Crime, mystery and thrillers coming in 2023. (Covers courtesy of Blackstone Publishing, Counterpoint Press, Flatiron, MCD, Soho Crime, Pushkin Vertigo, Del Rey)
Look sharp, folks. There’s a crime wave coming.
On the bookshelves, I mean. Based on the novels I’ve got on my list to read in the next few months, it looks like it’s going to be a great summer.
Check out the criminal pursuits we’ve covered just in the last few weeks. I got the opportunity to talk with “Razorblade Tears” author S.A. Cosby about his acclaimed new novel, “All the Sinners Bleed.” My colleague Samantha Dunn interviewed Eliza Jane Brazier about her murder mystery “Girls and Their Horses.” Regular contributor Michael Schaub talked to Ivy Pochoda about her hard-hitting novel “Sing Her Down.”
It turns out I’m not the only one who thinks that this suggests even more fine work to come. Novelist Jordan Harper, who published the excellent “Everybody Knows” earlier this year, says it’s an especially good time for the genre.
“This is a monster year for crime fiction, a monster year,” says Harper, who spoke by phone while walking a WGA picket line this week. “I think we’re in the middle of a not-yet-recognized renaissance in very well-executed crime fiction in America right now.”
Speculating on the next round of Mystery Writers of America awards, aka the Edgars, Harper expects a tough competition for those involved.
“The Edgar Awards for Best Book next year is going to be a knife fight,” says Harper. “A lot of really great books are getting written right now.”
So which titles should you be on the lookout for? As well as the ones mentioned above, here are 12, including some already out and more we can’t wait for.
Dennis Lehane, “Small Mercies” (out now)
Rumored to be the crime fiction legend’s final book, Lehane sets his first novel since 2017 during the 1974 Boston school desegregation crisis. Both Harper and Cosby mentioned this book to me, and as for it being Lehane’s last? Maybe. “I don’t know. If it is, I’m OK with that,” the author told NPR’s Scott Simon.
Megan Abbott, “Beware the Woman” (out now)
This is already in stores, lucky readers, and we have an interview with the author posting soon. But look, why not let Harper make the case: “Megan Abbott, to me, is the best of us. I think she’s spectacular,” he says.
Daniel Weizmann, “The Last Songbird” (out now)
In this gritty debut, a failed songwriter works as a Lyft driver in L.A., often providing rides for a folk icon who is later found murdered. Concerned with the corrosive effects of fame, this neo-noir is the first in the proposed series. Fun fact: Weizmann wrote for the fanzine Flipside under the name Shredder.
Yukito Ayatsuji & translated by Ho-Ling Wong, “The Mill House Murders” (out now)
This Japanese classic is a locked room mystery that features a remote location, a rubber mask-wearing recluse, and a stolen painting. Oh, and murder! While this new edition has just hit stores, you might start with “The Decagon House Murders,” the author’s debut and the first with detective Kiyoshi Shimada.
Colson Whitehead, “Crook Manifesto” (July 18)
Picking up where he left off in his previous novel, “Harlem Shuffle,” Whitehead sets this novel in 1970s New York City when crime – and uncollected trash on the streets – is on the rise. The two-time Pulitzer Prize winner is always worth your attention, but the fact that Jackson 5 tickets are involved makes this a must-read.
Silvia Moreno-Garcia, “Silver Nitrate” (July 18)
This one by the “Mexican Gothic” author appears full of horror and suspense – a cult film director into Nazi occultism needs to finish an abandoned film to lift the curse hanging over him. But as it also involves a talented woman whose work is overlooked by the men in her industry, it sounds like a crime as well.
Naomi Hirahara, “Evergreen” (August 1)
In this follow-up to Hirahara’s much-praised “Clark & Division,” Aki Ito and her family return to post-WWII Southern California where Japanese American families are finding things have changed during their forced relocations and incarcerations. Aki, who’s working as a nurse in Boyle Heights, learns troubling information – and there’s a murder in Little Tokyo. Can’t wait for this one.
Adrian McKinty, “The Detective Up Late” (August 8)
You know how the state of the world can sometimes seem irredeemably awful? The fact that we’re getting a new Sean Duffy novel from Adrian McKinty is proof that wonderful things happen. Known for bestsellers “The Chain” and “The Island,” McKinty has been writing a multi-novel masterpiece about a Belfast detective during the Troubles that you need to read. This is the seventh book (and not the last, I hear) so start reading now so you’ll be ready when it hits stores.
Lee Goldberg, “Malibu Burning” (Sept. 1)
TV veteran and novelist Goldberg is such a successful and prolific writer that I literally got word that he’ll have another book publishing after this one before the year is out (it’s called “Calico”). In this thriller, Goldberg sets the story in the tony Malibu hills during a wildfire kicked up by the Santa Ana winds.
Tod Goldberg, “Gangsters Don’t Die” (September 12)
This is the conclusion of Goldberg’s outstanding trilogy about Chicago hitman Sal Cupertine, who’s on the run from the Mafia, the feds and everyone else who want him dead. That a merciless killer reinvents himself as Rabbi David Cohen, a remarkably effective (and sure, deadly) man of faith is just one of the series’ many, many charms. (And yes, he and Lee are brothers.)
Mick Herron, “The Secret Hours” (September)
As those who read this newsletter know, I’m a big fan of Herron’s Slough House series, which manages to be intriguing, funny, satirical and moving. (The Apple TV+ adaption “Slow Horses” is aces as well.) So all I need to say is that Herron’s next book is a stand-alone about a MI5 mission in Cold War Berlin, and trust me I’ll be reading it – or listening to Gerard Doyle’s excellent audio narration.
Jonathan Lethem, “Brooklyn Crime Novel” (October)
Sure, this comes out way past summer and, according to early blurbs, it might not exactly be a crime novel. But as anyone who loved “Motherless Brooklyn” knows, Lethem is very good in the genre so I’m just putting it down here anyway (because I’m going to read it whatever it’s about).
OK, I’m sure as soon as I publish this list I’ll get my hands on more good stuff that I should have included – such as Joe Ide’s latest IQ book “Fixit” or Eryk Pruitt’s “Something Bad Wrong” or Heather Chavez’s “Before She Finds Me” or Lou Berney’s “Dark Ride” – so consider this a starter list, something to refer to when you get stuck at the bookstore or library, and then start adding to it.
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What else are you looking forward to reading this summer? Please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with “ERIK’S BOOK PAGES” in the subject line and I may include your comments in an upcoming newsletter.
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Thanks, as always, for reading.
Héctor Tobar on James Joyce, Dr. Seuss and his favorite book
Héctor Tobar is the author of “The Tattooed Soldier” and “The Barbarian Nurseries,” and his book “Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine and the Miracle That Set Them Free,” was a bestseller that was adapted into the film, “The 33.” Tobar spoke with Michael Schaub about “Our Migrant Souls: A Meditation on Race and the Meanings and Myths of ‘Latino,’” and responded to the Book Pages Q&A about books and reading.
Q: What are you reading now?
Three very different books by three women. Virginia Woolf’s “To the Lighthouse,” in a wonderful audiobook performance by Nicole Kidman; “The Employees,” a sci-fi novella by the Danish poet Olga Ravn; and “A Country You Can Leave,” a first novel from Asale Angel-Ajani.
Q: Do you remember the first book that made an impact on you?
“The Jungle,” by Upton Sinclair. My father had read it in his community college classes. I remember the powerful imagery of the Chicago stockyards and meat packing plants. I think it was also an introduction to the idea that literature could expose you to great truths. Then, in college, I picked up Richard Wright’s “Native Son.” That book gave me the idea that I might want to be a writer myself.
Q: Is there a book you’re nervous to read?
Approaching Joyce’s “Ulysses” always makes me a bit nervous. With the help of the podcast by the charismatic, late Frank Delaney, I’ve made deep progress into it.
Q: Do you have a favorite book or books?
I’ve owned many different editions of the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language since I was 11 years old. It’s such a beautiful thing to hold, for the illustrations and for the wonderful, illuminating word histories. In terms of literature, the work of Roberto Bolaño never ceases to blow me away.
Q: Which books do you plan, or hope, to read next?
“Bad Indians: A Tribal Memoir,” by Deborah A. Miranda. And I’m going to re-read Daniel Borzutzky’s powerful poetry collection “The Performance of Becoming Human.” I was recently on the Pulitzer jury that chose Hernan Diaz’s “Trust” as a finalist (it was one of the eventual winners), and now I want to read his novel “In the Distance.”
Q: Is there a person who made an impact on your reading life – a teacher, a parent, a librarian or someone else?
One of my earliest memories of school is of my kindergarten teacher at Grant Elementary in East Hollywood telling my mother to buy me Dr. Seuss. My college mentor Roberto Crespi at UC Santa Cruz turned me on to so much great literature, as did my colleagues when I was a twenty-something reporter at the Los Angeles Times.
Q: If you could ask your readers something, what would it be?
Did you like any of my books? If you didn’t make it to the end of one of my books, what kept you from finishing? And if you made it to the end of any of them: Can I buy you a cup of coffee to talk about it?
The mystery of ‘Sinners’
S.A. Cosby says writers have to tell the truth. It doesn’t have to be pretty. READ MORE
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Elliot Page’s debut memoir “Pageboy” is powerful and humanizing. READ MORE
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The week’s bestsellers
The top-selling books at your local independent bookstores. READ MORE
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What’s next on ‘Bookish’
The next Bookish event will be June 16 at 5 p.m. and include authors Mona Simpson and Peter Wohlleben, host Sandra Tsing Loh & Samantha Dunn.
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