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Topic: The weather's getting cold and I need some mysteries to curl up with!

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Subject: The weather's getting cold and I need some mysteries to curl up with!
Date Posted: 10/30/2008 11:31 PM ET
Member Since: 8/30/2007
Posts: 3,237
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I honestly haven't read a good mystery series in AGES. Can you recommend one for me? Now, let me say that I have been reading mysteries for 20 years+ so I've at least dabbled in most. I've read at least a few by Sue Grafton, Jonathan Kellerman, Marcia Muller, Martha Grimes, Patricia Cornwell (well, only one of hers)--all the old, tired authors, in other words.

What I like: historical mysteries, esp. American or British...some detective or police procedurals...I like a main character I can really get to know and root for. Some of my fave authors are Ngaio Marsh, Barbara Hambly, Jane Langton, Deborah Crombie, Charles Todd.

What I dislike: "cute" mysteries with crime-solving caterers, interior decorators, tea shoppe owners, or cats. I don't dismiss books with crimes solved by amateurs, but I haven't read many that I liked. I'm not really interested in forensics/CSI stuff.

Older books are fine--as I said, I'm a Ngaio Marsh fan. I like Nero Wolfe/Rex Stout, too.

Any ideas for me?

Date Posted: 10/31/2008 9:09 AM ET
Member Since: 2/21/2008
Posts: 310
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Try: Patricia Wentworth.  Her books are a sort of "Miss Marple".  In fact, they were written at the time of Agatha Chrisie's more popular books.  They take place in England and most were written in the post-war era.  They can be read in any order.

Try: Julia Spencer-Fleming.  I was recommend her books by others on this site and I just finished reading my first one last night.  They take place in a small town in Upstate New York.  The first book In The Bleak Midwinter starts when a baby is found outside the church steps.  A note is also found.  It takes off from there.  Well-written, and full of suspense.

Try: Joanne Dobson.  Her books are about a college professor who teaches classic literature at a small private college.  They are a mix of murder and literature sleuthing.  The first is Quieter than Sleep.  I have recommended this series to many people and all have loved it.

Try: Barbara Michaels.  She is a mix of mystery, paranormal and a little romance.  She also mentions in her books about archiving historical artifacts such as textiles.  They are not a series-you can read any book and you have a new set of characters.  My favorite is Vanish With The Rose but many say it is not her best book.  Try Patriot's Dream or Shattered Silk.   (I have one Barbara Michaels book on my shelf.  If you are interested, let me know. No charge!)

Try: Jaqueline Winspear.  Her series, "Masie Dobbs" is about a female detective in post-WWI England.  The first book is more of a novel than a mystery, but it helps you understand the character's motivation.  If you are looking for a historical mystery series, this is it.

None of these are the 'cutsie' style.  They are solid mysteries.  There really is no "Gee, I found a body-I will withold evidence from the police and try to solve it on my own while baking bread/knitting a sweater/organizing a cat adoption bazaar" type of characters.  None of these books have recipes or knitting patterns in the back!  They do have hints of character romance, but that is all, hints :-)

Hope this helps,



Last Edited on: 10/31/08 11:18 AM ET - Total times edited: 3
Sharon C. (Mamu) - ,
Date Posted: 10/31/2008 10:33 AM ET
Member Since: 3/12/2007
Posts: 1,154
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I second Deb's mention of Julia Spencer-Fleming.   I'm a life-long mystery reader and it's hard to fool me or to impress me.  However,  I've found quite a few new authors this year as I've done my ABC reading challenge.  I do like my books a bit "darker" but not necessarily gruesome and I usually read more contemporary than you say you do.  I dislike cozies that like Deb said:  "Gee, I found a body-I will hold evidence from the police and try to solve it on my own while baking bread/knitting a sweater/organizing a cat adoption bazaar."

Here's some of my favorite authors that might fit your profile: 

Jeffery Deaver's Lincoln Rhyme series is great of course and he is a deviously tricky writer!  He has one stand alone that was just amazing about the Nazi era called Garden of Beasts that I would HIGHLY recommend for a fireplace read.

Other authors:  CJ Box  (Wyoming)

Jo Bannister (British series and some stand-alones) 

Thomas Zigal has a protaganist who is a sheriff (or the equivalent) in Colorado and is an aging hippie.  I love the character.

Peter Robinson (British police)

Carol O'Connell (Captivating, incredibly intelligent series-Kathy Mallory main character)

Laura Lippman  and Jan Burke (both of these remind me of Muller in voice)

Elizabeth Geoge (if you havne't read hers)

Nevada Barr  (Anna Pigeon, a park ranger in various national parks)

David Hunt (AKA George Bayer) another just excellent writer with a twist on the ordinary mysteries.  

I'm sure there are more.  And some of these are series which I think, always means some titles that are excellent and some only good.  But I like being able to count on at least a minimum level of writing and these all have that.

Date Posted: 10/31/2008 10:46 AM ET
Member Since: 8/30/2007
Posts: 3,237
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Thanks guys! I've read Julia Spencer-Fleming, Barbara Michaels, Jacqueline Winspear, Carol O'Connell, Jan Burke, Elizabeth George and Nevada Barr. And maybe Laura Lippman--the name sounds very familiar. But the others are new to me, so I'm off to search the database! :-)

"Gee, I found a body-I will hold evidence from the police and try to solve it on my own while baking bread/knitting a sweater/organizing a cat adoption bazaar." type of characters.--THAT's what I was getting at! I can remember wanting to find Goldy the caterer years ago and commit my own murder mystery on her!

I do like books that are a bit darker/complex. Gruesome is okay but I don't like tons of it. And I like romance, if it grows naturally out of the characters. And the longer the book, the better, IMO.

Date Posted: 10/31/2008 5:14 PM ET
Member Since: 8/15/2007
Posts: 10,629
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Try Minette Walters - her older books almost have a cozy feel, but more because of their English-ness - there are tea drinkers but no tea shop owners.  The later books are more mystery/psychological suspense.


I also started the John March series by Peter Spiegelman.  It was recommended to me by a local mystery book shop owner.  I have only read Black Maps, but I enjoyed it.

Last Edited on: 10/31/08 5:16 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 11/1/2008 12:59 AM ET
Member Since: 3/4/2008
Posts: 1,673
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Janelle, for a bit darker/complex you should try John Connolly, Mo Hayder, Cody McFadden and maybe Karin Slaughter.   I really like these authors (not dark and gruesome) Robert Crais, James Grippando, William Lashner, James Swain, Greg Iles, David Rosenfelt, Tami Hoag, Richard Montanari.......ok, I'll stop!

Date Posted: 11/1/2008 4:47 PM ET
Member Since: 10/2/2007
Posts: 3
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You might try John Harvey. British procedurals by one of the finest writers around-in any genre. The Charlie Resnick series( start with "Lonely Hearts" if possible) or the Frank Elder series. Both are great,complex,and interesting main charecters.

Also- Have you reas the John Sandford "Prey" series?

Date Posted: 11/1/2008 11:15 PM ET
Member Since: 8/30/2007
Posts: 3,237
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Ooh, lots of names I haven't tried yet (except Robert Crais and Tami Hoag)! Thanks SO much!!! Now I just need to amass more credits...LOL.

Date Posted: 11/4/2008 6:29 PM ET
Member Since: 7/29/2008
Posts: 1,520
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Either you have to stop posting here or I have to stop reading them!!!!! LOL    I had stopped ordering or even adding things to my WL until I worked by TBR pile down a bit...then, I start reading all your suggestions and that idea went out the window!!! 


Currently reading The Wyndham Case by Jill Paton Walsh (picked up the 3rd in the series...brand new copy...for $1 at the Dollar Store and decided I should read the first two!);  just finished Lake of Sorrows by Erin Hart (has she written more than two?) .

Date Posted: 11/7/2008 11:37 PM ET
Member Since: 8/30/2007
Posts: 3,237
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Well, I've read a Jo Bannister, a Thomas Zigal, and a Joanne Dobson so far, and totally enjoyed them all...I'm moving my way through the list and I really appreciate the recommendations!

Last Edited on: 11/7/08 11:38 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 11/8/2008 7:44 AM ET
Member Since: 5/20/2008
Posts: 2,161
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If you like historical type mysteries, I am enjoying Kate Kingsbury's "Manor House" mysteries. They are set in a village called "sitting Marsh" in WWII England. Very cozy. They are not cutsey, but their is a single romance that develops over the 9 books. The first book is the worst in the series to me- but, its only bad because the lead character is presented as such a snob (which was necessary to show her gradually becoming more "real" as she gets to know the villagers during the war, as well as Major Earl).These *are* lighter faire though.

I second Patricia Wentworth.

I will add Edmund Crispin to this list- who I learned about in this forum. The language alone is enough to warrant a read of Crispin! Crispin is *not* like Stout, and yet there is the same "tongue in cheek" humor of Stout. Crispin is known for unbelievable mysteries such as the  "locked room" scenerios. "Moving Toyshop" is considered his best.


Geri (geejay) -
Date Posted: 11/25/2008 4:45 AM ET
Member Since: 9/2/2008
Posts: 9,094
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Maybe this isn't quite what you're interested in but I really like Iris Johansen's Eve Duncan series and I'm just finishng her book Firestorm.  I've really gotten into it and almost hope it becomes a series.  I say almost because of the way it's unfolding and I don't think it can go that road at this point.   

Date Posted: 11/25/2008 8:31 AM ET
Member Since: 12/19/2007
Posts: 2,408
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Not English but still very good...you should try C.J.Box's Joe Pickett series, Craig Johnson's Walt Longmire series, Michael McGarrity's Kevin Kearney series and Steve Hamilton's Alex McKnight series. All of these are set in the American West...well, Wyoming, New Mexico and U.P. Michigan..not sure if that one counts. Anyhow, nothing cute about any of them but they are fun reading.
Date Posted: 11/25/2008 10:49 AM ET
Member Since: 7/14/2007
Posts: 8,942
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I just finished two by Simon Beckett - Chemistry of Death and Written in Bone.  Set in England/Scotland - not historical but with a lot of atmosphere and forensic detail.

You may also like the Monkeewrench books by PJ Tracy.  Set in Minnesota, with very intriguing characters.  Not your usual plot line.

Date Posted: 11/27/2008 11:20 PM ET
Member Since: 10/10/2006
Posts: 43
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Not English, but James Grippando's Jack Swytek series and John Sandford's Prey books with Lucas Davenport, also Lee Child with Jack Reacher are all great!

Date Posted: 12/10/2008 11:54 AM ET
Member Since: 8/23/2007
Posts: 26,510
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I don't know if anyone mentioned it or not, but C.S. Harris has a historical mystery series that's really good.  The main character is Lord Sebastian St. Cyr.  He's the reluctant heir to an earldom. In the 1st book he is accused of a murder.  After solving that murder he is asked to solve others.  They take place in Regency England.

Date Posted: 12/10/2008 12:54 PM ET
Member Since: 3/12/2007
Posts: 28,930
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I like Rex Stout, too ... which leads me to some oldies but goodies.  They're not long, but there are quite a few of them!  Try The Saint books, by Leslie Charteris, and The Shadow novels by Maxwell Grant (aka Walter Gibson)

Also, Max Allan Collins has several books featuring real authors who solve ficitonal crimes in their historical settings.  The series includes The Hindenburg Murders (featuring Leslie Charteris), The Lusitania Murders (SS VanDine), The War of the World Murders (Maxwell Grant and Orson Wells), The Pearl Harbor Murders (Edgar Rice Burroughs) and others ... I found them interesting, because Collins does a passable job of adopting the feature author's writing style ... being a Saint and Shadow fan, it was a nice touch.

Geri (geejay) -
Subject: Wiped Out by Barbara Colley
Date Posted: 1/6/2009 7:38 PM ET
Member Since: 9/2/2008
Posts: 9,094
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Check out Wiped Out by Barbara Colley under the following ISBN.  It has no Wish List.  The book has seven people on the WL.  I checked Amazon and found that the book that is WL is the large print version.  I wonder if somwhow the wrong ISBN was chosen.

I've just finished it and really enjoy the series. 

This is the large print version:

  • ISBN-10: 1587249510
  • ISBN-13: 978-1587249518
  • This is the mmpb
  • ISBN-10: 0758207638
  • ISBN-13: 978-0758207630
  • Date Posted: 1/7/2009 9:46 AM ET
    Member Since: 6/21/2006
    Posts: 1,311
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    No one has mentioned Agatha Christie, but surely you've read her books.  How about Dorothy Sayers and Dick Francis?