Book Talk

5 Well-Executed Murder-Mysteries

Everybody who reads murder-mysteries probably has their favourite books as well as their favourite go-to authors. Well, today I want to share with you 5 of my favourites.

THE ART OF DETECTION by Laurie R. King — The last book in the Kate Martinelli series, this one was a fun read because King has Kate and her partner, Al Hawkin, on the trail of a killer who may have trained with the greatest detective of them all, Sherlock, yes … Sherlock Holmes! 

“Kate Martinelli has seen her share of peculiar things as a San Francisco cop, but never anything quite like this: an ornate Victorian sitting room straight out of a Sherlock Holmes story–complete with violin, tobacco-filled Persian slipper, and gunshots in the wallpaper that spell out the initials of the late queen.

Philip Gilbert was a true Holmes fanatic, from his antiquated décor to his vintage wardrobe. And no mere fan of fiction’s great detective, but a leading expert with a collection of priceless memorabilia that some would kill for.

And perhaps someone did: In his collection is a century-old manuscript purportedly written by Holmes himself–a manuscript that eerily echoes details of Gilbert’s own murder.”

THE NATURE OF THE BEAST by Louise Penny — One of my all-time favourite authors, Penny is into her sixteenth or is that, seventeenth Three Pines story featuring Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, head of the Sûreté du Québec. In The Nature of the Beast, Gamache and his wife, Reine Marie, are now living in the not so quiet village of Three Pines when a terrible tragedy occurs. 

“Hardly a day goes by when nine year old Laurent Lepage doesn’t cry wolf. From alien invasions, to walking trees, to winged beasts in the woods, to dinosaurs spotted in the village of Three Pines, his tales are so extraordinary no one can possibly believe him. But when the boy disappears the villagers are faced with the possibility that one of his tall tales might have been true. And so begins a frantic search for the boy and the truth. What they uncover deep in the forest sets off a sequence of events that leads to murder, leads to an old crime, leads to an old betrayal. Leads right to the door of an old poet.”

RESURRECTION BAY by Emma Viskic — The Caleb Zelic series has been one of the best series I’ve come across in a long while. Viskic’s Caleb Zelic is no ordinary investigator, and not your usual character, he’s deaf. But it’s not just Viskic’s unusual character that make this an outstanding series, but her writing style that utterly compliments her character’s disability. Sharp, jagged, and brilliantly written, you cannot go wrong joining Caleb as he solves a series of murders in his own, stubborn, unique way.

“Caleb Zelic, profoundly deaf since early childhood, has always lived on the outside—watching, picking up telltale signs people hide in a smile, a cough, a kiss. When a childhood friend is murdered, a sense of guilt and a determination to prove his own innocence sends Caleb on a hunt for the killer. But he can’t do it alone. Caleb and his troubled friend Frankie, an ex-cop, start with one clue: Scott, the last word the murder victim texted to Caleb. But Scott is always one step ahead.”

BLOOD ON THE TRACKS by Barbara Nickless — This is book one in another new series I just recently discovered and, fell in love with. The writing in this debut is outstanding, as is the plotting, characters, and the murder-mystery it self. All so well written and thought through that I’ve already bought books 2 and 3 in the series. 

“A young woman is found brutally murdered, and the main suspect is the victim’s fiancé, a hideously scarred Iraq War vet known as the Burned Man. But railroad police Special Agent Sydney Rose Parnell, brought in by the Denver Major Crimes unit to help investigate, can’t shake the feeling that larger forces are behind this apparent crime of passion.

In the depths of an icy winter, Parnell and her K9 partner, Clyde―both haunted by their time in Iraq―descend into the underground world of a savage gang of rail riders. There, they uncover a wide-reaching conspiracy and a series of shocking crimes. Crimes that threaten everything Parnell holds dear. As the search for the truth puts her directly in the path of the killer, Parnell must struggle with a deadly question: Can she fight monsters without becoming one herself?” 

CRITICAL MASS by Sara Paretsky — Sara Paretsky has been writing the V. I. Warshawski series for a while now, and each and every murder that Vic finds herself caught up in is always a nail-biting read. What I loved about Critical Mass in particular is Paretsky has twin timelines on the go. One in which Vic finds herself drawn into a series of secrets and lie stretching all the way back to the Second World War. Which is where the second timeline is set—a heartbreaking thread set in Nazi war-torn Austria. 

“V.I. Warshawski’s closest friend in Chicago is the Viennese-born doctor Lotty Herschel, who lost most of her family in the Holocaust. Lotty escaped to London in 1939 on the Kindertransport with a childhood playmate, Kitty Saginor Binder. As young women, the two both moved on to Chicago, where they find that a shared past isn’t enough to make them friends. They lead separate lives, but when Kitty’s daughter finds her life is in danger, the younger woman calls Lotty, who, in turn, summons V.I. to help. The daughter’s troubles turn out to be just the tip of an iceberg of lies, secrets, and silence, whose origins go back to the mad competition among America, Germany, Japan and England to develop the first atomic bomb. The secrets are old, but the people who continue to guard them today will not let go of them without a fight.”

And you, what are some of your current favourites?