When 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.
The one thing these mysteries have in common: smart, independent, funny and resourceful women. These are today’s detectives — a little younger and a lot hipper than many of the sleuths you’ve met in long-running mystery series (you know, those series that have initials or numbers in their titles). If you’re looking for romantic suspense, look elsewhere. These women have crimes to solve.
Curse of the Spellmans by Lisa Lutz
P.I. Izzy Spellman’s newest obsession is unraveling the secrets of her next door neighbor (a.k.a. Subject) whose landscape business is certainly a cover for darker intrigue. Witty and oh-so-cool in San Francisco. Get to know Izzy in The Spellman Files, the first book in the series.
Christietown by Susan Kandel
Cece Caruso, an L.A. biographer of famous mystery authors, stages a Miss Marple play that brings down the house — and the leading lady. Great authentic tie-ins to Agatha Christie (and her real-life 11-day disappearance), just like Kandel wove Dashiell Hammett and Nancy Drew’s legacy into her earlier mysteries.
Dead Ex by Harley Jane Kozak
Artist Wollie Shellie takes a silly job on a TV talk show called SoapDirt, and soon gets tangled in Continue reading “Cool women, hot mysteries”
If you find secret corridors and hemlock poison more interesting than gunfire, you may enjoy this collection of mysteries set in medieval England, Scotland and Ireland. Each of the books listed below is one of a series that revolves around a particularly engaging sleuth for whom the plagues, politics, and superstitions of the medieval world are normal facts of life and the best tools available for solving crimes are a keen intellect and a strong understanding of human nature.
Absolution by Murder by Peter Tremayne
The 17 books in the Sister Fidelma mystery series begin with this tale of murder investigated by our heroine Fidelma, who is both a nun and a “dlaigh,” or “advocate,” permitted to practice law in the Irish courts. The religious divisions, political climate and surprising degree of gender equality found in seventh-century Ireland shine in the background as our clever and diplomatic detective unlocks secrets and saves the day.
Monk’s Hood: The Third Chronicle of Brother Cadfael by Ellis Peters
Much-loved sleuth Brother Cadfael brings his skills as an herbalist to bear when a visitor to Shrewsbury Abbey exhibits symptoms of a dangerous poison. Though this third Brother Cadfael mystery is set in a monastery, others take place in exotic settings and in the days before Cadfael took his vows. Nearly two dozen books lie in store for the Cadfael fan.
The Prioress’ Tale by Margaret Frazer
Misery sweeps the abbey in the wake of domineering Domina Alys’s ascension to Prioress, as her unfair rules and unwise decisions threaten ruin to the nuns and their beloved home. When a family feud leads to murder, Continue reading “Medieval Mysteries of Britain.”
I don’t know why, but somehow reading a good mystery has a soothing effect on me. Go figure. The Library has lots of mysteries, but how to know which ones you will like? Librarians are always happy to talk to you and try to match up your tastes with the “right” book. There are also some great lists of recommended mystery reading, and here are some to get you started:
The Independent Mystery Booksellers Association has come up with a wide-ranging list of excellent mysteries, The 100 Favorite Mysteries of the 20th Century.
To see what other Seattlites are reading, check out Continue reading “Sleuthing for a good mystery?”
Okay, so it is over. Case closed. After five captivating years, HBO’s lauded series The Wire calls it a wrap. Now what do we do? Aside from chain-watching DVDs of the series (and its excellent Baltimore precursor, Homicide: Life on the Street), we’re seeing a lot of Wire fans in withdrawal are turning to books to prolong the feeling. This is hardly surprising given the series’ strong literary ties. Here are some of our favorite gritty tales of the street from Baltimore and beyond:
- The Corner: A Year in the Life of an Inner City Neighborhood, by David Simon and Edward Burns. It all starts here, with this searing, compassionate account of the hard realities underlying America’s drug culture and its victims. Wire co-creators Simon and Burns refuse to oversimplify an intractable problem twisted up with issues of race, class and unbridled capitalism. See also Simon’s Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets.
- The Night Gardener, by George Pelecanos
This insightful story of an old unsolved crime and its lingering effects on three police is just the latest in a succession of outstanding novels stirring up the murky moral depths on both sides of the law, by a prolific Washington DC author and Wire contributor.
- Mystic River, by Dennis LeHane
After penning five terrific Boston-based hardboiled mysteries, Wire contributor Lehane had a major breakthrough with this richly textured, haunting psychological thriller about the hidden wellsprings and lasting effects of crime.
- Lush Life, by Richard Price
Another accomplished writer recruited into The Wire’s stellar stable, Price’s unflinching, morally-complex crime Continue reading “The Wire finale: now what? (A reading list).”