Domestic Surveillance: The Internal Spy Novel

  • Post by Director of Suspense Molly Odintz

Tales of espionage used to mean (to me, anyway) stories of international intrigue with more mileage accrued in the course of an adventure than the travel plans of an international jetsetter, and more locations than the TV show Sens8. To spy does not necessarily mean to travel – the FBI keeps tabs on plenty of Americans, just as the KGB kept a close watch on the doings of many a Soviet citizen. Here’s a few suggested reads for those curious about the intimate nature of spying on one’s own people, on one’s own soil.

9781496712356The Striver’s Row Spy by Jason Overstreet

After graduating from a prestigious university with an engineering degree and a hunger for justice and success, Sidney Temple finds himself recruited to be the FBI’s first African-American agent instead. Told to spy on Marcus Garvey’s Back to Africa movement for the FBI, he decides to funnel useful information over to WEB Du Bois and the NAACP. Discussions of the disagreements between supporters of Du Bois and followers of Marcus Garvey immerses readers in the internal debates of Harlem Renaissance America. Temple’s apolitical artistic wife rounds out the portrayal of the time period’s Harlem intelligentsia, for a novel that excels as both spy fiction and historical fiction. The Striver’s Row Spy comes out in paperback on Tuesday, July 25th. Pre-order now! 

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50 Mystery Novels by Women Crime Writers, Read in a Year

  • Post by Molly Odintz

The list below is the tip of the cold, murderous iceberg when it comes to works by women crime novelists, but like any other list, it’s a good place to start.

With my yearly New Year’s Resolutions, most of which I will never revisit, I usually come up some kind of reading project, based around genres, authors, or settings I’ve neglected. 2015’s goal? Best not mentioned, as I miserably failed in my efforts to complete it. 2016’s reading goal? Read fifty books by women, and if possible, fifty works of crime fiction by women; not just new releases, but also classic noir and domestic suspense. With the release of Women Crime Writers of the 1940s and 50s, we’ve entered a new era of publisher and reader support for crime fiction classics by women.

Many of the books below are part of the zeitgeist – you’ll see a lot of girls in the title. I’ve also tried to focus on reading some of their antecedents, and you’ll see works on the list from Dorothy Hughes, Daphne Du Maurier, Margaret Millar, Patricia Highsmith, and other classic women crime writers of mid-century America, plus a couple of golden age works from Dorothy Sayers and Agatha Christie. You won’t find many representatives of the tough second-wave protagonists of the 80s and 90s, or many works in translation – both areas, I’m sorry to admit, I neglected in the past year.

You will find quite a few books set in Texas, and some that have yet to be released; both quirks of a bookseller’s reading habits, as we tend to dive deep into the literature of our areas, and often receive early copies of upcoming releases.

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Molly’s Top Ten International Crime Novels of 2016

  • Post by Director of Suspense Molly Odintz

2016 was a stellar year in international crime fiction – the stories below run the gamut from humorous to heart-breaking, daring to disturbing, and playful to pensive. There are entries on the list from Britain, Ireland, Brazil, Canada, France, Argentina, and more, yet the works are just some of the standouts in a thriving international crime fiction community. 

97800624407781. The Mother by Yvette Edwards

Yvette Edwards tells a moving tale from a complex perspective in this story of murder and consequences in London. Eight months after 16-year-old Ryan is stabbed to death by another teenager, his killer goes on trial, ready to protest his innocence. Ryan’s mother, and her sister Lorna, are torn between their search for justice and their empathy for the teenager on trial. The outcome of the trial comes down to the testimony of a vulnerable teenage mother previously involved with both Ryan and the defendant, and after amping up the action in the last third of the book, Edwards provides a hopeful conclusion. One of the most necessary and moving books of the year.

97815942064052. Perfect Days by Raphael Montes

This book is twisted! Frustrated by a lack of fulfillment in his imaginary relationship with a cadaver, a young medical student kidnaps a writer named Clarice and takes her on road trip through Brazil. From locking her in a suitcase to forcing her to accept his edits to her novel, the doctor-in-training makes Clarice’s life hell, all while justifying his actions to the reader in increasingly bizarre and sometimes comical ways. After several reversals of power, the ending will leave your mouth agape. As funny as it is disturbing!

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31 Crime Novels by Women: A New Year’s Resolution Progress Report in Honor of Women’s Equality Day

  • Post by Molly Odintz

The list below is the tip of the cold, murderous iceberg when it comes to works by women crime novelists, but like any other list, it’s a good place to start.

Minotaur Books Created This Stunning Image to Celebrate Women's Equality Day
Minotaur Books created this stunning image in celebration of Women’s Equality Day (this year, Friday, August 26th).

With my yearly New Year’s Resolutions, most of which I will never revisit, I usually come up some kind of reading project, based around genres, authors, or settings I’ve neglected. 2015’s goal? Best not mentioned, as I miserably failed in my efforts to complete it. 2016’s reading goal? Read fifty books by women, and if possible, fifty works of crime fiction by women; not just new releases, but also classic noir and domestic suspense. With the release of Women Crime Writers of the 1940s and 50s, we’ve entered a new era of publisher and reader support for crime fiction classics by women.

This year, to my surprise, I’m a bit further on the path to completing my reading goal, so time to brag and share it with you all, despite my failure to complete it as of yet. Hey, I’ve got four more months left, so why not put the cart before the horse and smugly tell you all about my accomplishments? After all, I’m 31 books in, 31 crime novels by women that I can now confidently recommend in the store and on the internet, because I have read and enjoyed them. Before I (prematurely) rest on my laurels, I’d like to trace the origins of this mighty goal.

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Three (More) Picks for February

  • Post by Molly Odintz

MysteryPeople (in the corporeal form of Scott Montgomery, Crime Fiction Coordinator, and me, Molly, bookseller) will be joining Hopeton Hay for his radio show, KAZI Book Review, 88.7 FM, on the last Sunday of each month between 12:30-12:45 to talk about our favorite releases for the month. I had so much fun discussing my most anticipated picks for February, I’ve decided to put them up on our blog as well! Below, you’ll find three very different books, each and every one a gem of a crime novel.


Perfect Days by Raphael Montes

9781594206405There’s not much I can say about this one without giving one of Montes’ myriad twists away. I can say that, early in the novel, Montes references the director Michael Haneke and the film Misery, and both of those references become increasingly relevant through this twisted novel. In other words, Perfect Days is the most disturbing novel that I also enjoyed reading since I was first terrified by Kathryn Dunn’s Geek Love. 

Perfect Days follows a medical student as he develops an obsession with a young wannabe screenwriter named Clarice he briefly meets at a party. When his wheelchair-bound mother and “Gertrude,” the corpse he’s slowly been dissecting for school, fail to satisfy his need for female companionship, the student kidnaps Clarice, stashes her in a suitcase, and takes her across Brazil while attempting to brainwash her into falling in love with him.

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