Category Archives: mystery

Death at the Door by Carolyn Hart

Death at the Door


I’ve missed several in the Death on Demand Bookstore Mystery series, but luckily the main characters are steadfast and reliable. Max and Annie Darling set out to solve one murder after another in their island community, without the help of the usually dependable chief of police. One suspect after another falls by the wayside and the ending caught me pleasantly flat-footed.

Availability: COSMOS
Review Submitted by: Jane Kostenko
Rating: Must Read

Murder on the Serpentine by Anne Perry

Murder on the Serpentine

A new (2017) book in the Thomas and Charlotte Pitt series, this book finds our main characters on the cusp of many changes–worldwide and domestically. Written with the reliably steady hand of Anne Perry, the book captures and keeps your attention as the Pitts try to solve murder and mayhem at the Queen’s behest. Thoroughly enjoyable.

Availability: COSMOS
Review Submitted by: Jane Kostenko
Rating: Must Read
Challenge: A book published in 2017

All Dressed in White by Mary Higgins Clark & Alafair Burke

All Dressed in White


All Dressed in White: An Under Suspicion Novel is a fasted paced book. It follows Laurie Morgan a reality t.v. producer through the reproduction of a five-year old cold case, including recreating a wedding. It is a cleverly written whodunit with many twists and turns. All of the characters have motives and appear guilty. I didn’t figure it out until the end.

Availability: COSMOS
Review Submitted by: Shelley Clark
Rating: Recommended
Challenge: A book with a color in the title


16th Seduction by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro

16th Seduction

 A neighbor caught me reading this book on my walk yesterday and was so excited to see a new Patterson. “How is it?” he asked, breathlessly. “Meh,” said I. “It’s a Patterson–double-spaced, two page chapters, and end paragraphs of two words.” (presumably for some type of dramatic effect) Lindsey Boxer and her errant husband Joe are at the heart of this book in the Women’s Murder Club. Concurrent crime sprees run throughout the book and the wrap-up, while satisfying, leaves little admiration for the WMC collective skills. Worth checking out from the library, but would have resented buying it at a used book sale.


Availability: COSMOS
Review Submitted by: Jane Kostenko
Rating: Recommended
Challenge: A book with a number in the title

My Name is Red by Orhan Parmuk

My Name is Red

Orhan Parmuk introduces us to the culturally rich yet turbulent period of 16th century Istanbul in his murder-mystery novel My Name is Red translated by Erdag Goknar. While the Ottoman Empire has reached its zenith of artistic sophistication under the fervent patronage of Sultan Murat III, there emerges a dire conflict between preservation of traditional Islamic painting and the adoption of European-style illustrations. When the Sultan commissions a guild of miniaturists to illuminate a book in the realist style of the Europeans, the miniaturists must either obey their ruler’s wishes by depicting the universe as the human eye perceives it, or illustrate it as envisioned by Allah. One of the commissioned miniaturists, afraid of his peers violating Islamic artistic traditions, sets out on a killing spree and it is up to us, the readers, to figure out his identity.

Parmuk’s novel transcends the suspenseful nature of our typical mystery thriller through complex philosophical arguments concerning artistic signature and style, blindness and memory. Each chapter is narrated from the perspective of one of the four miniaturists commissioned to create the Sultan’s controversial book or from the perspectives of other individuals who know of the book’s existence and are connected to the miniaturists in some way. Each character talks with a distinct voice, just as each paints with a distinct style. Embedded within each of their narratives are intricate parables that frame their unique personalities and contribute to the unconventional development of this murder mystery.

Availability: SMCM, USMAI, COSMOS
Review Submitted by: Xuejie Kimball
Rating:  Highly Recommended
Challenge: translated book, book with a color in the title


City of Light, City of Poison by Holly Tucker

City of Light City of Poison

In the 1660s, King Louis XIV was so embarrassed by the filth and crime of Paris that he retreated to his country estate of Versailles permanently. One of the largest and wealthiest cities in the world, Paris in the 17th century was also home to slums and immense poverty. The Sun King hired Nicolas de La Reynie to clean up the city. Once installed in his new post as lieutenant general of police, La Reynie first installed street lightning and organized neighborhood watch organizations. Soon, however, he found that he must tackle a much more complicated case – the Affair of the Poisons.

In her new book, City of Light, City of Poison: Murder, Magic, and the First Police Chief of Paris, historian Holly Tucker explores this fascinating period of French history. Using his surviving extensive handwritten notes, Tucker is able to reconstruct the minutiae of La Reynie’s investigation into the poisoning (and attempted poisoning) of several prominent French leaders in the 1660s.

Early in his investigation, La Reynie traces the poisonings to the impoverished Paris neighborhood of Montorgeuil. There, a group of midwives, magicians, and crooked priests had for some time contracted with members of the aristocracy to procure everything from face whitening powder and love potions to abortions and deadly poison. La Reynie soon discovers that the affair is even more extensive than he imagined, as several of the king’s mistresses (all bitter rivals) become embroiled in the scandal.

As his investigation expands to include hundreds of suspects, La Reynie petitions the king to create a special tribunal to question and sentence those accused. In all, several hundred men and women were arrested, tortured, and executed for their involvement in the Affair of the Poisons.

Tucker’s book reads like a fast-paced criminal investigation – more like an episode of Law and Order than a dusty history of 17th century France. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in French history or in the history of law enforcement and criminal justice.

Availability: COSMOS
Review Submitted by: Kaitlyn Grigsby-Hall
Rating: Highly Recommended
Challenge: Published in 2017

Boar Island by Nevada Barr

Boar Island

I’ve missed you, Nevada Barr! Your wit, your clever use of words (including a new one: olio), your steadfast attention to detail. I accidentally checked this book out in large print (no reading glasses necessary!) so it was 583 pages long, but I still raced through it, refreshed as I was by the story-telling that only Barr can bring to a national park setting featuring her beloved Anna Pigeon. “The benefits of a reading life,” Anna thinks wryly toward the end. But, truly, reading Barr is one of the benefits of a reading life… Enjoy!

Availability: COSMOS
Review Submitted by: Jane Kostenko
Rating: Must Read