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Books We Like: Mystery

Published 7/3/2020 by Jessica Hassler

Books We Like: Mystery

I may be a children’s librarian, but my first love for reading was always mystery novels. I was raised on Nancy Drew mysteries, and spent many a weekend of my childhood hunting for those yellow covers at yard sales across Forsyth County. These days I read a mix of mysteries for all ages. Recent reads that I would recommend to the whodunnit aficionado or novice include:

“The Life We Bury” by Allen Eskens begins as college student Joe Talbert visits a local nursing home on a mission to locate a subject for his biography writing assignment. Rather than locating a sweet retiree he instead is introduced to a terminally ill Vietnam veteran who also happens to be a convicted murderer. I listened to the audio version of this story, and had a few driveway moments where I just couldn’t turn it off. Joe’s complicated family life, and the complicated history of his subject draw you right into the story, and don’t let you go until the end.

My love for cozy mysteries is well known among my friends and family. Recently I picked up a new series midstream. The 10th installment of the Library Lover’s Mystery series by Jenn McKinlay is titled “Word to the Wise.” Set in a small Connecticut town, the leading lady is a library director. The obsessions of a stalker have recently focused on her, and when the stalker turns up dead the suspicions fall on her fiance. Formulaic? Perhaps that is what I love about cozy mysteries, but I did review this to friends as “better than your average cozy,” and will certainly look at starting the series properly. It is smartly written, and has enjoyable character development. The first book in the series is “Books Can Be Deceiving.”

As far as teen fiction goes you can’t go wrong with anything by Maureen Johnson. Her “Truly Devious” series, which starts off with a book of the same title, uses one of my favorite settings: a boarding school. Main character, Stevie Bell, is a true crime fan who plans to use her independent study project to focus on the murder of the school founder’s child many years past.. As she embarks on her project, a more more modern mystery occurs on campus. The story intertwines past and present for a truly twisty novel. You may want to put the second installment, “The Vanishing Stair,” on hold as you begin to read.

Finally, as a children’s librarian I couldn’t leave you without a juvenile fiction recommendation. “The Parker Inheritance,” written by Varian Johnson is that selection for me. Set in South Carolina, this book provides a look at the Jim Crow South in all its complexity in a way that kids between the ages of 9 and 12 can understand, while still providing a solid mystery foundation. Main character Candice discovers a letter in the attic addressed to her grandmother, who left her small town in disgrace. What will the letter help Candice uncover? I enjoyed reading this one as an adult, and also often recommend it to parents looking for a book to tandem read with their children.