Molly’s Top Ten of the Year, So Far

  • Post by Molly

innocence or murder on steep street1. Innocence, or Murder on Steep Street by Heda Margolius-Kovaly

Heda Margolius-Kovaly lost her family to the Holocaust, her first husband to Soviet purges, and the right to visit her native land to her defection to the United States. She also translated Raymond Chandler’s work into Czech, and his style, combined with her experiences, are the inspiration for Innocence, a bleak and hard-boiled noir about a woman who engages in increasingly desperate acts to secure her husband’s release from political imprisonment. You can find copies of Innocence, or Murder on Steep Street on our shelves and via bookpeople.com
The Meursault Investigation may not be shelved in the mystery section, but if The Stranger is considered “Mediterranean noir,” then I dub this post-modern redo of The Stranger, told from the perspective of the Arab victim’s family, “De-Colonial Noir.” The Meursault Investigation reads like Said’s Orientalism as a mystery novel, which to me is the best thing in the universe. Spoiler alert: Meursault did it. You can find copies of The Meursault Investigation on our shelves and via bookpeople.com.


curse on dostoevskyA Curse on Dostoevsky is, again, not technically a detective novel. But hey, Crime and Punishment is basically a murder mystery, so this Afghani version of Crime and Punishment should count as well. Rahimi’s protagonist starts out just like Raskolnikov – he murders his landlady to steal her jewels and thus support himself and win the affection of his ladylove. However, the Taliban reacts a bit differently than the Russian Imperial Police to such a crime, and Rahimi turns Dostoevsky’s heavy 19th century morality into the absurdism, indifference and hopelessness of Afghanistan over the past half-century. You can find copies of A Curse on Dostoevsky on our shelves and via bookpeople.com

french concession


3. French Concession by Xiao Bai

Fans of Lust, Caution will enjoy this cinematic thriller set in 1930s Shanghai, and involving a rotation cast of assassins, revolutionaries, spies, informers, arms dealers, and any and all combinations of the above. This is one of the best espionage novels I’ve ever read, with one of the most cheerfully duplicitous heroes ever written. You can find copies of French Concession on our shelves and via bookpeople.com

zagreb cowboy


4. Zagreb Cowboy by Alen Mattich

Zagreb Cowboy was our August Pick of the Month, and for those looking to immerse themselves in the oh-so-complicated world of Balkan politics just before the collapse of Yugoslavia, this is the novel for you. When an Istrian lawyer living in Zagreb gets caught by his gangster boss in a corrupt scheme to sell information, he must go on the run from corrupt police, brutal mafiosi, and the scathing judgement of his ex-wife. He hopes to stay safe long enough for an independent Croatia to emerge, but a malfunctioning Yugo, a crowded London hidey-hole, and the ramp-up to ethnic conflict all stand in his way. Action, atmosphere, setting, style, pacing, and plot – Zagreb Cowboy has it all. You can find copies of Zagreb Cowboy on our shelves and via bookpeople.com

bishops wife


5. The Bishop’s Wife by Mette Ivie Harrison

Let Mette Ivie Harrison guide you into the darkest depths and most profound revelations of a Mormon community missing one of its own. The wife of a bishop, her children grown, takes an interest in her neighbor’s small daughter after the child’s mother goes missing. She suspects the woman’s husband of wrongdoing, although her suspicion widens to include much of the community. In this taut domestic thriller, Harrison explores the dangers, contradictions, lures, and satisfactions of a woman’s place in a Mormon household. You can find copies of The Bishop’s Wife on our shelves and via bookpeople.com

monday's lie


6. Monday’s Lie by Jamie Mason

Monday’s Lie follows the story of Dee, a woman raised by her CIA-agent mother to notice the most minute of details, yet unwilling to acknowledge the increasing warning signs in her own home. Jamie Mason mixes the espionage tale with the domestic suspense novel for a unique and gripping thriller. Perfect for the fan of Girl on The Train or Gone Girl! You can find copies of Monday’s Lie on our shelves and via bookpeople.com

those we left behind


7. Those We Left Behind by Stuart Neville

Stuart Neville has distinguished himself for some time as a leading writer in the new wave of Northern Irish crime novelists taking the world by storm. His early work is firmly grounded in his Northern Irish context – previous novels have explored the legacy of the troubles and the hidden stories of WWII-era collaberation. His latest novel, however, explores a modern, post-Troubles North,  where internal turmoil has replaced external as a driving concern. Those We Left Behind reads almost like a Henning Mankell novel in its use of the mystery genre to explore human psychology, troubled families, and the limits and strengths of the welfare state. Those We Left Behind hits the shelves Tuesday, September 22. Pre-order now! Stuart Neville joins us for Noir at the Bar at Opal Divine’s on Tuesday, October 6, along with many of our favorite mystery writers.

This was my first foray into a non-Easy Rawlins Mosley novel, and I can say that Mosley’s knack for character, context, style and flow all translate in this third installment of his Leonid McGill series. The strong yet diminutive Leonid McGill compares himself to a honey badger, notes the height of every man he meets, and uses a wide array of high tech equipment and down-and-dirty street fighting to solve all his demi-monde clients’ woes. Like most Mosley protagonists, he also has a non-traditional family that provides him equal amounts of stress and satisfaction. You can find copies of And Sometimes I Wonder About You on our shelves and via bookpeople.com.

leaving berlin


9. Leaving Berlin by Joseph Kanon

Joseph Kanon’s standalone spy novel is an epic tale of betrayal, manipulation, double-crossing and strange bedfellows, set against the backdrop of Berlin amidst the post-war ramping up of hostilities. Kanon’s protagonist is German Jewish Marxist who begins the novel headed to East Berlin, his Dutch passport not enough to keep him in the US when he refuses to bow down to McCarthyism. He soon realizes that his new Soviet masters want just as much control over him as his previous places of residence, and he must play each side off against the other to get himself and his former mistress out of the Eastern Bloc. You can find copies of Leaving Berlin on our shelves and via bookpeople.com.

little pretty things10. Little Pretty Things by Lori Rader Day
Lori Rader Day’s Little Pretty Things is a perfectly feminist mystery novel – when Juliet, bored of her small town existance, runs into her high school rival, she feels nothing but jealousy. When her rival turns up dead the next day, however,  Juliet must band together with a female police officer to solve the crime and prove her own innocence. Bechdel test passed with flying colors. You can find copies of Little Pretty Things on our shelves and via bookpeople.com
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