and intricacy. Slow burn to edge of your seat, this story leaves you guessing and assuming…only to be questioning if what you read was truly fiction, or entirely possible. Written from multiple perspectives, we follow the lives of three individuals on a mission to untangle their lives by order of ‘deletion’ (murder). Is it a justified killing, or simply revenge? As the story unfolds and we uncover what brought these students to learn the art of murder, you find yourself on the dark side, rooting for a killer.
―Doloris Vest from Book No Further in Roanoke, VA | Buy from Book No Further
About Rupert Holmes
Rupert Holmes has received two Edgar Awards from the Mystery Writers of America, and multiple Tony® and Drama Desk Awards for his Broadway mystery musicals, including the book of Curtains and his sole creation, the Tony® Award–winning Best Musical The Mystery of Edwin Drood. His first novel, Where the Truth Lies, was nominated for a Nero Wolfe award for Best American Mystery Novel, was a Booklist Top Ten Debut Novel, and became a motion picture starring Colin Firth and Kevin Bacon. His second novel, Swing, was the first novel with its own original, clue-bearing musical score. He has adapted Agatha Christie, John Grisham, and R.L. Stine for the Broadway and international stage. His short stories have been anthologized in such collections as Best American Mystery Stories, Christmas at the Mysterious Bookshop,and On a Raven’s Wing. Holmes’s earliest story-songs were published in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and he is also the writer/vocalist of several Billboard Top 10 hits, including his Billboard #1 multi-platinum classic with a memorable twist-ending: “Escape (The Pina Colada Song).”
Inspired by true events from the author’s family, TIME’S UNDOING is the story of a Black journalist in 2019 investigating the unsolved mystery of her great-grandfather’s death in 1929 Birmingham. Told in alternating timelines, the novel explores racially-motivated crime, the lengths people will go to cover up the truth, and the powerful bonds of community, family, and love. This is a gripping story full of history, emotion, and suspense that I guarantee will be on my Best of 2023 list!
Time’s Undoing by Cheryl A. Head, (List Price: $28, Dutton, 9780593471821, February 2023)
Reviewed by Beth Seufer Buss, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina
“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
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.
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)
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)
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
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)
“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
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.
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)
The shooting deaths of 2 sisters and their brother, prominent members of the African-American community, set tongues wagging in West Mills, NC. Except for those holding their voice over secrets. Told from alternating perspectives, the mystery unfolds amid lives threatened by the racism and homophobia of the 1960s and 1970s. This is a great read on so many levels, can’t wait to hand sell this one.
Decent People by De’Shawn Charles Winslow, (List Price: 28, Bloomsbury Publishing, 9781635575323, January 2023)
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 Conspiracyby Brendan Slocumb, (List Price: $28.00, 9780593315415, February 2022)
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)
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