Tuesday, July 29, 2014

BLOG TOUR: What Strange Creatures by Emily Arsenault

Title: What Strange Creatures
Author: Emily Arsenault
Genre: Adult Mystery/Thriller Fiction
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Release Date: July 22/2014
Adquired: Print ARC provided by Publisher
Goodreads: ADD

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 prime suspect.

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 own.


It's been such a fantastic year for mysteries, at least it seems that way to my reading belt. There has been such diversity among narratives, such solid and imaginative dodging and covering up of truths. There are a few stand-outs for me thus far, in the mystery genre, and What Strange Creatures has been added to that list. I find myself hand-pressed to describe the way main character Theresa Battle got under my skin. Her almost drab air of existence set the entire tone for the book, one that I couldn't even lie about loving, because I loved it. What Strange Creatures was a ride of a book.

It opens in the future, as the most enticing of narratives seem to do. We know what the outcome is, and Emily Arsenault is prepared to lead us through the days leading up to that tragic verdict: a man has been accused of murdering his girlfriend. Said man, Jeff Battle, is the older brother of Theresa, our main female lead. The second chapter is the beginning of the groundwork, we're taken back three weeks in time, to establish family dynamics, pick up on clues, and become tangled in the personal lives of almost every character we meet. It was a regular 'whodunnit' on the surface, but there was so much more to be found once the layers began to peel back.

It's completely unlike me to appreciate an author who writes matter-of-factly, but this was matter-of-fact done extremely well. The formula for mystery novels, in my experience, seems to be this: a heinous crime, an introduction of potential suspects, a fake left, a fake right, and BAM! the killer is caught. It's a dance I've come to love, and one that What Strange Creatures definitely delivers, but with a side order of quirk. It was that darn Theresa Battle. She roped me in with her wit, and easy banter with her brother, and most notably, her decision to climb up off of her rump, and do something that mattered. Arsenault's ability to engage was top-notch, and wholly entertaining.

I deducted stars for a less than stellar reveal at the end, though, that's not to say that I wasn't completely blind-sided about who "bad guy" ended up being, I just thought it deserved a little more drama and PUNCH.

But read What Strange Creatures for it's beginning, and it's middle, and a tone that is unlike any other mystery novel you will find out there. I already have Arsenault's other books ready and waiting to be devoured.

Side Note: If you own a pet, I also urge YOU to pick this up..you'll see why. 

Recommended for Fans of: The Last Policeman series by Ben H. Winters, Third Rail by Rory Flynn, Dark Places by Gillian Flynn, Mystery, Thriller, Contemporary, Political Fiction.

Check out Emily's Goodreads author page HERE to find out more about her!

Contact Links:


Thank-you to Trish from TLC Book Tours for hosting this tour, and to William Morrow for sending me a print ARC to review!

CLICK HERE to follow the rest of the tour


  1. I'm glad that you enjoyed so much of this book in spite of that lack of "punch" you wanted with the ending. It sound like a great read!

    Thanks for being on the tour. I'm featuring your review on TLC's Facebook page today.

  2. I love books that are animal lover friendly. There's something that warms my heart about those books...


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