What Strange Creatures by Emily Arsenault
Publication date: July 22, 2014 by William Morrow
Source: Publisher for an honest review
Description from Goodreads:
Scandal, love, family,
and murder combine in this gripping literary mystery by critically
acclaimed author Emily Arsenault, in which a young academic’s life is
turned upside down when her brother is arrested for murder and she must
prove his innocence.
The Battle siblings are used to
disappointment. Seven years, one marriage and divorce, three cats, and a
dog later, Theresa still hasn’t finished her dissertation. Instead of a
degree, she’s got a houseful of adoring pets and a dead-end copywriting
job for a local candle company.
Jeff, her so-called genius older
brother, doesn’t have it together, either. Creative, and loyal, he’s
also aimless in work and love. But his new girlfriend, Kim, a pretty
waitress in her twenties, appears smitten.
When Theresa agrees to
dog-sit Kim’s puggle for a weekend, she has no idea that it is the
beginning of a terrifying nightmare that will shatter her quiet world.
Soon, Kim’s body will be found in the woods, and Jeff will become the
Though the evidence is overwhelming, Theresa knows
that her brother is not a cold-blooded murderer. But to clear him she
must find out more about Kim. Investigating the dead woman’s past,
Theresa uncovers a treacherous secret involving politics, murder, and
scandal—and becomes entangled in a potentially dangerous romance. But
the deeper she falls into this troubling case, the more it becomes clear
that, in trying to save her brother’s life, she may be sacrificing her
There is so much that I loved about What Strange Creatures -- the title, the cover is just lovely and I loved that Theresa is so invested in Margery Kempe, but maybe most of all, I loved the quirkiness of Theresa and her brother, Jeff.
I really enjoyed Miss Me When I'm Gone by Arsenault and I looked forward to another fast-paced, fun, and unexpected ending to another mystery. I was not disappointed. I think What Strange Creatures was even more enjoyable.
Theresa seems to be a life-long student of the writing of Margery Kempe, a woman of the middle ages who wrote (actually dictated) the story of her life, visions and pilgrimages in what some consider to be the first autobiography. Theresa didn't intend to spend most of her adult life working on her dissertation, but that is just how things have worked out so far. She has a job as a copywriter for a local candle company, but she still tells herself that she is going to finish her dissertation. Eventually.
Can I just say, I love this set up. I was hooked from the start. Maybe I'm just a geek, but how can anyone NOT love the set up to this book?
Theresa is determined to help her brother Jeff stay out of prison for a murder she is sure he didn't commit. Her investigation leads her to some unusual people and situations. I admired her dedication to her brother. Their relationship is close and so much fun to read about.
This was one of those books that I read in pretty much one sitting. I can quite happily recommend this one to everyone. Although, you will have to get your own copy, because I am not sharing -- I may need to read it again.