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Gone to Dust by Matt Goldman (2017)

gonetodust2Private detective Nils Shapiro is hired to assist the Edina Police Department with a murder investigation. Maggie Somerville has been found dead in her home with bags of vacuum cleaner dust surrounding her, which has ruined the chance of getting any decent evidence from the crime scene. Nils delves into Maggie's personal life--including her ex-husband, boyfriend, and a secret from her past that possibly has a connection to the crime. With a very likable main character that the reader enjoys following as he pursues the case, this is a promising new mystery series from Matt Goldman. I’d suggest Gone to Dust to readers who like Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch books.

The English Wife by Lauren Willig (2018)

At the start of this riveting Gilded Age mystery, a man is dead. What happened? One thread of the story follows his sister Janie in her quest for answers; another details his courtship of his wife five years earlier. With a compelling combination of historical detail, strong characters, and intricate plot, The English Wife will grab you immediately and keep you guessing until the shocking end. Lauren Willig's latest novel is darker than her previous works, but so worth a read.

The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths (2010)

In this intriguing page-turner, Elly Griffiths introduces forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway. A professor at the local university, she finds herself called into a murder investigation by the police when a child goes missing and bones are uncovered in the remote marshy area where Ruth lives. During the course of the investigation, Ruth grows closer to Detective Chief Inspector Harry Nelson.

The edition of The Crossing Places I read previewed the first two chapters of the second book in the series, The Janus Stone. Griffiths managed to hook me into that story too. I’m longing to learn more about forensic archaeology, curious to discover what lies beneath the reclusive Ruth, and of course, anxious to see how the relationship between Ruth and Harry will evolve.

Before the Fall by Noah Hawley (2016)

At the beginning of this compelling novel, a private plane crashes 16 minutes after takeoff from Martha’s Vineyard; only 2 (of 11) people survive. The rest of the story alternates between the investigation of the crash and the stories of those on board leading up to the crash (we get a chapter from the perspective of each person on board).

Fargo showrunner Noah Hawley writes a compulsively readable novel, revealing bits of information until you unravel what happened and why. Before the Fall is an excellent choice for a book group, inspiring discussions about truth, technology, the media, and flawed characters.

A Question of Identity by Susan Hill (2012)

In Yorkshire, a suspect is acquitted of murder following very uncertain testimony by an eyewitness. He is placed under identity protection due to the heated response of the local community, and ten years later Chief Superintendent Simon Serrailler of Lafferton is confronted with first one, then a second brutal murder of elderly women under circumstances similar to the Yorkshire case.

In Susan Hill’s A Question of Identity, the reader follows the case development with the police superintendent as well as the views of the suspect and a lonely hermit who wanders and watches. Find previous books in the series on Goodreads, plus check out my recent reviews of The Betrayal of Trust and The Risk of Darkness.

Wagging Through the Snow by Laurien Berenson (2017)

Do you love dogs? Christmas? Murder mysteries? Stop right there! Wagging Through the Snow, the latest installment of Laurien Berenson’s Melanie Travis series, is just what you’ve been looking for. Melanie is hoping for a quiet Christmas this year with her family and six dogs (five of them standard poodles, of course), but her family has other plans when her brother buys some cheap property for his joint business with Melanie’s ex-husband. Reluctantly roped into helping out, Melanie discovers more than she bargained for: a cute little Maltese dog—and his dead owner under a tree.

Find more Christmas mysteries at the library.

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie (1934)

I picked up this classic British mystery after seeing a preview for the movie adaptation. My first foray into the world of Agatha Christie and Detective Hercule Poirot did not disappoint. Murder on the Orient Express has an abundance of suspects, an engrossing story, and a clever plot.

Listen to actor Dan Stevens (of Downton Abbey and Beauty and the Beast fame) narrate the novel (available on CD and Hoopla). Between his performance and Christie’s story, you will be hooked immediately. Stevens’ range of accents makes it easy to follow the large cast of characters. And it's only 6.5 hours long!

Want more? We’ve got you covered with whichever direction you go: check out our lists of classic mysteries and audiobooks for a quick trip. Also, check out Shows ‘n Tunes in January for Corrine’s review of the movie adaptation.

 

Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz (2016)

Famous (and fictional) mystery writer Alan Conway’s last novel begins with a burial while seven magpies perched in a tree look on. One for sorrow, one for Joy, one for a girl and one for a boy, one for silver and one for gold, and the last for the strangest tale that ever was told. This mystery within a mystery follows this children’s poem but the reader is challenged to find parallel events in the lives of the author, editor, and publisher to those affecting characters in the author’s last novel. Were the last chapters of the novel stolen, destroyed, or never written? Who can untangle these mysteries? Discover the answer to these questions in Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz.

Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger (2013)

In William Kent Krueger’s novel, narrator Frank remembers the summer of 1961 when his perspective on life changed forever. A smart aleck thirteen year old, Frank thought he knew it all. He and his younger brother Jake are faced with multiple killings in their small Minnesota town and figure out the awful truth behind the hardest death of all.

Part mystery, part poignant family drama, Ordinary Grace shows how bad things happen to good people and what you see is not always the whole story. It took the innocence of childhood to see beyond the surface. A tender epilogue set forty years later ties up loose ends and shows how the summer of 1961 truly shaped the lives of the Drum family.

The Brass Verdict (2008) and The Wrong Side of Goodbye (2016) by Michael Connelly

Author Michael Connelly is often at his best when he brings his two principle characters together. In The Brass Verdict, attorney Mickey Haller and detective Harry Bosch meet for the first time when Haller takes over the lucrative docket of a murdered lawyer and Bosch investigates the crime. At first, they don’t recognize each other, but there are suggestions of family connections. Bosch sets up a scam attack on Haller in an effort to gain information, but Haller figures it out and the two decide to work together and find the real culprit.

 
In The Wrong Side of Goodbye, these half-brothers fully cooperate when private eye Bosch is engaged by an aging billionaire to find an heir. Bosch retains Haller as his attorney when the billionaire dies and Bosch becomes entangled in more legal issues than he can manage. Check out a New York Times review. In these novels, the reader is treated to both investigative and legal strategies as the adventures unfold.

Fjallbacka Murders. Set 1 & 2 (2011)

Fjallbacka Murders is a Swedish mystery series based on the novels by Camilla Lackberg. The setting is a picturesque seaside village where Erica, a young mom and wife is drawn to her husband’s work as a police detective. Each episode centers on a current mystery in Fjallbacka that is connected to a mystery in the past. While the puzzles are satisfying, it’s the easy chemistry of this husband and wife team as they solve crimes while raising a family that’ll keep you watching.

V is for Vengeance by Sue Grafton (2011)

Private eye Kinsey Millhone accidentally uncovers a shoplifting ring with roots in organized crime as she goes on a rare shopping spree. In V is for Vengeance, author Sue Grafton presents points of view from multiple characters, allowing seemingly unrelated stories to converge and play into the crime Kinsey is obsessed with solving. The mystery and a struggle for her life almost keep her from remembering her long dreaded 38th birthday. Her gentle and wise octogenarian landlord/neighbor and his quirky brother add levity to the story and to Kinsey's perilous lifestyle.

Did you know? A new Kinsey Millhone book was released recently. Check out Y is for Yesterday today. And if you enjoy Sue Grafton’s alphabet books, browse our list of other popular mystery and suspense series.

The Betrayal of Trust by Susan Hill (2011)

As with all of Susan Hill’s mysteries, Chief Detective Simon Serrailer’s investigation is only one part of the story. In The Betrayal of Trust, we see the detective’s emerging love interest and his sister Doctor Cat in her work at the local hospice for those near death along with a sad tale dealing with assisted suicide. The investigation is of a cold case coming to the surface when two skeletons of young girls are found after a flood. Simon uses much skill and discretion in laying this sadness to rest.

Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King (2014)

Stephen King takes a step back from horror to write a story about Bill Hodges, a retired detective who is haunted by his unsolved cases and believes he has nothing to live for now that he’s off the force. Hodges finds a new sense of purpose after being contacted and taunted by the most notorious killer he failed to catch, Mr. Mercedes. Hodges takes it upon himself to end his retirement and make it his sole priority to bring the killer he failed to catch to justice.

The novel bounces between the perspectives of Bill Hodges and the killer himself during their dangerous game of cat and mouse. This makes the story even more interesting, as getting to understand the mind of Mr. Mercedes and see the world from his point-of-view gives the book a depth that wouldn’t exist if it solely followed Bill Hodges.

The characters in this story are vibrant and full of life, which makes it all the more worrisome as their lives are approached by the ever-looming danger of the Mr. Mercedes killer.

The first novel in the Bill Hodges trilogy, Mr. Mercedes is followed by Finders Keepers and End of Watch.

The Risk of Darkness by Susan Hill (2009)

This is the story of a crime, not a mystery in the whodunit style, but a mystery nonetheless as to why and how it happened. In addition, Susan Hill allows new characters to walk onto the scene and the reader wonders who is this person and how do they fit into the story. As the title suggests, this is a dark tale of child abduction and crazed grief with the thought patterns of those involved clearly laid out by the author. As Ruth Rendell said, The Risk of Darkness is “a stunning tale.” Old friends of Detective Simon Serrailler and his triplet sister Doctor Cat will welcome their interplay throughout the story. Book 3 of this series (set in England).