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Tag Archives: mysteries

Recent Mystery Recommendations – March 2010

Just Desserts Logo 225Hey, mystery fans….looking for something good to read?
At the March Just Desserts meeting, after discussing our monthly “assigned” book, we did a round robin at the table, asking attendees to share what mysteries they’d been reading lately that they felt they could recommend. Here’s a list of the novels that were hot this month with this mystery-savvy crowd:

  • Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
  • The Case of the Substitute Face by Erle Stanley Gardner
  • The Silent Spirit by Margaret Coel
  • The Doomsday Key by James Rollins
  • The Cat, the Quilt and the Corpse by Leann Sweeney
  • The Ian Rutledge series by Charles Todd
  • The Scotland Yard series by Deborah Crombie (who will be Author Guest of Honor at the upcoming Mayhem in the Midlands mystery conference in Omaha, May 27-29, 2010)

So…what mysteries have you been reading lately that you’d recommend?

Jacqueline Winspear’s “Maisie Dobbs”

maisiedobbsJust Desserts Logo 225During our March 2010 meeting, we discussed Jacqueline Winspear’s historical mystery Maisie Dobbs; the first in her series featuring a young woman from a working-class British family who, after serving as a nurse during World War I trains to be a private investigator in London.

This book was discussed at the Just Desserts meeting on March 25, 2010. Whether or not you attended the actual meeting, you are welcome to share your own thoughts and opinions about this book in a reply comment to this blog post, below.

Join us next on April 29th at South Branch Library (6:45 p.m.), as we discuss Shirley Rousseau Murphy’s, Cat Fear No Evil. Additional titles for upcoming months’ discussions can be found on the Just Desserts section of the Book Groups page of BookGuide.

And, for reminders about upcoming Just Desserts meetings, don’t forget to sign up for the Just Desserts e-mail list.

Recent mystery recommendations from Just Dessert members – February 2010

Just Desserts Logo 225Hey, mystery fans….looking for something good to read?

At the February 2010 Just Desserts meeting, after discussing our monthly “assigned” book, we did a round robin at the table, asking attendees to share what mysteries they’d been reading lately that they felt they could recommend. Here’s a list of what genre books were hot right now with this mystery-savvy crowd:

  • Aunt Dimity Down Under  and others in the Aunt Dimity series by Nancy Atherton
  • Whisper in the Blood and other early volumes in the Kate Shugak series * by Dana Stabenow
  • The Lee McKinney mystery series by Joanna Carl
  • Key Lime Pie and others in the Hannah Swensen mystery series by Joanne Fluke
  • The Harper Connelly mystery series by Charlaine Harris
  • Cold Country by Sue Henry
  • The Kevin Kerney mystery series * by Michael McGarrity
  • Fire and Ice on CD, a Joanna Brady/J.P. Beaumont crossover * by J.A. Jance
  • The Return of Solar Pons by August Derleth
  • Watchlist – a collaborative serial thriller by Jeffery Deaver and 21 other thriller writers
  • Talking Detective Fiction by P.D. James
  • Sacrifice by S.J. Bolton
  • What the Dead Know by Laura Lippman

And finally…one of our members said he’d read a review in the new issue of Cat Fancy magazine of Shades of Grey, the latest in the Dulcie Schwartz cat-themed mystery series by Clea Simon (not currently in the libraries’ collection)

So…what mysteries have you been reading lately that you’d recommend?

(* – series that we’ve used for a past Just Desserts discussion)

“As my whimsy takes me.”

I’ve been thinking lately about how we all make reading choices. In the library, we realize that a LOT of our circulation comes from the items that we have out on display. Those book jackets that are displayed face-out provide all kinds of enticement and advertisement. Several people have mentioned to me that they seldom get beyond the displays and into the stacks (librarian lingo for shelves).

Earlier this month, though, I found myself in the fiction area, deep into those shelves because I had a yen to re-read an old favorite author, Dorothy L. Sayers.  I took home “Strong Poison,” which is when Lord Peter Wimsey falls for his true love, the wrongly accused Harriet Vane, and “Murder Must Advertise,” which I remembered enjoying some time ago. These are classics of the mystery genre. Lord Peter is an amateur detective, a high-class Lord with stellar upbringing, kind heart, and impeccable manners. His experience of the world leaves him never completely surprised.

These stories were written in the 1930’s, and that era combined with their British setting creates some excellent escapist reading.

Dorothy L. Sayers wrote so well. Many selections deserve to be read aloud just to savor her rich vocabulary and sense of the droll. As I’ve confessed before, I seldom try to work out a mystery as I read, but I had a strong sense of her weaving a web of clues and red herrings.

I noticed that the copies of these books that I checked out were added to the Lincoln City Libraries collection in 1968. I find myself wondering who else has read these copies, wondering what was happening in our world at that time, and pondering the timelessness of this excellent writing.

As the saying goes, “So many books, so little time!”  For many of us, those displays at the front of the library are all we need, and may be all we have time for. However, my happy reacquaintance with Lord Peter reminds me to remind you to consider what gems may be awaiting  you just a little farther into the library.

I Loved “In the Woods.”

In my reading life, I’m in the blissfully open season after I’ve read the current year’s American Library Association Notable Books list, and before the next list is announced in January.  I’ve got a pretty substantial mental list of titles, but found myself foundering for a title.  So I took a look at a list from Amazon of the “Best of 2008.” Indirectly, I found “In the Woods” by Tana French, because it was mentioned in the annotation for “The Likeness.”  And yes, I borrowed it from the library.

LOVED it.  I like a suspenseful mystery, and enjoyed the contemporary Irish setting.  This story of a detective whose childhood included the unsolved disappearance of two friends and his own lack of memory regarding the incident, set a perfect stage. Bob Ryan gets called back to his hometown when a girl is found murdered, not far from where he himself was found all alone 20 years before.

The relationship between Bob and his partner, Cassie, creates much of the energy in this story. Bob narrates, and the one quibble I have with this book is the Gothic-like “If only I’d known…” statements. Well, I appreciate being told that things won’t turn out perfectly, but I do find that repetitive refrain tiresome. It is with Cassie that things go especially badly.

I confess–when I read a mystery, I don’t try to follow the clues and solve the case. I just wait for it to unfold. I sensed that French revealed the story in a way that made sense (and would have made sense to the over-achievers who expect to solve the mystery on their own), and she made use of Bob’s blind spots for the reader to see what he would not.

This was just the kind of book I was seeking–I put off plenty of housework and even a few phone calls to friends and family to keep reading.

Even if you’re not usually a mystery reader, I might recommend this if you enjoy a story about people’s relationships when they’re put in a pressure cooker. It also has a feeling of those PBS and BBC Mystery series, where the detective and his/her assistant develop that relationship that propels the story into sublimity.