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Christmas Mysteries and New Books

The Thanksgiving leftovers have been devoured. December and the Christmas season is here.

Christmas Gifts

Christmas Mysteries

This is a time of year that has always been important to crime fiction. Many of our best-selling writers brought out their new releases right before Christmas. And most of our authors have set at least one of their novels at Christmas.

In the weeks before Christmas, I always read at least one mystery about a family gathering at the family’s home to enjoy the festivities when a murder happens. It’s usually at a country estate and it’s snowing. Which is great when many of our Christmases in South Carolina are in the seventies and instead of Christmas sweaters, we wear tee shirts. Continue reading

John Grisham

 

John Grisham’s name is synonymous with a best-seller. When you think of legal thrillers, John Grisham is one of the first names that comes to mind. Since his first book, The Firm, came out in 1987, he has kept a place on the New York bestsellers list. And if you’ve read any of his books, or seen his movies, you’ll understand why.

Writing Accomplishments
John Grisham's The Firm

John Grisham’s The Firm

The Firm, Grisham’s first bestseller, has sold over seven million copies and was the number one novel in 1991. The success of the book led to a movie with Tom Cruise and a television show that lasted a year.

According to the Academy of Achievement in 2020, his books have sold Continue reading

Sleeping Murder by Agatha Christie

Reviewed by Tim Suddeth

 

Sleeping Murder

Sleeping Murder by Agatha Christie

Sleeping Murder was the last Miss Marple mystery and Agatha Christie’s last published novel, coming out in 1976 after her death. Set in 1930 England, Christie tells us about newlyweds Giles and Gwenda Reed and their efforts to discover a secret buried in Gwenda’s memory.

Summary

Giles sends Gwenda ahead to find a proper house for the couple to move into and raise a family. Continue reading

Robert B. Parker’s Jesse Stone

When you think of a troubled police officer character, Robert B. Parker’s Jesse Stone series comes to mind. Recently, I saw an article where the writer was warning against writing about an alcoholic detective. The writer said that the trope was being overused. And one reason that the character is so popular is because of how well Robert B. Parker used it in Robert B. Parker’s Jesse Stone.

Many of our best detective fiction writers point to Robert B.  Parker as a major influence on how and what they write. Parker first became The fist installment of the Jesse Stone series.

Robert B. Parker’s Night Passage

popular with his Spencer series. But it was his later Jesse Stone series that showed us how deep and multi-layered a troubled officer could become.

The Character: Jesse Stone

Parker introduced us to Jesse Stone in his novel, Night Passage, Continue reading

Historical Mystery

 

Historical mystery is the party mix version of crime fiction genres—it contains a little something for everyone. It can include history, romance, travel, politics, true crime, archeology, and of course, a crime. To be a historical mystery, the author places the story in a historical era from the author’s viewpoint, and the plot involves the solving of a crime. The difference between a historical mystery and a classic mystery comes from the writer’s perspective.

Today, we see all of Agatha Christie and Edgar Allan Poe’s stories as being back in history. But the author wrote them in their present day. Christie did write what is probably the first historical mystery, Death Comes as the End. Continue reading

Dorothy L. Sayres: A Queen of the Golden Age

Mystery readers have long named Dorothy Leigh Sayers as one of the queens of the Golden Age of British detective writing. Best known for her Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries, Sayers had a very full and interesting life.

Early Life
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Oxford University, England

Dorothy was born on June 13, 1893, in Oxford, England. Her father was a chaplain of Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford, and headmaster of the Cathedral Choir School. Her mother was the daughter of a solicitor.

An only child, her father started teaching her Latin at six years old. She grew up in the village of Bluntisham and the graveyard next to the rectory has tombstones with many of the surnames used in her books.

In 1912, Sayers received the Gilchrist Scholarship for modern languages to Somerville College, Oxford. She studied in modern language and medieval literature and graduated with first-class honors in 1915. However, Oxford did not award degrees to women at that time. Continue reading

Review of What Doesn’t Kill Us by David Housewright

Reviewed by Tim Suddeth

If you are looking for a book that is a mix of a police procedural and coming from the criminal viewpoint, What Doesn’t Kill Us, David Housewright’s latest novel released this year, might just fit the bill. Rushmore McKenzie has been shot and lies in a coma. His friends, both in the police department and from the other side of the law, will pull out all the stops to find out why he was in such a rough part of town in the middle of the night. And who shot him in the back.

This is the eighteenth book in the Rushmore Mackenzie series. A former detective for the St. Paul Police Department, who unexpectedly became a millionaire, now does the unofficial investigation when a friend asks. And he has a lot of friends who are looking for a chance to return the favors. Continue reading

PIs and Spies

Welcome to Opening a Mystery.

Fall is in the air and the days are getting shorter. And all the coffee shops smell like pumpkin spice.

One of the things that I want to do with this blog is introduce you to mystery novels, authors, and those that love them. There are so many good blogs that are about mysteries. And this week I’ve read two that I want to share. Continue reading

Miss Jane Marple: Agatha Christie’s Surprising Senior Citizen

Miss Marple

Agatha Christie’s Miss Jane Marple

In 1927, Grand Dame Agatha Christie introduced to the world one of the most popular mystery characters, Miss Jane Marple. In the short story, ‘The Tuesday Night Club’, ‘she is an elderly spinster who has lived most of her life in St. Mary Mead. She often acted as an amateur consulting detective. Most people saw her as a dithering old bitty with her dated clothes and her knitting until she surprised the male police officers with her wisdom and knowledge.

In the earlier books, the townspeople wrote her off mostly as a gossip. Yet she had a keen sense for understanding human nature and using her insights of village life to explain the actions of criminals. The later stories show her as a kinder and a more modern person. Continue reading

Paranormal Suspense

 

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Paranormal suspense

October has arrived and what better time could there be to discuss paranormal thrillers. This is the time of year when we turn our attentions to ghosts and ghouls. With Halloween approaching quickly, I enjoy thinking about a world that includes multiple dimensions.

Paranormal suspense considers a world that contains certain phenomena that are outside the realm of scientific explanation which science may explain one day. The genre includes: Continue reading

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