Welcome to the SheReads Bookish Entertainment column! Each week, enjoy a new article by Garrett Billings— Bookstagrammer, blogger, book-to-screen junkie—on all things Reading + Hollywood. Stars’ book club picks and trailer reveals, book-to-screen news and book pop culture, and of course, Gare’s specialty, choosing his ideal Hollywood casts for book adaptations—Bookish Entertainment has you covered.
Nothing is more exciting than a new TV series to binge. Whether it’s a medical drama, a new comedy series, or a small-town mystery with an ensemble cast that is addictive and full of twists like Mare of Easttown on HBO Max. This small-town drama/murder mystery features Kate Winslet as a detective investigating the murder of a local teenager. The show also gives us an insight into Mare’s chaotic personal life is a must-see.
If you have watched this show and you already miss it, here are some fantastic reads. Whether you loved the crime aspect, the small-town setting, or a complex female lead—these books have all of the above and much more.
Local Woman Missing by Mary Kubica
Who doesn’t love Mary Kubica? I have been a huge fan since her debut novel and will put my life on hold when she releases new books. Kubica is the queen of domestic suspense and Local Woman Missing is her most disturbing story yet. This one features a plot that Mare fans will love: A local woman goes missing. Then another local woman and her daughter go missing. Eleven years later, the daughter returns. Told in alternate timelines, this story is a twisty read that features a small-town setting, a spiderweb of a mystery, and a finale I never saw coming. Local Woman Missing is by far one of my favorite reads of 2021 and with a large cast of characters that Kubica so effectively crafts, this is one that will have you in its grasp from the first page.
Beneath Devil’s Bridge by Loreth Anne White
Loreth Anne White is one of my favorite authors. She writes these impressively compelling novels that are so intricate and fast-paced. Beneath Devil’s Bridge – White’s latest release – is near impossible to put down and based on a true story. Combining White’s immersive storytelling and a podcast element, this is a story about a true crime podcaster who is investigating a twenty-year-old crime. A student was brutally murdered and her guidance counselor confessed and yet, everyone in this small town always wondered why he did it. With two different timelines, this story is one that is dark, atmospheric, and features a small-town murder that is reminiscent of Mare of Easttown.
The Winter Sister by Megan Collins
If you’re looking for something more character-driven and jam-packed with emotions, The Winter Sister is the perfect read. Sylvie returns to her hometown to take care of her mother who has fallen ill with cancer, and is reunited with a man named Ben, a nurse at the hospital where her mother is receiving treatment. But, this is no ordinary reunion: Ben was her sister’s boyfriend, the man she always believed was responsible for her sister’s murder sixteen years ago. As Sylvie and Ben reunite and Sylvie spends more time with her mother, she begins to uncover what really happened after she saw her sister for the last time. This book is beguiling and gut-wrenching. Collins is able to craft a lyrical prose with a suspensefully paced novel full of heart and loss and keep you on your toes the entire time. Exploring the familial relationships in the story with a cold-case murder, this is a story that you will have a hard time shaking.
When the Stars Go Dark by Paula McClain
When the Stars Go Dark is an interesting thriller that combines a fictional case with true crime—and the protagonist is someone you will love just as much as Mare Sheehan. Anna Hart is a detective in San Francisco who flees from a tragedy to Mendocino, where she lived as a child. Upon her arrival, she learns of a teenage girl who has gone missing, reminiscent of a crime that occurred during Anna’s childhood. This novel is the perfect combination of a character-driven study of trauma and how it effects people, a haunting and stunning prose, and a suspenseful plot. I devoured this book over the course of two days and thought about it for weeks after. McClain is an amazing storyteller, taking you on a journey that intertwines the past and present in a story that only this author could create.
The Night Olivia Fell by Christina McDonald
If you love domestic suspense and drama with a small-town setting like Mare of Easttown, you will love The Night Olivia Fell. This is one of those books that I meant to start and “dip my toe in”—and ended up binge-reading in a single night. It is a harrowing story about a mother who receives a call in the middle of the night that her daughter, Olivia, has fallen off a bridge. Olivia is in the hospital, brain-dead and pregnant. When Olivia’s mother, Abi, gets to the hospital she notices strange bruising on Olivia’s wrists and the police are quick to rule the incident an accident. Fueled by anger and an overflow of emotions, Abi decides to take matters into her own hands to find out what really happened the night Olivia fell.
All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda
I love Megan Miranda books. They are always bingeable thrillers that will keep you guessing until the very end, and Miranda’s ability to create a perfect setting for each story is mesmerizing. My favorite story of hers is All the Missing Girls, a Hitchcockian thriller that is told backwards, counting down fifteen days. Nicolette returns to her small hometown to take care of her sick father ten years after her best friend went missing. Featuring a large cast of characters, Nicolette is constantly reminded of the mystery of her best friend’s disappearance. Then another local girl goes missing and that’s just the beginning….or ending, depending on how you look at it. As Nicolette gets closer to the truth about the two decade-apart disappearances, you will be plunged into a world of deception and the unsettling truth of what deadly secrets a small town can hold.
Everything You Want Me to Be by Mindy Mejia
Everything You Want Me to Be is a book that holds such a special place in my heart: it was one of the first books I read for my blog, and my first five-star read. This book is like a coming-of-age meets Gone Girl in a generously paced story that centers around the death of a young high school student named Hattie. Hattie plays many roles in her life; she’s a daughter, a girlfriend, a straight-A student. When Hattie is found viciously murdered, her friends and family find out she also had another role no one knew about and a secret online relationship. Told in the year of Hattie’s life leading up to her murder, this is a compelling story that is just as sinister as it is intriguing.
LOVE this list ! Missing Mare so much. I’ve read When the Stars Go Dark (amazing) and Winter Sister. These are perfecf for the list!