The Dame As A Detective

Enjoy a good murder mystery film but hate gore and wild camera work? Then AADL has what you are looking for. The library carries several DVD editions of Miss Marple, Hercule Poirot, and Inspector Alleyn mysteries for those of us that prefer a more subdued approach. For the cream of the crop check out Dame Margaret Rutherford in the George Pollock directed Marple films. Rutherford portrayed a more comical, free-spirited Miss Marple than the traditional (but equally loved) version. AADL carries each of the four films: Murder She Said, Murder at the Gallop, Murder Most Foul, and Murder Ahoy.

Icelander by Dustin Long


The main character in Icelander is known only as Our Heroine. Set in an alternate universe, this postmodern tale starts out with Shirley MacGuffin found murdered the day before the town’s annual celebration of Our Heroine’s mother, the famous sleuth, Emily Bean. Our Heroine has no interest in following in her mother’s footsteps and running around town solving cases, but she gets wrapped up in “the facts” and is thrown into a wild predicament which takes her places she never imagined.

Told from multiple points of view, Icelander is an intense, confusing, absurd, wacky, and magical adventure, akin to The crying of Lot 49, with Nabokovian influences, only laced with Norse mythology. The book is a treat, if you’re up for falling into a rabbit hole. A friend gave me this McSweeney’s book as a gift, and it ended up being quite a delightful surprise. You’ll find yourself either loving or hating this book.

If you still have questions after reading the book, I recommend the following Q&A with the author, and also this author interview.

The Girl Who We Love To Read About

As was suggested by the intriguing blog entry Fabulous Fiction Firsts #127, I picked up a copy of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. The first book in Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy was a realistic, eloquent introduction to the Scandinavian cultural setting used as a backdrop to the issues broached by the books. It is truly a tragedy that we only have two more of Larsson's books to anticipate. Both The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest are to be released in the future, with the former title released tomorrow. Be sure to read this series!

Travel to Cabot Cove!

Has is been a while since you've ventured to Cabot Cove? Have you missed watching Jessica, Sheriff Mort Metzger, and Dr. Seth Hazlitt in action? If so, you might want to take advantage of our recently acquired seasons of Murder, She Wrote. AADL now has the first four seasons of Murder, She Wrote. For those of you unfamiliar with the series, Murder, She Wrote, was a murder mystery television series starring Angela Lansbury. This long time running series (1984-1996) features former substitute English teacher and famed mystery writer Jessica Fletcher using her talent and unfailing ability to be where murders occur, to solve mysteries. Get your Jessica Fletcher fix today!

What Was Lost by Catherine O’Flynn


The Costa Award winning What Was Lost begins in 1984 and tells the story of a young girl named Kate. She has read up on how to be a detective (Kate would have enjoyed this book) and spends her days in a local mall “looking for suspects” and recording notes in her precious detective’s notebook, while sitting alongside her assistant, who is a stuffed monkey. At the mall she befriends 21yr old Aidan, and they compare notes and discuss things like chocolate and movies. When Kate goes missing Aidan becomes a prime suspect. Flash forward to the mall in 2004, where we meet record shop manager Lisa and a security guard named Kurt. As we begin to understand the connections between all the characters, the past and present are intertwined and it all comes into focus by the end.

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane is great for a summer read. Prepare yourself for a bit of mystery spiked with history:

Connie, a Harvard student working to earn her Ph.D, is pressured by her hippy mother into restoring her grandmother's house to sell in the upcoming year. What sounds like a grueling task on top of her already demanding research schedule turns into a summer of intrigue as Connie begins to unravel the truth about her ancestry as well as discover new aspects of colonial American history. The main focus of the book is the Salem Witch Trials as several of the characters are based on actual accusers and victims of the time. This book is an interesting approach to the subject of witchcraft as well as a fun read. The cheesy romance between two of the characters offers a bit of guilty pleasure to offset the darker aspects of the plot.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #170

In Romance novelist Linda Castillo's chilling mystery debut Sworn to Silence*, Kate Burkholder is a "gun-toting, cursing, female chief of police" at Painters Mill, (Ohio) an idyllic Amish community that prides itself in distancing from the complication of modern life, that is, until a serial killer resurfaces to terrorize the town. The current victims all sport the killer's signature - Roman numerals ritualistically carved into their abdomens.

Kate has good reason to worry - well above her duty to protect and defend - as she is a surviving victim of torture and rape 16 years ago. What transpired estranged her from her family and her faith, and left her totally isolated with a secret she is desperate to keep.

"Deeply flawed characters in a distinctive setting make this a crackling good series opener, recommended for fans of T. Jefferson Parker and Robert Ellis, whose books take place in very un-Amish settings but who generate the same kind of chills and suspense.”

* = Starred reviews

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #169

The Frightened Man* launches a historical mystery series set in Jack-the-Ripper era London. Author Kenneth Cameron also writes military thrillers with his son under the name Gordon Kent.

Infamous American ex-lawman Denton now lives a solitary life in London, (we will discover his tragic past) sporadically turning out sensational novels of questionable quality. He is smitten with a two-timing mistress, well-served by his Jeeves-like Sergeant Atkins, and gets himself tangled up in the gruesome murder of a young prostitute. It all started with the visit of a frightened stranger who claims to have witnessed Jack the Ripper at work.

“A gripping page-turner, Cameron's novel combines a devilishly clever plot, enigmatic characters, a foreboding atmosphere, and a shocking finale. A top pick for all crime collections.” ~ Booklist

Fans of atmospheric historical mysteries set in London might also like C.S. Harris’s Where Serpents Sleep (2008), 4th in the Sebastian St. Cyr series featuring a Regency-era gentleman sleuth. Dust and Shadow: An account of the Ripper killings by Dr. John H. Watson (2009) by Lyndsay Faye is a fictionalized documentary of the most famous serial killer in history.

* = Starred review

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #168

Move over, Mdm. Precious Ramotswe (of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency). Or at least make room for Vish Puri!

Tarquin Hall introduces India's "Most Private Investigator" in his The Case of the Missing Servant*. Portly, persistent, and unmistakably Punjabi, he cuts a determined swath through modern Delhi's swindlers, cheats, and murderers.

Pleased with a break from the usual screening of prospective marriage partners, Puri investigates the murder of a maidservant while keeping an eagle eye on his widowed "Mummy-ji" who is determined to sleuth alongside his team of colorful undercover operatives. Ingeniously combining modern investigative techniques with 2000 year-old Indian principles of detection, Puri is a welcome addition to the pantheon of exotic sleuths.

Strong local color, sly humor, endearing characterization and keen observation make this debut mystery a wild and deligthful ride. Future cases are to be expected.

* = Starred reviews

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #164

At the heart of Enrique Joven's gripping debut (translated from the Spanish) The Book of God and Physics* is the Voynich Manuscript - a puzzling document that has fascinated generations of cryptologists both amateur and professional with its odd drawings and strange text, as yet undeciphered.

This 500 year-old oddity found its way to the Yale University Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, where a Jesuit physics teacher and two resourceful collaborators try to pierce the mystery, including the possible murder of a well-known scientist. The Church, on the other hand, seems to be going to great lengths to keep the book's meaning hidden.

"Joven's sophisticated perspective indeed opens insights into the current controversy pitting Darwinism against intelligent design. A book to delight lovers of well-crafted fiction and well-anchored fact." ~ Booklist

Debut author Katherine Howe's The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane deals with yet another archival puzzler connected to the most fascinating and disturbing periods in American history - the Salem witch trials. Fan of Matthew Pearl would find themselves two new authors to watch.

* = Starred review

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