Saturday, December 13, 2008

Welcome, Readers of Mystery and Crime Fiction

The Mainly Mysteries blog welcomes readers of mystery and crime fiction. We are members of a reading group that meets once a month in the public library in Roseburg, Oregon, to discuss Mainly Mysteries.

Join us here as our members share our thoughts with you. Feel free to interact with us. If you know of similar clubs, we would be happy to link to you.

Meetings are held at 5.30 pm in the Ford Community Room of the Douglas County Library, unless otherwise indicated.

Please feel free to come by, even if you haven’t read the book. Newcomers are always welcome. The more the merrier.

Upcoming discussions Past discussions (see our Archives section for full texts):
Past Events:
  • Nov. 20, 7 p.m. Lecture on The Witch’s Garden: The Hidden Meaning of Fairy Tales.
  • April 20, 7 pm: Oregon Book Awards author tour.
  • May 12, 6 pm: Kate Wilhelm in Ashland; see flyer and website.
  • 4th Tuesday of each month: the Chili Peppers Readers romance club meets at 5:30 in the Ford Community Room. Their latest selection can be found on top of the New Book shelf.

Lots of fun ahead. I hope you can join us. If you can’t make it to the meeting, be sure to participate here online.

6 Comments:

Anonymous Diana Sparks said...

Thank you, Dawid, for a top-notch blog. I've missed several meetings of the Mainly Mysterians, so I've been compensating by reading all Jeannine & Co.'s delightful e-mailed reports to members. And now we're bloggified! I hope to make a meeting soon, but until then, I'll virtually enjoy the group. By the way, I love your eats, shoots, and leaves description of the MMs. Bang on!

1:29 PM  
Blogger Mainly Mysteries said...

Glad you liked it, Diana. Looking forward to your company at our group,
virtually or otherwise.

11:22 AM  
Blogger Mainly Mysteries said...

AMERICAN HISTORICAL MYSTERIES BIBLIOGRAPHY


17th Century:

Robert J. Begiebing – The strange death of Mistress Coffin – 1648
Maan Meyers – Tonneman family/Dutchman series - 1664-1864

18th Century:

Robert Lee Hall – Benjamin Franklin series
Margaret Lawrence – Hannah Trevor series (Maine) – late 18th Century
Margaret Miles – The Bracebridge series (New England) – 1763-66
Karen Swee – Life, liberty and the pursuit of murder: a Revolutionary War mystery

19th Century:

Lawrence Alexander – Theodore Roosevelt series (New York) – 1890s
Michelle Black – Eden Murdoch series (The West) – 1850s
James D. Brewer – Big River Detective series (The Mississippi River) – 1870s
Caleb Carr – Dr. Kreizler series (New York) – 1890s
J.D. Christilian – Scarlet women (New York) – 1871
Dianne Day – Cut to the heart (South Carolina) – 1863
William L. DeAndrea – Lobo Black/Quinn Booker series(Wyoming)
Joan Druett – Wiki Coffin series (U.S. Exploring Expedition) – 1838-1842
Mark Graham – Wilton McCleary series (Philadelphia) – 1870s
Barbara Hambly – Benjamin January series (New Orleans) – 1830s
Donald Honig – The sword of General Englund (Dakota Territory) 1876
Mary Kruger – A Gilded Age series (New York) – 1890s
Ann McMillan – Civil War series (Richmond, VA) – 1860s
Mardi Oakley Medawar – Tay-Bodal series (Oklahoma) – 1866-68
Kirk Mitchell – Shadow on the valley (Shenandoah River Valley) – 1860s
Miriam Grace Monfredo – Seneca Falls Series (New York) – 1857-1860s
Brent Monahan – John Le Brun series (Georgia) – 1890s
Robert J. Mrazek – Unholy fire: a novel of the Civil War
Owen Parry – Abel Jones series (Civil War)
Matthew Pearl – The Dante Club (Boston) – 1865
Harold Schechter – Edgar Allan Poe series (Baltimore) – 1830s-40s
Randall Silvis – Edgar Allan Poe series (Pittsburgh) – mid 1800s
Troy Soos – Island of tears (New York) - 1892
Shirley Tallman – Sarah Woolsen series (San Francisco) – 1880s
Lou Jane Temple – The spice box (New York) – Civil War
Victoria Thompson – Gaslight mystery series (New York) – late 1800s
Miriam Zellnik – Murder at the Portland Variety (Portland, OR) – 1894

20th Century:

1900-1920:
Rhys Bowen – Molly Murphy series (New York City) - 1901
Jeanne M. Dams – Hilda Johansson series (South Bend, Indiana) - 1900-03
Dianne Day – Fremont Jones series (San Francisco) - 1905-09
David Fulmer – Valentin St. Cyr series (New Orleans) – early 1900s
Brent Monahan – Sheriff John Le Brun series (Georgia) - 1886 - WWII
Troy Soos – Mickey Rawlings series (major league baseball parks) – 1910s

1920s:
Glen David Gold – Carter beats the devil (San Francisco) – 1920s
Craig Holden – The jazz bird (Cincinnati, Ohio) – 1927
Persia Walker – Harlem redux (Harlem, NY) – 1926

1930s:
Harold Adams – Carl Wilcox series (South Dakota) – 1930s
George Baxt – Hollywood series (Hollywood, CA) – 1930s – 1950s
Jill Churchill – Grace & Favor series (by the Hudson River, NY) – 1930s
Max Allan Collins – Nathan Heller series (Chicago based) – 1930s-1940s; War of the Worlds murder (New York) - 1938
Joe Gores – Hammett (San Francisco) – 1930s
Fred R. Harris – Easy pickin’s (Oklahoma) – 1930s
William Heffernan – A time gone by (New York) – 1935-1975
Rupert Holmes – Swing (San Francisco)– 1939-40
Elliott Roosevelt – Black Jack Endicott series (various US locations); 1930s Eleanor Roosevelt series –(Washington, D.C.) – 1930s-40s
Dorothy & Sidney Rosen – Bell Appleman series (Boston) – 1930s
Robert Skinner – Wesley Farrell series (New Orleans, LA) – mid-1930s

1940s:
Max Allan Collins – Pearl Harbor murders (Hawaii) – 1941
William Diehl – Eureka (Eureka, CA) – 1940s
John Dunning – Two o’clock, eastern wartime (New Jersey) – 1942
James Ellroy – The Black Dahlia (Hollywood, CA) – 1947
Terence Faherty – Scott Elliott series (Hollywood, CA) – 1940s
Stuart Kaminsky – Toby Peters series (Hollywood, CA) – 1942
Ken Kuhlken – Tom Hickey series (California & Nevada) – 1940s-50s
Walter Mosley – Easy Rawlins series (Los Angeles) – 1948-1964
Eddie Muller – The distance (San Francisco) – late 1940s
Sandra Scoppettone – This dame for hire (New York) – 1943

1950s:
Pete Dexter – Train (San Diego) - 1953
Edward Wright – John Ray Horn series (Los Angeles) – post WWII

1960s:
Daniel M. Klein – Elvis Presley series (Memphis) – 1960s
Kris Nelscott – Smokey Dalton series (Memphis, TN) – 1960s

Other:
Carol Caverly – All the old lions (combines contemporary and “wild west” Wyoming)
Kathleen O’Neal Gear & W. Michael Gear – the Anasazi series (combines contemporary and 13th century New Mexico)
Sharyn McCrumb – the Ballad series (combines contemporary and historical Appalachia)

10:53 PM  
Blogger Mainly Mysteries said...

Mark of the Lion by Suzanne Arruda – “In 1919, when most women only dream of adventure, Jade del Cameron lives it. After growing up tough on a New Mexico ranch, then driving an ambulance along the front lines of World War I, she can fire a rifle with deadly precision and stare down men maddened by shell shock. Now, still suffering lingering trauma from the Great War, she sets off for Africa, determined to fulfill a man's dying wish...and never expecting to become involved in murder. Rich with romance, mystery, and adventure, Mark of the Lion introduces a fascinating new heroine and explores the elusive heart of a compelling and exotic world.” C---- says it is reminiscent of Maisie Dobbs with strong female characters, very descriptive, good story with some supernatural elements. It’s first in a series – Stalking Ivory is next.

Consigned to Death by Jane Cleland – “Josie Prescott's friends thought she was nuts when she left her high-paying New York auction house job and her boyfriend to live on the rugged and beautiful New Hampshire coast. Truth is, Josie wondered a little herself--never mind that her peripheral involvement in a well-publicized price-fixing scandal made the possibility of a new start incredibly enticing. Things are looking better, though, now that she's got her own auction business up and running and has made something of a success of her new life. That is, until she gets mixed up in murder, and the supremely eligible but emotionally distant local police chief seems to think she's the prime suspect. Josie has suddenly got a lot to lose and no desire to leave her new life--or the possibility of a little romance--behind. So she sets her mind on identifying the killer and making the best out of her unfortunate circumstances. After all, Josie is grateful for her second chance in life and knows a third is just too much to ask…especially with a vicious killer on the loose.” It is also first in a series – Deadly Appraisal is next.

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield – “Margaret Lea works in her father's antiquarian bookshop where her fascination for the biographies of the long-dead has led her to write them herself. She gets a letter from one of the most famous authors of the day, the mysterious Vida Winter, whose popularity as a writer has been in no way diminished by her reclusiveness. Until now, Vida has toyed with journalists who interview her, creating outlandish life histories for herself - all of them invention. Now she is old and ailing, and at last she wants to tell the truth about her extraordinary life. Her letter to Margaret is a summons. Somewhat anxiously, the equally reclusive Margaret travels to Yorkshire to meet her subject - and Vida starts to recount her tale. It is one of gothic strangeness featuring the March family; the fascinating, devious and wilful Isabelle and the feral twins Adeline and Emmeline.
Margaret is captivated by the power of Vida's storytelling. But as a biographer she deals in fact not fiction, and she doesn't entirely trust Vida's account. She goes to check up on the family, visiting their old home and piecing together their story in her own way. What she discovers on her journey to the truth is for Margaret a chilling and transforming experience.” C---- recommends this one highly!

Holmes on the Range by Steve Hockensmith – “1893 is a tough year in Montana, and any job is a good job. When Big Red and Old Red Amlingmeyer sign on as ranch hands at the secretive Bar-VR cattle spread, they're not expecting much more than hard work, bad pay, and a comfortable campfire around which they can enjoy their favorite pastime: scouring Harper's Weekly for stories about the famous Sherlock Holmes. When another ranch hand turns up in an outhouse with a bullet in his brain, Old Red sees the perfect opportunity to put his Holmes-inspired detective talents to work and solve the case. Big Red, like it or not (and mostly he does not), is along for the wild ride in this clever, compelling, and completely one-of-a-kind mystery.” C---- says this was a lot of fun, especially for Holmes fans. It’s another first in a series, On the Wrong Track is next.

Baby Shark by Robert Fate – “In a roadside pool hall out west of Abilene, Kristin Van Dijk, 17, is forced by four thugs to watch the murder of three men, including her pool hustler father. She’s assaulted and beaten and left for dead as Henry Chin, a Chinese immigrant whose grown son was one of those murdered, saves her and secretly helps her recover. Because the local police show no interest in solving the pool hall crime, Henry hires a private investigator more set on justice than law to start a search for the nomadic killers. Then Henry hires two vets to teach Kristin how to protect herself. She develops into one tough package of trouble as she also perfects her pool. At eighteen, she looks for the thugs as she hustles pool in west Texas and earns the nickname Baby Shark. Revenge is difficult, but satisfying.” First in a new series, to be followed by Baby Shark’s Beaumont Blues.

Still Life by Louise Penny – “Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Surêté du Québec and his team of investigators are called in to the scene of a suspicious death in a rural village south of Montreal. Jane Neal, a local fixture in the tiny hamlet of Three Pines, just north of the U.S. border, has been found dead in the woods. The locals are certain it’s a tragic hunting accident and nothing more, but Gamache smells something foul in these remote woods, and is soon certain that Jane Neal died at the hands of someone much more sinister than a careless bowhunter. Still Life introduces not only an engaging series hero in Inspector Gamache, who commands his forces---and this series---with integrity and quiet courage, but also a winning and talented new writer of traditional mysteries in the person of Louise Penny.” First in a new series, followed by A Fatal Grace.

Wild Indigo – by Sandi Ault – “The high desert of New Mexico becomes the backdrop for this debut novel of ancient rituals, restless spirits, a desperate female Fed, and a crime that could destroy an entire culture . . . Bureau of Land Management Agent Jamaica Wild has witnessed the death of a Tanoah Pueblo man trampled to death by stampeding buffalo. The tribe has declared the incident a suicide, the FBI concurs, and the body is hurried to ceremony before the sun can go down on his spirit. But Agent Wild suspects foul play. Haunted by the memory of the welts on the man's body, and the strange ecstasy in his eyes, she pursues her own investigation, which leads her into a labyrinth of clandestine Pueblo religious rites, peyote cults, and Hispanic and Tiwa witchcraft. But Jamaica has promised the mother of the victim, the beloved matriarch of the Santana family, that she will find out what really happened to her son. Until Anna Santana took her in long ago, Jamaica was a stray, much like the wary wolf pup she has just rescued. When the tribal government and the local paper make allegations that Jamaica caused the stampede, she soon finds herself banned from the Pueblo, suspended from her job-and allied with an old, reclusive curandera who induces trances and casts spells. Ultimately, Jamaica will discover that the answer to the mystery is contained in another secret, perhaps the greatest secret regarding Tanoah Pueblo-one that threatens its future and its past.” C---- recommends this one highly.

Shadow of the Raven by David Sundstrand – In this case a male BLM agent: “David Sundstrand has written a thriller with all the suspense and terror of the roughest big city and set it against the harsh background of the vast Mojave Desert, where it is possible to kill a man simply by abandoning him without water or shoes. At the center of Sundstrands stirring tale is Francisco Flynn, son of an Irish railroad man and a woman of the Paiute tribe. Flynn is an officer in Land Management but has more concern for the deserts threatened animal life. He hates the wealthy sportsmen who hire poverty-stricken Indian guides to lead them to the sheep they can shoot for trophy heads to hang on their walls. Sundstrand slowly pulls together the ominous connections between the human and animal deaths and the sudden appearances and disappearances of a man on a Harley who could be the devil himself.”

10:57 AM  
Anonymous Dawid said...

Brief summaries of my perceptions of Holmes on the Range and Mark of the Lion. Mark of the Lion is a page-turner, although I did not care for the blasphemy. Mark of the Lion also reads fast, and the author does well in mixing relevant descriptions with peeks into the emotional lives of her characters. I felt that she did not quite get the era or the class / race relations between characters right. And my impression is that she confuses the functions of laibons with those of African witches. Her editor should have done better homework on the spelling of kralls (kraals). I am also unsure whether the Boers were so prominent in Kenya in 1919 as her narrative suggests. By 1911 there were only about 1,200 South Africans in Kenya, which had a population of just over 2 million then. I would also have liked her to reflect the actual political situation more closely. For example, German forces had raided Kenya during WWI. Growing indigenous resentment (particularly among the Kikuyu) about loss of land to settlers and subsequent confinement to reservations are omitted, for instance.

12:06 PM  
Anonymous Dawid said...

Still Life is a well-paced book with literate references, and snappy dialogue. The main character, Chief Inspector Gamache, was an interesting and well-rounded enough character for me to want to read more about him. I liked the moving reflections about mortality that are woven throughout the story.
On the negative side, the subplot about Yvette Nichol, an obnoxious new member of the Surêté du Québec, peters out before the end. The first couple of chapters suffer from very odd back to front structures. Instances of the improperly applied punctuation that often features in books from St. Martin's Press occasionally mar the pleasure of the story.

4:55 PM  

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