It’s time to snuggle up with a cozy mystery

November 23, 2022

Autumn with its mood of beautiful endings is the perfect season to read a mystery. Pondering the tireless attempts of the good to solve the endless crimes of the bad makes a reader consider dark questions, but mysteries should be entertaining too. Here are several 2022 releases that get the job done nicely, available at The Concord Bookshop, Barrow Bookstore or the Concord Free Public Library.

Death and the Conjuror (Joseph Spector #1), by Tom Mead

– A tribute to the Golden Age of Mysteries, this immersion in thirties London has an elderly magician and an ambitious police inspector puzzling out whodunnit to a famous Viennese psychiatrist newly arrived from Europe’s shores. The story shifts from analyzing polite English society to theories in psychological science to locked room speculations with ease. I’m already looking forward to the next one.

The Murder of Mr. Wickham by Claudia Gray – Who hasn’t longed to bump off Mr. Wickham, Jane Austen’s detestable scoundrel? All of her protagonists come together at Donwell Abbey to confront the sad truth that one of them has been found wanting in good sense and scruples, and has bumped off Wickam. I generally shy away from Austen redos, but this one has two sprightly new characters – young Mr. Jonathan Darcy and Miss Juliet Tilney, who must solve the crime and save everyone’s reputations from the rudeness of murder. Delicious fun.

Marple: Twelve New Mysteries by Various Authors – This one is loaded with good snappy reads by some of the best contemporary mystery writers, including Alyssa Cole, Elly Griffiths, Ruth Ware and Val McDermid, but all of the stories provide energetic yet respectful updates of Christie’s famous sleuth’s doings. Irresistible.

One-Shot Harry by Gary Phillips – Take a dip into 1960s LA noir, with a Black freelance photographer who must find justice for his old war buddy from the Korean War. Set in the dark underbelly of cool California, this is a tough but terrific read.

The Perfect Crime edited by Vaseem Khan and Maxim Jakubowski – A terrific short story collection which lets you solve mysteries in 22 different countries by a diverse group of authors including Abir Mukherjee, S.A. Crosby, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Sulari Gentill and Henry Chang.

If you want a puzzle to solve closer to home, why not take Jane Langton’s Homer Kelly mysteries up again, starting with The Transcendental Murder. Concord has changed quite a bit since Ms. Langton began penning her cranky sleuth’s adventures, but there’s still something timeless and recognizable in her treatment of our small town with its constant pull between aspirations to higher life values and the base impulses of class and commercialism. Langton’s wonderful scribbles of local scenes are still the best line drawings of Concord around.

If you love mysteries, did you know the Fowler Branch of the Concord Free Public Library holds a monthly book group, Book-A-Mystery, for that genre’s fans? They just read Portrait of a Thief by Grace D. Li and are looking forward to that clever read’s upcoming film production. Check the Library’s website for details.