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The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith

The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith (1998)
This series is easy reading because Smith keeps you interested, guessing and solving the mystery without taxing your brain power! The author interweaves a view of African culture and geography amidst the detective agency's business of solving its clients' problems. Precious Ramotswe sets up her No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency after she grows up and survives a young marriage. This mystery series is not for the hard-core mystery reader. Most enjoyable is the African setting for a change of pace from other mystery stories.

Watch the TV series based on the book, visit the author's website and learn more about Botswana.

Caught by Harlan Coben

Caught by Harlan Coben (2010)
Another great page-turner by Coben! This one grabbed me from the start and held me captive until the last word!! Many unexpected twists and turns to keep you on your toes. Also raises a number of thought-provoking issues, including how the internet and the media can manipulate and destroy individual’s lives; and the importance of forgiveness.

If you like page turners, check out our All Time Faves for Suspense/Thrillers.  Watch Coben discuss his new book on YouTube.com.

Box 21 by Anders Roslund and Borge Hellstrom

Box 21 by Anders Roslund and Borge Hellstrom (2009)
Swedish crime is intriguing. If you liked the Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson, this book is for you. It is second in the Ewert Grens thrillers, a series with cutting edge crime and dark characters. I suggest reading the first book, The Beast, because two stories converge in Box 21 – an unfinished thread from the first book and a brand-spanking new blockbuster in the second. Although much of the plot circles around the sex slave trade, the authors show restraint in portraying this grueling subject.

Starred reviews indicate that this series could really fly. Time will tell.

For more on the authors, check out their website.

Devil’s Garden by Ace Atkins

Devil’s Garden by Ace Atkins (2009)
Fatty Arbunkle
was a silent movie comic at the top of the box office when he was accused of murdering a young starlet in a drunken debauch. Sam Hammett (later known as Dashiell) was a Pinkerton operative hired to work on the case. Those two sentences are true. What author Atkins does with them is to develop a marvelous feel for the time, early 1920s, the place, San Francisco, and the characters, real and imaginary.

Pick up a copy of the book at Indian Prairie or the Woodridge Public Library and join the Crime Readers Book Club discussion on December 16, 2010, 7 p.m. at the Downers Grove Wine Shop, 1240 75th Street.

The Brass Verdict by Michael Connelly

The Brass Verdict by Michael Connelly (2008)
If you've read Michael Connelly's other mystery books, you'll understand the characters from previous novels. This is the first Michael Connelly book I've read and it didn't matter that I did not know the characters from his other books.

You'll immediately think of the O.J. trial in LA. The opening line on page 3 is the book's theme: "Everybody lies.  Cops lie. Lawyers lie. Witnesses lie. The victims lie. The trial is a contest of lies." The book offers  interesting insights into a lawyer's mind. The Brass Verdict has an easy writing style and is fun at the end when all the characters in the plot merge.

Check out the author's website and read the EW.com review.

L. A. Requiem by Robert Crais

L. A. Requiem by Robert Crais (1999)
If you like a book that has flashback info about things that happened before the time of this story, you'll like this book for that detail. If you do not like flashbacks interrupting the story you're reading, you won't like this book.

I enjoyed this book, which is the first by Robert Crais that I've read. Therefore, I wasn't familiar with Elvis Cole and I think Crais' readers of previous books will be happy to learn about Joe Pike through the flashbacks to know his history growing up and working at LAPD. I liked all the characters in this story regardless of their habits because the author has given each character a reason to like him/her. It was an enjoyable read and a page turner of suspense. If you've been to LA and Palm Springs area, you'll relate to the places where the action takes place.

Preview the book before you visit the library and visit the author's website.

Treasure Hunt by John Lescroart

Treasure Hunt by John Lescroart (2010)
Wyatt Hunt’s detective agency is in a slump. Just as he’s considering closing the doors, his only employee Mickey Dade stumbles across the body of Dominic Como, the head of a network of social service agencies with a $50 million budget.

Mickey envisions a scenario where Hunt’s agency would act as a clearinghouse for tips to be filtered to the police, partly to prove the innocence of Alicia Thorpe, the sister of his culinary school friend. As the investigation moves forward, the sinister side of philanthropy produces several motives and suspects, as does the romantic entanglements and resulting jealousies.

Mickey’s sister and grandfather join Dade and Hunt in their search for the killer and each struggles to figure out who they can believe. The police have one theory, Dade has another and Hunt wonders whether other recent events have skewed his ability to trust. The tension thickens as more killings occur and people close to the investigation disappear.

If you enjoy Treasure Hunt, try On this Rockne by Ralph M. McInerny.

Visit the author's website and read reviews at Amazon.com.

Dancing in the Dark by Stuart M. Kaminsky

Dancing in the Dark by Stuart M. Kaminsky (1996)
Fred Astaire
hires private investigator Toby Peters to teach an ex-mobster’s girlfriend to dance. The problem is she wants only Fred Astaire as her instructor. When she is found dead, Fred and Toby search for her killer. The dead bodies pile up. Hollywood during the war years is the scene.

Read the New York Times obituary of this beloved mystery writer.

Dog On It by Spencer Quinn

Dog On It by Spencer Quinn (2009)
If you like mysteries, love dogs, and have a sense of humor, you’ll enjoy this book. It’s a quick, easy read with an interesting plot and a cast of intriguing characters. Getting to know the characters and seeing the plot unfold from a dog’s perspective is quite entertaining. Chet, the dog, is owned by, and partner to, Bernie, a private investigator. This is the first of hopefully more Chet and Bernie mysteries. I’ll be looking for the next one to be published.

Visit Chet the dog's blog.

The Pig Did It by Joseph Caldwell

The Pig Did It by Joseph Caldwell (2008)
The pig did it and he REALLY did! The fat porker caused the characters to get into turmoil and...LOVE! Set in Ireland's West coast, this novel will bring a smile to your face.

Read reviews at Amazon.com and EW.com.

A Trace of Smoke by Rebecca Cantrell

A Trace of Smoke by Rebecca Cantrell (2009)
This first novel follows an undercover crime reporter in 1931 Berlin as she searches for her brother's killer, a trail that leads from the city's dark underbelly to the top ranks of the rising Nazi party. It is one of several suspense or mystery stories set in Germany or Austria between the two world wars that I have been reading lately, and what a perfect backdrop for suspense it is!

This one is a good read and is a good mystery with a little tragedy, a little romance and some interesting history in the mix. Learn more about the author, check out the reviews at Amazon.com and read an excerpt from the book.

High Country by Nevada Barr

High Country by Nevada Barr (2004)
Chalk up another one for Barr. This well-written tale embroils her park ranger character, Anna Pigeon, in more suspenseful escapades that require her plentiful wits and survival skills. It’s edge-of-your-seat stuff.

Be sure to visit the author's website and read reviews at Amazon.com.

Lomax and Biggs Series by Marshall Karp

Lomax and Biggs Series by Marshall Karp (2006-2009)
I rarely listen to books on CD, but picked up The Rabbit Factory on CD based on a patron’s zealous recommendation.  After listening to The Rabbit Factory, I immediately got Bloodthirsty, then Flipping Out.  I loved them all!  They are all laugh-out-loud funny, with unforgettable characters.

I’ve recommended them to several other people, who all agree that they are very entertaining to read or listen to. These are the first three books in the “Lomax and Biggs” mystery series by Marshall Karp.  I anxiously await the next book in the series.  Lomax and Biggs are LAPD detectives, who are very smart, witty, and engaging.  To top it off, the narrator on the CD does a great job with all the characters’ voices.

Visit the Lomax and Biggs website, read an interview with the author, and find reviews of the series at Amazon.com.

Curse of the Pogo Stick by Colin Cotterill

Curse of the Pogo Stick by Colin Cotterill (2008)Curse of the Pogo Stick is the fifth mystery in the Dr. Siri Paiboun series featuring the national coroner of  Laos. The series is set in the mid-1970s, following the withdrawal of  Western forces from the region and as Laos was being taken over by the communists.

I recommend reading this series in order though, as the mystery elements are made even more complicated by Siri's increasingly strong connection with the spirit world. (Dr. Siri Paiboun Series: The Coroner's Lunch (2004), Thirty-Three Teeth (2005), Disco for the Departed (2006), and Anarchy and Old Dogs (2007)

Curse of the Pogo Stick isn't strictly a whodunit-style mystery. The story is unexpected. Helped along by Colin Cotterill's convoluted plots and exotic location, it is fun to read.

Read an excerpt from the book and listen to an interview with the author at NPR.com.  Read more reviews at Amazon.com and learn more about the author at BookBrowse.

A Trace of Smoke by Rebecca Cantrell

A Trace of Smoke by Rebecca Cantrell (2009)
Hannah Vogel is a crime reporter in Berlin in 1931. While visiting the police for news tips, she sees a photograph of her brother's dead body on the wall of the unknown dead. For reasons of her own, Hannah does not tell the police about her brother but investigates her brother's death herself, putting her own life in jeopardy. This is one of the current crop of books that uses Germany between the two world wars as the setting for a crime novel.

Watch the trailer and read more about the author. Check out the reviews at Amazon.com.