The last couple of months have been busy. I released the first book in a new series – Swagman, and I am busy finishing the last book in my first series – Battle. I visited home in New Zealand and also took a trip to Brisbane to see friends. In between all of this I have been reading and researching a new idea for another book.
You see I love a good mystery, and I thought maybe I might be able to write one myself. Not a full blown Karen Slaughter or JD Robb, but more of a cosy mystery. So I have been using my down time to read a few books in this genre and flesh out my ideas.
While I read I thought to myself these are great books for older kids to read too. You may well ask why I would think that? These books tend to have great characters, a puzzle to be solved and are, for the most part, clean fiction. Which makes them a good read for children who think they are too old for children’s books.
I have picked a few of my recent reads for you to try.
Sleeping Murder by Agatha Christie
To me, Agatha Christie is the master of the Cosy Mystery. Her characters are always well developed and her plots are a marvel. My favourite heroes have always been Tommy and Tuppence, but this time round I read the last of her Miss Marple books.
In Sleeping Murder, Miss Marple chances on a young woman who had fled to London because she has seen a murder in her house, in a dream. The shaken woman and her husband decide to investigate, and a worried Miss Marple decides to help, because she know just what trouble you can get into when you investigate mysteries.
I have just realised it is difficult to review a mystery because anything I write might give away a clue to how the plot unfolds. Perhaps I will just say this, as Gwenda and her husband delve into the history of their house, they find the mystery is very personal, and they place their lives in danger in their search for the truth.
For me this book loses a little because Miss Marple only plays a bit part, and the new characters are not as well formed as in other books. Even with this, Sleeping Murder is still a great read and keeps you guessing til the end.
Murder by the Book by Lauren Elliott
My favourite modern Cosy Mysteries take on some of the elements I love from Agatha Christie’s writing. Set in small towns, they have a main character using common sense and their relationships with others to overcome adversity.
In Murder by the Book, Addie has been plagued by bad luck but believes this is finally changing when she receives an inheritance and is able to leave her job as a librarian to open her own book store. This belief is short lives as strange things start happening and her life is placed in danger.
The strength of this book is the characters. Addie is strong and brave and has an interesting way of approaching things. The town she has moved to has an array of very strong “suspects”, and the plot has a number of twists and turns. I enjoyed this book so much I just had to buy and read the next in the series – Prologue to Murder and am eagerly awaiting the third book. Beside, let’s face it, a mystery and books – what’s not to love.
A Twist in the Tail by Leighann Dobbs
My third cosy mystery is one the jury is still out on. This book is well written, the mystery grabs the readers attention from the first chapter, and the lead character Josie is very likeable. I also loved the additional characters of her mother and her mother’s friend who show up to help Josie.
The mystery is also engaging. Josie has taken on running a guest house in a small town only to find one of her guests has been murdered. As she is the prime suspect, she decides she needs to prove her innocence.
What I am unsure about in this book is the cats. Don’t get me wrong, I love cats, but cats as detectives? Perhaps it is that part of the book is written from their point of view. This is well handled in that they are very cat-like personalities with their own unique characters, and they do play a part in the mystery. However, I think one of the main draws to Cosy Mysteries for me is the human characters and their interactions, I think perhaps I am not quite ready for life from a cat point of view (and, funnily enough, as I was typing this my own cat jumped on the desk for attention, almost as if she knew I was dissing some of her fellow felines).
I really enjoyed this book, once I started skipping over the cat bits. Leighann Dobbs is a good writer, and her plot is definitely intriguing. I also realise many people will be attracted to this book, especially younger readers with a love of animals, and what I found annoying they will find captivating.
If none of my recent mystery reads have grabbed you, then perhaps a browse through some old mystery reviews will help.
For those readers who are a little older, perhaps the Viral series from Kathy and Brendon Reichs. I reviewed Exposure some time ago. Or maybe John Grisham’s move into young adult fiction, the Theodore Boone Series.
There is a great range of mystery adventure stories out thereto tempt your young and old readers, so why not have a browse. If you cannot decide where to start, may I suggest an Agatha Christie.