Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Sunday Salon: I Love a Mystery

Does anybody else remember the old radio show with that name? I'm not really even sure that I do – maybe it's one of those situations where I've heard so much about it that I just think I remember sitting there every night, in my father's favorite easy chair, with all my three- or four-year-old attention focused on our little RCA portable. Perhaps that might seem a tad too young to be tuning in to murder and mayhem every night, but in early 1950s Texas, you took your entertainment where you found it!

All of which has pretty much nothing to do with anything I was intending to write. But I've often wondered what it was that made me such a lover of mysteries and suspense stories. My mother was never a huge fan – she preferred romance novels. And I don't think my father ever opened a book after he finished school; but if he had, it probably would have been a western. So it's not genetic.

But I certainly do love a good mystery novel, and I've got several going at the moment. I'm almost a hundred pages into The Bookman's Wake – a Cliff Janeway mystery by John Dunning. Janeway is (rather implausibly – but hey, this is fiction, folks) an ex-cop turned rare-book dealer who lives and owns a bookshop in Denver, Colorado. The stories are a strangely appealing mixture of hard-boiled detective fiction and esoteric book lore. This is the third Janeway novel I've read – I really enjoyed the first two and this one looks to be the best of the lot. So as soon as I get done here, I'm heading right back to read a little more after dinner.

I'm also reading Flowers For His Funeral, by Ann Granger. What a contrast. This is one of the Meredith Mitchell/Alan Markby series, set in England. I haven't gotten very far into it, but I've liked all the other Mitchell-Markby novels I've read, so I expect to like this one, too (unrepentant Anglophile that I am).

The third whodunit I've got going at the moment is Wish You Were Here, by Rita Mae Brown (and her cat Sneaky Pie Brown). It's one of the Mrs. Murphy series (in fact, the first title in the series, I believe) – Mrs. Murphy being a cat who "owns" the other central character of the novels, Mary Minor "Harry" Haristeen. Harry is the postmistress of Crozet, Virginia, where the novels are set; and she and Mrs. Murphy, along with Harry's Welsh corgi Tee Tucker are constantly turning up one heinous crime after another among the fair citizens of Crozet. I've only read one other Mrs. Murphy book, but there are about fifteen or sixteen works in the series by now. Who knew the back roads of the Old Dominion led to such an alarming amount of nefarious shenanigans?

Of course, I have a few other books going right now, in addition to the mysteries. I seem to keep getting involved in almost every reading challenge that comes my way – so I'm in the midst of several challenge books, too. But it keeps me off the streets and away from the TV screen. And since there's no Jane Austen on PBS on Sunday nights anymore (at least not around here, darn it), I should have a nice long, mysterious evening to look forward to.


  1. I went through the Bookman mysteries very quickly after I read the first one. If you like those, and it seems you do, I also recommend Julie Kaewart's Booklover's mysteries. If I'm correct, it starts with Unbound. :)

  2. michelle--
    Thanks for the tip about the Booklover's series. I'll have to check it out.

  3. I could use a good mystery. I will be sure to check all of these out. Thanks!


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