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South Branch Library

Just Desserts

Bennett Martin Public Library
136 S. 14th St.
441-8530 (Reference Desk)

Just Desserts: Mystery Book Discussion GroupThe Just Desserts discussion group, focusing exclusively on Mystery Fiction, started at the Bennett Martin Public Library downtown in 2006, and moved to the South Branch Library in 2008. This group meets the last Thursday evening each month, January through October, from 6:45 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. A specific mystery novel is selected in advance for discussion during each meeting, although general discussion about mystery fiction may follow the discussion of the selected title. Since our theme is "Death and Desserts," (i.e. The murderer got their "just desserts."), participants are encouraged to bring a dessert (cookies, cake, pie, tarts, brownies, cream puffs, etc.) to share with the other group members. [Coffee and juice will be provided.]

If you'd like to join us, or you would like to be added to an e-mail notification list for news about this group, you can e-mail us to let us know of your interest, at: the BookGuide e-mail address.
Date/Book Program Description
Dying for Chocolate
Mystery FictionThursday, April 20, 2006

In honor of our "death and desserts" theme, we pre-selected a culinary mystery for our first meeting, to get the ball rolling -- Diane Mott Davidson's Dying for Chocolate [1992] -- but participants in the group will make their own selections for future discussions.

Diane Mott Davidson's Dying for Chocolate is available in the following formats:
1992 Hardback | 1993 Paperback | Large Type | Unabridged Audiotape | 1996 Book on CD


Diane Mott Davidson's latest -- Dark Tort -- click to check availability of this book from the librariesClick here to get more information about this event!In a timely coincidence, author Diane Mott Davidson had an appearance at Lee Bookseller's Edgewood location on Monday, April 17th, 2006, giving a reading and signing copies of her books, including her latest Goldy Schultz book, Dark Tort.
Morality for Beautiful Girls
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateThursday, May 18, 2006

For our second mystery fiction discussion, the group selected the second volume in Alexander McCall-Smith's very popular Ladies Detective Agency series, Morality for Beautiful Girls [2002]. These mysteries, featuring Precious Ramotswe and her groundbreaking Botswana detective agency, are relatively quick reads, and if you'd rather start at the beginning with her first adventure, don't miss No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency [1998].

Alexander McCall-Smith's Morality for Beautiful Girls is available in the following formats:
2002 Paperback | Unabridged Audiotape | Unabridged Book-on-CD

Dating is Murder
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateThursday, June 29, 2006 -- 7:00-8:00 p.m.

The June meeting of the Just Desserts discussion group focused on a pair of mysteries by former Lincolnite Harley Jane Kozak. Kozak, a film, tv and stage actress who grew up in Lincoln but now lives in California, burst onto the mystery scene with her premiere novel, Dating Dead Men in 2004, and followed up with a very successful sequel Dating is Murder in 2005. The first book won the Nebraska Book Award for Best Fiction, and also won a triumvirate of the national mystery awards: The Agatha Award, the Anthony Award and the Macavity Award (all for best first mystery novel). You can see a profile of Kozak here on the BookGuide Web site: Harley Jane Kozak.


Harley Jane Kozak's first novel -- Dating Dead Men -- click to check availability of this book from the libraries
Harley Jane Kozak's Dating Dead Men is available in the following format:
2004 Book } 2007 downloadable audio | 2007 Book on CD
Harley Jane Kozak's Dating is Murder is available in the following formats:
2005 Book | Unabridged Audiotape | Unabridged Book-on-CD

Catnap
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateThursday, July 27, 2006 -- 7:00-8:00 p.m.

For our July meeting, the group selected the first volume in Carole Nelson Douglas' popular Midnight Louie series. Catnap [1992] features two of the most lovable characters you'd ever want to meet: public relations expert Temple Barr, a petite redhead with a high-heeled shoe fetish, and the irrepressible black cat Midnight Louie. When these two kneel nose to nose over a dead body at the American Booksellers Association convention in Las Vegas, the fur flies and the fun starts.

Carole Nelson Douglas' Catnap is available in the following formats:
1992 Hardback | 1993 Paperback

Carol Nelson Douglas is also the author of the equally popular Irene Adler historical series, featuring the one woman who bested Sherlock Holmes in Arthur Conan Doyle's original tales, now spun off into her own crime-solving adventures.
Daughter of Time
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateThursday, August 31, 2006 -- 7:00-8:00 p.m.

Our August selection was one of the all-time classics of the mystery field -- a mixture of contemporary and historical -- Josephine Tey's The Daughter of Time. Tey re-creates one of history's most famous -- and vicious -- crimes in her classic bestselling novel, a must read for connoisseurs of fiction. Inspector Alan Grant of Scotland Yard, recuperating from a broken leg, becomes fascinated with a contemporary portrait of Richard III that bears no resemblance to the Wicked Uncle of history. Could such a sensitive, noble face actually belong to one of the world's most heinous villains -- a venomous hunchback who may have killed his brother's children to make his crown secure? Or could Richard have been the victim, turned into a monster by the usurpers of England's throne? Grant determines to find out once and for all, with the help of the British Museum and an American scholar, what kind of man Richard Plantagenet really was and who killed the Little Princes in the Tower. The Daughter of Time is an ingeniously plotted, beautifully written, and suspenseful tale, a supreme achievement from one of mystery writing's most gifted masters.

Josephine Tey's Daughter of Time is available in a variety of formats and editions, all of which should come up with the following link:
The Daughter of Time

Haunted Ground
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateThursday, September 28, 2006 -- 7:00-8:00 p.m.

For September, we returned to a more recently published novel, Erin Hart's Haunted Ground. This novel also features events set in differing time periods, though: A grisly discovery is made deep in an Irish peat bog -- the perfectly preserved severed head of a red-haired young woman. Has she been buried for decades, centuries, or longer? Who is she and why was she killed? American pathologist Nora Gavin and archaeologist Cormac Maguire are called in to investigate, only to find that the girl's violent death may have shocking ties to the present -- including the disappearance of a local landowner's wife and son. Aided by a homicide detective who refuses to let the missing be forgotten, Nora and Cormac slowly uncover a dark history of secrets, betrayal, and death in which the shocking revelations of the past may lead to murder in the future...

Erin Hart's Haunted Ground is available in the following formats:
2003 Hardback | 2003 Unabridged Book-on-CD

Henrietta Who
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateThursday, October 26, 2006 -- 7:00-8:00 p.m.

For October, it was another mystery classic -- Catherine Aird's Henrietta Who?: Until her widowed mother was killed in a hit-and-run accident, Henrietta thought her last name was Jenkins. And then the post-mortem revealed that Grace Jenkins had never borne a child -- that her death was not an accident. Overnight, Henrietta's life became a nightmare of unanswered questions. Who was she? Where was her real family? Why had Grace Jenkins never told her the truth? Inspector Sloane wanted answers to other questions. Was it a coincidence that the murderer struck just before Henrietta's 21st birthday? Who else had a key to the Jenkins cottage? The Inspector was afraid that before there were answers to these questions, the killer might strike again. And he was right.

Catherine Aird's Henrietta Who? is available in the following formats:
1968 Hardback

The books of Ed McBain
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateOnline, November and December 2006

During the Nov/Dec 2006 hiatus between meetings of the Just Desserts group, we encouraged regular attendees to participate in our online book discussion forum. At that time, we had a special Just Desserts discussion forum set up, and we challenged everyone to read any book by Ed McBain (or any of those written under his given name of Evan Hunter), then visit the Book Lovers Discussion Forums (now defunct), register to participate with a free account, and post a comment.

To introduce readers to the works of Ed McBain, we encouraged them to visit our Remembering...Ed McBain tribute page, which we created following the author's death in 2005.
The Hamish Macbeth series
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateThursday, January 25, 2007 -- 7:00-8:00 p.m.

For our first meeting of 2007, we eased back into things with another British series detective. In this case, it's M.C. Beaton's Hamish Macbeth, sleuth in twenty-two novels so far. Rather than select a specific title in this series, we encouraged all the Just Desserts participants to select any one or more of the Hamish Macbeth books to read. We held a general discussion of the series as a whole when we met on the last Thursday of January.

The 22 volumes (as of early 2007) of M.C. Beaton's Hamish Macbeth series are available in a variety of formats, including: Hardback, Paperback, downloadable audio files, Book-on-Tape, Book-on-CD and even a few on Large Type editions. In addition, all three seasons of the British television series based on the books [1995-1997], starring Robert Carlyle as Hamish, are also available on DVD in the library's collections: Series One | Series Two | Series Three
Heartland
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateThursday, February 22, 2007 -- 7:00-8:00 p.m.

For February, we return stateside, with a murder mystery set right here at home! Nebraska author David Wiltse's mystery, Heartland, is set in Falls City, NE. Here's the book blurb: Falls City, Nebraska. Just a scratch on the Great Plains. To Billy Tree, it's home-the last refuge for the ex-Secret Service agent scarred in body and soul by an unforgettable tragedy. But he's trading one for another. For the quiet burg of his youth has changed over the years. Darkness has taken hold. And now, the killing secrets and terrible lies buried beneath the tranquil surface of Falls City are ready to erupt.... Where it begins is with a shocking sniper attack at the local high school. No motive. No clues. Just two innocent teachers left dead, and a third injured. A woman with secrets of her own, she shares a place in Billy's heart, his past, and his fears, when a second murder paralyzes the town. Urged by the sheriff to help in the investigation, Billy can't refuse. Even if it means seeing old friends in a terrifying new light, and exposing himself to the insidious rage of a mysterious killer.... It all ends in the shattering silence of an isolated silo. Here blood will tell. The secrets of Falls City will unfold. And the truth could cost Billy more than he'd ever imagined....

David Wiltse's Heartland is available only in the original hardback edition:
Heartland

Circular Staircase
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateThursday, March 29, 2007 -- 7:00-8:00 p.m.

Our selection for March is the Mary Roberts Rinehart classic, The Circular Staircase.
A middle-aged spinster rents a country house for the summer and soon finds herself plunged into a nasty scenario of bank defaults, stolen securities and murder. An entertaining blend of intrigue, villainy and heart-pounding suspense for crime fiction buffs and lovers of great mystery classics.

Mary Roberts Rinehart's The Circular Staircase is available in several different editions, all of which should come up with the following link:
The Circular Staircase

The Goodbye Body
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateThursday, April 26, 2007 -- 7:00-8:00 p.m.

We return to a contemporary author in April, with the latest in Joan Hess' popular "Claire Malloy" series, The Goodbye Body. Claire Malloy runs a bookstore in the normally quiet college town of Farberville, Arkansas - an enterprise that provides a verging-on-meager living for her and her deeply sarcastic teenage daughter, Caron. When emergency work forces Claire and Caron to abandon their apartment for a few weeks, they are in no financial position to put themselves up in style, and so Claire is thrilled to accept a customer's offer to let them stay at her well-stocked, well-equipped, palatial home while she is traveling." "Of course, nothing is ever that easy. No sooner do Claire and Caron ensconce themselves than disquieting events start to occur: Dubious people show up looking for the "traveling" owner of the house; the owner herself turns out not to be who she claimed and is now seemingly on the run; and a dead body keeps turning up - and subsequently disappearing - around the grounds of the house. Claire is determined, for once, to stay out of the mysterious doings, but her hand is finally forced when the disappearing body turns out to be only the first corpse to turn up.

Joan Hess' The Goodbye Body is available in the following editions:
2005 Hardback

A Morbid Taste for Bones
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateThursday, May 31, 2007 -- 7:00-8:00 p.m.

May will be a "classic mystery" month, this time with the first Brother Cadfael novel by Ellis Peters, A Morbid Taste for Bones. The ambitious head of Shrewsbury Abbey wants to acquire Saint Winifred's sacred remains for his Benedictine order. And when the ensuing controversy leads to murder, Brother Cadfael investigates.

Ellis Peters' A Morbid Taste for Bones is available in the following editions:
1977 Edition | 1992 compilation | 1994 Reprint | DVD adaptation with Derek Jacobi in Cadfael Set III

Blood Sport
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateThursday, June 28, 2007 -- 7:00-8:00 p.m.

In June, we focus on a contemporary author, Dick Francis. Our selected title is one of his popular "horse" mysteries, Blood Sport. When Gene Hawkins's boss asks him to locate a missing priceless breeding stallion, he gets more action than he bargained for -- including the affection of his boss's daughter, advances from a millionaire's wife, and the deadly attention of horse thieves...

Dick Francis' Blood Sport is available in the following editions:
1967 edition | 1975 compilation | 1984 compilation | 1999 reprint | DVD - episode of the Dick Francis Mysteries, starring Ian McShane

The Blessing Way
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateThursday, July 26, 2007 -- 7:00-8:00 p.m.

In July, we'll shift our attention to an ethnic mystery. This time, we're reading Tony Hillerman's Native American mystery, The Blessing Way. When Lt. Joe Leaphorn of the Navajo Tribal Police discovers a corpse with a mouth full of sand at a crime scene seemingly without tracks or clues, he is ready to suspect a supernatural killer. And what he must stalk is the Wolf-Witch along a chilling trail between mysticism and murder.

Tony Hillerman's The Blessing Way is available in the following editions:
1989 compilation | 1990 reprint | 1990 Library Edition | 1992 compilation | 1990 Unabridged Audiotape | 1990 Book on CD

The Maltese Falcon
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateThursday, August 30, 2007 -- 7:00-8:00 p.m.

In August, we're reading another classic mystery -- this time a noirish standard of the genre, Dashiel Hammett's The Maltese Falcon. A treasure worth killing for. Sam Spade, a slightly shopworn private eye with his own solitary code of ethics. A perfumed grifter named Joel Cairo, a fat man named Gutman, and Brigid O'Shaughnessy, a beautiful and treacherous woman whose loyalties shift at the drop of a dime. These are the ingredients of Dashiell Hammett's coolly glittering gem of detective fiction, a novel that has haunted three generations of readers.

Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon is available in the following editions:
2000 omnibus | 1999 omnibus | 1989 edition | 1987 edition | Unabridged 1980 Audiotape | Russian Language edition and others...

Black Betty
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateThursday, September 27, 2007 -- 7:00-8:00 p.m.

In September, we tackle a modern-day mystery author, Walter Mosley, and one of his popular Easy Rawlins seires -- Black Betty. In 1961 Los Angeles, Easy is tracking down Elizabeth Eady, a.k.a. "Black Betty" -- a stunning beauty with mayhem in her wake. Easy's search takes readers deep into America's racial dilemmas and the mysteries of human character.

Walter Mosley's Black Betty is available in the following two editions:
1994 Hardback | 1995 Paperback

The Mystery of Huntings End
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateThursday, October 25, 2007 -- 7:00-8:00 p.m.

In October, to finish off our 2007 season, we're reading a classic mystery by Nebraska's own Mignon Eberhart -- often called America's Agatha Christie. The title we've selected is The Mystery of Hunting's End, a traditional "locked room mystery." The Sand Hills of Nebraska, where Mignon G. Eberhart lived as a newlywed, inspired the setting of this 1930 chiller. Smack in the middle of the rolling desolation is Hunting's End, a weekend lodge owned by the rich Kingery family. To that place socialite Matil Kingery invites a strange collection of guests -- the same people who were at the lodge when her father died of "heart failure" exactly five years ago. She intends to find out which one of them murdered him. Posing as another guest is the dapper young detective, Lance O'Leary. At his recommendation, Matil has engaged Nurse Sarah Keate to care for Aunt Lucy Kingery at Hunting's End -- not a pleasant assignment as it turns out. Gathered at the lodge, Matil's guests are shut off from the outside by a November snowstorm. Nurse Keate is the same sharp-eyed, stiletto-tongued, strong-stomached Nightingale and sleuth who established Mignon Eberhart as a mainstay of the golden age of detective fiction.

Mignon G. Eberhart's The Mystery of Hunting's End is available in the following editions:
1998 Reprint | Original 1930 edition in the library's Heritage Room of Nebraska Authors

Grave Mistake
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateThursday, January 31, 2008 -- 7:00-8:00 p.m.

Following our holiday hiatus at the end of 2007, Just Desserts returns in January 2008 with another Native American mystery. Our author is James Doss. Our selected title is Shadow Man, a 2005 entry in his Shaman Mysteries series, featuring Ute tribal investigator Charlie Moon. When a fomer prosecuting attorney is killed by a shot from a long-range rifle while dining late one evening at an exclusive Granite Creek, Colorado, restaurant, it seems obvious that a vengeful criminal is to blame. But orthodontist Manfred Blinkoe was sitting ten feet away and he insists to Chief of Police Scott Parris that he was the intended victim. In fact, he claims that just before the shot was fired, he saw his doppelganger -- an eerie look-alike -- as he has in the past just before other near-death experiences. Terrified that his would-be killer is getting closer and closer, Blinkoe hires Ute tribal investigator Charlie Moon to find this mysterious stalker before he can hit his mark. But before Charlie or Scott -- or the lovely FBI Special Agent Lila McTeague, also working out of Granite Creek -- can get anywhere in their respective investigations, the killer strikes again, and this time he doesn't miss. Charlie, a reluctant private eye who would much rather be working out on his cattle ranch than playing detective, suddenly has a much bigger - and much more dangerous - case to solve.

James Doss' Shadow Man is available in the following two editions:
2005 hardback | 2006 paperback

Grave Mistake
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateThursday, February 28, 2008 -- 7:00-8:00 p.m.

In February, we'll be discussing a classic mystery by Ngaio Marsh. The title to read is Grave Mistake, one of her Inspector Alleyn novels. A bit snobbish and a trifle high-strung, Sybil Foster prides herself on owning the finest estate in Upper Quintern and hiring the best gardener. In fact, she is rapturous over the new asparagus beds when a visit from her unwelcome stepson sends her scurrying to a chic spa for a rest cure, a liaison with the spa's director...and an apparent suicide. Her autopsy holds one surprise, a secret drawer a second. And Inspector Roderick Alleyn, C.I.D., digging about Upper Quintern, may unearth still a third...deeply buried motive for murder. From her first book in 1934 to her final volume just before her death in 1982, Ngaio Marsh's work has remained legendary, and is often compared to that of Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers. During her celebrated fifty-year career, Marsh was made a Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America, was named Dame Commander, Order of the British Empire, won numerous prestigious awards, and penned 32 mystery novels.

Ngaio Marsh's Grave Mistake is available in the following editions:
1978 | 1978 collection | 2000 Reprint

Trouble in Paradise
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateThursday, March 27, 2008 -- 7:00-8:00 p.m.

Our Just Desserts title for March 2008 is "Trouble in Paradise", the second Jesse Stone novel by Robert B. Parker. Robert B. Parker and his legendary Spenser series have long been considered the ne plus ultra of detective fiction. But the critics' praise for Jesse Stone's debut in Night Passage proved there was room for an addition to the Parker literary canon. "A novel as fresh as it is bold?Parker's sentences flow with as much wit, grace, and assurance as ever, and Stone is a complex and consistently interesting new protagonist. His speedy return will be welcome" (Newsday).Stiles Island is a wealthy and exclusive enclave separated by a bridge from the Massachusetts coast town of Paradise. James Macklin sees Stiles Island as the ultimate investment opportunity: all he needs to do is invade the island, blow up the bridge, and loot the island. To realize his investment, Macklin, along with his devoted girlfriend, Faye, assembles a crew of fellow ex-cons --all experts in their fields--including Wilson Cromartie, a fearsome Apache. James Macklin is a bad man--a very bad man. And Wilson Cromartie, known as Crow, is even worse.As Macklin plans his crime, Paradise Police Chief Jesse Stone has his hands full. He faces romantic entanglements in triplicate: his ex-wife, Jenn, is in the Paradise jail for assault; he's begun a new relationship with a Stiles Island realtor named Marcy Campbell; and he's still sorting out his feelings for attorney Abby Taylor. When Macklin's attack on Stiles Island is set in motion, both Marcy and Abby are put in jeopardy. As the casualties mount, it's up to Jesse to keep both women from harm.

Robert B. Parker's Trouble in Paradise is available in the following editions and/or formats:
1998 hardback | 1999 paperback | 1999 Large Type

Gaudy Night
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateThursday, April 24, 2008 -- 7:00-8:00 p.m.

In April, we return to a "classic" mystery author, in Dorothy Sayers. Our selected title is part of her Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vale series -- "Gaudy Night." In this Lord Peter Wimsey whodunit, mystery writer Harriet Vane attends her Oxford reunion, known as the "Gaudy". But the festivities are haunted by a series of ghastly warnings which threaten murder. Soon Harriet and her paramour, Lord Peter Wimsey, find themselves ensnared in a nightmare of terror. Originally published in 1936.

Dorothy L. Sayers' Gaudy Night is available in the following editions and/or formats:
1936 hardback | 1995 paperback reprint | Full-Case audio adaptation | DVD adaptation

Holmes on the Range
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateThursday, May 29, 2008 -- 7:00-8:00 p.m.

In May, it's back to a contemporary author. Our title: Holmes on the Range by Steve Hockensmith. It's 1893, a tough year in Montana, and any job is a good job. When Big Red and Old Red Amlingmeyer sign on as ranch hands at the secretive Bar VR cattle spread, they're not expecting much more than hard work, bad pay, and a comfortable campfire around which they can enjoy their favorite pastime: scouring Harper's Weekly for stories about the famous Sherlock Holmes. When the boys come across a dead body that looks a whole lot like the leftovers of an unfortunate encounter with a cattle stampede, Old Red sees the perfect opportunity to employ his Holmes-inspired deducifiyin' skills. Putting his ranch work squarely on the back burner, he sets out to solve the case.

Steve Hockensmith's Holmes on the Range is available in the following edition:
2006 hardback

Parker Pyne Investigates
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateThursday, June 26, 2008 -- 7:00-8:00 p.m.

Our "classic" author for June is Agatha Christie, perhaps best known for her two primary sleuths, Hercule Poirot and Miss Jane Marple. We've chosen to explore one of her lesser known detectives, Parker Pyne, in Parker Pyne Investigates. From the moment Mr. Parker Pyne takes a seat on the Orient Express, crime follows him like a shadow. It takes him from the ruins of Petra to Baghdad to the tombs of the Pharaohs -- where a helpless woman is given her daily dose of death...

Agatha Christie's Parker Pyne Investigates is available in the following editions:
1984 paperback reprint | 1986 reprint

St. Alban's Fire
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateThursday, July 31, 2008 -- 7:00-8:00 p.m.

From one of our group member's suggestions, we turn to contemporary mystery novelist Archer Mayor for our July selection -- St. Alban's Fire. This is the 16th volume in the popular Joe Gunther series. Winter is on the wane in northwestern Vermont. The moon hangs bright and cold in the silvery night sky over hundreds of square miles of a peaceful, dormant landscape of dairy farms. Young Bobby Cutts enters the family barn to tend to the beasts within...and encounters a nightmare. Suddenly surrounded by bolts of fire, Bobby and the entire herd perish in a stampeding, hellish circle of flames. Called to the scene to investigate, Joe Gunther instantly recognizes arson. But by whom? And for what possible reason? There is little insurance, the family is loving and tightly knit, and there are few neighborhood animosities. Yet murder this is, and Gunther quickly discovers that someone is wreaking havoc across the bucolic farmlands surrounding the town of St. Albans. Somewhere in the dense social fabric of the community, in the hearts and souls of Bobby's family, and in the cutthroat farming business underneath the region's placid exterior are the truths Joe Gunther and his team must ferret out. But what looked like a local case is about to take them from the barns of Vermont to the gritty streets of Newark, New Jersey. Before all is said and done, Joe Gunther will meet one of his deadliest opponents to date...and he will need far more than his skills as a policeman to protect the people closest to his heart.

Archer Mayor's St. Alban's Fire is available in the following editions:
2005 hardback | 2005 book-on-CD

Champagne For One
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateThursday, August 28, 2008 -- 7:00-8:00 p.m.
Last meeting at Bennett Martin Public Library downtown!

In August, it's back to a classic mystery author, this time Rex Stout, and his gustatorial sleuth, Nero Wolfe. Our selected title is Champagne for One. There's nothing like murder to spoil a good meal. That's what Archie Goodwin, the able assisstant to Nero Wolfe, discovers at a lavish dinner hosted by a billionaire. It was a casual evening among gorgeous society girls until champagne became a murder weapon. Luckily for Archie his boss knows champagne and other gourmet fare. He also happens to be a genius at deduction. That combination could mean the last call for a killer who spiked the bubbly with cyanide.

Rex Stout's Champagne for One is available in the following editions:
1958 hardback | 1996 paperback reprint | 1996 book-on-audiotape

Death at Victoria Dock
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateThursday, September 25, 2008 -- 6:45-7:45 p.m.
Moving to South Branch Library!

Our last contemporary mystery author for 2008 will be Kerry Greenwood, whose Death at Victoria Dock will be our September reading selection. Greenwood's Phryne Fisher has been the star of a long-running Australian mystery series, set in the 1920s, which has had only limited exposure here in the U.S.

Driving home late one night, Phryne Fisher is surprised when someone shoots out her windscreen. When she alights she finds a pretty young man with an anarchist tattoo dying on the tarmac just outside the dock gates. He bleeds to death in her arms, and Phryne promises to find out who is responsible.

Kerry Greenwood's Death at Victoria Dock is available in the following edition:
2006 U.S. printing of the 1992 Australian original

A Study in Scarlet
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateThursday, October 30, 2008 -- 6:45-7:45 p.m.

For our final meeting of 2008, we will be reading and discussing the Sherlock Holmes novel A Study in Scarlet, by Arthur Conan Doyle!

In addition to many different print editions (see link above), Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's A Study in Scarlet is available in the following non-print editions:
1998 BBC Radio audiotape adaptation | 1984 unabridged audiotape | 2002 unabridged compact disc

Erle Stanley Garder selections
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateNovember and December 2008
Discuss this author's works in the Just Desserts Blog!

During our holiday hiatus in November and December 2008, we're going to remain active...but only in a virtual sense. During these two months, although we won't be gathering for an in-person meeting, members are encouraged to read any book from Erle Stanley Gardner (the creator of Perry Mason), then visit our new Just Desserts Blog and comment on Gardner and his works in the Erle Stanley Gardner thread.

The Lincoln City Libraries owns over 100 different Erle Stanley Garder titles in both regular and large-print editions -- sorry, no audio books!
Partner in Crime
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateThursday, January 29, 2009 -- 6:45-7:45 p.m.

For our first meeting of 2009, we will be tackling the contemporary "cross-over" novel, Partner in Crime, in which author J.A. Jance has her two most popular series detectives meet: "The dead woman was an artist recently arrived from Washington State, cruelly cut down in the early stages of a promising career. Now all that remains of Rochelle Baxter lies on a cold slab in the Cochise County morgue, and Sheriff Joanna Brady knows that murder has once again infected her small desert community. But there is more to this homicide than initially meets the eye - and more to the victim, who died while supposedly under the conscientious protection of the government. The big-city legal establishment has no faith in the abilities of a small-town sheriff, let alone a female sheriff. Instructed to swallow her indignation, Joanna awaits the arrival of the "help" Washington's attorney general is sending her: the newest member of the state's Special Homicide Investigation team - a man named Beaumont. Bisbee, Arizona, is the last place J. P. Beaumont wants to be. The ghosts of a painful past are too numerous there, and his reluctant "partner," Sheriff Brady, resents his intrusion and cannot help but make her feelings known. But the road they are forced to travel together is taking some unexpected turns, running two dedicated servants of the law headfirst into the impenetrable stone walls of a shocking conspiracy of silence. For Brady and Beaumont's hunt is disturbing a very deadly nest of rattlers, and suddenly trust is the only option they have. On their own in the Arizona desert, they know death can be cold and quick. And nobody is watching their backs here...they'll have to watch each other's."

Partner in Crime is available in the following formats:
2002 Print Edition | 2002 unabridged audiotape | 2002 unabridged Book-on-CD | 2002 unabridged downloadable audiobook

The Big Sleep
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateThursday, February 26, 2009 -- 6:45-7:45 p.m.

February is a return to a classic author, Raymond Chandler, and his hard-boiled hero Philip Marlowe in The Big Sleep: "When a dying millionaire hires Philip Marlowe to handle the blackmailer of one of his two troublesome daughters, Marlowe finds himself involved with more than extortion. Kidnapping, pornography, seduction, and murder are just a few of the complications he gets caught up in."

The Big Sleep is available in the following formats:
Omnibus edition | Modern Library edition | Everyman's Library edition | 2005 unabridged Book-on-CD

The Question of Blood
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateThursday, March 26, 2009 -- 6:45-7:45 p.m.

March features a volume in the highly-regarded Inspector Rebus series by British author Ian Rankin -- A Question of Blood: "There is no mystery. Lee Herdman stormed into a private school just north of Edinburgh and killed two boys. He was a loner, a creep, an army veteran who got kicks out of terrifying local teenagers on his speedboat - just the sort of shady character to commit a random and heinous crime. It's a simple case of a man gone mad. But how random were the killings at Port Edgar Academy? Why did Herdman open fire only in the student lounge, bypassing the swarm of students outside the school? What exactly was his relationship with the school's misfits? Why are military detectives snooping around the murder scene? And why is the only survivor of the attack, recuperating in the hospital, reluctant to talk? There is indeed a mystery - only this time, it's why. When Detective Inspector John Rebus is called out of his jurisdiction to investigate the killings, he is relieved to have the distraction. His entire precinct is abuzz with rumors of his involvement in the death of Martin Fairstone, an ex-con who had been menacing Rebus's partner, Detective Sergeant Siobhan Clarke. For weeks Fairstone tormented Siobhan: followed her home, left her cryptic messages, even threatened violence. But her woes didn't end when Fairstone died in a fire that consumed his apartment. Now Siobhan has a new worry - the morning after Fairstone's body was found, Rebus appeared with bandages on his severely burned hands. No one, not even Siobhan, can ignore the coincidence. Immersing himself in the Port Edgar killings does little to help Rebus avoid everyone's suspicion, but an unexpected family tie draws him deeper into the case. With his superiors at police headquarters breathing down his neck, his partner's trust diminishing, and the key witness to the entire private school inquiry staying silent in a hospital bed, Rebus finds himself up against what may become insurmountable odds, asking himself what drives a man to kill - is it a matter of revenge, or a question of blood?"

A Question of Blood is available in the following formats:
Omnibus edition | unabridged audiotape

The Lion in the Valley
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateThursday, April 30, 2009 -- 6:45-7:45 p.m.

April is a "classics" month, and this time we'll tackle one of Elizabeth Peter's Amelia Peabody series -- Lion in the Valley: "The 1895-96 season promises to be an exceptional one for Amelia Peabody, her dashing Egyptologist husband, Radcliffe Emerson, and their precocious (some might say rambunctious) eight-year-old son, Ramses. The long-denied permission to dig at the pyramids of Dahshoor has finally been granted, and the much-coveted burial chamber of the Black Pyramid is now theirs for the exploring.Before the young family exchanges the relative comfort of Cairo for the more rudimentary quarters near the excavation site, they engage a young Englishman, Donald Fraser, as a tutor and companion for Ramses, and Amelia takes a wayward young woman, Enid Debenham, under her protective wing. But there is danger and deception in the wind that blows across the hot Egyptian sands. A brazen kidnapping attempt, a gruesome murder, and an expedition subsequently cursed by misfortune and death-all serve to alert Amelia to the likely presence of her arch nemesis, the "Master Criminal," notorious looter of the living and the dead. But it is far more than ill-gotten riches that motivate the man known as Sethos. The evil genius has a score to settle with the meddling lady archaeologist who has sworn to deliver him to justice . . . and he's got her dead-on in his sights. Replete with edge-of-the-seat suspense and scrupulous archaeological and historical detail, all delivered in Amelia Peabody's unique, wry voice, Lion in the Valley is a classic installment in Elizabeth Peters's beloved mystery-adventure series."

Lion in the Valley is available in the following formats:
1986 Hardback | 1999 reprint | 2008 reprint | 1992 unabridged audiotape

The Art of Detection
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateThursday, May 28, 2009 -- 6:45-7:45 p.m.

May brings us another contemporary author, this time Laurie King, with her 2006 novel which crossed over her modern San Francisco detective, Kate Martinelli, with her historical series featuring Sherlock Holmes and Mary Russell -- The Art of Detection: "In this thrilling new crime novel that ingeniously bridges Laurie R. King’s Edgar and Creasey Awards—winning Kate Martinelli series and her bestselling series starring Mary Russell, San Francisco homicide detective Kate Martinelli crosses paths with Sherlock Holmes–in a spellbinding dual mystery that could come only from the “intelligent, witty, and complex” mind ofNew York Timesbestselling author Laurie R. King…. Kate Martinelli has seen her share of peculiar things as a San Francisco cop, but never anything quite like this: an ornate Victorian sitting room straight out of a Sherlock Holmes story–complete with violin, tobacco-filled Persian slipper, and gunshots in the wallpaper that spell out the initials of the late queen. Philip Gilbert was a true Holmes fanatic, from his antiquated décor to his vintage wardrobe. And no mere fan of fiction’s great detective, but a leading expert with a collection of priceless memorabilia–a collection some would kill for. And perhaps someone did: In his collection is a century-old manuscript purportedly written by Holmes himself–a manuscript that eerily echoes details of Gilbert’s own murder. Now, with the help of her partner, Al Hawkin, Kate must follow the convoluted trail of a killer–one who may have trained at the feet of the greatest mind of all times."

The Art of Detection is available in the following formats:
2006 Hardback | 2007 Paperback | unabridged book-on-cd

The Bishop at the Lake
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateThursday, June 25, 2009 -- 6:45-7:45 p.m.

Our June turn to Classic mystery authors gives us an opportunity to sample one of Andrew Greeley's recent Father Blackie Ryan locked-room mysteries -- The Bishop at the Lake: "Matters of succession lead to attempted murder in the latest of Greeley’s popular mysteries. Archbishop Malachi Nolan has designs on the Diocese of Chicago despite the fact the Most Reverend Blackwood Ryan, himself recently appointed an archbishop, is currently in line for the post. Assigned to keep watch on his rival, Blackie travels to the Nolan family estate in Grand Banks, where he soon finds himself immersed in an entirely different dynastic struggle. Spike Nolan, founder of Aviation Electronics, isn’t even dead yet, but his children, grandchildren, and their respective spouses are already feuding over who will inherit control of the multimillion-dollar company. The only family member who doesn’t have a stake in the quarrel is the clerical Malachi...so why is he the one targeted by an unknown killer? To get to the bottom of the mystery, Blackie will have to sort through the tangled family dynamics of this highly dysfunctional clan, as well as figure how out his fellow archbishop was nearly stung to death by hornets inside a locked room!"

The Bishop at the Lake is available in the following formats:
Regular Print | Large Print

Bubbles Betrothed
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateThursday, July 30, 2009 -- 6:45-7:45 p.m.

In July, we turn to another Just Desserts group member's recommendation, with contemporary author Sarah Strohmeyer and the 5th volume in her lighthearted Bubbles Yablonsky series -- Bubbles Betrothed: "In her most engaging tale yet, zany supersleuth Bubbles Yablonsky wows her fans with her investigative savvy and high-energy adventures. On her first day as a full-time reporter, Bubbles lands in jail with a murder suspect named Crazy Popeye, who grants Bubbles an exclusive interview shortly before keeling over herself. Suddenly, Bubbles’s interview notes are a hot commodity among a romance-obsessed police detective, a Polish Mafioso, and a podiatrist on the lam. Meanwhile, her longtime boyfriend, Steve Stiletto, asks if she'll pose as his fiancee in order to stave off an overseas job transfer. When he plunks a Harry Winston rock on Bubbles’s finger, only the specter of an all-you-can-eat pierogi wedding buffet down at the Polish-American Club, the inevitable result if her mother LuLu finds out, stops Bubbles from blurting out “Yes!” Once again our not-so-scatterbrained bleached-blonde flits between crime scenes with unflappable verve. Like us, Bubbles frequently messes up, but she always pulls herself onto her tottering high heels and heads back into the fray."

Bubbles Betrothed is available in the following formats:
Regular Print | Book-on-CD

Murder at the Library of Congress
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateThursday, August 27, 2009 -- 6:45-7:45 p.m.

August is one of our "classic author" months, and we turn to Margaret Truman and her Capital Crimes series with -- Murder at the Library of Congress: "Commissioned by the Library of Congress' magazine, "Civilization," to write an article on a recently discovered, supposed diary of Christopher Columbus, Annabel Smith finds herself matching wits with a ruthless wealthy bibliophile, an ambitious TV journalist, and a killer to complete her assignment."

Murder at the Library of Congress is available in the following formats:
Regular Print | Book-on-Audiotape

Under the Color of Law
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateThursday, September 24, 2009 -- 6:45-7:45 p.m.

September is one of our "contemporary author" months, and we turn to Michael McGarrity and his Southwest-set Kevin Kerney series with -- Under the Color of Law: "In Under the Color of Law, Kevin Kerney is back in Santa Fe, newly installed as police chief, when a U.S. ambassador's estranged wife is found murdered in her multi-million dollar home. Before he can mount a proper investigation, an FBI antiterrorism team arrives, takes control of the inquiry, and forces Kerney to watch from the sidelines as the crime scene is sanitized, potential witnesses disappear, and the case is cleared with trumped-up evidence. Warned off, put under surveillance, and threatened with reprisals under the rubric of national security, Kerney balks at accepting the whitewash and begins a soft probe that points to a covert intelligence coverup. Convinced that unscrupulous government agents are acting outside the law, Kerney begins his own clandestine hunt for a hard target that will lead him to the truth about the Terrell homicide, knowing full well he might not survive the chase"

Under the Color of Law is available in the following formats:
Regular Print | Abridged Book-on-CD

Get Real
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateThursday, October 29, 2009 -- 6:45-7:45 p.m.

In October, we finished off another year of Just Desserts with one of our "classic author" months, featuring the late author Donald Westlake and the final volume in his Dortmunder series (more of a "caper" series than a true mystery, but any mystery fan should sample Westlake): -- Get Real: "When a TV producer convinces John Dortmunder and his merry gang to do a reality show that captures their next score, Dortmunder hatches an ingenious plan to outwit viewers glued to their television sets and end the shoot with money in his pockets."

Get Real is available in the following formats:
Regular Print

The Saint
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateNovember and December 2009
Discuss this author's works in the Just Desserts Blog!

The works of Leslie Charteris...creator of Simon Templar - alias, "The Saint"!

During our holiday hiatus in November and December 2009, we're going to remain active...but only in a virtual sense. During these two months, although we won't be gathering for an in-person meeting, members are encouraged to read any of the books in the "Saint" series by Leslie Charteris, then visit our Just Desserts Blog and comment on Gardner and his works in the Leslie Charteris thread, which will be posted on November 1st, 2009.

The Lincoln City Libraries owns 18 different novels or omnibus collections in the Saint series -- sorry, but nothing in Large Print or recorded book formats!
A Deeper Sleep
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateThursday, January 28, 2010 -- 6:45-7:45 p.m.

In January, we return from our two-month holiday hiatus to sample one of Dana Stabenow's recent Kate Shugak mysteries. This series, set in the remote Alaskan wilderness, featuring a female P.I., is reknowned for its excellent sense of place. Here's a description of A Deeper Sleep: "P.I. Kate Shugak has been working on a case for the Anchorage D.A. involving the murder of a woman by her husband. Louis Deem has been the subject of investigations before, and hes never been convicted. But Kate and state trooper Jim Chopin are convinced that this time hell be punished for his actions. When hes found not guilty, Kate and Jim and the rest of Nilniltna, Alaska, are certain that a man has gotten away with murder and that its only a matter of time before he tries again. Sure enough, a few weeks later a woman and her son are shot, the victims of an apparent robbery. But this time, Kate and Jim have a witness, and theyre not going to let Deem get away again. Or will he?"

A Deeper Sleep is available in the following formats:
Hardback | Book on CD | Downloadable Audio

The Cleanup
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateThursday, February 25, 2010 -- 6:45-7:45 p.m.

In February, we turn the focus to another Nebraska mystery author. Sean Doolittle lives in Omaha, and his five novels to date have each achieved critical acclaim, the latest being 2009's Safer. His novels are all stand-alones, and the one most clearly identified with the mystery genre is The Cleanup, actually set in Omaha. Here's a description: "Busted to night patrol at a robbery-prone Omaha supermarket, Matthew Worth is doing time, wearing his uniform, and asking shoppers if they want paper or plastic. If that isn't enough, he suspects he might be falling for Gwen, the shy checkout girl who may be an even bigger mess than he is. When Gwen comes to him one night scared and desperate for help, Worth discovers just how far he's willing to go to protect and serve."

The Cleanup is available in the following formats:
Paperback

Maisie Dobbs
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateThursday, March 25, 2010 -- 6:45-7:45 p.m.

For March, the group will try out the first in the increasingly popular Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear. The series, set in England starting in 1929, features a young war-trained nurse who establishes herself as a private investigator. Here's a description of the eponymous first volume in the series: "Hailed by NPR’s Fresh Air as part Testament of Youth, part Dorothy Sayers, and part Upstairs, Downstairs, this astonishing debut has already won fans from coast to coast and is poised to add Maisie Dobbs to the ranks of literature’s favorite sleuths. Maisie Dobbs isn’t just any young housemaid. Through her own natural intelligence—and the patronage of her benevolent employers—she works her way into college at Cambridge. When World War I breaks out, Maisie goes to the front as a nurse. It is there that she learns that coincidences are meaningful and the truth elusive. After the War, Maisie sets up on her own as a private investigator. But her very first assignment, seemingly an ordinary infidelity case, soon reveals a much deeper, darker web of secrets, which will force Maisie to revisit the horrors of the Great War and the love she left behind."

Maisie Dobbs is available in the following formats:
Hardback/Trade Paperback | Book on CD | Downloadable Audio | Unabridged Audiotape

Cat Fear No Evil
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateThursday, April 29, 2010 -- 6:45-7:45 p.m.

In April, we sample one of Shirley Rousseau Murphy's popular Joe Grey cat-lover's mysteries. The series focuses on tomcat and feline sleuth extraordinaire Joe Grey, his tabby pal Dulcie, and their tattercoat friend Kit, as well as Joe's human companion Charlie. Here's a description of Cat Fear No Evil, the 9th in the series: "When antiques and valuables begin to disappear from residents' homes, Joe Grey knows that something is very wrong in sleepy Molena Point, California. Could the thief be a local or, even worse, is it the old crook who may be connected to Azrael, the sinister, yellow-eyed cat who terrorized Joe and Dulcie years ago, and whose return has Joe's fur standing on edge? Even a seasoned tomcat like Joe isn't prepared for the shock that awaits Molena Point residents at the opening for artist Charlie Harper. While guests are dining on hors d'oeuvres and fine wine at the joyous celebration, a young, healthy waiter drops dead at Charlie's feet. Meanwhile, just north of Molena Point, in San Francisco, the cats' friend Kate, a woman with a troubling secret, is followed by a stranger and robbed. Her apartment is then gutted, with claw marks and black cat hairs leading her to suspect the vicious tomcat Azrael. In the most dramatic investigation of their lives, Joe Grey, Dulcie, and Kit, following diverse leads, scratch out the truth and, with cunning feline skills, restore a distraught village to its usual cozy tranquility."

Cat Fear No Evil is available in the following formats:
Hardback

Out of Range
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateThursday, May 20, 2010 -- 6:45-7:45 p.m.
Please note: We are meeting on the 3rd Thursday instead of the last Thursday of this month, so as not to conflict with the Mayhem in the Midlands mystery conference taking place in Omaha May 27-29.

In May we return again to the American Southwest, with author C.J. Box and his series featuring Wyoming game warden, Joe Pickett. Here's a description of Out of Range, the 5th in the series: "Game warden Joe Pickett returns in a twisting, action-packed tale of greed, power, and murder. Joe Pickett is attempting to enjoy-all right, survive-his mother-in-law's wedding to a local big-shot rancher when he receives some disturbing news: Will Jensen,a fellow Wyoming game warden and a good friend, has killed himself. And Joe's been picked to temporarily run Jensen's Teton district. Jackson, Wyoming, is a far cry from Joe's hometown of Saddlestring-it's the epicenter for many environmental extremists and an elite playground for the rich and powerful-and Joe quickly finds himself in over his head. Yet despite the pressures of his new job, he can't get his friend's suicide out of his mind. By all accounts, Will had changed in the last few months, becoming violent and unpredictable. The closer Joe comes to the truth about Will's death, the more his own life spirals out of control-and he realizes that if he's not careful, he may end up as Jackson's next victim. Out of Range proves once again that C.J. Box is one of the most original and entertaining voices in mystery fiction."

Out of Range is available in the following formats:
Hardback | Paperback | Book on CD

Iron Lake
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateThursday, June 24, 2010 -- 6:45-7:45 p.m.

In June we sample Minnesota mystery author William Kent Krueger's writing, with his first Cork O'Connor novel, Iron Lake. Here's a description of Iron Lake: "Part Irish, part Anishinaabe Indian, Corcoran "Cork" O'Connor is the former sheriff of Aurora, Minnesota - population 3,752. Embittered by his "former" status, and the marital meltdown that has separated him from his children, Cork gets by on heavy doses of caffeine, nicotine, and guilt. Once a cop on Chicago's South Side, he's found that there's not much left in life that can shock him. But when the town's judge, Robert Parrant, is brutally murdered, and Eagle Scout Paul LeBeau is reported missing, Cork takes on a mind-jolting case of conspiracy, corruption and scandal."

Iron Lake is available in the following formats:
Hardback | Paperback

Track of the Cat
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateThursday, July 29, 2010 -- 6:45-7:45 p.m.

In July, our Just Desserts members have selected the first volume in Nevada Barr's popular Anna Pigeon series, Track of the Cat. Here's a description: "A stunning mystery set against the high-country trails of the Guadalupe Mountains of West Texas, where the age-old battle of man against nature is fought with a frightening twist. Anna Pigeon has fled New York and her memories to find work as a ranger in the country's national parks. In the remote backcountry of West Texas, however, she discovers murder and violence. Fellow park ranger Sheila Drury is mysteriously killed, presumably by a mountain lion. But the deep claw marks Anna finds across Drury's throat and the paw prints surrounding the body are too perfect to be real. Suspicious from the start and eager to prevent the needless slaughter of her beloved cougars, Anna can't let the matter rest. The disappearance of another ranger and the frightening reality of a hiking "accident" of her own convince Anna that something is very wrong. Following a trail with few leads, Anna must confront the dark side of the desert. As she comes closer to the truth, she realizes that whatever is stalking the land she loves is now stalking her as well."

Track of the Cat is available in the following formats:
Hardback | Paperback | Book on CD | Book on Tape

Purple Cane Road
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateThursday, August 26, 2010 -- 6:45-7:45 p.m.

In August, we're reading a 2000 entry in James Lee Burke's award-winning Dave Robicheaux series, Purple Cane Road. Here's a description: "Dave Robicheaux has spent his life confronting the age-old adage that the sins of the father pass onto the son. But what has his mother's legacy left him? Dead to him since youth, Mae Guillory has been shuttered away in the deep recesses of Dave's mind. He's lived with the fact that he would never really know what happened to the woman who left him to the devices of his whiskey-driven father. But deep down, he still feels the loss of his mother and knows the infinite series of disappointments in her life could not have come to a good end. While helping out an old friend, Dave is stunned when a pimp looks at him sideways and asks him if he is Mae Guillory's boy, the whore a bunch of cops murdered 30 years ago. The pimp goes on to insinuate that the cops who dumped her body in the bayou were on the take and continue to thrive in the New Orleans area. Dave's search for his mother's killers leads him to the darker places in his past and solving this case teaches him what it means to be his mother's son."

Purple Cane Road is available in the following formats:
Hardback | Paperback | Book on CD | Book on Tape | Large Type

The Spellman Files
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateThursday, September 30, 2010 -- 6:45-7:45 p.m.

In September, Just Desserts goes a little lighter, with the first volume in Lisa Lutz's popular Spellman family series, The Spellman Files. Here's a description: "Meet Isabel "Izzy" Spellman, private investigator. This twenty-eight-year-old may have a checkered past littered with romantic mistakes, excessive drinking, and creative vandalism; she may be addicted toGet Smartreruns and prefer entering homes through windows rather than doors -- but the upshot is she's good at her job as a licensed private investigator with her family's firm, Spellman Investigations. Invading people's privacy comes naturally to Izzy. In fact, it comes naturally to all the Spellmans. If only they could leave their work at the office. To be a Spellman is to snoop on a Spellman; tail a Spellman; dig up dirt on, blackmail, and wiretap a Spellman.Part Nancy Drew, part Dirty Harry, Izzy walks an indistinguishable line between Spellman family member and Spellman employee. Duties include: completing assignments from the bosses, aka Mom and Dad (preferably without scrutiny); appeasing her chronically perfect lawyer brother (often under duress); setting an example for her fourteen-year-old sister, Rae (who's become addicted to "recreational surveillance"); and tracking down her uncle (who randomly disappears on benders dubbed "Lost Weekends"). But when Izzy's parents hire Rae to follow her (for the purpose of ascertaining the identity of Izzy's new boyfriend), Izzy snaps and decides that the only way she will ever be normal is if she gets out of the family business. But there's a hitch: she must take one last job before they'll let her go -- a fifteen-year-old, ice-cold missing person case. She accepts, only to experience a disappearance far closer to home, which becomes the most important case of her life."

The Spellman Files is available in the following formats:
Hardback

M is for Malice
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateThursday, October 28, 2010 -- 6:45-7:45 p.m.

To wrap up our year of mystery reading, the Just Desserts group will be reading and discussing one of the better-reviewed volumes in Sue Grafton's popular alphabet mystery series, M is for Malice, featuring sleuth Kinsey Milhone. Here's a description: "'M' is for money. Lots of it. 'M' is for Malek Construction, the $40 million company that grew out of modest soil to become one of the big three in California construction, one of the few still in family hands. 'M' is for the Malek family: four sons now nearing middle age who stand to inherit a fortune -- four men with very different outlooks, temperaments, and needs, linked only by blood and money. Eighteen years ago, one of them -- angry, troubled, and in trouble -- went missing. 'M' is for Millhone, hired to trace that missing black sheep brother. 'M' is for memories, none of them happy. The bitter memories of an embattled family. This prodigal son will find no welcome at his family's table. 'M' is for malice. And in brutal consequence, 'M' is for murder, the all-too-common outcome of familial hatreds. 'M' is for malice...and malice kills..."

M is for Malice is available in the following formats:
Hardback | Book on CD | Book on Tape

Dog On It
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateNovember and December 2010
Discuss these series in the Just Desserts Blog!

The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew mystery series

During our holiday hiatus in November and December 2010, we're going to remain active...but only in a virtual sense. During these two months, although we won't be gathering for an in-person meeting, members are encouraged to read any of the books, from any of the many generations in the "Hardy Boys" series by Franklin Dixon, or the "Nancy Drew" series by Carolyn Keene, then visit our Just Desserts Blog and leave a comment on the Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew discussion thread, which will be posted in the first week of November, 2010.

Titles in these series are available in the following formats:
The Hardy Boys | Nancy Drew

Dog On It
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateThursday, January 27, 2011 -- 6:45-7:45 p.m.

To start up the new year's mysteries, the Just Desserts group read and discussed the first volume in a hot new series by Spenser Quinn, Dog On It, featuring some unique detectives. Here's a description: "Set in the Valley of an unnamed Western state, Quinn's winning debut introduces one smart canine detective and his partner, PI Bernie Little of the Little Detective Agency, who's pretty quick on the uptake himself. Chet, a "lively mongrel" with one white ear and one black ear, serves as the book's narrator, communicating with Bert via doggy methods that verge on the telepathic ("I wagged my tail, that quick one-two wag meaning yes, not the over-the-top one that wags itself and can mean lots of things"). Wealthy divorcee Cynthia Chambliss hires Bernie, a former cop, to find her missing 15-year-old daughter, Madison, whose father is a real estate developer who smells suspiciously of cat. (Chet's keen sense of smell comes in handy.) When Madison reappears and disappears again, her dad says she's just a runaway, though Bernie thinks otherwise. Chet must use all his superdog tricks to extricate Bernie from a mighty tight fix in a climax that fans of classic mysteries are sure to appreciate."

Dog On It is available in the following formats:
Hardback | Book on CD

Dog On It
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateThursday, Feburary 24, 2011 -- 6:45-7:45 p.m.
This month's meeting has been canceled due to a dangerous snowstorm!!

For our second meeting of 2011, we will be reading and discussing the first volume in a yet another popular new series, this time by author Alan Bradley, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, and featuring yet another intriguing heroine. Here's a description: "Eleven-year-old Flavia de Luce, an aspiring chemist with a passion for poison, must exonerate her father of murder. Armed with more than enough knowledge to tie two distant deaths together and examine new suspects, she begins a search that will lead her all the way to the King of England himself."

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie is available in the following formats:
Hardback | Large Type | Downloadable Audio

Worth Dying For
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateThursday, March 31, 2011 -- 6:30-7:45 p.m.

For our March selection, we will be reading and discussing the latest new book in the Jack Reacher series, Worth Dying For, written by Lee Child. This one's actually set here in Nebraska. Here's the description: "#1 New York Times bestselling author Lee Child follows the electrifying 61 Hours with his latest Reacher thriller -- a story that hits the ground running and then accelerates all the way to a colossal showdown. There's deadly trouble in the corn country of Nebraska...and Jack Reacher walks right into it. First he falls foul of the Duncans, a local clan that has terrified an entire county into submission. But it's the unsolved case of a missing child, already decades-old, that Reacher can't let go. The Duncans want Reacher gone -- and it's not just past secrets they're trying to hide. They're awaiting a secret shipment that's already late -- and they have the kind of customers no one can afford to annoy. For as dangerous as the Duncans are, they're just the bottom of a criminal food chain stretching halfway around the world. For Reacher, it would have made much more sense to keep on going, to put some distance between himself and the hard-core trouble that's bearing down on him. For Reacher, that was also impossible."

Worth Dying For is available in the following formats:
Hardback | Large Type | E-book | Book-on-CD | Downloadable Audio

The Cold Dish
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateThursday, April 28, 2011 -- 6:30-7:45 p.m.

In April, we will be reading and discussing the first volume in Craig Johson's quirky Walt Longmire series, The Cold Dish. Here's the description: "In this outstanding first novel, Craig Johnson draws on his background in law enforcement and his deep attachment to the American West to produce a literary mystery of stunning authenticity, and full of memorable characters. Walt Longmire, sheriff of Wyoming’s Absaroka County, knows he’s got trouble when Cody Pritchard is found dead. Two years earlier, Cody and three accomplices had been given suspended sentences for raping a Northern Cheyenne girl. Is someone seeking vengeance? Longmire faces the most volatile and challenging case in his twenty-four years as sheriff and means to see that revenge, a dish that is best served cold, is never served at all."

The Cold Dish is available in the following formats:
Hardback | Book-on-CD

TITLE
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateThursday, May 19, 2011 -- 6:30-7:45 p.m.

For May, we will be reading and discussing the a volume in the Inspector Lynley series, by classic mystery author Elizabeth George -- In Pursuit of the Proper Sinner. Here's the description: "Calder Moor is a wild and deadly place: many have been trapped in the myriad limestone caves, lost in collapsed copper mines, injured on perilous gritstone ridges. But this time, when two bodies are discovered in the shadow of the ancient circle of stones known as Nine Sisters Henge, it is clearly not a case for Mountain Rescue. The corpses are those of a young man and woman. Each met death in a different fashion. Each died violently. To Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley, brought in to investigate by special request, this grisly crime promises to be one of the toughest assignments of his career. For the unfortunate Nicola Maiden was the daughter of a former officer in an elite undercover unit, a man Lynley once regarded as a mentor. Now, as Lynley struggles to find out if Nicola's killer was an enemy of her father's or one she earned herself, a disgraced Barbara Havers, determined to redeem herself in the eyes of her longtime partner, crisscrosses London seeking information on the second murder victim. Yet the more dark secrets Lynley and Havers uncover, the more they learn that neither the victims nor the suspects are who they appear to be. And once again they come up against the icy realization that human relationships are often murderous...and that the blood that binds can also kill."

In Pursuit of the Proper Sinner is available in the following formats:
Hardback | Book-on-CD | DVD adaptation

The Book of Old Houses
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateThursday, June 30, 2011 -- 6:30-7:45 p.m.

For June, we'll try some lighter fare, as the group reads and discusses a volume in Sarah Graves' Home Repair is Homicide series, The Book of Old Houses. Here's the description: "Once upon a time, Jacobia "Jake" Tiptree was a hotshot money manager to Manhattan's rich and dreadful — until she left city life behind for a centuries-old fixer-upper in the quaint seaside town of Eastport, Maine. But even this tiny haven has its hazards — and they can be astonishingly deadly. When a mysterious book is unearthed from the foundation of Jake's 1823 fixer-upper, she immediately sends it off to local book historian Horace Robotham. After all, there must be a logical explanation for why the long-buried volume has her name in it — written in what looks suspiciously like blood. But all logic goes out the window when the book disappears — and Horace turns up dead. The suspects include Horace's spoiled daughter, who has enough credit card debt to give killing her rich daddy a certain appeal. And just about everyone's pointing fingers at a local crackpot with a penchant for black magic and an unholy lust for its artifacts — including antique texts inked in blood. To complicate matters further, there's a mysterious stranger in town with vengeance in his heart and a gun in his pocket. Never mind that Jake's just taken a sledgehammer to her ancient bathroom. Or that she forgot she's set to host a party for Eastport's most treasured teacher. She's also about to lose her beloved housekeeper on account of her father's hasty marriage proposal...and her son, Sam, has just taken his first tentative steps toward sobriety. But all that will have to wait, because when two more victims turn up in a town better known for its scenic views and historic homes than its body count, she and her comrade-in-sleuthing, Ellie White, need to go on the prowl to find someone who may believe that the pages of an ancient book are the blueprint for a perfect murder."

The Book of Old Houses is available in the following formats:
Hardback | Paperback | Book-on-CD | Downloadable Audio

Death du Jour
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateThursday, July 28, 2011 -- 6:30-7:45 p.m.

For our July selection we'll be reading an early volume in Kathy Reich's Temperance Brennan series, upon which the Bones television series is loosely based. The volume we've selected will be Death du Jour, the second in the series. Here's the description: "Rarely has a first-time novelist made such a spectacular international publishing debut as Kathy Reichs did with her acclaimed forensic thriller Deja Dead. Now, in Death du Jour, the author who lives the life she writes about extends her reach while still building on the rich ensemble cast, page-turning suspense, and cutting-edge forensic detail that made Deja Dead an international sensation. Assaulted by the bitter cold of a Montreal winter, the American-born Dr. Temperance Brennan, Forensic Anthropologist for the Province of Quebec, digs for a corpse where Sister Elisabeth Nicolet, dead for over a century and now a candidate for sainthood, should be lying in her grave. A strange, small coffin, buried in the recesses of a decaying church, holds the first clue to the cloistered nun's fate.The puzzle surrounding Sister Elisabeth Nicolet's life and death provides a welcome contrast to discoveries at a burning chalet, where scorched and twisted bodies await Tempe's professional expertise. Who were these people? What brought them to this gruesome fate? And where are the children? Homicide Detective Andrew Ryan, with whom Tempe has a combustive history, joins her in the arson investigation. From the fire scene they are drawn into the worlds of an enigmatic and controversial sociologist, a mysterious commune, and a primate colony on a Carolina island. Tempe is overwhelmed by the case, confused by her mounting attraction to Ryan, and plagued by worries about her sister Harry's search for spiritual awakening. Featuring the kind of forensic detail that only Kathy Reichs can provide -- from skeletal reconstruction to insect analysis -- Death du Jour takes the reader on a riveting journey from the morgue to the lab to the crime scene, from the warmth of a barrier island to the frigid cold of a deadly ice storm.."

Death du Jour is available in the following formats:
Hardback | Paperback

Cat Who Could Read Backwards
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateThursday, August 18, 2011 -- 6:30-7:45 p.m.

For our August selection we'll be be paying tribute to the late Lilian Jackson Braun, by reading the very first volume of her immensely popular "Cat Who..." series -- The Cat Who Could Read Backwards. Here's the description: "A stabbing in an art gallery, vandalised paintings, a fatal fall - this is not what prize-winning journalist Jim Qwilleran expects when he turns his reportorial talents to art. But with his partner, Koko the Siamese cat, he sniffs out clues and confounds criminals intent on mayhem and murder."

The Cat Who Could Read Backwards is available in the following formats:
Hardback and/or Paperback | Unabridged Book-on-CD

Aunt Dimity's Death
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateThursday, September 29, 2011 -- 6:30-7:45 p.m.

For our September selection we'll be sampling a volume in a series many of us have recommended during our monthly mystery roundtable -- Nancy Atherton's "Aunt Dimity" series. And why not start at the very beginning, with Aunt Dimity's Death. Here's the description: "Lori thought Aunt Dimity was just a character in a family bedtime story until a law firm summoned her to a reading of her relative's last will and testament. Lori will inherit a sizeable estate--if she can discover the secret hidden in a treasure trove of letters tucked away at Dimity's English country cottage."

Aunt Dimity's Death is available in the following formats:
Paperback | Unabridged Book-on-CD

October Selection
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateThursday, October 27, 2011 -- 6:30-7:45 p.m.

The selection for our October gathering -- the final meeting of 2011 -- will be an experiment. We're picking an author -- Louise Penny -- who comes highly recommended, but for whom the libraries don't own enough copies of a single, individual, book for everyone to read it at the same time. Instead, we'll be asking all group members to pick ANY of that Louise Penny's works, and as a group, we'll discuss their merits in general, rather than the entire group discussing the exact same volume. Louise Penny is the author of the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series, set in the fictional contemporary Quebec village of Three Pines. There have been seven volumes published in the series to date, and, in sequence, they are: Still Life, A Fatal Grace, The Cruelest Month, A Rule Against Murder, The Brutal Telling, Bury Your Dead, and the brand new volume A Trick of the Light.


George Simenon
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateNovember and December 2011
Discuss the Inspector Maigret series in the Just Desserts Blog!

The works of Georges Simenon...creator of the legendary Inspector Maigret!

During our holiday hiatus in November and December 2011, we're going to remain active...but only in a virtual sense. During these two months, although we won't be gathering for an in-person meeting, members are encouraged to read any of the books in the "Inspector Maigret" series by Georges Simenon, then visit our Just Desserts Blog and comment on Simenon and his works in the Inspector Maigret thread, which will be posted on November 1st, 2011.

The Lincoln City Libraries owns many different novels or omnibus collections in the Inspector Maigret series -- sorry, but nothing in Large Print or recorded book formats!
Delectable Mountains
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateThursday, January 26, 2012 -- 6:30-7:45 p.m.

For the first meeting of 2012, the group takes on a volume in Earlene Fowler's long-running Benni Harper series -- Delectable Mountains. This is the 12th in the series-to-date, and got good reviews. Here's the description: "When the musical director of Benni Harper's church is called away, Benni finds herself "volunteered" to take over a children's play already in rehearsal. But the production comes to a screeching halt when Benni discovers the badly beaten body of the church handyman right in front of the altar. With a growing cast of suspects, and a small girl as the only witness to the crime, Benni must unravel a plot of theft and murder before it's curtains for her. Benni's talent for finding trouble surfaces in an unlikely place--her own church. While volunteering at First Baptist--helping Gramma Dove direct the children's musical--Benni finds the beaten body of the handyman. But Walt Adams' death isn't the only mystery in town. The valuable Aznar violin, a historic California Missions period piece, has been stolen. Despite warnings from her husband Gabe, the chief of police, Benni has no other choice but to step in to help solve the case."

Delectable Mountains is available in the following formats:
Print | Book-on-CD

Silent Spirit
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateThursday, February 23, 2012 -- 6:30-7:45 p.m.

Our book selection for February 2012 brings the group back to one of our favorite locales -- the American Southwest. We'll be reading one of Margaret Coel's Arapaho mysteries, Silent Spirit. Here's the description: "Margaret Coel returns to Wind River with a brand new mystery featuring Vicky Holden and Father John O'Malley. In 1923, Arapahos from the Wind River Reservation were recruited to appear as extras in the silent film The Covered Wagon. But Charlie Wallowingbull never returned home, leaving people to believe he abandoned his wife and unborn son. Kiki Wallowingbull, Charlie's great-grandson, went to Hollywood determined to uncover the truth behind his great-grandfather's disappearance. But Kiki has been murdered-his frozen body discovered by Father John, and his supposed killer confessing to Vicky that it was self-defense. Together, they must find the connection between two deaths separated by nearly a century."

Silent Spirit is available in the following formats:
Print | Book-on-CD

The Last Coyote
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateThursday, March 29, 2012 -- 6:30-7:45 p.m.

In March, the Just Desserters will be discussing one of the popular Harry Bosch books by author Michael Connelly. Since we don't have enough copies of the earliest books in the series, we asked for recommendations on a good volume to introduce the long-running character to the group, and came up with The Last Coyote. Here's the description: "Harry Bosch's life is on the edge. His earthquake-damaged home has been condemned. His girlfriend has left him. He's drinking too much. And after attacking his commanding officer, he's even had to turn in his L.A.P.D. detective's badge. Now, suspended indefinitely pending a psychiatric evaluation, he's spending his time investigating an unsolved crime from 1961: the brutal slaying of a prostitute who happened to be his own mother. Even after three decades, Harry's questions generate heat among L.A.'s top politicos. And as the truth begins to emerge, it becomes more and more apparent that someone wants to keep it buried. Someone very powerful...very cunning...and very deadly. Edgar Award-winning author Michael Connelly has created a dark, fast-paced suspense thriller that cuts to the core of Harry Bosch's character. Once you start it, there's no turning back."

The Last Coyote is available in the following formats:
1995 Hardback | 1996 Paperback | 2007 Paperback | Downloadable E-book | Book-on-CD

Find Me
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateThursday, April 26, 2012 -- 6:30-7:45 p.m.

In April, we'll be reading a recent volume in the Decker/Lazarus series by Faye Kellerman, Hangman. Here's the description: "Fifteen years ago, high school senior Chris Whitman went to jail for murdering his girlfriend, Cheryl Diggs. Propelled by a misguided sense of chivalry, he confessed, determined to save another classmate, the beautiful and vulnerable Terry McLaughlin, from having to testify at his trial. When the truth came out, Chris was released from prison, married Terry—pregnant with his child—and changed his last name to Donatti. He also became a professional killer. Peter Decker was the detective on the case, and over the years, he and Terry kept in touch. Now his friend is in L.A. and asking for a favor. Though Decker knows full well that getting involved will bring Terry's sociopathic husband back into his life, the obsessive and duty-bound LAPD lieutenant reluctantly agrees. The favor soon becomes complicated when Terry goes missing and Donatti disappears, leaving their fourteen-year-old son, Gabe, with no one to turn to except Decker and his wife, Rina Lazarus. But Peter's search for Terry must share center stage with a gruesome murder. Adrianna Blanc, a neonatal nurse at St. Timothy's Hospital, had signed off her night shift at eight a.m. Six hours later, a foreman supervising the construction of a house in a nearby suburb discovered her body swinging from the rafters, a cable wire around her neck. Her car was found where she had parked it the night before, with no signs of foul play. A dedicated and conscientious professional, Adrianna had a circle of close friends. Yet as Decker and his able team soon learn, the young woman also had her share of detractors. A party-hearty girl, she enjoyed booze, kinky sex, and revenge-cheating on her boyfriend, Garth Hammerling, another nurse at St. Tim's. Suspicions heat up when Decker and his team find that one of Adrianna's last phone calls was a provocative and disturbing message to her vacationing boyfriend—who himself has vanished without a trace. Was Adrianna's death something personal because of her carefree lifestyle? Or was this unusually cruel and very dramatic murder the first signs of a serial killer? With lives hanging in the balance, Decker and his colleagues, Sergeant Marge Dunn and Detective Scott Oliver, need to find answers and fast. As if juggling two investigations weren't enough for the lieutenant (not to mention turning sixty!), things are becoming even more dangerous with his precarious home life. Ever the concerned parent, Decker wants to look after Terry's son, Gabe. Yet who will protect his own family? Because if there's one thing he knows for sure, with a sociopath like Donatti on the loose, no one is ever really safe."

Hangman is available in the following formats:
Print | Downloadable E-book | Book-on-CD | Downloadable Audio | Large Type

The Crocodile's Last Embrace
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateThursday, May 31, 2012 -- 6:30-7:45 p.m.

After some darker volumes in March and April, we're going to try another of our author experiments, with a more light-hearted author -- instead of all reading the same book, group members are encouraged to read any of the six books in Suzanne Arruda's Jade Del Cameron series, starting with Mark of the Lion in 2006 and ending with The Crocodile's Last Embrace in 2010. Here's the description: "Join American adventurer Jade del Cameron in six tales of mystery and suspense in exotic 1920s Africa. After driving an ambulance along the front lines of World War I, she can fire a rifle with deadly precision. Still suffering trauma from the Great War, she sets off for Africa determined to fulfill a man's dying wish...never expecting to become involved in murder..." The Jade del Cameron series came to a conclusion at the end of the sixth volume, and although each book can stand on its own, there is a narrative progression over the course of the series.

The Jade del Cameron books are available from the libraries only in traditional print format:
Mark of the Lion | Stalking Ivory | The Serpent's Daughter | The Leopard's Prey
The Treasure of the Golden Cheetah | The Crocodile's Last Embrace

Nightshade
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateThursday, June 28, 2012 -- 6:30-7:45 p.m.

Our book selection for June is a volume in Susan Wittig Albert's successful China Bayles series, featuring a sleuth who's the owner of an herb shop. Nightshade comes highly regarded, and concludes a plot arc that had infused several volumes in the series -- a mystery about China's father, within the individual volumes' standard mysteries. Here's the description: "China's herb shop and catering business may be thriving, but she's still reeling from her father's death, and not even remotely interested in her half-brother Miles's investigation into that event. China's husband, on the other hand, has no such qualms. And when fate forces her to get involved as well, China realizes it's time to bring the past to light—or else it will haunt her the rest of her life. But China and McQuaid discover that Miles may have been keeping as many secrets as he seemed determined to uncover. How deep do the layers of secrecy go? And who has a stake in concealing the truth after sixteen years?"

Nightshade is available in the following formats:
Hardback | Paperback | Book-on-CD | Large Print

Treason at Lisson Grove
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateThursday, July 26, 2012 -- 6:30-7:45 p.m.
[Note: Meeting for one month only at the Walt Branch Library - 6701 S. 14th St.!]

In July, we finally get around to reading one of the prolific Anne Perry's novels. With twenty-seven volumes so far in her popular Charlotte and Thomas Pitt historical series, set in Victorian era Britain, we've selected the 26th -- Treason at Lisson Grove, in part because the libraries have it in multiple formats (including E-book) but also in part because it's had some of the best reviews of any volume in the series! Here's the description: "Another fantastic Pitt novel from the master storyteller of the Victorian mystery. 1895 and an increasingly violent tide of political unrest is rising fast all over Europe. Special Branch's Inspector Thomas Pitt knows that they must find those responsible before England is overrun by reformists intent on overthrowing the government. When he finds himself in pursuit of a suspected terrorist, Pitt has no hesitation in following the chase all the way to France. But events take a sinister turn when Narraway, Pitt's superior, is accused of involvement in the death of an Irish informant and abruptly removed from office. Aware that her husband's own career is also in jeopardy if he is not reinstated, Pitt's wife Charlotte determines to help Narraway clear his name. As Charlotte and Narraway depart for Ireland and Pitt is drawn deeper into the investigation in France, it becomes clear that outside forces have conspired to separate them at a crucial time in the country's history. With no one else to trust can they make it back to England and stop the revolt before it's too late?"

Treason at Lisson Grove is available in the following formats:
Hardback | Paperback edition due to be released Apr 17 2012 | Book-on-CD | Large Print | Downloadable E-book

Dragonwell Dead
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateThursday, August 23, 2012 -- 6:30-7:45 p.m.
[Note: Meeting one week early this month!]

For August, we tackle a volume in one of Laura Child's three on-going series -- in this case, one of her Tea Shop mysteries. Here's the description: "It's springtime in Charleston, and just about every species of South Carolina flora and fauna is in bloom during the annual Spring Plantation Ramble. While tea shop owner Theodosia Browning serves Dragonwell sweet tea, guests mingle, enjoy flower shows, and bid at a rare plant auction. Festivities come to a screeching halt, however, when commodities broker Mark Congdon is high bidder for a rare monkey-face orchid, then promptly drops dead. It looks like a simple heart attack, but Theodosia suspects otherwise and looks for answers in the nearby Nightshade Garden."

Dragonwell Dead is available in the following formats:
Hardback | Paperback

Lady Killer
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateThursday, September 27, 2012 -- 6:30-7:45 p.m.

Our last two authors for 2012 are fan-favorites, frequently read by several of our Just Desserts members, and regularly suggested for group discussion. The first is Lisa Scottoline, with one of the legal thrillers involving her Rosato & Associates firm. Here's the description of Lady Killers: "Mary DiNunzio has become a big-time business-getter at Rosato & Associates. But the last person she expects to walk into her office one morning—in mile-high stilettos—is super-sexy Trish Gambone, her high-school rival. Back when Mary was becoming the straight-A president of the Latin Club and Most Likely to Achieve Sainthood, Trish was the head Mean Girl, who flunked religion and excelled at smoking in the bathroom. These days, however, Trish needs help. She is terrified of her live-in boyfriend, an abusive, gun-toting drug dealer for the South Philly mob. Mary remembers the guy from high school, too. She had a major crush on him. Then Trish vanishes, a dead body turns up in an alley, and Mary is plunged into a nightmare that threatens her job, her family, and even her life. She goes on a one-woman crusade to unmask the killer, and on the way finds new love in a very unexpected place."

Lady Killer is available in the following formats:
Hardback | Paperback | Book-on-CD | Downloadable Audio | Downloadable E-book | Large Type

Promise Me
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateThursday, October 25, 2012 -- 6:30-7:45 p.m.

Our last two authors for 2012 are fan-favorites, frequently read by several of our Just Desserts members, and regularly suggested for group discussion. The second is Harlan Coben's series featuring sports agent cum detective Myron Bolitar. Here's the description of the volume we'll be reading, Promise Me: "Determined to keep his friends' children safe, Myron Bolitar makes two neighborhood girls promise to call him if they are ever in a bind. Several nights later, a call comes in at two o'clock a.m. The next day, a girl is missing, and Myron is the last person who saw her. And now, he must race to find her, before she is gone forever..."

Promise Me is available in the following formats:
Hardback | Paperback | Book-on-CD | Downloadable Audio | Downloadable E-book | Large Type

John D. MacDonald
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateNovember and December 2012
Discuss the Travis McGee series in the Just Desserts Blog!

John D. MacDonaldThe works of John D. MacDonald...creator of the classic mystery/adventure series featuring Travis McGee!

During our holiday hiatus in November and December 2012, we're going to continue to remain active...but once again, only in a virtual sense. During these two months, although we won't be gathering for an in-person meeting, members are encouraged to read any of the 21 books in the "Travis McGee" series by John D. MacDonald, then visit our Just Desserts Blog and comment on MacDonald and Travis McGee in a specific discussion thread, which will be posted on November 1st, 2012. (we will have a direct link here on this page on that date!)

For those who are unfamiliar with Travis McGee, here's a general overview of the character: Travis McGee is a self-described beach bum who won his houseboat (The Busted Flush) in a card game. He's also a knight errant who's wary of credit cards, retirement benefits, political parties, mortgages and television. He only works when his cash runs out and his rule is simple--he'll help you find whatever was taken from you, as long as he can keep half. Described as "A knight in slightly tarnished armor, " and "the thinking man's Robin Hood, " McGee rejects the modern world, adhering to a timeless sense of honor and obligation; he is more and less than a private eye.

Click here to jump directly to the blog post and leave your comment about Travis McGee!

Catalog Links: Of the 21 novels in the Travis McGee series, published from 1964 to 1984, the Lincoln City Libraries still own 20 -- although no more than 1 to 3 copies of each title. We're missing only #9 Pale Gray for Guilt. Sorry, but none of the titles in this series are available in Large Print or recorded book formats! Watch out for non-Travis McGee novels by MacDonald -- all of the books in this series have a "color" somewhere in the title!
Death at La Fenice
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateThursday, January 31, 2013 -- 6:30-7:45 p.m.

The selection for our January gathering -- the first meeting of 2013 -- will be another of our "multiple choice" experiments. We're picking an author -- Donna Leon -- who comes highly recommended, but for whom the libraries don't own enough copies of a single, individual, book for everyone to read it at the same time. Instead, we'll be asking all group members to pick ANY of Donna Leon's works, and as a group, we'll discuss their merits in general, rather than the entire group discussing the exact same volume. Leon's series protagonist is Inspector Guido Brunetti of Venice. The series began in 1992 with "Death at La Fenice", and as of the end of 2012 had reached 21 volumes. [Click here to see the Inspector Guido Brunetti series order as shown on Fantasticfiction.co.uk]

Catalog Links: The Inspector Guido Brunetti series is available mainly in print format, with a quite a few titles in either Book-on-CD format or downloadable audio format.
The Camel Club
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateThursday, February 28, 2013 -- 6:30-7:45 p.m.

In February, we tackle a blockbuster bestseller from David Baldacci -- He's got numerous stand-alone novels, but we'll be reading the first in his ongoing Camel Club series, which began with "The Camel Club". Here's the description: "Welcome to The Camel Club. Existing at the fringes of Washington, D.C., the Club consists of four eccentric members. Led by a mysterious man known as "Oliver Stone," they study conspiracy theories, current events, and the machinations of government to discover the "truth" behind the country's actions.Their efforts bear little fruit-until the group witnesses a shocking murder...and become embroiled in an astounding, far-reaching conspiracy. Now the Club must join forces with a Secret Service agent to confront one of the most chilling spectacles ever to take place on American soil-an event that may trigger the ultimate war between two different worlds. And all that stands in the way of this apocalypse is five unexpected heroes."

Catalog Links: The Camel Club is available in the following formats:
Hardback or paperback | Book-on-CD | Downloadable Audio | Downloadable E-book

Gallow's View
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateThursday, March 28, 2013 -- 6:30-7:45 p.m.

Our March meeting is another "grab bag" session for a specific author, in this case Peter Robinson, who writes the Inspector Banks series set in Britain's Yorkshire area. The Inspector Banks series started with Gallow's View in 1987, and has reached 20 volumes by late 2012. Once again, although the libraries have copies of all the books in the Inspector Banks series, we generally only have one to three copies of each of the books -- not enough for the entire group to read the same title at the same time. So...the reading assignment for everyone in March is to pick ANY of the Inspector Banks titles by Robinson -- we'll discuss the merits of the series in broad strokes, rather than focusing on one particular volume. [Click here to see the Inspector Banks series order as shown on Fantasticfiction.co.uk]

Catalog Links: The Inspector Banks series is available mainly in print format, with a few titles in Book-on-CD format, and one in downloadable audio format.
In the Woods
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateThursday, April 25, 2013 -- 6:30-7:45 p.m.

At our April meeting, we'll be discussing a mystery from Tana French, the first in her Dublin Murder Squad series, "In the Woods". Here's the description: "As dusk approaches a small Dublin suburb in the summer of 1984, mothers begin to call their children home. But on this warm evening, three children do not return from the dark and silent woods. When the police arrive, they find only one of the children gripping a tree trunk in terror, wearing blood-filled sneakers, and unable to recall a single detail of the previous hours. Twenty years later, the found boy, Rob Ryan, is a detective on the Dublin Murder Squad and keeps his past a secret. But when a twelve-year-old girl is found murdered in the same woods, he and Detective Cassie Maddox — his partner and closest friend — find themselves investigating a case chillingly similar to the previous unsolved mystery. Now, with only snippets of long-buried memories to guide him, Ryan has the chance to uncover both the mystery of the case before him and that of his own shadowy past. Richly atmospheric, stunning in its complexity, and utterly convincing and surprising to the end, In the Woods is sure to enthrall fans of Mystic River and The Lovely Bones. And look for French's new mystery, Broken Harbor (the 4th in the series), for more of the Dublin Murder Squad."

Catalog Links: In the Woods is available in the following formats:
Hardback or Paperback | Downloadable E-book

Series Share
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateThursday, May 30, 2013 -- 6:30-7:45 p.m.

By popular group consensus, we're trying an all-new experiment at our May meeting. Because the libraries have volumes in so many brand-new mystery series constantly being added to the collection, but of which we don't get large quantities of copies, we're not assigning any specific authors or titles this month. Instead -- we encourage all attendees to sample a new "cozy" or "amateur detective" series, which launched in the past few years. Come to Just Desserts prepared to give a nutshell description of the series, the protaganist, the setting, etc., and what your opinion is of that series.

Attendees at Just Desserts are always looking for great new series to try out...hopefully this "book share" opportunity will give us all new authors to explore! [ Check out the list of titles discussed at this meeting, in the Just Desserts Blog! ]


The Keepsake
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateThursday, June 27, 2013 -- 6:30-7:45 p.m.

In June, the group will tackle one of the Rizzoli & Isles mystery thrillers by Tess Gerritsen. Although the libraries due have the first in the series, The Surgeon [2001], as well as all of the other volumes produced so far, we're going with the 7th in the series, The Keepsake [2008], which is the earliest volume of which the libraries have enough copies to cover the size of the Just Desserts group. Here's the description: "He Hides. When an ancient mummy is discovered in the basement of a museum in down-town Boston, excitement starts to mount. Under the glare of a media frenzy, the mummy is taken to hospital for a CT scan. Forensic pathologist Maura Isles is also invited to attend. He Kills. As the CT scan proceeds everyone in the room leans in - and gasps in horror as an image of a bullet is revealed. Maura declares it a possible homicide, and calls in detective Jane Rizzoli. He Keeps. When the preserved body of a second victim is found, and then a third, it becomes clear that taking their lives is not enough for this terrifying killer. And that unless Maura and Jane can find and stop him, he will soon be adding yet another chilling piece to his monstrous collection."

The Keepsake is available in the following formats:
Hardback | Large Type | Book-on-CD | Downloadable Audio | Downloadable E-book

The Sentry
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateThursday, July 25, 2013 -- 6:30-7:45 p.m.

In July, we'll be reading a volume in the combined Joe Pike/Elvis Cole mystery series by Robert Crais. The series started in 1987 with The Monkey's Raincoat, by focusing on Elvis Cole, and The Sentry is the 14th in his storyline. However, Cole's sidekick Joe Pike has also spun off into his own series of novels, and The Sentry [2011] is considered to be the 3rd in the Joe Pike series as well. Here's the description: "Dru Rayne and her uncle fled to L.A. after Hurricane Katrina; but now, five years later, they face a different danger. When Joe Pike witnesses Dru's uncle beaten by a protection gang, he offers his help, but neither of them want it - and neither do the federal agents mysteriously watching them. As the level of violence escalates, and Pike himself becomes a target, he and Elvis Cole learn that Dru and her uncle are not who they seem - and that everything he thought he knew about them has been a lie. A vengeful and murderous force from their past is now catching up to them ... and only Pike and Cole stand in the way."

The Sentry is available in the following formats:
Hardback | Large Type | Downloadable Audio | Downloadable E-book

The Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateThursday, August 29, 2013 -- 6:30-7:45 p.m.

After a couple of serious books, we'll take a break in August with a funny mystery, this time one of Joanne Fluke's Hannah Swensen bakery who-dunits. We've got just enough copies of her premiere volume in the series, so let's try that one. Here's the description: "Hannah Swensen already has her hands full, between dodging her mother's attempts to marry her off, and running Lake Eden, Minnesota's most popular bakery, The Cookie Jar. But when the Cozy Cow Dairy's beloved deliveryman is found murdered behind Hannah's bakery with her famous Chocolate Chip Crunchies scattered around him, Hannah sets out to track down a killer. The more Hannah snoops, the more suspects turn up. This is one murder that's starting to leave a very bad taste in Hannah's mouth, and if she doesn't watch her back, her sweet life may get burned to a crisp"

The Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder is available in the following formats:
Hardback | Paperback | Book-on-CD | Downloadable E-book

Alone
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateThursday, September 26, 2013 -- 6:30-7:45 p.m.

In September, the Just Desserts group tackles the first volume in Lisa Gardner's popular D.D. Warren mystery/suspense/thriller series. Here's the description: "Alone . . . Massachusetts State Trooper Bobby Dodge watches a tense hostage standoff unfold through the scope of his sniper rifle. Just across the street, in wealthy Back Bay, Boston, an armed man has barricaded himself with his wife and child. The man’s finger tightens on the trigger and Dodge has only a split second to react . . . and forever pay the consequences. Alone . . . that’s where the nightmare began for cool, beautiful, and dangerously sexy Catherine Rose Gagnon. Twenty-five years ago, she was buried underground during a month-long nightmare of abduction and abuse. Now her husband has just been killed. Her father-in-law, the powerful Judge Gagnon, blames Catherine for his son’s death . . . and for the series of unexplained illnesses that have sent her own young son repeatedly to the hospital. Alone . . . a madman survived solitary confinement in a maximum security prison where he’d done hard time for the most sadistic of crimes. Now he walks the streets a free man, invisible, anonymous . . . and filled with an unquenchable rage for vengeance. What brings them together is a moment of violence—but what connects them is a passion far deeper and much more dangerous. For a killer is loose who’s woven such an intricate web of evil that no one is above suspicion, no one is beyond harm, and no one will see death coming until it has them cornered, helpless, and alone"

Alone is available in the following formats:
Hardback | Paperback | Book-on-CD | Downloadable Audio | Downloadable E-book

Carolyn Hart's Death on Demand series
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateThursday, October 24th, 2013 -- 6:30-7:45 p.m.
One week earlier than usual, so as not to conflict with Halloween!

For our final meeting of 2013, we'll be reading the early volumes in Carolyn G. Hart's Death on Demand series. Featuring mystery bookstore owner Annie Laurence Darling, and set on an island off the coast of South Carolina, these are a witty amateur sleuth series filled with references to classic mystery novels. The libraries only own a handful of each of the early books, so we won't all read the same volume -- everyone is encouraged to read at least one of the first 10 books in the Death on Demand series, and we'll discuss them in general terms as a group. Here are the first ten titles in the series:
Elmore Leonard
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateNovember and December 2012
Discuss the works of Elmore Leonard in the Just Desserts Blog!

Tishomingo BluesThe works of Elmore Leonard...author of nearly 50 mystery/thrillers in a lengthy writing career that spanned from 1953 to his passing earlier in 2013.

During our holiday hiatus in November and December 2013, we're going to continue to remain active...but once again, only in a virtual sense. During these two months, although we won't be gathering for an in-person meeting, members are encouraged to read any of the 40+ mysteries or thrillers by Elmore Leonard, then visit our Just Desserts Blog and comment on Elmore, his works and his writing style, in a specific discussion thread -- Click here for that specific post!

For some background on Elmore Leonard, and a complete list of his published works, please check out the Remembering...Elmore Leonard booklist on BookGuide -- produced and put online shortly after Leonard's passing on August 20, 2013. Leonard began his writing career by putting out novels and short stories in the Western genre. For the purposes of Just Desserts, we encourage you to avoid those, and pick one of his titles from The Big Bounce (1969) through Raylan (2012).

Heat Wave
Naked Heat
Heat Rises
Frozen HeatDeadly Heat
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateThursday, January 30, 2014 -- 6:30-7:45 p.m.

For our first meeting of 2014, we'll be discussing the five books (so far) in the Nikki Heat series by Richard Castle. These are the tie-in novels to the television series CASTLE, ostensibly written by the author character Richard Castle, portrayed by Nathan Fillion on the series. The characters in the novels are thinly veiled versions of the characters on the TV series, however they're still quite well written, and worth reading in their own right. We won't be discussing a specific single book in the series -- instead, Just Desserts members are encouraged to read any one or more of the novels and the group will discuss the fiction series on the whole. Here are descriptions of those first five books about Nikki Heat:

Heat Wave — "Tough and sexy New York police detective Nikki Heat leads the investigation into the death of a New York real estate tycoon who plunged to his death on a Manhattan sidewalk. She's hit with an unexpected challenge when the commissioner assigns superstar magazine journalist Jameson Rook to ride along with her to research an article on New York's Finest." [2009]

Naked Heat — "In the sequel to the New York Times bestselling Heat Wave, Richard Castle does it again with his thrilling new mystery. Tough, sexy, professional, NYPD Homicide Detective Nikki Heat carries a passion for justice as she leads one of New York City's top homicide squads. In what's sure to be another smash sensation by blockbuster author Richard Castle, readers will once again follow Nikki Heat and hotshot reporter Jameson Rook as they trade barbs and innuendos all while on the trail of a murderer!" [2010]

Heat Rises — "The bizarre murder of a parish priest at a New York bondage club is just thetip of an iceberg that leads Nikki Heat to a dark conspiracy that reachesall the way to the highest level of the NYPD. But when she gets too closeto the truth, Nikki finds herself disgraced, stripped of her badge, and outon her own as a target for killers with nobody she can trust. Except maybethe one man in her life who's not a cop. Reporter Jameson Rook. In the midst of New York's coldest winter in a hundred years, there's onething Nikki is determined to prove. Heat Rises." [2011]

Frozen Heat — "NYPD Homicide Detective Nikki Heat arrives at her latest crime scene to find an unidentified woman stabbed to death and stuffed inside a suitcase left on a Manhattan street. Nikki is in for a big shock when this new homicide connects to the unsolved murder of her own mother. Paired once again with her romantic and investigative partner, top journalist Jameson Rook, Heat works to solve the mystery of the body in the suitcase while she is forced to confront unexplored areas of her mother's background. Facing relentless danger as someone targets her for the next kill, Nikki's search will unearth painful family truths, expose a startling hidden life, and cause Nikki to reexamine her own past. Heat's passionate quest takes her and Rook from the back alleys of Manhattan to the avenues of Paris, trying to catch a ruthless killer. The question is, now that her mother's cold case has unexpectedly thawed, will Nikki Heat finally be able to solve the dark mystery that has been her demon for ten years?" [2012]

Deadly Heat — "Determined to find justice for her mother, top NYPD Homicide Detective Nikki Heat continues to pursue the elusive former CIA station chief who ordered her execution over a decade ago. For the hunt, Nikki teams once again with her romantic partner, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Jameson Rook. Their quest for the old spy and the motive behind the past murder unearths an alarming terror plot - which is anything but ancient history. It is lethal. It is now. And it has already entered its countdown phase. Complicating Heat's mission to bring the rogue spy to justice and thwart the looming terror event, a serial killer begins menacing the Twentieth Precinct, and her homicide squad is under pressure to stop him, and soon. The murderer, known for his chilling stealth, singles out Nikki as the exclusive recipient of his taunting messages, then names her as his next victim." [2013]

All books in the Nikki Heat series are available in a variety of formats. Click the title links above to check on availability.
An Unmarked Grave
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateThursday, February 27, 2014 -- 6:30-7:45 p.m.

In February, we trade the witty banter of the main characters in the Nikki Heat series for an atmospheric historical mystery by Charles Todd. Todd has two ongoing series, both set around the time period of World War I -- the Inspector Ian Rutledge series and the Bess Crawford series. Our book this month is #4 in the Crawford series, following a resourceful wartime nurse and the mysteries she becomes involved with. Here's the description of An Unmarked Grave: "In the spring of 1918, the Spanish Flu epidemic spreads, killing millions of soldiers and civilians across the globe. Overwhelmed by the constant flow of wounded soldiers coming from the French front, battlefield nurse Bess Crawford must now contend with hundreds of influenza patients as well. But war and disease are not the only killers to strike. Bess discovers, concealed among the dead waiting for burial, the body of an officer who has been murdered. Though she is devoted to all her patients, this soldier's death touches her deeply. Not only did the man serve in her father's former regiment, he was also a family friend. Before she can report the terrible news, Bess falls ill, she is the latest victim of the flu. By the time she recovers, the murdered officer has been buried, and the only other person who saw the body has hanged himself. Or did he? Working her father's connections in the military, Bess begins to piece together what little evidence she can find to unmask the elusive killer and see justice served. But the tenacious and impetuous nurse must be vigilant. With a determined killer on her own heels, each move she makes may be her last!"

An Unmarked Grave is available in the following formats:
Hardback | Downloadable E-book

The Heist
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateThursday, March 27, 2014 -- 6:30-7:45 p.m.

What do you get when you combine two bestselling humorous mystery novelists, like Janet Evanovich (the creator of Stephanie Plum), and Lee Goldberg (writer of the first 15 original novels featuring TV character Adrian Monk -- as well as creator of the TV series Diagnosis Murder)? A new series that's part mystery, part con job, and part comedic romance. Here's the description of The Heist: "A brand new series from #1 New York Times bestselling author Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg, bestselling author and television writer for Monk. What's an FBI agent to do after she's caught the world's most wanted - and irresistibly charming - con man? Partner up with him... Just when it seems that international crook Nicolas Fox has been captured for good, he pulls off his greatest con of all: he convinces the FBI to offer him a job, working side by side with Special Agent Kate O'Hare. Problem is, teaming up to stop a corrupt investment banker who's hiding on a private island in Indonesia is going to test O'Hare's patience and Fox's skill -- if the two don't kill each other first."

The Heist is available in the following formats:
Hardback | Large Type | Book-on-CD

Water Like a Stone
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateThursday, April 24, 2014 -- 6:30-7:45 p.m.

In April, we move from light-hearted fare back to somewhat more serious fiction, with a contemporary British mystery. Deborah Crombie's series featuring Scotland Yard Superintendant Duncan Kincaid and his young partner Gemma James has over a dozen volumes so far, and we'll be reading the eleventh. Here's the description of Water Like a Stone: "When Superintendant Duncan Kincaid takes Gemma, Kit and Toby to visit his family in Cheshire, Gemma is soon entranced with Nantwich town's pretty buildings and the historic winding canal, and young Kit is instantly smitten with his cousin Lally. But their visit is marred when, on Christmas Eve, Duncan's sister discovers a mummified infant's body interred in the wall of an old dairy barn; a tragedy hauntingly echoed by the recent drowning of Peter Llewellyn, a schoolmate of Lally's. Meanwhile, on her narrowboat, former social worker Annie Lebow is living a life of self-imposed isolation, preparing for a lonely Christmas, made more disturbing by an unexpected meeting earlier in the day. As the police make enquiries into the infant's death, Kincaid discovers that life in the lovely town of his childhood is far from idyllic, and that the dreaming reaches of the Shropshire Union Canal hold dark and deadly secrets..."

Water Like a Stone is available in the following formats:
Hardback | Book-on-CD

Series Share
Mystery fiction discussed on this dateThursday, May 29, 2014 -- 6:30-7:45 p.m.

After our successful experiment with a "series share" month in 2013, we're turning it into an annual May tradition here in 2014! Because the libraries have volumes in so many brand-new mystery series constantly being added to the collection, most of which we don't get in large quantities of copies, we're not assigning any specific authors or titles this month. Instead -- we encourage all attendees to sample a new "mystery", "suspense" or "thriller" series, which launched in the past few years (2011 to 2014). Come to Just Desserts prepared to give a nutshell description of the series, the protaganist, the setting, etc., and what your opinion is of that series. Extra points if it is a brand-new series, or a less-well-known author!

Attendees at Just Desserts are always looking for great new series to try out...hopefully this "series share" opportunity will give us all new authors to explore! [ Check out the list of titles discussed at this meeting, in the Just Desserts Blog! ]

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