After I wrote about The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, I received so many recommendations of outstanding mystery series, and I wanted to share with you.
First, Pam wrote: “May I also suggest, the next time you are interested in phenominal prose, breathtaking attention to the human psyche and darned good mysteries , that you look up Louise Penny? First in the series: Still Life.
I have all to date from Audible.com, and this is one series that ‘listens’ better than it ‘reads’, IMHO.”
And of course, Bookmatcher Billie Bloebaum had a list of books to recommend:
‘Zulu’ by Caryl Ferey is set in contemporary South Africa and I almost didn’t
get past the first chapter, which was brutal. But, I soldiered on and though I
can’t say I enjoyed the book, precisely, it was a well-crafted crime novel…. Another book
that provides a window into a country and several cultures that I am woefully
ignorant of. And an ending worthy of Dennis Lehane.
Susan Hill’s Simon Serailler series, starting with ‘The Risk of Darkness’.
Tonally, they remind me of Julia Spencer-Fleming and I have to admit to a bit
of a literary crush on Simon—he’s one of those wonderfully wounded heroes
whose journey back to humanity is painfully satisfying to observe. The novels
always leave me feeling a bit melancholy, but in an oddly pleasant way.
‘The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie’ by Alan Bradley has one of the best
protagonists ever. She’s only eleven, so there’s no chance of romance, but
she’s smart and full of curiosity and makes a quite engaging narrator. (The
second in the series, ‘The Weed that Strings the Hangman’s Bag’ is also
available. I have a copy in my TBR pile, but haven’t read it yet, so I can’t
vouch for it’s quality.) This is one of those books that, had it not been
talked up to me by a number of people in different spheres of my life, I would
probably never have picked up (the “precocious” child narrator is often just
annoying or creepy-like-Dakota-Fanning).
‘Snow Angels’ by James Thompson is set in Finland, above the Arctic Circle, in
the dead of winter when the sun never shines. It’s written by an American
expat living in Finland, and I read it as much for its descriptions of a
people and a culture that I know bupkes about. Whenever I think Finland, I
immediately think of Lapp reindeer farmers, which is obviously not all there
is to the people and the country. The mystery is good, but Thompson’s ability
to make dark, snowy, and bitterly cold into something exotic and intriguing
was what kept me turning pages.
‘Ice Princess’ by Camilla Lackberg—Here’s what I sent to my rep after reading
this book “Not only are the Scandinavian countries producing some of the
best contemporary crime fiction, they also seem to have the benefit of
top-notch translators so that we mono-lingual Americans don’t have to trudge
through stilted phrasing and literally-translated idioms. This book was truly
gripping. Not just a crime novel, but an exploration of the hidden depths and
forgotten secrets of a small community. Like the best crime fiction, ‘Ice
Princess’ was as much about discovering the truth of the characters as it was
about discovering the truth of “whodunnit”.”
Still Missing by Chevy Stevens—I read this in manuscript form last May
(it’s being pubbed this July) and kept pestering the editor every time there
was a new catalog without this title in its pages. It is, quite frankly, one
of the most gripping suspense novels I’ve read in a long time. It’s all told
in first person, which gives it an intimacy and immediacy that adds to the
There – if you’re seeking mystery, that ought to hold you for weeks! What else in the mystery world has been rocking your socks?