It’s a mystery!

Actually, it’s three mysteries. I did quite a bit of reading last weekend, and I decided to do three short reviews as opposed to individual ones. In fact, I may bring this back regularly since I tend to read them often. If you’ve read any good mysteries lately and want to link up, leave your link in comments, and I’ll include it here.

Every now and again I just get on a kick where all I want to read are mysteries, so bear with me. It usually happens toward the end of a semester when my brain feels fried from grading essay after essay. So, in no particular order, here’s the low down:

Death of a Poison Pen by M.C. Beaton – a Hamish Macbeth mystery

I’ve heard quite a bit about M.C. Beaton, both from bloggers and from my mom, who loves Agatha Raisin. Even though cozy mysteries aren’t usually what I like, I thought it might be a nice switch. What a pleasant surprise, then, to find quite a nice combination of hardened detective and charming Lochdubh in this book. This isn’t the first book in the series, but I definitely didn’t feel as though I was left out in any way. Hamish Macbeth is the underdog. His superiors don’t really like his methods, but his methods seem to solve a lot of cases. In this book, Macbeth is seeking out a writer of petty but poisonous letters. Everyone seems to have gotten one, and Macbeth is afraid pretty soon someone will take matters into her own hands. Of course, he’s right, and pretty soon there are swinging corpses showing up and startling the otherwise quiet village. Throw in an outsider looking for an adventure and following Macbeth in an effort to make her friend (and Macbeth’s former girlfriend) jealous, a nosy reporter, and a vindictive headmistress of a local school, and the writing is on the wall: Murder most foul, as Miss Marple would say (not to totally mix my cozy mysteries).

Mr. Dixon Disappears by Ian Sansom – A Mobile Library Mystery

Ah, I had such high hopes for this book. A mobile librarian who is a bit of a deadbeat? A mobile librarian who is a bit of a deadbeat who also runs into crime? Sign me up. Israel Armstrong is that librarian, and the story opens with him setting up a mobile exhibit about a local legend – Dixon and Pickering’s, a department store. As he is setting up, though, the store is robbed, and the owner, Mr. Dixon, disappears (see! that’s where the title come from). The local police don’t trust Armstrong, who is an outsider in this Irish village and has a very funny name for an Englishman. He is arrested, and mayhem ensues. The setup is all very nice, and the humor is great. My biggest problem with this mystery? It couldn’t decide whether or not it was cozy or hardboiled. One instant, Israel is dressing in disguise and trying to decipher the local dialect, the next, he is dropping the C word (very bad) and pissing me off. Eh. I may try another, and I certainly don’t hope to dissuade you. It just didn’t make me an instant fan.

Agatha Raisin and the Case of the Curious Curate by M.C. Beaton

Don’t be fooled. Beaton may be the same author of this series and the Hamish Macbeth series, but they are definitely distinct series. I enjoyed them both, even though the cozy mystery is not usually my cup of tea. Agatha’s husband has left her for the monastery – except he never makes it to the monastery. Her pride is just a bit hurt until the new curate, a devilishly handsome younger man, asks her to dinner. However, shortly after their dinner (and a goodnight kiss), Tristan the curate, is found murdered. Agatha and her handsome mystery writer friend take on the investigation themselves, traveling to and from London with several near misses, red herrings, all while a cold-blooded murderer is on the loose. The murders are actually quite vicious, which I didn’t expect for a cozy mystery, and the ending was satisfying. What more can you ask for?

I do hope you’ve enjoyed these short reviews. As I mentioned before, if you’ve reviewed any of these or possibly other mysteries, let’s link up! Anyone else feel like winter is perfect cozy mystery weather? If so, what’s on your list?


15 responses to “It’s a mystery!

  • Coffee and a Book Chick

    I go through those phases of mystery-reading as well. In fact, I finished my very first Agatha Christie book And Then There Were None last week, and really enjoyed it. I’ve not seen the M.C. Beaton books before, but I’ll definitely include this on my ever-growing list that I take with me to the bookshop! Argh. I’m not sure what’s screaming more right now — my bookshelves or just my simple list of books I want to read! 🙂

  • iliana

    I haven’t read a mystery in a while and I’m itching to start one but right now I’m trying to stick to just one book. Anyway, haven’t read any of these although I’d like to try the Beaton books. I’m not a big fan of cozies but every once in a while that is just the mystery I’m looking for. I read the first in the Librarian series and was not impressed. I was so bummed out too because I was sure I was going to love it.

  • Steph

    I can’t help it – every time I read the name “Agatha Raisin” I laugh and laugh and laugh. It just seems like such a ridiculous name!

    How odd that the Ian Simpson novel was such a hodgepodge… I actually owned that book for a while and then realized I was never going to read it and got rid of it. Doesn’t sound like I missed out on too much there!

    • pickygirlfoodfilmfiction

      I know, right! Like I said, it’s definitely not my usual, though enjoyable.

      For some reason, I thought you had posted a review of Mr. Dixon. No wonder I couldn’t find your review to link to. I’m not always good at marking where I get my recommendations. I hate that you won’t pick it up. It just felt uneven and forgettable to me. Hate that.

      Sent from my iPhone

  • Elyse/Pop Culture Nerd

    I mainly read mysteries but haven’t read these. Are they cozies? I like the more hard-boiled, noir stuff. And still need to read REBECCA!

    I just finished THE SHERLOCKIAN (huge Holmesian nerd here) and will link my review if I can ever get it done. The book is very smart, I have lots to say and want to do it justice.

  • Elyse/Pop Culture Nerd

    OK, I’m an idiot. You clearly say they’re cozies, except for the second one where you couldn’t decide. Disregard my question.

  • Rose City Reader

    Yes! Like you, I am in the mood to read mysteries in the winter. I’ve just read the first 2 Stieg Larsson books, which do not count as cozies. But I am reading The Clud Dumas right now and plan to delve deeper into some classic series in the upcoming cold months: Dorothy L. Sayers, Rex Stout, and P. D. James are all on my TBR shelf.

    I found your blog through a FF post on twitter and am glad I did. I am now a follower.

    Rose City Reader

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