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  • Writer's pictureThe Bossy Bookworm

Six More Four-Star (and Up) Mysteries I Loved in the Past Year

Six Four-Star (and Up) Bossy Mystery Reads

If you want more favorite-mystery lists, check out round 1 of last year's Bossy favorites. And if you're greedy about reading lists like I am, you can also check out the lists I posted last year around this time, Six Four-Star Mystery Reads I Loved Last Year and Six More Four-Star Mysteries I Loved Last Year.

You can also check out My Very Favorite Bossy 2023 Reads for my overall favorite reads from last year across genres.

You can click here for other mysteries I've reviewed on Bossy Bookworm. And here's a link to my Greedy Reading Lists featuring mystery titles.

What are some of your favorite mystery reads? If you've read any of the books listed here, I'd love to hear what you think!


01 Killers of a Certain Age by Deanna Raybourn

This fun, darkly funny, feminist story about a retiring female team of elite assassins was the right book at the right time for me: entertainment in the perfect combination of action and suspense, loyal friendship, clever plotting, and the promise of love.

The Museum is an organization that operates outside of governmental control, relying on various trained elite killing forces. Originally formed in order to hunt down and rid the world of lingering Nazis, the Museum's mission has evolved to focus on taking out carefully chosen bad guys of all stripes--drug dealers, human traffickers, arms dealers, and the like.

But when four aging Museum friends are sent on an all-expenses-paid vacation to mark their retirement, a Museum associate attempts to do them in. The women realize they may know too much about where the bodies are buried--literally--to be allowed to drift away into the world without a fight.

In Killers of a Certain Age, Raybourn has crafted an irresistibly fun, clever, feminist caper that had me hooked the whole way through. I loved the women's complicated bonds, their crafty planning, their fights for justice, and their ability to remain flexible and reinvent themselves.

I love a spy/assassin book and a book that treats dark subjects playfully without being silly. For my full review, check out Killers of a Certain Age.


02 A Conspiracy in Belgravia (Lady Sherlock #2) by Sherry Thomas

Book two of Thomas's Lady Sherlock series offers a robust dual mystery, clever female characters, priceless gems of insight from Charlotte, a continued rejection of Victorian society's rigid expectations, and a bubbling undercurrent of forbidden attraction.

I listened to the audiobook of the second in Thomas's Lady Sherlock series (read wonderfully by Kate Reading), in which Charlotte Holmes returns in all of her feisty, unconventional, clever glory, despite the significant constraints on women and their behavior in Victorian England.

The mystery leads Charlotte to discover various illuminating aspects to Lord Ingram's past and his marriage, and her simmering (and shared) attraction to Ingram is a powerful undercurrent throughout, although practical Charlotte keeps all outrageous emotions and possibilities in check.

Charlotte's various views on the world are absolute gems, and I love spending time in her point of view.

A Study in Scarlet Women is the first book in Sherry Thomas's gender-flipped Sherlock Holmes mystery series, and I loved it. There are seven books in all. I can't wait to read the other books in this series!

Please click here for my full review of A Conspiracy in Belgravia.


03 The Traitor (Alias Emma #2) by Ava Glass

Emma Makepeace returns with new enemies in her sights--but this time she must work undercover on a Russian oligarch's yacht without MI6 contact. She faces unknown dangers and heartbreaking betrayal in this fast-paced novel.

Ava Glass's Alias Emma was a fast-paced cat-and-mouse chase across London and through an underground warren of tunnels, all part of an elaborate plan to avoid Russian murderers. It was also a book that hit the spot and suited my mood perfectly when I read it.

Emma Makepeace returns in the second book in the series, The Traitor, and when one thing leads to another, Emma finds herself working undercover on a ruthless Russian oligarch's yacht.

Glass moves the story along in entertaining fashion. The novel references elements from book one, such as Emma's familial career inspiration, but it isn't necessary to have first read Alias Emma in order to dive into this story.

I love a spy book, a book about Russia, and a feisty, strong young female protagonist, and The Traitor offers all three. I wasn't shocked by the story's twist, but Glass didn't make me feel manipulated or red-herring me to death along the way.

Click here to check out my full review of The Traitor.


04 All the Dangerous Things by Stacy Willingham

I was hooked on Willingham's past and present storylines and by her unreliable narrator Isabelle, who is desperate to find her missing son--even if it means facing the painful truth of her own traumatic history.

A year ago, Isabelle Drake's toddler son was taken from her. She can't rest until Mason is returned to her (she's not sleeping except for catnaps, and she's starting to fall apart physically and mentally), so when a true-crime podcaster offers to interview her and get the story out so Mason may be more likely to be found, she says yes.

Isabelle can't stop searching for her son, but she begins to wonder if she's an unreliable source of memories surrounding Mason's death.

Is she paranoid, or is the podcaster taking too deep of an interest in Isabelle's personal past rather than trying to solve the mystery of Mason's disappearance?

I like the way Willingham builds tension and offers twists without making me feel manipulated by shifty details. I was hooked on both the past and present timelines of this story.

For my full review, please see All the Dangerous Things. Willingham is also the author of A Flicker in the Dark.


05 I Have Some Questions for You by Rebecca Makkai

Makkai's boarding school-set mystery offers depth as it exposes age-old power mismatches; offers young characters agency; explores systemic violence against women; and serves up true-crime fascination while its middle-aged protagonist makes mistakes, seeks justice, and fights for closure.

Bodie Kane is a professor and podcaster, and she has left firmly in the past the events of her boarding school years, when her roommate Thalia was murdered--and the school's athletic trainer was convicted of the crime.

But when her alma mater invites her to return to teach a course, Bodie is drawn back to the case and realizes its shoddy investigation and its seemingly faulty conclusions. It makes her wonder: who really killed Thalia?

I've been eagerly awaiting the release of this story, which I understood to be part whodunit, part boarding school novel--I love a boarding school novel. Yet Makkai's book was also much more.

I Have Some Questions for You is an examination of the shocking, broad power of a social media whirlwind, particularly one without basis in facts or merit. It's about our societal obsession with tragedies and mysterious murders, and the tendency of bystanders to insert themselves into speculation and judgment. It's about the infuriating, often tragic power mismatches between men and women, white and Black people, and the wealthy and the poor.

Please click here for my full review of I Have Some Questions for You.


06 Changeless (Parasol Protectorate #2) by Gail Carriger

Book two of the Parasol Protectorate series continues to be playful, mischievous, wonderfully detailed about Victorian life, and full of supernatural creatures and clever plotting.

The series takes place in 1870s London, and in book two as in book one, the immensely appealing, practical, fearless character of Alexia Tarabotti (now married to Lord Maccon, a werewolf) navigates danger and helps achieve justice by using her smarts, eschewing societal tradition and limits on women, and demonstrating her ability to neutralize the supernatural abilities of werewolves, vampires, and other creatures.

She is a preternatural--a human without a soul--serving on Queen Victoria's somewhat secret advisory committee, which affords her a certain power, and she is also the Alpha female of her husband's pack, which affords her a very different one.

When her husband disappears, Alexia tracks him to Scotland, where all manner of badly behaving creatures await, she needs her incredibly handy parasol, her unshakable nerve, some savviness, and the armor of the latest fashions in order to fight off danger, uncover dastardly plots, discover the power plays at work, and save her own life.

I'm in for all of these books and laughed out loud at the dialogue, Alexia's abrupt manner, and the delightful oddities in Changeless.

For my full review (and a link to my review of the first book in the Parasol Protectorate series), please check out Changeless.


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