Tag: Harriet Engle

Mystery Series Reviews | The Face of a Stranger

Anne Perry, #1

The Face of a Stranger - Anne Perry - coverAnne Perry’s William Monk series takes us across to London, England, in 1856. William Monk is a detective with the city police who wakes up in a hospital, does not know who he is, where he is, where he came from, what he did, and how he got to where he is. He is told that he had an accident and struck his head (among other injuries), resulting in amnesia. His boss, Superintendent Runcorn, visits him in the hospital and tells him his name and occupation, which, of course, mean nothing to Monk. Instead, it raises more questions. He is to take time off to recover and report to work as soon as possible.

At his room in the boarding house with Mrs. Worley, he finds tailor-made clothes in his closet, clothes a cut above what a policeman would wear. Back at work, in a mental fog and emotional upheaval, Monk begins investigating the murder of Joscelin Grey, all the while trying to piece together his life. From a few comments from others in the department, he learns that he is a good detective. From their body language, however, he learns he is feared by most. During the investigation process, Monk meets and interviews Hester Latterly, a nurse returning from the Crimea war zone, and her sister and brother-in-law. Miss Latterly becomes an integral player in this series.

This series offers a great deal of history, a good description about how the upper class lives, and the roles of both the men and women occupying the wealthy circles. Ms. Perry paints excellent pictures of the city streets, the modes of transportation, the clothes worn, and the tensions between what women can and cannot do, what they want to do, and the social mores that govern the lives of both men and women. Ms. Perry also is very adept at describing body language, helping the reader envision the emotions of the characters.

Take a turn through the streets of London as the plot in this mystery takes its own surprising and nail-biting twists and turns.

Up next:  Open Season 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.

Mystery Series Reviews | The Cat Who Could Read Backwards

Lilian Jackson Braun, #1

Just as writers have their style, readers have their preferences. Some readers like to read fiction, some non-fiction. Some enjoy romance novels, others prefer murder mysteries. Just as both fiction and nonfiction abound in variety, so is the variety of readers.

Several authors have written series that combine murder, mystery, intrigue, some humor, and a little romance, which allows readers to witness the evolving events and personalities of the characters. Add to that mix a good dose of history, and the plot thickens.

One of my favorite authors is Lilian Jackson Braun, who has written more than three dozen whimsical mysteries about a newspaper journalist and two Seal Point Siamese cats he adopted – KoKo and Yum Yum. In the first book of this series, The Cat Who Could Read Backwards, Ms. Braun begins the journey of James McKenzie Qwilleran, who writes a newspaper column focusing on special events in the city of Chicago. Jim, also known as “Qwill,” was a very successful crime reporter before he fell into difficult times. As he regains his feet and begins a new position, he is given assignments not of crime but what he deems to be “fluff.” His first assignment is to do a human-interest story about artists, particularly an artist named Cal Halapay. Little does he know that as he delves into interviews and journalistic footwork for this assignment, murder and crime can drop into and from anywhere. And, little does he know that two very precocious cats will become his trusty sidekicks who serve him well as he unearths clues to solving the crimes.

Start your adventure with The Cat Who Could Read Backwards and follow Qwill, KoKo, and later Yum Yum through big city crimes in Chicago to crimes of a small town “400 miles north of everywhere.”

Next up:  Anne Perry’s novel featuring William Monk in The Face of a Stranger.

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.