From a Raven's Shelf: June 2023

From a Raven's Shelf

June 2023 Edition

By Sarah Young


Hello, Friends! “June is bustin’ out all over,” and I hope you are all enjoying these lovely days of sunshine.

June is also PRIDE month, and there are many wonderful mysteries and thrillers that feature LGBTQ+ characters. Here are two—one rather vintage and the other very recent—that I think are quite worth a look.

I have mentioned the first book in passing in a previous column: A Grave Talent by the venerable and prolific Laurie King. King has been celebrating/observing the twentieth anniversary of the publication of this first in her Kate Martinelli series, and—obsolete technology references aside—this novel continues to amaze. Kate Martinelli is a brand new but brilliant San Francisco police detective assigned to work with an older, more experienced male colleague. She is a lesbian in a world now twenty years in the past, and her struggles and joys are deftly and humanely revealed in this police procedural. King’s writing only got better from this book forward, and this one is darn good.

Per King's website: “The Martinelli novels have won the Edgar, Creasey, and Lambda awards, and were nominated for Edgar, Macavity, Anthony, and Orange awards.”

The second book is By Way of Sorrow by Robyn Gigl. The New York Times Book Review calls Gigl’s Erin McCabe books “[a]n emotionally resonant debut . . . welcome—and quietly groundbreaking.” By Way of Sorrow introduces Erin McCabe, a trans woman and New Jersey criminal defense attorney, whose defense of a nineteen-year-old trans prostitute accused of murder threatens to topple her own carefully constructed life. Gigl has followed up this riveting 2021 thriller with two more McCabe novels, the most recent in May of this year.

Summer is often the time I indulge in rereading old favorites and catching up on new books in my favorite authors’ stables. In fact, if you are a long-time reader of my column, they will sound familiar. (I am an unashamed re-reader!) I picked up A Test of Wills this month. Well, actually, I listened to it as an audiobook. (You can find it here on Libro.fm.) This is the first in Charles Todd’s Ian Rutledge series. If you have not found Inspector Rutledge yet, you must put this on your reading list. Rutledge is a veteran of WWI, who returns to his position as Detective Inspector at Scotland Yard, uncertain of his ability to return to his former extraordinary skills in police work. He suffers from “shell shock” and is haunted by the voice of Corporal Hamish Macleod, whose death broke Rutledge for reasons I’ll let you find out while reading. Hamish chides, laughs, snorts, and grumbles, excoriating Rutledge for his weaknesses and reminding him of his strengths, all in a voice heard only by the detective. I’m already on to the second book, loving Todd’s creation all over again.

In addition, I’ve been thinking a lot about the influence of Arthur Conan Doyle’s greatest creation—Sherlock Holmes—and the outsized impact he has had on the mystery genre through the twentieth and now into the twenty-first century. Like him or not, Holmes continues to fascinate and inspire.

I am very fond of several Holmes pastiches or rewritings of the Holmes legend, and one that I am rereading this summer—yes, again—is by Sherry Thomas. In this case, Holmes is Charlotte Holmes, an outcast from her society family who finally discovers the proper use for her extraordinary perspicacity and talents of observation. The first in Thomas’s series is A Study in Scarlet Women. This distaff Holmes is smart and fun, and observant fans of Arthur Conan Doyle’s oeuvre will find many “Easter eggs” and references both to the original A Study in Scarlet, and to the Holmes canon in general. (By the way, if you have not read A Study in Scarlet, it introduced Holmes and Watson, and first appeared in Beeton's Christmas Annual in 1897 to very little fanfare or interest.)

Subsequent Holmes stories were most often associated with The Strand Magazine and illustrated by Sidney Paget. To The Strand I now turn for more awards news! The Strand Magazine’s nominees for the 2023 Best Novel and Best Debut Novel have just been announced. The Strand itself is the winner of the 2023 Ellery Queen Award from the Mystery Writers of America.

The 2023 Strand Critics Awards nominees for Best Novel and Best Debut are …

BEST NOVEL
Anywhere You Run by Wanda M. Morris
Back to the Garden by Laurie R. King
Desert Star by Michael Connelly
Her Last Affair by John Searles
A World of Curiosities by Louise Penny
Secret Identity by Alex Segura

BEST DEBUT
Jackal by Erin E. Adams
A Flicker in the Dark by Stacy Willingham
Before You Knew My Name by Jacqueline Bublitz
Don’t Know Tough by Eli Cranor
Shutter by Ramona Emerson

The Strand is also awarding lifetime achievement awards to James Lee Burke, whose legendary writing career includes the series starring Dave Robicheaux, a deputy sheriff in New Iberia, Louisiana. Beginning with The Neon Rain in 1987, Burke’s haunted but brilliant investigator Dave Robicheaux has been absorbing fans in over twenty novels.

The other lifetime achievement award goes to Lee Child, author of the phenomenally successful Jack Reacher mysteries. When someone comes into the Raven seeking a great thriller, I almost always take them over to Child’s first Reacher novel Killing Floor which will pick up you and shake you until you emerge from its pages exhausted but thrilled.

I might take some time with some of these books during the rest of this summer. The awards are announced in September. Let’s see if we can get them all read by then!

I will leave you this month with my staff pick for June. It isn’t a mystery, but it is mysterious, fantastical, and brilliant. I absolutely love the work of Isak Dinesen (author of Out of Africa), and my staff pick is her collection of short stories called Winter’s Tales. Originally published in Danish as Vinter-eventyr in 1942, Dinesen (Karen Blixen) herself translated it into English the same year. Winter’s Tales is magical, engaging, and extraordinary in every way. Eudora Welty said of Dinesen’s stories that “. . .they come toward one like the flashes and signal-beams from a lighthouse on a strange and infrequently sighted coast. . . .” Each time I read it, I am astonished by her subtlety, irony, and wisdom. Sit down with this book of beautiful tales and imagine Scheherazade herself weaving a mysterious world around you.

I hope you have a stack of glorious, inspiring, and absorbing books to engage you this month.


A Grave Talent: A Novel (A Kate Martinelli Mystery #1) By Laurie R. King Cover Image
$19.00
ISBN: 9781250046550
Availability: In stock at our distributor’s warehouse; will be at the Raven in 3-10 bus. days! More at ravenbookstore.com/ordering-faqs
This book cannot be returned. Make sure what you're ordering is exactly what you want.
Published: Picador - January 7th, 2014

THE EDGAR AWARD-WINNING NOVEL
THE FIRST KATE MARTINELLI MYSTERY


By Way of Sorrow (An Erin McCabe Legal Thriller #1) By Robyn Gigl Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9781496728265
Availability: In stock at our distributor’s warehouse; will be at the Raven in 3-10 bus. days! More at ravenbookstore.com/ordering-faqs
Published: Kensington - December 28th, 2021

Attorney and activist Robyn Gigl tackles the complexities of gender, race, power and public perception in By Way of Sorrow, a gripping debut legal thriller with a ripped-from-the-headlines plot and a unique protagonist who, like the author herself, is a transgender attorney.


A Test of Wills By Charles Todd Cover Image
$20.99
ISBN: 9780062648099
Availability: In stock at our distributor’s warehouse; will be at the Raven in 3-10 bus. days! More at ravenbookstore.com/ordering-faqs
Published: William Morrow & Company - June 13th, 2016

A Study In Scarlet Women (The Lady Sherlock Series #1) By Sherry Thomas Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9780425281406
Availability: In stock at our distributor’s warehouse; will be at the Raven in 3-10 bus. days! More at ravenbookstore.com/ordering-faqs
Published: Berkley - October 18th, 2016

USA Today bestselling author Sherry Thomas turns the story of the renowned Sherlock Holmes upside down in the first novel in this Victorian mystery series....
 


Anywhere You Run: A Novel By Wanda M. Morris Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780063082502
Availability: In stock at our distributor’s warehouse; will be at the Raven in 3-10 bus. days! More at ravenbookstore.com/ordering-faqs
Published: William Morrow Paperbacks - October 25th, 2022

As Seen on The TODAY Show!

Called One of the Best Crime Novels of the Year by New York Times * NPR * New York Post * Washington Post * Buzzfeed * South Florida Sun-Sentinel * Library Journal * CrimeReads


Back to the Garden: A Novel By Laurie R. King Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9780593496589
Availability: In stock at our distributor’s warehouse; will be at the Raven in 3-10 bus. days! More at ravenbookstore.com/ordering-faqs
Published: Bantam - June 6th, 2023

A fifty-year-old cold case involving California royalty comes back to life—with potentially fatal consequences—in this gripping standalone novel from the New York Times bestselling author of the Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes series.

ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: PopSugar


Desert Star (A Renée Ballard and Harry Bosch Novel) By Michael Connelly Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9781538725016
Availability: In stock at our distributor’s warehouse; will be at the Raven in 3-10 bus. days! More at ravenbookstore.com/ordering-faqs
Published: Grand Central Publishing - June 6th, 2023

LAPD detective Renée Ballard and Harry Bosch team up to hunt the brutal killer who is Bosch’s “white whale”—a man responsible for the murder of an entire family.  Discover more thrilling Bosch mysteries in the original Freevee series Bosch: Legacy.

A year has passed since LAPD detective Renée Ballard quit the force in the face of


Her Last Affair: A Novel By John Searles Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780060779672
Availability: In stock at our distributor’s warehouse; will be at the Raven in 3-10 bus. days! More at ravenbookstore.com/ordering-faqs
Published: Mariner Books - March 28th, 2023

"A winner: tense and terrifying with a twist you’ll never see coming. You won’t soon forget these characters and the shocking ways their lives intersect." -- Laura Dave, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Last Thing He Told Me

Every marriage has its secrets….


A World of Curiosities: A Novel (Chief Inspector Gamache Novel #18) By Louise Penny Cover Image
$29.99
ISBN: 9781250145291
Availability: In stock at our distributor’s warehouse; will be at the Raven in 3-10 bus. days! More at ravenbookstore.com/ordering-faqs
Published: Minotaur Books - November 29th, 2022

INSTANT #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
Agatha Award Winner for Best Contemporary Novel

Chief Inspector Armand Gamache returns in the eighteenth book in #1 New York Times bestseller Louise Penny's beloved series.


Secret Identity: A Novel By Alex Segura Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9781250801760
Availability: In stock at our distributor’s warehouse; will be at the Raven in 3-10 bus. days! More at ravenbookstore.com/ordering-faqs
Published: Flatiron Books - February 7th, 2023

Named A BEST BOOK of the Year by NPR, The Sun Sentinel, Deadly Pleasures, and more

Anthony Award-winning writer Alex Segura delivers a "masterful 1970s literary mystery" (NPR) set in the world of comics that is "as engaging as Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay.” (Sun Sentinel)


Jackal: A Novel By Erin E. Adams Cover Image
$27.00
This book is hard-to-find or out of print and we may not be able to get it. Email for more details.
ISBN: 9780593499306
Published: Bantam - October 4th, 2022

RECOMMENDED BY GILLIAN FLYNN ON THE TODAY SHOW A young Black girl goes missing in the woods outside her white rust belt town. But she's not the first—and she may not be the last. . . .

“I read this thriller that is Get Out meets The Vanishing Half in one night.”—BuzzFeed


A Flicker in the Dark: A Novel By Stacy Willingham Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781250803849
Availability: In stock at our distributor’s warehouse; will be at the Raven in 3-10 bus. days! More at ravenbookstore.com/ordering-faqs
Published: Minotaur Books - January 10th, 2023

A New York Times Bestseller

“A smart, edge-of-your-seat story with plot twists you’ll never see coming. Stacy Willingham’s debut will keep you turning pages long past your bedtime.” —Karin Slaughter


Before You Knew My Name: A Novel By Jacqueline Bublitz Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781982198992
Availability: In stock at our distributor’s warehouse; will be at the Raven in 3-10 bus. days! More at ravenbookstore.com/ordering-faqs
Published: Atria/Emily Bestler Books - November 1st, 2022

Winner of Crime Debut and Readers’ Choice Awards—Sisters in Crime
Editors’ Choice/Staff Pick by The New York Times Book Review

“A brave and timely novel.” —Clare Mackintosh, internationally bestselling author of Hostage

This is not just another novel about a dead girl.


Don't Know Tough By Eli Cranor Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9781641294560
Availability: In stock at our distributor’s warehouse; will be at the Raven in 3-10 bus. days! More at ravenbookstore.com/ordering-faqs
Published: Soho Crime - February 21st, 2023

WINNER OF THE EDGAR AWARD
WINNER OF THE PETER LOVESEY FIRST CRIME NOVEL CONTEST

Friday Night Lights gone dark with Southern Gothic; Eli Cranor delivers a powerful noir that will appeal to fans of Wiley Cash and Megan Abbott.


Shutter (A Rita Todacheene Novel #1) By Ramona Emerson Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9781641294812
Availability: In stock at our distributor’s warehouse; will be at the Raven in 3-10 bus. days! More at ravenbookstore.com/ordering-faqs
Published: Soho Crime - April 25th, 2023

Longlisted for the National Book Award

This blood-chilling debut set in New Mexico’s Navajo Nation is equal parts gripping crime thriller, supernatural horror, and poignant portrayal of coming of age on the reservation.


The Neon Rain: A Dave Robicheaux Novel By James Lee Burke Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9780743449205
Availability: In stock at our distributor’s warehouse; will be at the Raven in 3-10 bus. days! More at ravenbookstore.com/ordering-faqs
Published: Simon & Schuster - October 1st, 2002

From New York Times bestselling author James Lee Burke comes his definitive, must-read first title in his famous Dectective David Robicheaux series.

New Orleans Detective Dave Robicheaux has fought too many battles: in Vietnam, with police brass, with killers and hustlers, and the bottle.


Killing Floor (Jack Reacher #1) By Lee Child Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9780425264355
Availability: In stock at our distributor’s warehouse; will be at the Raven in 3-10 bus. days! More at ravenbookstore.com/ordering-faqs
Published: Berkley - November 6th, 2012

THE FIRST NOVEL IN LEE CHILD'S #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING JACK REACHER SERIES—NOW AN ORIGINAL SERIES ON PRIME VIDEO!

“From its jolting opening scene to its fiery final confrontation, Killing Floor is irresistible.”—People


Winter's Tales (Vintage International) By Isak Dinesen Cover Image
$17.00
This book is hard-to-find or out of print and we may not be able to get it. Email for more details.
ISBN: 9780679743347
Published: Vintage - June 1st, 1993

In Isak Dinesen's universe, the magical enchantment of the fairy tale and the moral resonance of myth coexist with an unflinching grasp of the most obscure human strengths and weaknesses. A despairing author abandons his wife, but in the course of a long night's wandering, he learns love's true value and returns to her, only to find her a different woman than the one he left.