Crime & Mystery

The Honk and Holler Opening Soon

Billie Letts

Vietnam veteran Caney Paxton lives in Sequoyah, Oklahoma, and has been wheelchair-bound for 12 years. He is the owner of the restaurant known as the Honk and Holler Opening Soon (due to an error made by the sign-maker) and has not left his place of business in a very long time. Caney is ashamed of his part in the war, and feels trapped by his wound and by his painful past. The story begins in 1985, during Christmas, and for both Caney and Molly O (who helped raised him, and who also works as a waitress in the resturant) the holidays look bleak. Business is bad, the bills are piling up, and to add to the misery, the roof has a leak. Molly O is worried about her teen-aged daughter Brenda, who is seeking her fortune in Nashville as a country musician. Things begin to perk-up when two new employees are began working at the Honk and Holler. Vena Takes Horse, a Crow Indian, signs on as a carhop, and Bui Khanh a Vietnamese refugee, works as a cook and handyman. Both have secrets of their own.

At the start the regular customers of the Honk and Holler don’t trust either of the new commers, but eventually they welcome both, especially after an act of violence threatens Bui’s life!

This is a story that speaks of the power of love, respect, and the healing power of customs and of the community.

Shoot The Moon

Billie Letts

The residents in DeClare Oklahoma, have not forgotten the murder that took place in 1972. They found the young Cherokee Gaylene Harjo dead, and her infant son, Nicky Jack abducted. The well-like preacher Joe Dawson, was accused of the murder by Sheriff Oliver “O Boy” Daniels, but only a few people in town believed the kindly Joe capable of such an heinous crime. The story opens 30 years later, when Nicky Jack, mysteriously reappears in town, determined to learn about his mother and the circumstances surrounding her death. It seems that Nicky was adopted by rich parents, and raised in the wealthy Beverly Hills area. This is a story of love, betrayal, honor and respect, all told through the diary of Gaylene Harjo.

Sophie and the Rising Sun

Augusta Trobagh

This story takes place in Salty Creek, Georgia, two years before before Pearl Harbor. The story begins with Miss Anne, who is considered to be a woman of impeccable morals retelling her recollection years after, about the romance between the town spinster Sophie and Grover Cleveland Oto, the 50-year-old Japanese man from California, who everyone thinks of as Miss Anne’s “Chinese” gardner. Both Sophie and Oto have secrets. Sophie’s secret is that the man she loved never returned from WWI. Oto’s is that he ended up in Salty Creek, by accident, starved and in disgrace by a bus driver who left him there. For two years the two are aware of each other, but constrained from anything but brief, polite conversation. Each is a painter with artistic imaginations. Over time, they begin meeting at the riverbank on Sunday mornings with brushes and paper to work in companionable silence while the other townsfolk sing hymns at church. Eventually, the pressur of town gossip keeps Sophie and Oto away from each other, but the passion they feel for each other continues to intensify, until they vow to see each other in spite of the tow. This is a story about loneliness, racism, honor, respect, and the triumph of true love.

The Secret Life of Bees

Sue Monk Kidd

The story The Secret Life of Bees, takes place in the 1960s, a time of racial violence and tension. Lily Owen who is 14-years-old, has been neglected by her father and isolated on their South Carolina peach farm. She spends hours imagining a blissful infancy when she was loved and nurtured by her mother, Deborah, whom she barely remembers. Lily has been told that as a child, under circumstances that were never made clear, Lily accidently shot and killed her mother. All Lily has left of Deborah is a strange image of a Black Madonna, with the words “Tiburon, South Carolina” scrawled on the back. The tale follows Lily’s search for someone to replace the mother-image in her life, as she comes of age. The action starts when Rosaleen, Lily’s nanny, insults a group of white men on her way to register to vote.

Rosaleen has to leave town, and takes Lily with her. They end up meeting a peculiar group of women, who for Lily provide answers to her questions, and teach her valuable life lessons. A wonderful book full of passion and excitement.

Montana 1948

Larry Watson

When David’s family’s American Indian housekeeper Marie falls ill, Frank Hayden, the local doctor and David’s uncle, is called. When Marie vehemently refuses medical treatment, David suspects something is terribly wrong. When Marie is found dead, Frank convinces the family it is pneumonia which has killed her. Not until later that day does David admit to his parents that he saw his uncle exit their house at approximately the time of Marie’s death. The story builds with tension as David’s father Wes, who is also the town sheriff, begins an investigation into the death of the woman and his brother’s Frank involvement.

This is a story of racism, abuse, honor, respect, and of doing the right thing, regardless of the price.

Menachem’s Seed

Carl Dierassi

Dr. Menachem Dvir and Melanie Laidlaw become lovers, when they meet at several international science and world affairs conferences over a period of time. Menachem is an Israeli nuclear engineer; Melanie serves as director of an American foundation supporting reproductive biology research. While Menachem is married and infertile, Laidlaw is a widow and childless. This story presents ethical questions about fertilization, and the religious, and personal ramifications involved.

Body of Lies

Iris Johansen

Forensic sculptor Eve Duncan is happy with her life. She lives with her lover Detective Joe Quinn. She recently found the body of her daughter Bonnie, after years of searching, and has buried her.

When Eve discovers Joe’s betrayal, she decides to take a job in Louisiana to get away from Joe and the pain (again). However, someone want her dead, and Joe trails behind her to make sure no one kills her, in spite of Eve’s protests. A story packed full of excitement and drama.

Snow Falling on Cedars

David Guterson

The story takes place in the 1950s, on an island in the straits of Puget Sound on the Washington coast. The plot revolves around a murder case involving a Japanese-American Kabuo Miyamoto, is accused of killing Carl Heine, a respected fisherman in the close-knit community. Carl’s body had been pulled from the sea, trapped in his own net. The trial occurs in the midst of deep anti-Japanese sentiments following World War II. Covering the case is the editor of the town’s one-man newspaper, Ishmael Chambers, a World War II veteran who lost an arm fighting the Japanese. Chambers struggles with his conscience wondering if Kabuo is innocent or not. This is a story full of tension, and mystery.

House of Sand and Fog

Andre Dubus III

Mainly focused on the immigrant experience in the United States, this story takes place in California, and looks at Massoud Amir Behrani, a former colonel in the Iranian military under the Shah, who reflects on his job-search efforts since arriving in the U.S. four years before.

Behrani has spent most of the money he brought with him from Iran on an apartment and furnishings that are too expensive, because he’s desperately trying to keep up appearances in order to enhance his daughter’s chances of making a good marriage.

Once his daughter is married, he decides to buy a house at an auction which sets the stage for the tragedy to come. The house once belonged to an alcoholic woman who now decides that she wants it back. What starts out as a legal battle, soon escalates into a personal confrontation with disastrous results. A gripping and sad tragic story.

Revere Beach Boulevard

Roland Merullo

The story talks about Revere, Massachusetts, the population basically Italian-American where crime has taken over the neighborhood.

Peter Imbesalacqua, a 40-year-old real estate agent whose business is bankrupt, and whose penchant for high-stakes gambling has spiraled out of control. Peter is in debt to the mob and Peter’s family life is a shambles. His mother is dying, his father distraught, and his sister, a television reporter in Boston, has decided to run an expose on Eddie Crevine, a local gangster, who is looking to hurt Peter and his family. What’s more Peter’s family has a dark secret, which he never knew. A gripping story about crime, and how the love of family can help one surpass hardships and frightening situations.

The Good Brother

Chris Offutt

The story of Virgil, a young man who finds himself deeply burdened when his wild older brother Boyd is murdered. He was very close to Boyd, and his death leaves a deep void in Virgil’s life. The residents of the small town in Kentucky including his family and friends, all expect Virgil to avenge his brother’s death by killing the local man suspected of the murder. Due to the pressure, and with growing despair, Virgil plans to do so. Afterwards, Virgil heads for the backwoods of Montana, where he thinks he can hide until he decides what to do.

Unfortunately, the relatives of the man he murdered come searching for him, and, through yet another act of violence, he inadvertently falls in with modern militiamen who’ve declared war on the US government.

The ending is sad, and violent. It’s the picture of a good man whose life has been shattered by violence, not of his own making.


Ron Hansen

This story is about Atticus Cody, a 67-year-old Colorado cattle man who goes to Mexico to retrieve the body of his younger son. Scott was an an artist and an alcoholic. As far as Atticus knows Scott committed suicide. Having lost his wife in a car crash (a car Scott had been driving) Atticus is deeply hurt by this latest news. Atticus meets Scott’s friends in the little town of Resurreccion and copes with the unknowns of a culture far removed from his ranch in Colorado. As the story unfolds, new evidence surfaces which leads Atticus to question whether the death of his son Scott was a suicide or murder. A novel fill of suspense.

About the Author

John Colapinto

This story takes place in Manhattan New York, and is about Cal Cunningham, a man who calls himself a writer, but who is too busy to sit down and actually write anything. He spends his days working as a bookstore stock boy, and at night he visits various bars. Sunday mornings, he spins tales about his nightly conquests to his roommate, a reclusive, hard-working law student named Stewart Church. When Stewart is killed in auto accident, Cal finds in Stewart’s desk a very well written novel based on Cal’s own exploits. At first, Cal is appalled, and then inspired.

He sends the novel off to New York’s leading literary agent, claiming it as his own. After the book makes the New York Times book list, Cal convinces himself that he is, really responsible for the writing of the book, if not exactly its author, since the book is about his life.

Cal marries Stewart’s ex-girlfriend Janet. Trouble begins when Cal discovers that someone else is in possession of a copy of the original manuscript. Cal and his blackmailer pursue each other to the very death.

The Intuitionist

Colson Whitehead

This is a sci-fi novel, and the plot surrounds the life of Lila Mae Watson, the first African-American woman to graduate from the Institute for Vertical Transport. She is also the first female to be employed by the Department of Elevator Inspectors. Ms. Watson works in a futuristic city, which has a strong resemblance to New York City. Her job title is “Intuitionist” which means she’s responsible for checking the conditions of the elevators assigned to her. To accomplish her job, she meditates on the elevators and is then able to “sense” or to pick up the “vibes” of any problems the elevators may have.

The trouble begins when Ms. Watson comes into conflict with the “Empiricists” a group who checks the condition of elevators by looking at the actual mechanical problems. This conflict in turn leads Ms. Watson into the under-ground world of the Intuitionists and the founder James Fulton, who revolutionized elevator construction, and who is working on a mysterious “black box” that could alter the life forever. An interesting story, definitely for the advanced reader.

Hidden Moon

James Church

An engaging mystery featuring Inspector O (detective from a past series). In this story he is assigned to investigate a bank robbery in Pyongyang, and he is told it is urgent. The question is whether this urgency is real or a ploy. This investigation may lead to crimes in the highest levels of command. Good mystery and very fast-paced.