Genre: Mystery Fiction Arc II – Amateur Detective

Tuesday, January 19, 2016 9:45 – Noon
Location: Hatfield Public Library
Genre: Mystery Genre Arc II – Amateur Detective
Benchmark: Murder, with Peacocks by Donna Andrews

Mystery Fiction Resources

Amateur detective mysteries are often, but not always, cozies. Here are some lists and articles about this subgenre:

Getting Cozy – Novelist Recommended Reads
Cooking Up Crime – Novelist Recommended Reads
Culinary Mysteries: Taking a Bite Out of Crime by Nanci Milone Hill
Trends in Mystery Fiction by Bethany M. Latham
Good Reads Amateur Detective list


Notes on Discussion


Second Titles

Name: Marjorie Curtis
Title: Murder and Moonshine
Author: Carol Miller
Appeal Factors: Good sense of place, appealing characters, fast paced

Summary/Thoughts: I used Novel List read-a-likes, and I do not think that this is as good a match to “Murder with Peacocks” almost anything that Joan Hess wrote in her Arly Hanks series.  Yes, there is a female central character who has a lot going on, and  there are quirky characters, but it is a little more violent/more graphic with darker more intense social issues.  That said, it was a good read and I would recommend it to readers who do not want something as intense as Patterson/Cornwell and more recent and set in the States than Christie/Damns

Name: Betty Johnson
Title: Double fudge brownie murder
Author: Joanne Fluke
Appeal Factors: Cozy mystery; upbeat; leisurely paced; yummy recipes

Summary/Thoughts: Life in tiny Lake Eden, Minnesota, is usually pleasantly uneventful. Lately, though, it seems everyone has more than their fair share of drama–especially the Swensen family. With so much on her plate, Hannah Swensen can hardly find the time to think about her bakery–let alone the town’s most recent murder. . . Hannah is nervous about the upcoming trial for her involvement in a tragic accident. She’s eager to clear her name once and for all, but her troubles only double when she finds the judge bludgeoned to death with his own gavel–and Hannah is the number one suspect. Now on trial in the court of public opinion, she sets out in search of the culprit and discovers that the judge made more than a few enemies during his career. With time running out, Hannah will have to whip up her most clever recipe yet to find a killer more elusive than the perfect brownie.-Novelist plus

Name: Donna Kafel
Title: Shadows of Death
Author: Jeanne M. Dams
Appeal Factors: Details about English and Orkney Island countryside and customs appeal to Anglophiles. No violence, older female amateur sleuth

Summary/Thoughts: Shadows of Death is the fourteenth of the Dorothy Martin series.  The plot centered around the murder of a rich American donor of a big archeological project on  the Orkney Islands. It was easy to figure out who the murderer was–no surprises there. This book would appeal to fans of Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers mysteries–as it includes several quirky characters, details about small village life and northern UK customs. The protagonist, Dorothy Martin, is a retired American schoolteacher who is married to a retired Chief Constable Alan Nesbitt. The two use their individual skills and expertise to track down the murderer. A light read.

Name: Jan Resnick
Title: Last Scene Alive
Author: Charlaine Harris
Appeal Factors: Fast paced; likeable characters; plot driven; engaging language; the tone is upbeat; frame:  Lawrenceton GA (near Atlanta), 2002.

Summary/Thoughts: Librarian Aurora ‘Roe’ Teagarden is still adjusting to widowhood when the movies come to town…with her once significant other, writer Robin Crusoe.  Several years before Roe and Robin teamed up in the unmasking of a serial murderer (Teagarden #1 Real Murders), the subject of Robin’s best seller and the now filming movie.

Although Roe is uncomfortable around Robin, she accepts his invitation to visit the set and meet the actress Celia Shaw who will be playing Roe’s character.  Complicating things, Celia was Robin’s former companion and is dating Roe’s estranged step-son, another actor.

A few days into the filming, Celia is found dead in her trailer, the victim of:  A jealous lover? An ambitious actress?  Someone related to the original murders?  A few attacks on Roe may mean she is also a target.

A light, entertaining read with several red herrings.

Aurora Teagarden series #7

Similar authors/titles:  Jenn Mckinlay – Library Lover mysteries; Susan Wittig Albert; Carolyn G. Hart; Linda Lael Miller – Montana Creeds:  Dylan (Kristy isn’t a great librarian either)

Name: Mary Bell
Title: Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death
Author: James Runcie
Appeal Factors: Measured pace and episodic; set in Cambridge, England; relationships between characters; recently made into a TV series

Summary/Thoughts: This first in a series was only written in 2012 but has an old-fashioned feel to it, almost like Agatha Christie or Dorothy Sayers. Sidney Chambers is a vicar in his early 30s and reluctantly drawn into solving mysteries – six total in this outing – when a woman approaches him about an apparent suicide, insists that it could not be, and asks him to look into it. Because he is a vicar, he can ask personal questions and get answers that people wouldn’t necessarily give to anybody, especially not his good friend on the police force, Geordie Keating. Equally good for readers of traditional mysteries looking for something new and fans of the TV show based on the book, Grantchester.

Name: northboroughlibrary
Title: Shadows of Death
Author: Jeanne Dams
Appeal Factors: English life and culture

Summary/Thoughts: Just started reading this. I will note my thoughts for the meeting.

Name: Katherine Hand
Title: Beat Until Stiff
Author: Claire M. Johnson
Appeal Factors: Realistic view of life as a professional baker, light mystery, easy read

Summary/Thoughts: The main character of this book is Mary Ryan, a professional baker at a famous restaurant in San Francisco. She becomes embroiled in a murder mystery when she trips over a body hidden in a laundry bag in the back of the restaurant. Even though she shouldn’t, Mary can’t help but get to the bottom of the mystery.

As a former baker, I loved this book. The author was a professional baker as well, and she depicts the life of a baker extremely realistically. Mary Ryan is a relatable, nearing-middle-age woman who is easy to identify with. The mystery was extremely easy to solve, and I could figure out who did it almost immediately. The author made the obvious choice. Despite this fact, I was still invested in following Mary as she figured it out. I would recommend this book to anyone with an interest in baking/restaurant life who is looking for a nice light read, or other fans of light mysteries. I wouldn’t recommend this book to someone who is a hardcore mystery fan who reads mysteries for the mystery itself.

Name: Faith Kaufmann
Title: Mallets aforethought
Author: Sarah Graves