A Mixed Bag

Here we have everything from cozies to police procedurals. This is a mixed bag of authors that you might want to include in your mystery reading.

Peter Robinson – Robinson gives us Detective Inspector Alan Banks.  In the first book, Gallows View, Banks has recently relocated from the busy city of London to the quieter Yorkshire territory.  While the first book is almost a ‘cozy’, later books develop into solid police procedurals.

Val McDermid – Ms. McDermid writes three series.  Each is very different from the others, but most people enjoy her style and read all three.  Dr. Tony Hill is a police profiler in a fictitious town in Northern England.  The books are graphic police procedurals. First in the series is The Mermaids Singing. Kate Brannigan is a private investigator in Manchester, England.  She is witty and very capable.  Her first appearance is in Dead Beat.  Lindsay Gordon is a journalist in Glasgow. First in the series is Report for Murder.

Janet EvanovichOne for the Money, Evanovich’s first book in the Stephanie Plum series won two awards and was a finalist for six others. There is a reason why this series is so popular. Evanovich takes outlandish characters and portrays them in such a way that they are totally realistic. Plum is witty, gutsy and down to earth.  In the first book you learn how Plum goes from being an out-of-work discount lingerie buyer to a gun-toting bounty hunter. If you have ever had a day go from bad to worse, you’ll love this series.

Colin Dexter – Inspector Morse and Sgt. Lewis in Oxford, England, are well-known to mystery lovers through the PBS television program. Morse is his usual testy, impatient self and Sgt. Lewis bears the brunt of his moods, but they do get the job done. You can start with any book in the series.

Simon Brett – Brett is the author of A Shock to the System which was made into a movie starring Michael Caine.  He has three ‘cozy’ series.  One features actor and amateur detective, Charles Paris. The second has Melita Pargeter, widow of a thief. While she may be in Miss Marple’s age bracket, she is not like her in any way. Melita has maintained contact with many of her husbands ‘associates’. The third features Carole Seddon, a retiree from the Home Office.

Catherine Aird – CID Inspector “Seedy” Sloan is gruff but you will really like him and his assistant, Constable Crosby.  The stories are very well plotted. Begin with The Religious Body.

Earl Derr Biggers – The 1920’s & 30’s were the “Golden Age”, the era of the pulp fiction detectives. The best of the writers are considered “Masters” and are held in as high a regard as Agatha Christie in her genre.  Among these writers was Earl Biggers who wrote six exceptional mysteries featuring a Honolulu detective, Charlie Chan.  Your idea of Charlie Chan may be colored by the four dozen films made, but, in the written form, he is one of the best detectives ever created and you owe it to yourself to give the books a try.

Margery Allingham – Ms. Allingham is one of the “Grand Dames” of British mysteries. Her sleuth is the suave Albert Campion. (I picture him as a cross between Lord Peter Wimsey and The Saint.) In the first Campion book, The Crime at Black Dudley (APA The Black Dudley Murder), Campion is not the main character.  He appears in a secondary role in an absolutely delightful mystery. When the second novel, Mystery Mile, appears, Campion is fully developed and the main character of the series.

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