CBTB’s Recommended January Releases
One of my 2018 goals for Crime by the Book is to find new and even better ways to connect you with crime books that will be exactly what you’re looking for. To serve this purpose, I’m testing out a new blog feature today - a monthly list of “Recommended New Releases”! I’ll always use my blog to write full reviews of the crime books I’m reading - but this list will help you get a quick overview of the new CBTB-recommended crime fiction releasing each month, and will provide links to my full reviews (and any relevant Author Q&A’s or “extras”) for each book. I’d love your feedback on this - if this is a helpful feature, please feel free to leave a comment below or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Without further ado - let’s dive into my list of Recommended January Releases!
My Quick Thoughts: It’s been ages since I’ve read a debut thriller as original and entrancing as C.J. Tudor’s THE CHALK MAN. With personality, a touch of quirkiness, and keen insight into the horrors of childhood both real and imagined, Tudor’s debut crime novel is a worthy addition to any reader’s TBR. THE CHALK MAN will work best for readers looking to be drawn into a relatively slow-paced yet relentlessly engaging read—this isn’t a “thrill a minute” book, but it’s not meant to be. Tudor excels at crafting engaging, offbeat characters with rich backstories that keep readers coming back for more… not to mention, THE CHALK MAN delivers plenty of chills and moments of spine-tingling suspense, too. This book was exactly the breath of fresh air that my reading list needed - and I’m betting it will do the same for you, too.
Plot Details: In 1986, Eddie and his friends are just kids on the verge of adolescence. They spend their days biking around their sleepy English village and looking for any taste of excitement they can get. The chalk men are their secret code: little chalk stick figures they leave for one another as messages only they can understand. But then a mysterious chalk man leads them right to a dismembered body, and nothing is ever the same.
In 2016, Eddie is fully grown, and thinks he's put his past behind him. But then he gets a letter in the mail, containing a single chalk stick figure. When it turns out that his friends got the same message, they think it could be a prank . . . until one of them turns up dead.
That's when Eddie realizes that saving himself means finally figuring out what really happened all those years ago.
My Quick Thoughts: The world is talking about A.J. Finn’s debut THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW, and it’s totally deserved. Talk about another majorly impressive psychological suspense story—Finn’s debut draws on Hitchcock-inspired themes to deliver a tense and claustrophobic page-turner. In this story of paranoia and obsession, a reclusive woman spends her days watching her neighbors from the safety of her home - until one day, she witnesses something from her window that threatens to shatter the sheltered world she’s created for herself. (The plot sounds a bit like THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN, but just trust me—this is not a copycat read. Finn is carving out his own unique space in the crime fiction genre.) THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW takes readers into the life of a voyeuristic woman - and makes readers voyeurs in her life, too.
Plot Details: It isn’t paranoia if it’s really happening . . .
Anna Fox lives alone—a recluse in her New York City home, unable to venture outside. She spends her day drinking wine (maybe too much), watching old movies, recalling happier times . . . and spying on her neighbors.
Then the Russells move into the house across the way: a father, a mother, their teenage son. The perfect family. But when Anna, gazing out her window one night, sees something she shouldn’t, her world begins to crumble—and its shocking secrets are laid bare.
What is real? What is imagined? Who is in danger? Who is in control? In this diabolically gripping thriller, no one—and nothing—is what it seems.
GRIST MILL ROAD by Christopher Yates
Picador; January 9, 2018
For Readers Who Love: Layered thrillers + visceral, thought-provoking themes
My Quick Thoughts: If I had to pick just one word to describe GRIST MILL ROAD, it would be “impactful.” On so many different levels, this book is practically guaranteed to leave you thinking. From its gripping plot structure (3 different characters give their unique perspectives on the same series of events) to its grim, visceral glimpse into the tragedies that define its characters’ lives, there is just so much to sink your teeth into in Yates’ outstanding thriller. This book will be best appreciated by the crime reader who wants a story they can really mull over; Yates’ thriller certainly has plot twists and turns, but the real substance of this story comes in its vivid characters, immersive writing, and utterly compelling storytelling structure.
Plot Details: Christopher J. Yates’s cult hit Black Chalk introduced that rare writerly talent: a literary writer who could write a plot with the intricacy of a brilliant mental puzzle, and with characters so absorbing that readers are immediately gripped. Yates’s new book does not disappoint. Grist Mill Road is a dark, twisted, and expertly plotted Rashomon-style tale. The year is 1982; the setting, an Edenic hamlet some ninety miles north of New York City. There, among the craggy rock cliffs and glacial ponds of timeworn mountains, three friends―Patrick, Matthew, and Hannah―are bound together by a terrible and seemingly senseless crime. Twenty-six years later, in New York City, living lives their younger selves never could have predicted, the three meet again―with even more devastating results.
THE PERFECT NANNY by Leila Slimani
Penguin; January 9, 2018
For Readers Who Love: French fiction with a sophisticated, literary flair
My Quick Thoughts: This book won’t be for everyone - I’ll say that first and foremost - but readers who love suspense novels that are smart and subtle will feel right at home in the world Slimani has crafted. The backstory behind this book is particularly fascinating: Slimani was the first Moroccan woman to win France’s most prestigious literary prize, the Goncourt. THE PERFECT NANNY is a masterfully constructed literary suspense novel: a story laced with tension, detailing the series of events leading up to the murder of two children. What makes this book truly unique is how Slimani structures it not to focus on the gore of the crime at its core, but to illustrate for the reader the quiet moments of evil that preceded this horrific event. There’s really only one shocking scene in this book, and that’s its Prologue; readers who pick this book up hoping for shocks and twists will be disappointed. On the other hand, readers who pick it up hoping for something subtle and thought-provoking will love it.
Plot Details: When Myriam, a French-Moroccan lawyer, decides to return to work after having children, she and her husband look for the perfect nanny for their two young children. They never dreamed they would find Louise: a quiet, polite, devoted woman who sings to the children, cleans the family’s chic apartment in Paris’s upscale tenth arrondissement, stays late without complaint, and hosts enviable kiddie parties. But as the couple and the nanny become more dependent on one another, jealousy, resentment, and suspicions mount, shattering the idyllic tableau. Building tension with every page, The Perfect Nanny is a compulsive, riveting, bravely observed exploration of power, class, race, domesticity, and motherhood—and the American debut of an immensely talented writer.
Have you read any of these books yet, or are any of them on your TBR? I'd love to hear from you! xx A