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Find more No Clue Where to Shelve These
Women’s fiction is the hardest genre to pin down—probably because it’s not even a genre, per se, it’s actually a “reading interest.” Women’s fiction books can be funny, sad, suspenseful, historical, and, yes—even mysterious. Following are six novels that couldn’t quite decide whether they wanted to be women’s fiction or straight mystery. Although most of these books have been billed as mysteries (and may even be so branded on the cover), libraries should consider shelving them in general fiction, as die-hard mystery fans may be less than impressed.
As Husbands Go. By Susan Isaacs. 2010. Scribner, paper, $15 (9781416573081).
A Long Island housewife and her feisty Jewish grandmother become unlikely detectives in the veteran novelist’s twelfth book. When Susie B. Anthony Rabinowitz Gersten’s husband is found stabbed to death in a prostitute’s apartment, Susie is devastated, skeptical about the open-and-shut case touted by the district attorney and her impossible in-laws, and determined to unearth the truth about Jonah’s killer. That might sound like the tragic plot of a hard-hitting thriller but, actually, it’s hilarious.
Goodnight, Nobody. By Jennifer Weiner. 2005. Washington Square, paper, $15 (9780743470124).
“Accidental mother of three” and former high-powered New York journalist Kate just doesn’t seem to fit in with all the fancy mommies in her new suburban Connecticut neighborhood. Her life as a stay-at-home mom is dreadfully boring—until the day she’s invited to lunch at a neighbor’s house and finds her host’s body lying in a pool of blood. Kate wastes no time diving into her own investigation and uncovers plenty of suburban secrets along the way. Unfortunately, the plot is made up more of Desperate Housewives–style gossip than real murder mystery, but Weiner’s legion of fans don’t seem to mind.
A Killer Stitch. By Maggie Sefton. 2007. Berkley, paper, $7.99 (9780425222027).
The Knitting Mystery series features Kelly Flynn, a CPA and novice knitter who sleuths around Fort Connor, Colorado, a place where she has found both a surrogate family and land on which to build her dream house. In this third installment, Kelly finds out who killed a double-dealing ladies’ man, while Sefton, naturally, intertwines plenty of details about knitting and spinning. This offers more for knitters than mystery fans, but, still, it’s a delightful series.
Murder 101. By Maggie Barbieri. 2006. o.p.
Alison Bergeron, a newly divorced English professor at St. Thomas College, is having a bad day. Her car has been stolen, so she is forced to walk to the train station in order to commute to work. When she finally arrives at the office, she finds two homicide detectives waiting to ask why the body of one of her students is in the trunk of her car. Removing herself from the list of suspects isn’t easy, especially when she finds herself falling for the lead detective in the case. This genre-bending combination of chick-lit and mystery will please fans of romance and action, but especially the former. The first in the Murder 101 series of academic mysteries.
The Mystery of Mercy Close. By Marian Keyes. 2013. Viking, $27.95 (9780670025244).
In a departure from her usual humorous fare, Keyes goes for a more somber tone: Helen Walsh is a depressive private investigator on the brink of a nervous breakdown as her personal life crumbles around her. When ex-boyfriend Jay, a music producer, hires her to track down the missing member of a boy band, it seems like an easy case—until Helen discovers just how many people stand to lose money if the reunion doesn’t go off as planned. It sounds funny but actually might be a bit dark for readers used to Keyes’ usual laugh-out-loud women’s fiction.
Size 12 and Ready to Rock. By Meg Cabot. Morrow, paper, $14.99 (9780061734786).
The Heather Wells mysteries feature a feisty former teen pop star turned residence hall assistant director cum amateur detective (whew!). This time the convoluted plot involves singer Tania Trace, wife of Heather’s ex, Jordan Cartwright. Tania and Jordan are filming their new reality show at Heather’s workplace, and someone is determined to hurt Tania. When the show’s producer is poisoned by a cupcake meant for the singer, Tania reveals that Heather’s unhinged ex-husband has been stalking and blackmailing her. Fun and frothy, but the series was funnier at the beginning. Seriously, how many more murders can take place in the same dorm?
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