The November 2022 Read with Jenna pick “The Cloisters” is only the second mystery book to make it into Jenna Bush Hager's book club. If you’re wondering if Jenna is simply mystery-averse, think again.
“I am a mystery enthusiast so much that 'The Cloisters' is only the second mystery I’ve ever chosen because I’m picky," Jenna tells TODAY.com. She calls "The Cloisters," a book set in an art museum in northern Manhattan, the "perfect mystery," adding, "I have recommended it to everybody that I possibly can."
So, what mysteries does a mystery-obsessed reader enjoy? Read on for a few of Jenna's other favorites, all of which make good companions to "The Cloisters" or her next pick, "The Secret History" by Donna Tartt.
“I’ve always loved Megan Abbott. She has very dark, twisted stories,” Jenna says. Her personal favorite is “The Turnout,” a juicy horror story that stems out of a family-run ballet studio, and previously a Read With Jenna pick.
Sisters Dara and Marie Durant only know the elegant life of a dancer. When their parents die in a tragic accident, Dara and Marie swiftly take over the studio, along with Dara’s husband, Charlie, who used to be their mother’s favorite student. The studio lives on in a stable state, until another strange accident occurs during the school’s performance of “The Nutcracker." Contractor Derek arrives at the studio for work and threatens to ruin the delicate balance that the sisters have achieved. “The Turnout” is just one of Megan Abbott’s brilliant mysteries. “The Cloisters” author Katy Hays also highly recommends Abbott’s “Give Me Your Hand.”
“I have always loved this British author named Erin Kelly. I like a British mystery," Jenna says.
“The Poison Tree” is a suspenseful novel about the dangers that can come from one last bohemian summer hurrah. Karen Clarke is a predictable girl, prioritizing her grades and listening to her parents, until she meets wild child Biba. Karen moves into Biba and her brother Rex’s home for what turns into a life-changing summer. The story bounces between the summer of 1997 and Karen’s life a decade later, slowly letting the reader in on the true story.
Jenna describes "Night Film" as "dark and crazy and so good." aid Jenna. The book starts with the death of 24-year old Ashley Cordova, whose body is found in an abandoned warehouse in Manhattan. While most are ready to write off the death as a tragic suicide, investigative journalist Scott McGrath decides to dig deeper into the case and discovers another mystery. Stanislaus Cordova, Ashley’s father, is a cult horror film director living a reclusive life. Very little is known about Stanislaus, and McGrath, driven by revenge, is determined to change that.
Jenna recommends "Greenwich Park" by Katherine Faulkner, another British mystery which she says is "very fun to read."
Helen’s life is finally falling into place. She has a handsome husband, a lavish Victorian house and a much-wanted baby on the way. She attends her first prenatal class and is surprised to meet Rachel, an uber-friendly yet unlikely friend. Rachel is not like the other moms. She smokes and drinks and doesn’t seem to care what anybody thinks of her. But Helen feels for Rachel, and wonders if she just needs a good friend. As Helen and Rachel grow closer, Rachel’s behavior grows more worrying. Helen’s friends and family begin to suspect that Rachel may be linked to Helen in more shocking ways, especially when Rachel threatens to expose a huge secret from the past.
“Mexican Gothic” is (another) great one,” says Jenna.
“Mexican Gothic” by Silvia Moreno-Garcia follows unassuming Noemi Taboada, who is ripped from her life of debutante gowns and glamorous cocktail parties when her newly-wed cousin begs Noemi to come rescue her. Noemi travels to High Place, a remote house in the Mexican countryside where her cousin lives with her new handsome husband, his father and the family children. Noemi feels haunted by the house, plagued by visions of blood and horror. Her only escape is through an alliance with the youngest son, who seems to want to help Noemi while also hiding the darkest secrets of High Place.
All of these picks have a twisted side, with vivid characters and page-turning descriptions that keep you reading, no matter how dark the plot might get.