Sunday, April 26, 2020

Fourteen top crime novels in the time of plague

Molly Odintz is the Associate Editor for CrimeReads. She grew up in Austin and worked as a bookseller at BookPeople for years before her recent move up to New York City for a life in crime. She likes cats, crime novels, and coffee.

At CrimeReads she tagged fourteen "mysteries and thrillers set against a backdrop of epidemics, contagions, and outbreaks," including:
The Illness Lesson, Clare Beams
Setting: New England, 1870s
Epidemic: A Variety of Symptoms

Like Megan Abbott’s The Fever, or some theories about the teen girls whose accusations jumpstarted the Salem Witch Trials, The Illness Lesson explores a different kind of contagion—that of the popular girl’s suffering, imitated by her acolytes (although in this case, the women’s illness is also explored as a form of rebellion against domesticity). The Illness Lesson takes place in a 19th century educational experiment, where a number of young women gather at a former utopian community to study at a new school meant to educate women as well as their male counterparts. Education, however, does not signify freedom from future female drudgery, and the bored teenagers soon begin manifesting their budding feminist rage as ticks, seizures, rashes, barefoot walks in the snow, and rebellious self-harm. Brilliant, fascinating, and complex.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Page 69 Test: The Illness Lesson.

--Marshal Zeringue