Super Secret Festival of Lit: Mysteries & Thrillers

December 8, 2015

Our  Super Secret Festival of Lit rolls on with Day 6 of our mystery title reveals! Our meta-mystery pick is a beautifully written, sparse novella that won some serious acclaim in its hometown of Denmark. Buy any one of our mystery/thriller picks from now until December 18th and receive a free  set of four CanLit holiday cards.

Drum roll please...

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The Murder of Halland by Pia Juul, translated by Martin Aitken (Coach House Books)

What It's About

As the title might suggest, The Murder of Halland follows Bess, the widow of a man named Halland murdered right outside his front door. As any crime serial will tell you, Bess instantly becomes the murder's prime suspect: but instead of concerning herself with the police's investigation, her focus shifts to the daughter she'd abandoned years before.


Why We Chose It

The Murder of Halland has some serious chops for a mystery: it won Denmark's most important literary prize, Den Danske Banks Litteraturpris, and its English translation was longlisted for the IMPAC Dublin Prize. Prizes aside, it's an atmospheric, gloomy, meditative book, and a mystery to its readers as much to its characters.

Who Would Love This Book

This is a mystery for people who shy away from mysteries: if you're a mystery fan trying to get a literary-leaning friend hooked on mysteries, start them here. They'll be tricked by the handwritten cover and so entranced with the plot, they won't realize what you've done until they've given it a star review (on All Lit Up, why not?).

Reviews & Media

"Juul's novella is a spare, elegant jewel... Terse and enigmatic, this novel is a classic to be savoured again and again." –Maclean's

"Anything but a standard crime novel. The mystery at its heart is the mystery we are to each other." –The Economist

"The Murder of Halland... is cooler and more calculated than any old Killing, and wrong-foots till it reveals the real mystery." –Ali Smith, author of How to Be Both


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More mysteries and thrillers for a spine-tingling season:


One Hit Wonders by Patrick Warner (Breakwater Books)

Newfoundland-based Irish author Patrick Warner brings us One Hit Wonders, a satiric and biting crime novel for a modern age, with the male suspects of murdered Lila all examined through the eyes of her husband, a writerly one-hit-wonder named Freddy. Learn more.

Why We Chose It

Patrick Warner is a master wordsmith, and does backflips and cartwheels on the line between literary and genre fiction in this novel. The characters: from anxiety-written, unreliable narrator Freddy to the cocaine-snorting ex-golf pro to the pair of two-bit criminals looking for a score, are all fully (and hilariously) realized.

Who Would Love This Book

Buy this mystery for St. John's, Newfoundland expats who know that there's more to the city than the tourism ads would let on, or to any fan of The Sisters Brothers.


Saving Her by Christian McPherson (Now or Never Publishing)

This thriller follows Julie Cooper, a woman unhinged after a devastating tragedy. As Julie's self-medication and subsequent inability to discern reality from fiction lands her in a mental-care facility, she has to find a way out or risk disappearing entirely. Learn more.

Why We Chose It

Saving Her is exciting and hits us at our most insecure: namely, what does it mean to be sane, and moreover, how do you prove it to someone claiming you aren't? Julie's blurring of the real is terrifying and gripping, all at once.

Who Would Love This Book

Fans of psychological thrillers like Stephen King's will clamour for this book, but also triathlon runners (Julie's one!).


Executor by Louise Carson (Signature Editions)

Personal and moral tangles abound in this political thriller from Louise Carson. Peter Forrest, a former student of recently-dead (from apparent suicide) poet Eleanor Brandon, is left to be the executor of her literary estate. Peter just wants her final poems published, but is drawn into her activist life in China all the same. Learn more.

Why We Chose It

Executor is a political issues thriller/mystery made better by all of the thorny personal history that exists between now-married Peter and his professor-cum-lover, Eleanor. Also, the prose is gorgeous, as author Carson is also a celebrated poet herself.

Who Would Love This Book

This book is for anyone interested in international human rights issues, or those who just love a really juicy mystery.


The Sicilian Wife by Caterina Edwards (Linda Leith Publishing)

This noir-ish read about a Mafia princess doing her best to escape her crime family is part folk tale, part feminist critique, and all engrossing. Will Fulvia find a peaceful new life in Canada? Or will her husband's murder on the Sicilian coast drag her right back in?

Why We Chose It

Caterina Edwards' literary mystery has all of the hallmarks of a fantastic Italian crime story. And we're not alone in thinking it's great: The Sicilian Wife is #55 on the National Post's 99 Best Books of the Year.

Who Would Love This Book

This is the feminist answer for fans of The Godfather, with all the urgency and pacing of the classic film.


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We'll be revealing each of our eight mystery titles over the course of the next several days. Get caught up on our Super Secret Festival of Lit  here. Buy any one of these titles from now until December 18th and receive a free  set of four CanLit holiday cards.





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