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It’s the Time of the Season for … Solving Mysteries

by Chelsea Bennett, Reference Department

Treetops, aflame. The air, crisp. Bonfires, hot cider, plaid shirts as far as the eye can see: classic signs of winter. Here’s one more timeless association for you: whodunits. Whether you’re into the classics, the creepies, or the cozies, winter is the perfect time of year to shroud yourself in Mystery.

Publishing professional Valerie Peterson divides the Mystery genre into four main types, and many subgenres. She starts with the types: Hard-Boiled (moody detectives and femmes fatales), Soft-Boiled (similar, but less explicitly violent or sexy), Cozy (Miss Marple and her descendants), and Procedural (thorough analysis of cops and crimes). Within those types, you may find any combination of hijinks and capers, amateur sleuths, local flavor, daunting puzzles, gritty detectives, historical figures, cats, romance, and more. [1]

Unless you simply “hate being titillated,” there’s bound to be a Mystery out there for you. Below, I’ve listed some of the genre’s best-loved authors, both classic and modern. Since mystery writers love to stick with their characters, I’ll sometimes include a character or series name rather than a book title.

(Quick note: some Mysteries have more intense content than others, especially if they cross into Thriller territory. If you’re concerned about potential triggers, check out a site like www.doesthedogdie.com, which helps you steer clear of certain content. You can also check out our blog post about cozy mysteries!)

 


Jennifer Finney BoylanLong Black Veil

K. Chesterton – Catholic priest and amateur detective Father Brown stars in 53 of Chesterton’s short stories.* Netflix has the BBC’s adaptation.

Agatha Christie – Christie’s 75 novels run the gamut from fun and cozy to truly chilling. Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot, her two most famous characters, each appear in dozens of works. And Then There Were None is a must-read, but Christie named Ordeal by Innocence and Crooked House as her favorites among her own books.*

Mary Higgins ClarkWhere Are the Children?; A Stranger Is Watching; Loves Music, Loves to Dance

Harlan CobenTell No One; The Woods; Fool Me Once; the overlapping Myron Bolitar and Mickey Bolitar series (a sports agent and his nephew)

Wilkie CollinsThe Law and the Lady; The Moonstone; The Woman in White

Michael ConnellyHarry Bosch series. This bestselling police procedural series forms the basis for Amazon’s TV series, Bosch.

Deborah CrombieDuncan Kincaid & Gemma James series (Scotland Yard)

Colin DexterInspector Morse series (a senior criminal investigator who loves Wagner, cryptic crossword puzzles, and cask ale)

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – The character of Sherlock Holmes needs no introduction. Doyle’s non-Sherlockian mysteries include The Mystery of Cloomber, and short stories such as “J. Habakuk Jephson’s Statement.” *

Barry Eisler – Eisler is a former covert CIA operative, a trained lawyer, and a black belt martial artist. His three series each feature a different hero: assassin John Rain, black ops soldier Ben Treven, and SVU detective Livia Lone.

James Ellroy – The L.A. Quartet (The Black Dahlia; The Big Nowhere; L.A. Confidential; White Jazz)

Dashiell Hammett – Because of The Maltese Falcon, The Thin Man, and a host of series and short stories, The New York Times eulogized Hammett as “the dean of the… ‘hard-boiled’ school of detective fiction.”*

Kellye GarrettHollywood Homicide

Tess GerritsenThe Bone Garden

Lamar GilesOverturned (YA)

Alexia Gordon – The Gethsemane Brown Mysteries (an African-American classical musician)

Sue Grafton – Famous for her Alphabet Mystery series (A is for Alibi, etc.), Grafton passed away after completing Y is for Yesterday. “[As] far as we in the family are concerned, the alphabet now ends at Y,” wrote Grafton’s daughter. [2]

Carl Hiaasen – “America’s finest satirical novelist” is a “laugh-out-loud funny and thoroughly entertaining” “master of the revenge fantasy.” [3] Try Tourist Season, Strip Tease, Skin Tight, or Double Whammy for a taste of his madcap, Florida-based mysteries.

Patricia Highsmith Strangers on a Train; Deep Water; The Glass Cell; The Talented Mr. Ripley

Tony HillermanLeaphorn & Chee series (Navajo Tribal Police)

Joe IdeIQ series (an unconventional, unofficial detective)

P. D. JamesDeath Comes to Pemberly; Adam Dalgliesh series (Scotland Yard)

Iris JohansenEve Duncan series (a forensic sculptor)

Ausma Zehanat KhanThe Unquiet Dead

Laurie R. KingMary Russell series (a teenage girl who becomes Sherlock Holmes’ apprentice)

Attica LockeJay Porter series (a struggling Texas lawyer)

Sujata MasseyPerveen Mistry series (historical fiction; India’s first female lawyer)

John MortimerHorace Rumpole is “an ageing London barrister who defends any and all clients.” [4]

Abir MukherjeeSam Wyndham (Scotland Yard, historical fiction)

Jo Nesbø – Brilliant and troubled, Harry Hole (pronounced Hoo-leh) comes from Oslo, Norway, but his work takes him around the world. The series has been translated into English out of order; Hole first appears in The Bat.*

Leonardo Padura – The Mario Conde quartet is on Netflix as the Four Seasons in Havana miniseries.*

Sara Paretsky – Fierce, independent, and sharp, private detective V. I. Warshawski (Victoria) specializes in white-collar crime.

Louise PennyChief Inspector Gamache (character-driven, set in provincial Quebec)*

Dr. Kwei QuarteyDarko Dawson (a detective in Ghana)

Marcie RendonMurder on the Red River

Tess SharpeFar from You (YA)

George Simenon – Simenon’s legendary detective Jules Maigret has been portrayed by a wide range of actors, from Shakespearean stars (Charles Laughton) to slapstick comics (Rowan Atkinson). But why not picture him for yourself? He appears in 76 novels and 28 short stories.

Dwayne Alexander SmithForty Acres; The Unkind Hours

Sherry ThomasLady Sherlock series

Stephanie TromleyTrouble Is a Friend of Mine (YA)

Nicola UpsonJosephine Tey (British theatre in the 1930s)

Randy Wayne WhiteDoc Ford series (a marine biologist / ex-CIA)

 


Sources:

* indicates quotations and stats were taken from Wikipedia pages about the authors and/or their works

 

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More than just a Mystery

By Lindsay Roseberry, Reference Department

Love a good mystery? Looking for a new author to read?  Since May is Mystery Month, you’re in luck!

First off, I need to tell you about a great database we subscribe to: Books & Authors. B&A offers new ways to explore books, authors, genres and topics. This database makes exploration of genre fiction and essential non-fiction fun! You can also look through lists created by libraries under Expert Picks & Librarian Lists to find new mystery genres to read. One of the best Books+and+Authorsfeatures is looking up a book you just enjoyed and finding a list of similar books and finding new authors to read. And you can access this list at home, before you come to the library, or go on READS.

There are another two great websites to consider when looking for new authors. You might already know about Good Reads for looking up reviews.  But did you know they have genre lists?  You can browse through page after page of books, read the blurbs and make your lists.  The second site we use often is Fantastic Fiction.  This is a great website that gives you series information either with an author search or a title search about British and American authors.

If you’re looking for new mystery books, try Stop, You’re Killing Me. It’s a great website for mystery lovers.  You can look for new mysteries by job (archaeologist, pathologist, farmer, antique dealer), by location or country, by historical time periods, by awards and by read-alikes.  It’s almost a one-stop shopping/reading center!Mystery

Most people choose what mysteries to read based on the New York Times Book List or word of mouth. But there are many genres of mysteries and many places to find more titles to read. There are police procedurals, thrillers, legal thrillers, historical mysteries, gothic mysteries, paranormal mysteries, cozy mysteries, mysteries set in foreign countries and in futuristic settings.

Cozy mysteries can be addictive. These are usually a series about amateur sleuths and you don’t want to miss one.  Some of the popular authors are Agatha Christie, Susan Wittig Albert, Julia Spencer-Fleming, and many more.

Gothic mysteries are usually set in a dark, spooky mansion or castle, with suspicious sounds and people. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen and Wuthering Heights may have been some of the first Gothic novels, but they certainly weren’t the last.  Mary Stewart, Phillis A Whitney, Victoria Holt, Barbara Michaels and V. C. Andrews are preeminent in this genre.  Diane Setterfield, M. J. Rose, John Harwood, Kristen Callahan are more contemporary authors of this genre.

If you get tired of mysteries in a current setting, try a historical mystery. There are so many series set in the middle ages.  One of the best featured Father Cadfael, soldier and man of the world who became a monk.  Most of the mysteries take place in the monastery or on the grounds.  Another good series features Marcus Didius Falco, and is set in ancient Rome.  One of the most popular was written by Arian Franklin, who unfortunately passed away several years ago.  Her detective was a woman physician who lived under Henry II of England’s rule.

cadfael-composite

John Grisham made the legal thriller a genre. Everyone was pleased when he wrote a sequel to A Time to Kill. Other authors in this genre are Scott Turow and John Ellsworth and John Lescroart.  And we can’t leave out Earl Stanley Gardner, who started it all with Perry Mason.  He is credited with influencing many people to become lawyers.

International mysteries, which are set in foreign countries, are fun to read. You learn about other countries, how the police and justice system work and they are absorbing.  Just about every country in the world has had at last one mystery set in it.  The Scandinavian countries are very popular locations now, what with The Girl Who and Wallander series.  Jo Nesbo is very popular, and Icelandic and Finnish stories are in the running as well.  One of the continued favorites read is Donna Leon, which features Commissario Brunetti in Venice. And Louise Penny must be mentioned here again since her series takes place in the Toronto area.

One good example of a paranormal mystery series is the character of Aunt Dimity, a ghost who assists in solving mysteries. Barbara Hambly has a series with a physician in Victorian England seeking the assistance of a vampire.  Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake would fit here, too; she’s a vampire slayer.  Patricia Briggs has quite a following with her series featuring Mercy Thompson; Simon R. Green has his Tales of the Nightside. Charles Stross, Dan Simmons and Nora Roberts write mysteries with a more science fiction edge.

GreenSR-Nightside-UK2-BlogPolice procedurals are mysteries are solved by police as they go about their daily duties, working with clues, putting them together, solving the crime and catching the bad guys. The detective novel is similar, but the crime solver has a few more liberties, and we learn more about their lives and sometimes loves and if you have an amateur detective, those are often considered cozy mysteries.  .  Louise Penny was won many awards for her police procedurals.  They are also excellent to listen to.  Other authors to consider are Carol O’Connor, Ed McBain, Michael Connelly, and Bill Pronzini.

Psychological suspense thrillers are the ones you can’t put down and keep you up at night. Remember Gone Girl?  That was Gillian Flynn, who is a master of this genre.  There are other authors too; S J Watson, Paula Hawkins (The Girl on the Train), Iris Johansen, Lisa Gardner, Jonathan Kellerman, Patricia Highsmith, Henry James, Dennis Lehane, Tana French, Mary Kubica and many, many more.


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