The Just 20 Weekly Booklist contains 20 recommendations on a topic or genre for patrons of all ages. The list, curated by Lisa & Beth, is designed to proceed in level from older audiences to younger.
This week's list which focuses on the popular genre of mystery also hopes to shed some light on the more diverse authors and protagonists available in the contemporary version of this genre - from Muslim detectives to LGBQTIA characters and writers, and from social justice to the splendor of math and those who love it. We, of course, would be happy to provide more suggestions for either diverse or the more traditional mystery titles and authors. Ask us!
This week's spotlight/inspiration is not about books but about streaming of mystery programming. You can check-out (literally) the Library's subscription to Acorn TV, where you can watch award-winning British and Australian TV mysteries for free. As well as being entertaining, I must admit to having learned quite a bit about the relationships between the indigenous and white Australian populations through watching the mini-series "Mystery Road."
Ezekiel "Easy" Porterhouse Rawlins is the character created by mystery author Walter Mosley. Rawlins is an African-American PI and World War II veteran living in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles. He is featured in a series of mysteries set from the 1940s to the 1960s. The mysteries combine the traditional conventions of detective fiction with descriptions of racial inequities and social injustice experienced by African Americans and other persons of color in the Los Angeles of that period.
If you don't know Easy Rawlins, these stories can be a good introduction, but there are many other Mosley titles available at NPL and via ILL.
Bluebird Texas Ranger Darren Matthews is on the hunt for a boy who's gone missing - but it's the boy's family of white supremacists who are his real target. Heaven, My Home is the second installment in Attica Locke’s Highway 59 series; mystery novels in which the crime doubles as the mechanism by which the state of race relations in the US is laid bare for all to see.
In 1920's India, Perveen Mistry, a Parsi woman and Bombay’s only female lawyer, is investigating a suspicious will on behalf of three Muslim widows living in full purdah when the case takes a turn toward the murderous. Perveen Mistry is inspired by a real historical figure, Cornelia Sorabji. This is the first in a series.
While there are many well- written Native American mystery series by writers who are not Indian (Hillerman and Coel come to mind) it is more difficult to find mysteries written from a Native voice. Erdrich is one of my favorite writers and while most of her books are not mysteries, I do believe that The Round House qualifies to be included in that genre. It is riveting and suspenseful - a powerful coming-of-age story, and a tender novel of family, history, and Indian culture.
In The Paying Guests, readers will find the hallmarks of Waters’s work: a compelling plot, three-dimensional characters, sensuous love scenes, exploration of feminist and class issues, and an exquisitely rendered sense of time and place . . . all this and a shocking murder.
The first in the series of the "Rachel Getty and Esa Khattak" mysteries - The Unquiet Dead blazes a new path with a Muslim detective, and is guided by the author's personal understanding of the intersection of faith and core Muslim values, complex human nature and the evil that can be done by seemingly ordinary people.
It can't all be heavy. if you are a fan of cozy mysteries - this delightful series (Baby Ganesh Agency Investigation) might be right up your alley. The series features India's first female literary police detective and and a baby elephant! What could be better! While cozy - it is not fluffy - but instead takes one to the heart of modern India, showcasing both the color and the darker aspects of this vast and complex country.
Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s “Mexican Gothic” is a feminist horror and mystery novel inspired by Gothic classics including “Jane Eyre” and “Wuthering Heights”, whose heroine is 22-year-old Noemí Taboada, living in Mexico City in 1950. A dark secret looms large, insidiously winding its way through the pages. With a nod to fairy tales, (though not the Disney versions) it's rooted in the ancient mythology of Mexico, where Moreno-Garcia was born. On order at NPL and GMLC Overdrive.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo meets Gone Girl in this enthralling murder mystery set in Kenya. After fleeing the Congo as refugees, Tina and her mother arrived in Kenya looking for a new life. After her mother's murder, Tina is recruited by a gang of orphans and street kids, to live in the shadows of Sangui City. While exacting revenge for her mother's death, Tina soon discovers that she may not have all the facts. For young adults and adults too.
When Japanese-American Claire Takata finds out that her deceased father was once a member of the yakuza, a Japanese crime syndicate, danger enters her life that could end up killing someone. A view into Japanese and Japanese-American culture that few see.
This trilogy set in a private school in Vermont features an eclectic mix of students, a diverse group of friends and a main character dealing with her very real mental health challenges. Taken together, thsee three books can be downed in one long gulp, like lemonade on a hot summer day. The best part--- all the murderous shenanigans and puzzles to be solved-- but no pesky parents around to interfere.
You might soon see Enola coming to a TV screen near you. Until then these books are the perfect riff off the age-old question—“What If?” Just suppose Sherlock Holmes had a little sister, she would be just like this: detail oriented, used to getting her own way and eager to solve whatever mystery presents itself. This strong, brave heroine holds her own in Victorian London.
Old letters in an attic and puzzles to be solved, this modern day Westing Game brings social injustice to the forefront in South Carolina. Candice and Brandon make quite the team as they work together to delve deeper into family secrets, not certain exactly what they might uncover. The juxtaposition between past and present is enough to keep readers up until the wee hours.
For those of you who love the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew, there’s a new crime-solving crew to try. Jupiter, Bob and Pete are three friends who work together solving mysteries in Rocky Beach, CA They have a secret headquarters underneath a junkyard and the use of a Rolls Royce to take them anywhere they need to go-- sometimes to visit the famous director, Alfred Hitchcock. There’s a cinematic feel to the series, but it’s the characters and their friendship that are most endearing.
Marigold, “Goldie” Vance is a biracial girl working as a valet her father’s hotel in Miami,Florida. (Though she’d much rather be searching for lost jewels and tracking down stolen rocket fuel.) This series has it all—a colorful backdrop, disguises, rivals, racecars being sabotaged and a mysterious disappearance. Never a dull moment for our Goldie. Modern day Scooby Doo meets Nancy Drew with a touch of Grease in graphic novel form. There are four volumes which would be the perfect accompaniment to a blissful afternoon outside on a picnic blanket.
Crime Noir for the first chapter crowd. Filled with old school Hollywood wordplay and a strong character voice, this series is perfect for the reader moving past Magic Treehouse. This book would also be a great family read-aloud, with cliff hangers throughout to keep the suspenseful plot building. And if you’re looking for another great audio with a distinctive character voice for your next car ride, give Hank the Cowdog a try.
What can’t Cynthia Rylant write? Lesser known than Henry & Mudge, Mr Putter & Tabby and Poppleton, this 8-part series features animal sleuths and best friends--- Bunny Brown and Jack Jones. No crime too big or small for this detective duo. There’s just enough intrigue to keep someone brand new to "Level 2 readers" laughing and turning the pages.
Would you like a little math with your mystery? Charlie is intent on solving the case of the missing slice as he tries to figure out how many people want certain toppings on their pizza. This picturebook might require a little extra thought about fraction and division-- you might deserve a slice of your own when you’re done.
How could a chapter from a book be missing?? It should be there, right between chapters 1 & 3. With tongue and cheek humor and a limited color palette that just adds to the charm, this illustrated work would make a great read-aloud. Perfect for those kids wanting to listen to a longer, more complex picturebook. If only they could all be this inventive and fun.
Hermelin the mouse discovers that size doesn’t matter, rather it’s paying attention and noticing things that can help make the best detectives. This book is filled with gorgeous artwork by Mini Grey, famed creator of Traction Man. She sneaks in tiny, little, interesting details for readers to test their own observational skills.