The plot thickens
Perhaps you thought The Plot Thickens had been kidnapped and held for ransom, with a note made up of words clipped from a Sunday edition of the Seattle Times as the only clue to his whereabouts. Or maybe you thought this monthly column died a mysterious death in a room with locked doors, or disappeared after spending the night in a house known to be haunted, or the latest in a series of mysterious disappearances among the students and faculty at one was oddly gothic elementary school. No, the real answer doesn’t require a detective to solve it: I was on vacation, and now I’m back, and so is The Plot Thickens – a monthly look at whodunnit and whodunnit in which I often ask readers for recommendations of their favorites of the genre to share.
So while I was away what were you reading? Here are a few recent books I’ve enjoyed over the past few months: Jennifer Hillier’s insidiously effective psychological thriller by former Seattle native Jennifer Hillier.Things we do in the dark‘, about a celebrity murder and a secret past. Chris Pavone’s breathless adventure thriller about husband’s disappearance “Two nights in Lisbon.” Kirstin Chen’s Cunning Cheat Story “fake‘ which takes place in the world of fake designer handbags. “The complaint‘ by Janice Hallett, a crime thriller cleverly told entirely through email and text. Isabel Canas’ “The Hacienda‘, a spooky haunted house story set after the Mexican War. “The locked room‘, the latest in Elly Griffiths’ Ruth Galloway series – one in which isolation during the pandemic plays a key role. (Thanks to the Seattle Public Library, where I found all this and more; nobody will send you advance copies when you’re on vacation.)
And for the past week I’ve enjoyed being in “Marple: Twelve New Mysteries”, a brand new collection of a dozen stories starring Agatha Christie’s heroine Jane Marple, written by a killer lineup of great contemporary crime writers: Griffiths, Alyssa Cole, Lucy Foley, Jean Kwok, Ruth Ware, Val McDermid and more. Some of the stories are set in Miss Marple’s ordinary home, the sweet, murder-ridden hamlet of St Mary Mead; others take them far away, on a cruise ship to Hong Kong (Kwoks “The Jade Empress”), on a visit to New York City (Coles “Miss Marple Takes Manhattan”), or to a picture-perfect Italian villa that a novelist finds odd Bustle (Griffiths’ “Murder at the Villa Rosa”). While, as with all anthologies, some stories are more compelling than others, it’s a treat to spend more time with Christie’s feared heroine, who has “a mind like a bacon slicer” and a knack for “when she wants something…it that way.” appear inevitable.”
Speaking of Miss Marple, if you like cozy British mysteries with a twist, you probably enjoyed Anthony Horowitz’s “Magpie Murders” a few years ago. A six-episode television version of the book, adapted by Horowitz and starring the amazing Lesley Manville (“Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris,” “Phantom Thread”), is now airing Sundays on PBS. And Horowitz himself will host a virtual event with Third Place Books on November 15, which will be interviewed by mystery writer Shari Lapena and discuss “The twist of a knife‘, the latest in his Detective Daniel Hawthorne series – which features as another central character an author named Anthony Horowitz. Should be fun, like all his books. The event is at 9am (probably because Horowitz lives in the UK; watch him have your morning cup of tea); Virtual tickets include a copy of the book and cost $40.94 (including shipping) or $35.70 (in-store pickup). Information: Thirdplacebooks.com.
And with Halloween approaching and dry leaves blowing down the sidewalks, it’s peak season for mystery reading. As I get back into the rhythm of work after a six-month hiatus, I imagine some great books came out this year that I probably missed. What’s the best new – ie published in 2022 or close – mystery/crime (or non-fiction) book you’ve read this year? Let me know via email or in the comments below and I’ll report the results next month. Nice to be back and sharing chills with you all again. Happy Halloween!