What is it about mysteries? Why do we love them so much, and why are they so popular? I’m not sure of the answer, but I know I’ll be buying a bookcase full and sneaking away from the computer as much as possible to read them in the coming months.
Any day I get to sit down and absorb the latest book by David Baldacci is a good day for me. I couldn’t wait for THE SIXTH MAN; I knew it would be a perfect escape. Judging from how many best sellers Baldacci has written in the past few years, I’m not alone. Here, he once again puts his popular characters Sean King and Michelle Maxwell in peril. When Sean’s mentor, Ted Bergin, is murdered, our heroes become involved with an alleged serial killer, corrupt government, and a grave threat to their own safety.
Speaking of eagerly awaited books, THE SATURDAY NIGHT BIG TENT WEDDING PARTY is the latest in Alexander McCall Smith’s series about the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency. What would Botswana do without the wit and courage of private eye Precious Ramotswe and her band of stalwart helpers? Who else could ferret out the truth about the two cows that were killed, whether or not an old van is a ghostly vision, and why a young apprentice has run away?
With each new book, Nora Roberts is a surefire bet to once again be a number-one New York Times bestselling author. From the vivid orange cover alone, CHASING FIRE promises to be an exciting read. Heroine Rowan Tripp is a fire jumper working in Missoula, Montana. She comes by her calling naturally; her father was a legend in the field. Still troubled by a tragic loss the year before, Rowan finds herself attracted to hunky Gull Curry. Will she break her own rule about not mixing business with pleasure? And who is stalking Rowan?
If it’s mystery you love, there’s no better writer than “the Queen of Suspense,” Mary Higgins Clark. I’LL WALK ALONE is her thirtieth novel, and it couldn’t be more topical. Identity theft is the theme, with the possible complication of murder and kidnapping. Interior decorator Zan Moreland becomes increasingly uneasy as she finds her credit card, bank account, and reputation have been co-opted. Audience favorite Alvirah Meehan gets in on the action when Zan is set up for the kidnapping of her own son. Matthew would now be turning five if, as Zan believes, he’s still alive.
Alvirah Meehan was created by Clark for her Christmas suspense novels, which she pens with daughter Carol Higgins Clark. CHC is the creator of the Regan Reilly mystery series. Her latest offering is MOBBED. PI Riley plans a quiet trip to the Jersey shore with her policeman husband, Jack. There she is joined by her mother, who happens to be a bestselling mystery writer. And, of course, together they work on solving the mystery of what happened to famous actress Cleo Paradise, who has disappeared.
Yet another Clark, Marcia Clark is no stranger to real life “who done it?” scenarios. Best known for her prosecution of O.J. Simpson, Clark is now a successful commentator and columnist. GUILT BY ASSOCIATION marks her fiction debut. Not surprisingly, the plot centers around a dedicated L.A. District Attorney, Rachel Knight, who investigates high profile crimes. Her humor, however, is a pleasant surprise, and a refreshing element in addition to Clark’s inside knowledge of how investigations are handled.
If you haven’t yet discovered Jacqueline Winspear, A LESSON IN SECRETS is a great place to start. Her suspense novels are set in England, between the World Wars. Here, the year is 1932; protagonist Maisie Dobbs uses her detective skill to help out Scotland Yard. She poses as a teacher, sent to report on subversive elements at a college. What she finds is a budding Nazi movement, and a murder that needs to be solved.
THE PEACH KEEPER is set in North Carolina by native author Sarah Addison Allen. Tradition, family secrets, and a certain mystical quality combine to make this novel unique. What’s the story behind the skeleton found buried on the grounds of a derelict old mansion? What will happen to the restoration of the house, which is called The Blue Ridge Madam? How will old passions and rivalries affect the current inhabitants of a town called Walls of Water?
Kristin Gore is the daughter of the former vice president, and like her dad, she’s a fine writer. SWEET JIMINY refers not only to a troubled young woman who has quit law school in Chicago and fled to Mississippi in search of peace and quiet, but also to a young woman killed during the Civil Rights era. Uncovering the facts of the murder is not a task that endears Jiminy to many in the town who would prefer that the incident stays buried in the past.
In ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD, E.L. Doctorow has put together a group of short stories that are sure to make the reader keep turning pages. All have an element of mystery; several involve moral dilemmas, and some are downright disturbing. Not always soothing, but certainly a memorable work, well worth reading.
After all this mayhem, relax with MILES TO GO by the always inspiring Richard Paul Evans. This is the sequel to the Evans best seller, “The Walk.” Desolate Alan Christoffersen is stabbed and faces long months of recovery without friends or family to help him. A stranger in a strange land, he’s taken in by a mysterious woman named Angel. Alan comes to realize that helping others is the key to helping himself out of his own despair.
Mysteries come in many forms; some are humorous, some are terrifying. When we readers of the genre get lucky, we can get lost for hours in books that are as well written as the ones I’ve recommended here.
To purchase any of the featured books on Amazon click on the title in RED.
Michall Jeffers is an accomplished Cultural Journalist. She writes extensively, both in print and online. Her eponymous cable TV show is syndicated throughout the tri-state area, and features celebrity interviews, reviews, and commentary. Michall is a voting member of National Book Critics Circle. www.michalljeffers.com