Before We Visit the Goddess by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
H-Town cred: Divakaruni, who teaches creative writing at UH, moved to Houston 14 years ago when her husband got a job here in the O&G industry—does it get more Houston?
Setup: A matriarch’s one mistake ripples through three generations of women.
Standout Houston shout-out: Scorned by her boyfriend, the youngest protagonist, Tara, steals his stuffed raccoon, drives to Galveston, and releases it into the waves.
Bayou City truth: Pappasitos pays. (“My boyfriend Robert could get me a waitressing job at Pappasitos, where he has connections,” says Tara. “With tips I’d be earning twice as much.”)
Sunset City by Melissa Ginsburg
H-Town cred: Ginsburg, a native Houstonian/current Mississippian, went to HSPVA and UH.
Setup: The childhood best friend of Museum District–dwelling barista Charlotte is murdered, and everyone’s a suspect, especially the dead woman’s River Oaks mother.
Standout Houston shout-out: Charlotte and her friend Audrey take 288 to I–45 and get stuck in construction traffic for almost an hour. (“Typical Houston,” says Audrey. “Sitting in traffic forever on our way to find drugs.”)
Bayou City truth: The cool beauty of River Oaks. (“The neighborhood felt a couple of degrees cooler than the rest of the city,” Charlotte observes. “How did they do that? Were they air-conditioning the outside?”)
Jane Two by Sean Patrick Flanery
H-Town cred: Flanery, an LA actor, grew up in Sugar Land and went to Dulles High School and the University of St. Thomas.
Setup: The intoxicating Jane moves into the house behind young Mickey’s, and his life is never the same.
Standout Houston shout-out: Mickey and a buddy meet up at The Ditch, which flows into Braes Bayou and is littered with liquor bottles and old Playboy magazines (hey, it’s the ’70s).
Bayou City truth: Family boudin recipes, especially those of our Louisiana ancestors, should be safeguarded at all costs.