12 bookish mysteries

This novel is a book lover’s dream. In 1913, Laura Lyons lives with her family in the New York Public Library, a perk of her husband’s job as superintendent of the grand building. Her dream to become a journalist conflicts with her husband’s desire to provide for his family himself. Eighty years later, in 1993, Sadie Donovan’s scored her dream job as an NYPL curator, landing a plum appointment on the team for the famed Berg Collection. But when valuable manuscripts start disappearing from under Sadie’s nose, she’s first scorned for her incompetence—and then suspected as a thief. Sadie suspects the theft traces back to her grandmother, the renowned feminist journalist Laura Lyons, but Sadie can’t imagine how. A literary mystery that’s full of surprises.
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This psychological thriller set in the world of books and bookstores is an homage to classic mysteries. Years ago, bookseller Malcolm Kershaw wrote a little-read blog post about the “Eight Perfect Murders” in the classic mysteries he loves. He says he hasn’t thought about it since—until an FBI agent shows up on his doorstep to ask for his help. A murderer is on the loose, and appears to be using Malcolm’s blog post as a guide. This meta take on the genre will be best appreciated by fans of those classics, like Strangers on a Train and The ABC Murders, but be warned—spoilers abound for the older books in this plot.
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This 2006 mystery, set firmly in the tradition of Gothic greats like Jane Eyre, kept me guessing from start to finish. The premise is intriguing (and you may find yourself a little bit envious of the narrator's bookish existence). A little dark and deliciously creepy, perfect for curling up with on a cold winter's day. Take note: a few unsettling scenes if you're a sensitive sort. (I am.)
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The bestselling 2016 French novel, now available in English. Imagine a library filled with unpublished manuscripts, countless novels that never came to be. In the tiny village of Crozon, a small town librarian collects and cares for these unloved manuscripts. While on holiday, a renowned French editor visits the library and stumbles upon an undiscovered masterpiece, which she and her author boyfriend soon discover was written by a small-town French pizza chef. She champions its publication and turns it into an instant bestseller. Readers everywhere swoon for the book and the story behind its publication, but one snobby literary critic questions the book’s origins, and resolves to get the real story. (Is it weird to say this plot thread reminds me of Ratatoille?) Funny and endearing, a quirky mystery for book lovers, and a great read for anyone who fancies a peek into the publishing industry. A highly discussable novel for book clubs, especially because of the sure-to-be-controversial epilogue. 
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Who really wrote Pride and Prejudice? That mystery drives this literary thriller, which plunges the reader into the world of first editions, secondhand books, and zealous collectors. When a young librarian discovers a document that casts doubt on Austen’s authorship of Pride and Prejudice, she struggles to clear her beloved author of plagiarist charges before it’s too late. Lovett flips back and forth between the time when Jane was writing her best-known story and today’s desperate race to prove her innocence. Lovett’s love of books permeates every page. Farfetched? Of course, but piles (stacks?) of fun for booklovers. If you love this, go back and read Lovett's fantastic debut The Bookman's Tale.
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This atmospheric novel is built around a literary mystery: who is Julián Carax, and why is someone systematically burning his books? After I got oriented I couldn't turn the pages fast enough: I loved the post-war Barcelona setting, the rich cast of characters, and the surprising twists and turns the story took. The plot description reminds me of personal favorites The Thirteenth Tale and The Distant Hours. From Entertainment Weekly: "Wonderous... masterful... The Shadow of the Wind is ultimately a love letter to literature, intended for readers as passionate about storytelling as its young hero." This is a lifetime favorite of several readers I know with great taste.
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A MINIMALIST SUMMER PICK. Marisa de los Santos returns to the characters she introduced in Love Walked In. The day before her wedding, Clare has cold feet. Enter Edith, an elderly stranger Clare connects with instantly, who nudges Clare to cancel her wedding to a man who scares her. Not long after, Clare receives notice that Edith has died, and bequeathed her a strange gift—her house. Clare seeks refuge there after her nonwedding, and soon learns hints of the past role the house—and Edith—played in a “relocation system” that served women fleeing domestic violence in the 1950s. The story flips back and forth in time between Clare’s current dilemma and the 1950s mystery. This is the sequel I didn’t know I wanted, easy to read while covering serious emotional territory, packed with literary references that will warm book lovers’ hearts.
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Two scholars research the lives of Victorian poets Randolph Henry Ash and Christabel LaMotte. Through letters, journals, and poetry, Ash and LaMotte come alive for us. Through parallel plotlines, two love stories unfold as we get to know all four characters.
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Editor Susan Ryeland has worked with Alan Conway for years, putting up with his eccentricities for the sake of his bestselling detective series. Every Atticus Pünd mystery novel feels pretty much the same to Susan by now, each one set in a small English village, following an Agatha Christie-like formula. When Susan reads Conway’s latest, however, she finds there might be more to the fictional mystery at Pye Hall. The more she reads, the more she becomes convinced of a real life mystery between the pages. A tale of greed and gruesome murder prompts Susan to investigate in this clever novel-within-a-novel.
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Harry Potter meets National Treasure. This fast-paced book is mystery, quest, and love letter to the written word, all rolled into one. In this rip-roaring adventure, the best secrets are hidden in plain sight, in the ancient volumes of a magical bookstore. It’s not technically brilliant, but plenty readable, engaging, and just plain fun. Book nerds, beware: you’ll want to climb Mr. Penumbra’s ladders and browse his shelves. Warm, friendly, and smart—and the cover glows in the dark. That’s hard to beat.
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