Thursday, September 20, 2012

Falling into Mysteries

There's always mystery in the air in fall. Shorter days, brighter moons, sudden gusts of wind, leaves skittering down the streets. Maybe that's why fall is my absolute favorite season for reading mysteries, and if they cross over into thriller-land, even better.

Is it just me, or are there more mysteries than ever coming out this fall? A few weeks ago, W.H. Beck listed fall 2012 kidlit mysteries she's looking forward to (some YA, mostly MG), and she also has a formidable Pinterest board with an even bigger list. Here's my own fall reading list, which skews more YA.

BURNING BLUE, by Paul Griffin. (October 25. Dial/Penguin)
When Nicole Castro, the most beautiful girl in her wealthy New Jersey high school, is splashed with acid on the left side of her perfect face, the whole world takes notice. But quiet loner Jay Nazarro does more than that--he decides to find out who did it. Jay understands how it feels to be treated like a freak, and he also has a secret: He's a brilliant hacker. But the deeper he digs, the more danger he's in--and the more he falls for Nicole. Too bad everyone is turning into a suspect, including Nicole herself.

This is one of my all-time favorite YA authors. If you haven't discovered his work yet, you should drop everything and do so at once. He writes somewhat gritty -- and beautifully written, emotionally moving -- contemporary stories about urban kids. When my sales rep out in Seattle gave me an ARC of this forthcoming book, I might have danced a little jig. Or at least jumped for joy. I'm thrilled he's turned his talents to mystery in this novel, and I can't wait to read it. (Psssst.... Paul Griffin will be hauled into our Interrogation Room in early November!)

THE EDGE OF NOWHERE, by Elizabeth George (Just released! Viking/Penguin)
Whidbey Island may be only a ferry ride from Seattle, but it's a world apart. When Becca King arrives there, she doesn't suspect the island will become her home for the next four years. Put at risk by her ability to hear "whispers"--the thoughts of others--Becca is on the run from her stepfather, whose criminal activities she has discovered. Stranded and alone, Becca is soon befriended by Derric, a Ugandon orphan adopted by a local family; Seth, a kindhearted musician and high school dropout; Debbie, a recovering alcoholic who takes her in; and Diana, with whom Becca shares a mysterious psychic connection.

I'm originally a Seattle girl AND a longtime Elizabeth George fan, so I am very excited to read her first YA mystery (which is also the first of a planned series). This story is set on Whidbey Island, a real place not far from Seattle. The cast of characters intrigues me, too.

THE DIVINERS, by Libba Bray (Just released! Little, Brown)
Evie O'Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City--and she is pos-i-toot-ly thrilled. New York is the city of speakeasies, shopping, and movie palaces! Soon enough, Evie is running with glamorous Ziegfield girls and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is Evie has to live with her Uncle Will, curator of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult--also known as "The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies." When a rash of occult-based murders comes to light, Evie and her uncle are right in the thick of the investigation. And through it all, Evie has a secret: a mysterious power that could help catch the killer--if he doesn't catch her first.

I love the 1920s and love Libba Bray, and the whole ingredient list for this book sounds divine! I've also been meaning to read more historical mysteries, so I'm looking forward to time-traveling through this book.

HORTON'S MIRACULOUS MECHANISMS, by Lissa Evans (out now! Sterling Children's Books)
As if being small for his age and also having S. Horten as his name isn't bad enough, now 10-year-old Stuart is forced to move far away from all his friends. But on his very first day in his new home, Stuart's swept up in an extraordinary adventure: the quest to find his great-uncle Tony--a famous magician who literally disappeared off the face of the earth--and Tony's marvelous, long-lost workshop.  Along the way, Stuart reluctantly accepts help from the annoying triplets next door… and encounters trouble from another magician who's also desperate to get hold of Tony's treasures.

This mystery for younger readers (10+) looks charming. The cover makes me think of Edward Gorey, and the premise makes me think of childhood books I devoured and re-read, especially the mysteries by John Bellairs. Just leafing through the book in a store, the voice pulled me right in. This one came highly recommended to me from a bookseller at Seattle Mystery Books.

THE GHOST OF GRAYLOCK, by Dan Poblock (Out now! Scholastic)
Everyone's heard the stories about Graylock Hall. It was meant to be a place of healing - a hospital where children and teenagers with mental disorders would be cared for and perhaps even cured. But something went wrong. Several young patients died under mysterious circumstances. Eventually, the hospital was shut down, the building abandoned and left to rot deep in the woods. As the new kid in town, Neil Cady wants to see Graylock for himself. Especially since rumor has it that the building is haunted. He's got fresh batteries in his flashlight, a camera to document the adventure, and a new best friend watching his back. Neil might think he's prepared for what he'll find in the dark and decrepit asylum. But he's certainly not prepared for what follows him home. . . .

What would a fall reading list be without a good ghost story? We interviewed Dan Poblocki last year for our Interrogation Room on this blog, and ever since then I've been a huge fan of his creepy middle-grade mystery/horror novels. I confess, I'm not a huge horror fan (I like my horror served up on the mild side, kind of like my Indian food in a restaurant). Dan's stuff is not exactly mild. It's genuinely creepy, and even though it's for the 10+ crowd, I get a little jumpy after reading his atmospheric, suspenseful prose. He makes me feel like anything could be lurking around a corner in my own neighborhood; he's the master at making the familiar unfamiliar. There's a bit of an old-fashioned quality to his prose too -- with nods to H.P. Lovecraft and Edgar Allen Poe -- so I'm looking forward to curling up with this new book. Um, maybe with the lights on.

Have you read any of the books on this list? What mysteries are YOU reading this fall?

Diana was born in Seattle and now lives outside of Boston with her husband and son. TOKYO HEIST (Viking/Penguin, published June 2012) is her first novel.


  1. Great round-up, Diana. I haven't read any new fall mysteries just yet, so it was wonderful to get this list.

  2. Thanks, Kristen! Those last two in particular I think are up your alley!

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