There are still a few nippy days ahead in which to curl up in a chair, in front of the fire with a good mystery. Here are some that will make you glad to see spring.
Dead of Winter – Rennie Airth:
During a London blackout in 1944, a young woman is murdered. She worked on the farm of retired Scotland Yard Inspector John Madden. This is the third in a trilogy and you will enjoy it more fully if you read the series in order beginning with River of Darkness; followed by The Blood-Dimmed Tide. The series covers the time from when Madden returns from The Great War, until 1944.
Dead of Winter – P. J. Parrish
Loon Lake, Michigan lures policeman Louis Kincaid who is searching for a ‘quieter’ place to live and work, but when local policemen start turning up murdered Kincaid’s loyalties are tested. This is a fast-paced, suspenseful book.
In the Bleak Mid-Winter – Julia Spencer-Fleming
This multiple award winning mystery is the first in the series featuring Rev. Claire Fergusson. Claire, after serving as an Army helicopter pilot, is a newly ordained Episcopal minister in the upstate New York town of Miller’s Kill. It’s a very well-crafted series and in this first book, winter plays an important role.
Winter of Her Discontent – Katherine Miller Haines
Rosie Winter is hoping to land a part on Broadway but she must also solve a murder to clear a friend. The series does a wonderful job of portraying the US home-front during WWII and in spite of a few historical inaccuracies it is very entertaining. This is the second book in the series.
The Winter Garden Mystery – Carla Dunn
The Honorable Daisy Dalrymple is a very likeable English journalist in 1923. While this mystery series falls into the genre of “cozy” it does not rely on gimmicks or cuteness, but on the plot and Daisy’s inimitable style. Here she is writing an article about English manor houses when the body of a maid is discovered in the garden.
Winter House – Carol O’Connell
The Kathy Mallory series are not cozy. In fact, if Kathy was a private detective rather than a NYPD detective, you could call it a ‘hard-boiled’ detective series. You might not like Kathy; she has her own moral code and often walks the fine line of legality. Here, she is investigating the murder of a burglar. He was carrying an ice-pick. The Winter House was the scene, years before, of a family murdered by an ice pick.
The Winter Murder Case – S. S. Van Dine
This is the last case of Philo Vance. Unlike all the others, it takes place in Massachusetts’ Berkshire Mountains. Carrington Rexon is worried about his emerald collection. He has a houseful of guests and is uneasy so he has called on District Attorney Markham for help. “Yes. Collectors are like that. Where can he turn in his hour of uncertainty? Ah, his old friend Markham! Equipped with all the proper gadgets for just such delicate observation. Gadget Number One: Mr. Philo Vance. Looks presentable in a dinner coat. Won’t drink from his finger-bowl. Could mingle and observe, without rousing suspicion. Discretion guaranteed. Excellent way of detecting a lurking shadow–if any.” Vance smiled resignedly. “Is that the gist of the worried Rexon’s runes by long-distance phone?”
Winter Prey – John Sanford
A savage killer named The Iceman and the unrelenting cold of a Wisconsin winter combine forces against Minneapolis, ex-cop Lucas Davenport as he struggles to help the local police identify the killer. Suspenseful, gritty and very enjoyable.
Winter Queen – Boris Akunin
In the late 1800s, young Fandorin is an investigator with the Moscow police. He witnesses the apparent suicide of a young man and is convinced there is more to the case than is commonly thought. From the streets of Moscow to the Winter Queen Hotel in London this book reads like a literary historical novel.
Winter Study – Nevada Barr
Isle Royale, an island in Lake Superior off the coast of Michigan is the setting for National Park Ranger Anna Pigeon’s adventure. She is taking part in a wolf study. Between the cold, the wolves and the untrustworthy humans this book moves from mystery to terrifying suspense. If you would like to visit our country’s National Parks and have all the adventure you can handle, pick up this series.
Winter of the Wolf Moon – Steve Hamilton
Alex McKnight is one of the four ‘white knights’ I would want to find at my door if I were in trouble. McKnight is another series set in northern Michigan where the cold is a big factor in winter. The first book in the series won the Edgar award for Best First Novel and this one lives up to that standard. Here, an Ojibwa woman is at Alex’s door one winter night asking for help. In the morning she is gone and Alex is about to be plunged into a world of trouble.
The best “winter” mystery of all is Hell Is Empty by Craig Johnson, but it doesn’t have “winter” in the title… Read it anyway, it takes your breath away and will keep you indoors for the rest of the winter.