This blog post is part of a series that the RT Editors will be taking part in during the month of December. Please check back all month long for each editor's installment!
With 2012 winding down, the RT editors thought December would be a good time to reflect on what each of us read this year and which books stuck with us long after we finished them. While this year's RT Awards winners won't be announced until our convention in May, we've decided to share our personal favorites of 2012, in no particular order. Today RT's mystery aficionado and managing editor Liz French brings us her year in books:
Get ready for a bit of armchair traveling with this month’s novels. To Europe and beyond, November’s mysteries and suspense stories are sending readers on adventures in exotic locales. And after you are done with your journey, get ready to hear from a debut author who gives us some important insight into her heroine who has faced death many, many times. Next up on the agenda is a visit from J.T. Ellison as the author sleuths out the scariest setting for a thriller novel. And finally, in the cozy corner readers will recognize a few famous faces including an actress lookalike, reality show star and musician. So no matter what you are in the mood for — a lighthearted murder mystery set in Hollywood or a darker thriller that takes you further afield — readers are going to be able to find exactly what they are looking for in this roundup of November’s best mystery novels.
This week RT BOOK REVIEWS is revealing our nominees for 2012 Reviewers' Choice Awards. (We have already listed our picks for our favorite Historical Romance, Young Adult, Science Fiction/Fantasy and Paranormal/Urban Fantasy books with other genres including Contemporary Romance, Mainstream and more to come later this week.) But right now, we are focused on the books that scare and thrill us. Here is a list of our nominations for our favorite Mystery and Suspense novels of the year. Readers can click on the book covers below to learn more about the book including the RT review, summary and rating.
Nominated for Historical Mystery
Earlier we posted some of our favorite recently released Young Adult tales that deal with compelling modern day issues. But, this fall readers will also find some great YA reads that deliver compelling, and sometimes creepy, tales of mystery. Today we round out five new must-reads and RT’s editors’ suggestions for YA favorites to fill-out your TBR pile.
MODERN MYSTERY READS
The story: Based on the riveting Amanda Knox case, Betrayal by Gregg Olsen presents the tragic murder of a British student studying in the small town of Port Gamble. Twins Hayley and Taylor Ryan tackle the mystery and attempt to flush out the killer from all the many suspects. But the deeper they dig, the more secrets they uncover — secrets that involve not only the murder, but their town and even their own family.
Laura Lippman's latest release And When She Was Good features suburban madam Heloise (aka Helen) as she quietly runs an escort service. When another suburban madam dies, Heloise suspects her former pimp Val, whom she helped put behind bars. Worried that she may be next, Heloise must discover who is behind the killing in order to protect her — and her son's — life. Today RT's Managing Editor Liz French interviews the author about her intriguing new suspense novel.
What prompted you to write about “suburban madams,” was there some local story or news item that led you down that path?
No news story, not at the time of conception if you will. (Later, there were several with some eerie parallels.) I was just musing about what it would take for a single mother to live in a posh suburb — what would it take in terms of salary and childcare and flexibility.
How much research — and what sort of research — did you do to get the background right for Helen/Heloise and her life?
I read a lot, but Heloise's business model is unique, among escort services. I spent more time working backward from the character as I understood her. What would this woman do, how would she operate?
Helen/Heloise, the main character in And When She Was Good, is absolutely fascinating. She’s a survivor, a fiercely protective mother who’ll go to any lengths to keep her son safe, an autodidact. How did you go about building her, was she based on any particular person? Did you ever feel like “there but for the grace of God and good parents go I”? Was it important to you to make her a white middle-class girl “gone wrong?”
Wendy Corsi Staub is not only a bestselling author, but she is also a women's health advocate. RT's Morgan interviewed the author and registered nurse Robin Cohen for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month and how Wendy's publisher, Avon, is helping educate women though their K.I.S.S. and Teal campaign. Watch the interview below to learn about the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer and hear how Wendy and other authors are helping spread awareness.
Forget the whodunit, this month’s mysteries will have you asking "wheredunit". Like a global case of Clue, September's fictional murders take place not only in ho-hum places like the library or the ballroom, but in far flung locales such as historical Japan and Victorian England. In news closer to home, Wendy Corsi Staub launches her new series with Nightwatcher a mystery set during the events of 9/11. And ladies continue to represent this month when our favorite female investigators return to the shelves. And finally, if you like imagine yourself solving crime, then read on to find three amateur detective stories that will have you excited to catch the bad guy.
This month, mystery authors are putting the “terrifying” into terrifyingly good, and while that might not sound so spooky, we promise you that August’s new releases have more than enough thrills and chills to rattle your very bones! If you can’t get enough of creepy tales that have you double-checking your locks at night, you’ll love debut author Jeff Crook’s The Sleeping and the Dead, an RT Top Pick! We go behind the scenes to get a better picture of what inspired this frightening fare. But Crook isn’t the only one serving up the scares, three long-time favorite authors are returning to put the “super” into supernatural (see what we did there?). Additionally, we investigate stories that raise the undead as several fictional characters get new lives long after their original authors have passed away. However, if you prefer your novels without a helping of horror, don’t worry — you can check out what’s happening in this month’s cozy corner as several new tales are coming our way.
MOVING TO MYSTERY
Fantasy author Jeff Crook treats August's readers to his first outing into a new genre — and he does so with a bang, literally, with The Sleeping and the Dead. RT reviewer Page says, “This series starter should go right to the top of all bestseller lists. It is very well written, with fresh new characters, an unusual atmosphere and setting and an explosive ending.” The novel follows anti-heroine Jackie Lyons, a crime scene photographer who is also able to see ghosts. But as her camera starts to bring the unearthly into sharper focus, and the Playhouse Killer continues a killing spree that leaves victims in poses of famous plays, Jackie’s life is about to get a lot more complicated. With so much going on in this story, we went to the author to get an insider’s look about what inspired this multifaceted tale ...
The latest Lisa Jackson suspense is a real page-turner, and we wouldn’t expect anything less from the author who has given us enough thrills and chills to last a lifetime. To learn more about Jackson's newest release, You Don’t Want to Know, RT’s Morgan sat down with the author to chat about the story that kept us on our toes. This tale will have the audience mourning with heroine Ava Garrison as she deals with the loss of her two-year-old son, Noah. His mysterious disappearance from a foggy pier has haunted Ava for years. It left her longing for resolution — and filled with questions. As she searches for answers, readers tread the dark and twisted path right alongside her. Today, Jackson discusses the novel that she’s had simmering in her imagination for years and how its isolated setting helped establish its atmospheric Hitchcockian feel. Watch the video below for interesting insight into the mind of this bestselling author!