Tag Archives: Mystery

Mystery Book Discussion

The newest book discussion group in the library system is the Mystery Book Discussion at the Main Library.

The very first book read by the group for the first meeting was a classic, Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express. For November and December the group read In the Woods by Tana French and The Snowman by Jo Nesbo. While it has started off as a small group it is slowly growing.

The first three months of 2017 are already planned out:

  • With the reading of Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier, the meeting for that discussion is January 17, 2017.

rebeccadumarier

  • In February the group will be reading A Judgement in Stone by Ruth Rendell and that discussion will be on February 21, 2017.

judgmtnstonerendell

  • The book for March will be another Agatha Christie classic, The Murder at the Vicarage, and that discussion will be on March 21, 2016.

If you enjoy reading mysteries, or you enjoy talking about books feel free to stop by the Main Library to pick up a copy of any of the reads. And if you’ve thought about reading mysteries and didn’t have a book in mind or didn’t know where to start, hopefully one of the Mystery Book Discussions will help.

The Mystery Book Discussion is held every third Tuesday of the month at 2:00 PM at the Main library.

A Study in Charlotte

studyncharlotteA Study in Charlotte is a retelling of Sherlock Holmes but with a twist. The two main characters who are teenagers are descendants (great-great- great children to be exact) of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson. Both Charlotte Holmes and Jamie Watson find themselves at the same Connecticut boarding school. The novel’s storyline has the premise that John Watson not Sir Arthur Conan Doyle that wrote the Sherlock novels. Charlotte’s family is pretty much still famous as well as rich, while Jamie’s family has pretty much drifted into obscurity.

When a murder happens at their school that leaves both Jamie and Charlotte as prime suspects it’s up to Charlotte to clear their names and fast. The female Sherlock Holmes was surprisingly enjoyable twist. As a Sherlock Holmes purist I didn’t think that I would enjoy it. Charlotte Holmes still has the same quirks that Sherlock has that we know and love.

A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro brings Sherlock to a new generation of readers, as well as quite possibly introducing teenage girls to the detective genre. A Study in Charlotte shows teenage girls that they can be detectives as well as be interested in science. That they can be anything they put their minds to. Charlotte isn’t always the most likeable character but she does have her moments. The book ends with the loose ends tied up, but does leave the ending opened for a squeal.

Formats Available: Book

Reviewed by CarissaMain Library

Cozy Mysteries: What’s the Deal?

Many readers more than likely assume that all mysteries are the same.  That’s not true mysteries are as unique as their fiction counterparts.  There’s the classic detective story, the traditional suspense, as well as the murder mystery, the police drama just to name a few.

Then there’s the cozy mystery subgenre, which is a whole different type of mystery.  Think Jessica Fletcher in Murder She Wrote.  Don’t let that fool you – these aren’t your grandmother’s mysteries.

Jessica-Fletcher

Another way to look at cozy mysteries is basically that they are Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys for grownups.  So if you loved those series as a kid and want to continue reading similar books but know that you don’t want to read kids’ books as an adult then cozy mysteries are the perfect alternative to getting caught reading adult books.

The main character in a cozy mystery – the mystery solver – just happens to be an average citizen with no police, or detective experience.  Many times they work to so solve the mystery because the local law enforcement is incompetent or they are a family member or friend have been accused of the crime, and they want to clear themselves or some else as quickly as possible.

There is a cozy mystery out there for just about any reading taste. Cozy mysteries have a cast of characters though on average it tends to be heroines.  They can have any type of career, the following of which are but to name a few:

There are quite a few cozies that feature librarians as the hero or heroine, such as the Library Lover’s Mystery series by Jenn McKinlay.  There’s even a series or two that have a cat helping to solve a mystery, the Cat in the Stacks series by Miranda James and the Lighthouse Library Mystery series by Eva Gates.

There’s a cozy mysteries for every reading type, and there’s one for you.  If you’re not sure where to start just stop in at any library and the reference staff will help find the right cozy for you.

Article by Carissa, Main Library

The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith

cuckooscallingThe Cuckoo’s Calling was written by Robert Galbraith, the pseudonym for J.K. Rowling of Harry Potter fame. When I picked this mystery up I didn’t know what to expect. As a teen I loved the Harry Potter series. I attempted to read The Casual Vacancy, the adult fiction novel that she wrote under her own name, and didn’t really care for it. So I went into The Cuckoo’s Calling, the first book in the Cormoran Strike series, with caution even though I do love a good mystery. I was presently surprised with this book in a good way.

The Cuckoo’s Calling is a mystery set in contemporary London. Cormoran Strike is a wounded former SIB with the Royal Army, what would be the military police in the United States. The novel opens with his detective agency in trouble. Strike is in debt to people he really shouldn’t have borrowed money from in the first place; the same people are demanding that he repay the loan immediately or else. To top it off he’s living in his office and he cannot keep a secretary.

A case that could either make Strike’s career or finish it lands in his lap. The brother of one of his former school friends wants him to find out what really happened to the victim of an apparent suicide. The police have written the case off as a suicide but Strike’s client is convinced that the victim was murdered. He soon discovers there’s more to his new secretary than meets the eye. She’s actually quite capable of helping with his cases.

The Cuckoo’s Calling starts out a little slow but that’s to be expected with a first book in a series. It has to set up the storyline and character development. It starts to pick up from the middle of the book onward. The mystery ends with a twist that the reader might not see coming. The Cuckoo’s Calling puts a modern twist on the classic detective novel. Cormoran Strike is the new broody detective quite possibly Sherlock Holmes for a new generation.

The library also carries the next two books in the series, The Silkworm and Career of Evil.

Formats Available: Regular Type, Large Type, Audiobook, eBook

Reviewed by CarissaMain Library

Thin Air by Ann Cleeves

thinaircleevesThe Shetland Islands, the northernmost fragments of Scotland, are so far out into the North Sea they are often pictured as an inset on maps of the United Kingdom.  Windy, treeless protrusions of earth where the sun hardly sets in the summer and barely rises in the winter, they are the atmospheric setting for Ann CleevesShetland Islands mystery series.

In Thin  Air, the sixth installment of the series, Detective Jimmy Perez is called to the island of Unst, the the most northern island of the Shetlands, to investigate the murder of Eleanor Longstaff,  She was one of a group of mainlanders visiting the islands for a hamefarin’, a traditional Shetland wedding celebration, for one of their friends. Lowrey, who grew up on the island but went to college in England, has just married Caroline.  Eleanor and Polly are bridesmaids, attending the hamefarin’ with Eleanor’s husband Ian and Polly’s boyfriend Marcus.ravenblackcleeves

Cleeves uses details of the culture and history of the islands that have grown up from the isolation and geography of the islands as springboards for many of the stories in her series.  Jimmy Perez, her most consistent character, claims to derive his Spanish heritage from a sailor shipwrecked way off course from the Spanish Armada of the sixteenth century.  Perhaps the most dramatic is her first novel, Raven Black, which culminates on the night of Up Helly Aa, a fire festival held in coldest January that celebrates the islands’ Viking heritage, complete with a parade of a Viking re-enactors and the burning of a replica Viking longship.

uphellyah

(Image courtesy of Shetland.org: http://www.shetland.org/things/events/culture-heritage/up-helly-aa)

Cleeves portrays the islands both traditional and modern, a landscape that draws artists, tourists and other mainlanders.  One story features a fiddler who is becoming known worldwide for popularizing the islands’ traditional music.   The tension between these two groups, those who perpetuate the old way of life, living in their croft houses and farming neeps (turnips), and those who arrive to create art and exploit the islands’ old ways, often lead to the violent feelings that fuel murder mysteries.

In Thin Air, we learn the legend of Peerie Lizzie, a 10-year-old daughter of the rich family who drowned almost 100 years before the story takes place, supposedly because her nanny wasn’t watching her.  In her white dress and Sunday curls, Peerie Lizzie has appeared to people throughout the years, her appearance gaining the reputation of presaging a pregnancy.  Ironically the victim, Eleanor, who is recovering from a miscarriage, and her friend Polly, the other bridesmaid, both see a little girl who fits this description the day of the hamefarin’.  Eleanor wanders off during the night and her body is found posed on the beach the next day.

Detectives Perez and Willow Reeves explore the complex relationships among the participants in the hamefarin’ – both the wedding guests and the islanders, mostly Lowrey’s family, but also the couple who’ve bought the house where Peerie Lizzie lived and have converted it to a Bed and Breakfast.  Perez takes a trip to London to explore Eleanor’s family and life.

Perez shifts points of view, sometimes taking us inside the mind of Jimmy Perez or Willow Reeves, but most often she focuses on Polly, whose insecurity in her relationships with her female friends and her boyfriend possibly distort her reality. And it’s Polly who ends up in danger from the killer as the story races to a close.

Circumstances, culture, environment, personality, folklore, finances – all figure into the intricate mystery current day mystery and mystery of Peerie Lizzie’s death, which Perez and Reeves unravel in time to save Polly at the climactic ending.

Finishing an Ann Cleeves Shetlands Islands mystery always has me checking airfares for the Shetlands so I can experience this fascinating set of islands for myself.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Check out Ann Cleeves’ website for more information about the Shetland Islands, the author, and her other series!

Formats Available:  Book (Regular Type), Downloadable Audiobook

Reviewed by Laura, Main Library

A to Z Mysteries by Ron Roy

If you are looking for an awesome book series to read with your children (ages 6-10), I suggest the A to Z Mysteries by Ron Roy.

Starting with the first letter of the alphabet, best friends Dink, Josh, and Ruth Rose put their minds together to solve mysteries in their home town of Green Lawn, Connecticut.  There are lots of twists and turns in these books and plenty of excitement for all. Each mystery is separate from the others so that you can read them in order or out of sequence as you choose.

Don’t miss out on the fun!

absentauthor

Ron Roy also has a website dedicated to the series.  You check it out by clicking here.

Formats Available:  Book, Audiobook

Reviewed by Damera, Okolona Branch

Guilty Pleasures for the Ears: Downloadable Murder Mysteries

LFPL has recently added 1000 new titles to its Downloadable Audio subscription, One Click Digital.

Here are two recent titles that I have enjoyed:

  • Dan Stephens, a.k.a. Cousin Matthew from Downton Abbey, narrates Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express.  Whether you’ve read this story before or not, you’ll enjoy the voices and accents Stephens creates to accessorize the colorful characters in Christie’s plot of a murder on a train isolated in a snowdrift somewhere in the Balkans.

murdaondaOX

  • Meet Mary Russell, young wife of a retired Sherlock Holmes, whose first person narration is vocalized by Jenny Sterlin in several of Laurie R. King’s novels about this unlikely looking couple whose minds are a match.  In Dreaming Spies, the latest in the series, Russell and Holmes travel to Japan in 1924 and help the Crown Prince of Japan, with the help of a family of samurai, foil blackmailers who hold an ancient Japanese treasure.  Russell’s sharp perspective and the details of Japanese culture create a rich tale that holds the listener’s attention.

dreamingspies

Reviewed by Laura, Main Library

Road Trip Essentials: Audiobooks

Summer is the season of family vacations and this means often long road trips accompanied by restless travelers of all ages. Regardless of your reading preference or road trip companions, the absolute best way to pass the time on a long road trip is by listening to an audiobook. Sharing an engaging story with your vacation companions can stave off the repetition of, “are we there yet?” and turn even the most reluctant reader into backseat book critic.

Below you’ll find a few of my favorites from a variety of genres and talented narrators. In most cases I have a personal preference for authors as narrators, but some very talented voice actors are noted below. Most genres listed feature children’s (C), teen (T), and adult (A) titles. Although the adult titles may not be appropriate for children/teens, adults should not restrict themselves to only adult titles. A well-executed audiobook, although geared toward a younger audience, can easily be enjoyed by all ages. No matter the variety of personal tastes filling your vehicle there is an audiobook (or two, or three) that will meet your needs.

Science Fiction/Fantasy

The graveyard book

Realistic/Historical Fiction

Code name Verity

Mystery

The Secret of the Old Clock

Memoir/Biography/Non-Fiction

The ultimate David Sedaris box set

Format: Audiobook

Reviewed by Magen, Highlands-Shelby Park Branch 

The Accidental Alchemist by Gigi Pandian

pandianWhile I’m not usually a mystery reader, this book caught my attention because of its beautiful cover. After reading the back, it seemed to be almost a mystery/science fiction crossover. The story begins by introducing us to Zoe Faust who is a 300 year old accidental alchemist. She has lived on the road for most of her years, and if finally settling down in a fixer upper in a quaint small town. When unpacking her items in her new house, she finds that she has brought along a gargoyle named Dorian that is seeking her help. He not only speaks many languages, but happens to be an excellent French chef. Dorian needs Zoe’s help in making sure that he remains alive with a mysterious alchemy book that he has brought along with him.

The antics begin when Zoe comes home from a walk to find not only Dorian’s book missing, but a dead contractor on her front step. This brings Detective Liu to her door and the wayward youth Brixton to help along the way. Zoe is still trying to determine at this point whether Dorian may have had a hand in the murder, but eventually realizes him to be an ally in their investigation.

This story could be very entertaining, but seems to fall short in its storytelling. The author reminds the reader of key points multiple times within the storyline, and it becomes exhausting at some points for the reader. Also even though we know Zoe is 300 years old, she for the most part behaves and thinks like your normal twenty year old.  Even though the story did have multiple shortcomings, I did continue it through to the end because I was interested to see who had stolen the books and committed the murder. This may be a good pick for food mystery lovers, and there is even a bonus section in the appendix of recipes mentioned in the book. This book had all the pieces but just failed to connect them into a successful mystery.

Formats available: Book, E-book

Reviewed by Sara, Okolona Branch

The Plot According to Dinner – The Dinner by Herman Koch

“If I had to give a definition of happiness, it would be this: happiness needs nothing but itself; it doesn’t have to be validated…unhappy families – and within those families, in particular the unhappy husband and wife – can never get by on their own. The more validators, the merrier. Unhappiness loves company. Unhappiness can’t stand silence – especially not the uneasy silence that settles in when it is all alone.”  – Paul Lohman, narrator, The Dinner

With some novels, the plot is discernible in the first few pages, while with others, it is issued forth piecemeal, in bites that, if well-written, are greedily devoured by the reader. The Dinner, written by the internationally-renown Dutch author Herman Koch, belongs with the latter and certainly possesses the sort of narration that propels the reader forward along with the unfolding tale.

dinnerkoch

The setting in which the majority of the story takes place is an unnamed (“…because next time it might be full of people who’ve come to see whether we’re there.”), fashionable (“…the lamb’s-neck sweetbread has been marinated in Sardinian olive oil and is served with arugula..”) restaurant in Amsterdam where two couples are having dinner, cleverly emphasized with the five sections of the book named for stages of the meal: Aperitif, Appetizer, Main Course, Dessert, Digestif.

The night in which the dinner takes place finds two couples meeting for some specific reason that remains initially unknown. As the story progresses, it is revealed that the two men are in fact brothers, Serge and Paul Lohman, brothers who could not be more different, as brothers seem very often to be. Incidentally, both couples have fifteen-year-old sons, close cousins whose shared actions have the potential for absolute ruin, and this is the reason for their culinary endeavor.

As the evening marches on and details come to light, the niceties and early conversation dominated by light topics disappear, and what emerges are parents desperately devoted to their sons and intent on securing their futures in the way they are convinced is best, whatever the cost. Tension can find its source in all manner of things, and at times, it is the unseen undercurrent that vexes the reader most – it is known that something is there, something is terribly wrong, but what exactly it is defies instant revelation.

The Dinner offers the reader prose of the first order and a top notch mystery, not a mystery in the Agatha Christie sense, but a mystery of just what exactly happened, who is to blame, and what is to be done. Truth can be a tricky thing, especially in a realm in which familial love and devotion is the rule of the day.

“It’s like a pistol in a stage play: when someone waves a pistol during the first act, you can bet your bottom dollar that someone will be shot with it before the curtain falls. That’s the law of drama. The law that says no pistol must appear if no one’s going to fire it.”  – Paul Lohman, narrator, The Dinner

Formats Available:  Book (Regular Type), eBook, Audiobook (CD)

Reviewed by Rob, Crescent Hill