Summer Reading List – different mystery series
by Olive Mullet
Although these are part of a series, they are stand-alone mysteries as well. You do not have to have read the rest of the series or continue in the series, to enjoy these mysteries.
Deborah Crombie’s A Share in Death is her first in the series but it is totally absorbing in an almost cozy mystery fashion. A cozy is usually set in a small British town and nothing too upsetting happens. It is comforting that a crime is solved and even with a murder no violence is described. Mysteries do restore the order which murder disturbs. This particular cozy is set in a small Yorkshire holiday house with a likable superintendent Duncan Kincaid and his sidekick, a single mom Gemma James. Although there is more than one murder
and it’s certainly a page turner, nothing rises to a horrifying episode, the violence taking place off stage as it were. Crombie is an Anglophile American but has certainly done her homework on Yorkshire tourist sites.
Peter Lovesey’s Bloodhounds is the fourth in his series mostly set in Bath, England, each one completely different from the last. The ones before this one are The Last Detective, Diamond Solitaire (the difficult-to-work-with detective in the series being Peter Diamond) and The Summons in that order. This one starts with a robbery of valuable stamps from a museum, after which taunts to the police in the form of jingles appear in the press. A small eccentric group of mystery fans who meet in a church starts trying to solve the jingles, and then one in their number is found dead in a fellow group member’s houseboat. This is a locked room crime, with the victim’s murderer supposedly unable to get in or out of the boat. The characters are wonderfully drawn exhibiting different classes and occupations.
Peter James’ Dead Simple is the first in his series (all with Dead in the titles), a series rougher than those of his fellow Brit Peter Lovesey—though both are best read chronologically if you want to continue their work. This fast-paced page-turner involves first a potentially fatal pre-marriage bachelor prank by the groom’s pals who may have had revenge in mind. They put him in a coffin with a bottle of whiskey, water and a breathing tube to the outside. They plan to release him in an hour but they are killed in an automobile accident. Page by page we wonder if Michael the groom will be found before he dies while we are discovering slowly the motivation behind the prank. The absent best man appears after the accident: Does he know about the prank? Then there is an unexpected twist in the cinematic end, which has a real villain as we rush to find out whether he will get away with murder. The details of what happens to Michael throughout are graphic and disturbing but the book is hard to put down.