Liked The Secret History by Donna Tartt? Try If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio
Fans of Tarrt’s NYT’s bestseller will be immediately drawn into Rio’s debut book. If We Were Villains is set at the Dellecher Conservatory, an arts school with a heavy emphasis on Shakespeare. Readers will follow Oliver Marks in his final year at the school, both through a coming of age lens and during the investigation of the death of a fellow student. Marks quickly realizes the people with whom he’s spent countless hours over the course of three years aren’t quite who they seem.
Filled with easily recognizable Shakespearean and literary references, this book is equal parts literary fiction and thriller. The setting harkens back to Tartt’s Hampden College and the fresh exploration of the psyche of university students moves well beyond a simple who-done-it. Rio has truly offered up a page turner.
Liked On the Road by Jack Kerouac? Try Jesus’ Son by Denis Johnson
Denis Johnson’s short story collection is more frenetic and less coherent than Kerouac’s classic, but the inability of the narrator to sit still, coupled with the ever changing setting offer a complementary bridge between the two. Johnson’s narrator, a heroin addict, encounters outlandish characters along the way and readers are treated to the highs and lows of his life.
Jesus’ Son is certainly a brutal and harsh set of stories, but redeeming qualities of the characters break through from time to time. Johnson’s book will remain with the reader long after it is finished.
Like Agatha Christie? Try Death at Wentwater Court by Carola Dunn
No book collection is complete without at least one Agatha Christie mystery novel. Known for the twists and turns of her plots and her unique settings, Christie is the bestselling author of all time for a reason. Dunn, a contemporary Oregonian, introduces readers to a well-formed, engrossing magazine writer and amateur sleuth, Daisy Dalrymple who lives in 1920s England.
Death at Wentwater Court is the first in her Daisy Dalrymple series and finds the title character stumbling upon a body at a grand country estate. She remains unimpressed by the police sent to investigate and, instead, decides to unmask the killer herself. A great read for those who enjoy Downton Abbey, P.G. Wodehouse, and, of course, Christie.
Written by Leigh Koonce