The Bossy Bookworm
Six More Four-Star Mysteries I Loved Last Year
Six More Four-Star (and Up) Bossy Mystery Reads
"Is she going to just keep rehashing all the big hits of her past year of reading?" YES. Yes, she is! I love a Favorites list, and now that I've got a spreadsheet (ahem!) of my favorite reads of the past year by genre, the hits are going to keep coming! So buckle up, buttercups!
I recently posted about Six Four-Star Mystery Reads I Loved Last Year. This list highlights six more of my very favorite mystery reads of last year
(Check out My Very Favorite Bossy 2022 Reads for my overall favorite reads from last year.)
If you've read any of these, I'd love to hear what you think!
You can click here for other mysteries I've reviewed on Bossy Bookworm. And here's a list of Six Historical Fiction Mysteries I Loved, if you like the melding of those two genres like I do. What are some of your favorite mystery titles or mystery genres?
01 A Restless Truth (Last Binding #2) by Freya Marske
The second book in Marske's series is an irresistible queer magical mystery thriller with Edwardian England details, racy encounters, vulnerability and love, and witty banter on a ship bound for England.
A Restless Truth is the second in Freya Marske's queer fantasy mystery Last Binding trilogy that began with A Marvellous Light.
In A Restless Truth, the character of Maud Blyth (Robin's sister, introduced in book one) expects adventure when she agrees to help save the magical world by serving as companion to an elderly magician on an ocean liner.
By doing so, Maud aims to help her beloved older brother resolve a magical mystery that's been decades in the making.
But when her charge drops dead on day one, Maud must identify the murderer, try to get her hands on a magical object essential to untangling the mystery at hand--and try to survive the voyage without being murdered herself.
Like A Marvellous Light, Marske's A Restless Truth was full of details of life in Edwardian England, gay love, mystery, magic, wonderful dialogue, and plenty of heart. I adored it.
For my full review, check out A Restless Truth.
02 The Love of My Life by Rosie Walsh
In The Love of My Life, Rosie Walsh offers a contemporary fiction thriller with twists that centers around a fascinating cast of characters, their heartbreak, and their hope.
Emma is a marine biologist who's devoted to her husband Leo and their young daughter Ruby. Emma finds herself fighting aggressive lymphoma, and Leo, an obituary writer, privately copes with his pain by writing about Emma.
Emma is recovering. But as Leo continues to dig into his wife's past to confirm details, he finds that the facts his beloved wife has told him don't add up. He doesn't want to upset Emma, so he does something he's never done: he goes behind her back, speaking to people from her past who can fill in the gaps. And he finds that almost everything Emma has ever told him about herself has been a lie.
The tone of this is more toward contemporary fiction, and the book offers satisfying character development, but The Love of My Life is also a psychological thriller with twists and turns. Without melodrama or a manipulative-feeling big reveal, Walsh surprised me with the real story and the reasons Emma kept her secrets. This wonderfully wrought page-turner is heartbreaking, hopeful, and masterfully crafted.
For my full review, check out The Love of My Life.
03 A Study in Scarlet Women (Lady Sherlock #1) by Sherry Thomas
This first book in Sherry Thomas's gender-flipped Sherlock Holmes mystery series offers not only an irresistible heroine, but a fascinating examination of gender in Victorian society--and what happens when women blow up expectations.
A Study in Scarlet Women, the first in her Lady Sherlock series, presents Charlotte Holmes, a clever, forward-thinking, independent woman trapped in the Victorian age, a time in which women have little choice and even less of a voice.
When she pushes against her restrictions in a brilliant yet shocking manner in order to shift her future, she goes so deeply against the standards of the time that she is shunned from society. It seems Charlotte may have created a situation in which she has fewer options than her constrained existence as a lady would have afforded.
Then a series of unusual events lead to Charlotte's assuming the identity of a made-up detective, Sherlock Holmes, and putting to good use her powers of observation and her astute reading of people's motivations and secrets. Along with her scandalous elderly sidekick, the former actress Ms. Watson (who has a keen mind and an ability to play roles as well as facilitate meetings and encounters), Charlotte reimagines what a Victorian woman may be able to achieve.
Click here for my full review of A Study in Scarlet Women.
04 Things We Do in the Dark by Jennifer Hillier
Hillier's thriller jumps back and forth in time, deftly weaving a web of secrets and lies, daring escape, broken trust, revenge, and things that aren't quite as they seem.
Paris Peralta is arrested in her home bathroom. She's holding a straight razor and covered in blood, and her celebrity husband Jimmy Peralta, a 68-year-old comedian who's been making a recent comeback--is dead in the bathtub with a cut across his femoral artery.
Paris loved her husband, and she's shocked and grieved that he's dead. But she's also alert enough to know that because of the inevitable publicity, the fiction of her current life--a peaceful, comfortable life that she spent so long cultivating--is about to be upended, and her safety along with it.
Because when photos surface of Paris being taken away in handcuffs, she knows that dark forces from her past will almost certainly come calling.
Jennifer Hillier weaves a gripping story that jumps back in forth in time from when Paris was a young victim to her present, in which she's taken charge of her life and controls her destiny--or so she thought.
Things We Do in the Dark involves mistaken identities, betrayals, secrets and lies, fierce loyalty between friends who are like family--and horrific cruelties enacted by blood relations.
For my full review, check out Things We Do in the Dark.
05 The Maid by Nita Prose
Nita Prose offers a surprising amount of heart and a unique main protagonist in this lighthearted murder mystery, her debut novel.
In Nita Prose's recent novel The Maid, main protagonist Molly finds a hotel guest dead in his room, and her access to the room, her eccentric manner, and other's manipulations of her innocent vulnerability may mean that she's the prime suspect.
Prose has built an interesting premise with Molly as an unreliable main protagonist.
I was concerned that Molly's unique set of idiosyncrasies might allow for too-easy deception, and also that seeing others take advantage of Molly's innocence would make for nerve-racking, uncomfortable reading.
But Prose allows for some surprises, and Molly seems more than capable of extricating herself from suspicion by using the very same personal qualities that have led others to underestimate her.
For my full review, check out The Maid.
06 Quantum Girl Theory by Erin Kate Ryan
In Erin Kate Ryan's historical fiction mystery, she uses a fascinating story structure to explore different potential paths for interlinked young women in the Jim Crow South.
Mary Garrett focuses on finding missing girls, and she keeps her own past, her secrets, and her emotions about all of it penned up tightly.
When she arrives in the Jim Crow South to investigate a girl who has disappeared, she finds that two Black girls have gone missing as well, but local law enforcement didn't put resources into finding them.
As Mary's search for all three girls intensifies, we find that Mary herself was a "missing girl," Paula Jean Welden, who vanished one night in 1946. Ryan explores alternate histories and life tracks for Paula Jean while "Mary" digs more deeply into the circumstances surrounding the modern-day disappearances of the Southern girls.
I was hooked on this book and fascinated by what felt like multiple genres in one story, with unexpectedly deep dives into Quantum Girl Theory's various characters. Mary was a captivating main protagonist--alternately desperate and hopeful, but always dogged in her search, even as it threatened to destroy her.
The title and cover made me think "science fiction," but Quantum Girl Theory is rooted in historical fiction and offers a solid, twisty mystery as it moves through fascinating potential realities that might have been.
For my full review, check out Quantum Girl Theory.