mysteries

15 Great Mysteries You Can Read or Listen to Right Now

 

 

Hoopla is my favorite library eResource right now because you never have to wait—all of their content is always available. Right now you can get up to 10 downloads a month, and they offer eBooks, eAudiobooks, comics, movies and TV shows, and music. I’ve been browsing Hoopla for great reads to share with you and here are some mystery suggestions. Some are available as eBooks, some as eAudiobooks, and some are available in both formats. 

Descriptions in italics provided by the publisher.

Hoopla eBooks 

Edwin of the Iron Shoes by Marcia Muller 
The first novel in the award winning series featuring private detective Sharon McCone by a recipient of the Mystery Writers of America's Grand Master award. Already at odds with the San Francisco Police Department, private investigator Sharon McCone is determined to stay on the case of a murdered, small-time antique dealer, despite some alarming mayhem.

Black Water Rising by Attica Locke 
Locke’s first novel was was a finalist for the Orange Prize and was recognized with nominations for an Edgar Award, an NAACP Image Award, and a Los Angeles Times Book Prize. When African-American lawyer Jay Porter jumps into the bayou to save a drowning white woman in Houston, Texas, in 1981, he finds his practice and life in danger when he becomes embroiled in a murder investigation involving Houston's elite. Attica Locke—a writer and producer of FOX's Empire—delivers an engrossing, complex, and cinematic thriller about crime and racial justice.

Maggie Terry by Sarah Schulman 
Post-rehab, Maggie Terry wants nothing more than to rebuild her life in hopes of being reunited with her daughter. But her first day as private investigator lands her in the middle of a sensational new case: actress strangled. To solve this mystery, she'll have to shake the ghosts—dead NYPD partner, vindictive ex, steadfast drug habit—that have long ruled her life. Sarah Schulman is a literary chronicler of the marginalized and subcultural, focusing on queer urban life.

Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz 
This modern take on classic British crime fiction was the winner of the Macavity Award for Best Novel, nominee for the Anthony Award for Best Novel, a New York Times bestseller and NPR best book of the Year.  Ignoring the troubling behavior of an eccentric crime writer with whom she has worked for years, editor Susan Ryeland is dismayed when a subplot hidden in the author's latest manuscript reveals a real-world murder. Also available as a Hoopla audiobook.  

Fear of the Dark by Gar Anthony Haywood 
Haywood won a Shamus Award for best first Private Investigator novel for this hard-boiled series opener featuring Aaron Gunner. The shooting of two Black men by a white youth transforms pre-election Los Angeles into a powderkeg, and Aaron Gunner finds himself caught up in political intrigue, violence, and murder.

Eva’s Eye by Karin Fossum 
First in the Inspector Konrad Sejer series by the "Norwegian queen of crime." Eva and her young daughter Emma are walking by the river when Emma spots something floating in the water. It's the body of a man, and what's more, a man Eva recognizes. Sejer and Skarre piece together the stories behind two unsolved murders . . . does it all lead back to Eva? Also available as a Hoopla audiobook.  

Violent Spring by Gary Phillips 
Phillips is a revered author inspired by comics and classic pulp detective stories whose character Ivan Monk is an L.A. private investigator and donut shop owner in the era of the Rodney King Riots. When the body of a murdered Korean shopkeeper is discovered during a South Central groundbreaking ceremony, private investigator Ivan Monk is thrown into a maze that pits him against the gangs, cops, power brokers, and leaders of Los Angeles.

The Hot Rock by Donald E. Westlake 
This first comic caper featuring career criminal John Archibald Dortmunder was an Edgar Award finalist. John Dortmunder leaves jail with ten dollars, a train ticket, and nothing to make money on but his good name. Thankfully, his reputation goes far. No one plans a caper better than Dortmunder. His friend Kelp picks him up in a stolen Cadillac and drives him away from Sing-Sing, telling a story of a $500,000 emerald that they just have to steal. Dortmunder doesn't hesitate to agree.  

One Perfect Shot by Steven F. Havill 
This prequel is a good introduction to this beloved series of western-themed police procedurals. When a county employee is found shot to death in sun-drenched daylight while sitting in his county road grader, Undersheriff Bill Gastner is faced with puzzling questions. The simplest explanation--that an errant bullet from a careless target shooter's rifle blew out Larry Zipoli's brains--is soon discarded as inconsistencies surface. The fatal bullet shows no rifling marks, and investigation reveals that the shooter walked directly toward the road grader, in full view of the victim--who did nothing to defend himself. In addition to the demands of the investigation, Gastner learns that Sheriff Eduardo Salcido has hired a new deputy without discussing the matter with his undersheriff. And Gastner learns that the new hire is destined to be the first female road patrol deputy in the history of Posadas County. Also available as a Hoopla audiobook. 

One Night Stands And Lost Weekends by Lawrence Block 
In the era before he created moody private investigator Matthew Scudder, burglar Bernie Rhodenbarr, sleepless spy Evan Tanner, and the amiable hit man Keller-and years before his first Edgar Award-a young writer named Lawrence Block submitted a story titled "You Can't Lose" to Manhunt magazine. It was published, and the rest is history. One Night Stands and Lost Weekends is a sterling collection of short crime fiction and suspense novelettes penned between 1958 and 1962 by a budding young master and soon-to-be Grand Master-an essential slice of genre history, and more fun than a high-speed police chase following a bank job gone bad.

Hoopla eAudiobooks

The Mermaids Singing by Val McDermid 
This inaugural entry in the series featuring clinical psychologist and profiler Dr. Tony Hill and Detective Chief Inspector Carol Jordan won the Crime Writers' Association Gold Dagger for Best Crime Novel of the Year and inspired the British television series Wire in the Blood. When the fourth victim of a twisted serial killer is found, Detective Inspector Carol Jordan teams up with criminologist Tony Hill to develop a complicated criminal profile, the accuracy of which becomes pivotal to the case. eBook available on Overdrive.  

Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear 
A New York Times Notable Book, Agatha Award winner for Best First Novel, and nominee for the Edgar Award for Best Novel, this historical mystery introduces beloved heroine Maisie Dobbs, a volunteer nurse during the Great War who later launches her own detective agency in London. Private detective Maisie Dobbs must investigate the reappearance of a dead man who turns up at a cooperative farm called the Retreat that caters to men who are recovering their health after World War I. eBook available on Overdrive.

One for the Money by Janet Evanovich 
This bestselling debut was nominated for the Edgar, Anthony, Agatha, Shamus, and Macavity awards, launching a hilarious, fast-paced, romantic mystery series featuring heroine Stephanie Plum. After her Miata is repossessed, Stephanie Plum turns to bounty hunting for quick cash, and her first quarry, an ex-cop accused of murder, turns out to be her first lover, with whom she still shares a powerful chemistry. eBook available on Overdrive.

Blanche On The Lam by Barbara Neely 
Neely received the Agatha Award, Anthony Award, and the Macavity Award for best first novel for this series opener. She sadly passed away in early March, only a few months after she was recognized as the Mystery Writers of America’s 2020 Grand Master. Blanche White is a plump, feisty, middle-aged African-American housekeeper working for the genteel rich in North Carolina. But when an employer stiffs her, and her checks bounce, she goes on the lam, hiding out as a maid for a wealthy family at their summer home. That plan goes awry when there’s a murder and Blanche becomes the prime suspect. So she’s forced to use her savvy, her sharp wit, and her old-girl network of domestic workers to discover the truth and save her own skin.

The Unquiet Dead by Ausma Zehanat Khan 
Winner of the Arthur Ellis Award, the Barry Award, and a nomination for the Edgar Award for Best First Novel, this series opener introduces detectives from Canada's Community Policing Section investigating racially- and ethnically-sensitive cases. Detective Esa Khattack and his partner, Detective Rachel Getty, investigate the death of a local man who may have been a Bosnian war criminal with ties to the Srebrenica massacre of 1995, in a haunting debut novel of loss, redemption and the cost of justice.

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Hey, That Harry Potter Lady Can Write

   

I imagine that JK Rowling began her new Cormoran Strike mystery series under the pen name of Robert Galbraith so that readers wouldn’t make assumptions or judge it alongside her ubiquitous children’s fantasy series. I can only speculate that her publisher then leaked the author’s true identity to boost the modest initial sales of the first title in the series, The cuckoo’s calling, which begins with an investigation into the suspicious suicide of a supermodel. I never would have picked it up without the name recognition and curiosity about whether Rowling could pass muster in a different genre for an adult audience. Make no mistake; this is no children’s series. It is sometimes off color and gruesomely detailed, though still cozy, meant for fans of traditional mysteries with tightly woven plotlines that are methodically unraveled by the sharpest of minds. Still, here it is, my crude comparison between the two series (can’t help it; have to).

Rowling is gifted at baiting readers along with plot twists and cliffhangers. As each of the first two Cormoran Strike books progressed, I became obsessed with them. By the time I was reading The silkworm, which goes into the seedier side of the writing and publishing world, something Rowling no doubt knows plenty about, I was juggling an eAudio copy, an eBook copy, and a physical copy so that I could get back to the heart-pounding roller coaster ride at every possible moment. I remember feeling this compelled while reading the Harry Potter series years ago, long before I had any kids of my own. I believe that the reason the phenomenally popular children's series did almost as well with adults as it did with kids and teens is that the Harry Potter series is essentially an expertly-crafted mystery, albeit one with an overarching puzzle that runs through all seven books. I found it to be thrilling and often surprising, in spite of the formulaic good vs. evil devices seemingly obligatory in children’s fantasy literature. I should note for those new to the Cormoran Strike series that it has no supernatural elements whatsoever. Strike follows physical clues, relying on hard science and deft observations to solve crimes. However, like Potter, he is an oft misunderstood, damaged hero: one-legged, hulking, cranky, and crass, yet deeply ethical and ultimately lovable.

A disappointing similarity between the two series is that Strike's female partner, Robin, like Hermione before her, is relegated to a peripheral role. I don’t know if Rowling has chosen to place her brilliant female characters, as well as her own feminine identity (She elected to go with J.K. rather than her first name, Joanne, for the Harry Potter series and then chose a masculine pen name for the Cormoran Strike series.) on the sidelines in order to widen her audience. Rowling is the most commercially successful writer of all time, so she does seem to know what she’s doing in that department. She has already revealed her intention to write many more Cormoran Strike books. As the series progresses, I hope to watch Strike’s promising, wide-eyed student, with whom he shares a deep mutual admiration, develop into a hard-boiled PI in her own right and even get top billing one of these days. Maybe we’ll see more of Robin in Career of evil, which begins with a severed leg being delivered to her, and sends the duo into Strike's own past looking for suspects. It comes out in October. Get on the Hold queue (behind me!) to find out.