These are cold, winter weather mysteries. Put a log on the fire and grab a cup of hot chocolate and enjoy.
The Corpse in the Snowman by Nicholas Blake –
Blake belongs among the cream of the “Golden Age” writers (Christie, Tey, Sayers) and this book is one of his best. The late poet-laureate Cecil Day-Lewis, father of Daniel Day-Lewis, used the pen-name Nicholas Blake to write exceptional mysteries featuring Nigel Strangeways and lots of excellent red-herrings. An English Manor type mystery that’s a cut above most.
61 Hours by Lee Child –
Jack Reacher always travels light; but when he is stranded in South Dakota during a blizzard with the predicted temperature, with wind-chill factor, at 50 below zero he wishes he had a warm coat. This book leaves our 6’5″ hero in a real cliff-hanger. If you haven’t read any of this series let me just say that if I were in a pickle, I’d like to see Jack Reacher at my door!
Raven Black by Ann Cleeves –
The Shetland Isles in the dark of winter and a body in the snow is at the heart of this mystery, the first of four Shetland mysteries featuring Inspector Jimmy Perez. Read them in order. Only a very few will guess who-dun-it in these books.
Thai Die by Monica Ferris –
With all the dark winter viciousness in this month’s column we really need a light-hearted cozy. This fits the bill. Yes, there is a Minnesota blizzard, but Betsy Devonshire, owner of the Crewel World shop and police Sgt. Mike Malloy make Thai Die a very enjoyable, light read.
Smilla’s Sense of Snow by Peter Hoeg –
Smilla Jasperson is half-Greenlander, half-Danish and she lives in Copenhagen. When a young Greenlander boy falls off the roof to his death the police think it is a case of suicide, but Smilla’s ‘sense of snow’ tells her the boy was chased off the roof. It’s a long book (499 pages) but worth it in the end.
40 Words for Sorrow by Greg Iles –
“Husband murdered, and now her daughter, too. Never mind about snow, Cardinal mused, what people really need is forty words for sorrow.”
There is snow, lots of snow, in this first novel with Detective John Cardinal in Algonquin Bay. Algonquin Bay is a very thinly disguised North Bay, Ontario, Canada. The story is very graphic, so it’s not for cozy mystery fans, but it is an excellent, excellent beginning to this police procedural series.
The Cold Dish and Hell is Empty by Craig Johnson –
Wyoming in the winter is a good definition of cold. The Cold Dish is the first in the series with Sheriff Walt Longmire and Hell is Empty is the latest. Both will have you reaching for a lap rug and that cup of hot chocolate. I’ve mentioned these books before. I think Hell is Empty is just about the coldest of them all.
Winter Prey by John Sanford –
Here the terrible coldness of a Wisconsin winter blizzard and a vicious killer known as ‘The Iceman’ is counter-balanced by a developing romance between ex-cop Lucas Davenport and Dr. Weather Karkinnen, a lady who’s just right for Davenport whether he knows it or not.
Gorky Park and Polar Star by Martin Cruz Smith –
More bodies face down in the snow, in Gorky Park. This time we are in Russia and it is Homicide Detective Arkady Renko that must solve the crime. This is one of the true ‘modern’ mystery classics. The story of Renko continues in Polar Star where he is on a fishing trawler in the Bering Sea. (Now that’s a place that’s cold!)
Snow Angles by James Thompson –
Good grief, another body in the snow. I guess it makes for a visual picture. Here, the body is found in the snow on a reindeer farm in Finland, north of the Artic Circle. It’s the first book introducing Inspector Kari Vaara. Like Steig Larrson’s trilogy it is very graphic; not for the cozy mystery fan.