Friday, December 21, 2012

Reading Lists - Move Over, Miss Marple

Lovers of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple character need look no further than this list of books containing cozy mysteries solved by other notable female sleuths:

 Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death
by M.C. Beaton
After selling her public relations firm in London, Agatha Raisin moves to the picturesque little village of Carsely.  Things heat up when she enters a store-bought quiche into  the town’s baking contest— and it poisons the judge!  Filled with embarrassment, Agatha resolves to prove she may be a cheat but she’s no murderer.

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
by Alan Bradley
Flavia de Luce, the heroine of this series set in England in the 1950s, is not your average crime-solver.  First off, she’s only eleven years old.  Yet her age is no handicap, and all she needs to get to the bottom of a mystery is her chemistry set and bicycle.  Cozy mystery fans will appreciate this clever variation on the genre.

A Nice Class of Corpse
by Simon Brett
Recently widowed Melita Pargeter arrives at the posh Devereux Hotel, a resort hotel for retirees, when one of the guests is murdered.  Utilizing some special talents picked up in her slightly dubious past, Mrs. Pargeter sets out to find the killer, at times contacting her deceased husband’s old 'business associates’ for information.    

Mrs. Jeffries Questions the Answer
by Emily Brightwell
Scotland Yard’s Inspector Weatherspoon is lauded for his impressive ability to crack even the toughest cases.  Little does the public know that it is his staff of servants, led by the brilliant Mrs. Jeffries, that solve all the mysteries.  When Hannah Cameron is found killed in her home, the police believe it to be the work of a burgler, but Mrs. Jeffries has her doubts.

Sold to Miss Seeton
by Hamilton Crane
Crane revives the beloved Miss Seeton character created by Heron Carvic in this humorous mystery.  Emily D. Seeton, retired art teacher, once again comes to the aid of Inspector Delphick of the Scotland Yard with her sketches of the suspects.  This time the action revolves around a mysterious antique box.

Murder on a Girls’ Night Out
by Anne George
Two southern sisters solve mysteries in this quirky and funny series by Anne George.  The Hollowell sisters are polar opposites— Patricia Anne, or ’Mouse,’ is subdued and refined, while Mary Alice, or ’Sister,’ is theatrical and unpolished.  In this novel, the two sisters search for the murderer of a country-western club owner.

Dead Man’s Island
by Carolyn G. Hart
Henrietta O’Dwyer Collins— or Henrie O. for short— is enjoying her retirement after a long career in journalism when an old flame, media tycoon Chase Prescott, asks her to investigate an attempt on his life.  She flies to his private island, where she must deduce who is trying to kill Prescott as a massive hurricane bears down upon them.

Mrs. Malory and the Only Good Lawyer
by Hazel Holt
The peaceful seaside village of Taviscombe is jolted by the murder of a visiting lawyer.  Luckily, the ever dependable Mrs. Malory takes an interest in the case and quickly uncovers a blackmail scheme and three possible suspects among the town’s citizens.  A delightfully pleasant entry in a charming series of cozy mysteries.

The Sunday Philosophy Club
by Alexander McCall Smith
This series mixes thought-provoking philosophical debate with genuinely entertaining mystery.  The sleuth at the center is Isabel Dalhousie, editor of the Review of Applied Ethics and president of the Sunday Philosophy Club.  McCall Smith rounds out each book with a memorable cast of side characters, including  Isabel’s niece, Cat, and her housekeeper, Grace.

The Body in the Belfry
 by Katherine Hall Page
Faith Fairchild, the minister’s wife, has recently moved from New York City to the small New England town of Aleford, where she is met with disapprobation by the townsfolk.  When she discovers the body of a pretty young woman in the belfry of the church, Faith decides to do some investigating despite the town’s opinion that she should mind her own business.    

Death at Bishop’s Keep
by Robin Paige
The first of Robin Paige’s Victorian mystery series introduces Kate Ardleigh and her partner, Sir Charles Sheridan.  Kate is an American author of penny dreadfuls— serialized murder stories— who moves to England to work for her aunt.  There she teams with Sir Charles, an amateur photographer, when a dead body mysteriously turns up at an archaeological excavation site.

The Hangman’s Row Enquiry
by Ann Purser
Feisty and peevish, Ivy Beasley is not of the ‘sweet little old lady’ school of sleuths.  She is, however, an excellent detective and a humorous and entertaining character, as shown in this enjoyable novel about a murder in the quaint English town of Barrington, home of Ivy’s assisted living community.

The Silent Pool         
by Patricia Wentworth
Miss Maud Silver, an elderly former governess with a penchant for knitting, is called to the country house of a famous stage actress to solve a murder.  As with other titles in the Miss Silver series, The Silent Pool has an amusing cast of characters, exciting mystery, and a dash of romance.