Archive for the ‘Mystery’ Category

Devil in a Blue Dress

October 17, 2012


Title: Devil in a Blue Dress

Author: Mosley, Walter

Genre: Mystery, Historical Mystery, African American Fiction

Publication Date: 1990

Number of Pages: 215

Geographical Setting: Los Angeles, California

Time Period: 1948, Post WWII

Series: Easy Rawlins

Plot Summary: Set in Los Angeles in 1948, this gritty novel follows Ezekiel Rawlins who goes by Easy.  An African-American WWII veteran, Easy just wants to enjoy his life and hold onto the house he worked so hard to get but he has just lost his factory job.  Easy tries to forget his troubles at his friend Joppy’s bar when he is offered money by the mysterious, white gentleman DeWitt Albright.  All he has to do is track down French beauty Daphne Monet, a lady who is said to frequent black jazz clubs, and he will have enough money to pay this month’s mortgage.  But what starts out as a straightforward mission leads to increasing danger and threats to his life.  With bodies piling up and the police eager to pin the crimes on him, Easy must find Daphne and solve this mystery in order to stay alive.  Winner of the Shamus best P.I. novel award and the first in the Easy Rawlins series, this book introduces a complex and engaging protagonist who goes from reluctant to empowered private investigator while also dealing with racial tensions during the 1940’s Los Angeles.  Mystery lovers can enjoy this private investigator novel that looks at social issues while also delivering an atmospheric, evocative story that has the feel of a film noir.  They can also watch the movie version of this starring Denzel Washington and Jennifer Beals.

Subject Headings: African-American Fiction, Mystery Fiction, Los Angeles, California, Private Investigators, Race Relations, Rawlins, Easy, African American Men, Organized Crime, Missing persons investigation, The Forties (20th century), Gangsters, Political Corruption

Appeal: Builds in intensity Pacing, Edgy, Character-driven, Suspenseful, Intriguing Characters, Well-drawn Characters, Gritty, Historical Details, Issue-oriented, Stark, Investigative, Thought-provoking, Strong Language, Time period dialect, Atmospheric, Evocative

Three Most Relevant Appeal Terms: Gritty, Historical details, Investigative

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

A Dangerous Road by Kris Nelscott

Set against the racially tense backdrop of Memphis in 1968, this historical mystery follows the activities of African-American private investigator Smokey Dalton.  He finds out that he is the recipient of $10,000 through rich,white Chicago heiress Laura Hathaway’s mother’s will.  Laura wants to know why Smokey was named the beneficiary, as does Smokey.  This search for answers leads to danger and mysteries for Smokey.  Another historical mystery novel that features an engaging African-American private detective narrator, while also offering an atmospheric story that deals with racial issues.

L.A. Confidential by James Ellroy

In this noir fiction set in the Los Angeles of the 1950s, the story follows three troubled LAPD officers Ed Exley, Bud White and Jack “Trashcan” Vincennes as they deal with crime, corruption and violence over a 10-year period.  Enjoy this mystery novel that deals with corruption and violence during a similar time period.  Like Devil in a Blue Dress, this was made into a movie.

The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett

In this classic noir novel, San Francisco detective Sam Spade must deal with his partner being killed in a stakeout, a valuable statue of a falcon being wanted, the appearance and disappearance of a mysterious redhead and enemies demanding a payoff that Sam does not have.  The stakes are high and Sam must figure out how to get out of this mess and get some answers.  Here is the go-to novel for a gritty, noir detective story.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

The Invisible Line: A Secret History of Race in America by Daniel J. Sharfstein

If you want to delve a bit deeper into some of the racial issues explored in Devil in a Blue Dress, try this book that explores three American families whose self-identified race shifted from black to white over the years.

L.A. Noir: The Struggle for the Soul of America’s Most Seductive City by John Buntin

Delve even deeper into the seedy underworld of Los Angeles from the1920s through the 1960s.  It dives into the world of crime, corruption, and violence along with the racial tensions of the city.  This book is suggested for those who wanted more details regarding the historical setting presented in Devil in a Blue Dress.

The Film Noir Encyclopedia by Alan Silver, Elizabeth Ward, James Ursini and Robert Porfirio

Did you enjoy the book as well as the movie?  Then try this encyclopedia that covers film noirs in detail.  It explores the themes and motifs of the genre, while featuring pictures and stills of the movies and their stars.

Name: Margita Lidaka

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Breakdown

October 17, 2012

Author:  Sara Paretsky

Title:  Breakdown

Genre:  Mystery

Publication Date:  2012

Number of Pages:  431

Geographical Setting:  Chicago, Illinois

Time Period:  Contemporary

Series:  The V.I. Warshawski Series (#16)

Plot Summary:  Chicago private detective V.I. Warshawski investigates the potential involvement of a group of preteen girls interested in the Supernatural in the grisly vampire-style murder of a local private detective.  Meanwhile, a polarizing cable TV news host ratchets up his attempts to smear a candidate for the U.S. Senate by digging up dirt on wealthy businessman Chaim Salanter, an elderly Jewish supporter of the candidate and the grandfather of one of the girls discovered at the scene of the murder.  Plotlines converge at breakneck speed when Salanter’s granddaughter is kidnapped.  With the girl’s life hanging in the balance, Warshawski races to determine how the original murder and Salanter’s well-kept secrets are related to the kidnapping, a vicious attack on an old friend, and the death of an orderly at a state mental facility.  As the plot twists and turns, it seems clear that someone is willing to go to great lengths to make sure events of the past stay buried. 

Subject Headings:  Warshawski, V.I. (Ficticious Character)—Fiction; Women Private Investigators—Illinois—Chicago—Fiction;  Murder—Investigation—Fiction; Rich People—Fiction; Political Campaigns—Fiction;  Chicago (Ill.)—Fiction

Appeal:  fast-paced, compelling, suspenseful, dangerous, dark, gritty, sarcastic, engaging, series characters, intricately plotted, multiple plotlines, plot twists, investigative, rich and famous, contemporary, urban, political, details of Chicago, candid, earthy, straight-forward

Three Appeal Terms that Best Describe Book:  fast-paced, intricately plotted, suspenseful

Fiction Read-alikes:

A Trouble of Fools by Linda Barnes

Fans of Sara Paretsky’s tough, female private investigator V.I. Warshawski may also enjoy getting to know Carlotta Carlyle, the smart, hard-nosed female P.I. at the heart of Linda Barnes’ fast-paced mysteries, which are set against the gritty urban landscape of Boston. In this first title of the series, Carlotta’s investigation into the disappearance of a missing cab driver soon draws her into intrigue involving the IRA, a major drug ring, the FBI, and a member of the Mob.

The Other Woman by Hank Phillippi Ryan

Readers who enjoyed following the nasty political campaign and related media tie-ins at the heart of Breakdown may also enjoy this suspenseful and intricately plotted mystery involving murder and sleazy politicians.  Plotlines converge as Detective Jake Brogan investigates a series of murders of young women in Boston, while disgraced reporter Jane Ryland covers a seemingly-unrelated sex scandal involving a candidate for the U.S. Senate.

The Chicago Way by Michael T. Harvey

Readers of the V.I. Warshawski series who enjoy its gritty Chicago setting may also enjoy this first title in Harvey’s series about ex-Chicago cop and private detective, Michael Kelly.  At the request of his former partner, Kelly agrees to investigate a cold case involving a violent rape committed 8 years ago.  After his partner is found dead the next day, Kelly’s investigation soon points to the possibility that a serial killer/rapist is currently on the loose.  In this fast-paced mystery, the body count mounts as Kelly races to expose a cover-up related to the original crime.

Related Non-Fiction:

Politics on Demand: The Effects of 24-Hour News on American Politics by Alison Dagnes

A major plotline in Breakdown revolves around the efforts of a popular, politically polarizing host of a major cable TV news program to influence the outcome of a campaign for the U.S. Senate.  This book examines the proliferation of the 24-hour news cycle perpetuated by cable news stations, and the resulting shift in coverage away from substantive treatment of political issues to opinion-based reporting.   Also discussed is the impact this type of coverage has had on Americans’ understanding of politics and government, changes in the ways in which news organizations use politicians, and vice versa.

The Last Days of the Jerusalem of Lithuania: Chronicles from the Vilna Ghetto and the Camps, 1939-1944 by Herman Kruk

A significant plotline in Breakdown involves an investigation into a major character’s experience as a youth living in the Jewish Ghetto of Vilna, Lithuania during WWII.  This book is a translation of a diary kept by Herman Kruk, a Polish Jew who lived in the Vilna Ghetto, who ultimately perished in a labor camp in Estonia.  The diary provides a heartbreaking account of the conditions, violence, and cruelty that marked everyday life in the Ghetto.

Vampires, Zombies, and Shape-shifters (Secrets of the Supernatural)  by Rebecca Stefoff

Secret rituals surrounding membership in a book club for a (fictitious) popular series of books about vampires and shape-shifters inadvertently connects a group of preteen girls to a dangerous murder plot in Breakdown.  This book provides a review of the legend and folklore surrounding the enduring myth of vampires, zombies, and shape-shifters (e.g., werewolves).

Becky King

The Apothecary Rose

October 17, 2012

Author: Candace M. Robb

Title: The Apothecary Rose

Genre: Historical Mystery

Publication Date: 1993

Number of Pages: 256 pages

Setting: Great Britain

Time Period: 1363

Series: Owen Archer Mysteries, 1

Plot Summary: Owen Archer,  a former Captain of the Archers, turned spy and masquerades as an apothecary apprentice; all in order to discover who murdered two pilgrims at York and for what reason.

Subject Headings: Archer, Owen, 14th Century, Civilization-Medieval- England

Appeal Terms:

suspenseful, murder investigation, authentic, tangled relationships, detailed settings, poison, 14th Century England, religion, Medieval culture, pilgrimages

3 Best Appeal Terms:

  • suspenseful
  • authentic
  • detailed

Similar Fiction Authors:

  • The Nightingale Gallery by P.C. Doherty;1991 (historical mystery series, Medieval Great Britain)
  • The Last Templar by Michael Jecks; 1995 (14th Century, historical murder mysteries, Knights Templar)
  • A Shrine of Murders by C. L. Grace: 1993 (15th Century Great Britain, woman protagonist, Medieval murder mystery series)

Similar Nonfiction Authors:

  • The Lust for Blood: Why We are Fascinated by Death, Murder, Horror and Violence by Jeffery A. Kottler; 2010                                                                                                 For those readers who say “why am I reading murder mysteries when I am squeamish about blood?” you aren’t alone. This scientific book takes a hard and gritty look at why people continue to be infatuated  with blood and violence, starting with the gladiators of Rome all the way to popular culture figures such as zombies and vampires. (science, gritty, from the ancients to contemporary times)
  • Dead and the Virgin Queen: Elizabeth I and the dark scandal that rocked the throne by Chris Skidmore :2011                                                                                              For readers that like to know if any of these murders were even possible, try some true crime from the 16th Century. Written as an exploratory study of the death of Anne Robsart using forensics, science and history buffs should enjoy this little hidden gem (16th Century Great Britain, true crime, journalistic, compelling)
  • Royal Blood: Richard III and the Mystery of the Princes by Bertram Fields: 1998                                                                                                                                                         Here’s another forensic mystery that might change the history books. This one has no resolution, but for those who like cold cases, this is bound to be interesting.  (true crime, 15th Century Great Britain, forensics)

Name: Jennifer Palermo

Night Work

August 13, 2012

Author: Laurie R King

Title: Night Work

Genre: Mystery, GLBTQ

Publication Date: 2000

Number of Pages: 416

Geographical Setting: San Francisco, CA

Time Period: Present

Series (If applicable): Kate Martinelli

Plot Summary: 

Kate and her partner Al get called in to two similar murder scenes, for men who appear to have nothing in common except a history of hurting women.  It comes to light that there is a group of female vigilantes in town, exacting their own form of justice, and the suspect list begins to hit close to home for Kate.   Interwoven with spirituality, feminist politics, and personal relationships this is a smart and fast-paced mystery.

Subject Headings:

Lesbian detectives; Man-hating; Martinelli, Kate; Policewomen; Revenge; Serial murderers; Vigilantes; Violence against women; Women detectives

Appeal:

Compelling; Character-driven; fast-paced; dramatic; Builds in intensity; impassioned; issue oriented storyline; investigative; resolved ending; urban; strong secondary characters; well-drawn characters

3 terms that best describe this book:

fast-paced; character-driven; impassioned

Similar Authors and Works (why are they similar?):

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Gay Religion by Scott Thumma

This book presents the spiritual lives of those who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender.  It may appeal to those who were interested in the religious discussions in Night Work.

Children of Kali: through India in Search of Bandits, the Thug Cult, and the British Raj by Kevin Rushby

This book provides an insight into the history of a religious cult that worships the goddess Kali.  This goddess was referenced throughout Night Work and some readers may be interested in learning more about her.

Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo

This work is the story of families living and struggling in modern-day India.  Readers who were interested in Pramilla’s case in Night Work may like this look into India.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

The Surgeon by Tess Gerritsen

A female heart surgeon is being terrorized by a killer using the same MO as her rapist.  The detective on the case is Jane Rizzoli, the sole female homicide detective.  This work features strong female characters, like those in Night Work, and is investigating crimes against women.

The Mermaids Singing by Val McDermid

Detective Carol Jordan is investigating a string of murders, that involves sexually torturing male victims, and due to a lack of suspects profiler Tony Hill is brought in on the case.  A gritty and disturbing mystery, this book may appeal to those who liked the fast-paced and suspenseful story in Night Work.

Deaths of Jocasta by J.M. Redmann

The second book in the Micky Knight Mystery Series has Micky investigating a dead body that turns up at an event she is running the security for.  In the course of the investigation more dead bodies turn up and the suspect is a former love interest.  A character driven mystery this may appeal to those who liked the GLBTQ aspect of Night Work as well as the cases connection with the main detective’s personal life.

Name: Lisa Anne Fisherkeller Barefield

The End of Everything

July 31, 2012

Author:  Megan Abbott

Title:  The End of Everything

Genre: Psychological Suspense/Mystery

Publication Date:  2011

Number of Pages:  246

Geographical Setting:  Midwest suburb

Time Period:  1980’s

Plot Summary:  Thirteen-year-old Lizzie’s best friend, Evie, disappears and Lizzie was the one to see her last.  Slowly Lizzie starts remembering key clues, like the suspicious car that turns out to belong to a local business man who is also missing.  It seems that Evie was kidnapped; but as Lizzie remembers more and more, it seems that maybe Evie has run away…Evie’s sister, Dusty, seems to be hiding something too.  Meanwhile, Lizzie spends more and more time with Evie’s dad, whom she has a crush on.

Subject Headings:  Teenage girls-fiction; Best friends-fiction; Missing persons-fiction.

Appeal:  Evocative, deliberate pace, character-driven, suspenseful, compelling, atmospheric, insightful, introspective, person point of view, atmospheric, creepy.

3 terms that best describe this book:  Evocative, moody, and suspenseful.

Similar Authors and Works (why are they similar?):

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Preventing Sibling Rivalry: Six Strategies for Building a Jealousy-free home by Sybil Hart

A child psychologist has tips for parents of how to help siblings interact positively.

Memory, History, Forgetting by Paul Ricouer

The philosophy and history of personal memory and recollection.  Ricouer examines the reciprocal relationship between remembering and forgetting, showing how it affects the perception of historical experience.  Refers to Aristotle, Descartes, Kant and other philosophers.

Finding Runaways and Missing Adults by Robert L. Snow

Published in 2012, this discusses the runaway problem in America. Snow reveals to readers the process the police use when trying to locate missing people, and information that readers can then use to locate their own missing loved ones. Uses real stories and first hand accounts,

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

The Book of Lies by Mary Horlock

A girl murders her best friend-turned-enemy on the English Island of Guernsey.  Her situation parallels her uncle, who has WWII secrets.  The story jumps back and forth from the present to the Nazi occupation.

Close Your Eyes by Amanda Eyre Ward

Lauren and her brother were children when their mother was murdered and their father was convicted of murdering her.  Now in her adulthood, Lauren’s brother, who always said their dad was innocent, vanishes.

Creep by Jennifer Hillier

Dr. Sheila Tao is a recovering sex addict, but after the death of her father she suffered a relapse and had a torrid affair with her teaching assistant/ student Ethan Wolfe, but decides to break it off because she is getting married.  but Ethan doesn’t handle the breakup well, and threatens to share a sex video of the couple together, which can ruin her career and her engagement.

Name:  Sonia Reppe

The Body in the Library

July 30, 2012

Author: Christie, Agatha

Title: The Body in the Library

Genre:  Mystery

Publication Date: 1941

Number of Pages: 220

Geographical Setting:  St. Mary’s Mead and Danemouth, England

Time Period: 1920s

Series (If applicable):  Miss Marple series #3

Plot Summary:  A body is discovered in Colonel and Mrs. Banrdry’s home library.  Mrs. Bandry instantly knows she needs to bring in her good friend and amateur sleuth, Miss Jane Marple.  By linking people and situations from her town of St. Mary’s Mead to the people and situations of the murder, Miss Marple is able to unravel the mystery a step ahead of the police.

Subject Headings:  Mystery—Fiction, England—Fiction, Women Detectives

Appeal:  Builds in Intensity, Easy to Read, Humorous, Engaging Characters, Intriguing, Multiple Points of View, Series (Characters), Conclusive, Investigative, Plot Twists, Rural, Classic, Clever

3 terms that best describe this book:  Clever, Investigative, Plot Twists

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: A Shocking Murder and the Undoing of a Great Victorian Detective by Kate Summerscale (2008)

This book provides an account of the murder that started the modern fascination with detection and nearly ruined the career of one of Scotland Yard’s best inspectors, Jonathan Wincher.

Agatha Christie’s Secret Notebooks by John Curran (2009)

A look into the notebooks, letters, and drafts that Christie’s daughter, Rosalind kept after her mother’s death.  The book includes two unpublished Poirot short stories.

An Autobiography by Agatha Christie (1977)

Agatha Christie’s autobiography tells the story of how she became one of the most celebrated detective writers of all time.  The book delves into her life from childhood until her 70s.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith (1998)

Mma Precious Ramotswe is a local sleuth in her town in Botswana.  If Miss Marple were fat, jolly, and African, she and Precious would be nearly identical.  Precious solves small cases that mirror human nature.

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1892)

If Miss Marple is the most famous female detective, then surely Sherlock Holmes is the most famous male.  He can deduce just about anything about anyone.  This collection has some of his most famous cases, all chronicled by Dr. John Watson.

Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear (2003)

After World War I, Maisie Dobbs becomes a private investigator.  Her first case seems to be one of infidelity, but soon she begins to uncover much darker secrets about the war and herself.

Name: Erin Sloan

Murder in the Sentier

July 30, 2012

Author: Cara Black

Title: Murder in the Sentier

Genre: Mystery

Publication Date: 2002

Number of Pages: 325

Geographical Setting: Paris, France

Time Period: 1994

Series (If applicable): Aimee Leduc Investigations (3)

Plot Summary:

Book three in the Aimee Leduc series begins with a recently released prisoner contacting Aimee claiming to have information on her long lost mother.   When her informant winds up dead Aimee finds herself investigating two recent murders alongside burglaries and a kidnapping committed by a radical group in the 1970s.  Tech savvy Aimee also needs to keep up with her day job at Leduc Investigations.  A full cast of quirky characters, including an albino fashion designer, her business partner Renee, government rebels, and a handsome financial advisor, make for an intriguing story that always has something going on. Told from a couple different viewpoints Black’s work has well crafted, yet flawed characters.  With two mysteries converging together, and a vivid description of Paris (and not always the pretty side of Paris), this novel is compelling and suspenseful.

Subject Headings:

Computers, Families of missing persons, Leduc, Aimee, Murder, Murder investigation, Terrorists, Women Detectives

Appeal:

Character-driven, strong sense of place, suspenseful, compelling, flawed characters, engrossing, atmospheric, bittersweet, intriguing characters, series characters, quirky characters, action-oriented, flashbacks, investigative, detailed setting, straightforward language

3 terms that best describe this book:

Strong sense of place, action-oriented, intriguing characters

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

The Burden of Responsibility: Blum, Camus, Aron, and the French Twentieth Century by Tony Judt

Through the lives of three of France’s well known intellectuals of the 20th century, this work discusses politics and moral responsibility.  For those may want to know more about the political motivations behind the radicals featured in Black’s work.

Paris: The Secret History by Andrew Hussey

This book provides a look at Paris’s history, through the lives of Parisians.  This work looks at the well known and beautiful as well as the underworld and gritty.  This work allows readers to see more of Paris than the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame and takes the reader to places like the Sentier.

Metro Stop Paris: An Underground History of the City of Light by Gregor Dallas

The history of Paris told through twelve metro stops, allowing reader to see a more well rounded version of Paris through vignettes. Like Black’s work it does not always focus on the romanticized version of Paris.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

A Great Deliverance by Elizabeth George

Part of the Thomas Lynley mystery series this book features detective Sergeant Barbara Havers.  Havers, known for her abrasive personality, is partnered with Lynley, who she doesn’t particularly care for, on an investigation involving the murder of a man by his daughter.  This work, set in England, has a strong sense of place and features of woman investigator.

In the Woods by Tana French

The first book in the Dublin Murder Squad series features detective Rob Ryan.  Ryan is investigating a murder that is eerily similar to one he witnessed as a child.  A compelling mystery with a strong sense of place, it also features an investigator who, like Aimee Leduc, is looking into a mystery involving his own past.

Rough Trade by Dominique Manotti

The first book in the Inspector Daquin series involves the investigation into the death of a Thai girl, at a Parisian fashion workshop.  An action packed gritty mystery, with a strong sense of place in Paris, mainly the Sentier.

Name: Lisa Anne Fisherkeller Barefield

The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

July 30, 2012

https://ra763.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/1-no-1-ladies-detective-agency-450h.jpg?w=194  Author:  Alexander McCall Smith

  Title:  The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

  Genre:  Mystery, Gentle Read

  Publication Date:  1998

  Number of Pages: 235

  Geographical Setting:  Bostwana

  Time Period:  Contemporary

  Series:  The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

Plot Summary:  Sleuth Precious Ramotswe opens the first and only detective agency in Bostwana.  Mma Ramotswe is for hire and investigates a variety of cases, from a father who thinks his daughter has a boyfriend to a case of a clinic doctor with different personalities, depending on the day of the week.  The story’s main mystery involves a missing boy.  It is up to Mma Ramotswe to find him.

Subject Headings:  Ramotswe, Precious (Fictitious character) – Fiction, Women private investigators – Fiction, Bostwana – Fiction, No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency (Imaginary organization) – Fiction.

Appeal:  atmospheric, leisurely-paced, character-centered, compelling, relaxed, hopeful, insightful, engaging, multiple plot lines, folksy, gentle, clever, warm tone.

3 appeal terms that best describe this book:  character-centered, hopeful, gentle.

Relevant Fiction Works and Authors (why they are similar):

Mark of the Lion by Suzanne Middendorf Arruda.  This is a woman detective series featuring the character Jade del Cameron.  The first book is about brave, stubborn Jade del Cameron, who after the Great War, leaves New Mexico to come to Africa to help fulfill a man’s dying wish, meeting murder and mystery along the way.   This book is similar because of the African setting, mystery and character-driven with historical details.

Mrs. Pollifax and the lion killer by Dorothy Gilman.  Mrs. Pollifax accompanies her young friend Kadi Hopkirk to the African country of Ubangiba, where Kadi’s childhood friend, Sammat, is soon to be crowned king.  This book was chosen because it features a series character, Mrs. Pollifax and mystery and women spies.  This book of the series takes Mrs. Pollifax to Africa.

Marriage bureau for rich people by Farahad Zama.  Mr. Ali is persuaded to open a marriage bureau after driving his wife crazy during his retirement.  His business because a success so he hires, Aruna, who is hiding a tragic past.  While this is not a mystery, it shares enjoyable characters and warm tone.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

King Peggy by Peggielene Bartels.  This is the real-life fairy tale about an American secretary who discovers she has been chosen king, of an impoverished fishing village on the coast of West Africa.  American Peggy, while trying to please her ancestors struggles to turn this impoverish village around.  This would be a good suggestion because it is a warm story and is about life in an African village.  It gives the readers hope.  Author of No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency praised the book, “This is an astonishing and wonderful book about a real life Mma Ramotswe.  It is an utter joy.”

Whatever You Do, Don’t Run: confessions of a Botswana safari guide by Peter Allison.  This book is about the tales of a safari guide and his encounters with big cats, elephants, hippos and other unpredictable animals.  This book gives a more detailed look at the beautiful country of Bostwana and its inhabitants.

Lineage of despotism and development: British colonialism and state power by Matthew Lange.  Author Matthew Lange argues against the assumption that past imperialism hinders future development prospects of colonized nations.  Book contains stats and analyzes what effects of colonial rule had on African countries. There are some case studies on Guyana and Bostwana.  There is mention of Botswana becoming independent from Great Britain in the book so this book is to explore the history of the country.

Name:  Olivia Button

The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency

July 30, 2012

Author: Alexander McCall Smith, Performed by Lisette Lecat

Title: The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

Genre: Mystery

Publication Date: Book published 1998, Book on CD 2003

Number of Pages: Book -235, Book on CD – 8.25 hours on 7 discs

Geographical Setting: Botswana

Time Period: The 1990s

Series:  First in the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series

Plot Summary: Precious Ramotswe is a rather large middle-aged woman, living in Gabarone, Botswana in 1998. Escaping an abusive marriage, she returns to care for her ailing father. When her beloved Daddy dies, she is left to consider her prospects. Using the money left to her by her father, and inspired by Agatha Christie, Precious Ramotswe opens the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency – the first of its kind in all of Botswana. Mma Ramotswe, as she is called, proves adept at helping “people with the problems in their lives” such as finding stray husbands, exposing a con man, and discreetly following a strong-willed daughter. The vignettes are told with a quiet dignity but with humor and sincerity. The writing is very descriptive complementing the easy pace of the story. The narrator is a native of South Africa and adds a rich and lyrical voice to the narrative, providing not only correct pronunciation of the many native words, but also adding a lovely atmosphere to the stories.

Subject Headings: Private investigators – Botswana – Fiction – Sound recordings, Ramotswe, Precious (fictitious character) – Fiction – Sound Recordings, Missing children – Fiction – Sound recordings, Swindlers and swindling – Fiction – Sound recordings, Botswana – Fiction – Sound recordings

Appeal: Leisurely-paced, comfortable, gentle, heartwarming, humorous, upbeat, character-driven, engaging, episodic, family-centered, investigative, resolved ending, detailed setting, strong sense of place, accessible, natural and unaffected language, unpretentious  

3 terms that best describe this book: Comfortable, Humorous, Unpretentious

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Beaton, M. C. Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death; A cozy mystery filled with delightful characters living in the Cotswolds, this narrative presents an amusing and enjoyable fast-paced story. First in the Agatha Raisin series.

Drayson, Nicholas. A Guide to the Birds of East Africa; A gentle and delightful book that tells the story of a retired gentleman who is vying for the attention of a woman who appears to be out of his league; but all is not as it seems. The lovely descriptions of the Kenyan landscape frames the quiet and richly detailed narrative.

Farahad, Zama. Marriage Bureau for Rich People; This affectionate story tells of a retired Indian man who has a knack for matchmaking and opens a marriage arrangement office in southern India. Containing humor and optimism, this book is full of amusing characters and gentle stories in an exotic setting.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Randall, Will. Botswana Time; Using vivid descriptions, this personal account of life in rural Botswana gives the reader an insightful and engaging look at the culture and success of this African nation.

Summerscale, Kate. The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: A Shocking Murder and the Undoing of a Great Victorian Detective; Scotland Yard Detective Jack Whicher is called to unravel the mystery of the murder of a three year old boy in 1860 England. Tireless research and a compelling account by the author drives the reader forward in the investigation of this heinous crime.

Thompson, Laura. Agatha Christie: An English Mystery; Having unprecedented access to Christie’s letters and journals and using a conversational writing style, the author presents a detailed and interesting account of the life and works of Agatha Christie.

Name: Patty Daniel

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

July 30, 2012

Author: Ransom Riggs

Title: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Genre: Mystery

Publication Date: 2011

Number of Pages: 352

Geographical Setting: Florida; Wales, British Isles

Time Period: 1940; 2011

Series: Not Applicable

Plot Summary: Ransom Riggs’s debut novel is filled with old, mysterious, and strange photographs of people doing incredible things such as, levitating and lifting a boulder. How people captured these images is a mystery in itself, but what is more fascinating is how Riggs integrates these images into his narrative. Growing up Jacob Portman’s grandfather, Abe, told him of incredible children he knew at an orphanage in the British Isles that Abe escaped from Poland too during WWII. Jacob rejects these stories until witnessing his grandfather’s brutal death. His death inspires Jacob’s journey to the British Isles in order to solve the mystery that was his Grandfather’s life. This book incorporates fantasy, history, magical realism, and thus will appeal to multiple genre readers. The mystery in the story is what propels the plot and hooks the reader. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is a Young Adult novel that has captured the attentions of teenagers and adults alike because of it’s complex plot that incorporates time travel, history, and fantasy with the traditional coming-of-age story that only Riggs’s sophisticated storytelling could tell so well.

Subject Headings: Orphanages — Fiction. Islands — Fiction. Mystery and detective stories. Mystery fiction.

Appeal: compelling, suspenseful, psychological, vivid, sympathetic, detailed setting, plot twists, sophisticated, imaginative

3 terms that best describes this book: builds in intensity, well crafted, complex

3 Nonfiction Read-a-likes:

Journey through the British Isles, Harry Cory Wright

Photographer, Harry Cory Wright, captures the beautiful, rural landscape of the British Isles. Explore pictures of the mountains, wooded glades, and beaches that will transport you to these islands. If in, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, you were a fan of the setting in the British Isles, then this book will help you visualize the world that Riggs so evocatively describes.

On the Home Front: Growing Up in Wartime England, Ana Stalcup

Join Ana Stalcup describe her life growing up during WWII wartime England. She discusses what it was like to have soldiers stay in her home, constantly seeing soldiers in her city, and dealing with the slow progress of the war. This book will provide detailed, historical background for what it was like growing up during WWII, similar to the children in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.
Freak Show: Presenting Human Oddities for Amusement and Profit, Robert Bogdan
Between 1840 and 1940, hundreds of people journeyed across America to display their incredible talents as sideshows or as a part of circuses. In the shows you could see Siamese twins, bearded ladies, and dwarves. Similar to Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, the orphans in the story would travel and display their strange abilities, and in Freak Shows learn about real people who traveled to display their skills. Also, there are interesting black and white photographs like in Riggs’s story, if as the reader, these mysterious photos peaked your interest.

3 Fiction Read-a-likes:

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Jonathan Safran Foer

Another great Young Adult book for adults that incorporates unusual photographs, sympathetic characters, and solving the secrets of lost loved ones. Oskar Schell loses his father during the attacks on the World Trade Center, and Oskar is left to find a lock that his father’s mysterious key opens. Foer’s book is similar to Riggs’s because it is also psychological, sophisticated, and well crafted.

Big Fish: a Novel of Mythic Proportions, Daniel Wallace

When Edward Bloom was a boy his father traveled a lot and while growing up, Edward never felt as if he really knew his father. Whenever his father was home, his father would describe his travels as tall tales. As Edward’s father is dying, Edward tries to learn the truth about his father’s life and these tall tales. A great read-a-like choice for Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children if they enjoy unearthing strange, mysterious pasts, compelling plots, magical realism elements, and family relationships.

11/22/63, Stephen King

Jake Eppingis has been enlisted to travel back in time to change history, and prevent the assassination of JFK. Readers who enjoyed routing for Jacob in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, will enjoy following and sympathizing with Jake in 11/22/63. Also, if in Rigg’s story you enjoyed the time travel, the history, and the detailed and atmospheric setting, then check out King’s new suspense story.

Name: Alison Kulczak