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!

Cathy:

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

Best of: History Mystery 2021

After we closed the store and my reading was slightly less proscribed by authors visiting or the latest new thing, I realized that one of the genres I truly love is historical mysteries. The range is so wide – in story telling style, in time period, in characters, and the armchair history lessons always, always add to my reading enjoyment.  The fact that the books are set in the past makes the detective rely much more on old fashioned, golden age style sleuthing methods, another attraction, as far as I’m concerned.  Thanks to Mystery Scene Magazine as well as my own reading, I find I read pretty widely in this subgenre.  Here are my 10 favorites this year. One of them I liked so much it’s on my all around top 10 list (stay tuned!) read more

Tasha Alexander: The Dark Heart of Florence

Tasha Alexander writes one of the most reliably entertaining series in mystery fiction – every book has a complex plot, often a dual timeline, a bit of romance, plus the reader gets to go on some armchair travel and learn a bit of history to boot.  In this latest Lady Emily outing, her dishy husband, Colin, takes her to Florence, along with her friend Cecile, for cover, as he works on something so secret for the Crown that he can’t even tell Emily.

It’s 1903 and they’re staying at Colin’s newly discovered daughter, Kat’s, home in Florence, and merely reading the descriptions of Florence will make you long not just for armchair travel but for the real thing.  Emily and Cecile are folded into Colin’s work by a circumstance beyond his control – when they arrive at the villa, one of the workers plunges to his death from the top of the villa and is discovered by one of the maids.  Emily and Cecile think they can do better winkling out what really happened to him, and of course, they are correct. 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

Tasha Alexander: In the Shadow of Vesuvius

This novel is available January 7, 2020.  You can pre-order it on this website.

There’s always a moment in a Tasha Alexander book where I give a little yip of joy.  Be it a ghost ballerina or a lovingly described Worth dress (there’s a beauty in this book), in this outing, it was the body hidden in plain sight amongst all the others in Pompeii.  When a fresher corpse is noticed by Lady Emily and her husband as having the wrong sideburns and the discovery was made, I could not have been happier. read more