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Carole Barrowman's Top Mystery Reads

Stay Entertained and Engaged While at Home!
Posted at 10:41 AM, Apr 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-01 11:41:55-04

A good mystery book is a great way to escape the everyday and immerse yourself in a well-crafted puzzle. Joining us to discuss her picks for the top mystery reads this spring is our resident book reviewer, Carole Barrowman.

For more information on Carole, visit And see below for her picks!

"Pretty as a Picture" by Elizabeth Little (Viking) - “Is a picture worth a thousand words?” Maybe, says Marissa Dahl, a talented film editor main character in this “post #metoo” movie lover’s mystery. A devil of a director hires Marissa to edit his latest film. He’s toxic. Everyone knows that. But is he a killer? When the set becomes a crime scene, Marissa sees things others missed. I loved this novel and I adored Marissa. She’s a walking film encyclopedia, all her memories are connected to famous films, and her narrative voice is Oscar worthy.

"That Left Turn at Albuquerque" by Scott Phillips (Soho) - Phillips wrote one of my all-time favorite gritty noir mysteries, The Ice Harvest. Think FARGO but in Kansas (the film adaptation was terrific too, featuring John Cusack and Billy Bob Thornton). So my expectations were high for this one. It not only hit my bar, it somersaulted over it without spilling its whisky sour. This is a darkly funny caper novel with a cast of characters all after something, and Rigby, a bankrupt lawyer, just trying to redeem himself… sort of.

"The Operator" by Gretchen Berg (Morrow) - This juicy gossipy novel is my debut pick of the month. In small towns, everyone knows everyone else’s business, but when you’re the telephone operator for that small town, like Vivian Dalton, you may hear more than you listened for. Set in the 1950s in Ohio, this would be a great book club read, especially if you’re old enough to remember dial phones, party lines, “ketchup Stroganoff” (yum?), and playing “telephone” with your friends.

"A Silent Death" by Peter May (Quercus) - John Mackenzie is a dour Scottish detective, a Glaswegian with a family who hates him and co-workers happy to see the back of him. Luckily, he’s a brilliant detective with a keen eye. He’s sent to Spain to help investigate a mystery involving a dangerous fugitive, an accidental shooting, and a woman, deaf and blind from a rare disease, caught in the middle of it all. I loved this book, especially main character, Mackenzie. I’ve known Glaswegian’s just like him. This book’s a wee gem.

"The King’s Justice" by Susan Elia MacNeal (Bantam) - All the Barrowmans love Maggie Hope, particularly my parents. When I get a review copy of the latest Maggie Hope, if I didn’t let my parents read it first, I’d be out of the will. Maggie was once Winston Churchill’s secretary and she’s now a WWII spy. The King’s Justice opens with an unexploded bomb washing up in the banks of the Thames in 1943. This undetonated bomb sets the tone for this suspenseful, superbly crafted novel. Even Maggie is ready to explode.