Already on my way to this, one of the few challenges I know I can survive (and thus, one of the few I accept). Most will be historical, but I may surprise myself.
1. The aforementioned Seventy-Seven Clocks: A Bryant and May Mystery by Christopher Fowler
2. How to Marry a Murderer by Amanda Matetsky – the third Paige Turner 1950’s mystery
3. Gift of the Desert by Randall Parrish – a western thriller/romance from 1922, the hardcover version of which I found at a vintage shop. Independent young lady from good home is a nurse during WWI and goes out west to work afterward. Isolated on a ranch, she’s helpless when the boss’s son takes over and forces her to marry him. Escape into the desert is the only option, but will the desperado who offers to help be any better?
4. Queen of the Night by Paul Doherty – not the first in a series but hard to find in the U.S.; early 4th-century A.D. Rome and an ex-actress works as a spy for the Empress Helena. Very enjoyable, if far-fetched, story and likable characters with a large body count to keep the mystery interesting.
5. Mr. Timothy by Louis Bayard – fast becoming a favorite author; this mystery is helmed by a grown-up Timothy Cratchit (Tiny Tim) from “A Christmas Carol,” and the characters, settings, and mystery are marvelous, if sobering.
6. Fellowship of Fear by Aaron Elkins – the first in the Gideon Oliver “skeleton detective” series. The professor jumps around Europe as bait for a spy ring. I didn’t fall for this bachelor, I’m afraid, and the further adventures will just have to go on without me.
7. Tell Me, Pretty Maiden by Rhys Bowen continues the mystery adventures of Molly Murphy, female detective (and Irish immigrant) in early 1900’s NYC. This time around she manages to become involved in a Broadway play, meets Nelly Bly and is incarcerated in an insane asylum. Encore, anyone?
8. Die Like a Hero by Clyde Linsley – the third mystery with Josiah Beede, the “boy hero of New Orleans,” investigating the 1841 death of President Harrison in Washington, D.C. while back home in New Hampshire, the husband of his old flame has disappeared. Excellent mystery and enjoyable characters.
9. The Hell Screen by I.J. Parker is the fourth (I believe) mystery of 11th-century Japan with Akitada Sugawara, minor lord and government official who must piece together ragged stories of murder and theft while trying to keep his family from dissolving around him. Again, good supporting cast and intriguing mystery, plus I like the historical aspects.
10. Night’s Child by Maureen Jennings is another interesting Detective William Murdoch mystery from Edwardian Toronto, and this one includes child pornography, typewriting, and labor unrest. Murdoch is also on the fence about his romantic involvements, and big changes are in store for many of the regular characters.
11. Death at Hyde Park by Robin Paige is the tenth time around for Kate and Charles Sheridan and I didn’t find this one as interesting or amusing as past adventures. Anarchists are apparently plotting to kill the royals in 1902. Take a bunch of unique characters, most ahead of their time, and throw in author Jack London for some strange reason for a jumble sale on cozy mysteries. I need a bit more, please.
12. Murder Imperial by Paul Doherty is the first in the series from #4 above. I enjoyed learning the back story and getting to know the heroine Claudia better. The mystery was not difficult but quite clever. I will definitely be following Claudia and company.
13. Random by Craig Robertson – I was lucky enough to receive a proof copy of this thriller from Scotland about a serial killer on the loose in Glasgow. Told interestingly from the murderer’s point-of-view and interspersed with news clippings, this was a fascinating, though morbid, trip through one man’s hell on earth. The dialect will be a stretch for some readers and profanity is rampant. Lots of twists and turns. I enjoyed it quite a bit.
14. Midnight Fires: A Mystery with Mary Wollstonecraft by Nancy Means Wright – This tale stars the young Ms Wollstonecraft working as a nanny and trying to solve a murder while pushing the envelope for women in the touchy Anglo-Irish atmosphere of 1786 County Cork. She was definitely a woman before her time, but much of the story is about class distinction, English dominance and Irish rebellion.
15. & 16. Homicide in Hardcover and If Books Could Kill are the first two Bibliophile mysteries by Kate Carlisle with main character Brooklyn Wainwright, a rare book expert and bookbinder, getting into outrageous situations and her incredibly handsome but mysterious British security officer coming to the rescue. This series is entertaining but pretty far out, but aren’t most of them?
To be continued…
© Jan McClintock of We Need More Shelves