Nerve Damage by Peter Abrahams – This mystery/psychological thriller features Vermont sculptor Roy Valois whose wife was supposedly killed in a helicopter accident while she was on a humanitarian mission in South America. Valois is dying of an incurable cancer and has only months to live when he finds what he thinks is a mistake about his wife’s death. He sets out in a race against time and conspiracy to discover the truth.
A Scandal in Belgravia by Robert Barnard – This is Barnard’s 24th book, and possibly his best. Peter Proctor is a retired government minister trying to write his memoirs. He is sidetracked by thoughts about the death of a friend many years before. He wonders why he paid so little attention was paid to the death when it happened and he begins to investigate. Barnard is known for his truly well-crafted, old-fashioned British mysteries. His characters are complex but carefully drawn. If you enjoy this one, try A Perfect Crime.
And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie – Written in 1939, this is one of the best-selling mysteries of all time. The plot is typical Christie. Ten guests arrive at an island mansion and are killed off one by one. The circumstances of the deaths are incredible and seemingly impossible, but the solution is completely logical and possible. It has also been published under the title Ten Little Indians. The movie is also Ten Little Indians.
47 Rules of Highly Effective Bank Robbers by Troy Cook – This book is very original and funny. It, however, is NOT a ‘cozy’. It’s an adventurous romp of a crime thriller. The heroine, Tara, is unpredictable and not stereotypical in any way. Tara has been trained since the age of 9 to be her dad’s bank robbing partner, through his 47 Rules. All goes well until she is 23 and decides on a career change. 47 Rules is Cook’s first novel; his second is The One Minute Assassin. Movie producer Richard Gladstein (Bourne Identity, Cider House Rules and others) and his film company FilmColony have acquired the film rights to 47 Rules and are currently choosing directors and cast for the film version.
Only When I Larf (Laugh) by Len Deighton – Deighton’s fans were upset with this book because it was not a spy thriller. I loved the book and thought it was very funny. It’s the crazy tale of three con artists (Silas, Liz and Bob) told through three first-person narratives that are increasingly contradictory descriptions of shared experiences. Deighton is a masterful writer and if you start this knowing that it isn’t a spy novel, I think you will enjoy it.
Mr. Doyle and Dr. Bell by Howard Engel and The Patient’s Eyes by David Pirie – Both of these novels feature the young Arthur Conan Doyle and his real-life mentor, Dr. Bell. Engel’s book is the lighter, faster-paced of the two, while Pirie’s novel is rich in atmosphere. They have very different writing styles. Read them both and compare them, they are both excellent.!
After All These Years by Susan Isaacs –After celebrating her 25th wedding anniversary, Rosie Meyers finds her husband dead on the kitchen floor. Since her husband was leaving her for a younger, thinner woman and since Rosie’s fingerprints are all over the murder weapon she is the logical suspect. It’s a light, fun read.
The Red House Mystery by A.A. Milne – An exacting use of words makes this short, solid mystery by Milne very charming. Written in 1922, it provides the reader with all the facts needed to solve the crime. Antony Gillingham is enjoying a relaxing weekend at a country mansion. One of the guests turns up dead. Antony and his friend, Bill, solve the crime in a manner that would make Holmes and Watson proud. Over the years it has been reprinted and re-reviewed and the reviews seem summed up by Alexander Woollcott’s review when it first came out. He said, “One of the most fascinating, enthralling, and generally satisfactory mystery stories ever written.”
Old Dogs by Donna Moore – The Contessa and her sister are really Letty and Dora, a couple of 70 year old ex-hookers turned con ladies and heist artists. They have a slick art caper planned in Glasgow. The book is a screwball ride. The characters are incredibly funny. (By the way, the language is quite ‘colorful’, so if you are easily offended by rude language, don’t even pick it up.) Read it and laugh.