Monday, April 03, 2023

Seven top crime titles where characters make terrible yet believable decisions

Lina Chern has been published in Mystery Weekly, The Marlboro Review, The Bellingham Review, Rhino, The Collagist, Black Fox Literary Magazine, and The Coil. She lives in the Chicago area with her family.

Play the Fool is Chern's debut novel.

At CrimeReads she tagged seven of her "favorite books where characters make terrible yet totally believable decisions," including:
The Long and Faraway Gone, Lou Berney

I’m a sucker for stories set in places most people find uninteresting (probably because I’m from such a place myself) and this haunting story of time and memory is sharpened by the shabby, open-sky grandeur of Oklahoma City. Wyatt, a private investigator, and Julianna, a nurse, are tormented by unsolved mysteries: Wyatt by his inexplicable survival of a mass shooting, and Julianna by the disappearance of her sister. When each comes across the chance for new answers to old questions, neither can turn away, even as the past grinds up their present happiness.

This is a perfect book: fast-paced and tightly-plotted, yet lyrical and sensitive. It manages my favorite feat of tonal tight-rope walking by taking its subject matter seriously, but not itself; for a book about the self-destructive pull of memory, it’s surprisingly funny. As expertly as Berney convinces us to root for Wyatt and Julianna’s parallel investigations, he also plants the nagging suspicion that they can never truly succeed; that the past, by definition, is never truly accessible.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue