Best of 2022

I had a really, really hard time keeping this to 10 books – hence my lengthy honorable mention list this year.  This is the first year this list is all women!  That was my goal when I closed the store – to cover new series and books by women and it looks like that’s what’s happening organically.  These are the books that stuck with me all year, books that when I read them, I was entranced and transported. They appeared in different ways. Mariah Fredericks pressed an early advance copy of The Lindbergh Nanny into my eager hands at Malice Domestic last spring – it was a book I was very excited to read and I was not disappointed.  I saw the cover of Blackwater Falls and it called to me – again, I was not disappointed.  I was interested to see Deanna Raybourn doing something so different – again, no disappointment.  It’s such a fun journey of discovery. Some on this list are veterans turning in great books, some are new series or standalones – all have that great, memorable sparkle.  What a wonderful year to be a reader. I did include one reference book this year, one so exceptional it would be criminal not to give it a shout out. read more

Reviewers and Readers faves 2022

When we had an open store, I often got recommendations from customers or even authors that guided my reading – Libby Hellman, for example, recommended Elly Griffiths to me very early on.  I spent my first winter catching up on Elizabeth George, thanks to a good tip from a reader. Now that I have three wonderful reviewers writing for the website and a book club full of intelligent and discerning readers, I can still, happily, pick up some recommendations.  This is a varied list, but there are a few commonalities – Elly Griffiths, Louise Penny, S.A. Cosby, Naomi Hirahara, and Mia P. Manasala.  Some are on my own lists – Tasha Alexander, SJ Bennett, Harini Negendra, Elly Griffiths, Mia P. Manasala, Gigi Pandian, Sarah Stewart Taylor and Louise Penny.  Vicki’s, Margaret’s and Carla’s reviews of many of these titles can be found on the website. read more

Louise Penny: A World of Curiosities

It’s not easy to tell a good story in the past and present at the same time. Often, characters get lost along the way, or one plot is simply far better. Louise Penny manages it handily in A World of Curiosities. In many ways, though it’s the eighteenth book in the series, it’s an origin story, too. It helps that these characters we’ve come to love play such a strong part in both stories. And, though the backbone of Penny’s books is built on Armand Gamache and Jean-Guy Beauvoir’s relationship, we’ve never seen their first case together. We know how they met, of course, but Penny had never gone in depth. read more

Reviewers & Book Club Faves

Our two regular reviewers, Cathy Akers-Jordan and Vicki Kondelik, have shared their top 10 lists with us, and the book club chimes in on their favorite reads of the year as well.  Lots of good reading here!


Daughter of the Morning Star, Craig Johnson.  The new Longmire book is always the highlight of my mystery-reading year. The rez isn’t part of Walt Longmire’s jurisdiction, but when Tribal Police Chief Lolo Long recruits Walt and Henry to protect her niece, we learn the shocking statistics on the abuse and murder of Indian Women. Walt deals with a teenage basketball star while trying his best to keep her alive. read more

Love Stories in Crime Fiction

Ever since Nancy Drew met Ned Nickerson, love stories have been a part of crime fiction.  Maybe not the main player, but some books have relationships that help define them.  Here are some of my favorites.

In the golden age, Patricia Wentworth stands out, as she always foregrounded romance as part of her stories.  Unlike some of the other authors I’ll mention, she wrote a series, but the romantic characters didn’t recur or involve the main characters, with one exception: Miss Silver Comes to Stay (1948), where Rietta Cray and Randal March, a former pupil of Miss Silver’s and now a Chief Constable, find slightly late in life love.  March is a re-occurring character, and he and Rietta appear in other books, complete with a family to Miss Silver’s doting delight.  Love in a Wentworth novel is quiet, intense and somehow dignified. read more

Best of the Last Decade

Reading all kinds of lists about the best crime novels of the past decade, I, of course, being incredibly opinionated, felt I needed to chime in.    Looking through this list one of the things that stick out, as far as my favorite reads are concerned, are a very specific sense of time and place.  Sometimes place is pre-eminent , sometimes time, sometimes both.  These books also contain some of the loveliest writing and most indelible scenes, things that remind me of why I love to read.  So in alphabetical order, my favorites of the last decade or so: read more

Louise Penny: A Better Man

This is one of the more stripped down narratives Louise Penny has delivered.  Stripped down for Penny, that is.  The essential story is a simple one that drives her narrative, but being a complex writer and thinker, she’s made the simple complex.  There are two threads.  One concerns the disappearance of a woman who happens to be the goddaughter of a Surete officer.  Gamache, who has returned to work with a demotion (he’s head of homicide, not the entire Surete) accompanies the officer to the village where the woman lived. read more