Next up, it’s our resident mystery expert, Linda!
Linda’s Top 5 of 2023
The Maid/Nita Prose
The main character in this book, Molly the Maid, is neurodivergent, probably on the autism spectrum. She is socially awkward because she has a difficult time reading people, and she loves cleanliness. Every day she goes happily to her job in an upscale hotel with the goal of returning everything to a “state of perfection”. One day while cleaning rooms in the hotel, she discovers the body of a very wealthy, powerful man. Molly’s unique outlook and attention to detail make her a key witness. Her lack of the expected emotional response to such a crime, make her the main suspect. The weak point in this book is the shoddy police investigation that led to her arrest. It hardly mattered though, because Molly, and her allies, were able to bring about justice, at least Molly’s idea of justice. There were twists at the end that I never saw coming, and, at least in this case, all’s well that ends well.
Reflecting the Sky/S.J. Rozan
Chinese-American PI, Lydia Chin, and her partner, Bill Smith, are sent to Hong Kong to deliver an inheritance to the family of a Chinese-American businessman. Unknown on either side of the Pacific, Mr. Wei had two families, one in New York and one in Hong Kong. Even so, this should have been a fairly easy assignment, and a chance for Lydia to see firsthand the culture of her ancestors. The situation becomes much more complicated when they arrive to discover that the young man receiving the inheritance has been kidnapped. Ordered not to involve the police, Lydia and Bill must find the boy and figure out just what is going on behind the quiet front of the Wei’s Import/Export company. The boy’s life, and their own, may depend on it.
Lightning Strike/William Kent Krueger
This is a prequel to the Cork Corcoran mystery series that takes place in northern Minnesota, in the small town of Aurora. Twelve year old Cork idolizes his father, Liam, the town sheriff. But when Cork and his friend Jorge find Big John Manydeeds hanging from a tree, all that begins to change. Just outside the Ojibwe Indian Reservation, tensions have always existed between the town and the Rez, but the death of Big John Manydeeds brings those tensions near the boiling point. Cork’s mother is half Ojibwe and his grandmother full blood. Even within his own home anxiety is high. To Cork, everything seems to be changing before his very eyes, and he doesn’t like it one bit. This is a coming of age story as much as it is a complex murder mystery. The characters are fully formed, the issues contemporary, and the mystery will keep you guessing until the end. Oh, and don’t plan on going to bed until it’s finished.
Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers/Jesse Q Sutanto
What happens when an elderly Asian woman finds a dead body in her teashop one morning? Well, if that woman is Vera Wong, hilarity ensues. Vera is fierce, a traditional Asian mother. She expects everyone to fall in line, and they do. Before long Vera has four suspects, all who seem to have something to hide. But is it murder? As Vera searches for the truth, she becomes involved in the lives of her suspects, and doesn’t want any of them to be guilty. Somehow, in her wisdom, Vera makes all their lives better. This book has many humorous moments, and some poignant ones too. You will love these characters, especially Vera, and you’ll never guess who did it.
The Last Devil to Die/Richard Osman
This is the fourth book in this series featuring the lovely characters at the Cooper’s Chase Retirement Village. They are the members of the Thursday Mystery Club, a group of seniors who meet every Thursday to discuss old unsolved crimes. Somehow, current murders always take precedence. Each one has been in my top 5 on the year it came out. This one surpasses them all, in my opinion. It has the quirky characters we have all come to love. It has a complex mystery to solve. There are plenty of laughs as well. And it packs a punch you won’t see coming. It is written beautifully and with genuine insight. You won’t soon forget this one.