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Gaili Schoen – Three Mystery Recommendations

Hello, fellow book lovers! On this chilly Halloween weekend, what could be better than snuggling up with a good mystery? Whether you choose an audiobook, a paperback, or the digital version, I hope you find a novel here that piques your interest. May you get lots of treats this Halloween! Love, Gaili

Wrong Place Wrong Time by Gillian McAllister

The story begins just after midnight on October 30th, the night clocks are set back. Just as the clocks turn, English divorce lawyer, Jen, and her Welsh decorator husband, Kelly, watch their son, Todd, stab a man outside their home. They deal with the bloody fallout, leave Todd at the police station, and return home. The following morning, Todd emerges from his bedroom as if nothing has ever happened. A bewildered Jen comes to understand that it is the day before the stabbing. As the story progresses, Jen keeps moving back in time, sometimes consecutively, sometimes in great leaps.

“How sinister it is to relive your life backward. To see things you hadn’t at the time. To realize the horrible significance of events you had no idea were playing out around you.”

Jen reaches out to Andy, a physicist, who wrote his Ph.D. dissertation on the possibility of getting stuck in a time loop. Andy helps Jen see that each day she lands is somehow related to the crime. Is she moving backward to prevent the murder from happening? As she travels back, Jen realizes how many things she would like to do over, starting with being a better, more involved mother. She also realizes her husband is not the man he pretends to be.

This mystery is perfect for eerie late October nights, especially for readers who enjoy books involving time travel, such as This Time Tomorrow, Fifty in Reverse, Before the Coffee Gets Cold, and The Midnight Library. As with these titles, Wrong Place Wrong Time reads more like a novel, not science fiction, with a great deal of character and plot development. It has an incredibly satisfying ending, which is always preferable!

The Tuesday Night Survivors’ Club by Lynn Cahoon

I recently came upon the term “cozy mystery,” which I take to mean a gentle crime novel that doesn’t keep you up at night! I thought I’d like to read one, so I chose The Tuesday Night Survivors’ Club because I’m a sucker for stories that take place in a bookstore!

Rarity Jones is a breast cancer survivor. Her boyfriend Kevin left her during her treatment in St. Louis. When Rarity is declared cancer-free, she decides to pursue a dream. She moves to Sedona and opens a bookstore, The Next Chapter, near her old best girlfriend Sam’s crystal shop. To build a community in her new town, Rarity starts a book club—The Tuesday Night Survivors’ Club—for cancer survivors who want to read books together and share their cancer journeys. 

No sooner does the group form than one member, a crusty woman named Martha, goes missing. A local policeman, Drew, discovers Martha left her beloved Yorkshire Terrier, Killer, alone and enlists Rarity’s help to take care of Killer while he investigates Martha’s disappearance. She and her book club friends fall in love with the Yorkie.

“Killer was perched between them, so when one stopped petting him to talk, the other would pick up the slack. The dog had skills.”

Rarity, Sam, and the book club members worry about Martha and do some investigating on their own, starting with a local spa that doesn’t feel quite legit. As they share their discoveries, the book club members grow closer.

Author Lynn Cahoon is a cancer survivor, and her descriptions of these characters’ experiences ring true. Still, this mystery is a light-hearted read, perfect for fans of whodunnits.

 Killers of a Certain Age by Deanna Raybourn

“Those last few hours before a job goes down, the adrenaline is pumping and there are limited ways of releasing it. Sex and exercise are effective, but they’re a bad idea before a job. They can leave you tired and rubber-legged….”

For those who enjoy murder mysteries and rooting for strong older women characters, bring on Billie, Mary Alice, Helen, and Natalie. This mystery follows the four 60-something talented and highly-trained assassins who are forced into retirement.

Forty years ago, they joined The Museum, an organization formed to hunt Nazis. The Museum eventually switched to targeting “…dictators, arms dealers, drug smugglers, and sex traffickers.”

The women discover—on a Museum sponsored farewell cruise—the organization intends to kill them

Several book series exist about older adults solving murder mysteries, and I have found many of them to be silly and a bit demeaning. There is humor and irony in Killers of A Certain Age, but the plot is complex. The women are intelligent and capable, and we get the unique points of view of mature women making the most of their talents and strengths in a male-dominated “profession.” I especially enjoyed Billie calling out her male colleagues’ misogynistic attitudes and beliefs.

PS—a real-life art mystery, a psychologist who writes thrillers, and more book reviews from Gaili. 

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