From a Raven's Shelf: May 2023

From a Raven's Shelf

May 2023 Edition

By Sarah Young


The spring is fresh and fearless
And every leaf is new,
The world is brimmed with moonlight,
The lilac brimmed with dew.

Here in the moving shadows
I catch my breath and sing—
My heart is fresh and fearless
And over-brimmed with spring.

—“May Night” by Sara Teasdale

Hello, Friends:

Here we are in May, “over-brimmed with spring.” I love Sara Teasdale’s vision of spring as “fresh and fearless.” Fearlessness is a quality we speak of but seldom find in ourselves or others, but there is much fearlessness in the books engaging me this month.

This novel has been around for a few years, but I recently went back to Circe by Madeline Miller. Do you want a fabulous, finish-in-one-sitting book? This is it! As she did with The Song of Achilles, Miller reimagines Greek mythology for the modern age. In Circe, Miller introduces us to a powerful and misunderstood nymph, banished by Zeus and her father Helios to an isolated existence on a deserted island. She is a witch, whose nascent power frightens the powerful male gods. But on the island, she grows strong, leaning into her magic, learning to speak and live for herself. Of course, among the sailors who find their way to her island is famed Odysseus, but we see her encounter with Odysseus from her perspective. Instead of the wild sorceress who delays the hero on his journey, turning his men into pigs, we see a woman enthralled not just by the man himself but by the concept of humanity. She ponders the inherent quality of humankind: their mortality. How does that change how they live their lives, fuel their desires, pursuits, and hatred? In this book, Miller gives Circe a chance to speak for herself, and we discover her profound wisdom.

Let’s turn to another woman who defied conventions and raised a ruckus. Fabulous historian Lynne Olson has gifted us a new book this spring: Empress of the Nile: The Daredevil Archaeologist Who Saved Egypt’s Ancient Temples from Destruction. Now, I love a great Egyptological mystery. (Remember my love for Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody books?) I also admire Lynne Olson, one of the foremost historians of World War II. Her books focus on people, known and unknown, who were at the heart of the most important moments of that era. In Empress of the Nile, her real-life heroine is Christiane Desroches-Noblecourt, an Egyptologist working at the Louvre who also defied the Nazis as a member of the French Resistance. Her life as an Egyptologist before and after the war is astonishing, but Olson goes on to reveal one of the greatest contributions to human cultural history that never would have happened had she not been involved. In the 1960s, as the Aswan High Dam was being built, Christiane Desroches-Noblecourt along with another strong woman, Jacqueline Kennedy, persuaded, cajoled, strong-armed, and pushed Egypt’s President Nasser, France’s President de Gaulle, President Kennedy, and leaders of fifty countries to save ancient temples in the waters’ path. The temples were dismantled, stone by stone, and rebuilt away from the flood. This is a rollicking story that is better than the best Indiana Jones movie because it is true and truly inspiring.

Another novel about a strong, independent woman is The Lindbergh Nanny by Mariah Fredericks. This mystery is based on the experiences of a real woman affected by the Lindbergh baby’s kidnapping and death: his nanny, Betty Gow. As Fredericks notes, she is a figure whose story has not been adequately told, and she was inspired by this fascinating woman. This is fiction, a reimagining, but in Fredericks’s hands, we see a marvelous merging of fiction and fact that helps to understand this obscure figure in the middle of the “Crime of the Century.” She’s an immigrant from Scotland, trying to understand the strange world of America and the even stranger world of the Lindbergh household, but she loves baby Charlie Lindbergh. When he is kidnapped, Betty decides she must discover what has happened before she becomes the scapegoat.

My staff pick at the store this month is considerably less dramatic but lots of fun. What do you do if you are a Chinese mother with boundary issues and you find a body on the floor of your tea shop? You investigate, of course! Vera Wong is a delightful lady who never misses her brisk morning walk through the neighborhood, does a little casual snooping via the Internet on her adult son, mothers the few regular customers who still patronize her little forgotten shop, and believes she will do a better job investigating the murder than the police. Sutanto’s creation is pushy—in a polite sort of way—and meddlesome, and wise. She’s a San Francisco Chinatown “Miss Marple.” Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers by Jesse Q. Sutanto gives us a charming new series to enjoy.

Let me shift from my reading list to the awards! The mystery world’s heavy-hitter awards were announced in April, and—as promised—I’ve added a few of them here. Full disclosure: I have not read all of these (more’s the pity), but I think there are some great new reads for you all here. Perhaps I can get a fuller read of some of them for you in later columns.

The Edgar Awards are given by Mystery Writers of America. The organization “is the premier organization for mystery writers, professionals allied to the crime-writing field, aspiring crime writers, and those who are devoted to the genre. MWA is dedicated to promoting higher regard for crime writing and recognition and respect for those who write within the genre.”

The nominees in these categories are all great books, and I direct you to the website to see all nominees and winners, but here are a few standouts:

The Edgar Award for BEST NOVEL: Notes on an Execution by Danya Kukafka
The Edgar Award for BEST FIRST NOVEL BY AN AMERICAN AUTHOR: Don’t Know Tough by Eli Cranor
The Edgar Award for BEST PAPERBACK ORIGINAL: Or Else by Joe Hart
The Edgar Award for BEST FACT CRIME: Tell Me Everything: The Story of a Private Investigation by Erika Krouse
The Edgar Award for BEST CRITICAL/BIOGRAPHICAL: The Life of Crime: Detecting the History of Mysteries and Their Creators by Martin Edwards
The Edgar Award for BEST JUVENILE: Aggie Morton Mystery Queen: The Seaside Corpse by Marthe Jocelyn
The Edgar Award for BEST YOUNG ADULT: The Red Palace by June Hur
THE SIMON & SCHUSTER MARY HIGGINS CLARK AWARD: A Dreadful Splendor by B.R. Myers
THE G.P. PUTNAM’S SONS SUE GRAFTON MEMORIAL AWARD: Hideout by Louisa Luna
THE LILIAN JACKSON BRAUN MEMORIAL AWARD: Buried in a Good Book by Tamara Berry

The Special Awards:

GRAND MASTER: Michael Connelly and Joanne Fluke
RAVEN: Crime Writers of Color and Eddie Muller for Noir Alley and The Film Noir Foundation
ELLERY QUEEN AWARD: The Strand Magazine

The Agatha Awards are given by Malice Domestic and “celebrate the TRADITIONAL MYSTERY, best typified by the works of AGATHA CHRISTIE. The genre is loosely defined as mysteries that contain no explicit sex, excessive gore, or gratuitous violence, and would not be classified as ‘hard-boiled’.”
I featured a few of the nominees in previous columns, and I think the field was particularly strong. You can see them all here.

The Agatha Award for Best Contemporary Novel: A World of Curiosities by Louise Penny
The Agatha Award for Best Historical Novel: Because I Could Not Stop for Death by Amanda Flower
The Agatha Award for Best First Novel: Cheddar Off Dead by Korina Moss
The Agatha Award for Best Short Story: "Beauty and the Beyotch" by Barb Goffman (Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine, Feb. 2022)
The Agatha Award for Best Non-Fiction: Promophobia: Taking the Mystery Out of Promoting Crime Fiction, Diane Vallere Ed. (Sisters in Crime)
The Agatha Award for Best Children's/YA Mystery: Enola Holmes and the Elegant Escapade, Nancy Springer

Whew! That’s a lot of wonderful mystery reading to catch up on. There are some familiar authors there and lots of new ones to me.

Well, the marvelous Lily Wulfemeyer, who does all the newsletter formatting, including all the links to the books I mention, is probably tearing out their hair at this moment as they try to get them all in here, but I want to mention a couple more. Last month I told you about Birds of Kansas by Stan Tekiela, but I did not mention that those of you not in Kansas can probably find a Tekiela book for your state as well. He is a wonderful photographer who has created a whole series of these books for many states and regions. I have several of them, and when I checked the Raven website online ordering platform, there were dozens of his identification guides available about birds, flowers, and animals from all over the country.

If you are in Kansas, however, here is another must-have in your bird book collection: The Guide to Kansas Birds and Birding Hot Spots by Bob Gress and Pete Janzen. I think I squealed a little when I first discovered this book. Not only does it have beautiful and informative entries on birds in Kansas, but it also gives you the low-down on the best places in the state for birders to feed their habit. If you are a “have-binoculars-will-travel” kind of person, this is the book for you.

Thank you for sticking with this long column today. I hope you have found your new best read of the day.


Circe By Madeline Miller Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780316556323
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: Back Bay Books - April 14th, 2020

This #1 New York Times bestseller is a "bold and subversive retelling of the goddess's story" that brilliantly reimagines the life of Circe, formidable sorceress of The Odyssey (Alexandra Alter, TheNew York Times).

In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born.


The Song of Achilles: A Novel By Madeline Miller Cover Image
$32.00
ISBN: 9780062060617
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: Ecco - March 6th, 2012

A New York Times Bestseller

"At once a scholar’s homage to The Iliad and startlingly original work of art….A book I could not put down." —Ann Patchett, author of The Dutch House


Empress of the Nile: The Daredevil Archaeologist Who Saved Egypt's Ancient Temples from Destruction By Lynne Olson Cover Image
$32.00
ISBN: 9780525509479
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: Random House - February 28th, 2023

New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice • The remarkable story of the intrepid French archaeologist who led the international effort to save ancient Egyptian temples from the floodwaters of the Aswan Dam, by the New York Times bestselling author of Madame Fourcade’s Secret War


The Lindbergh Nanny: A Novel By Mariah Fredericks Cover Image
$29.00
ISBN: 9781250827401
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 15th, 2022

Mariah Fredericks's The Lindbergh Nanny is powerful, propulsive novel about America’s most notorious kidnapping through the eyes of the woman who found herself at the heart of this deadly crime.

"A masterful blending of fact and fiction that is as compelling as it is entertaining."—Nelson DeMille


Vera Wong's Unsolicited Advice for Murderers By Jesse Q. Sutanto Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780593549223
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 - March 14th, 2023

A USA Today bestseller

A lonely shopkeeper takes it upon herself to solve a murder in the most peculiar way in this captivating mystery by Jesse Q. Sutanto, bestselling author of Dial A for Aunties.


Notes on an Execution: An Edgar Award Winner By Danya Kukafka Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780063052741
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 - January 24th, 2023

NATIONAL BESTSELLER WINNER OF THE 2023 EDGAR AWARD FOR BEST NOVEL NEW YORK TIMES BEST CRIME NOVEL OF THE YEAR


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.


Or Else: A Thriller By Joe Hart Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9781542035125
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: Thomas & Mercer - April 1st, 2022

A secret love becomes a fatal affair in a twisting novel of suspense by Wall Street Journal bestselling author Joe Hart.


Tell Me Everything: The Story of a Private Investigation By Erika Krouse Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9781250826466
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 - March 14th, 2023

Winner of the 2023 Edgar Award for Best Fact CrimeA New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice

Part memoir and part literary true crime, Tell Me Everything is the mesmerizing story of a landmark sexual assault investigation and the female private investigator who helped crack it open.


The Life of Crime: Detecting the History of Mysteries and Their Creators By Martin Edwards Cover Image
$32.99
ISBN: 9780008192426
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: Collins Crime Club - August 30th, 2022

Winner of four major prizes for the best critical/biographical book related to crime fiction: the Edgar, Anthony, Macavity and H.R.F. Keating Awards; and shortlisted for both the Agatha and Gold Dagger Awards.

'Martin Edwards is the closest thing there has been to a philosopher of crime writing.' The Times


Aggie Morton, Mystery Queen: The Seaside Corpse By Marthe Jocelyn, Isabelle Follath (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Marthe Jocelyn, Isabelle Follath (Illustrator)
$16.99
ISBN: 9780735270824
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: Tundra Books - November 1st, 2022

For young detective Aggie Morton and her friend Hector, an opportunity to dig up fossils becomes even more thrilling when a corpse washes ashore in this fourth book in the Aggie Morton, Mystery Queen series, inspired by the life of Agatha Christie as a child and her most popular creation, Hercule Poirot. For fans of Enola Holmes.


The Red Palace By June Hur Cover Image
$19.99
ISBN: 9781250800558
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: Feiwel & Friends - January 25th, 2022

June Hur, critically acclaimed author of The Silence of Bones and The Forest of Stolen Girls, returns with The Red Palace—a third evocative, atmospheric historical mystery perfect for fans of Courtney Summers and Kerri Maniscalco.

To enter the palace means to walk a path stained in blood...


A Dreadful Splendor: An Edgar Award Winner By B.R. Myers Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780063209831
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 - August 23rd, 2022

INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER WINNER OF THE MARY HIGGINS CLARK AWARD

“This gem of a book sparkles with wit and originality. . . . There is no shortage of tricks and feints in this excellent novel and Genevieve is a delightful character.” — The Globe and Mail


Hideout: An Alice Vega Novel (An Edgar Award Winner) By Louisa Luna Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9781984898500
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: Vintage Crime/Black Lizard - February 7th, 2023

EDGAR AWARD WINNER In this powerful new thriller, Alice Vega and Max Caplan return, uncovering a network of white supremacists in their search for a long-lost counter-culture hero.

"Alice Vega is sensational—I want to see lots more of her." —Lee Child, #1 New York Times best-selling author


Buried in a Good Book (By the Book Mysteries) By Tamara Berry Cover Image
$8.99
ISBN: 9781728248608
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: Poisoned Pen Press - May 24th, 2022

2023 EDGAR AWARD WINNER: LILIAN JACKSON BRAUN MEMORIAL PRIZE

"A slapstick comedy of murder." —Library Journal 

"This first in series is truly original, funny, and well written. A real standout." —Mystery Scene 


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.


Staff Pick Badge
Because I Could Not Stop for Death (An Emily Dickinson Mystery #1) By Amanda Flower Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9780593336946
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 - September 20th, 2022

Emily Dickinson and her housemaid, Willa Noble, realize there is nothing poetic about murder in this first book in an all-new series from USA Today bestselling and Agatha Award–winning author Amanda Flower.


Cheddar Off Dead: A Cheese Shop Mystery (Cheese Shop Mysteries #1) By Korina Moss Cover Image
$9.99
ISBN: 9781250795199
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: St. Martin's Paperbacks - March 29th, 2022

The Agatha Award Winner for Best First Novel

In Korina Moss's cozy series debut, Cheddar Off Dead, cheesemonger Willa Bauer discovers that her new home in a small Sonoma Valley town is ripe for murder... something here stinks to high heaven, and Willa knows it's not the cheese.


Enola Holmes and the Elegant Escapade By Nancy Springer Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9781250822970
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: Wednesday Books - September 6th, 2022

Enola Holmes, Sherlock's much younger, and feistier, sister, returns in an adventure of a confused young Baronet's daughter who is on the run from her father's devious schemes in Nancy Springer's Enola Holmes and the Elegant Escapade.


The Guide to Kansas Birds and Birding Hot Spots By Bob Gress, Pete Janzen Cover Image
$29.95
ISBN: 9780700615650
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: University Press of Kansas - March 5th, 2008

Kansas is a bird-watcher's paradise, with its key location at the hub of the hemisphere's migration corridors and exceptional habitat diversity; 470 avian species have been documented within its borders. From spectacularly beautiful birds like Painted Buntings to elegant migrants like Hudsonian Godwits, birders can find abundant rewards every time they take to the field.


Birds of Kansas Field Guide (Bird Identification Guides) By Stan Tekiela Cover Image
$14.95
ISBN: 9781885061348
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: Adventure Publications - December 12th, 2001

Go Birding with Kansas's Best-Selling Bird Guide