Welcome to Sharon's Top Mystery Reads of 2011, part two.
I've taken a tip from Margaret Cannon's list this year - I also have 11 top books.
Not all these books were published in 2011 - my only criteria is that I read them in 2011.
Download a printable copy of the entire list here.
Archer Mayor: Tag Man (2011)
American police procedural.
Book # 22 with Joe Gunther, the head of the new Vermont Bureau of Investigation.
Joe is still on leave after a tragedy in his personal life, but he takes on a low key case to pass the time. A thief has been breaking into local homes, taking nothing and leaving a note that says “Tag!”. Some of the book is from the thief’s point of view – a man with obsessive compulsive disorder who likes to break into people’s homes and snoop around. Everything becomes more series when a hitman targets the thief. Not enough of Joe in this one, but lots of great twists.
First book: Open Season
## Related post: MBTB mini-review of The Price of Malice # 20
* * *
Sara Paretsky: Body Work (2010)
Book # 15 with V.I. Warshawski in Chicago
The family of a troubled Iraq war vet hires V.I. to help prove he didn’t kill a woman, although he was found unconscious with the murder weapon in his hand.
This series always impresses me, wonderfully complex.
First book: Indemnity Only
## Related post: MBTB review of Hardball # 14
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Peter Robinson: Before the Poison (2011)
Non-series. Amateur Sleuth.
Chris, semi-retired from writing movie music, has bought an old mansion in Yorkshire. When Chris finds out that in the 1950s, a woman killed her husband in his house and was hanged for it, he becomes obsessed with the story. Just a bit of digging shows him that she may not have been guilty. Fragments of a book about the trial, and fragments of the woman’s war diary (she was a nurse in WW2) are interspersed in the narrative and work well.
This isn’t a genre mystery, but follows the steps of this amateur detective as he puts together what happened all those years before. Great for character and setting.
Peter Robinson is well-known for his acclaimed Inspector Alan Banks series.
* * *
C.J. Sansom: Heartstone (2010)
Historical, set in England in 1545.
Book # 5 with lawyer Matthew Shardlake.
King Henry VIII is now married to Catherine Parr. The Queen asks Matthew to secretly help her. Her loyal servant wants someone to look into her son’s death. To investigate this, Matthew travels to an estate near Portsmouth. He is close to the action when the English fleet gathers to repel the expected French naval attack near there.
Great stuff: complex plot, great characters. The writing makes the era come alive.
First book: Dissolution
## Related post: MBTB full review of Sovereign # 3
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Julia Spencer-Fleming: One was a Soldier (2011)
American police procedural/amateur detective.
Book # 7 with Clare Fergusson, an Episcopal priest in Millers Kill, New York and her love interest, police chief Russ Van Alstyne.
Clare has just returned from a year’s military service in Iraq and has joined a veterans support group. When one of the group, a young woman, is found dead, it could be suicide, but the group pushes for more investigation and even does some investigating themselves. The best part of this series is the characters’ lives, now including rookie police officer Hadley.
First book: In the Bleak Midwinter
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John Verdon: Shut Your Eyes Tight (2011)
Book # 2 with Dave Gurney, at 47 newly retired to upstate New York. Dave was a decorated homicide cop famous for solving several serial murderer cases.
The case of the beheaded bride: Dave is hired by the murdered bride’s mother after police fail to find the mysterious main murder suspect. The book is all from Dave’s point of view. Lots of action.
First book: Think of a Number
Sharon's Top Mystery Reads of 2011, part one
posted by Sharon
WHAT I'M READING NOW:
by Barbara Cleverly
Historical/British police procedural
Book # 9 with Commander Joe Sandilands, a Scotland Yard detective
Library Journal review: Joe Sandilands, on his return to London from India, is placed in charge of the Special Irish Branch of the Criminal Investigation Department. Mix in a suspicious Russian princess and let the drama begin. This is set in 1922, and there's plenty of room for intrigue.
First book: The Last Kashmiri Rose