Something More Than Night by Ian Tregillis

Backlist Bonanza: 5 Underrated Weird Mysteries

I love a good mystery, with its twists and turns and red herrings tripping everything up. But what I love even more are weird mysteries, with unusual investigations and even more unusual investigators. 

Something More Than Night by Ian Tregillis

Something More Than Night by Ian Tregillis

Hardboiled detectives in noir stories is one of my favorite subgenres of mysteries, so much so that I re-read Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe books every few years. This story takes the noir format but makes the gumshoe a fallen angel hired to investigate the murder of the archangel Gabriel. Tregillis uses that classic Marlowe/Sam Spade quippy dialogue but piles on the physics and Christian mythology into something very, wonderfully weird. (Tor Books, 2013)

Deadline by Stephanie Ahn (Harrietta Lee #1)

Deadline by Stephanie Ahn

Asking for book recs on social media usually means a couple good recs and a sea of bad or inappropriate ones. This is one of those rare gems for me. I can’t remember who suggested it, but I’m ever so grateful. Harrietta Lee is an outcast witch making do as a magical investigator in New York City. The mystery is sufficiently odd but also familiar—there’s a magical artifact, powerful mage families, demons, etc—but I think what really hooked me in was the BDSM rep. Trad pub doesn’t have a great track record with kink outside the Romance genre, so this was a refreshing change of pace from the land of self-pub. (self-published, 2018)

A Peculiar Peril by Jeff VanderMeer (Misadventures of Jonathan Lambshead #1)

A Peculiar Peril by Jeff VanderMeer

You can’t have a booklist involving weirdness and not include VanderMeer. His young adult novel came out right in the early days of lockdown and didn’t get nearly as much attention as it deserved. Jonathan inherits a strange mansion after his grandfather dies. He’s pulled into a quest-slash-mystery trying to find a magical object before some baddies get it. Plus, alternate realities, talking animals, and asexuality. Who knows when we will be graced with the sequel, but I am waiting with bated breath. (Farrar, Straus and Giroux BYR, 2020)

Seven of Infinities by Aliette de Bodard (Universe of Xuya)

Seven of Infinities by Aliette de Bodard

This is a murder mystery featuring Vân, a poor scholar, and Sunless Woods, a sentient mindship who also happens to be a highly successful thief. It’s set in space in the distant future. A visitor turns up dead, and the deeper Vân and Sunless Woods dig, the odder things get. A mysterious safe, a strange house, and a metric ton of secrets and lies. And really, how can you not be hooked by a sapphic romance between a ship and a scholar? (Subterranean Press, 2020)

We Don’t Swim Here by Vincent Tirado

We Don’t Swim Here by Vincent Tirado

After Bronwyn’s grandmother falls ill, her father moves the whole family back to his small hometown in rural Arkansas. Bronwyn loves swimming, which is a problem in this town where no one swims. Ever. As Bronwyn and her cousin Anais uncover the buried past and try to unmask who or what is stalking them, terrible, racist truths come to light. Okay, so this isn’t so much weird as unusual, especially for young adult fiction, but whatever. It’s great and you should read it. (Sourcebooks Fire, 2023)


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