Author Works: Sarah Gailey

Black and white photo of the author, with short hair and one hand tucked inside her jacket, sits next to a cover of The Echo Wife. The cover shows an engagement ring and its reflection in gold with blue highlights, the title appears in blue inside the rings.

Tue, May 17 at 7 pm online
Register at bit.ly/echowife.

by Kristen B.

Author Sarah Gailey discusses their acclaimed novel The Echo Wife (also eBook and eAudiobook) in conversation with Maggie Tokuda-Hall, author of Also an Octopus (reviewed here). Gailey’s most recent novel, The Echo Wife, and first original comic book series with BOOM! Studios, Eat the Rich, are available now. Other shorter works and essays have been published in Mashable, The Boston Globe, Vice, Tor.com, and The Atlantic, and their work has been translated into seven languages and published around the world.

Publisher’s Weekly review of The Echo Wife:

This creepy, exhilarating science fiction outing from Gailey (Magic for Liars) dissects an unconventional affair that violates both a couple’s marriage vows and scientific integrity. Dr. Evelyn Caldwell is startled to discover that her husband, Nathan, has been seeing another woman—and even more shocked to learn that the other woman is a clone of Evelyn herself. Nathan created Martine to be everything Evelyn isn’t: attentive, submissive, and family-oriented. Adding insult to injury, Nathan used Evelyn’s own research to do so. An explosive confrontation among the three ends in Nathan’s murder, leaving Evelyn and Martine forced to work together to cover up the crime. It’s a situation that is not entirely unfamiliar for Evelyn, whose troubled past is teased out bit by bit. The women slowly discover that Nathan was hiding more secrets than either of them knew, forcing Martine and Evelyn to think on their feet in order to save themselves and the odd little family they create along the way. Gailey’s story unspools as a series of dark reveals that leave both the characters and the audience reeling. Readers won’t want to put this one down. (Feb.)

Gailey is a Hugo Award winning and bestselling author of speculative fiction, short stories, and essays. They have been a finalist for the Hugo, Nebula, and Locus awards for multiple years, and their bestselling adult novel debut, Magic for Liars, was published by Tor Books in 2019.

A bright pink cover shows a black hand upside down with its fingers crossed and a mystical eye on the wrist. the title of the book frames it in large yellow layers.

My book club (Books on Tap) read Magic for Liars for our May meeting. As with many other of Gailey’s books, it doesn’t fit neatly into one category. Yes, it’s a murder mystery complete with clues, red herrings, multiple suspects, and gory details. The book also tackles grief, illness, and how families deal with both. These weightier topics rather sneak around the edges of the crime scene. Our protagonist and Private Investigator, Ivy Gamble, is hired to solve the death of a teacher at the school for magical students where her sister teaches. She tells us up-front that she’s a liar, that she resents the living daylights out of her magical sister, and that she’s not proud of how the situation resolved. To say they are estranged doesn’t begin to cover the levels of distrust and bitterness that separate these twin sisters – one magical, one not. Do you trust that sort of narrator? It’s a terrifically entertaining read that nonetheless leaves you thinking about what you might do in a similar situation.

Magic for Liars is available in print, as an eBook and an eAudiobook.

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

A fairly plain cover with a red edge and the title in script and the author's name hand lettered. A small wolf stands between author and title lines.

by Sahana C.

I read the introduction on Goodreads: “Four septuagenarians with a few tricks up their sleeves, a female cop with her first big case, a brutal murder. Welcome to…The Thursday Murder Club” and immediately placed a request for this book. Then I waited for a few weeks and was thrilled when I finally got the notification that the novel was ready for me. I finished it the day I started, because, first things first, the book is hilarious. I paged through, intent on the mystery and trying to pick up the clues scattered through the pages and thinking about the details of the case, then suddenly remembered that the characters are using and abusing the privileges of their old age. One of the main characters pretends to have her handbag stolen to talk to a police officer, while another pretends that his memory is going in order to get a detective to give him what he needs. All of them are ever-so-charming when they’re trying to get their way, and you suddenly remember that the point-of-view character is a seventy-something year old who is casually discussing (and excited about investigating!) murder.  

The novel happens in a retirement village, Cooper’s Chase, and centers on four friends who genuinely seem to have absolutely nothing in common and no real reason to like each other. (Except Joyce: “I think we all like Joyce,” says Ibrahim. Ron and Elizabeth nod their agreement again. “Thank you, I’m sure,” says Joyce, chasing peas around her plate. “Don’t you think someone should invent flat peas?” (p 13)). The four meet weekly (on Thursdays, to no one’s surprise) in the Jigsaw Room to solve cold cases, especially murders. There’s Ron, a loudmouthed, passionate rabblerouser whose biggest role in the group comes from his unwavering suspicion of any sort of authority. Ibrahim, a retired psychiatrist, serves as the group’s resident tech expert, who is wildly proud of his technological prowess while also organizing and keeping the data on all of the crimes the club discusses. Joyce, the first point of view readers are introduced to, is a former nurse and the newest member of the group, who is steadfast and practical, keeps her head down, and bakes a mean cake in almost every other scene. Finally, rounding out the four and one of the founding members of the Thursday Murder Club is Elizabeth, who remains infinitely mysterious, with a checkered past, who always manages, somehow, to get her way.  

Through trickery and subtle coercion, they involve themselves in the investigation of a murder that occurs adjacent to their retirement village, bringing two detectives into the fold: Donna, a young woman looking to prove herself, and Chris, a detective who feels a bit past his prime. The detectives quickly realize the importance of our Murder Club, never take them for granted, and come to realize that the Thursday Murder Club’s influence and investigative effort is absolutely necessary to solving the crime. Through it all, we get an actual well-constructed mystery, one that leaves bread crumbs and truly utilizes each of the ensemble cast of characters to the full extent of their humor and intelligence. It keeps the plot moving from beat to beat.  

No real moral judgements are made in the story. The retirement village is full of rich and accomplished people who are ready for some time out of the spotlight, but who have their own secrets and problems, which in turn allows them to confront the criminals without any real superiority. The only judgements are for the truly obnoxious characters (one in particular, who simply has no manners), and even comes across as more of a grandparent’s headshake of disapproval than any real condemnation. 

The Thursday Murder Club is a cozy mystery full of humor, vitality, and life, more than I anticipated for a book about murder and retirement villages. It is available in print, eBook, and eAudiobook

Sahana is an Instructor and Research Specialist at the Savage Branch. She enjoys adding books to her “want to read” list despite having a mountain of books waiting for her already.

The Angel of the Crows by Katherine Addison

Black background with grey bird silhouettes above the image of British Houses of Parliament. Title appears in red.

By Kristen B.

Sherlock Holmes is a perennial favorite. So many movies and TV shows have delved into Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s series of short stories and novellas, from House M.D. to Benedict Cumberbatch on the BBC to Robert Downey, Jr’s movies, that the character has entered the common sphere. You really don’t have to explain him and his particular attention to detail.

Katherine Addison’s new novel, The Angel of the Crows, combines Victorian England, the Sherlock Holmes stories, and Jack the Ripper with a supernatural, steampunk milieu that includes angels, Fallen angels, vampires, werewolves, and hellhounds. Angels operate a little differently here: they are only thinking, rational beings with names when they have a habitation. Without a location (usually a public building) to guard, an angel is Nameless and belongs to the collective hive-mind. In the worst case, when an angel loses its habitation, the trauma can cause it to Fall (capital letter necessary) … which can have an impact like a bomb.

You need to know this to understand our intrepid detectives, Crow and Dr. J. H. Doyle. Crow names itself Angel of London but is really managing to hold onto a name and an identity by sheer force of will. The angel is a maniac for helping the local police solve murders and other crimes (and obsesses over the daily papers to this end). Dr. Doyle has returned home from the war in Afghanistan, where an unexpected attack by Fallen angels left behind an interesting assortment of wounds and complications. The two social misfits become unexpected, but oddly compatible, flatmates.

These two get themselves into – and out of – all sorts of predicaments. The structure of the book is fantastic, with the overarching story of solving the Jack the Ripper/Whitechapel murders carrying throughout. The novel, however, divides into several, shorter parts which work as discrete, individual detective stories about missing persons, foreign treasure, and other mundane mysteries – most of which are direct pastiches of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s originals. The smaller adventures allow the individual characters to come to life and steal into your heart a little bit at a time. Both Crow and Doyle are wrestling the world for their right to live as they choose – and you root for them as well as their superior sleuthing.

While by no means a strict Sherlock equivalency, the book recognizes and honors its source material. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have. It may, indeed, spur you to reacquaint yourself with the originals, too.

Kristen B. has worked for HCLS for more than 15 years, and currently hosts the Books on Tap discussion group at Hysteria Brewing Company. She loves reading, Orioles baseball, and baking.