Tag Archives: Mystery

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

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.

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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

Don’t Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout

dont look back

What would you do if you woke up in the hospital, not knowing who you were, and also learning that your best friend went missing on the same day and hasn’t been found? Do you try and solve the mystery on your own or do you just give up?

When I first began reading Don’t Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout, I thought to myself that is seemed like I had read it before. The storyline seemed to be a little bit overused. But once I got past the first three chapters, I could tell that it was going to be nothing like I had ever read.

This book had mystery, intrigue, love and horror, all wrapped up into one crazy book. The main character, Samantha, known to her friends as Sam, wakes up in the hospital, not knowing who she is, where she was when they found her, and how she got to the hospital. She also finds out that her best friend, Cassie, is also missing. We learn that she has suffered some form of traumatic amnesia and she must learn who she is all over again. As she starts to talk to the people that were closest to her, including her twin brother Scott, she finds out that she was the queen bee of a group of mean girls who “ruled the school.”

As the story progresses, Sam begins to disassociate with her previous “friends” and begins the task of trying to mend some broken friendships, including that of Carson, whose father works for Samantha’s family and whom she learns used to be her best friend. Of course, she was an utter crazy person to him but he begins to see that maybe she has changed for the better.

As new facts begin to surface, Samantha begins to see that things were the way they were in her life because she was trying to be someone that she wasn’t.  Once she took her life in her own hands, the people around her begin to drastically change. All the while, she is trying to figure out what happened the night that she and Cassie disappeared and, more importantly, where in the heck was Cassie?

There are so many things in the book that make it exceptional. If I write too much, I would give the story away and then what would be the point of you reading it on your own? Let me just say this, you will be very shocked to find out the surprise twist. I would highly recommend this book to teenagers over the age of fifteen. The reasoning behind this is because there are some subject matter in the book that is very mature. I would almost say that it borders on being a New Adult book, but older teenagers would find it very intriguing.

I gave the book four stars and not five because the amnesia story has been done so many times. As a matter of fact, there was a book published recently with the same premise, girl has amnesia, finds out she is super rich and that she was a super-bitch. You know, been there, read that. I almost put it down and did not finish but I also wanted to see if it had any redeeming qualities and if it was like any of the others that I ever read and I’m glad I did. It completely blew my mind. I’m super glad that I didn’t judge this book by the storyline.

Formats Available:  Book

Reviewed by Damera, Okolona Branch

The Lady Vanishes

EmptyMansions

What is it about a mystery that so captivates the imagination and spikes one’s interest?  Hidden histories, concealed conspiracies, and secrets spirited away spur the cogs of the human mind to rotate in double time in an effort to consider and grasp the possibilities that exist.

Empty Mansions: the Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune by Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell, Jr. attempts to shed some light on the mysterious life of an American woman, Ms. Huguette Clark, whose unconventional way of life and veiled existence leaves one with an overwhelming curiosity and a wish to pierce the cloak of her life.

But this is not the typical mystery involving murder, a legendary bank heist, or the disappearance of some person.  It is, rather, the life led by Ms. Clark that would seem incomprehensible to many if not most.  You see, Ms. Clark was born the youngest daughter of one of the wealthiest American men of the Gilded Age, Mr. William Clark, but despite her incredible inherited wealth, Ms. Clark led a quiet and extremely reclusive life.

With estates in both California and Connecticut, lodgings in the Upper East Side of Manhattan that encompassed an entire floor, and an art collection that included paintings by Renoir and Monet and valued in the tens of millions of dollars, Ms. Clark most certainly could have provided herself with every creature comfort available, yet she did not.

Instead, she chose to spend her last years in an isolated hospital room, surrounded not by family or friends, but those persons in her paid service, and what a lucrative service it was, which begs the question: had she in fact chosen this fate?  Therein lies the mystery.

After her death in 2011 at the age of 104, distant relatives, many of whom had never spoken with Ms. Clark, came together to file a suit that contested a recent will that left Ms. Clark’s family out.  With missing jewelry, art being stolen and sold, and large sums questionably spent, many questions abound, and Mr. Dedman has made an admirable attempt to provide possible answers based on his extensive research and investigation.  This is a tale that is sure to hold the interest of the reader and intrigue with its many facets.

Formats Available:  Book, E-book

Reviewed by Rob, Crescent Hill Branch