We Know You Remember by Tove Alsterdal

Reviewed by Katy Zignego (Library Staff)

We Know You Remember is the English-language debut novel for popular Swedish crime writer Tove Alsterdal. But don’t be fooled by that word “debut”–this is a well-crafted mystery, by a writer at the top of her game.

We Know You Remember is a complex story, but it begins with a murder. Olof Hagstrom, who has not visited his family in more than 20 years, decides on a whim to stop when he is driving near his father’s home. When he goes inside, he discovers that his father has been murdered. The investigation leads down twisted channels into the past, turning up more crimes–and more suspects–at every turn.

One of the investigators, detective Eira Sjodin, finds she has more than one special connection to the case. She pursues the Hagstrom case determinedly, challenging her superior officers, her skills as an officer, and even her own beliefs. Eira Sjodin reminds me of Thora Gudmundsdottir, the detective in Yrsa Sigurdardottir’s excellent Icelandic crime series. Alsterdal is reported to be working on a sequel to We Know You Remember, and I’m crossing my fingers that it will again star Eira Sjodin.

Located in Adult Fiction (FIC ALSTERDAL)

The Leaf Reader by Emily Arsenault

Reviewed by Melissa Beck (Library Staff)

Marnie takes up tea leaf reading as a way of embracing her family’s weirdness instead of pretending it isn’t there. However, what started out as a harmless statement of individuality takes a menacing turn when the symbols begin leading Marnie deep within the mystery of a classmate who disappeared one year prior.

The seedy mystery kept me guessing and the October atmosphere added a welcome chill. Pairs well with a steaming cup of tea, although your tea might go cold as you’re swept into the unraveling secrets.

Located in Teen Fiction (TEEN FIC ARSENAULT)

Poison for Breakfast by Lemony Snicket

Reviewed by Melissa Beck (Library Staff)

When I first flipped through this book, I had no idea who it was written for. Children? Adults? Mystery readers? Breakfast enthusiasts? Having a keen interest in breakfast myself and a history of enjoying Lemony Snicket’s writing, I thought it’d be worth taking a chance on.

Part mystery, part philosophy, this meandering little book follows the author through a one-day investigation prompted by a note he receives in the morning which reads “You had poison for breakfast.” Liberally sprinkled with humorous statements and sage observations, it is classic Snicket–he still tells you what words mean but also makes you think deeply about ordinary subjects.

I laughed out loud more than once and was delighted by the Notes section at the end where the author gives titles to books and movies he described (which I assumed were fictitious) and credits quotes he referenced throughout. Plus, the mystery is resolved in a clever and surprising manner (though I’m not sure why I would expect anything less).

After having read the whole book, I still have no idea who it was written for, except to say with certainty that it WAS written at least a little for me, as I enjoyed it very much.

Available through the Bridges Library System

Nooks & Crannies by Jessica Lawson

Reviewed by Lisabet Heather B. (Library Patron)

Nooks and Crannies is a Charlie-and-the-Chocolate-Factory-ish book where six children are invited to a party by a mysterious countess trying to find her heir. Things take a grim turn when children start disappearing. Will Tabitha, a budding detective, be able to solve the mystery before she too disappears?

Located in Children’s Fiction (J FIC LAWSON)

The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton

Reviewed by Katy Zignego (Library Staff)

The Devil and the Dark Water is billed as a classic locked-room mystery, and that is certainly what it delivers–and not much else. Though the mystery is a first-rate challenge for the armchair detectives, those who prefer a little bit of literary merit with their mysteries will be left unsatisfied.

The setting is a ship, bound for Amsterdam from Batavia in 1634, at the height of the power of the Dutch East India Company. Among the ship’s passengers are the governor general, his wife and daughter, his mistress, and his second-in-command, while locked in the ship’s brig is Sammy Pipps, the world’s greatest detective. Also aboard are Sammy’s bodyguard, a priest and his assistant, a greedy captain, a feckless purser, and innumerable bloodthirsty soldiers and sailors. And, apparently, a demon.

As the demon wreaks havoc abovedecks and below, the governor general’s wife teams up with Pipps’s bodyguard to stop whatever (or whoever) has summoned the evil. But every time they seem to be approaching a solution, a new problem appears. All the twists will definitely keep the reader guessing, but I found myself not really caring much about the outcome because I didn’t care about the characters. They are flat and uninteresting, and the dialogue falls somewhere between stilted and downright unnatural. The setting, which might be so evocative, is used almost entirely as a prop for new discoveries and given zero ink in its own right. And it’s best not to get me started on the historical accuracy.

Read The Devil and the Dark Water if you don’t have any friends handy to play Clue with. If you want a mystery with great 17th-century Dutch period detail, try The Miniaturist instead.

Located in Adult Fiction (FIC TURTON)

The Raconteur’s Commonplace Book by Kate Milford

Reviewed by Lisabet Heather B (Library Patron)

The Raconteur’s Commonplace Book is a gripping collection of folktales framed within a mystery. The combination of folktales and a spooky mystery is very interesting, but can be hard to understand. If you want to truly enjoy this book, read to discuss it with a friend.

Located in Children’s Fiction (J FIC MILFORD)

Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley

Reviewed by Stephanie Ramirez (Library Staff)

A beautiful, haunting story, Firekeeper’s Daughter is a story you won’t be able to put down. The story follows Daunis, a Native American teenager bound for college when tragedy strikes her family and community. Given the chance to help, Daunis takes the weight of the world on her shoulders when she agrees to help the FBI with an investigation into drug deaths in her community. Touching on topics like racism, homophobia and poverty, Boulley pulls no punches in her writing. The notable weak spot is, unfortunately, the ending, as the frenetic pace of events strains credulity. Still, heart wrenching and harrowing, Daunis’ journey will live with you long after you read the last page.

Located in Teen Fiction (TEEN BOULLEY)

Pawcasso by Remy Lai

Reviewed by Andrea Bisordi (Library Staff)

Have you ever thought that a little lie would help you fix a problem, or make a friend? When eleven year-old Jo meets a basket carrying dog that she dubs Pawcasso, he seems to be the answer to helping her make some friends nearby. The trouble is, the stories she has to keep inventing get bigger and bigger, until they are way beyond her control. In the meantime, the neighborhood gets caught up in a big fight over changing the leash law, and both sides make judgements about the other. Can Jo bring peace to the neighborhood and still keep her new friends?

I like how the author uses thought bubbles help us see what Jo is thinking as she wrestles with when and how to tell the truth, and how it can be tricky to make friends, especially when we are worried about what they will think of us. Pawcasso is an endearing character, and the human characters are all wonderful, too. Kids who like stories about animals, friendships, and easy mysteries might enjoy this book. Bonus: there’s an ice cream recipe that’s suitable for dogs at the end!

Located in Children’s Graphics (J GRAPHIC LAI)

A Wish in the Dark by Christina Soontornvat

Reviewed by Andrea Bisordi (Library Staff)

In Chattana, all of the light is held and created by one man – the Governor. Pong, who was born in prison, believes that light is the key to freedom and hope. As the story progresses, he comes to realize that first impressions can be deceiving. Similarly, the prison warden’s daughter, Nok, must come face to face with what she believes about the world, and about herself. The setting feels both familiar and otherworldly, and draws the reader in gently.

This book has something for many different kinds of readers. If you like adventure, fantasy, mystery or books about friendship, this might be your next read. There are also themes of justice, hope, self-discovery, and bravery. I highly recommend this 2021 Newbery Honor book!

Located in Children’s Fiction (J FIC SOONTORNVAT)

Moriarty The Patriot by Ryosuke Takeuchi

Reviewed by Jess H (Library Staff)

Before he became Sherlock Holmes’ rival, James Moriarty was a crime consultant hellbent on destroying the unfair class system of England in the 1800s. In this manga, we see James begin his quest as an underclass orphan who had been taken in by the Moriarty noble family alongside his younger brother, Louis. Only Albert, the eldest Moriarty son, treats the boys with dignity. Together, the three of them decide to pursue their ideal world by punishing the corrupt nobles and creating a more balanced world.

The concept and characters are interesting and the episodic nature of the chapters make for a quick read.

Located in Teen Manga (TEEN MANGA TAKEUCHI)

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