Here’s the first installment of mystery series that I like: Whodunit – 1
To continue my list of must-read mysteries:
- China Bayles Mysteries by Susan Wittig Albert: China is an ex-criminal lawyer who gave up the rat race to retire to the small town of Pecan Springs in the hill country of Texas, near Austin, where she runs a small herb store called ‘Thyme and Seasons’. Almost against her will, she continually finds herself embroiled in murder and mayhem, which her left brain cannot help but pursue until they’re solved. Impractical, whimsical and new-age loving Ruby,China’s best-friend, adds color and contrast to the super-practical China and her exploits. What’s not to like about this combination?
- Sano Ichiro Novels by Laura Joh Rowland: Set well in the past – in the 16th century Japan teeming with warlords and samurai – you get to see a Japan (and world) in these books that you may not have chanced upon anywhere else. San Ichiro, a samurai and a detective, finds himself getting ever closer to the Shogun and the tangle of political intrigue that surrounds him. Ichiro gets married, a little into the series, to an intelligent woman (with nuances of an almost 20th-century feminist), who begins sleuthing against her husband’s wishes, thus adding tension to the already pulsating drama of the series. Sometimes, though, the icky factor on the physical side of the relationships seems almost gratuitous to me, and I put this series aside for awhile. And then I begin to miss the amazing imagery and the enigma enfolded into every page, and I run back to the library for more.
- Miss Marple Mysteries by Agatha Christie: This series doesn’t even need any introduction. I like this series better than any others that Christie has managed to spin in her lifetime. The unassuming granny-like Miss Marple and her sharp wit are so much in contrast with each other that it is a downright winning combination. The episodes when she uses her doddering appearance shamelessly to her advantage are just scrumptious. And being the sucker that I am for high-teas and the English countryside, this has always been one of my favorites.
- Goldy Culinary Mysteries by Diane Mott Davidson: One of the few culinary mysteries that really caught my imagination. Goldy Bear, a divorced single Mom (at least for part of the series), is trying to bring up a son and keep herself afloat and her sanity intact, all the while fending off a violent ex-husband. This is set in the exotic Rockies of Colorado, where Goldy runs a catering business. She finds herself, along with her best friend Marla Korman (now, how they both become friends is in itself an absurdly hilarious thread running through the whole series), entangled in many a murder-web. And just reading through the detailed recipes that Davidson includes in these books makes me feel full and soporific, like the little rabbits in Beatrix Potter’s ‘Peter Rabbit’.
- Aunt Dimity Series by Nancy Atherton: Aunt Dimity is a ghost with a quirky sense of humor and a strong sense of honor. She almost makes you wish that you’d encounter a phantom or two in your own lifetime, if they all promise to be cousins of Aunt Dimity in how she conducts herself. Apart from the mysteries themselves, the beautiful location of the village of Finch and the idiosyncrasies of the various characters living in it make for a delightful read. Don’t forget to make yourself a pot of tea before you sit down with a book in this series.
- Amelia Peabody Mysteries by Elizabeth Peters: Amelia Peabody is a Victorian archaeologist/Egyptologist who digs alongside her husband, Emerson. This series takes place in England and Egypt (mostly the latter) at the turn of the 20th century. The author is quick-witted and has an incisive humor, which Peabody embodies, naturally. The situations in which this couple (and later the next generation) finds itself are always larger-than-life and can happen only in books, but you still can’t help but embrace them. The only beef I have with the author: the cloyingly-sweet love that Emerson exhibits towards Amelia sometimes grates on my nerves. (Not a very appropriate thing to say in February and that too this close to Valentine’s Day, is it? But, there you have it.)
To be concluded on Friday…