'CORE' Best Lists
- Top 25 Best Mystery Books
- The Top 100 Mystery Books
- Best Mystery Audiobooks
- Best Mystery Books of 2016
- Best Mystery Books of 2015
- Best Mystery Series
- Best Mystery Stand Alones
- Best Modern Mystery Books
- Best Indie Mystery Books
- Best Classic Mystery Books
- Underrated Mystery Books
'ERA' Best Lists
'GENRE' Best Lists
- Best Legal Mystery Books
- Best Police Procedural Books
- Best Mystery Thriller Books
- Best Mystery Suspense Books
- Best Whodunit Mystery Books
- Best True Crime Books
- Best Mystery Thriller Books
- Best Amateur Detective Books
- Best Private Investigator Books
- Best Hard Boiled Mystery Books
- Best Literary Mystery Books
- Best Cozy Mystery Books
- Best Supernatural Mystery Books
- Best Historical Mystery Books
- Best Fantasy Mystery Books
- Best Science Fiction Mystery Books
- Best Romantic Mystery Books
'AUDIENCE' Best Lists
- Best Mystery Books for Women
- Best Mystery Books by Female Authors
- Best Young Adult Mystery Books
- Best Mystery Books for Children
Just beating our supernatural mystery veteran Harry Dresden for the top spot iis Peter Grant. Peter Grant is seemingly a normal guy, a probationary constable who is about to be shifted into a paperwork division until one day whilst guarding the crime scene of a headless corpse, he sees a ghost. And it talks to him. Peter is then thrust into a mysterious world of magic that he never knew existed. Hes drawn to Thomas Nightingale, the police forces investigator of paranormal crime.
With some guidance from Thomas, Peter begins to learn about how magic works. Largely though, Peter conducts his own investigations into the nature and practice of magic. We learn that at school Peter was good at science, not fantastically so, but he had aptitude and he goes about applying this natural scientific curiosity and aptitude to the understanding of magic. Its a refreshing change to meet a character who relies on themselves to find the answers to the uncertain questions regarding the supernatural rather than just waiting for an all-knowing swami to spoon-feed them information, and he works hard.
Hes not instantaneously an all-powerful wizard and this in conjunction with his scientific approach makes Peter a likable and relatable guy, and his journey in coming to terms with magic is all the more real because of it. Its also worthy to note that Peter is a huge geek, and its wonderful. As well as taking a scientific approach to magic, he is a constant source of fantastic dry British humour and pop-culture references anyone who references Tolkien, The Last Airbender and Isaac Newton in the same book is definitely a certified geek. It has to be said that the actual mystery and storyline of Rivers of London is neither particularly compelling nor memorable, but its a forgivable offence for a book that is has such a great voice and exudes the life-force of London tinged with magic from every page.
Books in Peter Grant Series (6)
Oh Harry Dresden, you are truly a legend in your genre, everybody loves and worships the ground you (metaphorically) levitate above. You are often the measuring stick against which all other urban fantasy, paranormal mystery solving protagonists are judged. But why? Well, in short, its because yer a wizard Harry though not a bespectacled teenage one. No, this Harry is a strong, tough, smart-talking, wise-ass urban wizard who solves cases for the Chicago PD when they transcend the means of normal investigations, when theres something supernatural at play in the darkness.
In this case, Harrys investigating a grisly double murder in which magic is clearly involved, but he is drawn into the creepy clutches of a black mage and this puts him in serious danger. Complete with the assistance of an erotica-obsessed spirit called Bob who lives in a skull, a pizza-loving fairy called Toot Toot and Harrys smart remarks at every turn as well as a truly page-turning mystery; Storm Front is a prime piece of supernatural mystery with a strong sense of humour, dripping with action and charisma. Unfortunately for Mr Dresden, inveterate wizard though he may be, hes about to be topped by a newbie
Books in The Dresden Series (18)
Marlowe Higgins is a werewolf, not your new-school Twilight style werewolf, hes the old fashioned truly monstrous, kills-people-every-month kind. Its a curse that hes struggled with for years, until he comes up with a not-so elegant, but absolutely delicious solution hell only kill really, really bad people. And so, when he settles in a small quiet town thats shocked to its core by the brutal murders of young girls at the hands of a serial killer dubbed the Rose Killer (named for his tendency to pot flowers in the victims eye sockets), Marlowe decides that this will be the next deranged freak to meet a bloody end at his claws.
This is a truly engaging paranormal serial killer mystery with a strong dose of wit, tightly laced with black humour, strong language, gore and sex. It deviates nicely from typical werewolf fiction, whilst maintaining the monstrous nature of the beast. When it comes to interesting and original concepts, it really cant get much better than a werewolf hunting down a serial killer, now can it?
House of Leaves is a bit like Marmite, people either love it or they hate it. Its either a brilliant masterpiece in mystery, horror and pushing literary boundaries, or its a pretentious, over-complicated piece of crap. There are very few people who are on the fence on this, so lets kick it down. Summarising the plot is a difficult task; it is essentially three stories all strongly and complexly interwoven in one huge tome.
Number one, the primary story, is about an extraordinary house (always interestingly formatted for effect!), one with a mysterious and impossible door that leads to a pitch-black, ever-changing dimension (of a sort), which is inhabited by something horrific, and entirely unknown. The second is the story is of Zampano, an old guy who tried to chronicle the tale of the house, but died before he could finish it.
And the third is Johnny Truant, a deadbeat who has assumed Zampanos task, and finds it to be one he was completely unprepared for. Reading, learning and writing about the house Johnny becomes plagued by his own inexplicable horrors even more so than his life thus far, which has been plagued with drug use and questionable sexual encounters, but everything gets so much worse. The big thing about House of Leaves is its presentation.
This is not your typical book; there are pages of writing that is upside down, back-to-front, tilted, sprawling, varied font sizes and types, even entire pages of lists of household products, and the entire story of Johnny Truant is told through footnotes that oftentimes take up pages upon pages. This is what puts a lot of people off, but for those willing to put in a little extra brain-power, they will be highly rewarded with a dark, mysterious, chilling and truly terrifying tale with a strong paranormal flavour.
Dean Koontz is known for delivering in the horror stakes, and he continues to do so here, in Odd Thomas, a paranormal horror/mystery in which the main character can speak to the dead. Thomas also has a really strange sort of in-built ghost-radar which he uses to track bodachs, spirits that hover around anyone or anything that is associated with violence and death. One day Odd catches sight of a suspicious guy whom he nicknames Fungus Man, a man who is followed by an unusually large swarm of bodachs.
Tracking him down, Odd finds his apartment to contain a room filled with bodachs, and Odd Thomas is almost certain that its a portal to Hell. He finds himself facing a race against time to prevent the impending disaster that he is sure the Fungus Man is about to rain down, and at times this fast-paced, creepy and often gruesome journey is truly scary and even if our darling protagonist seems too over-heroic and holier-than-thou at times in his fight against the unknowable evil, Odd Thomas is a masterstroke of eerie paranormal mystery from a giant of the genre.
Books in Odd Thomas Series (7)
Fourteen year old Alex Rider is in the care of his uncle, Ian Rider. Everything is going pretty well for Alex until he is woken at 3am by police informing him that his uncle has been in a car accident, one that proved fatal due to his lack of a seatbelt. Refusing to believe his uncle could be so careless, Alex does some investigation of his own and finds bullet holes in his uncles car, putting him on a path that leads to the discovery that his uncle was actually an agent for the British intelligence agency, MI6.
Alex is then recruited by MI6 and trained by the SAS to complete his uncles mission. Stormbreaker is similar in style to Ian Flemings James Bond series, but much more appropriate for younger readers with the omission of sex and extreme violence. Whilst the premise of a 14 year old becoming an agent for MI6 is implausible it is a fun concept that young adults will surely enjoy reading about, especially fans of spy fiction and gadgetry and this makes it a perfect candidate for trying to illuminate the reading spark within teenage boys.
Now for some Halloween fun - it's October 1963 in Anytown, USA, and the teenage boys are getting ready for the towns annual Halloween ritual: the Gauntlet, where Sawtooth Jack, a pumpkin-headed horror, attempts to make it from the field outside of town where he was born to the church in the middle of the town. Its Halloween come to life, and it's the job of the boys to stop him (permanently), and the one who manages to do so gets a one-way ticket out of town. The books shifts focus between two characters, the first is Pete: hes 16 and running his first gauntlet.
His family is falling apart, and he wants out of this small, backwards town. But things are never quite what they seem. The other character is the October Boy, and what we learn about him unlocks the mysteries chained at the centre of this deceptively quiet town. Dark Harvest is a fast-moving Halloween chiller, with action that's fast, furious, mysterious and genuinely scary, but its also a coming of age story and the journey of Pete and the October Boy as they discover the truth of the strange ritual is both chilling and touching.
Miriam Black is a psychic, but one unlike the others when she touches you she knows exactly when youre going to die, the date and time, right down to the minute. She lives her life on the fly, hitchhiking from place to place, but when she catches a ride with Louis Darling, she gets more than she bargained for. She sees Louis death; a knife plunged deep into his eye-sockets while calling out her name. Miriam cant save Louis, she honestly doesnt really care to, but if she wants to stop herself becoming the next victim, shes going to have to try her damnedest.
Blackbirds is a slick and original novel, and Miriam does not conform to your typical psychic stereotypes; she is not sweetness and light and connected with the universe, shes harsh and abrasive, she drinks, smokes and has a foul mouth that could make a sailor blush, but shes likable because of it. In short, shes a total charismatic bad-ass. The book is raw, gritty, raunchy, sleazy, and gory and all those other hardboiled terms that when put together sound like the seven dwarves evil doppelgangers. Amidst the raw blackness, Wendigscolourful writing shines through and brings true power to this dark psychic mystery.
Books in Miriam Black Series (6)
Harper Blaine is a private detective living a fairly normal life, no weird or unusual cases, and she just works your typical find lost people/things. This all changes when she is killed by one of her clients. Revived by paramedics on her way to the hospital, when she finally comes to Harper doesnt feel quite right She sees strange things, a grey fog everywhere, and weird shapes emerging from it, but its not a medical-grade drug-haze - her near-death experience has turned her into a Greywalker.
She now has the power to see into the cross-over world between our world and death, and can see all the supernatural creatures that inhabit this realm; ghosts, werewolves, vampires and a whole cast of other nightmares. Harper doesnt think her new powers so cool though, and tries her best to retain her normal life. She falls back on her job, taking on two nice typical cases, finding a missing college student and locating an old piece of furniture for an elderly gentleman. Mundane cases they may be, but thats what Harper needs, and she cleverly manages to connect the dots between these two seemingly unrelated cases.
Not a particularly suspenseful mystery, you might find it more suspenseful to watch someone wrangling a teddy bear, but this allows for the main focus of this first part of the series to develop; Harpers slow acceptance of her new power, and having the book start with how she acquired them means that everythings just as mysterious to her as it is to the reader, and allows for a mutual learning experience about the Greywalkers and the realm beyond our own.
Harper is a strong woman, a little stubborn and at times veers wildly between being suicidally reckless and being an absolute snivelling coward, but nonetheless shes an interesting character with an intriguing power that over time helps her with the various mysteries she comes across. Even though mystery in terms of actual cases is a little sparse in this first book, enough mystery is provided by Harpers current state of affairs to sate the appetite for enigma.
Books in Greywalker Series (9)
When a degenerative eye disease forces her to leave her job at the Toronto police department she becomes a private investigator, mostly talking her cases in the daylight hours in which her vision is best. But when she stumbles across a dead body in the subway at night she is forced into a murder investigation which leaves her reliant on ex-partner (and sometimes lover) to help her solve the case. Along the way she also befriends a 450 year old vampire who just happens to be the illegitimate son of King Henry VIII and writes historical romance novels for a living.
They end up in a race against time in a murder mystery that first, seems to be the work of a vampire but instead involves a demon and a screwed up college nerd. The mystery is fairly simple but engaging, intense and suspenseful; and Huff creates horrific murder scenes and true creep factor in graveyards and dark alleyways. The characters are compelling, and we get to see from each of their perspectives, including the killers, and thankfully despite the abundance of flashbacks of Henrys long life, it never gets bogged down in historical detail.
The book is filled with sexual tension, but the love scenes fade to black, so it never diminishes to the level of graphic vampire porn. With a strong interesting cast of characters and intriguing mystery, its easy to see why this novel was picked up for TV in the form of Blood Ties, but to experience this storyline in its greatest form its best to start right here at the source novel, a true must-read for lovers of all things mysterious that go bump in the night.
Books in Vicki Nelson Series (5)
This next novel is a magical mix of historical fiction and mystery with a supernatural spin. We meet Arlen Wagner, a soldier who fought in WWI, who is now travelling with a young engineering genius on the lookout for work during the Great Depression. But Arlen is not your typical ex-soldier, he has a gift he can see imminent death. Sitting on a train with Paul, Wagner looks around and sees the signs, his fellow passengers appear skeletal with traces of smoke in their eyes and he knows that tragedy is imminent.
The only person he can convince to leave the train though, is Paul. They continue heading south and end up stranded in The Cypress House, a boarding house on the Gulf Coast, right in the path of an oncoming hurricane. The hurricane is not the only thing they have to deal with though, and they run into a number of creeps along the way, including corrupt judges, police chiefs, paid henchmen and assassins. Its a skilfully depicted portrait of the exotic time and locale, executed with complexity and believability, and an overall sense of mystery and impending doom that comes to a head with a suspenseful, violent, supernatural twist.
Harper Connelly is another supernaturally gifted creation of Charlaine Harris, writer of bloodsucking sensation True Blood/the Sookie Stackhouse novels. This young woman doesnt sleep with hunky vampires however, instead she finds dead people for a living. Talk about glamour, huh? Harper can sense the final locations of the deceased and see their final moments, and she uses this talent to bring closure to the living and some form of justice to the dead. In this first foray into the series, Harper is asked to find the body of a young girl who was apparently murdered by her boyfriend who then killed himself.
Upon reading the body however, it turns out that he, too, was murdered, and Harper and her brother Tolliver are drawn into trying to find the identity of the killer. Harper is a strange character, sometimes tough, snarky and street smart and other times acting like a lost, confused little girl, and shes not entirely likable, but character flaws aside, the book provides an intriguing whodunit that will leave you guessing until the end (if slightly predictable for eagle eyed readers), and the over-arching mystery that continues on into the sequels digs its nails in and drags you back for more.
Books in Harper Connelly Series (4)
Now for some more near-death power discovery provided by Andrew Butcher. Set on Lansin Island, famous for its mass-burning of suspected witches at the stake, and now a popular tourist spot for witches, wiccans and pagans, we meet Nicholas Nick Jack Crystan, who works in a shop specialising in witchy tourist trinkets. Nick one day has a daydream of a car crash, and a woman dying in that crash, but the next day when he sees the signs that the crash is imminent he acts fast and saves her life.
The woman is Juliet Maystone; she felt the crash, she felt the car hit her and she felt herself die. But she awakens to Nick beside her and the car having not hit her at all. In the coming days she feels disconnected, and after an appointment with the last living descendant of the Lansin Island witches, she discovers that she was meant to die. Despite her body being saved, she died spiritually, her soul moving into the Otherworld while her body remained.
Now both Nick and Juliet have to face their supernatural problems and the mysteries surrounding them, and there are plenty to uncover: the origins of their powers and the ties to their families, as well as the mystery of children disappearing on the island, a haunted mansion and the secrets behind the islands dark past. The supernatural experiences are well thought out, highly descriptive and take some unexpected turns nothing and no one is what it seems on Lansin Island. With an interesting plot and a number of engaging mysteries, A Death Displaced is a prime supernatural mystery and one that fans of the genre will love.
Books in Lansin Island Series (1)
Cassie Neill used to be a psychic helping the Los Angeles police catch killers, until she makes a mistake that ends in the death of a child. Wracked with guilt, Cassie flees, heading for a small town hoping to escape her powers and live a peaceful life. Its just unfortunate for her that her abilities arent ready to cooperate. A killer is prowling the small town, and Cassie catches glimpses inside his deranged mind; his fury, his perversions, his desire to kill, but not his identity.
Her attempts to warn the local sheriff fall upon deaf ears until a body is found, exactly as she described it. Now she is quite obviously, a suspect, and in order to prove her innocence she must get into the mind of a serial murderer. Its a smooth combination of murder mystery and psychic phenomena, with a dash of romance. The plot is fairly standard murder mystery fare, beefed up by the glimpses into the mind of the killer, and it has a brisk pace and exciting (if slightly predictable) twists.
The only stickler with this book is that Cassies powers really arent all that helpful sure, she sees into the killers mind, its interesting and they locate the bodies faster, but she never really uncovers any information that helps prevent any murders or aids in catching the perp. Even so, its a fun, easy read that will provide some entertainment for supernatural mystery aficionados.
Books in Bishop/Special C... Series (16)
Time to meet Anita Blake: necromancer, vampire hunter, badass. She has a day job as an animator; raising the dead for the police force in order to gain information - you know, those days when you walk into work and resurrect a few dead people We all do it, right? But when vampires start turning up dead, Anita is called upon by the master vampire to investigate whos killing all the bloodsuckers.
Its a fast read and one that took the world of supernatural mystery novels by storm, originally loved as a cult favourite and eventually becoming a New York Times best-seller. Its a great start to a series that eventually degrades into Anitas Supernatural Boink-fest. This first book is a classic in the genre though, with a strong, kick-ass woman with a sharp tongue and badass powers. Rabid fans will argue that this should go higher on this list, and its haters may say it shouldnt be here at all.
Its all a bit love or hate, but while it definitely deserves to be on this list, it cant be forgiven for such questionable turns of phrase as: "He lapped up my blood like a cat with cream. I lay under his weight listening to him lap up my blood. So Laurell, would you say he lapped at the blood? (Note: weird and repetitive phrases like this one are rampant in this book). Stylistic qualms aside, it is a wild fun ride that fans of all things enigmatic and vampiric will love.
Books in Anita Blake, Va... Series (25)
Matthew Swift is an urban sorcerer, tapping into magic in the flow of urban life, from graffiti, cash machines, wheelie bins, tube stations, even pigeons. Theres only one thing stopping him from working his wizardy ways, Matthew has been murdered - a deep whole gouged in his chest by some unknown force.
Luckily being the urban sorcerer adept that he is, with his last breaths Matthew pours his life force into the power lines, and is shielded and nurtured by electric angels basically your urban equivalent of elemental spirits. Now two years later, Matthews been resurrected, by yet another unknown someone (or something), and the angels have come along for the ride. Twinned with them, Matthew sets off on a mission of vengeance to find the one who killed him, and the one who brought him back. Its a suspenseful mystery, and electric angels are anything but your everyday fare.
The narrative voice is a little odd at times, since its in the first person and Matthew is rather disconnected from being dead and all, and the childish glee that the angels express at their first forays into human sensations continues to muddle Matthews mental state further. A little difficult to read at times, but this is a fast-paced and magnetic mystery that will have fans of urban fantasy and mystery with paranormal power gripped until its conclusion and continuing off into the sunset of sequels.
Books in Matthew Swift Series (4)
Merrily Watkins is a female vicar, whos been reassigned to a nice quiet village that borders England and Wales. Shes in for a quiet, peaceful life, right? Wrong. Along with her new parish shes been assigned as the Deliverance Consultant for the surrounding areas - a.k.a. exorcist. Merrilys not too thrilled at the prospect, but her teenage daughter who is mortified at having a priest for a mother thinks, in typical teenage fashion, that the exorcism part actually sounds pretty cool.
Theyre joined in the little village by a host of characters that follow typical fictional tropes but transcend falling into pitfalls of stereotypy. Things begin to get creepy when the villages main apple tree seems to be bearing grudges as well as apples, a girl goes missing in the orchard, and an apparent suicide puts Merrily onto a trail that exposes a familys secrets and the darkness at the heart of the supposedly peaceful town.
Merrily discovers that not everything is what it seems, and begins exploring a place where the spiritual world is always there, just out of sight but always ever-present. The Wine of Angels is a truly compelling mystery, with realistic characters, well-paced and researched, and richly detailed concerning the folklore and life of small British villages. Merrilysexorcismal escapades are an excellent example of enticing ethereal enigma that will draw you in and is a true testament to the genre.
Books in Merrily Watkins Series (13)
Those of you out there who have ever read anything by Bret Easton Ellis, you probably know that he writes strange books. Very strange books. For those of you who havent his books are strange. Even by Bret Eason Ellis standards though, Lunar Park is a weird book. Its main character is an accomplished, slightly unbalanced author named wait for it Bret Easton Ellis. Yes, Mr Ellis bases this book on himself, part memoir and a largely uber-weird supernatural mystery, its a true mindfuck.
It starts as a parody of Ellis life, trying to settle down into a normal life as a husband and father. It soon descends though into an unusual tale of binge drinking, excessive drug use, doped up children and creepy hauntings. The main plot is in essence a ghost story, a pretty damned scary one, with ghosts, poltergeists and even a demonic Furby come to life! Theres a strong Stephen King influence and a broad stroke of mystery as a murderer is recreating the murders from American Psycho (one of B.E.E.s earlier novels), and young boys are going missing. All in all, its a mysterious, heady mix, but one that fans of B.E.E. and his signature cynical style will love, and one that those of you on the lookout for something mystical and out of the ordinary will also enjoy.
Next we move away from the cosy confines of the (mostly) real world, and into a decidedly different one. Into a world where Heaven and Hell are real places and its possible to communicate with those that inhabit them. This is where we find Detective Inspector Chen, a snake agent in the Singapore Police Department, responsible for handling supernatural and mystical investigations.
Chen is almost uniquely talented in that hes pretty cosy with the Heaven and Hell brigades, though its never really explained why this is so, just as its never explained how he somehow has a demon for a wife and you thought you had marital problems? Back to the story, and for his next case Chen has been partnered with Senseschal Zhu Irzh essentially his Hell counterpart, a low level demon who works with the human PD, and the two of them are tasked with investigating an illegal trade in stolen human souls.
Its an interesting plot, and Chen gets into his fair share of scrapes along the way (along with his demonic wife being bored at home, hes also managed to offend a patron Goddess), and the action moves at a quick pace. The world is richly detailed, and Williams really paints a picture of this distinctive and dark alternate reality. All in all, it is a supernatural mystery that errs more on the side of action, but still provides enough food for thought that suspense-seekers should find what theyre looking for.
Books in Detective Inspec... Series (5)
Abby Cooper is a P.I. psychic intuitive, but she has a major insight fail when she doesnt foresee the death of a client, nor that the hunk she went on a blind date with was the lead investigator of a case that she reveals to him is not a missing child case, but a murder, whilst also professing her psychic abilities. Smart move Abby, sounds like first date conversation to me! He thinks shes a fraud at first, but luckily for her he seems to be a particularly gullible detective who soon comes around to the idea. And so, Abby and delicious Detective Dutch Rivers embark on solving the murder.
Largely though, this book focuses on their more personal relationship and on Abbys powers rather than the mystery, very few pieces of information about the murderer are actually uncovered through the course of the story. We get a big reveal and a ta-dah, bet you never saw this one coming! which unless you actually do possess psychic powers, you probably wont. A simple yet fun mystery with a sprinkling of extrasensory perception make this book and its sequels a favourite among many fans of cosy, supernatural mysteries, and one that just begs you to keep on reading.
Books in Psychic Eye Myst... Series (15)
Lizzy is a pastry chef working at Dazzle's Bakery in Salem with her friends Glo and Clara, and she lives an ordinary life until two mystery men enter the bakery within minutes of each other. From that point onwards her life changes and she's swooped along on an adventure which turns out to be quite fun and reveals to her that she has certain abilities of the magical kind. Its filled with ridiculous antics abound and rushes from one place to another, with an interesting magical mystery to solve, and a cheez whizz and froot loop loving monkey called Carl who just loves to flip the bird.
It sounds positively wonderful I know, but this book is anything but flawless; the events of the story take place at an unrealistic pace that doesnt really allow for much development and Lizzy and her friends accept everything without batting an eyelid. Furthermore the magical element is a little too subtle, and not really fully developed (also, youll read the word cupcake so often it will create some serious, serious cravings). Putting those minor niggles aside though, Wicked Appetite is a fun book to read filled with fluffy, cupcakey goodness and is a great example of a nice light, quick mystery with elements of the paranormal.
Books in Lizzy and Diesel Series (3)
Next we come to a series revolving around Lucretia Cree Black, a paranormal investigator who in this first book is asked to travel to New Orleans to help resolve a haunting at an ancestral home. Lila Beaufort has seen a ghost, but her family thinks shes unhinged and is trying to get her hospitalised, its up to Cree to pick apart fact from fiction, prove Lilas not a total whack job and discover the truth behind the haunting.
Cree is different from most paranormal investigators though in that she is an empath, able to sense others feeling, emotions and thoughts and experience them exactly as they do, and it makes for a compelling read. Lila Beauforts accounts of the haunting are truly creepy and even quite horrifying at times, and Crees own empathic experiences of the haunting also make for some shocking and intense moments. The attention to detail in this novel makes it a stand-out read, and Crees already flawed nature and her assumption of the flaws of others around her make it even more engaging. City of Masks is a genuinely fantastic introduction to an innovative paranormal mystery series.
Books in Cree Black Series (3)
Were back in warm, safe cosy territory now with Witch Way To Murder, a literary cross between Bewitched and Murder She Wrote. The story is focused on Ophelia Jensen; a librarian who also happens to possess psychic powers, and her grandmother Abby, a witch of benevolent persuasions. Ophelia is a recluse, following the murder of her best friend 4 years previously, and is trying to deny and hide all evidence of her power that failed to stop her from preventing her friends murder.
But now, the discovery of a body in Abbys back yard and the appearance of a handsome stranger get Ophelia and Abby involved in a murder mystery with ties to a methamphetamine ring (though no Heisenberg in sight, Im afraid). Damsgaard writes well, and creates authentic characters (inasmuch as you can call witches and psychics authentic, of course!) and even the side characters like the love interest and friends are all well-fleshed out and interesting. Abby can be a little obnoxious at times, sometimes its hard to understand why anyone wants to be friends with her, but even so, shes interesting and overall likeable.
Furthermore the mystery is actually a surprisingly engaging one with some suspense and a few little twists. Its easy to guess, as the bad guys are pretty much instantly identifiable, but thats the joy of a cosy, right? Despite being easy to peg, this novel won an Agatha Award (a mystery award named in honour of the great Ms Christie) for Best First Novel in 2005. Whilst a little darker than most cosies, Witch Way To Murder will enchant lovers of cosy mysteries with a supernatural flair.
Books in Ophelia & Abby ... Series (7)
Next we move onto a more classic murder mystery, with a supernatural edge. Nell McDermott is a politically minded woman who butts heads with her husband over her plans to run for her grandfathers congressional seat. After a heated argument, he tells him to never come home again, and he doesnt. Adam and three of his business associates have been killed when his new cabin cruiser explodes.
Nell sets about trying to pick apart the mystery behind Adams explosive end (not THAT explosive end, minds out of the gutter please!) and ends up being persuaded by her aunt to consult a medium who claims to be Adams channel. Its a little slow to start, but picks up the pace soon enough, and with instruction from Adam via the medium Nell begins piecing together the truth behind his past and how he passed.
Its a decent mystery, although it doesnt make much sense that although Nell herself shows many signs of possessing psychic powers she wont believe in those but will believe that her dead husband is talking to her through someone else? Either way, its an intriguing whodunit that paranormal mystery buffs will savour.
Lets ease ourselves in with a nice cosy mystery courtesy of Madelyn Alt. This first instalment of A Bewitching Mystery Series introduces us to Maggie ONeill. Living a boring life as an accounting clerk and in search of something new, she takes a new job at Enchantments: Antiques and Fine Gifts after a chance meeting with its proprietor, Felicity Dow. As well as owning her own business Felicity also happens to be a witch, and the leader of the local coven.
Soon after Maggie begins work, however, Felicity is arrested for the murder of her estranged sister, and it is left up to Maggie to help prove her innocence. This mystery is left somewhat on the backburner however as Maggie goes about exploring her own innate magical power, one that she did not know she had. Maggie is a psychic empathy, picking up on the thoughts and energies of the recently deceased, and spends the majority of the novel picking apart her feelings on this, trying to come to terms with whether she actually believes it to be true or not.
Youd think shed be a bit quicker to try and prove her new boss innocence, but apparently preventing her from going to jail isnt too pressing a matter. This is a light, quick read; a good introduction to the series and perfect for lovers of cosy mysteries, with no extreme tension or rushes of adrenaline and no hints of violence or grit to be seen. The mystery element is downplayed a little, but its still a fair and engaging supernatural mystery nonetheless.
Books in A Bewitching My... Series (8)
Our Version of the List
At a Glance
- 1 Rivers of London: Body Work (Ben Aaronovitch)
- 2 Storm Front (Jim Butcher)
- 3 The Wolfman (Nicholas Pekearo)
- 4 House of Leaves (Mark Z. Danielewski)
- 5 Odd Thomas: An Odd Thomas Novel (Dean Koontz)
- 6 Already Dead (Charlie Huston)
- 7 Dark Harvest (Norman Partridge)
- 8 Blackbirds (Chuck Wendig)
- 9 Greywalker (Kat Richardson)
- 10 Blood Price (Tanya Huff)
- 11 The Cypress House (Michael Koryta)
- 12 Grave Sight (Charlaine Harris)
- 13 A Death Displaced: A Psychic Paranormal Myste...
- 14 Stealing Shadows: A Bishop/Special Crimes Uni...
- 15 Guilty Pleasures (Laurell K. Hamilton)
- 16 A Madness of Angels (Kate Griffin)
- 17 The Wine of Angels (Phil Rickman)
- 18 Lunar Park (Bret Easton Ellis)
- 19 Snake Agent (Liz Williams)
- 20 Abby Cooper, Psychic Eye (Victoria Laurie)
- 21 Wicked Appetite (Janet Evanovich)
- 22 City of Masks (Daniel Hecht)
- 23 Witch Way to Murder (Shirley Damsgaard)
- 24 Before I Say Good-Bye (Mary Higgins Clark)
- 25 The Trouble With Magic (Madelyn Alt)
Publicly Ranked Version of the List25 items >>
- City of Masks (Daniel Hecht)
- Odd Thomas (Dean Koontz)
- Storm Front (Jim Butcher)
- Blackbirds (Chuck Wendig)
- Blood Price (Tanya Huff)
- Greywalker (Kat Richardson)