Category: Mystery Series Reviews

Mystery Series: Harriet Engle is an avid reader of several authors who write murder mystery series. Look for her weekly reviews highlighting each of these series.

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Mystery Series Reviews | Body of Evidence

A Body of Evidence coverBODY OF EVIDENCE
Patricia Cornwell, Kay Scarpetta #2

Although this second novel in the Kay Scarpetta series starts in Key West, Florida, the murder and its investigation occur in the victim’s home town of Richmond, Virginia, where Dr. Scarpetta is the Chief Medical Examiner. Actually, several murders occur before Dr. Scarpetta and Pete Marino manage to untangle the many threads that weave together many lives . . . and deaths.

Ms. Cornwell has this way of connecting Richmond with numerous other cities in the United States that could possibly cause one’s mind take a spin. While Dr. Scarpetta attempts to find the killer of one person, she hops a plane for New York, makes calls to Chicago, finds herself spending the night with a dead body in Williamsburg, all the while being tracked by the murderer of the first victim. As she and Marino, after all the evidence is in and the case is solved, review the details and sequence of events, the weariness of the Chief Medical Examiner seems, through the written word, almost palpable.

Next:  A Superior Death by Nevada Barr

Harriet Engle is an avid reader of several authors who write murder mystery series. Look for her weekly reviews highlighting each of these series.

Note: If you decide to start one of the series being reviewed and wish to read the next in the series, go to www.fantasticfiction.com, type in the author, and scroll down to see which book was written next under that series. The Manheim Community Library may not have the book you want, but staff will be happy to order it for you from another library.

You can also find and request the next book in the series right from the LSLC catalog. Search the book you have just read from the search bar at the top right of manheimlibrary.org. Click on the title to open up the book information and then scroll down to the section marked “Series”. At a glance, you can see the series and where the book you searched is in the series. For series of more than 14 titles, click on the button below that says “See Full Series”. To request another title from this section, just click on the cover and it will take you to the screen to request a copy from the Library System of Lancaster County to be delivered to Manheim Community Library (or another library in the LSLC.)

Mystery Series Reviews | Maisie Dobbs

Maisie Dobbs coverMAISIE DOBBS
Jacqueline Winspear, Maisie Dobbs #1

Once again, we are in London, England, where Maisie Dobbs is starting her career as a private investigator. Well, we begin in England, but Jacqueline Winspear takes us to France during the Great War, later known as World War I.

Maisie Dobbs was born in the late 1890’s when the class system was still in full swing. In fact, Maisie spends some of her teen years “in service” to the very wealthy Lord and Lady Compton. The Compton’s learn early on that Maisie is on a higher level of intelligence than the other maids in their employ, and when Maisie is found in their library reading books on philosophy in the early morning hours, they decide, instead of punishing her, to put her under the tutelage of one Maurice Blanche.

This first-of-the series novel gives us a front line seat into the horrors of war and the lives of those who were wounded physically and mentally. At the same time, we see into the lives of those who were dedicated to do what they could to mend the physical brokenness and give what warmth they could to perhaps mend the brokenness of the mind.

As Maisie Dobbs investigates a case of suspected marital infidelity, she stumbles on a situation in which she must depend upon the skills ingrained in her by her mentor, Maurice Blanche, to stop the mental brokenness of one man from preying on the lives of the severely wounded and disfigured young men returning from war. Together with her training, she draws upon every ounce of courage she has to prevent the death of her friend, Billy.

Up next:  Body of Evidence, by Patricia Cornwell

Harriet Engle is an avid reader of several authors who write murder mystery series. Look for her weekly reviews highlighting each of these series.

Note: If you decide to start one of the series being reviewed and wish to read the next in the series, go to www.fantasticfiction.com, type in the author, and scroll down to see which book was written next under that series. The Manheim Community Library may not have the book you want, but staff will be happy to order it for you from another library.

You can also find and request the next book in the series right from the LSLC catalog. Search the book you have just read from the search bar at the top right of manheimlibrary.org. Click on the title to open up the book information and then scroll down to the section marked “Series”. At a glance, you can see the series and where the book you searched is in the series. For series of more than 14 titles, click on the button below that says “See Full Series”. To request another title from this section, just click on the cover and it will take you to the screen to request a copy from the Library System of Lancaster County to be delivered to Manheim Community Library (or another library in the LSLC.)

Mystery Series Reviews | A Show of Hands

A Show of Hands by David Crossman coverA SHOW OF HANDS
David Crossman, Winston Crisp #1

Manheim Community Library is featuring an author new to this library: David Crossman. The one book we had had not been catalogued and was not on a shelf, so I took it home to read it. I found Crossman to be a skillful murder mystery writer basing his mysteries in Maine. This series is just three books featuring Winston Crisp. Before I get into the review of the book itself, let me tell you just a bit about David Crossman.

Crossman is a best-selling author, playwright, lyricist – the list goes on. He elicits numerous chuckles as he lays out his murder mysteries, especially in the beginning chapters, as he describes the characters, their names, and their personalities. Most of the characters are in their 70s or older. Some are a bit quirky. Most of these septuagenarians congregate in the hardware store, the beauty parlor, and the pool hall. They have colorful names, like Mostly Sanborn, Stuffy Hutchin, Olaf Ingraham, and Pharty McPhersen. Crossman throws out phrases that could be classified as metaphors, similes, or analogies, which help add flavor to the story (“He’s as deaf as a post” and “they found her frozen . . . as a fish dinner”). So starts the story.

From France, we zoom to the coast of Maine, specifically an island off the coast, Penobscot Island. The murder victim is a young woman frozen solid in the quarry waters. The unofficial detective is Winston Crisp, in his 80s, a code breaker retired from the National Security Agency (NSA}. Crisp takes his residence in the boarding house of Mattie Gilchrist, his old friend from forever. Luther Kingsbury is island law enforcement, and Nate Gammadge is an investigator from the mainland. Many locals come to Winston’s aid to help solve the mystery. Then, of course, there’s the murderer. Winston Crisp does not agree that the young woman simply drowned and ended up frozen in the quarry. He sets off on the course of solving the crime, which results in putting himself in the path of the murderer.

Next up:  Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear

Harriet Engle is an avid reader of several authors who write murder mystery series. Look for her weekly reviews highlighting each of these series.

Note: If you decide to start one of the series being reviewed and wish to read the next in the series, go to www.fantasticfiction.com, type in the author, and scroll down to see which book was written next under that series. The Manheim Community Library may not have the book you want, but staff will be happy to order it for you from another library.

You can also find and request the next book in the series right from the LSLC catalog. Search the book you have just read from the search bar at the top right of manheimlibrary.org. Click on the title to open up the book information and then scroll down to the section marked “Series”. At a glance, you can see the series and where the book you searched is in the series. For series of more than 14 titles, click on the button below that says “See Full Series”. To request another title from this section, just click on the cover and it will take you to the screen to request a copy from the Library System of Lancaster County to be delivered to Manheim Community Library (or another library in the LSLC.)

Mystery Series Reviews | Murder on the Links

Murder on the Links coverMURDER ON THE LINKS
Agatha Christie, Hercule Poirot #2

Hercule Poirot demonstrates his prowess as a detective in this next mystery in Ms. Christie’s Poirot series, Murder on the Links. He does this all the while showing great patience with Captain Arthur Hastings who, once again, narrates the story. While Poirot uses psychology to solve the crime, Captain Hastings uses emotion. Of course, we all know that Poirot wins the day while teaching the good Captain how to deduce.

Hercule Poirot, who by this time has set up a lucrative and popular office as a private detective, is called upon by Monsieur Renauld to come at once to help avert a tragedy. Poirot and Hastings take the next boat to Calaise and then to Merlinville, France, but they arrive too late – the man has been murdered.

Ms. Christie brings in a multitude of people who have means and motive, twists the plot until everyone comes together in a tight little knot, and beautifully has Poirot untie the knot to expose the only person who had a diabolical reason and the inscrutability to commit murder.

Next: A Show of Hands by David Crossman

Harriet Engle is an avid reader of several authors who write murder mystery series. Look for her weekly reviews highlighting each of these series.

Note: If you decide to start one of the series being reviewed and wish to read the next in the series, go to www.fantasticfiction.com, type in the author, and scroll down to see which book was written next under that series. The Manheim Community Library may not have the book you want, but staff will be happy to order it for you from another library.

You can also find and request the next book in the series right from the LSLC catalog. Search the book you have just read from the search bar at the top right of manheimlibrary.org. Click on the title to open up the book information and then scroll down to the section marked “Series”. At a glance, you can see the series and where the book you searched is in the series. For series of more than 14 titles, click on the button below that says “See Full Series”. To request another title from this section, just click on the cover and it will take you to the screen to request a copy from the Library System of Lancaster County to be delivered to Manheim Community Library (or another library in the LSLC.)

Mystery Series Reviews | Savage Run

Savage Run coverSAVAGE RUN
C. J. Box, Joe Pickett #2

In Savage Run, we go back to Wyoming where Sheriff Barnum candidly asks “Why is it, Game Warden Pickett, that we rarely if ever have any trouble in my county, but every . . . time we find dead bodies strewn about you seem to be standing there in the middle of them?” That comes in the aftermath of an exploding heifer that left a huge crater, several dead cows, and a lot of questions about the human remains found at the site.

The legend of Savage Run involves the Cheyenne Nation outwitting the Pawnees by finding an escape route through an impossible-to-escape canyon that only a few intrepid explorers had been able to duplicate. It becomes the only way out of a very sticky situation for Game Warden Joe Pickett and two companions.

C. J. Box packs a punch with this mystery, emphasizing the protection of the environment and Game Warden Joe Pickett’s fight with those who used power, money, and politics, like hobby rancher/lawyer Joe Finotta, to ravage both the wildlife and the land. As in Box’s Open Season, we see Joe Pickett on the low end of income and prestige but on the high end of doing what he believes is right.

Next: Murder on the Links, by Agatha Christie

Harriet Engle, a Staff Assistant at the Manheim Community Library, is an avid reader of several authors who write murder mystery series. Look for her weekly reviews highlighting each of these series.

Note: If you decide to start one of the series being reviewed and wish to read the next in the series, go to www.fantasticfiction.com, type in the author, and scroll down to see which book was written next under that series. The Manheim Community Library may not have the book you want, but staff will be happy to order it for you from another library.

You can also find and request the next book in the series right from the LSLC catalog. Search the book you have just read from the search bar at the top right of manheimlibrary.org. Click on the title to open up the book information and then scroll down to the section marked “Series”. At a glance, you can see the series and where the book you searched is in the series. For series of more than 14 titles, click on the button below that says “See Full Series”. To request another title from this section, just click on the cover and it will take you to the screen to request a copy from the Library System of Lancaster County to be delivered to Manheim Community Library (or another library in the LSLC.)

Mystery Series Reviews | A Dangerous Mourning

A DANGEROUS MOURNING
Anne Perry, William Monk #2

A Dangerous Mourning is the second of the William Monk series, and we are once again in London. Monk continues to grapple with his loss of memory, trying to do his job daily while wishing for, and waiting for, jolts of memory to return. Ms. Perry keeps us in suspense about Monk’s return of memory, or lack thereof, all the while continuing to build for the reader Monk’s personality as an intelligent detective and an irascible human being. The murder of a young woman, Octavia Haslett, a member of an elite and wealthy family, assists Ms. Perry in establishing Monk’s difficult yet sensitive personality.

Ms. Perry also brings to a conclusion the murder of the first novel as she weaves in the trial of the accused murderer of Joscelyn Grey. While Monk investigates the murder of Octavia Haslett, he and Hester Latterly testify for the defense at this trial. It is here that we are introduced to Oliver Rathbone, the brilliant attorney for the defense, and a man who plays significant roles in subsequent novels.

An ongoing narrative about how William and Hester feel about one another ensues: both of them admiring certain aspects of the other and at the same time finding considerable fault with the personality of the other. Two additional characters play large parts as this series progresses: Lady Callandra Daviot, who supports both Monk and Miss Latterly; and Sergeant Evan, who assists Monk in his investigations.

Early on in his investigation of the death of Mrs. Haslett, Monk discovers and discloses to Octavia’s father that it can be nothing other than a crime committed by someone in the household. Miss Latterly, currently working at an infirmary, once again becomes involved in the investigation.

Next up:  Savage Run by C.J. Box

Harriet Engle, a Staff Assistant at the Manheim Community Library, is an avid reader of several authors who write murder mystery series. Look for her weekly reviews highlighting each of these series.

Note: If you decide to start one of the series being reviewed and wish to read the next in the series, go to www.fantasticfiction.com, type in the author, and scroll down to see which book was written next under that series. The Manheim Community Library may not have the book you want, but staff will be happy to order it for you from another library.

You can also find and request the next book in the series right from the LSLC catalog. Search the book you have just read from the search bar at the top right of manheimlibrary.org. Click on the title to open up the book information and then scroll down to the section marked “Series”. At a glance, you can see the series and where the book you searched is in the series. For series of more than 14 titles, click on the button below that says “See Full Series”. To request another title from this section, just click on the cover and it will take you to the screen to request a copy from the Library System of Lancaster County to be delivered to Manheim Community Library (or another library in the LSLC.)

Mystery Series Reviews | The Cat Who Ate Danish Modern

THE CAT WHO ATE DANISH MODERN
Lilian Jackson Braun, The Cat Who series #2

In The Cat Who Ate Danish Modern, we travel back to Chicago to find Jim Qwilleran down and out:  he must move out of his apartment, aka “homeless;” the moths are putting holes in his favorite neckties, aka “tieless;” he has no viable dating prospects on his calendar, aka “womanless; and if things do not go well when he goes to the office, he could be out of a job, aka “jobless.” Fortunately, he is not friendless. His bright spot is Koko, his extraordinary and intelligent feline companion for the past several months.

Thus begins the second of Ms. Braun’s “Cat Who . . .“ series. Jim Qwilleran loves to solve crimes, and to do so he uses some extraordinary measures. One is his very bushy moustache, which tingles when he becomes suspicious of something or someone and when he notices something just not quite right with a situation. Also, after living with Koko for several months, he learns to use his feline partner’s unusual communicating skills. Koko is not just another cat – Koko knows things that elude the supposedly “higher intelligence” of the humans in his world. In order to help him understand his intelligent friend, Qwill seeks out the help of a psycatatrist.

When he arrives at the office all primed to speak to the chief about work more challenging than the boutique assignments he has been doing, he surprisingly learns that he has been given a new assignment – a newspaper magazine on interior decorating – even though he admits to knowing next to nothing about interior design. In spite of doubts about his qualifications, Jim sets out to publish a magazine that will make a decorator’s dreams come true, except when things go terribly wrong.

Once again, Ms. Braun takes us on a mystery adventure, and we all know that in a murder mystery series, someone is about to be murdered, and solving a crime makes Qwill’s moustache twitch and tingle and brings out more of Koko’s communication skills.

Next up:  A Dangerous Mourning, by Anne Perry

Harriet Engle, a Staff Assistant at the Manheim Community Library, is an avid reader of several authors who write murder mystery series. Look for her weekly reviews highlighting each of these series.

Note: If you decide to start one of the series being reviewed and wish to read the next in the series, go to www.fantasticfiction.com, type in the author, and scroll down to see which book was written next under that series. The Manheim Community Library may not have the book you want, but staff will be happy to order it for you from another library.

You can also find and request the next book in the series right from the LSLC catalog. Search the book you have just read from the search bar at the top right of manheimlibrary.org. Click on the title to open up the book information and then scroll down to the section marked “Series”. At a glance, you can see the series and where the book you searched is in the series. For series of more than 14 titles, click on the button below that says “See Full Series”. To request another title from this section, just click on the cover and it will take you to the screen to request a copy from the Library System of Lancaster County to be delivered to Manheim Community Library (or another library in the LSLC.)

Mystery Series Reviews | Death at La Fenice

Death at La Fenice coverDEATH AT LA FENICE
Donna Leon, Guido Brunetti #1

We travel to Italy for this next murder mystery, Death at La Fenice, and look into the world of opera and talented well-known musicians and the death of an internationally well-known conductor. Donna Leon describes Venice, the canals and waterways, and the life of the police detective, or commissario. Guido Brunetti, a man in his mid-forties, married and with a son and daughter, conducts the investigation into the death of Maestro Helmut Wellauer.

The overwhelming odor of almond points to the cause of death: poison by cyanide. The question of who would murder the maestro loomed over Brunetti, and the police commissario travels throughout Venice and beyond to interview those currently and previously associated with Wellauer, his main thrust of questioning being to find out about the man’s personal life.

Ms. Leon introduces the reader to all walks of life, including the talented and wealthy musicians of the opera to the formerly talented and formerly wealthy former musicians of the opera, all of whom could be prime suspects. She also weaves in a good glimpse of Brunetti’s personal life, introducing us to his wife, his two children, and his wealthy in-laws. She adeptly keeps the true identity of the person who took the life of the maestro a mystery – and why.

Next up: The Cat Who Ate Danish Modern by Lillian Jackson Braun

Harriet Engle, a Staff Assistant at the Manheim Community Library, is an avid reader of several authors who write murder mystery series. Look for her weekly reviews highlighting each of these series.

Note: If you decide to start one of the series being reviewed and wish to read the next in the series, go to www.fantasticfiction.com, type in the author, and scroll down to see which book was written next under that series. The Manheim Community Library may not have the book you want, but staff will be happy to order it for you from another library.

You can also find and request the next book in the series right from the LSLC catalog. Search the book you have just read from the search bar at the top right of manheimlibrary.org. Click on the title to open up the book information and then scroll down to the section marked “Series”. At a glance, you can see the series and where the book you searched is in the series. For series of more than 14 titles, click on the button below that says “See Full Series”. To request another title from this section, just click on the cover and it will take you to the screen to request a copy from the Library System of Lancaster County to be delivered to Manheim Community Library (or another library in the LSLC.)

Mystery Series Reviews | A is for Alibi

A is for Alibi by Sue Grafton coverA IS FOR ALIBI
Sue Grafton, Kinsey Millhone #1

Sue Grafton wrote a series of murder mysteries based in Southern California – Santa Teresa and areas surrounding Los Angeles (at least in this first novel). The titles of her novels begin with a letter of the alphabet – A Is for Alibi, B Is for Burglar, and so on. The main character, Kinsey Millhone, is a private investigator who doggedly tracks down the killers, putting information together like pieces in a puzzle.

Nikki Fife has just been released, on parole, from prison after serving eight years for murdering her husband, Laurence Fife. She says she did not do it and has hired Kinsey Millhone to find the real murderer. Laurence Fife was a philandering husband involved in numerous affairs. He pushed his first wife, Gwen, out of their marriage, taking with him all the money and assets, along with their two children. He then married Nikki.

Another death took place shortly after the death of Laurence Fife. Libby Glass died in the same manner, something Kinsey finds very intriguing, and the question arises: are they connected? Once she begins her investigation, two more people die.

Ms. Grafton skillfully weaves quite an interesting and dangerous web.

Next up:Death at La Fenice, by Donna Leon

Harriet Engle, a Staff Assistant at the Manheim Community Library, is an avid reader of several authors who write murder mystery series. Look for her weekly reviews highlighting each of these series.

Note: If you decide to start one of the series being reviewed and wish to read the next in the series, go to www.fantasticfiction.com, type in the author, and scroll down to see which book was written next under that series. The Manheim Community Library may not have the book you want, but staff will be happy to order it for you from another library.

You can also find and request the next book in the series right from the LSLC catalog. Search the book you have just read from the search bar at the top right of manheimlibrary.org. Click on the title to open up the book information and then scroll down to the section marked “Series”. At a glance, you can see the series and where the book you searched is in the series. For series of more than 14 titles, click on the button below that says “See Full Series”. To request another title from this section, just click on the cover and it will take you to the screen to request a copy from the Library System of Lancaster County to be delivered to Manheim Community Library (or another library in the LSLC.)

Mystery Series Reviews | The Cater Street Hangman

THE CATER STREET HANGMAN
Anne Perry, Charlotte and Thomas Pitt #1

The Cater Street Hangman coverAnne Perry wrote another murder mystery series featuring Charlotte and Thomas Pitt. In the first book of the series, The Cater Street Hangman, the two were not an item. Charlotte Ellison lived with her wealthy family in an elite part of London. She was forbidden to read the newspaper, however, her father often left it lying out, and she would sneak a read as much as possible. After all, her father reasoned, the contents of the newspaper were not suitable for young ladies to read.

Sarah Ellison had married Dominic a year before, and even though she had come to terms with her infatuation with Dominic and her sister’s marriage, Charlotte retained a slight “crush” on him. Both Dominic and Sarah become dominant characters as this mystery unfolds. Grandmama also maintains a high level of importance, and Charlotte values Grandmama’s knowledge of all the exciting things and people of the past:  Waterloo and Napoleon; the Crimea; scandals of the royals; and Florence Nightingale. This series is set in the 1880s, and Thomas Pitt comes into the scene when a second local woman is found in a neighboring street, hideously and brutally murdered.

Ms. Perry again tastefully describes the class differences in this series – the elite and wealthy, the household servants, as well as the public servants such as the police – and she does it so as not to leave any questions in your mind as to who is important and who is not.

Up Next:  A is for Alibi, by Sue Grafton

Harriet Engle, a Staff Assistant at the Manheim Community Library, is an avid reader of several authors who write murder mystery series. Look for her weekly reviews highlighting each of these series.

Note: If you decide to start one of the series being reviewed and wish to read the next in the series, go to www.fantasticfiction.com, type in the author, and scroll down to see which book was written next under that series. The Manheim Community Library may not have the book you want, but staff will be happy to order it for you from another library.

You can also find and request the next book in the series right from the LSLC catalog. Search the book you have just read from the search bar at the top right of manheimlibrary.org. Click on the title to open up the book information and then scroll down to the section marked “Series”. At a glance, you can see the series and where the book you searched is in the series. For series of more than 14 titles, click on the button below that says “See Full Series”. To request another title from this section, just click on the cover and it will take you to the screen to request a copy from the Library System of Lancaster County to be delivered to Manheim Community Library (or another library in the LSLC.)