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Sumer 2024 Reading Lists


It’s that time of year again. As Clued in Mystery prepares for the summer, Brook and Sarah share what’s on their reading lists.

Brook’s list

Before the Fact (1932) Francis Iles (Anthony Berkely)

And Only to Deceive (2005) Tasha ALexander

Dissolution, Matthew Shardlake Tudor Mysteries Book 1 (2003) C.J. Sansom

Body in the Bookstore (2024) Ellie Alexander

Brook’s pick for Sarah: The Witch Elm (2018) Tana French

Sarah’s list

Rock, Paper, Scissors (2021) Alice Feeney

An Inconvenient Wife (2024) by Karen E. Olson

Mill House Murders (1988) by Yukito Ayatsuji, translated in 2023 by Ho-Ling Wong

Towards Zero (1944) Agatha Christie

Sarah’s pick for Brook: The Cartographers (2022) Peng Shepherd

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This transcript is generated by a computer and there may be some mis-spellings and strange punctuation. We try to catch these before posting, but some things slip through.

SarahWelcome to Clued in Mystery. I’m Sarah.
BrookAnd I’m Brook. And we both love mystery.
SarahHi Brook.
BrookThis is one of my favorite episodes every season.
SarahMine too. I really like hearing what you’re thinking about reading and also compiling my own list of books that I’m hoping to tackle over the next little bit.
BrookAbsolutely. It’s just a lot of fun. And many times we get some ideas for our own lists. So it’s great.
SarahBefore we dive into our summer reading lists, why don’t we chat a little bit about our next episode, which is our 100th episode. And we’re defining 100th as 100th regular episode, because of course we’ve done some bonus episodes and episodes for the cartel. But our 100th regular episode will be next week.
BrookI know. And I just cannot wrap my head around it. And as you said, there’s other episodes that we’ve done in addition. So we’re well over 100. And in just ah over two years, Sarah, it’s it’s really something that I’m proud of and a little bit shocked.
SarahI feel the same way. I’m very proud of us and and we’ll talk more about this next ah next week when we are recording this 100th episode ah but we have a request for our listeners to send us in questions. And if you are hearing this when we release it, we’ve already recorded the 100th episode, but we have a live episode that we will be doing that same day, July 9th, and people can join us and ask us their questions then, or ah you have a week before we do that live episode, you you can send us our question and we’ll answer it during that live session.
BrookYes, I’m looking forward to that. That is something brand new for us, but we’re going to do this. This will be live on Instagram. Make sure you follow us there to learn the time and all the details.
SarahOK, so let’s turn to our reading lists. Brook, do you want to go first?
BrookSure. Um, so I’ve talked with you, Sarah, about this, that I have been in a sort of reading slump. I actually went through a long period this spring when I didn’t want to read or listen to books at all. And it’s super out of character for me. And it’s also really tough when it’s essentially part of your work, you know, we read so much for the podcast and as a writer it’s also important to be consuming fiction um I’m almost out of the slump but the way that I’ve set up my tbr list for the summer really takes this into account and incorporate some of the things that I’ve learned about myself going through this situation. um One thing that I think will really help is having more of a wish list mindset. um I’m somebody who feels a lot of responsibility to do what I say I’m going to do and ah so a TBR list can become a reading assignment instead of just something fun. um So just having that space and that grace to think of it as a wish list already feels better. So as I go through my books, I’ll also share some of the reasons I’ve chosen them as a way to get out of that slump because I know that’s something that all readers go through from time to time.
BrookAnd so my first book of my TBR list this summer is Before the Fact by Frances Iles, who if you listen to our episode, you’ll remember is a pen name for Anthony Berkeley. And one of the tips that I have for getting out of a reading slump is to change your format. And so I hunted down a paperback copy of this book. It wasn’t easy. um It’s ah pretty difficult to get ah old paperback or God forbid, hardcovers, which are over $200 for a lot of the Berkeley titles. But um I have a paperback that I believe I got from Thrift Books and then Everand has the audio. And so I’m going to do one of those kind of tandem reads where I can have it either in audio or paperback as I proceed through. But here’s the description.
BrookLena Isgard had lived with her husband for nearly eight years before she realized that she was married to a murderer. It did seem a pity that she had to die when she would have liked so much to live. um This book was also made into a film by Alfred Hitchcock. It’s his suspicion movie. So after I read the book, I’m going to rewatch that Hitchcock film. Oh Brook, I think that, first of all, it sounds like a great read. And I love your idea of approaching this as a wish list rather than a to-do list, which, you know, we could all probably do with having less on our to-do lists.
SarahI totally get where you’re coming from with respect to having been in a reading slump. um I drank COVID, didn’t pick up a book for it felt like two years. And it was audiobooks actually that got me out of that. And I agree having a, you know, switching it up sounds like a really great solution to that. So the first book that I have on my list is a book that I think was quite popular when it came out, ah but I never read it. And that’s Rock, Paper, Scissors, which was published in 2021 by Alice Feeney. And so, yeah, I feel like this is one of those books that I should have read at the time and didn’t didn’t ever do it, partly because I was in that reading slump, I think.
SarahThings have been wrong with Mr. and Mrs. Wright for a long time. When Adam and Amelia win a weekend away to Scotland, it might be just what their marriage needs. Self-confessed workaholic and screenwriter Adam Wright has lived with face blindness his whole life. He can’t recognize friends, family, or even his own wife. Every anniversary, the couple exchange traditional gifts—paper, cotton, pottery, tin—and each year, Adam’s wife writes him a letter that she never lets him read—until now. They both know this weekend will make or break their marriage, but they didn’t randomly win this trip. One of them is lying, and someone doesn’t want them to live happily ever after.
BrookOh my goodness, that sounds so good. it I haven’t read that one either, Sarah, but the same. I remember it being you know a cover you saw a lot um in the media. Yeah, I can’t wait to hear your report back on that one. Very similar to ah what you just said, Sarah. I am also reading one that was quite popular a ways back, and this is, And Only to Deceive by Tasha Alexander. This one originally came out way back in 2005, and I remember seeing that cover and thinking it would be something that I liked. But um as another way to get back into what I really enjoy about reading, I realized I haven’t been partaking in hardly any historical lately, and it’s something I really enjoy. So you’ll see that in my list this summer.
BrookAnd here’s the description. For Emily, accepting the proposal of Philip, the Viscount Ashton, was an easy way to escape her overbearing mother, who was set on a grand society match. So when Emily’s dashing husband died on safari soon after their wedding, she felt little grief. After all, she barely knew him. Now, nearly two years later, she discovers that Philip was a far different man from the one she married so cavalierly. His journals reveal him to have been a gentleman scholar and antiquities collector who, to her surprise, was deeply in love with her. Emily becomes fascinated with this new image of her dead husband and her desire to learn more about Philip takes her to the quiet corridors of the British Museum.
BrookThere, she uncovers a dark, dangerous secret involving stolen artifacts from the Greco-Roman galleries. As she sets out to solve the crime, her search leads to more surprises about Philip and causes her to question the role in Victorian society to which she, as a woman, is relegated.
SarahOh, I hope you enjoy that, Brook. I have read that book, and I’ve read several from the series. She’s a great character, and it’s a great series. So I i hope you enjoy it. ah So like you, I actually haven’t been reading a lot of historical mystery, and it is something that I enjoy. My next pick is inspired by history. It is billed as a modern Tudor mystery. And that’s An Inconvenient Wife, which was published this year by Karen E. Olson.
SarahKate Parker knows what she’s getting into when she marries billionaire businessman Hank Tudor. She’s his sixth wife, after all, and was by his side as his assistant when his fifth marriage to actress Caitlin Howard fell apart. But honeymoon plans go awry when a headless body is discovered near Hank’s summer home, forcing Kate to contend with two more of his exes. Katherine Alvarez, the first, who lives as a shut-in with her computers, carefully following Tudor Enterprises, and Anna Klein, the fourth, who runs a bed and breakfast, where she and her wife keep a steady eye on things, particularly Hank’s children, Lizzie and Teddy.
SarahIn this clever, suspenseful reimagining of Tudor-era betrayals, these three women become entwined in a deadly game of cat and mouse with each other, Hank, and Hank’s brilliant fixer, Tom Cromwell, as Kate seeks to solve the puzzle of who the murdered woman is, who killed her, and whether her death has any connection to the other headless body from eight years ago. So as I mentioned, I chose this because it’s billed as a modern Tudor mystery. And so I expect for the story to be modernized. um But I don’t know how I feel already because the author has altered some of the names, right? um Kate Parker was actually Catherine Parr. And I just don’t know how what else might be might be changed. But we’ll see. And I’ll let you know after I’ve read it.
BrookThat sounds great. I actually really liked like being able to to identify which character was which. you Like you say, they’re not identical, but you can kind of pick that out. It sounds really fun. It reminds me of a little of ah the Fall of the House of Usher ah series that we watched, where there’s all these different components of this other story, in this case historical. um But it sounds great, and I can’t wait to hear more about it. And even though we don’t discuss our lists beforehand, Sarah, you’re going to laugh when I tell you that my next pick is Dissolution by C.J. Sansom, which is book one in the Matthew Shardlake Tudor Mysteries.
Brookum And this is a series that I know you really loved, Sarah, and you’ve been recommending it to me for a long time. And as I’m trying to incorporate some more historical mysteries into my life, this was the perfect time, especially since there is now a series on Hulu. So I had to read before I watch. So the year is 1537 and the country is divided between those faithful to the Catholic Church and those loyal to the King and the newly established Church of England. When a royal commissioner is brutally murdered in a monastery on the south coast of England, Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII’s feared vicar general, summons fellow reformer Matthew Shardlake, to lead the inquiry. Shardlake and his young protege uncover evidence of sexual misconduct, embezzlement, and treason. And when two other murders are revealed, they must move quickly to prevent the killer from striking again.
SarahOh, I’m so pleased that you’re going to pick this up, Brook, because yes, it is a fabulous series. And um I’ve been watching the screen adaptation, and it’s also very good.
BrookOh, good. That’s great news. I was hoping that, ah you know, that it lives up to this series that just really is renowned.
SarahAnd of course, CJ Sansom just died. Actually, he died just a few days before the series on Hulu and Disney Plus, the first episode aired.
BrookYeah, you mentioned that to me. And I i hate it when those things happen and and somebody doesn’t get to seetheir legacy come to fruition.
SarahSo my next pick is The Millhouse Murders, which was originally published in 1988 in Japanese. It was written by Yukito Aetsuji and translated in 2023 by Ho Ling Wang. And I chose this because I really enjoyed The Decagon House Murders um written by the same author, and I think it was published the year before in Japan, so in 1987, and released in 2022, I think, um in English.
SarahEver since a horrific car accident, Funiyama Kichi has lived a reclusive existence in the remote millhouse, his scarred face hidden behind a rubber mask. Then, one stormy night, the tranquility of his retreat is shattered by gruesome murder, a baffling disappearance, and the theft of a priceless painting. The brilliant Shimada Kiyoshi arrives on the scene, but as he investigates the seemingly impossible events of that evening, death strikes again and again. Can Shimada get to the truth before the killer gets to him? And can you solve the mystery of the Milhouse murders before he does?
BrookThat sounds fantastic. I love that you find us these um great international mysteries, Sarah. All right. My last pick for my TBR list, or should I say wish list, is The Body in the Bookstore by Ellie Alexander. This is a book one in her new series. um And I’ll be reading this as an ebook. I have always wanted to read some of Ellie’s work, and oddly enough, I haven’t. She’s a very successful, cozy author in that space. um And it’s a bookish ah series, so that’s something I also love.
BrookWelcome to The Secret Bookcase, a quirky bookstore in a converted manor house. The store has been Annie Marie’s sanctuary ever since her dreams of starting a detective agency with her best friend died, literally, when Scarlett was murdered. Annie has never stopped trying to solve the mystery of her friend’s death. but her quiet life in Redwood Grove has provided the solace she needed, until now. When a body is discovered in Annie’s bookstore during the town’s inaugural Mystery Fest, she finds herself catapulted into the center of a real life whodunit. Dusting off her criminology degree, Annie is determined to put her sleuthing skills to good use and catch the killer before it’s too late.
SarahThat sounds fantastic, Brook. And do you know, is it um also set, I mean, you named the the town, um but is that also um situated in Oregon? Because I know her other books are set in Oregon. At least one ah ah one series is, yeah.
BrookYes, I’m assuming that Redwood Grove is probably like ah Ashland, Oregon, which is where Ellie Alexander actually lives and where she now hosts the Ashland Mystery Festival, which you kind of get a hint at and in this book’s ah plot as well. um So I’ll read and and report back.
SarahOkay. Well, and I think the redwood forest is, does it, um, cover part of Oregon and California, right?
BrookYes, it’s ah because that that area is quite south in Oregon, so it kind of ah gets into those redwoods.
SarahThe final book for me to read on my list this summer is An Agatha Christie, and I chose Towards Zero, which was published in 1944, and I chose this because there’s a BBC Brit Box production that is currently filming, I believe. And so it it will be available, I’m assuming, you know, early next year um for us to watch. And it’s being done by the same people who are behind Murder is Easy, which was released earlier this year.
SarahAn elderly widow is murdered at a cliff-top seaside house. What is the connection between a failed suicide attempt, a wrongful accusation of theft against a schoolgirl, and the romantic life of a famous tennis player? To the casual observer, apparently nothing. But when a house party gathers at Gulls Point, the seaside home of an elderly widow, earlier events come to a dramatic head. It’s all part of a carefully laid plan for murder.
BrookOh, you can’t go wrong with a Christie, Sarah. And I love that this new adaptation is coming out. All right, so in our tradition, we have also chosen a book for the other one to read. We’ve we picked something foreach other. And for Sarah, I have chosen The Witch Elm by Tana French. This is a 2018 standalone. it So it’s not related to her Dublin Murder Squad series. So this way you can get a taste of Tana French and decide if it’s something you’d like to go forward with. And here’s about the book. Toby is a happy-go-lucky charmer who’s dodged a scrape at work and is celebrating with friends when the night takes a turn that will change his life. He surprises two burglars who beat him and leave him for dead. Struggling to recover from his injuries, beginning to understand that he might never be the same again, he takes refuge at his family’s ancestral home to care for his dying uncle Hugo.
BrookThen a skull is found in the trunk of an elm tree in the garden. And as detectives close in, Toby is forced to face the possibility that his past may not be what he has always believed.
SarahOh, that sounds so good, Brook. Thank you for the recommendation. And I don’t think I’ve read any Tana French, so this is hopefully going to be a perfect introduction. I hope so. So I chose for you a book that I read earlier this year. And when I was reading it, I immediately thought of you um ah because it includes maps, a mystery, and there’s a hint of magic. So this is The Cartographers, which was published in 2022 by Peng Shephard.
SarahNell Young’s whole life and greatest passion is cartography. Her father, Dr. Danielle Young, is a legend in the field and Nell’s personal hero. But she hasn’t seen or spoken to him ever since he cruelly fired her and destroyed her reputation after an argument over an old cheap gas station highway map. But when Dr. Yang is found dead in his office at the New York Public Library with the very same seemingly worthless map hidden in his desk, Nell can’t resist investigating. To her surprise, she soon discovers that the map is incredibly valuable and exceedingly rare. In fact, she may now have the only copy left in existence because a mysterious collector has been hunting down and destroying every last one, along with anyone who gets in the way.
SarahBut why? To answer that question, Nell embarks on a dangerous journey to reveal a dark family secret and discovers the true power that lies in maps.
BrookOh, Sarah, you know me really well. I can’t wait to get my hands on that one. That sounds so good. I love there’s like family secrets that, you know, a little feel of treasure hunt in there. That sounds perfect.
SarahWell, I hope I hope you do get to it um and I hope you enjoy it.
BrookWell, Sarah, this has been so much fun once again talking about all the great mysteries and thrillers that we plan to read during our summer break.
SarahYes, Brook, I am looking forward to digging into them and to discussing them with you at the end of the summer.
BrookThat sounds fantastic. Happy reading and happy reading to you listeners. But for today, I’m Brook.
SarahAnd I’m Sarah, and we both love mystery.
SarahClued In Mystery is written and produced by Brook Peterson and Sarah M. Stephen. Music is by Shane Ivers. If you liked what you heard, please consider telling a friend, leaving a review, or subscribing with your favorite podcast listening app. Visit our website at cluedinmystery.com to sign up for our newsletter, The Clued In Chronicle, or to join our paid membership, The Clued In Cartel. We’re on social media at Clued In Mystery.