Saturday, December 12, 2015

Top ten mysteries of 2015: Wall Street Journal

Three of the Wall Street Journal's top mysteries of the year:
The Marauders
By Tom Cooper

Hard times have come to the Louisiana Gulf Coast town of Jeannette in the wake of the BP oil spill, as chronicled in New Orleans writer Tom Cooper’s surrealistically funny and poignant first novel. A half-dozen Southern Gothic types share the sunlight (and the title rights) in “The Marauders”: Gus, the one-armed shrimper intent on discovering the buried treasure of Jean Lafitte; Reg and Vic, maniac twin overseers of a swamp-island marijuana plantation; Cosgrove and Hanson, low-rent adventurers out to steal a fortune; and Grimes, the unscrupulous manipulator sent to rob oil-spill victims of their rightful recompense. Against all odds, these eccentric folk burrow under your skin and into your reluctant sympathies.

My Book, The Movie: The Marauders.

Writers Read: Tom Cooper.

The Page 69 Test: The Marauders.

Tom & Lucky and George & Cokey Flo
By C. Joseph Greaves

In 1936, Thomas E. Dewey, the ambitious New York prosecutor (and future presidential candidate), had a better-than-even chance of bringing down Manhattan mobster Charles “Lucky” Luciano in a trial that kept Dewey’s name in the headlines for weeks. C. Joseph Greaves, a former trial lawyer, has written a work of fiction based on the real-life events leading up to and extending beyond that trial: It is a swift saga, rich with detail, and also features Luciano’s shrewd defense lawyer (George Morton Levy) and a prostitute known as Cokey Flo. What a grand movie this would have made in the Golden Age of Hollywood.

Writers Read: C. Joseph Greaves.

Recipes for Love and Murder
By Sally Andrew

In a year with several exciting first novels, South African author Sally Andrew pretty much takes the crown with her appealing debut. The middle-aged Tannie (“Auntie”) Maria, a half-Afrikaans, half-English widow writing an advice and cooking column for the rural Klein Karoo Gazette, is the book’s delightful narrator. Tannie regards food as “medicine for the body and heart,” but it can no longer help one of her readers, an abused wife found murdered in her home. With the help of a young reporter colleague, Tannie Maria hunts the ingredients that went into this hometown tragedy. The exotic locale, the lovely patois and the heroine’s unique sensibility make Ms. Andrew’s “Recipes” a blue-ribbon winner.

My Book, The Movie: Recipes for Love and Murder.

The Page 69 Test: Recipes for Love and Murder.

Writers Read: Sally Andrew.
Read about more titles on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue