Sunday, February 18, 2024

Five top literary crime books featuring family dynamics

Megan Nolan was born in 1990 in Waterford, Ireland. Her essays and reviews have been published by the New York Times, White Review, Guardian, and Frieze amongst others.

Her debut novel, Acts of Desperation, was the recipient of a Betty Trask Award, shortlisted for the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award and longlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize.

Nolan's new novel is Ordinary Human Failings.

At CrimeReads she tagged five books that "combine the best of crime writing with the most reflective and thoughtful expositions of family dynamics." One title on the list:
Small Mercies by Dennis Lehane

I went through a slightly manic phase of reading all of Dennis Lehane’s novels last year and was amazed at how many of them are relentlessly excellent. I could write for years about his body of work, but found something especially moving about his most recent stand alone novel Small Mercies, which follows tough Irish Southie broad Mary Pat into an increasingly malevolent 1970’s Boston to find her missing and much loved seventeen year old daughter Jules. This is the era of busing protests, and even as Mary Pat is driven half mad by her desperation and fury about Jules’ disappearance, she is unable to ignore the poisonous prejudice and hatred that pervades her world. This is no glib morality tale of a white woman reckoning neatly with racism; her own intolerances are not the least of those she has to confront. Lehane is always able to write efficient, inventive page turners but where Small Mercies sets itself apart is its unsparing but not unsympathetic portrait of Mary Pat, the dissolution of her family, and what becomes of a person once they lose everything they have to lose.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue