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Reading Recommendations from Just Desserts members – January 2023

Hey, mystery fans! Looking for something good to read?

At the January 2023 Just Desserts meeting, 18 group members participated in our discussion of the series novels of British author Rhys Bowen.

Following the “assigned reading” portion of the meeting, we held our monthly round robin in which we had enough time for for 14 of the 18 attendees to share recommendations of what other books they’ve been reading recently, with an emphasis on mysteries/suspense/thrillers.

Here’s the list of mystery, thriller and suspense books recommended by Just Desserts members in January 2023:

And here were some non-mystery titles some group members also recommended in January 2023:

What mysteries have you been reading lately that you’d recommend?

Join the discussion on the series works by Rhys Bowen

Hey, mystery fans! Looking for something good to read?

At the January 2023 Just Desserts meeting, 18 group members participated in a discussion of the novels in three established series by British author Rhys Bowen — the Constable Evans series (1997-2006), the Molly Murphy series (2001-present), and the Her Royal Spyness series (2007-present).

Nobody seemed to absolutely “love” any of the series, but at the same time, only a few people truly disliked any of them. Most of the group’s readers fell into the category of generally liking whatever they’d chosen to read but not really being engaged enough that they will continue with the series they sampled. One observation that resonated with the group was that Rhys Bowen titles were great things to read “if you [were cooped up and] had the Flu” and needed something to entertain you but which didn’t require paying very close attention. There were still a few group members who were regular Rhys Bowen readers who will continue to be so!

Here are the Rhys Bowen series titles read by Just Desserts members for our January 2023 discussion, and each reader’s reaction:

So…What did you think of the works of Rhys Bowen? Which have you read?

This was our first“in person” meeting for 2023. Just Desserts returns on February 23rd, with a discussion of the first three novels by author S.A. Cosby. We hope to see you there!

Your 2022 Just Desserts hiatus Reading Assignment – The four Turing Hopper novels by Donna Andrews

During our traditional end-of-year holiday hiatus in November and December 2022, Just Desserts members are given the following reading suggestion: Any of the four books in the Turing Hopper mystery series by Donna Andrews — You’ve Got Murder (2002), Click Here for Murder (2003), Access Denied (2004) and Delete All Suspects (2005). You are encouraged to read any one or more of these four novels, then visit this very discussion post on the Just Desserts Blog and leave a comment in a response to that post, sharing your thoughts on whichever novel(s) you sampled.

For those who are unfamiliar with the Turing Hopper series, here are the plot descriptions from the library catalog:

You’ve Got Murder: When a workaholic techie misses work for several days, his friend, Turing, does the only neighborly thing and checks in on Zack. She checks to see if he’s logged in from home. No luck. Then she skims the databases of local banks. Nothing. Next she searches hospital records throughout the state. No Zack. Turing is no crazed stalker: she is an Artificial Intelligence Personality of Zack’s creation. But, unlike other AIPs, Turing is sentient-and she senses foul play. She finds clues, but Zack’s enemies may well lie in the real world — outside the digital realm of the AIPS — where Turing has no ability to move.

Click Here for Murder: In Andrews’s second exciting computer-as-sleuth mystery, “Artificial Intelligence Personality” Turing Hopper draws on all her cyber skills to help investigate the murder of a gifted computer programmer, Ray Santiago, found shot to death in a Washington, D.C., alley, his laptop stolen. Turing and human colleagues Maude Graham and Tim Pincoski at Universal Library outside D.C. discover that Ray cleverly constructed a false identity and was deeply involved in the role-playing game subculture. Dangerous criminals have been preying on those gamers who turn to live-action role playing. The narrative mimics real software with layers of security for access to different databases and with worms to deny access and destroy intruders. Explanations of a few technical terms will ease the way for readers with little computer background, but those who are computer literate will most appreciate the author’s talent for blending information-age details with an enjoyable crime puzzle. (From the Publisher’s Weekly review).

Access Denied: When Turing Hopper, Artificial Intelligence Personality extraordinaire, learns that criminal Nestor Garcia’s once-dormant credit card has been doing a lot of shopping lately, she begins to do some sleuthing — and finds out the loot’s shown up at an empty bungalow. So Turing gets her human friends to stake out the vicinity. But when one of them sees something he wishes he hadn’t-and gets charged with murder-everyone will have to pull together to clear his name. The only way to do it is to find the guilty party — by luring him to attack them. But doing so might very well get them “accidentally” deleted…

Delete All Suspects: After a hit-and-run leaves a young techie named Eddie in the hospital, Turing, an almost-sentient computer, tries to help her PI friend Tim find out who did it. While Turing tries to break into Eddie’s computers, her human friends do the legwork. It seems Eddie lets his seedy friends use his computers-and some are running highly unsavory websites. Others are using spam to con people out of their credit card numbers. Then the feds show up, looking for an online vigilante who’s also using Eddie’s computers. Now Turing and her friends are caught in the middle. They can’t let the vigilante continue-but they also can’t tell the FBI everything without revealing Turing’s identity to the world.

Catalog Links: The libraries own these four titles in physical print editions as well as e-Books — links above should go to all versions.

Your question: Which Turing Hopper novel by Donna Andrews did you read, and what was your opinion?

Reading Recommendations from Just Desserts members – October 2022

Hey, mystery fans! Looking for something good to read?

At the October 2022 Just Desserts meeting, 18 group members participated in our discussion of The Life and Works of P.D. James.

Following the “assigned reading” portion of the meeting, we held our regular monthly round robin in which 17 of 18 attendees shared recommendations of what other books they’ve been reading recently, with an emphasis on mysteries/suspense/thrillers.

Here’s the list of mystery, thriller and suspense books recommended by Just Desserts members in October 2022:

And here were some non-mystery titles some group members also recommended in October 2022:

What mysteries have you been reading lately that you’d recommend?

Join the discussion of The Life and Works of P.D. James

The Just Desserts mystery fiction discussion group held its final monthly meeting of the year on October 27th, 2022. Attendees discussed the Life and Works of British author P.D. James, with participants having read several different selections by this author. If you read any of James’ mystery novels, and would like to contribute your comments about it/them, please do so as a reply comment to this blog post, below.

P.D. James titles read by group members included: Death Comes to Pemberley (6 readers, 2 enjoyed it, 2 were so-so on it, and 2 didn’t care for it), Mistletoe Murder and Other Stories (short story collection – 4 readers, all 4 enjoyed it), Cover Her Face (3 readers, 2 who enjoyed it and 1 who didn’t), An Unsuitable Job for a Woman (2 readers, 1 who liked it and 1 who didn’t), Sleep No More (short story collection – 1 reader, who loved it), The Lighthouse (1 reader, who was so-so about it), Unnatural Causes (1 reader, who liked it), The Black Tower (1 reader, who liked it), Death in Holy Orders (1 reader, who liked it), Original Sin (1 reader, who liked it), The Murder Room (1 reader, who liked it), and Innocent Blood (1 reader, who didn’t like it).

For additional reminders about upcoming Just Desserts meetings (once they resume) and/or other announcements of interest to mystery fans, don’t forget to sign up for the Just Desserts e-mail list. Or, once in-person meetings are possible again, if you’re logged into your account on Facebook, you can visit the Events page for the Lincoln City Libraries, and mark whether or not you plan to attend upcoming sessions of Just Desserts – this is a great way for you to help us promote this engaging discussion group!

So…What did you think of the works of P.D. James? Which have you read?

The following handout was prepared for the members of Just Desserts: The Works of P.D. James.

This was our final “in person” meeting for 2021. Just Desserts is on its year-end hiatus in November and December, but will return in January 2023.