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09 June 2010


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I also think it's interesting that there is now something called "literary mysteries." (I just made that up, but it may well be called that). The plot involves a murder, but it's too "literary" to be just (!) a mystery. I've made it a practice when I'm browsing the stacks for an author to check both fiction any mysteries.

This sounds like a good series, but it's hard to pull me from the bleak, barren, darkness of Scandinavian mysteries.

Suspense: you don't know whodunnit
Thrillers: the author tells you from the start whodunnit, but you keep reading anyway. My favorite thriller writer is Jeffrey Deaver, so you'll probably hate him, but maybe try some of his short stories, next time you're in the mood for brief episodes of thrills. He does some wicked good plot twists.
Mysteries: there's a dead body and you don't know whodunnit. Really blends into the Suspense genre, but with mysteries the more formal conventions of the genre are observed-- there are police and/or PIs and/or reporters, and lots of clues. I'm going to lie here for a moment and tell you how much I loathed The Bookman's Wake, by John Dunning, in the hopes that you will pick it up. It's a cop turned used-bookstore-owner, with plotting so good that not till I read the final paragraph on the final page did everything finally click.

Yes, I do love watching morphing genre categories and seeing what they're all called. I love watching publishers trying to figure out what's selling and then coming up with categories to match!

Did you read the new Stieg Larsson yet? And do try this Erin Hart sometime--I think you might like her.

I love the comments section of this blog; I ask a question there, it gets answered here. It pays to know librarians. Thanks for the common-sense definitions.

Add "Jeffery Deaver" to the list of authors I want to try this summer. I've been meaning to for years, based on your suggestion, just haven't gotten there yet.

And, you can add "Bookman's Wake" to the (short) list of books we have in common. I LOVED that book, but I am a sucker for any storyline involving book collection. The mystery was pretty purely secondary there for me.

Loved "Bookman's Wake." Loved.

I added this one to my list a while ago, but I just hate any archaeology-centric book these days. It makes me wistful. But since you've enjoyed I'll have to move it towards the top of the list.

PS: 100+ pages into "A Hellhound on His Trail." It's a real rarity: a well-written, well-researched non-fiction page-turner. I'm agog, and I think I'm giving it to my dad when I finish.

"Bookman's Wake" and "Haunted Ground" just got added to my TBR list. I love mysteries, good and bad.

I also enjoyed Lesbrarian's definitions. And I am having fun trying to put books in to them to see if they fit or if they don't quite match or they spill into other areas. I also like the term "literary mysteries". I am wondering in which category Kate Atkinson, whose books I really like ("Case Histories" and "One Good Turn"), would be classified.

CR and Venta, I would really like to hear any suggestions you have regarding more Minette Walters and Scandinavian mysteries. I read "The "Echo" a few years ago and liked it. I have read the first two Stieg Larsson books. The plot is pretty ok, but really it is the character of Lisbeth Salander who is the real mystery and what keeps me reading on. I also recently read "The Man from Beijing" by Henning Mankell, but I didn't like it much at all.

John Dunning has a whole series, the first three of which are superb, with the subsequent entries being still pretty darn good.

I adored the Stieg Larsson books, though the first one bored me and I gave up about 60 pages in-- but when I gave it another chance a few months later, I devoured them. I, like Ruthiella and (as far as I can tell) everyone else who's read the books, liked everything generally but Lisbeth particularly.

Kate Atkinson rocks. No can can ever seem to figure out whether the Jackson Brodie books are Mystery or Literary fiction-- and did you know she's done SF and historical? (Atkinson's Jackson Brodie and Dunning's Cliff Janeway are twins split at birth, near as I can tell.)

I am rather fond of Robert Goddard, who leans literary but is definitely a suspense writer. Alan Furst is well worth it too.

Did you sneak into my library and grab the mystery book discussion handout I just put out? We're reading Minette Walters next month and Erin Hart in October. We just finished In a Dry Season by Peter Robinson and everyone in the group gave it an "A" so put it on your list if you haven't read it. I know your adversion to "in person" groups, but if you ever want to come a safe and inviting our doors are always open :)

come to a safe and inviting "in person book group" (oops typo)

I loved Haunted Ground..I would recommend Cornelia Read's series featuring Madeline Dare. I loved the Crazy School & recently read Invisible Boy.

I hope if you try it, you like it, even if you're off archaeology books for the time being. Good to know about "Hell-Hound..." That's the new Hampton Sides one, right? I've never been a huge fan but he knows how to put a story together, I'll give him that.

Yes, I had to give Lesbrarian's categories some thoughts too. I'm not real widely read in any of the genres she defined, but for the few titles I could think of, the categories seemed to ring true.

Let me think about your question about Minette Walters and get back to you (there's someone else I want to ask about it too). In the meantime, have you seen the list we did over at the Reader's Advisor Online for books similar to Larsson's? Although I'll admit, many of those were chosen on similarity of place more than on character. I have yet to read the first Larsson--got to do that this summer too, I can get a handle on this Lisbeth, who I've heard a lot about.


Lesbrarian, our genre definer!
You know, I read one of Kate Atkinson's Jackson Brodie books, and liked it. And then I never read any more. I wonder why. Perhaps I will have to try one of her other titles. Damn and blast! My TBR pile for the summer is getting out of control.

Thanks for the new name of Robert Goddard. Never heard of him before; will look into it! Alan Furst, sadly, though, falls under my "sick to death of hearing about WWII and won't read any more about it" rule. Sigh. Everything I've read seems to indicate he's a talented writer, but I just can't get myself to do it.

Yup, I'm the nighttime library book group list bandit. You found me out! :) Funny coincidence though, and thanks for the invitation to the book group. I'm not against in-person groups at all (particularly when they're about books) I just tend to forget they're happening. I might have to get organized and put these on my calendar...

Thanks for the suggestion! Is Cornelia Read the "unsuitable job for a woman" series author? (Yes, I know I could look it up, I'm lazy.) For some reason her name rings a bell but I can't think why. And now it IS official: I have way too many things to read this summer, and fall, and into next winter...

A couple of things; I agree with others who say that Haunted Ground is not a thriller, suspense/mystery seems right. I don't necessarily think that all thrillers tell you whodunnit right from page one but the focus is more on the pacing and how the protag is going to get out of whatever he/she has gotten into and simply survive and often strong elements of howdunnit.

Minette Walters wouldn't be my first go-to for Stieg Larsson fans. I do think the other Scandinavian mysteries on the RAO list are good suggestions. I also think readers who love Lisbeth - and I think many of the Larsson fans read for her - would like the Mallory series by Carol O'Connell, first is Mallory's Oracle. This series is set in NYC and features police Detective Mallory. Mallory has a mysterious background. She was found at about the age of 11 or 12, a sort of feral street child and taken in by a police detective who became her foster father. She's better with computers then she is people - can be ruthlessly antisocial when the situation warrants - but has a few entanglements that keep her human. Very good series, btw.

I do enjoy Kate Atkinson, although I find the books a bit slow--I always get a little impatient at some point, then have to calm myself the heck down and keep reading.

Funny story: I had a book group at my library that wanted to read a mystery type book, and we suggested Case Histories. They asked me to come lead their discussion of it, and it was almost a transcendent moment for me. All but THREE of them hated (seriously, HATED) the book at the start of the discussion. By the time we were done, half of them wanted to read the next book in the series, and all but a few were amazed by what they had missed in it. Librarian win.

I have a few Robert Goddard titles, if you can't find enough. Some are UK copies. My favorite is IN PALE BATTALLIONS, b/c I love the WWI (that's ONE, not TWO) hook.

"In Pale Battallions" is, in fact, the title I put on my TBR list! It had a lot of good reviews on Goodreads.

Just finished reading Doug Magee's new Never Wave Goodbye and loved it!

It was definitely a novel of suspense, with many twists and turns, and I found myself reading much later than I should have because I wanted to see what happened on the next page. It also contained some interesting subplots involving family situations, and I think those added a great deal to the book.

As far as I know, this is his first novel. Will be looking for more from him....

Pop Tart,
Thank you for the read-alike suggestions for the Larsson books. I keep getting asked for similar books to that series, and as I haven't yet read one (what's up with the hold list being 700+ for the first volume, which is now two years old?!?) I'm always stymied.

I really can't remember why I didn't read more of Kate Atkinson's after the first Brodie book--I don't think they were slow; I guess I just can only take so much fiction at a time.

Your book discussion story is priceless. I wish I could have sat in on that one to witness the transformation.

Ah, you know of my "can't read any WWII books any more" bias. But WWI is fair game--thank you for the Goddard suggestion (and offer of loaners).

Do pop back if you read the "In Pale Battalions" book and let me know what you think!

Never heard of Doug Magee either. Evidently there's lots of gaps in my suspense knowledge. It sounds like an interesting title--I appreciate the suggestion, although my TBR pile/list is now officially out of control.

Well, you don't really need any more comments but I love Erin Hart. She had me reading all about bogs by the time I finished the first book. And she gets eternal credit for the Brazill family in book two. I gave that one to all my sisters for Xmas one year. No one ever believes our name is Irish; takes one to know one, I guess. I think you might classify her third book more in the thriller genre; maybe that's because it's back in the US and the level of violence is higher.

I also love Minette Walters. The library used to have a great video of The Ice House (with Corin Redgrave and Daniel Craig) but it seems to have disappeared.

I just finished "Haunted Ground" yesterday. I would classify it as a "mystery". I did enjoy it. However, I did not find the characters of Cormac and Nora so engaging as to feel compelled to read more in the series. The first Elizabeth George novel that I read had me hooked with the character of Barbara Havers (Thomas Lynley too, but less so). But to be fair, I started the Elizabeth George mysteries in the middle of the series.

CR, if you read this...when are you coming back? I miss you.

I think I'm with you. I really enjoyed "Haunted Ground" but once I took it back to the library I can't say I've really had the urge to read the rest of the series. I guess I'm just not much of a series reader. I like to read things by the same authors--particularly when they're on different subjects (explains my love for William Langewiesche), but the series aspect of most recent fiction doesn't do anything for me at all. Although I've never read an Elizabeth George (like the BBC series though); maybe I'll try her next.

And thanks for the kind words. It's been a lovely time off but I'll be back soon, I promise. I miss all of you too.

I'll always take more comments. I agree with you that the bog aspect of the mystery is the most fascinating part--can you recommend any good NF titles on bogs? I wouldn't have thought "Brazill" was an Irish name but hey, more power to you, and for being able to prove it!

Mm, Minette Walters. Maybe I will get one of hers that I haven't read yet. That movie version of "The Ice House" is one of my favorite movies of all time--I wonder if it's out on DVD yet so I could suggest the library get it back (their copy must have broken). Yummy, Daniel Craig in an early and great role, and all the actors in it were superb. Creepy story too.

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