Opening new worlds: Mysteries in translation

For those of us who love mystery novels, the quest for the next exciting detective or, better yet, the next series, is endlessly diverting. As it happens, this is a wonderful age for us, with the advent of many new absolutely top-notch works and series from abroad, best-sellers in their own countries, being released here in translation from their original languages. Whatever your area of interest, from Amsterdam to Tokyo, there is a novel for you!

The classic Maigret mysteries, by Georges Simenon, a Belgian writing in French, are the forerunners of this trend. Maigret, who appears in almost 80 novels, enjoys the pleasures of life as he pursues criminals. Another early example is The Fairy Gunmother, also originally in French, which established Daniel Pennac in France as a preeminent comic-thriller writer. His detective, named Malaussène, works as a professional scapegoat, taking the blame for others’ mistakes in Belleville, a racially diverse section of Paris. A series of madcap adventures ensue. Continue reading “Opening new worlds: Mysteries in translation”

Suburban sleuths

Not all private detectives smoke pipes, carry arms and drive little red sports cars. Some suburban moms and dads solve murders before and after carpooling in vans and oversize station wagons. Authors Jeffrey Cohen, Susan Isaacs, Valerie Wolzien and Jon Katz are four authors have created suburban sleuths. 

Jeffrey Cohen writes humorous mysteries set in New Jersey. For Whom the Minivan Rolls, A Farewell to Legs and As Dog Is My Witness feature stay-at-home dad Aaron Tucker. Prolific author Susan Isaacs author of the early classic Compromising Positions writes about the murder of a wealthy periodontist in suburban Long Island. Valerie Wolzien is the author of mystery stories starring Susan Henshaw, housewife and amateur sleuth whose first appears in Murder at the PTA Luncheon.  Jon Katz wrote a number of witty suburban mysteries in the 1990s including Death by Station Wagon and The Last Housewife.

In these last few weeks of summer, go ahead and sit back, relax and let a suburban sleuth take over. ~ Susan F.

Unleash your inner librarian!

image-of-library-stamp-courtesy-of-exlibrisWhat are the odds? The brand spanking new Library of Congress subject heading for “Public Libraries – California – anecdotes’” is getting quite a workout. In the past six months we have seen the publication of two humorous memoirs by librarians in the Los Angeles area: Don Borchert’s Free For All: Oddballs, Geeks and Gangstas in the Public Library and Scott Douglass’s Quiet Please: Dispatches from a Public Librarian. They’re both entertaining slices of the library life (or as I like to call it, “The Game”), and I recommend them both. You may have to get in line, as they are both proving to be very popular, and not just with library staff either! It seems a lot of you are interested in exploring your inner librarian. While you’re waiting to get a behind-the-scenes look at the glamorous, high-stakes world of public librarianship, let me introduce some of my favorite fictional librarians.

Meet Cassandra Mitchell, librarian of the small town of Sechelt, British Columbia. While perhaps less well-known than the prim and plucky Miss Helma Zukas just down the coast in Bellehaven, Miss Mitchell is smart, compassionate, resourceful, sexy, Continue reading “Unleash your inner librarian!”

Cozy up with a Northwest mystery author

Alpine Traitor book coverSeattle author Mary Daheim’s “Alpine” mystery series takes place in a gorgeous town in the Cascade Mountains where newspaper editor Emma Lord solves murders and still meets her weekly deadlines. Wondering where to start with this series? Daheim brilliantly titles these in alphabetical order, starting with The Alpine Advocate, The Alpine Betrayal and so on up to the newest entry, The Alpine Traitor, just out this spring. For more cozy nights, try Daheim’s Bed-and-Breakfast mystery series.

But wait! What in the world is a “cozy”? My friend asked me that Continue reading “Cozy up with a Northwest mystery author”

Demons Are a Ghouls Best Friend by Victoria Laurie

Book cover of Demons are a ghouls best friendWhen professional medium MJ Holliday hears that a boarding school in Upstate New York is being haunted by a terrifying phantom, she and her business partners rush out to banish the bad guy. With the help of the Lake Placid townsfolk and a friendly specter named Eric, MJ attempts to learn the truth about the ghostly “Hatchet Jack” and save the school from another terrifying semester.

There is a lot to love about Demons Are a Ghoul’s Best Friend — engaging characters (from the ghosts to the parrot), a romantic entanglement and a few hair-raising moments that will have you sleeping with the lights on, at least for a few nights. While reading about MJ and her pals, keep in mind that author Victoria Laurie is a professional psychic. This fact gives the book a bizarre credibility — and, besides that, it’s just cool.