Follow up to December Meeting: mysteries, mysteries, mysteries

Lots of reading suggestions here – certainly enough to get you through a cold winter

We started by talking about our favorite mystery author(s) – some of us had many.  Names that were included were: Daniel Silva, Laurie King, Elizabeth George, Robert Goddard, Michael Connelly, Bill Tapply and Jo Nesbo, Craig Johnson, Harlan Coben, Peter Abrahams, William Kent Krueger, Louise Penny, Ann Cleeves, Dennis Lehane, and Kate Atkinson.

Moving on – names and titles mentioned include:

Daniel Silva – especially his non-series The Unlikely Spy

Carlos Ruiz Zafon both his first – The Shadow of the Wind and his second, The Angel’s Game – the 3rd book was not recommended.

R. D. Wingfield and his Frost series – also mentioned the follow ups to this series written by James Henry (a pseudonym for James Gurbutt and Henry Sutton) – Titles are First Frost and Fatal Frost.(Fatal Frost not available in this country yet)

Philip Craig –  wrote books based on Martha’s Vineyard (Vineyard Chill was one title) – he collaborated with Bill Tapply on at least one title.

Charlotte MacLeod – (died in 2005) – had series featuring Prof Peter Shandy and one set in Boston featuring Sarah Kelling Bittersohn and/or Max Bittersohn – Titles include Rest You Merry and The Family Vault (first in each series) and several non-series titles.

Sharon McCrumb – Appalachian “Ballad” series including She Walks These Hills.  She has received many awards for preserving Appalachian history.  She also has a NASCAR series starting with St. Dale, and an earlier series of Elizabeth MacPherson novels including If I’d Killed Him When I Met Him and The PMS Outlaws  She also has the Jay Omega Novels including Bimbos of the Death Sun – so something for everyone.

J. A. Jance – several series , her Joanna Brady one about an Arizona sheriff and the J. P. Beaumont series set in Seattle are probably the best known.

Nevada Barr – best known for her Anna Pigeon series. Anna is a park ranger and the books are set in various National parks – provide a great way to travel in your armchair.

Elizabeth Peters – aka Barbara Michaels (name was actually Barbara Mertz) – died this summer.  As Peters, she wrote a series featuring Vicky Bliss, one with Jacqueline Kirby, and the Amelia Peabody series which used her background as an Egyptologist.   There are at least 29 titles under the Michaels name starting with The Master of Blacktower.

Margaret Truman – Harry’s daughter and a prolific author writing mysteries set in various Washington locations between 1980 and 2008.  The first was Murder in the White House and the last was Murder Inside the Beltway written shortly before her death

Jane Langton – local Concord author renowned both for her Homer Kelly mysteries and her books for young readers – The Diamond in the Window and The Fledgling being two of her best known children’s titles.  Her first mystery was The Transcendental Murder (aka The Minuteman Murder).  She has a couple set around Harvard – The Memorial Hall Murder and The Shortest Day: Murder at the Revels.

Elizabeth Wein – Code Name Verity – a YA title but excellent read.  About a couple of girls who are British spys during WWII.  She won a bunch of awards for this one – including the Edgar and a Boston Globe/Horn Books Awards Honor Book award

Dennis Lehane – has the Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro series that has 6 titles beginning with A Drink Before the War.  He is also the author of Mystic River and Shutter Island and has written two of what he says is a trilogy – The Given Day and Live by Night.

Erik Larson – The Devil in the White City – a true crime story set during the “fair that changed America”

Kathy Reichs – has the Temperance Brennan series that is the basis for the Bones television show.

Patricia Cornwell – was one of the early writers using CSI methods of crime solving – her character is a female Medical Examiner.  In checking out all her titles I discovered that she also uses food in some of her books – like Scarpetta’s Winter Table.  I think her earlier books are her best – first is Postmortem.

Truman Capote – In Cold Blood – mentioned as an English assignment on what her teacher thought was a new genre – somewhere between true crime and fiction

Linda Barnes – has a series featuring Carlotte Carlyle – a 6 ft tall red-headed taxi-driver/detective.  Her most recent book was a stand alone called The Perfect Ghost.

Hallie Ephron – also a local author whose latest is There was an Old Women.

Benjamin Black – a pseudonym for John Banville – books under the Black name include Christine Falls, The Silver Swan, Elegy for April and A Death in Summer.

Stephen Dobyns – several titles but the one most recommended is The Church of the Dead Girls.

Rebecca Stott – Ghost Walk – title that takes you to Cambridge (the one in England) in the present and the past of 17th century glassmaking, alchemy, the Great Plague and Newton’s scientific innovations

Jennifer Lee Carrill – Interred with their Bones – a story of a lost Shakespeare play – this author likes Shakespeare – another title is The Shakespeare Secret.

Leslie Silbert – Intelligencer – website says this is a PI turned novelist – another lost play – Christopher Marlowe in this one.

Douglas Adams – Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency –  – and The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul.

Jan Burke – character is Irene Kelly – she started with Goodnight, Irene.  Irene is a reporter married to a policeman – there are 10 books in the series.  They started getting more complex (and I thought better) with Hocus.  She has also made the husband Frank Harriman the main character of one title and has written some stand alones.

Rhys Bowen – traditional mysteries (read cozies) set in Wales – character is constable Evans and the titles are puns on the name – Evans Above, Evans Gate.  She also has a Molly Murphy series.  Mention of Wales led to a mention of Nancy Bond’s YA title – A String in the Harp that includes Welsh mythology.

Michael Gruber – The Book of Air and Shadows – another Shakespearean mystery

Iain Pears – has a number of titles (An Instance of the Fingerpost, The Dream of Scipio) but the ones discussed here are the art theft mysteries including The Raphael Affair, The Titian Committee, and The Bernini Bust.

Dana Stabenow – Alaskan author with a couple series, best known being the Kate Shugak series, an Aleut investigator who lives in a national park in Alaska.

Susan Conant – a Cambridge (ours) author who writes about dogs – especially about malamutes.  Her character is a writer for Dog’s Life Magazine, Holly Winter.

Sue Henry – another Alaskan author – First in her series was Murder on the Iditarod Trail.

Christi Phillips – The Rossetti Letter – set in 17th century Venice

Kate Mosse –  Labyrinth – an historical mystery set in the Pyrenees about the crusades and the true Grail.

Mystery/Detective TV shows we have enjoyed:


Death in Paradise

George Gently (based on books by Alan Hunter)

Midsomer Murders

Scott and Bailey

Not a mystery but mentioned as worth reading – The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker – about mythical beings in turn of the century New York.

Selections from Lynette’s list:

Caught in the Light – Robert Goddard

Snow White Must Die – Nele Neuhaus

Ghostman – Roger Hobbs

The Andalucian Friend – Alexander Sodenberg

Capital Punishment – Robert Wilson

Tuesday’s Gone – Nicci French

Murder as a Fine Art – David Morrell

Creepers – David Morrell

Bookman’s Tale – Charles Lovett

The Redeemer – Jo Nesbo

Nine Dragons – Michael Connelly

The Other Typist – Suzanne Rindell

Red Sparrow – Jason Matthews

Blind Justice – Anne Perry

The Last Good Day – Peter Blauner

The English Girl – Daniel Silva

How the Light Gets In – Louise Penny

The Star of Istanbul – Robert Olen Butler

Police – Jo Nesbo

Identical – Scott Turow

Our January reading

Great discussion today that began with the subject of classics and wandered far afield to include books on CD, books on E-readers, and lots of books that don’t exactly fall into the classic category.

 Here are some of the titles:

Quincunx by Charles Pallister – a modern book that feels like it was written in Victorian days.

War & Peace – Leo Tolstoy

Little Woman – Louisa May Alcott – (which led to a mention of MARCH by Geraldine Brooks which is a modern title that follows the father in Little Women as he goes to war)

Age of Innocence and Ethan Fromm by Edith Wharton – with a mention of how different these two books are

Call of the Wild – Jack London

 and books by:

Charles Dickens, William Faulkner, Arthur Conan Doyle (which led to a mention of the Mary Russell series by Laurie King which features Sherlock Holmes and his young assistant – first title in the series is The BeeKeeper’s Apprentice) 

John Steinbeck, the two Brontes, Robert Benchley, Herman Hess, P. G. Wodehouse, Cervantes, Thomas Hardy, William Makepeace Thackeray, James Herriott, Jack Kerouac, Jules Verne, Edgar Allen Poe, D. H. Lawrence.

Other Titles:

 The Things they Carried by Tim O’Brien and The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers – both more recent titles but sure to be classics of the Vietnam and Iraq wars.

Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry – again sure to be a classic of the end of the settlement of the west as the two friends search for a place where civilization can’t quite find them.

Max Brand, Western Giant by William F. Nolan – the biography of the man known as the pulp king.  He wrote nearly 400 westerns, created Dr. Kildare and wrote under 21 pseudonyms in another dozen genres.

The Color Purple by Alice Walker and books by Toni Morrison

Cold Sassy Tree – by Olive Ann Burns – a delightful coming of age story

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

Nancy Drew by Carolyn Keene (and a mention that this was a favorite of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor)

Death Comes to the Archbishop by Willa Cather (and My Antonia)

Books by Barbara Kingsolver (The Bean Trees, Animal Vegetable, Miracle, Poisonwood Bible, Prodigal Summer, Flight Behavior) – maybe not classics yet but we liked them

 and the conversation moved on to more current titles:

short stories by Jill McCorkle – Crash Diet, Final Vinyl Days, Going Away Shoes

anything by Richard Russo

Paddy Clark Ha Ha Ha by Roddy Doyle – really nice to listen to on CD

The Art Forger – Barbara Shapiro (who will be at the Book Festival on April 13)

William Martin ( who will be at the book festival on April 13) – Harvard Yard, Cape Cod, Back Bay

Extraordinary – an end of life story without end – Michele Tamaren and Michael Wittner – Lynette said this one is hard to find but worth searching for – non-fiction

Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan – Far more than simply a riveting read and a crackling medical mystery, Brain on Fire is the powerful account of one woman’s struggle to recapture her identity and to rediscover herself among the fragments left behind. 

Cascade by Maryanne O’Hara – (who will be at the book festival on April 13)

The End of Your Life Book Club  by Will Schwalb -This is the inspiring true story of a son and his mother, who start a “book club” that brings them together as her life comes to a close.

YA titles by John Green including The Fault in our Stars and Looking for Alaska 

and for mystery lovers

Books to Die For edited by John Connolly and Declan Burke – essays by current day mystery/thriller authors about their favorite titles – organized sequentially so you can start with some of the classic mysteries and read your way to the present day.