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Set in New York City during the Prohibition era, Suzanne Rindell’s The Other Typist is a captivating mystery with an unassuming heroine at its heart. Rose Baker—respectable, conscientious and more than a little mousy—works as a typist for the New York City police, documenting spine-tingling criminal confessions. The sensational stories she’s exposed to at work add spice to her somewhat mundane life. When a typist named Odalie is hired, Rose finds herself fascinated by her new co-worker. Odalie is flirtatious, beautiful and brazen, and she leads the life of a flapper, frequenting speakeasies and dressing in the latest styles. Rose becomes wrapped up in Odalie’s world, but she’s plagued by doubts about her new friend’s intentions. She soon discovers that Odalie is not at all who she seems to be. This richly detailed, skillfully constructed mystery offers a fascinating look at life in 1920s New York. Rindell’s depiction of the city is convincing, and her gift for dialogue adds zest to the proceedings. Fans of historical fiction and suspense will love this debut.
Pulitzer-Prize winning novelist Elizabeth Strout is back with another compelling family drama. The Burgess Boys is the story of Jim and Bob Burgess, brothers who, along with their sister, Susan, experienced a traumatic accident when they were kids—a mishap on the part of Bob that led to the death of their father. Although they’ve both become successful New York attorneys, the brothers aren’t close. Arrogant, self-centered Jim is a heavyweight at a corporate law firm, while modest, down-to-earth Bob works with Legal Aid. When Susan summons them home to Maine to help her son, who has been charged with a hate crime, the brothers’ contrasting reactions reveal just how different they really are. The fresh family crisis also dredges up unpleasant memories—issues from the past that they’re forced to come to terms with. Strout’s spot-on depictions of sibling friction are sure to strike a chord with her many fans. Her deep understanding of human motivations and psychology lend authenticity to this unforgettable family tale.
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Hannah Kent’s chilling debut novel, Burial Rites, is based on the true story of Agnes Magnúsdøttir, a maid accused of murder who was the last defendant in Iceland to face the death penalty. The year is 1829, and Agnes is being held at a remote farm in lieu of a prison until the time of her execution. Jón Jónsson, owner of the farm and a local official, is responsible for Agnes, and her presence creates a definite sense of unease among his family. Agnes asks for a priest, and it’s through her conversations with him that parts of her story unfold. Agnes has been accused of the murder of her employer and his friend, but in spite of that fact, she earns the audience’s compassion. Her tale is perfectly matched by its grim Scandanavian setting. Kent deftly weaves historical fact into this hypnotic work of fiction. It’s an unsettling portrait of a woman whose motives and actions are darkly fascinating.