Must-read mysteries for book clubs

Vannessa Cronin on November 19, 2020
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Must-read mysteries for book clubs

If you and your book club are looking for a change of pace—a read that combines action, adventure, and plenty of danger—a mystery or thriller makes a great choice. Murder and mayhem are not the only ingredients for a great thriller. In fact, the novels below serve up sides of heart and insight along with the with other, more traditional elements. Read on for our recommendations.


The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

For six years Alicia—a famous painter—has been shut away in a psychiatric facility, refusing to speak, let alone to explain why she shot her fashion photographer husband five times in the face. But psychotherapist Theo, a survivor of childhood abuse, thinks he can succeed where others have failed and get Alicia to speak again. The legacy of trauma, comparisons to a Greek tragedy, observations about the power of art to transform, and some seriously killer twists make this a treat for the mind and the nerves.


Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke

A Black Texas Ranger, ambivalent about his return to his home state, acts on a tip from an FBI friend and finds himself knee-deep in a murder case that threatens to expose the racist history of a small East Texas town. Author Attica Locke has written for the TV show Empire and her storytelling skills, plus her ear for dialogue, are on full display in Bluebird, Bluebird.


Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara

Nine-year old Jai lives with his family at the end of the Purple metro line, in an area best described as a slum, living in constant fear of his family's one-bedroom shack being demolished. When a classmate, Bahadur, disappears Jai attempts to use the detective skills he has picked up from watching TV to help. Corruption, class, domestic abuse, and the ways in which the poor are preyed upon are all looked at through the eyes of a child in this fascinating mystery.


IQ by Joe Ide

The story of a lone wolf/high school dropout who solves cases the LAPD won't touch, the man known as IQ picks up the baton dropped by Easy Rawlins and adds a little Sherlockian flair as he moves between tax brackets in L.A., collecting fat paydays from rappers, while getting paid with casseroles by his East L.A. neighbors. Gritty, witty, and smart, IQ is a must-read series starter.


The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris

The phrase "it rubs the lotion on its skin..." passed into the national lexicon upon the release of the movie adapted from Harris' novel, The Silence of the Lambs, but a closer look at the "transgendered person as serial killer" motif—and how it is perceived—is long overdue, especially in light of the brouhaha over the same motif cropping up in Robert (J.K. Rowling) Galbraith's most recent novel.


Defending Jacob by William Landay

How far any parent would go to shield their child from harm is an emotional topic under the best of circumstances. But if you are an attorney of over 20 years standing and your son is accused of murder? This courtroom/family drama finally came to screens this year, and has been a critical success. Read it before you watch it, because the novel has an ending that—12 years after it first published—still has the ability to shock.


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