Staff Picks 2021, Part IV

This is the final installment of staff picks from 2021. We hope you have enjoyed this glimpse into some of our favorite reads, listens, and watches from last year.

Linda’s Top Picks:

Best Laid Plans by Gwen Florio
The protagonist is a woman in her 50s suddenly confronted with her husband’s infidelity. Her life changes in an instant, and she just reacts without thinking. Nora jumps in their brand new truck and luxury RV and just takes off. She has never driven anything so huge and so powerful before. After an exhausting overnight drive she finds herself in a campground in Wyoming, next to a vibrant young couple who befriends her instantly. But how friendly are they really? When the husband disappears, apparently eaten by a bear, the real mystery begins and Nora realizes she is in way over her head. With her husband, Joe, on her heels and a nasty sheriff on her back, she experiences a life more a nightmare than the dream come true she had anticipated. Did a bear really eat Brad? Should she go back to Joe? What does she want out of life now? Most importantly, how can she escape going to prison for a murder she didn’t commit?
Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman
This mystery takes place in and around a retirement village in England. The Thursday Mystery Club is a group of seniors who met every Thursday to discuss unsolved crimes. Then a murder occurs right in their neighborhood. The four friends decide to put their skills to good use to solve the murder. The mystery is solid, the characters real, and somewhat humorous. The book also gives insights into the thoughts and feelings of those being put ‘out to pasture’. Anyone over retirement age will identify with these characters, and anyone who has older parents or grandparents will get a glimpse of their lives.
Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey
This mystery is set in 1920s India. Perveen Mistry, Bombay’s only female lawyer, works for her father because India has not yet recognized women to the Bar. On the death of a wealthy mill owner, Perveen is sent to confer with his three widows, in order to assure that they each receive their rightful inheritance. However, the male guardian placed over them is murdered, and Purveen becomes determined to find the truth and make sure the women receive the best outcome for their future. Expertly winding two narratives together, the author takes us along with Perveen on her investigation, while telling us her story and revealing why she cares about these women so much. In the process, we get a clear picture of Colonialism and traditional Indian life in that time, as well as what life was like for the women of India.
The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman
This is the second book in the Thursday Murder Club series. (See above) It picks up within days of the first one ending and continues the story of the seniors living in a retirement community in the British countryside. It delves more into the background of Elizabeth, who was a former M16 agent. All the main characters continue, and knowing them already, makes the book even more delightful. The Thursday Club members find themselves embroiled in cases with local police and they work their magic on current M16 agents. Their antics are amusing and poignant, as they prove once again that age is not an accurate indicator of capability. There is a twist at the end that you may not see coming.

Monique’s Top Picks:

Ted Lasso, Apple TV series
Untamed by Glennon Doyle
The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
Hamnet : A Novel of the Plague by Maggie O’Farrell
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller