Mystery Challenge: Historical Mysteries

~by Jen B.

If you love a good historical murder mystery, you’ll be ready for sleuths to do their own leg work and be adept at deciphering psychological clues. Although they lack modern technology and forensics, these stories, set over 50 years ago, showcase the bygone talents of great minds. A few time periods provide more fodder for heinous crimes than others. For instance, the Victorian age, during which Jack the Ripper roamed East London and Sherlock Holmes gained prominence as a consulting detective of keen intellect and masterful puzzle-solving skills. The Middle Ages and early Renaissance (5th to the 15th centuries) are also periods of intrigue tapped by many authors and loved by readers – times of religious strife, plagues, brutal living conditions and truly horrible weather. Puzzlers set just after World War I and during the Roaring Twenties are also popular with readers.

Click here to find The Face of a Stranger in the SPL catalogClick here to find The Cater Street Hangman in the SPL catalog   Click here to find The Yard in the SPL catalogClick here to find Some Danger Involved in the SPL catalog
Continue reading “Mystery Challenge: Historical Mysteries”

Romantic Wednesdays: Making the Roaring 20s Roar

~posted by Marlene H.

What made the Roaring 20s roar? Or in the case of romance, maybe that should be RAWR! Thanks to Downton Abbey, there has been a revival of stories set in the 1920s, and wow!

Not all stories with romance in them are necessarily romances. But romance certainly adds spice to a tale that has plenty of other things going on.

phryne and jack 2My current favorite example is Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. Set in 1920s Australia, this TV series features a female private investigator who seems to fall into cases, and dead bodies, wherever she goes. But Phryne’s adventures have led her to collaborate, and sometimes work against, Detective Inspector Jack Robinson of the Melborne police. While they solve crimes together, Phryne and Jack have an absolutely simmering chemistry that makes viewers ask themselves: “Will they or won’t they?” (I think the question is “when will they?” myself) But the sparkle of their banter, whether it involves their current crime or the mystery of their relationship, is utterly entrancing. Continue reading “Romantic Wednesdays: Making the Roaring 20s Roar”

Extreme outdoors

Although I’m fairly wimpy in “real life,” I enjoy the vicarious experience of reading about other peoples’ travails in harsh climates. Here are some favorite tales of true adventure and survival (with a bit of history thrown in):

Cruelest MilesThe Cruelest Miles by Gay Salisbury
When isolated Nome, Alaska, was struck by a diphtheria epidemic in 1925, the serum needed to treat the disease was 1,000 miles away. Twenty teams of sled dogs raced through minus 60-degree temperatures to transport the medicine. This gripping account describes their epic quest, a journey that later inspired the annual Iditarod race. Continue reading “Extreme outdoors”

Crime: Philip Kerr – Back to Berlin.

Find Philip Kerr's Berlin Noir in the Seattle Public Library catalog.Way back in 1989, British author Philip Kerr published March Violets, a hardboiled mystery in which tough, tarnished private investigator Bernhard Gunther plunged into the depthless iniquities of Nazi Berlin in search of some small sliver of justice. This was followed up by two other moody period novels featuring Gunther – The Pale Criminal and A German Requiem, and all three books were subsequently published together as Berlin Noir, a trilogy that deeply influenced much of today’s WWII thrillers by such authors as Alan Furst, J. Robert Janes, Paul Grossman, Joseph Kanon and Jonathan Rabb. Quite few readers have mentioned Berlin Noir to me as one of their all-time favorites, and I agree. Continue reading “Crime: Philip Kerr – Back to Berlin.”

Crime Thursday: When history and mystery mix

Being a pacifist, I’m not sure why I find it so relaxing to read a good murder mystery. English crime writer P.D. James, in her autobiography Time to Be in Earnest, offers the following explanation for why mystery aficionados enjoy the genre:

“…the catharsis of carefully controlled terror, the bringing of order out of disorder, the reassurance that we live in a comprehensible and moral universe and that, although we may not achieve justice, we can at least achieve an explanation and a solution.” Continue reading “Crime Thursday: When history and mystery mix”