Saturday, December 13, 2008

It's All A Mystery...

So you've still got some holiday shopping to do and the folks on your list are mystery fans. Good! So am I! I've been trying to figure out how best to organize today's suggestions and have decided upon doing it by author.

For the most part, I prefer "cozy" mysteries. Ones that are not graphic or violent or full of blood and gore. I like to work the puzzle of what happened and enjoy the characters. My favorites are ones that involve travel, shopping, and (surprise!) food. There are a few exceptions to my cozy rule and I will list two of my favorites after I list some cozy authors. One, sadly, passed away a couple months ago. The other is still writing but not fast enough for me. (All I want for Christmas is for Kirk Mitchell to finish the next book in his mystery series. I'm waiting!)

Now for a few cozy authors...

MADDY HUNTER - Maddy writes the Passport to Peril series. These are FUN travel mysteries that take place all around the world. Emily Andrew escorts a group of old folks from Iowa (including her grandma) on tours to Ireland, Switzerland, Italy, Hawaii (on a cruise), Australia, and Norway. Where ever they go, it is a given that people will turn up dead - in the darnedest ways. The adventures of these senior citizens and Emily's efforts to reign them in are hilarious. If I had to recommend one, I'd suggest HULA DONE IT?...only because I'm in a Hawaiian kind of mood. All of Maddy's books are enjoyable. Note that there is a running romance throughout the series so if you want to pick up where it starts, start with Switzerland (ALPINE FOR YOU). It's not necessary though. Perfect for the traveler - armchair or otherwise - on your list.

TAMAR MYERS - Tamar writes two series - Den of Antiquity and Pennsylvania Dutch Mystery. Both are good. My favorite of the two is the Den of Antiquity series. The D of A books are set in Charlotte and Charleston. The only problem is, now I'm always afraid I'll find a dead body when I'm searching for treasure in the local antique stores! Tamar, like Maddy, writes with a lot of humor. All of her books are fun, fast reads. Do you have someone on your list who is a fan of Antiques Roadshow? Get them one of the Den of Antiquity mysteries!

JOANNE FLUKE - Joanne writes clever cooking - actually baking - mysteries! Her characters are definitely memorable. And, her recipes are quite tasty, too. Reach into the "Cookie Jar" and grab one of these mysteries for a person on your list who enjoys mysteries and baking.

There are literally hundreds of cozy mystery writers writing series for any subject you can think of - NASCAR, dogs, cats, bird watching, scrapbooking, quilting - you name it! Go into your bookstore and look in the mystery section. You will see the series all lined up. Look through the books. I bet you'll find something for yourself and for the people on your list.

Now for the not-so-cozy recommendations. First up, Tony Hillerman.

TONY HILLERMAN - Tony wrote Navajo mysteries better than anyone around, in my opinion. His Chee and Leaphorn mysteries wove the Navajo legends and beliefs in with the modern day realities of life on the reservation. Like the authors I mentioned above, any of his books are excellent choices. Men and women alike enjoy his writing and are immediately engaged in the mystery from page one. In addition to his mysteries, he wrote one of the best memoirs I've ever read. I mentioned it in an earlier post but it bears repeating. SELDOM DISAPPOINTED is an excellent read. If you have someone on you list who likes books on tape, you can find man of Tony's books, including his memoir, in the audiobook section of your bookstore!

KIRK MITCHELL - If there is anyone who even comes close to Tony Hillerman in the category of American Indian mysteries, it is Kirk Mitchell. CRY DANCE is the first in his series of Emmett Parker - Anna Turnipseed mysteries. He leaves the Navajo to Hillerman, but he engages several other Indian nations in his writing as Parker is 1/2 Comanche and Turnipseed is 1/2 Modoc. CRY DANCE starts on the Havasupai reservation but moves to other locations, including Las Vegas. Mitchell includes even more Indian legend than Hillerman in his writing. Be forewarned, he is also more graphic. And, you may have guessed that with a man and woman, there is also some romantic tension. I mentioned CRY DANCE first because of this. The tension builds throughout the series. CD is followed by SPIRIT SICKNESS, ANCIENT ONES, SKY WOMAN FALLING, and DANCE OF THE THUNDER DOGS. If you have someone on your list who enjoys Hillerman but has read all his books, pick up this series for them.

Again, a gift card to a bookstore is an excellent option, too! And pick up a book for yourself while you're picking up that gift card!

Seasons readings!

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