What happens when cranky, poorly motivated or seemingly-incompetent individuals are all sidelined together into a single work unit? They end up solving the mysteries that no one else could, of course. Or, at least, in fiction they do. These books are all the first in series that find professional pariahs taking care of business.
The Keeper of Lost Causes
by Jussi Adler-Olsen
Chief Detective Carl Morck has always been difficult to get along with, but he was tolerated because he was good at his job. Sidelined after a shooting left him injured and his partner paralyzed, Carl finds himself dubiously in charge of Department Q, responsible for cold cases. With just a lackluster assistant, Assad, Carl starts investigating the 5-year-old disappearance of politician Merete Lynggaard. The reader knows Lynggaard is still alive; can Carl and Assad find her? While darkly humorous, this novel shares elements with other Scandinavian Noir mysteries such as Steig Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, including some violence and a more somber undertone.
The Awkward Squad by Sophie Hénaff
French police officer Anne Capestan, on suspension for injudiciously firing her service weapon, expects to be fired. Instead, she’s put in charge of a new squad of misfits, including an officer considered bad luck and one who uses coworkers as inspiration for TV crime drama scripts. Consigned to a satellite office, they’re given boxes of cold cases to sift through. When Capestan and her crew start investigating the separate murders of an old woman and a sailor, the rest of the police force may not be prepared for what they find. With a light tone and humorous banter among the characters, this novel is a light read with a compellingly twisty set of mysteries at its heart.
The Department of Sensitive Crimes
by Alexander McCall Smith
McCall Smith, author of The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, is back with this first in a new series. Ulf Varg has been placed in charge of Malmö, Sweden’s Department of Sensitive Crimes, the group relegated to investigating crimes that are too minor or weird for the main Criminal Investigation Authority to deal with. Ulf and his quirky colleagues investigate three crimes: a market vendor who was stabbed in the knee; the disappearance of a made-up boyfriend; and the reports of a werewolf at a spa in the nighttime. As with McCall Smith’s other books, character thoughts and interpersonal relationships take the lead in the narrative, while the various mysteries investigated give the reader a look into Swedish society and culture.
The lake is where you want to be on a beautiful August day, unless you’re a character in a mystery novel. I’m here to tell you that, in my experience as an avid mystery reader, an idyllic remote lake can often double as the scene of a crime. Which is why these mysteries are wonderful choices for atmospheric lakeside (or backyard or park) reads.
Lady in the Lake by Laura Lippman: Baltimore in the 1960s is the setting for this noir-inspired stand-alone novel from Lippman. Maddie Schwartz leaves her husband and son and pursues her dream of being a journalist. She’s obsessed with two murders and her involvement by happenstance in the first one helps her land a job at a reporter. The second murder is the LADY IN THE LAKE, a tale that has all sorts of urban lore around the case. Lippman, in my opinion, is one of the finest crime fiction writers today and I eagerly anticipate each new book from her, and this one delivered. Booklist said in a review: “This is a superb character study, a terrific newspaper novel, and a fascinating look at urban life and racial discrimination in the ’60s.” This is a Peak Pick, too! Take it to the lake, but don’t stay in the water too long … Continue reading “Get Out of the Lake!”
Pulitzers, Bookers, Nobels – bah! For crime fiction fans it’s all about the Edgars. Last night the winners in several categories of crime and thriller books were announced at the Mystery Writers of America’s annual Edgar Awards ceremony: here’s a full list of these titles in our catalog, including non-fiction, books for children and teens, and the Mary Higgins Clark Awards for less violent novels with strong heroines.
As for the felonious Best In Show, we give you the nominees for the category of Best Novel:
Coordinated by the American Library Association, each year a group of librarians from across the country form The Reading List Council with the goal to identify the year’s best books across eight genres. Here are the 2019 winners (for books published in 2018) in Adrenaline, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Horror, Mystery, Romance, Science Fiction, and Women’s Fiction, plus the short list of runners up in each category. Find new titles in the genre you love, or branch out and find something new to try. You can also find this full list in our library catalog.
Safe Houses by Dan Fesperman
Managing CIA safe houses in 1979 West Berlin, Helen overhears a secret conversation that sends her on the run. Thirty-five years later, a tragedy leads Helen’s daughter to dig into her mother’s secret past, unaware that her mother’s old enemies are still watching. Continue reading “The best of genre reading in 2018”
If you’re already a mystery or thriller fan, you don’t need our help — this square is a freebie! But what if you don’t usually read crime novels? Not to worry — we have you covered: just find the kind of books you like below, and get reading!
Classics:The Shooting Party, by Anton Chekhov. The great playwright and short story writer’s only novel revolves around the mysterious death of a young woman, and the tangled web of suspects surrounding her.
Cookbooks: Recipes for Love and Murder, by Sally Andrew. This culinary cozy mystery set in dry rolling hills of South Africa’s Klein Karoo region comes complete with recipes!
Fantasy: The Lie Tree,by Frances Hardinge. Seeking her father’s murderer, young Faith finds a tree that feeds on lies, and bears truthful fruit.
Gaming: The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss, by Max Wirestone. In this offbeat series, our snarky heroine’s addiction to massively multiplayer online role-playing games draws her into a real life murder mystery.