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Posts Tagged ‘sleuths’

Here are the first two installments: Whodunit -1 and Whodunit – 2

This three-part series has been my version of a shout-out to all my ‘sisters-in-crime’ – thank you, for having my back!!     

More of those amazing mystery series around:    

  • Southern Sisters Mysteries by Anne George: This author herself reminds me of Miss Marple. The humor in these books is sharp as a blade, and you never have a chance to recover from one farce before another is lobbed at you. The contrast (on all fronts — physical, emotional and behavioral) between the two sisters, Patricia Anne and Mary Alice, is just hilarious, and it lands them both in the funniest of pickles imaginable. I only wish that the author had lived longer to churn out some more of these gems – call me selfish!

     

  • Rei Shimura Series by Sujata Massey: This is set in modern-day Japan (at least half of the series, after which the author moved the whole setting to America – go back to Japan, Rei!!). Rei is an antiques dealer who finds herself in the most bizarre (and sometimes compromising beyond belief, during which the author finds it necessary to give the reader lurid and intimate details that only act as needless distractions for me) situations and sets about solving the conundrums behind them. The author does a wonderful job of introducing the cities and towns of Japan and their customs in a seamless fashion, thus making the books very attractive to me.

     

  • Ellie Quicke Mysteries by Veronica Heley: Taking place in a nondescript modern-day suburb of London, it features Ellie Quicke, a widow, who is coming into her own and finding her ‘self’ after being a wife and a mother forever. She lives in the coziest of houses, whose backyard borders the green on which her church is located. Throw in an insensitive daughter, a bossy aunt-by-marriage (who constantly reminds me of Miss Havisham in Dickens’ Great Expectations), demanding church co-patrons, and two fervent beaus and you have a winner. Watch out, though — this author can actually wring your heart with her direct, yet sensitive, treatment of some of the subjects (such as pedophilia and domestic violence) in these books.

     

  • Benni Harper Mysteries by Earlene Fowler: Benni Harper and her husband, Police Chief Ortiz, enjoy one of my very favorite relationships in all the novels I read. It is so sweet, yet so complicated like any ‘real’ relationship. (I’m not much of a fan of those books that depict relationships as if they can thrive and coast along without any bumps. C’mon, how real is that? Which relationship ever gets to the point of complete complacency? Okay, I’ll get off my soapbox now.) Anyway, Benni is a horse-riding real, live cowgirl (and stubborn as a mule when it comes to solving crimes). And you can’t help but love her sassy 70-something grandma, Dove, who is like a tablespoon of nutmeg in eggnog. This series has an underlying theme of quilting and folk art, which I love reading about.

     

  • Melanie Travis Mysteries by Laurien Berenson: This involves single-Mom Melanie Travis (at least for part of the series) and her travails in life. Because of her steamroller of an aunt, Peg, who is an authority in dog (standard poodles) breeding, Melanie and her son, Davie, find themselves owners of a poodle and busy dog show participants before long. As the titles of the books indicate, dog-show-world is where Melanie gets embroiled in mysteries, which she manages to unravel time and again. Even if you’re not up to the challenge of breeding and showing dogs yourself (or, especially in that case), you may just vicariously love to lose yourself in the fast-paced and muddling life of Melanie, like I did. Give it a try!

     

And this is only the tip of the iceberg. I could do a whole ten-part series if I wished to cover all the mysteries I’ve tried and liked over the years. (No, I won’t. Please don’t run away!)    

Btw, Happy Valentine’s Day (Sunday), everyone!! I’m not much of a red roses and balloons person, so that’s all I’m going to say about the subject. Besides, who needs pink candy when one can have black coffee?    

I know it doesn't look like much in the picture, but it is really a lot for those of us who try to make snowmen out of the few flurries that stick to the ground

 

P.S: Where I live, it doesn’t usually snow. But it did all day yesterday and some into the night resulting in a 10 inch accumulation (the highest in the last 100 years). Standing at my window, I feel like C.S. Lewis’s Lucy about to step into Narnia.    

    

   

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Ugh! Why did I have to go and make that promise so prematurely? I gave you word a few days ago that I wouldn’t do music clips in my posts, right? Now, I’m absolutely regretting it.

I’ll just depend upon your innate goodness now. I know how annoying it can be when you have to make allowances for other people’s ineptitude, but could you humor me just this once?

As you read this post (and the next two), could you please imagine the original score for ‘Pink Panther’ in the background? There’s a dear! The personality of this post just begs for that theme.

With that taken care of, what is it with mysteries and human nature? What draws us to the inexplicable and the unknown? I have no idea. (Hey, I never told you that I have an answer!)

I myself am a self-confessed mystery buff. I love books that deal with sleuthing and crime-solving. However, I have some stipulations to liking a mystery:

  • The person who has managed to get himself killed should be neatly dead and cold by the time the detective arrives at the crime scene. I’m not for those books in which the murdered, gasping and squirming, scribbles an enigmatic message in his own blood on the pristine white walls of his room before he finally croaks.

 

  • There’s shouldn’t be much happening at the scene in terms of blood and gore that the author feels compelled to describe in detail to the reader. Trailing entrails and oozing plasma? NO!

 

  • I can take it when the average Joe, or Jane, turns out to be the murderer, and that too only because they were sort of cornered into it. Depraved souls like serial killers and mass murderers? Nope, definitely not for me, thank you! I have a very impressionable imagination and I like to sleep, even if only occasionally, at nights.

 

  • If the book has some (multi-)cultural elements weaved into the storyline – especially those that I haven’t had a chance to come across personally in real life – then that book becomes a must-read for me.

Without further ado, here are some of the series I like and why I like them (in no particular order).

  • Mary Russell Novels by Laurie King: This is one of those many series of books that tried to resurrect Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. What sets this series apart? To begin with, Holmes is taken away from his habitual 221b Baker Street in London and plonked in the countryside. And the books manage to breathe life into Holmes in a whole different way: in these novels, he is as close as he can get to being a regular human with regular emotions, even if his intelligence is as other-worldly as ever. (We wouldn’t even want it any other way, would we?) But, there is this delightful twist — Holmes takes a backseat in this series to his protégé, Mary Russell. She matches wits with him again and again and comes up on top most of those times. An intelligent series that takes the two protagonists, and hence the reader vicariously, detecting all over the globe.

 

  • Constable Evans Mysteries by Rhys Bowen: Evan Evans (yes, you read that right – looks like ‘Evan’ is a very popular Welsh name) is as unassuming as protagonists could get. The simplicity of life in the village of Llanfair located at the foot of Mt. Snowdon (and the imagery used in the descriptions) makes me ache with the desire to go live in that village. Every book in this series leaves you with a good feeling about the world in general, notwithstanding the murder(s) that Evans solves in them. This author is extremely prolific. She has two other full-fledged mystery series in her kitty: Molly Murphy Mysteries set in New York City at the turn of the 20th century and A Royal Spyness Mysteries set in the 1930s London. She does justice to both the settings with élan and ease. It is hard enough to write one long-running mystery series without repeating yourself and the plotlines. To do three of them? That is just mind-boggling to me! If truth be told, I’m a bit jealous of this author, even as her vast talent enthralls me.

 

  • Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn Novels by Tony Hillerman: I don’t have enough superlatives to talk about these novels. They are set in the Four Corners region of New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Colorado. The protagonists, Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn, work for the Navajo Tribal Police and solve crimes in that area, all the while subtly educating the reader about the customs distinctive to each of the Indian tribes in the area. The stark, parched beauty of the southwestern desert comes to life in these books like it must never have done before. Medicine men, skinwalkers, shapeshifters, witchcraft — there is something to cater to tastes of every kind in these novels.

 

This post will be continued on Wednesday, to be concluded on Friday… What am I to do? I told you I like my whodunits!

You might have noticed how I snuck it in – yes, I’m going to post only every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from now on. Even though I joked about not pacing oneself and keeling over, it is a serious possibility in this multi-tasking life. So, I’m really trying hard to proactively find a better balance in all the things I do in a day. So, please bless me, and more importantly, keep coming back to visit me!!

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