Tag Archives: Mystery

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

The pool has been a place where many women have spent the last minutes of their life, whether by suicide or by force; maybe even murder. Nel Abbott tries in vain to reach out to her little sister, who ignores her until she receives a call that Nel is dead.

When Jules Abbott receives news that her older sister, Nel, has been found in the drowning pool, she drives back to the town that she had vowed never to return to. With Nel’s fifteen year old daughter, Lena, who believes that her mother has committed suicide and a town that she vowed to never return to, Jules is forced to relieve experiences that she’d rather forget. Lena is angry with her aunt for ignoring her mother for so long and doesn’t even want her around.

 

I picked up this book because Paula Hawkin’s last title, The Girl On the Train, was intriguing to me. Into the Water was fine. It’s very hard to follow a blockbuster like Girl, which had national success. It reminded me of when I rushed to read Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger after the huge success of The Time Traveler’s Wife. I was very disappointed. I felt like the author built you up so high and then left you there to dangle without ever knowing if you would sink or float.

I will not say that the book didn’t have its moments but it’s so hard to get invested in characters that you don’t even like. For argument’s sake, you can say that the title is intriguing, and it is, but…it was all over the place. There were too many characters to count. There were too many back stories to remember. There were too many time hops and not enough real story. To top it all off, the ending felt almost like an afterthought.

I really suggest that you check it out and prove me wrong. Maybe I missed something. Let me know your thoughts. Hopefully you’ll enjoy it more than I did.

– Reviewed by Damera, Newburg Branch

The Willing Murder by Jude Deveraux

The Willing Murder by Jude Deveraux is a light romantic mystery with intrigue, family trauma, and interesting characters that make you care about a 20 year-old murder.

It all began with murder. The dirt had been shifted, moved from beneath. Were one of them still alive?  Once the tree was in place and dirt filled in around it, it would all be over.

Straight out of college, two years ago, Kate Medlar started selling real estate, a job she loved. However, selling the same suburban type homes left her feeling like she wanted to do more. Life at home, too, was becoming more than she could take. Most of her life she had been dealing with her mother’s nerves and fears, as well as her overbearing and interfering uncles. It was time for a change.

In the middle of one her mother’s rants she accidentally mentioned an aunt, her father’s sister, that Kate had never known existed. Sara Medlar was a famous writer who lived in Lachlan, Florida. From what Kate read about the town there was also realtor trying to bring the town back to life. Locating old houses that just needed to be fixed up and put on the market, was just the kind of challenge that Kate needed and a good excuse to finally leave home.

Lachlan, was a town divided by the affluent families on one side and the improvised families on the other. Jack Wyatt had grown up on the wrong side of town and had been tied to the bad reputation of his father for years.  It had taken time, help and tough love , but he was determined to make a difference for both him and the town. With Sara Medlar, as his silent partner, he formed a construction company focusing on rebuilding some of the run down homes. But as rumor would have it, talk said, he was living with Sara Medlar, using her, taking money from and sleeping with a woman old enough to be his grandmother.

The minute she stepped into town Kate heard all the gossip surrounding her Aunt and Jack Wyatt, while a pillar of Lachlan’s community, Alistair Stewart, found the young woman just the right diversion he needed. After all the years she had taken care of her mother, she would now help Aunt Sara and put a stop to Jack Wyatt using her.

She was in for a surprise. Jack and Aunt Sara were nothing like the gossips would have her believe.

Kate, Sara, and Jack just can’t seem to leave the mysterious death of the two women alone. They go in search of answers, while a murderer tries to stop them. Jack has another problem, he is drawn to Kate who seems to have eyes for the debonair, smooth talking Alistair Stewart.

Although the book is written for adults, older teens could also enjoy this murder mystery as well see several of the main characters in their teens.

Format Available: Book, eBook, Audiobook

Review by Katy, Shawnee Branch

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

Anna Fox is agoraphobic, unable to leave her home.  She hides away and has her groceries (and plenty of wine) delivered.  She spends her time watching old suspense movies and spying on her neighbors.

When a new family moves in across the way from her Anna immediately starts watching them through her camera lens.  By all looks of it they appear to be the perfect family; a father, a mother and their teenage son.  But when Anna looks out her window one night she sees something she shouldn’t, something horrible.  When Anna attempts to contact the police about what she saw, her world begins to unravel. 

As the reader you begin to question Anna’s memory, her ability to discern fantasy from reality and you begin to realize something is off in Anna’s family as well. I love a good unreliable narrator and The Woman in the Window is a superb twisty thriller.  Finn sets the story against the background of film noir seamlessly.  The level of Hitchcockian suspense is so perfectly delicious and chilling that every time I had to put the book down I just couldn’t wait to get back to it!

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

Review by Heather, St. Matthews

The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths

The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths, the first book in a new series, finds archaeologist Ruth Galloway entangled in a murder case; something she didn’t quite want. Detective Chief Inspector Harry Nelson shows up at Ruth’s office because the police think they have found the body of Lucy Downey, a young girl who had been missing for ten years. Unfortunate for the police, but an awesome find for Ruth, the body is actually that of an Iron Age girl.

However, Ruth’s expertise draws her deeper into the case when another young girl goes missing.  Then Inspector Nelson starts getting letters again much like the ones he received when Lucy Downey first went missing. Nelson shows them to Ruth because he hopes that she can help him divine what clues they might hold.

I didn’t know what to expect with The Crossing Places going in because I tend to read cozy mysteries. I hadn’t picked up an actual crime novel or forensic mystery since I graduated college with my Criminal Justice degree. I went into this one completely on a whim (other than the fact that I picked it for my February mystery book discussion). I figured the police, the archaeologist, and a forensic plot would be a change for the group.

After reading The Crossing Places, I felt that Galloway and Nelson are something of a British version of Bones, but better. I was never able to get into the Temperance Brennan series by Kathy Reichs, which Bones is based on. With The Crossing Places, I didn’t seem to have that problem. I guess it’s because I love BBC dramas and mysteries so much, and this book reminded me of them.

Right now the Ruth Galloway series is a 10 book series, of which the library currently has books 1-9. I look forward to the next book in the series, The Janus Stone.

Formats Available: Book, eBook

Reviewed by CarissaMain Library

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.

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

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  • 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.

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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!

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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