Crime Book-of-the-Month Club

This club is for the mystery fan who doesn’t like to be pigeon-holed into one particular sub-genre.  We’ll be drawing from a variety of different styles – thrillers, psychological crime novels, hardboiled/noir fiction, police procedurals and more – to provide you with a well-rounded reading experience throughout the year.

2021

May: Jean Hanff Korelitz. The Plot (Celadon, $28.00 Signed).

Hailed as “breathtakingly suspenseful,” Jean Hanff Korelitz’s The Plot is a propulsive read about a story too good not to steal, and the writer who steals it.

Jacob Finch Bonner was once a promising young novelist with a respectably published first book. Today, he’s teaching in a third-rate MFA program and struggling to maintain what’s left of his self-respect; he hasn’t written—let alone published—anything decent in years. When Evan Parker, his most arrogant student, announces he doesn’t need Jake’s help because the plot of his book in progress is a sure thing, Jake is prepared to dismiss the boast as typical amateur narcissism. But then . . . he hears the plot.

Jake returns to the downward trajectory of his own career and braces himself for the supernova publication of Evan Parker’s first novel: but it never comes. When he discovers that his former student has died, presumably without ever completing his book, Jake does what any self-respecting writer would do with a story like that—a story that absolutely needs to be told.

In a few short years, all of Evan Parker’s predictions have come true, but Jake is the author enjoying the wave. He is wealthy, famous, praised and read all over the world. But at the height of his glorious new life, an e-mail arrives, the first salvo in a terrifying, anonymous campaign: You are a thief, it says.

As Jake struggles to understand his antagonist and hide the truth from his readers and his publishers, he begins to learn more about his late student, and what he discovers both amazes and terrifies him. Who was Evan Parker, and how did he get the idea for his “sure thing” of a novel? What is the real story behind the plot, and who stole it from whom?

April: Paula McLain. When the Stars Go Dark

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • GOOD MORNING AMERICA BUZZ PICK • “A total departure for the author of The Paris Wife, McLain’s emotionally intense and exceptionally well-written thriller entwines its fictional crime with real cases.”—People (Book of the Week)

“The kind of heart-pounding conclusion that thriller fans crave . . . In the end, a book full of darkness lands with a message of hope.”—The New York Times Book Review

“This mystery will keep you guessing, and stay with you long after you finish. Dive in.”—theSkimm

Anna Hart is a seasoned missing persons detective in San Francisco with far too much knowledge of the darkest side of human nature. When tragedy strikes her personal life, Anna, desperate and numb, flees to the Northern California village of Mendocino to grieve. She lived there as a child with her beloved foster parents, and now she believes it might be the only place left for her. Yet the day she arrives, she learns that a local teenage girl has gone missing.

The crime feels frighteningly reminiscent of the most crucial time in Anna’s childhood, when the unsolved murder of a young girl touched Mendocino and changed the community forever. As past and present collide, Anna realizes that she has been led to this moment. The most difficult lessons of her life have given her insight into how victims come into contact with violent predators. As Anna becomes obsessed with saving the missing girl, she must accept that true courage means getting out of her own way and learning to let others in.

Weaving together actual cases of missing persons, trauma theory, and a hint of the metaphysical, this propulsive and deeply affecting novel tells a story of fate, necessary redemption, and what it takes, when the worst happens, to reclaim our lives—and our faith in one another.

February: Will Staples. Animals (Blackstone, $27.99 Signed late March).

When rhino poachers kill two of his fellow rangers in Kruger Park, South African Defense Force veteran Cobus Venter reaches his breaking point. Quitting his job, he embarks on a vigilante mission to take down the animal-trafficking syndicate from the inside. Meanwhile, in Florida, insurance investigator Randall Knight is called to a private roadside zoo, where a new tiger cub of suspect lineage brought a virus that wiped out all the zoo’s tigers. The disease is just one species jump away from erupting into a deadly global human pandemic. What starts as a simple insurance claim leads Knight to discover a shocking new evolution in the business of illicit animal trafficking. Both men’s journeys take them from the darkest corners of Southeast Asia to the VIP gambling rooms of Macau, where they must stay alive long enough to stop a vicious international triad from ending wildlife as we know it.

Animals is set in the world of global animal trafficking and follows converging story lines into a dark maze of corruption and organized crime, and through the journeys of the main characters, the novel explores the factors driving the exploitation and ruin of the natural world.

Though the story is fiction, the characters, locations, and plot points are almost entirely rooted in fact. They are the product of hundreds of conversations with everyone from Jane Goodall to the CIA, to Damien Mander (an ex-mercenary turned animal activist). To experience the issue firsthand, Will Staples took a month-long research trip spanning three continents and seven countries. The journey was a profoundly transformative, life-altering experience.

The author’s goal with this novel is to expose this issue to as many people as possible. To that end, all his income from this book will be donated to nonprofit organizations dedicated to protecting wildlife. 

January: Tracy, P.J. Deep Into the Dark

New York Times bestseller P. J. Tracy returns with Deep into the Dark, a brand new series set in LA and featuring up-and-coming LAPD Detective Margaret Nolan and murder suspect Sam Easton.

Sam Eastona true survivoris home from Afghanistan, trying to rebuild a life in his hometown of LA. Separated from his wife, bartending and therapy sessions are what occupy his days and nights. When friend and colleague Melody Traeger is beaten by her boyfriend, she turns to Sam for help. When the boyfriend turns up dead the next day, a hard case like Sam is the perfect suspect.

But LAPD Detective Margaret Nolan, whose brother recently died serving overseas, is sympathetic to Sam’s troubles, and can’t quite see him as a killer. She’s more interested in the secrets Melody might be keeping and the developments in another murder case on the other side of town.

Set in an LA where real people live and work–not the superficial LA of Beverly Hills or the gritty underbelly of the city–Deep into the Dark features two really engaging, dynamic main characters and explores the nature of obsession, revenge, and grief.

P. J. Tracy is known for her “fast, fresh, and funny” characters (Harlan Coben) and her “sizzling” plots (People); the Monkeewrench series was her first, set in Minneapolis and co-written with her mother. Now with Deep into the Dark she’s on her ownand it’s a home run. 

2020

January: Dundas, Chad. The Blaze

February: Gardiner, Meg. Dark Corners of the Night

March: Swanson, Peter. Eight Perfect Murders

April: Black, Cara. Three Hours in Paris

May: Turow, Scott. The Last Trial

June: Young, Heather. The Distant Dead

July: Cosby, S.A. The Blacktop Wasteland

August: David Heska Wanbli Weiden. Winter Counts

September: Parish, Stan. Love and Theft.

October: Unger, Lisa. Confessions on the 7:45

November: Fleishman, Jeffrey. The Last Dance

December: Preston & Child. The Scorpion’s Tail.