Every month, we’re profiling new-ish releases that are getting critical and commercial buzz. For January, we’re looking at a literary mystery set in the Florida wetlands, a novel that explores the fallout of an act of vandalism, modern sagas about Caribbean and Native American/Hispanic families, true crime about a falcon thief, and an audiobook about nice couples who may not be so nice after all.
If you enjoy literary thrillers:
Virginia Hartman’s The Marsh Queen (2022)*
Loni makes her living as a bird artist for the Smithsonian and is reluctant to leave her home in DC for her native Florida Panhandle when her mother has an accident. Still, she goes. While back home, she finds a cryptic note about her father’s drowning death when she was a child. Atmospheric complications ensue as Loni tries to get to the bottom of the note and mend fences with long-estranged relatives.
*Ebook also available on Libby.
Recommended for those who enjoyed Where The Crawdads Sing.
If you like thought-provoking contemporary fiction:
Rita Cameron’s The House Party (2022)
Maja often doesn’t get what she wants (a child or a functional marriage), but she is determined to pour all of her frustration into getting exactly what she wants in her suburban Philly house, to be celebrated with an epic house party. That’s to be thwarted, too, however, when some local teens vandalize the house. But it’s not just any teens who wreck her house–it’s the “good” kids who are on their way to college in a few months. Soon, the neighborhood finds itself fracturing as everyone has an opinion on whether or not they should be punished.
Recommended for those who enjoy the work of Liane Moriarty and Celeste Ng.
If you love family sagas:
Charmaine Wilkerson’s Black Cake (2022)**
When Eleanor dies, she leaves her children Byron and Benny an unusual inheritance–a cryptic voice recording that mentions a long-lost sibling they know nothing about and a traditional Caribbean black cake. She tells the estranged siblings to share the cake when it seems right. Will working on unraveling this mystery bring Byron and Benny together or tear them asunder for good?
Recommended for those who enjoy the work of Yaa Gyasi.
**Ebook and audiobook also available on Libby.
Oscar Hokeah‘s Calling for A Blanket Dance (2022)
Ever is the protagonist of this debut novel from Oscar Hokeah, but we only ever hear from him at the end. Until then, an assortment of his relatives–both Mexican and Native American (Kiowa and Cherokee)–chime in with advice and opinions on what the young man should do. Mainly they encourage him to find strength in his community and family. But what does Ever end up doing? You’ll have to read the book, which has gotten a lot of critical buzz, to find out.
Recommended for those who enjoy the work of Tommy Orange.
If you prefer nonfiction:
Joshua Hammer’s The Falcon Thief (2020)
I’ve covered a lot of true crime over the years on the blog because it’s an interest of mine–sometimes my coworkers greet me by asking me what weird murders I’m currently following and I always have a suitably weird answer–but this book might cover the most oddly specific crime I’ve profiled here. Thieves who steal rare birds and their eggs. Yes, we all have questions. In this book, veteran journalist Joshua Hammer covers the bizarre exploits of an Irish avian thief and the efforts of a UK wildlife cop to apprehend him while also shedding some light on this very specialized crime.
Recommended for those who enjoy the work of Jonathan Meiburg.
If you want an audiobook:
Mary Kubica’s Just The Nicest Couple (2023)***
When Jake disappears, his wife Nina is determined to find out what happened to him. Unbeknownst to Nina, her coworker Lily may have been the last to see Jake, but Lily and her own husband Christian decide it’s better not to tell anyone what she saw. What could possibly go wrong?
Recommended for those who enjoy the work of Gillian Flynn.
***Ebook also available on Libby and physical copy in system.
What’s your favorite new-ish books? What books are you buzzing about these days? Have you read any of these books? Tell us in the comments! As always, please follow this link to our online library catalog for more information on any of these items or to place them on hold.