(Extremely) Unauthorized Relationship Advice Inspired by Crime Fiction: Part 3

  • Post by Director of Suspense Molly Odintz

We conclude our countdown to the holiday of love with fake relationship advice from three more characters. Jessica Knoll’s TifAni FaNelli gives advice on marrying a blueblood, Kerry Greenwood’s Phryne Fisher encourages us to take as many lovers as we’d like, and Paula Hawkins’ protagonist from The Girl on the Train schools us on fact-checking and female solidarity. We hope you’ve enjoyed our series – send us your relationship questions (and which character you’d like to give you advice) to keep the series going! 

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7% Solution Book Club to Discuss: LUCKIEST GIRL ALIVE by Jessica Knoll

On Monday, September 12, the 7% Solution Book Club meets to discuss Jessica Knoll’s stunning debut, Luckiest Girl Alive. October’s book is Last King of Texas, by Rick Riordan. As always, book club selections are 10% off at the registers in the month of their selection. 

  • Post by Molly Odintz

97814767896441There are few things I can reveal about the fascinating journey that is reading Jessica Knoll’s Luckiest Girl Alive. The novel holds too many surprises to speak much of what occurs – although I do feel “trigger warning” would be an apt phrase to attach to the novel. For those who’ve already read the book and are interested in discerning fact from fiction in the novel’s inspirations, here’s a haunting article from Jessica Knoll about how her own experiences made their way into Luckiest Girl Alive.

The novel’s darkness is matched only by its level of success. Reese Witherspoon has plans in the works to turn the book into a film, and Luckiest Girl Alive has become an international bestseller. The novel’s appeal stems from its perfect merger of societal critique, mystery novel,  and message – of hope, recovery, forgiveness (for some) and vengeance (for the deserving).

Knoll’s debut begins with a facade. TifAni FaNelli is a woman who has achieved career success, found a blue-blooded fiance, and adopted convincing upper-class mannerisms. Only TifAni FaNelli’s name gives her origins away – a working class childhood and a severe Catholic school, full of bullies, misfits and targets. She’s been contacted by a camera crew making a documentary about a traumatic event at her high school, forcing FaNelli to take a step back from her hard-won success and take a look at the lingering scars of her past.

As the novel switches between grown-up TifAni and teenage TifAni, the reader sees much of the journey of modern womanhood. Grown-up TifAni knows how to rule the roost; she uses a series of psychological tricks to establish dominance over her interns in the first few chapters, and knows exactly what statement she makes with every aspect of her ensemble. Teenage TifAni, beautiful and naive, tries to fit in with the rich kids at her new school, ready to blend in and assume a higher social status. Instead, the school’s elites exploit her and then turn on her, devoting much of their energy to harassing her and smearing her reputation (to put things lightly).

Luckiest Girl Alive’s examination of bullying and slut-shaming is both eye-opening and contemporary. Of particular note, Knoll immerses the reader in the distance between a woman’s relationship with her own body and society’s attempt to equate her curves with her experience. Knoll additionally excels at establishing sympathy for characters capable of heinous acts, while destroying the sympathy unjustly rewarded to those who deserve their suffering.

You can find copies of Luckiest Girl Alive on our shelves and via bookpeople.com. The 7 % Solution Book Club normally meets the first Monday of each month, but due to Labor Day, we have moved our September meeting to the second Monday, September 12, at 7 PM

MysteryPeople Q&A with Jessica Knoll

 

Jessica Knoll comes to BookPeople this upcoming Saturday, April 16th, at 3 PM, to speak and sign her critically acclaimed and bestselling debut, Luckiest Girl Alivesoon to be made into a feature film. 

Luckiest Girl Alive follows Ani FaNelli, high-powered magazine writer, engaged to a blue-blood and about as put together as one woman can be. Behind the veneer, Ani is traumatized by a dark past, and a documentary being made about a mysterious incident during her high school days might help her heal – or it might bring her carefully constructed facade tumbling down. 

Luckiest Girl Alive is full of twists, turns, social critique, and a complex approach to female identity and the politics of reinvention – in short, I can’t recommend this book enough! We asked Jessica a few questions via email before her visit to the store. 

“In adolescence, Ani is made to feel worthless, and so many go out of their way to silence her voice—doctors, teachers, and her own mother. As an adult, Ani believes that if she can achieve success in her professional and personal lives, that she will finally command respect. It’s about being seen and believed and heard after years of being told to sit down and shut up.”

 


  • Interview by bookseller and blogger Molly Odintz

Molly Odintz: Luckiest Girl Alive, without giving anything away, made me think of Inception a bit while reading it – as the book progresses, the reader descends to deeper and deeper levels of Ani’s past pain and trauma, almost as if we are peeling the layers off of Ani. How did you come up with your structure?

Jessica Knoll:  It was really an organic process. I wrote the book in chronological order, exactly as the reader experiences it. The toggling between the past and present was an organic structure that just made sense as I was writing it.

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April is for Mystery Lovers: Tons of Upcoming Events!

As we all enjoy the brief Texas spring, come take shelter from the pollen counts and enjoy our full roster of mystery events coming up in April here at the store. On April 2nd, Philip Kerr started off our April events with a blast, speaking and signing his latest continuation of his Bernie Gunther series, The Other Side of SilenceIf you missed the event, signed copies of his latest, as well as many of the previous volumes in the series, are available on our shelves and via bookpeople.com.

This past Sunday, April 10th, at 2 PM, Laurie R. King, author of the beloved Russell and Holmes series, as well as the fantastic Kate Martinelli series, joined us to speak and sign her latest installment in her Mary Russell series, The Murder of Mary Russell. While I’ve been reading the Mary Russell novels for many years, King’s newest addition to the series, delving deep into Mrs. Hudson’s backstory, might be my favorite in the series to date!

For those who missed this event, library enthusiasts will be pleased to note that in support of Austin Public Library, 5% of sales of all Laurie R. King titles sold in store on Sunday April 10th and 5 % of sales of The Murder of Mary Russell the week of April 5th (ending April 12th) will be donated to the library. Come by today or tomorrow, grab a copy of King’s latest, and support Austin Public Library. Signed copies available!

Just one day after Laurie R. King’s visit, Stuart Woods and David C. Taylor will be speaking and signing their latest novels, Family Jewels and Night Work, respectively, today, Monday, April 11th, at 7 PM. This event is a wonderful opportunity to catch up with Stuart Woods on his large oeuvre of bestselling thrillers, while getting to know David C. Taylor, an up-and-coming crime novelist who started out in the film biz.

Next up, Jessica Knoll, author of the stunning debut, Luckiest Girl Alive, comes to speak and sign this amazing novel on Saturday, April 16th, at 3 PM. Knoll has worked as senior editor at Cosmopolitan. She draws on both life and fiction for her debut, an intense look at high school trauma and its lingering effects, even for those who manage to reinvent themselves in adulthood.

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On Sunday, April 17th, Scott and Molly will reprise our panel discussion on how we compiled our MysteryPeople Top 100 Crime and Suspense Novels at the first ever Pflugerville Book Pfestival, happening Saturday the 16th and Sunday the 17th at the Pflugerville Library. The festival is sponsored by KAZI Austin, 88.7 FM, and put together by Hopeton Hay, host of Kazi Book Review with Hopeton Hay. Thanks to Hopeton and KAZI for putting this festival together and bringing the MysteryPeople Top 100 list out into world.

Then on Monday, April 18th, at 1 PM, the Murder in the Afternoon Book Club will discuss The Professionalsby Owen Laukkanen, with a call-in from the author. The Hard Word Book Club, meeting Wednesday, April 27th, at 7 PM, also has a special guest calling in to the discussion – Craig Johnson, author of the Longmire series, will call in to discuss his novel As The Crow Flies

Finally, we’ll finish out the month with a visit from Melissa Ginsburg on Saturday, April 30th at 3 PM. Ginsburg’s Houston-set debut, Sunset City, follows a barista on the hunt for her best friend’s murderer. Sunset City is our April Pick of the Month, and we’re glad to celebrate a powerful new voice in Texas crime fiction.

Edgar Nominations Announced!

 

mwaThe nominations for the 2016 Edgar Awards were announced last week. This seemed to be the year where great minds think alike – many of the nominees made in on to our best of 2015 lists, put together by Scott and Molly. 

We want to congratulate old friends and new favorites, including Duane Swierczynski, nominated for his novel Canary, David C. Taylor, for Night LifeMichael Robotham, for Life or DeathMegan Abbott, for her short story “The Little Men,” Philip Kerr, for The Lady From Zagreb, Lou Berney, for The Long and Faraway GoneLori Rader Day, for Little Pretty Things, David Joy, for Where All Light Tends To GoGordon McAlpine, for The Woman with the Blue Pencil, Jessica Knoll, for Luckiest Girl Alive, and Adrian McKinty, for Gun Street Girl.

Congratulations all the others who made it. Best of luck to everyone and have a great time in New York.

Click here for the full list of Edgar Nominees.

Molly’s Top 10 U.S.-set Crime Novels of 2015

2015 has been an eclectic year for crime novels. Below, you’ll find historical fiction, reissues, domestic suspense, sophisticated city thrillers, and coincidentally, several books detailing the nightmarish and inescapable legacy of high school. Whether you are looking for dark and dense or light and playful, there’s a book on this list guaranteed to tickle your fancy. 


1. In a Lonely Place by Dorothy Hugheswomen crime writers 1940s

Hughes’ tale of an homme fatale turns the sexualized imagery of crime novels on its head, and like much of the genre, once again reminds us how to find the eroticism in death, and the violence in sex. In a Lonely Place, after decades out of print, is now available as part of the Library of America’s collection Women Crime Writers of the 40s & 50s.


2. Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegheileen

In Eileen, Ottessa Moshfegh takes us on the tour of small town life in mid-century America. Eileen, a repressed juvenile prison administrator stuck taking care of her drunk father in their filthy house, is fearful and disgusted by virtually every bodily function or urge. When a glamorous new coworker joins the prison staff as the new juvenile therapist, the two form an intense bond, liberating each from the confines of their historical context.

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Molly’s Top 7 Debuts of 2015

When perusing my year’s end list of favorite novels, I noticed more than a few debuts within the mystery genre on the list (some of the writers mentioned below have previously been published within other genres).  Those that made the greatest impression, I’ve collected for you below. Seven may be a bit of a weird number – think of this list as my top five, plus two!

  • Molly Odintz. 
luckiest girl alive1. Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll
This may be the most startling novel of 2015. There isn’t much I can say about this book without giving something away. Luckiest Girl Alive functions as a primer in the vicious nature of social competition in all stages of life, while simultaneously remaining sympathetic to the experience of trauma.

 


2. The Bishop’s Wife by Mette Ivie Harrison

Mette Ivie Harrison writes ‘Mormon Noir,’ which I had bishops wife full sizenever heard of nor conceptualized till picking up this book on the strong recommendation of Scott Montgomery. The Bishop’s WifeHarrison’s debut in the mystery genre, follows Linda Wallheim as she helps her husband Kurt, just appointed bishop, in aiding their community. Linda grows attached to a neighborhood child, and through her investigation of the child’s mother’s disappearance, draws attention to both the vulnerability of Mormon women and the attraction of Mormonism to women.

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If you like Megan Abbott…

  • Post by Molly Odintz

Megan Abbott is one of the most versatile and creative crime novelists writing today. Her first four novels, Die a Little, The Song is You, Queenpin and Bury Me Deep use historical settings and noir style to explore female narratives – in particular, the tension between female community and competition.

Her next three novels continue to explore these themes in a modern setting with young adult characters. The End of Everything, Dare Me and The Fever all tackle the the murky waters of adolescence, with characters trapped in the space between victim, perpetrator and witness. Abbott’s novels are mature, daring, intelligent and unique. If you love her work as much as we do, here are a few recommendations we think you’ll enjoy!

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