Jump to content
lady narcissa

Mysteries: Cosy, Cats, Capers, Historical, Medical, Procedural and everything in between

Recommended Posts

Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, lady narcissa said:

...Speaking of locations, I also have a stash of Donna Leon's Commissario Brunetti mysteries set in Venice that I also want to read.  Anyone read these?

Donna Leon's Brunetti books are very good, if quite melancholy in tone.  The sadness of a sinking city and the corporate corruption that is inherent in life around a US Airbase in Italy is pervasive in her books.  I think that reading them in order is important, as the characters grow and mature as the series progresses more so than in a lot of other mysteries where the detective character is rather static.  The other character with strong growth would be Decius in John Maddox Roberts' SPQR books, who grows and is damaged by the fall of the Republic and the destruction of his relationships that politics brings.

Thames TV and Granada created an entire televised version of both volumes of The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes - a couple of them are in this playlist, and some of the actors appearing as much younger versions of themselves will surprise you!  Most of the authors of the original anthology are well worth a read as well.

 

Edited by Wilbur

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Btw, thinking back a bit, I used to love Colin Dexter's Inspector Morse books, but it's been ages since I read them. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, lady narcissa said:

 

I would really like to read an Australian based mystery!  Sadly I think other than The Thorn Birds and a few historical romances, I've never read a book set in Australia.  That should change.

 

Maybe Jane Harper's The Dry or some Peter Temple novels, The Truth or The Broken Shore.

While not exactly mysteries, I really want to read some of Alan Furst's historical spy thrillers.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
On 5/14/2019 at 7:48 AM, lady narcissa said:

Oh come back and report after you've read them.  I haven't heard of either.  I picked up a Swedish mystery and I believe a Norwegian mystery that are both new to me authors and series - the names of which I cannot remember as they are at home - but which seemed interesting.  And I'd like to read more mysteries that take place in places other than the US and the UK.

 

Will do once I get to reading them. 

I just bought Arturo Perez Reverte's Club Dumas.  I thought I had already read this but I seemingly have not.    

Edited by Inkdaub
italics naturally

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
On 5/14/2019 at 7:46 PM, john said:

Ok, didn’t know that.  That’s too bad.  Although I read as much crime fiction as spec fiction, it doesn’t bring out my fandom side as much so I don’t tend to read around behind the scenes, from reading his Wiki now I also just found out he was Scottish!

Sansom is really a gift to any fan of crime and fantasy cause he gets across so well the absolutely alien landscape of Tudor England.

I truly admire the Sansom Shardlake books -- and that is entirely due to the primary character.  He is an admirable person, with some flaws, as all human beings have.  Most of all, as with the best historical fictions (Gentleman Jack series on HBO is likes this) allow one to feel inside the era, not witnessing it, and the Shardlake books are that.  The latest, Tombland, particularly so.

I just finished reading the latest in C.S. Harris's Sebastian St. Cyr series, Who Slays the Wicked. which was up to her best form.  I'm nearly to the end of the latest Tasha Alexander Lady Emily series too.  As per usual, so much about Lady Emily and the plotting and other characters are truly annoying, but they make for good audio while working out.

Along with the Shardlake novels, my other current historical mystery series is P.F. Chisholm's Sir Robert Carey sequence set in the earlier years of Queen Elizabeth reign.  They are particularly good at allowing us to inhabit rather than look at the time -- they come directly out of the life of the historical personage Robert Carey himself.  Most of the other characters also actually lived and did the things they do in Chisholm's books.

I've enjoyed Tana French's books very much -- until, oddly, the latest one, The Wych Elm (in the UK -- The Witch Elm in the US).  The primary character was both boring and irritating, and the story telling was so convoluted that it twisted right up its own, well you know.  At least that was my take on it.

The latest mystery I've read was Alafair Burke's The Better Sister.  Like The Wych Elm, it too has garnered excellent reviews, but I found it deeply unsatisfying -- the plotting was risibly unrealistic -- and again convoluted, in the palpable strain of the author to make it all work out.  

As well as being unsatisfactory reads for me, The Better Sister and The Wych Elm had in common protags who have always been life's Big Winners, and how they react when confronted with the first set-back they've ever experienced.  In the end, the set-back isn't really that bad, since they both are financially so well set-up.  These aren't people who end homeless,  jobless (except by choice -- and really powerful, lucrative jobs!), much less poor and without health insurance and legal representation. 

I also recently read Donna Leon's latest Commissario Brunetti novel, Unto Us a Son Is Given -- the quality is as high as any of her others. I read this books at least as much for the descriptions of contemporary Venice, the continuing ensemble characters (and new ones) of the Commissario's professional life, the Commissario's friends and family's increasing anger and melancholy to the environmental, legal, corporate and criminal corruption of the world in general, and Italy and Venice in particular.  The consequences of mafiaization of the globe are front and center.  This is not how the series began, so many books ago.  These qualities are what brought me to Andrea Camilleri's Inspector Montalbano series of books too, located primarily in the fictional Sicilian city of Vigàta, in the fictional region of Montelusa, based on the author's hometown and region.

These are my opinions only, of course, of authors I read regularly as their new books come out -- if new ones do, of course. :cheers:

 

 

Edited by Zorral

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
19 minutes ago, Zorral said:

...Donna Leon's latest Commissario Brunetti novel, Unto Us a Son Is Given -- the quality is as high as any of her others. I read this books at least as much for the descriptions of contemporary Venice, the continuing ensemble characters (and new ones) of the Commissario's professional life, the Commissario's friends and family's increasing anger and melancholy to the environmental, legal, corporate and criminal corruption of the world in general, and Italy and Venice in particular.  The consequences of mafiaization of the globe are front and center.  This is not how the series began, so many books ago...

That is an excellent characterization of the Leon mysteries!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
37 minutes ago, Zorral said:

I just finished reading the latest in C.S. Harris's Sebastian St. Cyr series, Who Slays the Wicked. which was up to her best form.  I'm nearly to the end of the latest Tasha Alexander Lady Emily series too.  As per usual, so much about Lady Emily and the plotting and other characters are truly annoying, but they make for good audio while working out.

OOo you enjoy Sansom and C.S. Harris?  I will for sure try the Sir Robert Carey series.

I read the first Lady Emily book but I didn't continue.  It was back around 2008 so I think its because the others weren't out at that time and I just failed to pick them up.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for starting this thread,  I used to read a ton of mysteries, but not as many in last 10 years, and needed to find some new authors to start over which you all are providing.

Some of my favorites over the years;

Started with the Hardy Boys owned by my brothers and Nancy Drew books owned by my sister,

then my mother's Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh, Dorothy Sayers, Georgette Heyer, Josephine Tey, and P.D. James.

then  a whole bunch more followed:

John D. MacDonald's Travis McGee books and his other stand alone books

Gregory McDonald's Fletch books and Flynn books, which were right next to the Travis McGee books on the shelves in the bookstores

Martha Grimes' Richard Jury and Melrose Plant mysteries

Ed McBain's 87th precinct stories

Tony Hillerman's Navajo mysteries

J.A. Jance's Sheriff Joanna Brady

Randall Garrett's Lord Darcy,  a bit different type of mystery, set in an alternate England where magic works, and Lord Darcy and his team uses the Laws of Magic to solve crimes.

Dick Francis' mysteries set in the world of horse racing

James Lee Burke's Dave Robicheaux series

Jeffrey Deaver's Lincoln Rhyme series

Lawrence Blocks' Matthew Scudder and Bernie Rhodenbarr books

Carl Hiassin's books,

Elmore Leonard's books

Dennis Lehane's books, both the stand alones and the Kenzie & Gennaro

Ellis Peter's Cadfael mysteries.  Derek Jacobi's excellent Cadfael on television lead me to the books.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
40 minutes ago, Leofric said:

Randall Garrett's Lord Darcy,  a bit different type of mystery, set in an alternate England where magic works, and Lord Darcy and his team uses the Laws of Magic to solve crimes. 

His Too Many Magicians is one of my favourites, despite almost no one in the UK apparently having heard of it.

It is an excellent twist on the locked room mystery - one committed at a London hotel hosting the triennial conference of the Most Ancient and Honourable Guild of Sorcerers. Not to mention the pastiches of various famous fictional characters scattered throughout the book.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

I had a friend who owned the Mystery Book Store in Omaha for years (it closed about 2 years ago), plus I often talk about reading with the librarians at my university. So I have heard of almost all the authors mentioned in this list, but I haven't actually read anything by most of them. :)

The one main exception is Steven Saylor -- I have so far read the first six novels in his Roma Sub Rosa series set in ancient Rome, plus the two books of short stories in the series which are chronologically set between the 1st and 2nd books he wrote. I really enjoy them -- though I thought the first book, Roman Blood, was not as good as the subsequent novels. I am really glad I did go on to read the second, Arms of Nemesis, which is a real favorite of mine. I'd recommend Saylor's series to anyone who likes historical fiction as well as mysteries.

http://www.stevensaylor.com/

 

Though I haven't read them myself, the librarians at my university really like several cozy mystery series:

"Agatha Raisin" series by M. C. Beaton:  http://www.mcbeaton.com/uk/books/agatha_raisin_mysteries/

"Domestic Diva" series by Krista Davis:  https://www.kristadavis.com/domestic-diva-mysteries/books.html

"League of Literary Ladies" series by Kylie Logan:  http://www.kylielogan.com/League-of-Literary-Ladies-Mysteries.aspx

"Bakeshop Mystery" series by Ellie Alexander: https://www.elliealexander.co/books/bakeshop-mystery-series/

"Chet and Bernie" series by Spencer Quinn: https://www.simonandschuster.com/series/The-Chet-and-Bernie-Mystery-Series

"Charles Lenox" series by Charles Finch: https://us.macmillan.com/series/charleslenoxmysteries/

"Maisie Dobbs" series by Jacqueline Winspear: http://jacquelinewinspear.com/books/maisie-dobbs/

 

Then, not as cozy, the librarians would also recommend:

"Shetland Island" mysteries by Ann Cleeves: http://www.anncleeves.com/shetland/index.html

"Harry Bosch"  and "Mickey Haller" books by Michael Connelly: https://www.michaelconnelly.com/series/

"Prey" series by John Sandford:  http://www.johnsandford.org/books.html

"Gamache" series by Louise Penny:  https://www.louisepenny.com/books.htm

"Dublin Murder Squad" series by Tana French:  http://www.howtoread.me/dublin-murder-squad-books-in-order/

 

Of course there's always Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers to recommend. I also rather liked Wilkie Collins' The Moonstone when I read it a few years ago. It was #19 on the list of "Best Novels of All Time" that "The Guardian" compiled in 2003:

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/jan/27/100-best-novels-moonstone-wilkie-collins

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Ormond

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This thread has gone from slightly dangerous to downright deadly.  I'm going to have to use serious willpower to not order every book that sounds potentially interesting this month and hope I find a bunch of them at the used book fair later this summer.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Back to back posting but I just came across an article I thought I'd share here.  I don't know about any of you but I don't limit myself to "adult" books.  I still read picture, children's, middle grade, and YA books.  As I mentioned in the first thread it was the Nancy Drew, Judy Bolton, and Trixie Belden girl detective series that got me hooked on mysteries when I was a tween.  So I've got a special fondness for girl detective series like that.  Just read this article about such a series that I've been meaning to check out - the Murder Most UnLadylike series by Robin Stevens.

https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/books/murder-most-unladylike-the-robin-stevens-series-brings-the-whodunnit-to-young-readers-1.3892209

I don't know if anyone has an interest in this or has a tween/teen in their life who might find it of interest.  But I thought I'd share in case.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for posting that about Sansom. Sad to hear :( 

I dont read much in the way of crime/mystery except Sansom but i do love Karin Fossum’s Inspector Sejer series. The protagonist is so endearing and mysteries always interesting

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 5/17/2019 at 7:22 PM, Ormond said:

"Prey" series by John Sandford:  http://www.johnsandford.org/books.html

I recently read a few of these.  They were great.  More thrillers than mysteries, with lots of police procedural stuff.  The action is intense, it’s puts you right in the shoot outs, car chases and whatnot.  There’s like 30 of them so I’m going to put them in my rotation.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Fans of Sansom might like to try the Seeker series by S.G Maclean. The protagonist works for Oliver Cromwell's spymaster and the stories have elements of murder mystery and espionage. I've really been enjoying them.

As an aside, I hate this genre trend for using the initials of the author's name instead of the first name. Not sure what the point of it is and I always struggle to remember the exact initials (that could be just me, of course).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As a kid/teenager I must have read all Sherlock Holmes, a few Father Brown, most of Agatha Christie's and lots of Edgar Wallace. A few months ago I found a bunch of AC and first thought, I would not care for them anymore. I read a handful and was mostly pleasantly surprised. Several were actually new to me or I had completely forgotten them, so I didn't know the solution. (I remembered one main twist of the ABC murders, but not the whole thing). Sure, some things are conceited but overall they hold up well. I admit that I also like the glimpses into the rather different society of the 1930s-50s.

Then I did not read much of the genre for years before I somehow got back around the age of 30 and read all of Sayers, quite few others "golden age" (without any completeness) Charlie Chan, Dickson Carr, Ellery Queen, Ngaio March, etc. Sayers are much more than mysteries, of course, sometimes a bit much.

Also the 10 Sjöwall/Wahlöö (Martin Beck) which are a mixed bag and heavy-handed politically sometimes (both were dedicated Euro commies) but they are the founding series of the "Scandinavian mystery" and worth a try (cannot remember which one's are the best, certainly not the first one but maybe one has to start at the beginning). Another European classic that is worthwhile but mixed (I liked the first one that is somewhat untypical best) is the Grijpstra/De Gier series by Janwillem van de Weetering. I guess both Sjöwall/Wahlöö and van de Weetering are very "1970s" at their core which might spark more interest or repulse some people (actually, half of the Sjöwall/Wahlöö are still 60s).

- Of Donna Leon's I read a handful or so of the earlier ones and even then I had the impression that they always centered around very similar themes. Not a fan.

- The Cormoran Strike series is not very good, IMO. I don't think it would have got of the ground without Rowling's name. I read the first three because my sister gets them anyway, so I can borrow them.

- Fred Vargas. This was highly recommended to me by my brother and it's worth a try because it contains brilliance without a doubt. But I quit after about three, though because I found them a bit too implausible, extremely "constructed" and I also don't like the characters (that are supposed to be excentric and likeable, I guess).

Anyway, I will mention a few that are special favs of mine or some that I consider classics have not been mentioned at all so far.

- Judge Dee: This is the only historical series I read and while I have not re-read any since I read them ca. 2005-7 I absolutely loved them. And all I know about Medieval China I learned there, highly recommended.

- Rex Stout, i.e. Nero Wolfe and Archie (I read only one of his others which is also quite good, basically a single sidequel with a "female dick" (i.e. woman detective)). Sure, there are a few weaker ones but if one loves the general style, the mystery is not even that important

- Friedrich Glauser: Sergeant (Wachtmeister) Studer. Glauser was a somewhat tragic figure, a brilliant drug addict. This is unusual because a) the main detective is an elderly officer of low rank and b) 1930s rural Switzerland is rather different from the typical "classic" (or most modern, although by now everything has been explored as crime mystery setting). It's only 4? novels, though

- Leo Malet: Nestor Burma. (about two dozen, I have not read all) This is Paris in the 1940s/50s, basically Marlowe or Spade in France. Atmospheric, noir, and quite different from the usual fare, I'd say, although it's been a while I read them, so I cannot be more specific.

I see "The Moonstone" has been mentioned already, so I'll add two more unsual ones:  E.T.A. Hoffmann Mademoiselle de Scuderi (1820) which must be one of the first mysteries in the history of literature (and it is also historical, taking place during the reign of Louis XIV.). And Leo Perutz The master of the day of judgment (1921) a brilliant piece (although it pivots around one main twist, so not great for re-reading) taking place in pre-WW I Vienna.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, Jo498 said:

Also the 10 Sjöwall/Wahlöö (Martin Beck) which are a mixed bag and heavy-handed politically sometimes (both were dedicated Euro commies) but they are the founding series of the "Scandinavian mystery" and worth a try (cannot remember which one's are the best, certainly not the first one but maybe one has to start at the beginning)

I would say The Laughing Policeman was the best one by some way.

 

11 hours ago, Jo498 said:

Judge Dee: This is the only historical series I read and while I have not re-read any since I read them ca. 2005-7 I absolutely loved them. And all I know about Medieval China I learned there, highly recommended. 

The books are deliberately stylised, with relatively little emphasis on characterisation, but they do drop you right into the period, and I also like them. The Haunted Monastery might by a good one to try.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I found Sjöwall/Wahlöö interesting enough to read them all in order (not sure if I kept the order) but I am not sure I'll ever read them again. My favorite character is that somewhat snobbish assistant Larsson of Beck's and he does play a larger role in one or two of them (I think the one with the arson/fire). "The laughing policeman" is also good, I just looked up the plot and remembered it.

(NB I don't think I have read any of the later Scandinavians like Wallander with the exception of the horrible "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" which I quit after the first book.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Jo498 said:

I found Sjöwall/Wahlöö interesting enough to read them all in order (not sure if I kept the order) but I am not sure I'll ever read them again. My favorite character is that somewhat snobbish assistant Larsson of Beck's and he does play a larger role in one or two of them (I think the one with the arson/fire). "The laughing policeman" is also good, I just looked up the plot and remembered it.

(NB I don't think I have read any of the later Scandinavians like Wallander with the exception of the horrible "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" which I quit after the first book.)

I don't get the popularity of this series. I couldn't finish the first book either.

A unique mystery series is Ben Winters's The Last Policeman trilogy which are set against the backdrop of an inevitable world-ending asteroid strike. The first book follows the Detective Hank Palace as he investigates a suicide. Mind you, with the end of the world approaching, suicides are prevalent, but this one seems a bit suspicious. And why should Hank care about a suspicious suicide when nobody else does? The world is ending. The pre-apocalyptic setting was what was so interesting about the novel. Society unraveling or barely holding itself together. I've only read the first novel in the series so far, but have been meaning to read last two. No knock on the book, I've been having a a tough time completing any series recently.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×