6 New Writers to Watch
Mystery Scene|Fall #169, 2021
Wiley Cash’s debut, A Land More Kind Than Home, about the bond between two brothers landed on the New York Times Best Sellers List and received the Crime Writers’ Association Debut of the Year.
By Oline H. Cogdill

Wiley Cash

When Ghosts Come Home

William Morrow

The Plot: Wiley Cash is known for multilayered plots that start as straightforward stories but soon evolve into thoughtful looks at how the past affects the present, adding in issues of race, class, justice, and greed. In When Ghosts Come Home, Sheriff Winston Barnes’ investigation into a plane crash on the coast of North Carolina and the death of a local Black man morphs into a look at the community and corrupt politics as well as a tender story about the relationship between a father and daughter. As he tries to fight crime, Barnes also battles for his job in a bitter re-election campaign against a crooked, and well-financed opponent who is an unabashed racist. Even some of the man’s own deputies are siding against him. Set in 1984, When Ghosts Come Home shows how far we have come—and how far we haven’t.

The Character: Sheriff Winston Barnes joins Cash’s other strong, complicated characters—good people up against those who often hide their dishonesty and shady side. And like Cash’s other characters, Barnes is flawed, haunted by past mistakes. His love for his family drives him as much as his quest for justice as he tries to help both his wife, who has cancer, and his daughter, who is grief-stricken over her stillborn baby.

The Author: Beginning with A Land More Kind Than Home, Wiley Cash has offered an incisive look at his native North Carolina, delving into its past and present, unflinchingly looking at racism and the evil that can drive people. Cash’s four novels, each a standalone, showcase his lyrical writing and are squarely in the tradition of Southern literature.

Wiley Cash’s debut, A Land More Kind Than Home, about the bond between two brothers landed on the New York Times Best Sellers List and received the Crime Writers’ Association Debut of the Year. His second novel, This Dark Road to Mercy, received the CWA’s Novel of the Year and was a finalist for the Edgar Award for Best Novel and the Southern Book Prize. He teaches fiction writing and literature at the University of North Carolina Asheville, where he serves as Alumni Author-in-Residence. He lives in North Carolina with his wife, photographer Mallory Cash, and their daughters.

MIA P. MANANSALA

Arsenic and Adobo

Berkley

The Plot: Mia P. Manansala hits the ground running with Arsenic and Adobo, a sweet, poignant, well-plotted cozy about Lila Macapagal, a young woman who works at Tita Rosie’s Kitchen, a Filipino restaurant run by her aunt in Shady Palms, Illinois. More than good food is cooked up here as the landlord tries to close down the restaurant. And then there’s the poisoning of Derek Winter, a food blogger who always finds something negative to write about Tita Rosie’s cuisine, even though he is a regular customer who pretty much gorges himself on the myriad dishes every time. Oh, and Derek is Lila’s former high school boyfriend. Naturally, Lila is the prime suspect. A highly entertaining story— with recipes—about reinventing one’s life with a look at the Filipino culture. The author’s initial three-book deal ensures that this series will be around for a while.

The Character: The appealing, intelligent Lila Macapagal is trying to rebuild her life following a devastating breakup with her fiancé. Lila is the kind of character readers will immediately be drawn to and the author surrounds her with close friends, relatives who are a bit too involved with her personal life, and a loving (if overweight) dachshund. Plus, the novel will make you want to seek out the nearest Filipino restaurant.

The Author: Mia P. Manansala (MAH-nahnsah-lah) is a writer and book coach from the Chicago area. In receiving the Eleanor Taylor Bland Crime Fiction Writers of Color Award in 2018, Manansala said she believed the award was a way to continue Bland’s mission of inclusion.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM MYSTERY SCENEView All

6 New Writers to Watch

Wiley Cash’s debut, A Land More Kind Than Home, about the bond between two brothers landed on the New York Times Best Sellers List and received the Crime Writers’ Association Debut of the Year.

10 mins read
Mystery Scene
Fall #169, 2021

ANN CLEEVES

British author Ann Cleeves has an affinity for remote areas and how these isolated regions affect her characters.

10+ mins read
Mystery Scene
Fall #169, 2021

CARLENE O'CONNOR

“Anyone can play Snow White. It takes real talent to play the Wicked Witch.”

8 mins read
Mystery Scene
Fall #169, 2021

Mystery Scene MISCELLANY

FIRST USE OF FINGERPRINTS

3 mins read
Mystery Scene
Fall #169, 2021

PANIC ATTACK

The newest entry in my Pittsburgh set series of thrillers is called Panic Attack. It’s the sixth book featuring Daniel Rinaldi, a psychologist and trauma expert who consults with the Pittsburgh Police.

2 mins read
Mystery Scene
Fall #169, 2021

LAIDLAW'S LEGACY

During the pandemic, Ian Rankin stepped away from Rebus and into the shoes of friend and literary hero, the “Godfather of Tartan Noir” William McIlvanney.

10+ mins read
Mystery Scene
Fall #169, 2021

HILARY DAVIDSON

Call it The Case of Life Imitating Art.

7 mins read
Mystery Scene
Fall #169, 2021

Thomas Walsh - The Unusual Suspect

Any paternity test on the sub-genre of police procedural will identify the DNA of Ed McBain and Lawrence Treat, as well as the 1948 movie The Naked City and the radio and TV series Dragnet…and of course Thomas Walsh.

6 mins read
Mystery Scene
Fall #169, 2021

S.A. COSBY

In Razorblade Tears, two aging men—one Black, one white, both with criminal pasts—join forces to seek revenge for the murders of their gay sons. The themes of fathers and sons and toxic masculinity will be familar to fans of Cosby’s 2020 breakout Blacktop Wasteland.

10 mins read
Mystery Scene
Fall #169, 2021

VIPER'S NEST OF LIES

A slip of the tongue is a dangerous thing. Not only does it expose indiscretions, it also can lead to murder. The latter especially applies to me.

2 mins read
Mystery Scene
Fall #169, 2021