Our Eleven Favorite Christmas Mysteries

Duck the Halls, Donna Andrews (2013). Skunks loose in the choir loft a few days before Christmas, a missing boa constrictor – do I need to say more?  Donna Andrews at her witty best, which is saying a LOT.

The 12 Clues of Christmas, Rhys Bowen (2012).  The body count is high as Lady Georgie hosts a holiday party in tiny Tiddleton-under-Lovey. While Bowen herself denies any resemblance to And Then There Were None, there are really far fewer people in Tiddleton by the end of the book than there were at the beginning – and the deaths are so creative! Delightfully, Bowen includes a guide of English Christmas traditions at the end. read more

Best of 2018

Black and White Ball, Loren D. Estleman, Deep into a now 80 book and counting career, and 27 in to his iconic Amos Walker series, what is Loren Estleman going to come up with that might be new? You might be surprised. In this novel Walker crosses paths with one of Estleman’s other characters, Peter Macklin, who hires Walker to look after his ex-wife. The meet up of these two classic characters delivers true energy and snap to this tight, well written novel. Paced perfectly, set in a gritty yet realistic Detroit, and sporting the truly lovely prose and incredible dialogue that are an Estleman trademark, this is a great addition to a classic series by the greatest private eye writer at work at the moment. read more

Best of 2017

As always I read so many great books, it was hard to choose just 10 (so I chose 11!). In their own category are William Kent Krueger and Louise Penny, both of whom write such consistently wonderful novels I started to feel they were beyond the top 10 list! Never the less both writers turned in beautiful books this year – Krueger’s Sulfur Springs takes Cork to Arizona on the hunt for his new wife’s son in a great novel that also takes a look at immigration issues and the border wall; Penny’s Glass Houses, also typically excellent, finds Gamache back as head of the Surete and investigating matters of conscience as well as a look at the drug problems rife in Western society at the moment (adding to a number of novels I read this year addressing the drug crisis). Both of these writers, with their beloved characters, gorgeous prose, and timely themes only continue to get better. But on to the list, which includes new writers as well as old friends. Happy reading! read more

Best of 2016

Every year’s reading journey (I read 2 or 3 books a week) has me looking out for my favorites, and finding them is like a treasure hunt. As always there are returning names to this list along with some new ones, and a great array of reading for everyone. Each of these books has something excellent and unforgettable about it and deserves to be read. All of these titles—as well as our “extra” featured titles—are offered at a 15% discount for the month of December.

You Will Know Me, Megan Abbott read more

Best of 2015

What makes a book a Top 10 read for me (or this year, a Top 12)? In some cases it’s perfection of a form – a perfect thriller, say, like Hank Phillippi Ryan’s or Ruth Ware’s; or a perfect character, like the one in Tasha Alexander’s new book; or the vivid depiction of an experience unfamiliar to me – being stuck in a mineshaft in Julia Keller’s novel or being a Vietnamese refugee in Vu Tran’s remarkable debut or being a bookseller in 17th century London, as depicted by Susanna Calkins. Sometimes it’s hitting the right comic note perfectly, as Judith Flanders does; or finding a new way to tell a suspense story, as David Bell and PJ Parrish do so well; or ripping a story from the headlines in a resonant way, as Allison Leotta and Michael Harvey do. And finally, there’s just flat out perfect, as in the case of Sharon Bolton’s stand alone. All in all, some terrific reading this year, and Jamie & I had a hard time winnowing down the titles. These titles and our bonus holiday recommendation are 15% off for the month of December. read more

Best Of 2014

As is often the case, we couldn’t actually keep this to 10 titles, instead offering 12 with one of the titles, Chevy Stevens’ That Night, being a favorite of both of ours (and our son’s). Lots of vivid, beautiful storytelling and great reading this year; I was going for an all female list but darn it if Michael Koryta and Jeff Cohen didn’t write such great books they had to be included. There are some new authors to the list – Malla Nunn, Jeff Cohen, Jenny Milchman, Chevy Stevens, and Lauren Willig – as well as the return of some favorites. Enjoy your reading journey wherever your taste may take you. As always these titles are 15% off for the month of December. read more

Best Of 2013

This year, I separated my choices into categories – there are some returning favorites, a book that stood out as an instant classic, some great sophomore efforts, and some new authors to the list. I couldn’t keep myself to 10 – there are a lucky 13 titles here.  All in all, a great year for reading.  I’ve also included picks from readers.  As always, these titles are 15% off for the month.  (Please contact us in order to receive the discount.)  Happy reading – here’s to some great reads in 2014! read more

Best of 2011

Every year, one of my favorite tasks is assembling my Top 10 List, which usually (actually always) involves winnowing and eliminating –  at the end of the list, there are even more titles I really enjoyed.  This year I’m moving two perennials to the “Emeritus” category – Louise Penny and William Kent Krueger – they are almost always on the list so, while including the wonderful book each of them wrote this year, I’ve left room for 10 other titles as well.  Happy reading! read more

Best Of 2012

I love remembering back over the year to the books that gave me a thrill or a delightful character or a great story or a memorable setting or gorgeous prose – or all of these. It’s always tough to winnow this list to 10 – I’ve listed other titles at the end of this list that were also great.  For the month of December 2012, we offer these titles, including the extra recommendations, at 15% off.  (Please contact us in order to receive the discount.) This list is alphabetical.

No Mark Upon Her, Deborah Crombie, William Morrow, $25.99. read more