Five favorite mystery writers

I love mysteries–what about you?

Connect Five Friday is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. (The hashtag is #connect5books) This is a fun and creative way to think about my books and reading. Check out Kathyrn’s blog and link up your Friday Five!

The five book-related items need to connect in some way, but each person who participates can decide for themselves what the book subject and connection is. For example, you could write about five books read last year or five books you want to read. It could even be favorite bookstores or five movies made from books.

This week I’m talking about mystery writers. These aren’t my only favorite mystery writers though these authors would all make a much longer favorite’s list. All these authors have written multiple books. I have read many of their books–sometimes all that they’ve written.

Two of these authors have died. I’ve included a sixth author since the daughter of Tony Hillerman has continued the series of books he’s famous for writing. I could have included Agatha Christie in this list since I’ve been reading her books since I was a teenager. I think she may have been the first mystery author I ever read. However, I wanted to write about authors you might not have heard of. I’ve also added four covers of their books to show a representative sample of their books.

Deborah Crombie

I discovered Deborah Crombie’s Duncan Kincaid & Gemma James mystery series about five years ago. I think I read at least 10 books in the series that first year!

This is a British police procedural series. I especially enjoy the relationship between Duncan and Gemma. The characters live in London, but several of the books take place in other parts of Great Britain. There are 18 books in the series so far and I’ve read them all!

Elly Griffiths

There are 12 books in this series so far. I’ve read 10 of them. I’m reading them slower now so I don’t run out too quickly. Elly Griffiths is writing more in this series–usually about one a year. I haven’t read the other series she writes yet so I do have that to look forward to.

The Ruth Galloway series is the series I’m reading and it’s practically a police procedural since Ruth is a forensic archaeologist and often assists the police. The books usually take place in the Norfolk area of England and the books contain bones–sometimes very old bones and sometimes bones that aren’t so old. Detective Chief Inspector Nelson is also a well-drawn character in these books. In fact, the books have so many interesting characters that I feel I know them. If I was introduced to any of them I would think of them as old friends!

Tony Hillerman & Anne Hillerman

I started reading these books when I was a teenager. I stopped reading mysteries for a while after 9/11 in 2001 so I’ve had a few I haven’t read. I have gone back and reread some of the books I read more than twenty years ago. Since Tony Hillerman wrote his first book (in the Joe Leaphorn series) in 1970 and I started reading them almost immediately I read the earliest books over 40 years ago!

The books take place in New Mexico and Arizona on the Navajo Indian Reservation. Joe Leaphorn is a lieutenant in the Navajo Tribal Police. Sgt. Jim Chee comes along later and for awhile Tony Hillerman wrote separate mysteries. Finally, he brought them together in book 7–Skinwalkers. Both characters are so good to read about and they both feel like old friends!

Ann Hillerman (Tony’s daughter) continued writing the series after Tony Hillerman died in 2008. Her first book Spider Woman’s Daughter was written in 2013 and she will publish the 24th book in the series (her sixth book) in April 2021. I skipped ahead in the series a couple years ago to read one of her books–Song of the Lion–to see if I liked her writing and I danced a happy dance!

Julia Spencer-Fleming

There are 9 books in this series so far. I love the setting of the books in upstate New York. The name of the town is evocative–Millers Kill.

The series main characters are Reverend Clare Ferguson who is an Episcopalian priest. Before she became a priest she was a soldier–a helicopter pilot–so she’s a nuanced character! Russ Van Alstyne is the Chief of Police in Millers Kill. The titles of the books come from the Episcopalian hymnal which I think is pretty awesome! I grew up Episcopalian so that drew me to these books. In several books I worried I wouldn’t continue with the series, but Julia Spencer-Fleming managed a long arc in this series with aplomb and grace. I also really like that she tackles difficult topics–addiction, PTSD and a Veteran’s support group, for example in One Was a Soldier.

Dick Francis

Dick Francis is another author I started reading as a teenager. Most of his books are stand-alone mysteries and all of them have something to do with horse racing. Dick Francis was a successful steeplechase jockey in Great Britain who began writing when he retired. He died in 2010, but his son Felix Francis is continuing to write books that have both their names on them. (I think Felix began writing with his dad before Dick Francis died.)

I love horses–and especially did as a teenager. His earliest books begin with jockeys and later on continue with main characters who aren’t jockeys and have more of a peripheral role in the horse racing world.

One of the other things I loved about reading Hillerman’s and Francis’s books is that my Mom also read them and we would talk about them. We were always so excited when we found out one of them had a new book out! I really miss talking about and sharing books since my Mom died in 2012.

Have you read any of these authors? Do you read mysteries? If you do, who are your favorite mystery writers?

My favorite books of 2019

In 2019 I read lots of books that made me happy I can read!

I’m finally getting my favorite books of the year completed. 2019 was a good reading year since I read many books I liked and many that filled me with joy. So I have lots of favorites this year!

I had set a goal for myself to read 95 books and only read 90, but that’s okay. I love to read. I think I’m reading a little slower these days. However, the important thing for me is that I’m still reading and that I enjoy most of the books I read.

I’ve added links to the books I reviewed (only three books). 😦

Mystery

Mercy Falls by William Kent Krueger, Cork O’Connor #5

This series takes place in northern Minnesota’s lake country. I love the series which features wonderful descriptions of northern Minnesota and well-written mysteries. However, I need to read them a little quicker since there are already 17 books in the series!

Burning Ridge by Margaret Mizushima, Timber Creek K-9 Mysteries #4

This is another series I love. I’m up-to-date with this series and have read these books since started being published a few years ago. I love reading about working dogs and Robo is a great example of a K-9 dog in a police department. He and Mattie are a wonderful team.

Watcher in the Woods by Kelley Armstrong, Rockton #4

This police procedural is set in one of the oddest towns I’ve read about in a mystery and there’s lots of suspense. Each book ratchets up the suspense a little more.

Fractured Truth by Susan Furlong, Bone Gap Travellers #2

Former Marines Brynn and her K-9 partner Wilco suffer from PTSD and both carry the scars from an IED explosion. Brynn tries to control the flashbacks with alcohol and pain pills–not a good combination especially since she’s now working for the McCreary County Sherrif’s Department. She’s also trying to straddle two worlds–that of the Irish Travellers (a nomadic group from Ireland who came to the U.S. during the Great Famine) and the settled townspeople (most of whom distrust the Travellers.) The mysteries are good in this series and the world of the Travellers is fascinating.

The First Eagle by Tony Hillerman, Leaphorn & Chee #13

I’ve read these mysteries since I was a teenager. My mom and I would talk about the books through the years since we both loved them. One of the best things about this series is that it’s set in the United States Southwest. For a while I stopped reading mysteries so now I’m catching up with this series. And I’m so happy that Tony Hillerman’s daughter Anne Hillerman has continued writing the series after he died.

The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #8

The books in this series are so well written. Sometimes they’re difficult to read since heartbreaking things happen to characters I like. Things that happen in one book may have far-reaching impact several books later and then we see how skillfully Louise Penny has intertwined so much into her books.

A Bitter Feast by Deborah Crombie, Duncan Kincaid & Gemma James #18

I was so happy to read this book since it has been several years since Deborah Crombie had written a book in the series. When I read about Duncan and Gemma and their family it’s like having a chat with old friends. And the mysteries are good, too!

The Chalk Pit by Elly Griffiths, Ruth Galloway #9

I’m always happy to return to Ruth’s world. She’s such an interesting character and I love the mysteries which always have something to do with her forensic archaeology work.

Science Fiction

Exit Strategy by Martha Wells, The Murderbot Diaries #4

I’ve loved every single one of the Murderbot books. They are original, an adventure story and also thought-provoking.

Borderline by Janet Edwards, Hive Mind #4

I like everything I’ve read by Janet Edwards. This series is one I especially love. Ms. Edwards has a great way of writing exciting stories about characters I care about. And her world building is so good. It takes place in Earth’s future.

Mantivore Dreams by S.G. Higbee, Arcadian Chronicles #1

I like the way this book slowly unfolds so that it gives readers time to try to figure things out themselves. I also like that by the end of the book there are threads for future books, but that this book is a complete story. I need to get that next book read! The world building is especially good and I like the way Kyrillia grows and changes throughout the book.

A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World by C.A. Fletcher

I chose to read this book because it was about a dog! I love the bond between Griz and the dogs. However, the book is a post apocalyptic science fiction so the book is good, but also has an overall feeling of sadness.

The Light Brigade by Kameron Hurley

I feel like a lot of science fiction really makes you think in a different way and that’s kind of what this book did for me. It’s also post apocalyptic, military science fiction and during parts of the book I wasn’t really sure what was happening! It went different directions than I thought it would.

Ascending by Meg Pechenick, The Vardeshi Saga #1

Margaret (Meg) Pechenick is a new author to me. (S.G. Higbee @ Brainfluff reviewed this book. I find out about so many good books from her.) I loved this science fiction about aliens visiting Earth and inviting a group of Earthlings to visit their part of space.

Doing Time by Jodi Taylor, The Time Police #1

This was book one of a new series–The Time Police–that came out in fall 2019. It’s a spin-off of The Chronicles of St. Mary’s series. These are both time travel series and so much fun. I’m doing a happy dance that Jodi Taylor decided to start another series which comes at the time travel idea from a slightly different angle. Can’t wait for the next book!

Urban Fantasy

These are my favorite urban fantasies (which are about the only fantasies I read these days) and I’ve read every book as they’ve been published!

Wild Country by Anne Bishop, The World of the Others #2 (The Others #7)

The world building in these books is one of the most appealing parts of this series. It very different from other urban fantasy series I read.

Storm Cursed by Patricia Briggs, Mercy Thompson #11

Mercy Thompson is such a great character. She doesn’t always do the smart thing, but she’s such a loyal friend and she tries to do what’s right for the people she’s responsible for. And I love the world Patricia Briggs has created.

Between Homes by W.R. Gingell, The City Between #5

This series is so unique and the last book has really ratcheted up the suspense. I hope another book comes soon in this world where Fae often come and go in the human world, but very few humans manage to survive a trip either Between or Behind. And most humans don’t even know they exist.

Fiction

Doggirl by Robin Brande

I loved this book! It’s young adult which I seldom like or read, but this book about a high school girl who wants to be an animal trainer for movies is just lovely. And the dogs are wonderful!

The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan

An out-of-work librarian, a bookstore on wheels and remote towns without libraries all come together in this wonderful book. There’s even some romance in it! And it’s set in Scotland!

Lost Dogs and Lonely Hearts by Lucy Dillon

I loved all the dogs in this book plus the human characters are great fun to read about.

Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes

At the end of the book I felt so happy I’d read this which is one of the reasons I love reading. It’s set in Maine which is one of my favorite places and Evvie Drake is a great character. She’s certainly not perfect, but she’s someone I’d love to talk to. Linda Holmes is also one of the hosts of the Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast which I love to listen to.

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

One of my most favorite books of 2019! So glad I read it. The language flows and the characters are so vivid–especially Kya (aka “Marsh Girl”). The book is heartbreaking at times, but ultimately a wonderful read. It’s historical fiction, almost a natural history of the North Carolina swamps and marshland and a mystery all set in swamps along the North Carolina Coast. It switches back and forth between Kya’s childhood in the 1950’s and a murder that happens in 1969. Cassandra Campbell narrated the audiobook and made my enjoyment of the book so vivid and immersive.

Memoir

Becoming by Michelle Obama

I don’t usually read memoirs or biographies, but I enjoyed this one a lot–especially since I listened to the audiobook narrated by Michelle Obama. By the end I felt like we had met! So interesting to hear about her childhood, her meeting and marriage to Barack Obama, and then her life as the First Lady in the White House. She’s such an inspirational person.

Have you read any of these books? What were some of your favorite books of the year?

Can’t-Wait Wednesday: A Bitter Feast by Deborah Crombie

Can’t-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings. This is a weekly meme to spotlight and discuss the books we’re excited about that we have yet to read. The books I choose aren’t released yet and usually won’t be published for at least two or three months. So I have a while to wait!

I love finding out about books which will publish in future months and I like to share my excitement about the books. I also like to find out about new books on other people’s blogs and hope they’ll sometimes find something to look forward to on my blog.

I’m excited to read . . .

A Bitter Feast by Deborah Crombie

Series: Duncan Kincaid & Gemma James #18

Published by William Morrow

Publishing date: October 8

Genre: Mystery, Police Procedural

Synopsis: Scotland Yard Detective Superintendent Duncan Kincaid and his wife, Detective Inspector Gemma James, have been invited for a relaxing weekend in the tranquil Cotswolds, one of Britain’s most beautiful and historic regions, famous for its rolling hills, sheep-strewn green meadows, golden cottages, and timeless villages that retain the spirit of old England.

Duncan, Gemma, and their children are guests at Beck House, the country estate belonging to the family of Melody Talbot, Gemma’s trusted detective sergeant. No ordinary farmers, the Talbots are wealthy and prominent with ties to Britain’s most powerful and influential. A centerpiece of this glorious fall getaway is a posh charity luncheon catered by up-and-coming chef Viv Holland. After more than a decade in London, Viv has returned to her native Glouscestershire, making a name for herself with her innovative, mouthwatering use of the local bounty. Attended by several dozen of the area’s well-to-do, as well as national food bloggers and restaurant critics, the event could make Viv a star.

But a tragic car accident followed by a series of mysterious deaths could ruin her ascent. Each piece of information that surfaces makes it clear that the killer had a connection with Viv’s pub—and perhaps with Beck House itself.

…………………………..

One of my very favorite mystery series. And I’m caught up with this series! I’m so happy I don’t have too long to wait to get to see what Duncan and Gemma have been up to and to read the mystery.

Waiting on Wednesday: August 31

I am participating in Waiting on Wednesday hosted by Breaking the Spine. This gives me a chance to show the books I’m looking forward to in the next few months.

Check out Breaking the Spine for more information.

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garden-of-lamentationsGarden of Lamentations

by Deborah Crombie

Series: Duncan Kincaid & Gemma James #17

Genre: Mystery, Police Procedural

Publication date: February 7, 2017

Synopsis: On a beautiful morning in mid-May, the body of a young woman is found in one of Notting Hill’s private gardens. To passersby, the pretty girl in the white dress looks as if she’s sleeping. But Reagan Keating has been murdered, and the lead detective, DI Kerry Boatman, turns to Gemma James for help. She and Gemma worked together on a previous investigation, and Gemma has a personal connection to the case: Reagan was the nanny of a child who attends the same dance studio as Toby, Gemma and Kincaid’s son.

Gemma soon discovers that Reagan’s death is the second tragedy in this exclusive London park; a few months before, a young boy died in a tragic accident. But when still another of the garden’s residents meets a violent end, it becomes clear that there are more sinister forces at play. Boatman and Gemma must stop the killer before another innocent life is taken.

While his wife is consumed with her new case, Kincaid finds himself plagued by disturbing questions about several previous—and seemingly unrelated—cases involving members of the force. If his suspicions are correct and the crimes are linked, are his family and friends in mortal danger as well? Kincaid’s hunch turns to certainty when a Metropolitan Police officer close to him is brutally attacked. There’s a traitor in the ranks, and now Kincaid wonders if he can trust anyone.

As Gemma begins to see a solution to her case, she realizes she holds a child’s fate in her hands. Can she do the right thing? And can Kincaid rely on his friends, both inside and outside the Scotland Yard force, to stand beside him as he faces the deadliest challenge of his career?

.…………………………

The reasons this book appeals to me:
  • This series is one of my most favorite series! So excited!
  • It has been nearly 2½ years since the last book was published.
  • I read books 1-14 in about a year. Now I’ve waited a year to read book 15 since I only had books 15 and 16 already published. I wanted to know the next book was coming soon!

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