By Rhonna Hargett, Associate Director of Learning and Information Services
In my opinion, there is no better way to spend a fall afternoon than curled up in a comfy chair, with a cup of tea and a good mystery novel. Here are some of the new mysteries available at Manhattan Public Library.
Alex Segura brings the gritty world of 1970s New York City to life in “Secret Identity.” Carmen Valdez has left the sunshine and warmth of Miami to conquer the comic book world in New York, but after years of working diligently as an administrative assistant at Triumph Comics, her dream of writing continues to seem out of reach. When her work smoke buddy, Harvey, offers her the chance to write something up with him, she jumps at the opportunity, even if it means she won’t get any credit for it. Their work is well received, but soon after publication, Harvey is murdered. Carmen wonders what Harvey was hiding, and if his attackers will be coming after her next. “Secret Identity” is a gripping mystery, as well as a fascinating story of the challenges women faced in the 1970s.
As a fan of cozy mysteries as well as the works of Jane Austen, you can imagine my delight when I came across “The Murder of Mr. Wickham” by Claudia Gray. Gray’s novel begins in Donwell Abbey where Mr. and Mrs. Knightley are discussing an upcoming house party, to which characters from all of Jane Austen’s novels are invited. Everyone comes together and is ready for a lovely gathering when uninvited guest Mr. Wickham shows up and casts a pall over all, and it only takes a few days of his awfulness before he is found murdered in the gallery. Almost everyone at the party has a motive to do away with him, but no one wants to believe it of anyone present. The Tilneys’ daughter, Juliet, and the Darcy’s son, Johnathan, pair up to solve the mystery, and learn more than they could have possibly anticipated. Gray manages to give us a satisfying mystery, along with a fascinating glimpse into the continuation of the lives of beloved characters. Although it was disconcerting to speculate which of them was guilty of murder, the complex personalities and intriguing plot keep the reader captivated to the gratifying end.
Lan Samantha Chang’s novel, “The Family Chao” is a story of intrigue and family drama. Leo Chao, the owner of the Fine Chao restaurant in rural Haven, Wisconsin, is known for his business acumen and his obnoxious personality. His wife has moved out, and his relationship with his three sons ranges from quietly resentful to completely estranged. When Leo is found locked in the walk-in freezer (which was not up-to-code) on Christmas morning, no one is surprised. His eldest son, Dagou, who works at the restaurant and is facing money troubles, has publicly, on several occasions, talked about his hatred for him, and wished him dead, but Dagou’s brothers aren’t convinced that the case can be solved so easily. “The Family Chao” is loaded with complex and fascinating characters. The Chao family is at the center of a small community of Chinese immigrants in a town that has at times been cruel to these newcomers. The sons have especially suffered discrimination and bullying, and each of them has responded in their own way: Dagou has his sexual exploits, Ming has built a cushion of money to protect himself, and James stays quiet and tries to avoid being noticed. Chang has created a riveting mystery, filled with complicated family relationships and a thread of grim humor.