skjam: (gasgun)
Hi folks!

Since I have a little time, how about another look at what Goodreads recommends for me? This time the suggestions are based on what I've marked down for my mystery shelf. Now, not everything on that shelf is a mystery, strictly speaking. There's some thrillers, borderline horror, true crime, that sort of thing as well.

If you've read any of these books, or heard some buzz, feel free to comment and tell me about it.

Batman: The Long Halloween by Jeph Loeb
The Black Tower by Louis Bayard
Blood Work: A Tale of Medicine and Murder in the Scientific Revolution by Holly Tucker
Burned by Thomas Enger

A Carrion Death by Michael Stanley
Casting the Runes and Other Ghost Stories by M.R. James
Child of Fire by Harry Connolly
Collected Stories by Raymond Chandler
The Coroner's Lunch by Colin Cotterill
The Crime at Black Dudley by Margery Allingham

A Death in Vienna by Frank Tallis
Death of a Red Heroine by Qiu Xiaolong
Detective Inspector Huss by Helene Tursten

Edwin of the Iron Shoes by Marcia Muller
Essential Tales and Poems by Edgar Allen Poe
The Exploits of Sherlock Holmes by Adrian Conan Doyle

Fade to Blonde by Max Phillips
The Family Vault by Charlotte MacLeod
From Doon with Death by Ruth Rendell
The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: After Sir Arthur Conan Doyle by Richard Lancelyn Green
The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: War of the Worlds by Manly Wade Wellman

Ghosts in the Snow by Tamara Siler Jones
A Great Deliverance by Elizabeth George

Hoodoo Money by Sharon C. Pennington

The Ice Princess by Camilla Lackberg
Indemnity Only by Sara Paretsky

The Killer of Little Shepherds: A True Crime Story and the Birth of Forensic Science by Douglas Starr

Last Bus to Woodstock by Colin Dexter
The Last Sherlock Holmes Story by Michael Didbin
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Bo Hampton
Little Girl Lost by Richard Aleas

Malice in Maggody by Joan Hess
The Mammoth Book of New Sherlock Holmes Adventures by Mike Ashley
A Man Lay Dead by Ngaio Marsh
Mistletoe Murder by Leslie Meier
A Most Peculiar Malaysian Murder by Shamini Flint
Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie

Q by Luther Blissett
Queenpin by Megan Abbott

Rest You Merry by Charlotte MacLeod
Richard Stark's Parker: The Hunter by by Darwyn Cook

The Seventh Sinner by Elizabeth Peters
Sherlock Holmes in America by Martin H. Greenberg
Sherlock Holmes of Baker Street by William S. Baring-Gould
Sin City, Vol. 1: The Hard Goodbye by Frank Miller
The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz

Thus Was Adonis Murdered by Sarah Caudwell
The Turn of the Screw and the Aspern Papers by Henry James

The Vengeful Virgin by Gil Brewer

There;s a disproportionate amount of Sherlock Holmes on this list.

Your thoughts and comments?
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One For The Money (Stephanie Plum, #1)One For The Money by Janet Evanovich

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Disclaimer: I received this book (and the DVD of the movie) as part of a Goodreads giveaway in the expectation that I would review it.

As the first book in the series, this holds together pretty well. Stephanie Plum makes some believable rookie mistakes (but unlike some other hardboiled mystery protagonists, does *not* have sex with the suspect) while also showing some flashes of qualities that would make her a decent bounty hunter once she's got some experience under her belt. As a solo book it's a teensy unstisfying, as there are some characters that are obviously setups for future volumes.

The movie is notably much "prettier" than the book, playing up the romantic comedy aspects. Updating it to 2011 does have the salutary effect of giving Stephanie a cell phone which cuts some tedious shenanigans with her landline in the book.

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skjam: Man in blue suit and fedora, wearing an eyeless mask emblazoned with the scales of justice (Default)
The Case of the Missing Servant: A Vish Puri MysteryThe Case of the Missing Servant: A Vish Puri Mystery by Tarquin Hall

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Disclosure: I received this book as a Firstreads giveaway on the premise that I would review it.

This is the first of a series about Vish Puri, owner and operator of the Most Private Investigations office of New Dehli in India. He's already built a successful business, and bills himself as India's top private detective. While his bread-and-butter is investigating prospective bridegrooms in arranged marriages to determine if they're really suitable (and one of these investigations is a major subplot), he often has more interesting/dangerous cases.

In the present instance, a reform-minded lawyer's servant has gone missing, and the lawyer is being accused of murdering her to cover up an affair. Shortly after Vish Puri takes the case, someone tries to murder him. Can he and his agents figure out what's really going on?

There's lots of local color, including an extensive glossary, but how authentic the book is to the reality of India I will leave to other reviewers. The clash between ancient poverty and new money, the multiplicity of India's religions and languages, and the endemic corruption in the legal system all play strong roles in the story.

I should note that Vish Puri is extremely quirky in addition to being exotic to American and British readers, in much the same fashion as Hercule Poirot. This may come off as excessive to some readers. Also, there are what appear to be prophetic dreams (or heavily intutive ones), which may strike some as not "fair play."

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to fans of eccentric detectives.

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skjam: (gasgun)
The Jinson Twins, Science Detectives, and the Mystery of Echo LakeThe Jinson Twins, Science Detectives, and the Mystery of Echo Lake by Steven L. Zeichner

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Disclosure: I received this book in a Goodreads giveaway in the understanding that I would write a review of it.

This is the author's first fiction book, designed to teach kids about scientific principles in the setting of a mystery.

The science part is pretty good, working plausibly into the plot and well explained with helpful diagrams.

The fiction part not so much. This is one book that could really have benefited from being in tight third person rather than first person, especially as it switches to third person in the middle of sentences a few times, most noticably in the last chapter.

The in media res opening could use more punch--perhaps picking a more suspenseful moment might have helped.

May or may not be a bug; the two descriptions of the treasure's backstory don't quite match up, and I was left to wonder if the character was fibbing during one of the sequences, or the author forgot to go back and check for consistency.

Younger readers might be more forgiving, but I was thrown out of the story multiple times by the narration, which is simultaneously wordy and trying to sound properly immature.

I'll be handing this book off to my young nieces, but I don't expect they'll be asking for seconds.

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skjam: Skyler Sands as a UNIT soldier (Unit)
Board to Death: A Trio of Mysteries in the Dangerous Games SeriesBoard to Death: A Trio of Mysteries in the Dangerous Games Series by Amy Barkman

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Disclosure: I received this book as part of the Firstreads giveaway program on the premise that I would write a review of it.

As the subtitle says, this is a set of three mystery stories linked by the theme of games. It's double-spaced with fairly large type, so the book was a fast read.

The protagonists are all older women ("baby boomers" as the blurb puts it) and the stories double as romances as each of them finds love as well as danger. The stories are compentently written, although only one of them is a "fair play" mystery that the reader can solve with the given information. The links between the stories as the games go from one person to another might seem a bit too "cute" to more cynical readers.

Which leads to the next thing I should talk about. All of the protagonists, like their authors, are practicing Christians. This leads to rather more God-talk than most cozies contain. I was comfortable with this, but I know many readers might find it intrusive or off-putting.

A peculiarity of the stories is that there's only two religion settings for characters: practicing non-denominational Christian and entirely secular. This is pointed up by one of the secular characters calling people who go to church of a Sunday and pray at appropriate moments "religious fanatics." Clearly, she's never met any real religious fanatics...such as those who would ban board games from their homes for leading to gambling.

And a generally conservative worldview predominates. The motive for one of the deaths caught me by total surprise because it was old-fashioned, almost quaint.

I'd recommend this book most to Christian "cozy" fans, and older romance literature fans.

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Cell 8Cell 8 by Anders Roslund

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Disclaimer: I received this advanced reading copy from the publisher as part of the Firstreads giveaway program on the assumption that I would review it.

Spoilers for a book not out in the US yet. )
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Until Thy Wrath Be PastUntil Thy Wrath Be Past by ├ůsa Larsson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Disclaimer: I received this as a prize in a Goodreads giveaway, and am reviewing it on that basis. Also, this was an advance proof copy, and minor changes may occur between my reading copy and the final product.

Scandinavian mystery/thriller fiction appears to be "hot" right now. This one is from Sweden, and falls more towards the latter than the former. The story is narrated by the ghost of a murder victim, who can sometimes read people's thoughts. This takes quite a bit of the mystery out of the proceedings. There's some nice descriptive bits, but the story could quite easily be rewritten to eliminate said ghost and leave certain occurences vague as to their origin.

A lot of the characters are "broken" one way or another, and two of them bonding about their brokeness is crucial to the climax of the story.

The northern Swedish setting seemed homey to me with its resemblance to the hinterlands of Minnesota, though the place names sometimes threw me.

The fact that it was not a finished product showed in some missing spaces, almost all near proper names. I hope that will be fixed in the published version. Less likely to be altered are some ill-timed transitions between third and first person.

I should also mention a couple horrific scenes of domestic violence, for those who are triggery about that.

Overall, a good read, but I'd go with borrowing it from the library rather than buying.

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