Tag: Mystery

A Mystery Wrapped in a Mystery

 

Four people sit in the reading room of the Boston Public Library. One, an Australian mystery writer, is in Boston for a year on a writing fellowship. Two others are college students. Another is an author from the Carolinas. They are strangers who have never met.

“The Woman in the Library,” a mystery written by Sulari Gentill, opens with this. The four are quietly observing yet ignoring each other. When a woman screams outside the reading room, library security asks them to remain in the room while they investigate. Nothing is then discovered, and they are told they are free to go.

The incident breaks the ice. They start talking to each other while waiting in the room, then decide to go for coffee together. Soon they bond and become friends. They agree to meet again. When they do meet the next day, they learn a woman’s body was discovered hidden in a room near the reading room. She was murdered. At the urging of one of the four, a psychology student they decide to investigate the murder. The four soon  quickly discover their investigation has led them into danger.

Working Class Meet Modern Art

 

Abe Allard and C. S. Duffy are private investigators in Chicago.  Not the glamorous investigators of movies and novels, or even noir detectives of mysteries. They do research for lawyers, background checks for corporations, and track unfaithful spouses.

“Where Art Thou?” by Sean Little, takes the fictional pair out of their ordinary paths. They are hired to investigate an art theft. Their wealthy client, Geo McMahon, had a sketch stolen.

McMahon collects art. His home is filled with valuable artwork, including some worth millions. Despite the security he has, a thief was able to penetrate it and steal a piece of art. But the thief only one piece, a hyper-realistic sketch by an up-and-coming black Chicago artist. It is worth very little. It is not even what the artist was known for prior to his overdose death. While he did some hyperrealism early in his career, he was best known for his abstracts. McMahon wants to learn why that particular piece was taken.

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You see them everywhere – content producers for such sites as The Federalist: ‘Such And So is an intern, currently pursuing a degree is Poli Sci with a minor in journalism’. Why? Why would someone with conservative instincts, inclinations or convictions study journalism? (I leave for another time the question of political “science”.) I could […]

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A Methanolated Death

 

Julia Fairchild is a physician in a small southern Washington State town. She has long-term family roots in Parkview, a town of 38,000 built around the local pulp and paper mill. An internist at the local hospital, Julia has a hobby: solving mysteries.

“One Will Too Many: A Julia Fairchild Mystery,” by PJ Peterson is this series’s fourth book. In the first three, a peripatetic Fairchild (generally accompanied by her sister Carly) are vacationing in exotic locations. This one takes place in Parkview.

It begins with Pam, a childhood friend of Julia getting called out of town abruptly. Pam has to skip an important fundraising event to restore a landmark historic theater building in Fairview. She twists Julia’s arm into replacing her at the tux and formal dress event. This ends up involving Julia in a bizarre death. When banker Jay Morrison gets drunk, Julia gives his girlfriend Sophia a ride home. The next morning, Julia drives Sophia to Jay’s house so Sophia can recover her car. They find Jay unconscious in the dining room.

Death on a Narrow Gauge

 

Johann Mueller is a physicist. He fled Germany for the United States to escape Nazism.  The US is at war with Nazi Germany, with Mueller employed by the US government as a scientist. It is why he is on Denver & Rio Grande Western’s San Juan Express, heading towards a Colorado mining town.

In “Murder on the San Juan Express,” a historical mystery by K. C. Sivils, Mueller never makes it to his destination. His body is found along the track after he fell from the train. Was his fall an accident or was he pushed?

Since Mueller is a federal employee, the FBI investigates. Special Agent Nelson Paine is assigned the case. Paine’s boss, intends to steal the credit if Paine solves the crime, and shift the blame to Paine if Paine does not solve it. Paine knows this, but does not care. He wants to solve the mystery.

A Mystery Series Opening on a Maiden Voyage

 

In 1999, published under the pen name Conrad Allen, a mystery was released.  It featured a murder aboard RMS Lusitania during its maiden voyage. It was the first of eight mysteries featuring detectives George Porter Dillman and Genevieve Masefield aboard various Atlantic liners in the years prior to World War I.

“Murder on the Lusitania,” by Edward Marston, rereleases the book. Marston, like Allen, is a pen name used by author Keith Miles, the one he most commonly uses.

Dillman’s role is revealed gradually. He has been hired by the Cunard to operate undercover among the passengers aboard Lusitania during its 1907 maiden voyage. He is traveling as a first-class passenger, with the other passengers unaware of his true role. His mission is to mingle among the passengers keeping a watch out for petty criminals (pickpockets and thieves) and professional gamblers who might be working the passengers.

A 1950s-Style Noir Mystery Set in 1950s New York

 

Jake August writes pulp fiction. He was a Navy Criminal Investigation Division officer, before he got shot in a brothel in Occupied Japan and got invalided out of the service. Now, in 1952 he writes paperback novels for Rattlesnake Books.

“Deadline: New York,” a mystery by Jim Lester, explores the emerging world of paperback publishing in the early 1950s. New York State Senator Benjamin McClellan is starting a crusade against paperbacks, arguing they are rotting the morals of America’s youth.  Rattlesnake Books is high on his list of offenders.

Jake is ignoring McClellan’s crusade. He has books to write. The adventure novels he churns out are not the Great American War Novel documenting his experiences in World War II. He is not yet ready to write that. Writing paperbacks pay the bills and keep him busy, and Jake is all for both.

A Return to the Golden Age British Mystery

 

It is 1923. Kitty Worthington, completing a year in a Swiss finishing school is, returning to England for her debut year as she turns 21. An unmarried young woman of the upper classes cannot travel alone, so she is accompanied by her very stuffy older brother Edward.

“Murder on the Golden Arrow,” by Magda Alexander opens with Kitty discovering Ned much less stuffy than Kitty believed. She learns he had a paramour. Worse, traveling on the Golden Arrow from Dover to London the woman is poisoned. While sitting across from Kitty and Ned.

A Scotland Yard Detective Inspector aboard the train, Robert Crawford, takes charge of the investigation. Since Ned gave the poisoned woman medicine immediately before dying Kitty fears Crawford suspects Ned. The dead woman was blackmailing Ned. Kitty knows Ned did not commit the crime, but he seems the obvious suspect.

A Collision of Two Unscrupulous People

 

Many contemporary novels have been written about lawyers and the law.. Certain types of law lead to exciting drama, especially criminal cases. Bankruptcy law seems an unlikely source for gripping fiction.

“Fresh Start: A 3J Mystery,” by Mark Shaiken, is proof it can be done. It is tightly written, tautly paced, and absolutely absorbing.

Quincy Gunn Witherman builds and operates high-rise office buildings. His buildings are high-end, with 95 percent occupancy and blue-chip tenants. As with most developers, he is highly leveraged.  While his income is solid his properties dropped in value due to a general market downturn two years earlier. The market has stabilized and the buildings again appreciating.

A British Police Procedural Updated to the Present

 

The British police procedural is one of the most popular forms of detective fiction. The twentieth century brought Colin Dexter’s Inspector Morse and P. D. James’s Adam Dagliesh. There are many others, including some set in the nineteenth century.

“Queen of Swords,” by Robert Mills, brings the genre into the twenty-first century.

Senior nurse Jenny Butcher is found strangled in her London flat. Detective Inspector Sanjay Patel, a British-born Indian is the case’s first investigator. He is assigned as deputy to Chief Inspector Tracy Taylor, and an important part of the investigation.

Mystery and Not-Knowing

 

Recently I had pretty much put aside concerns of not-knowing the outcome of one last test regarding my breast cancer. When the surgeon called a couple of days ago, I was stunned to learn at least part of the results. As I struggled to calm myself (since I was certain the test results would set me free from the possibility of chemotherapy), I realized that I didn’t know a whole lot more than I knew before he called. The results still left me in a state of not-knowing, and I didn’t like it one single bit.

Most people go through life in a continuous state of “not knowing” and don’t even realize it. We don’t know if we will encounter heavy traffic when we go out; we don’t know if it will rain in the afternoon in spite of a sunny forecast; we don’t know if we will catch a cold or get a hangnail. But because these are minor and transient conditions, we don’t worry about them; not knowing is not something we fear because we don’t give it much thought.

Intrigue Seeking Stolen Nazi Art

 

On March 22, 1945 Major Max Hignite flew his last Luftwaffe mission; a flight to Switzerland in a Ju-52 loaded with artwork stolen by the Nazis. The plane crashed, sealed in a cave by a Swiss lake. Hignite, badly injured, survived. Rescued by local Swiss, he spent months near death in a hospital. By the time he recovered, the Ju-52 had disappeared. Only Hignite was aware of its contents. He decided to move on with his life.

So opens “Ghosts of the Past,” a novel by Mark H.Downer. Moving on included going to the United States after the war ended, joining family who immigrated to the US in the 1930s. In spring, 2001, Hignite is dying. He passes his final flight’s secret to his favorite grandnephew, Matt Ferguson. Matt inherits the aircraft’s manifest cargo and a map showing where it crashed.

Matt, in a well-paying but dull job, decides to recover the treasure as a one-off adventure. Since he is Max Hignite’s executor, Matt uses settling his grand-uncle’s estate as an excuse to take a leave of absence.

Murder and Mystery By the Ohio River

 

Piper Blackwell is an ex-GI. She saw service in Iraq with the 101st Airborne, seeing combat as an MP. Instead of serving her planned 20 years, she separated at the end of her hitch to look after her father, Paul Blackwell, ill with cancer. Her father, then sheriff of rural Spencer County, Indiana urged 23-year-old Piper to run for sheriff in his place. To her surprise, she won.

“The Dead of Jerusalem Ridge: A Piper Blackwell Mystery,” by Jean Rabe, is the fourth book in this mystery series. Blackwell is into her ninth month as sheriff. She has shaken up the sheriff’s department, mostly for the better. Even her election opponent, Chief Deputy Sheriff Oren Rosenberg, who would like for her to be inadequate so he could replace her, grudgingly admits her competence.

This book opens with Piper taking a three-day Labor Day weekend in Kentucky, with several ex-army buddies. They are playing paintball on land owned by one of them when tragedy strikes. They get attacked by an armed, active shooter. Several of the participants are killed, including the shooter. Others including Piper are badly injured.

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Part One Part Two Part Three Part Four Sovereign princes and their heirs may have many interests. They may love art or music or architecture. They may endeavor to be Renaissance men, writing poetry and studying ancient arts, such as horsemanship. But their primary responsibility is to defend their domains and their subjects. This has […]

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Part One Part Two Part Three The next day was easily as nerve-wracking a wait as the day before. Antoine, Percival, Walpole, and I spoke of various topics as we waited. It was only twelve-and-a-half hours before we felt the same sort of magical pulse as we had yesterday, except that the pulse was much […]

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Part One “The way I see it, this breaks down into two parts,” I said. “First, we have the problem of reversing the Sanctification Spells that have gone badly. Second, we need to find who has been spreading these flyers with information about the Sanctification Spell.” We were in the same conference room in Paris […]

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Part One Part Two Part Three There before me stood the ghost of King James IV of Scotland. I noticed two things immediately. The first was that he looked more like his painted portraits than like a fully-fleshed out human being or ghost thereof. This was especially easy to note given that such a portrait […]

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