Today, I’m going to change the tone slightly by talking about the mystery books that I’ve read and enjoyed. While not the main staple of my reading (mystery books to me are more like side dishes or desert, they serve as in-betweens for my trips into long serious fantasy epics), I do frequently read mystery which is more than what can be said for all other genres.
The only genuine love I have in this category is the original Sherlock Holmes series. Unusually for me, I actually bought The Complete Stories of Sherlock Holmes in one book. I’ve read Agatha Christie heavily as well although I’m not much taken with M. Poirot and haven’t actually read any Ms. Marple but I’m quite fond of her Tommy and Tuppence series (she hasn’t written that many books for the duo though).
I found that I’m so-so with contemporary mystery. I do follow a few authors including:
- Patricia Cornwell and her Dr. Scarpetta series: unlike most mystery series, the heroine here is a chief coroner. It’s one of the rare mystery series that’s not on my light reading list. But I stopped following it after the lover of the heroine ‘died’ and then when I picked up the series again, another main character had split ways with the heroine so I discontinued with it.
- Sue Grafton’s alphabet series: to be honest, I’m more taken with the quirky heroine rather than her writing but I have taken notice that she had been experimenting with new writing styles and perspectives in more recent books.
- Janet Evanoich’s numbers series: to be honest, I found her writing really mediocre and her troupe of the heroine’s romance troubles got really old after a while. I think I stopped after 13 or something. But well, it’s light reading. Also, I think I prefer some of the books starring the same heroine as the numbers series but are standalones whose titles start off with the word Plum (the heroine’s surname) including Plum Spooky. Others I cannot remember offhand…
- Richard Yancey’s Highly Effective series: this is a recent find actually and I’ve only read two books of the series. Definitely light reading material as the hero of the series is basically an inapt private detective. Actually, I haven’t really decided to follow him but well, I might come back to his work when I need a light reading in between my normal pursuits in reading
My personal recommendations are two authors and series that potentially appeal to both taste for fantasy and mystery. Basically, they star a religious figure in the medieval ages who solve mysteries. These are:
- Ellis Peters’ Brother Cadfael series: it’s been a while since I read this series and I don’t know whether I had read all of it but certainly what was available to me through public library. I’ve already said why I liked it. It was my first encounter of such a work that bends the genre a little (to me, the attractiveness of fantasy was the fact it brought me into another world that is very different to what I’m experiencing in real life) and I’m finding that I’m quite fascinated with the presentation of what someone in a cloister experienced of life then in addition to the main mystery
- Peter Tremayne’s Sister Fidelma series: quite a recent find. Besides the genre-bending thing, I like how the author seems very good at ending each Chapter with a cliff-hanger.
And that’s all for mystery. Next instalment would be on unusual books. Well, they are not that unusual really, just unusual from the angle of my tastes.