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Three Australian mystery series

corrisCorris, Peter
Sydney-based Cliff Hardy is Australia’s version of Philip Marlowe. Cliff is tough and street-smart but loyal to his ideals. Corris portrays Australians as tolerant, independent and resourceful, even his thugs seem thoughtful. But professional “crims” are bad, no matter what their nationality. The Dying Trade (Fawcett, 1986) is the first book in the series of forty novels. Gun Control (Allen & Unwin, 2013) is the most recent title. Corris has written other series, but this is his best known.

thrill cityRedhead, Leigh
Now here is something new: sexy Simone Kirsch is a stripper and a private eye. She wanted to be a cop, but they wouldn’t take her, so she studied to become a private detective. Now with her certificate as a licensed “inquiry agent” she can start building up a clientele, only stripping for start-up funds. These fast and funny crime novels are set in Melbourne, Australia. Simone is a match for even the most hard-boiled PIs. Thrill City (Allen & Unwin, 2013) is the fourth title in the series.

Greenwood, Kerry
Phryne (pronounced “fry knee”) Fisher, Australia’s inimitable flapper sleuth, is now well-known to American readers thanks to Poisoned Pen’s reprints of this charming cozy series.  Phryne is a fabulously wealthy and sophisticated, single woman.  Although she enjoys the high life and fashions of London in the late 1920s,  Phryne craves adventure and decides that “it might be rather amusing” to move to Australia and become a private detective. In spite of her upper class background Phryne never hesitates to delve into Melbourne’s lower depths with the help of some slightly disreputable fellows who become her assistants. Phryne’s adventures have been made into a TV series called Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries by the Australian Broadcasting Company.  At last count, thirty-four episodes are available on DVD and Netflix.  Murder and Mendelssohn (Poisoned Pen, 2014), book #20 in the series is Greenwood’s latest.

–posted 3/23/2015

Blind detectives

Reading Lynn Raimondo’ Dante’s Wood (Seventh Street Books, 2013) made me wonder how many blind detectives have been the stars of their own series of detective novels.  Raimondo’s character Mark Angelotti is a 47-year-old clinical psychiatrist who has been struck with late onset blindness of genetic origin.  His professional understanding of this kind of loss hasn’t seemed to help him personally.  We see him inching toward meaningful rehabilitation only after his boss forces him to return to work.  A mystery involving one of his clients helps brings back his confidence.  A second book, Dante’s Poison is due out in May 2014.

Jane A. Adams’ series about Naomi Blake is probably the most popular current series about a blind investigator. Naomi Blake served in the Midlands police department until an accident left her blind.  She has adapted so successfully that only the presence of her guide dog, Napoleon, betrays her blindness.  Number nine in the series is due out in June 2014.

1. Mourning the Little Dead (Severn, 2002)

2. Touching the Dark (Severn, 2003)

3. Heatwave (Severn, 2005)

4. Killing a Stranger (Severn, 2006)

5. Legacy of Lies (Severn, 2007)

6. Blood Ties (Severn, 2011)

7. Night Vision (Severn, 2012)

8. Secrets (Severn, 2013)

9. Gregory’s Game (Severn, 2014)

There are eleven books in Bruce Alexander series starring Sir John Fielding, founder of London’s first police force.  Sir John is a blind magistrate who relies on teen-aged orphan Jeremy Parker as his eyes, ears and legs.

1. Blind Justice (Putnam, 1994)

2. Murder in Grub Street (Putnam, 1995)

3. Watery Grave (Putnam, 1996)

4. Person or Persons Unknown (Putnam, 1997)

5. Jack, Knave and Fool (Putnam, 1998)

6. Death of a Colonial (Putnam, 1999)

7. Color of Death, The (Putnam, 2000)

8. Smuggler’s Moon (Putnam, 2001)

9. Experiment in Treason, An (Putnam, 2002)

10. Price of Murder, The (Putnam, 2003)

11. Rules of Engagement (Putnam, 2006)

Gerald Elias’ blind and crotchety sleuth is Daniel Jacobus, concert violinist and teacher who lives in rural New Hampshire.  Though all four of his books concern classical music and musicians, his plots will appeal to the general reader.

1. Devil’s Trill (Minotaur, 2009)

2. Danse Macabre (Minotaur, 2010)

3. Death and the Maiden (Minotaur, 2011)

4. Death and Transfiguration (Minotaur, 2012)

Caroline Roe’s detective is Isaac of Girona, a blind 14th century physician whose medical skills give him entree into the highest ranks of society.

1. Remedy for Treason (Berkley, 1998)

2. Cure for a Charlatan (Berkley, 1999)

3. An Antidote for Avarice (Berkley, 1999)

4. Solace for a Sinner (Berkley, 2000)

5. A Potion for a Widow (Berkley, 2001)

6. A Draught for a Dead Man (Berkley, 2002)

7. A Poultice for a Healer (Berkley, 2003)

8. Consolation for an Exile (Berkley, 2004)

–posted 2/18/2014

The new, improved Regencies

What’s the ton?  No, not a ton, as in a ton of coal. The ton (pronounced tawn) in Regency novels. Well, I finally looked it up. It means “high society.” The phrase comes from the French “Beau Monde” (pronounced bow mawnd) meaning “beautiful world”, understood to be the fashionable world, polite society, people with upper class manners, i.e. high society.

Wikipedia states that a directory entitled The Upper Ten Thousand was published in England in 1875. It included members of the aristocracy, the gentry, officers in the British Army and Navy, members of Parliament, Colonial administrators, and members of the Church of England. Apparently there were lots of such lists, but Debrett’s Peerage (1802) and Burke’s Landed Gentry (1838) gained wide acceptance and are still published today.

Debrett’s has devolved into a Who’s Who and etiquette guide and has published books titled: Debrett’s Guide to Entertaining Etiquette, A to Z of Modern Manners and Debrett’s Guide to Civilised Separation.

Burke’s Landed Gentry is available online to paid subscribers.

Now that you know all this, here is a list of some of the newer Regency authors you might try.  Be careful, however, some of these are genre-benders that lean decidedly into the hot romance category.  Move over Georgette Heyer, Marion Chesney and Patricia Veryan.

1.  Johanna Lindsey has written forty-three novels to date.  Though she has been concentrating on contemporary romance recently, her eleven novel Regency series about the Mallory family is still the popular favorite.

2.  Stephanie Laurens has written fifty-three Regency romances and shows no sign of slowing down.  Her books can be sorted into four different series with some overlap and some stand-alones.

3.  Mary Balogh has written over 60 Regencies.  Her characters tend to move from book to book, defying the structure of a series.  They are included in eSequels because they are “almost” sequels and for authors this popular. we tend stretch the definition a bit.

4.  Liz Carlyle has written over 20 Regency romances which fall into at least four family groupings, though there is some overlap.  Carlyle’s Regencies include a touch of mystery and a Scotland Yard inspector, Max de Rohan appears in some of them.

–posted 2/13/2014

Danish mystery series

Smilla’s Sense of Snow by Peter Hoag (Farrar, 1993) was a sensation when it was published in the U.S.  Its strong female protagonist, Smilla Jaspersen–half Danish, half Greenlander—charmed readers.  It was most likely the first Danish mystery that Americans read.  Unfortunately Hoag never wrote a sequel.  But several new mystery series by Danish authors have begun to appear lately.  Here are a few.

Adler-Olsen, Jussi

Detective Carl Mørck works in Department Q, the basement room where very cold cases come to rest.  Mørck had been one of Copenhagen’s best detectives until a bullet nearly killed him in a shooting that took the life of his two colleagues.  Now he and the others who eventually come to assist him patter about in his basement office and lead a quiet life.  But when a case captures his interest, Mørck can be surprisingly effective.  The odd characters and sometimes hilarious dialog make these lighter, but no less suspenseful than the typical dour Scandinavian crime novel.  The Carl Mørck series began in 2007.  Best-selling Adler-Olsen won the prestigious Glass Key award in 2010.  The Alphabet House (Dutton, 2015) is a stand-alone WW I thriller.

1.  The Keeper of Lost Causes (2011).  (British title: Mercy)

2. The Absent One (2012)  (British title:  Disgrace)

3.  A Conspiracy of Faith (2013)

4.  The Purity of Vengeance (2013)

5.  The Marco Effect (2014)

Blædel, Sara

Sara Blaedel worked as a journalist and television producer before founding the first dedicated crime fiction publishing house (called Sara B) in Denmark. This inspired her to start writing her own series of detective novels, which regularly hit the top of the Danish bestseller lists.  Her series features Detective Louise Rick of the Copenhagen Police Department.  She works on homicides and has had special FBI training.  She lives alone, but is quite close to her journalist friend Camilla Lind and often babysits for Camilla’s young son.  The first novel in the series, Green Dust, has not been translated into English.  So technically the titles below are numbers 2, 3, 4 and 5 in Danish.  Apparently there are several later titles that have not yet been translated into English.

1.  Call Me Princess (US 2011)

2.  Only One Life (US 2012)

3.  Farewell to Freedom (US 2012)

4.  The Forgotten Girls   (US 2015)

Egholm, Elsebeth

After a career as a pianist and piano instructor Egholm published her first novel in 1999 and in 2002 began the series featuring Benedicte Svendsen, a journalist sleuth.  Unfortunately none of the six books in the series has been translated into English.  Three Dog Night, published in 2013,  is available in paperback from Headline and as a Kindle ebook) is the first volume in a new series that stars Benedicte Svendsen’s adopted son, Peter Boutrup.

Kaaberbol, Lene and Agnete Friis

Lene Kaaberbøl and Agnete Friis are the newcomers to the Danish mystery scene.  Friis is a journalist by training, while Kaaberbøl has been a professional writer since the age of 15.  Both authors have written books for children.   The Boy in the Suitcase (Soho, 2011) introduced series character Nina Borg, a nurse who works for the Danish Red Cross in Copenhagen.  Her first case is a dark thriller that became a best-seller in the U. S.  The second book didn’t fare as well, but many readers will welcome more novels starring the engaging Nina.

1.  The Boy in the Suitcase (2011)

2.  Invisible Murders (2012)

3.  Death of a Nightingale (2013)

–post revised  3/22/2015


Finnish Mystery Series seems to have a rich history of crime novels, including  Mika Waltari’s curmudgeonly Inspector Palmu of the Helsinki police who made his first appearance in 1939.  The books were made into popular films in the 1960s. Kirsti Porras, Finland’s first female author of detective novels, wrote three books in the 1940’s featuring Helsinki Inspector Kanerva.   Marton Taiga was a prolific author of police procedurals starring the very fat but wily police Inspector W.J. Kairala, popular in the 1930s and 40s.  But very few modern Finnish mysteries have been translated into English, perhaps they are too bleak for American tastes.   Here is a sampling of what is available.

Joensuu, Matti

Matti Joensuu, until recently a criminal investigator in the Helsinki Police Department, started writing crime fiction because it helped him process the sad and terrible crimes he has seen in the line of duty.  He has extraordinary insight into the lives of ordinary people and how easily they may fall into crime.  So far he has written ten novels starring Detective Sergeant Timo Harjunpää of Helsinki’s Violent Crimes unit.  Harjunpaa’s fatalism seems even deeper than Kurt Wallander’s.  The criminals Harjunpaa pursues reflect the callousness of society and the resulting apathy that seems to afflict so many lives.  Only three novels have been translated into English

1.  Stone Murders (St. Martin’s, 1987)

2.  The Priest of Evil (Arcadia, 2006)

3.  To Steal her Love (Eurocrime, 2008)

Lehtolainen, Leena

Leena Lehtolainen started writing novels when she was ten years old and has now become one of the best-selling novelists in Finland, having twice won the Finnish crime novel society yearly prize. She is best-known for her crime series featuring red-headed Maria Kallio, of the Helsinki police. There are ten books in the series, though only four have been translated into English. By the second novel in the series Maria has left Helsinki and gotten a law degree, but she is still an investigator at heart.  Later books in the series will show Maria getting married, having children and balancing work and family with ease.  Maria is refreshingly upbeat, not weary and depressed like so many of her male counterparts.

1.  My First Murder, (Amazon Crossing, 2012)

2.  Her Enemy (Amazon Crossing, 2013)

3.  Copper Heart (AmazonCrossing, 2014)

4.  Snow Woman (AmazonCrossing, 2014)

Nykanen, Harri

Finnish author Harri Nykanen has written nearly 30 books, including two series. He won the Finnish crime novel society’s yearly prize in 1990 and 2001.  Nykanen’s series about an underworld hitman named Raid was a hit in Finland and was made into a successful 12-episode TV series which has been shown in parts of the U.S.   Raid gets into all sorts of scrapes that bedevil Detective Lieutenant Jansson of the Helsinki police force. Carl Hiaasen fans will enjoy these books.  Only two of the Raid series are available in the U. S.

1.  Raid and the Blackest Sheep (Ice Cold Crime, 2010)

2.  Raid and the Kid (Ice Cold Crime, 2012)

Nykanen’s second series stars  the eccentric Inspector Ariel Kafka of Helsinki’s Violent Crime Unit.  Kafka is one of only two Jewish policemen in the country.

1.  Nights of Awe (Bitter Lemon, 2012)

2.  Behind God’s Back (Bitter Lemon, 2015)

Sariola, Mauri

In addition to writing more than 100 books, Sariola translated a dozen English-language authors, including Erle Stanley Gardner.  He achieved popular success with two crime series:  the Inspector Susikoski books and the Inspector Wolf Rapids series which were made into a Finnish television series.  Sariola won international recognition with The Helsinki Affair, which was translated into many languages, including English.  Of the four subsequent novels featuring young lawyer Matti Viima, only the Torvick Affair was published in the U.S.  Sariola’s good eye for detail makes his books an interesting chronicle of life in Finland from the 1950s to mid-1980s.  He also wrote books under the pseudonym of Esko Laukko.  He died in 1985.

1.  The Helsinki Affair (Walker, 1971)

2.  The Torvick Affair (Walker, 1972)

Sipila, Jarkko

Finnish reporter and crime novelist Jarkko Sipila, has written nine Helsinki Homicide novels featuring Lieutenant Detective Kari Takamaki, the head of the Helsinki Police Violent Crimes Unit. Takamaki is refreshingly different from most Nordic policemen, he is a good husband and father, he’s not an alcoholic and he gets along with his colleagues and superiors. Another prominent character is Suhonen, who does most of the undercover work. Sipila’s police procedurals, which he has adapted for TV, take readers into a world of organized crime, gangs and corrupt officials. So far only five books in the series have been translated into English.

1.  Against the Wall (Ice Cold Crime, 2009)

2.  Vengeance (Ice Cold Crime, 2010)

3.  Nothing But the Truth (Ice Cold Crime, 2011)

4.  Cold Trail (Ice Cold Crime, 2013)

5.  Darling (Ice Cold Crime, 2014)

Christmas on Duty (2013) is a short story only available on Kindle.

Thompson,  James

Thompson (d. 2014) was an American who lived in Helsinki.  His protagonist Kari Vaara, is a hardened Helsinki police detective, trying to navigate honorably through the pervasive corruption of the country and the police force.  The first book in the series, Snow Angels, was nominated for both an Edgar and an Anthony award.  Later in the series we see Vaari’s health threatened by a brain tumor and his wife succumbing to alcoholism.   This is undoubtedly one of the darkest Scandinavian crime series, but it is well written and very moving.

1.  Snow Angels (Berkley, 2010)

2.  Lucifer’s Tears (Putnam, 2011)

3.  Helsinki White (Putnam, 2012)

4.  Helsinki Blood (Putnam, 2013)

Helsinki Noir (Akashik, 2014) is a collection, edited by Thompson, of short stories, mostly about crime in Helsinki.

Wagner, Jan Costin

When we first meet him, Finnish police detective Kimmo Joentaa, is dazed with grief. He has just nursed his beautiful young wife through her decline and death from cancer. Though he should be on leave, he insists on going back to work in order to bring some semblance of meaning back to his life. He throws himself into a strange serial murder case and in the process comes to terms with his loss. Wagner’s touching and insightful portrait of this policeman doing his job under extreme emotional tension is memorable.

1.  Ice Moon (Houghton Mifflin, 2007)

2.  Silence (Pegasus, 2011)

3.  The Winter of the Lions ( Harvill Secker, 2011)

4.  Light in a Dark House (Random House UK, 2014)

–revised 4/6/2015

Cat mystery series

It’s hard to keep track of this burgeoning sub-genre.  Especially when authors seem determined to confuse us.   Susan Conant , top dog of the dog mystery set,  has written a cat mystery:  Scratch the Surface (2005).  And Rita Mae Brown, queen of the cat mysteries, has written two dog mysteries:  A Nose for Justice (2010) and Murder Unleashed (2011).

As you might expect, the paranormal is sneaking into cat mysteries—see below Sophie Kelly’s super cats Owen and Hercules.  Though there are many individual books that feature interesting cats (such as Andre Norton’s Derelict for Trade about a spaceship inhabited only by two cats and Christina Skye’s romances set at Draycott Abbey haunted by a ghost cat named Gideon), we’ll save those for another day.  This list is limited to mystery series.

Please note:  it is a fine line, to be sure, between cat mysteries–in which the cats narrate or play a major role–and mysteries in which the main character owns a cat or two.  Krista Davis’ “Domestic Diva Mysteries” stars Sophie Winston who has a cat named Mochie  and Tim Myers’ “Slow Cooker Mysteries” star Sarah Jacobs who has a cat named Cleo, but they are not cat mysteries—at least not in my book.

So I present, with some trepidation, my list.  If you spot any cat mystery series that I’ve missed, please email me at

1.  Adamson, Lydia (pseud. of Frank King)

Alice Nestleton is a not-too-successful New York actress who cat-sits for extra cash and love of the animals.  Alice’s cat-sitting often involves her in someone’s murder, and she has become a redoubtable amateur detective, sometimes aided by boyfriend Tony Basilio and down-at-the-heels mystery writer Sam Tully

1.  A Cat in the Manger (1990)

2.  A Cat of a Different Color (1990)

3.  A Cat in Wolf’s Clothing  (1991)

4.  A Cat by Any Other Name  (1992)

5.  A Cat in the Wings (1992)

6.  A Cat with a Fiddle  (1993)

7. A Cat in a Glass House  (1993)

8.  A Cat with No Regrets  (1994)

9.  A Cat on the Cutting Edge  (1994)

10.  A Cat on a Winning Streak  (1995)

11.  A Cat in Fine Style  (1995)

12.  A Cat in a Chorus Line  (1996)

13.  A Cat under the Mistletoe  (1996)

14.  A Cat on a Beach Blanket  (1997)

15.  A  Cat on Jingle Bell Rock  (1997)

16.  A Cat on Stage Left  (1998)

17.  A Cat of One’s Own  (1999)

18.  A Cat with the Blues  (2000)

19.  A Cat with No Clue  (2001)

20.  A Cat Named Brat  (2002)

21.  A Cat on the Bus  (2002)

2.  Allen, Garrison

Allen’s cat is named Mycroft (after Sherlock Holmes’s brother), aka “Big Mike”, who works with his “owner,” Penelope Warren, to solve crimes in the town of Empty Creek, Arizona.  Big Mike is a 25-pound Abyssinian with a Morris-the-Cat attitude.  Penelope is a beautiful, smart, former U.S. Marine turned mystery-bookstore owner.  Empty Creek is a town full of zany, libidinous characters.

1.  Desert Cat (1994)

2.  Royal Cat (1995)

3.  Stable Cat (1996)

4.  Baseball Cat (1997)

5.  Dinosaur Cat (1998)

6.  Movie Cat (1999)

3.  Babson, Marian  (pseud. of Ruth Stenstreem)

Marian Babson is so well-known for her cozy cat mysteries that it is surprising to realize that few of them are actually series novels.  Her first book Cover-up Story starred Doug Perkins and Gerry Tate, partners in a British public relations firm, and Pandora, Doug’s cat. Three further novels starred Perkins, Tate and Pandora.   After that, Babson mostly wrote stand-alone mysteries featuring cats.  One exception is the 6 volume series starring Trixie Dolan and Evangeline Sinclair, aging actresses and bumbling amateur detectives.  Aside from these, a reader can pick up almost any Babson with assurance: it is sure to contain a genteel crime, a mildly puzzling mystery and a cat (nine times out of ten).  The Perkins and Tate books are:

1.  Cover-up Story.   (1989)

2.  Murder at the Cat Show (1989)

3.  Tourists Are for Trapping (1989)

4.  In the Teeth of Adversity (1990)

The Trixie and Evangeline books are:

1. Reel Murder (1987)

2. Encore Murder (1990)

3. Shadows in Their Blood (1993)

4. Even Yuppies Die (1993)

5. Break a Leg, Darlings (1997)

6.The  Cat Who Wasn’t a Dog  (2003)

7. No Cooperation from the Cat (2012)

4.  Baxter, Cynthia

Baxter’s “Reigning Cats and Dogs” mystery series stars Long Island veterinarian Jessica Popper and her sometime boyfriend, Private Eye I Nick Burby.  Jessica has two dogs: Max, the tailless Westie, and Lou, the one-eyed Dalmation.   Not strictly cat mysteries, this series will appeal to dog and horse lovers as well.

1.  Dead Canaries Don’t Sing (2004)

2.  Putting on the Dog (2004)

3.  Lead a Horse to Murder (2005)

4.  Hare Today, Dead Tomorrow (2006)

5.  Right from the Gecko (2007)

6.  Who’s Kitten Who? (2007)

5.  Braun, Lillian Jackson

Braun published three “Cat Who…” novels in the 1960s, then spent eighteen years pursuing  a career as editor and writer with the Detroit Free Press.  Since her return to mystery writing  in 1986, she has averaged more than one book a year until her death in 2011.  Series protagonist  Jim Qwilleran (“Quill”) is a journalist with a specialty in crime reporting.  His psychic Siamese cat Koko and Yum-Yum, a second Siamese who arrives later in the series, help Quill solve mysteries.

1.  The Cat Who Could Read Backwards  (1966)

2.  The Cat Who Ate Danish Modern (1967)

3.  The Cat Who Turned On and Off  (1968)

4.  The Cat Who Saw Red (1986)

5.  The Cat Who Played Brahms  (1987)

6.  The Cat Who Played Post Office (1987)

7.  The Cat Who Knew Shakespeare  (1988)

8.  The Cat Who Sniffed Glue  (1988)

9.  The Cat Who Went Underground (1989)

10.  The Cat Who Talked to Ghosts  (1990)

11.  The Cat Who Lived High  (1990)

12.  The Cat Who Knew a Cardinal  (1991)

13.  The Cat Who Moved a Mountain (1992)

14.  The Cat Who Wasn’t There  (1992)

15.  The Cat Who Went Into the Closet  (1993)

16.  The Cat Who Came to Breakfast  (1994)

17.  The Cat Who Blew the Whistle (1995)

18.  The Cat Who Said Cheese (1996)

19.  The Cat Who Tailed a Thief  (1997)

20.  The Cat Who Sang for the Birds (1998)

21.  The Cat Who Saw Stars  (1999)

22.  The Cat Who Robbed a Bank  (2000)

23.  The Cat Who Smelled a Rat  (2001)

24.  The Cat Who Went up the Creek  (2001)

25.  The Cat Who Brought Down the House  ( 2003)

26.  The Cat Who Talked Turkey  (2004)

27.  The Cat Who Went Bananas  (2005)

28.  The Cat Who Dropped a Bombshell  (2006)

29.  The Cat Who Had 60 Whiskers (2007)

6.  Brandon, Ali

Ali Brandon’s “Black Cat Bookshop” series is perhaps the newest entry into the cat mystery scene.  Darla Pettistone, a freckled 35-year old Texan, inherits her great-aunt Dee’s Pettistone’s Fine Book store in Brooklyn.  With it comes Hamlet, an ill-humored black cat the “size of a cocker spaniel”.  Darla is dubious about the cat, and Hamlet is determined to be unfriendly.  But gradually they accept each other and work together to solve crimes.  Hamlet communicates by knocking down books with significant titles. In the first book, Darla is hosting a book-signing by a popular young adult novelist.  In the second, she and Hamlet investigate the death of a neighbor.   Brandon also writes her Leonardo da Vinci mysteries  under her own name, Diane A.S. Stuckart.

1.  Double Booked for Death (2011)

2.  A Novel Way To Die  (2012)

7.  Brown, Rita Mae

Rita Mae Brown and her tiger cat Sneaky Pie are the co-authors of this series.   It stars Mrs. Murphy, a gray tiger cat who helps her “human” Mary Minor Harristeen solve mysteries. “Harry” is the postmistress of the little town of Crozet, Virginia.  The series features other animals– fat cat Pewter Shiflett and Tee Tucker, the Corgi—who comment sardonically on the crazy behavior of humans.

1.  Wish You Were Here (1990)

2.  Rest in Pieces (1992)

3.  Murder at Monticello (1994)

4.  Pay Dirt (1995)

5.  Murder, She Meowed  (1996)

6.  Murder on the Prowl  (1998)

7.  Cat on the Scent  (1999)

8.  Pawing Through the Past (2000)

9.  Claws and Effects (2001)

10.  Catch as Cat Can (2002)

11.  The Tail of the Tip-Off   (2003)

12.  Whisker of Evil (2004)

13.  Cat’s Eyewitness (2005)

14.  Sour Puss (2006)

15.  Puss ‘n Cahoots (2007)

16.  The Purrfect Murder (2008)

17.  Santa Clawed  (2008)

18.  Cat of the Century  (2010)

19.  Hiss of Death  (2011)

20.  The Big Cat Nap (2012)

21.  Sneaky Pie for President  (2012)

22. The Litter of the Law (2013)

8.  Clement, Blaize

Clement’s amiable heroine is Dixie Hemingway of Sarasota Florida.  She has taken a leave of absence from her sheriff’s deputy job and becomes a pet-sitter to make ends meet.  Dixie lives next door to her protective older brother Michael who is a fireman and an excellent cook.  Romantic interest is provided by Lieutenant Guidry from Sarasota’s homicide division and local lawyer Ethan Crane.  Author Blaize Clement died in 2011.  Her son John has contracted to write more books in the series.  Like Baxter’s books, these are not exclusively about cats—some dogs, rabbits and iguanas turn up.

1. Curiosity Killed the Cat Sitter (2006)

2. Duplicity Dogged the Dachshund (2007)

3. Even Cat Sitters Get the Blues (2008)

4. Cat Sitter on a Hot Tin Roof (2009)

5. Raining Cat Sitters and Dogs (2010)

6. Cat Sitter Among the Pigeons  (2011)

7. The Cat Sitter’s Pajamas (2012)

9.  Douglas, Carole Nelson

The versatile Douglas is the author of two other series, but she is best-known for her Midnight Louie series.   Louie, self-described “coolest cat” in Las Vegas, relates the mysteries that he and his  “doting roommate”  Temple Barr solve.   Temple is a free-lance public relations specialist,a  liberated woman who has off-and-on affairs with magician Max Kinsella and a former priest turned radio pop-psychologist.   Louie starts off as an unregenerate macho tomcat, but eventually submits to a vasectomy in order to improve his image as a spokesperson for a family oriented cat food company.

1. Catnap (Tor, 1992)

2. Pussyfoot (Tor, 1993)

3. Cat on a Blue Monday (Forge, 1994)

4. Cat in a Crimson Haze (Forge, 1995)

5. Cat in a Diamond Dazzle (Forge, 1996)

6. Cat with an Emerald Eye (Forge, 1996)

7. Cat in a Flamingo Fedora (Forge, 1997)

8. Cat in a Golden Garland (Forge, 1997)

9. Cat on a Hyacinth Hunt (Forge, 1998)

10. Cat in an Indigo Mood (Forge, 1999)

11. Cat in a Jeweled Jumpsuit (Forge, 1999)

12. Cat in a Kiwi Con (Forge, 2000)

13. Cat in a Leopard Spot (Forge, 2001)

14. Cat in a Midnight Choir (Forge, 2002)

15. Cat in a Neon Nightmare (Forge, 2003)

16. Cat in an Orange Twist (Forge, 2004)

17. Cat in a Hot Pink Pursuit (Forge, 2005)

18. Cat in a Quicksilver Caper (Forge, 2006)

19. Cat in a Red Hot Rage (Forge, 2007)

20. Cat in a Sapphire Slipper (Forge, 2008)

21. Cat in a Topaz Tango (Forge, 2009)

22. Cat in an Ultramarine Scheme (Forge, 2010)

23. Cat in a Vegas Gold Vendetta (Forge, 2011)

24. Cat in a White Tie and Tails (Forge, 2012)

10.  Hill, Suzette A.

This British series may interest readers.   Reverend Francis Oughterard is canon of St. Botolph’s church in Molehill, Surrey in the 1950s.  His cat Maurice, and his dog Bouncer share the narrating duties in a series of droll mysteries.  All the characters speak like Jeeves the butler (see P. G. Woodhouse).  The dry humor and leisurely narrative will delight Anglophiles.  Francis, who wants an easy life and a bit of peace and quiet, finds nothing but trouble, as he gets involved in a murder and its coverup and has to deal with predatory ladies, officious policemen, eccentric clerics, nasty parishioners, and conman Nicholas Ingaza, a disgraced seminarian turned shady art dealer. Maurice and Bouncer do their best to help Francis. Their sardonic comments add to the humor–they refer to Ingaza as the “Brighton Type”. Suzette Hill taught English literature for many years at Reading College (U.K.) before retiring.

1.  A Load of Old Bones  (2007)

2.  Bones in the Belfry (2008)

3.  Bone Idle (2009)

4.  Bones in High Places (2010)

5.  A Bedlam of Bones(2011)

11.  James, Miranda  (pseud. of Dean James)

James’ “Cat in the Stacks” series features recently widowed librarian Charlie Harris and his Maine Coon Cat, Diesel, whom he walks on a leash.  Charlie and Diesel  have returned  to Charlie’s hometown of Athena, Mississippi, where Charlie gets a job in the Archive Department of the college library.  They live and take college students as boarders  in a big house that Charlie’s aunt has left him.

1.  Murder Past Due (2010)

2.  Classified As Murder (2011)

3.  File M for Murder (2012)

13.  Kelly, Sofie   (pseud. of Darlene Ryan)

12.  Kelly, Sofie   (pseud. of Darlene Ryan)

Kathleen Paulson leaves Boston to become a librarian in Mayville, Minnesota, where she is adopted by two very special cats:  Owen can become invisible and Hercules can walk through walls.   These useful talents serve Kathleen well when she takes up amateur sleuthing.  Not all readers will accept the paranormal in their cat mysteries.  But for those who do, Kelly’s books are diverting.

1.  Curiosity Thrilled the Cat (2011)

2.  Sleight of Paw (Signet, 2011)

3.  Copycat Killing (Signet, 2012)

13.  Marshall, Evan

The “Jane Stuart and Winky” mystery novels feature literary agent Jane Stuart of Shady Hills, New Jersey and her cat Winky.  Jane, sometimes accompanied by Winky, does most of the sleuthing in this cozy series.   Evan Marshall, founder and president of the Evan Marshall Agency, a literary agency that represents fiction writers, is the author of several non-fiction books on the writing and publishing of novels.

1.  Missing Marlene (1999)

2.  Hanging Hannah (2000)

3.  Stabbing Stephanie (2001)

4.  Icing Ivy (2002)

5.  Toasting Tina (2003)

6.  Crushing Crystal (2004)

14.  Morris, Gilbert

”Jacques & Cleo, Cat Detectives” stars a half-wild Savannah cat named Jacques and a long-haired Ragdoll cat named Cleo.  They have moved with their “persons” to a large house in the town of White Sands on Alabama’s Gulf Coast.   The house has been inherited by Kate Forrest, a young widow, and her 12-year-old son Jeremy on the condition that they share the house with Jake Novak, an ex-soldier, ex-policeman and aspiring writer.  Morris has written numerous Christian historical series and his cat mysteries bear a definite religious imprint.

1.  What the Cat Dragged In  (2007)

2.  The Cat’s Pajamas  (2007)

3.  When the Cat’s Away (2007)

15.  Murphy, Shirley Rousseau

Joe Grey is the feline hero of this mystery series.   Joe is a large gray cat who can understand, speak, and read human language and can feel human emotions such as guilt and sympathy.  With the aid of Joe’s human companion, auto mechanic Clyde Damen, and cats named Dulcy and Kit, he investigates homicides and other crimes in the seaside town of Molena Point, California. In addition to the titles listed below, Rousseau has written The Catsworld Portal (1993), which is is a stand-alone fantasy novel featuring intelligent cats.

1.  Cat on the Edge (1996)

2.  Cat Under Fire (1997)

3.  Cat Raise the Dead (1998)

4.  Cat in the Dark (1999)

5.  Cat to the Dogs (2000)

6.  Cat Spitting Mad (2001)

7.  Cat Laughing Last (2002)

8.  Cat Seeing Double ( 2003)

9.  Cat Fear No Evil (2004)

10.  Cat Cross Their Graves (2005)

11.  Cat Breaking Free (2005)

12.  Cat Pay the Devil (2007)

13.  Cat Decks the Hall  (2007)

14.  Cat Playing Cupid (2009)

15.  Cat Striking Back (2009)

16.  Cat Coming Home (2010)

17.  Cat Telling Tales (2011)

18.  Cat Bearing Gifts (2012)

16.  Simon, Clea

Simon has written three series involving cats which may be of interest.  Protagonist of the first series is Theda Krakow, a freelance music journalist who gets involved in a series of mysteries involving music and/or cats.  Cat-lover Theda does have a boyfriend, retired policeman Bill, but her relationship with her beloved cat Musetta seems to be more satisfying.

1.  Mew Is for Murder (2005)

2.  Cattery Row (2006)

3.  Cries and Whiskers (2007)

4.  Probable Claws (2009)

Simon’s second cat mystery series features Dulcie Schwartz, Harvard graduate student, and the ghost of her late cat, Mr. Grey, who turns up when needed if Dulcie is in trouble or in danger.

1.  Shades of Grey (2009)

2.  Grey Matters (2010)

3.  Grey Zone (2011)

4.  Grey Expectations (2012)

Books about animal psychic Pru Marlowe investigates cases in which pets are suspected of killing their owners.   Pru’s crotchety but trusty tabby Wallis helps her.

1.  Dogs Don’t Lie (2011)

2.  Cats Can’t Shoot (2012)

17.  Stewart, Fran

Biscuit McKee, a widow with three grown children, takes on the job of organizing a library in the Victorian mansion full of books that has been donated to the small town Martinsville, Georgia.   Fortunately Marmalade, an orange and white cat, turns up to assume the important job of mouse patrol.   Things go smoothly until a dead body is found in the library.  Marmalade finds it first, as she tells us in the first chapter.  Biscuit continues the narrative when she opens the library and finds an untidy body hanging sideways over the staircase with a knife stuck in his stomach and ”his left arm pointing off toward Biographies.”  The second book in the series won Ms Stewart the “Georgia Author of the Year” for Independent fiction.

1.  Orange as Marmalade (2003)

2.  Yellow as Legal Pads (2004)

3.  Green as a Garden Hose (2005)

4.  Blue as Blue Jeans (2007)

5.  Indigo as an Iris (2008)

6.  Violet as an Amethyst (2011)

18.  Sweeney, Leann

Sweeney’s  “Cats in Trouble” series stars Jillian Hart, owner of  a cat-quilting business in a small town in South Carolina.  Her three cats are Syrah, Chablis, and Merlot.  In  Jillian’s first case, she is investigating a cat-napping.  So far there are four titles in the series, with another coming in May 2013.

1.  The Cat, the Quilt and the Corpse (2009)

2.  The Cat, the Professor and the Poison  (2010)

3.  The Cat, the Lady and the Liar  (2011

4.  The Cat, the Wife and the Weapon  (2012)

–posted by Janet Husband, 11/6/2012

Clerical women sleuths in series

There is an amazing range of variety and tone among mystery series starring female clerics.  From Reverend Lily Connor’s meditative style to Deaconess Theodora Braithwaite’s comic irreverence.  From Reverend Clare Fergusson’s brisk manner, ingrained as a former Army pilot, to Reverend Merrily Watkins paranormal talents which come in handy for exorcisms.  The nine series below run the gamut.

Note:  This list includes women priests and ministers in series mysteries.  Next up will be a list of series featuring nuns as detectives.

1.  Blake, Michelle                Rev. Lily Connor

A Tentmaker is “an ordained priest who works at a trade outside the church, sometimes serving as interim priest for parishes in search of full-time rectors.” Lily Connor is a 36-year-old Texan who feels a strong calling to do this kind of work.  When we first meet Lily in The Tentmaker (Berkley, 1999), she has been posted to St. Mary of the Garden, a posh Episcopal church in Boston that has just lost its long-time rector.  Neither the parishioners nor Lily are comfortable with her appointment as interim priest. But after certain curious events, Lily comes to believe that something more profound than her iconoclastic manner is disturbing her flock.  She turns to Charlie Cooper, a friend from her seminary days, and now an Episcopal monk for help with the problems of this troubled congregation. For thoughtful mystery readers who enjoy complex characters in a sophisticated religious context. There are only three books in this series.

1.  The Tentmaker (1999)

2.  Earth Has No Sorrow (2001)

3.  The Book of Light (2003)

2.  Charles, Kate               Rev. Callie Anson

Cincinnati-born Charles confesses to being a lifelong Anglophile, so much so that she moved permanently to England and took a position with a Church of England parish. Unfortunately her first novel in the Book of Psalms series (so called because each chapter begins with a quotation from Psalms) so unsettled the Anglican powers that she was dismissed from her job. Undaunted, Charles began the Callie Anson series in 2005 with Evil Intent (Poisoned Pen).  Callie is a newly ordained Anglican minister appointed as curate to the Reverend Brian Stanford at All Saints’ Church in Paddington, London.  There are only three books in the Callie Anson series. Kate Charles is the pseudonym of Carol Chase.

1.  Evil Intent (2005)

2.  Secret Sins (2007)

3.  Deep Waters (2009)

3.  Greenwood, D(iane) M.       Rev. Theodora Braithwaite

A deaconess is almost a priest in the Anglican church, i.e., just one step away, so I’ve decided to include these ecclesiastical mysteries. They may be an acquired taste, but they are very well-written, droll and amusing. When we first meet Deaconess Theodora Braithwaite in Clerical Errors (Ostara, 2009) she is in her mid-thirties, serving as the administrator of Medewich Cathedral, which is ruled by power-hungry Canon Charles Wheeler.  D(iane) M. Greenwood took a first degree in classics at Oxford, then, as a mature student, a second degree in theology at London University. She taught at various schools before working as the director of education for the diocese of Rochester. Now retired, she lives in Greenwich. She has written nine Theodora Braithwaite novels between 1991 and 1999, only four of which have been issued recently in the US.  Theodora apparently shares author Greenwood’s clear-eyed and rather critical view of the church bureaucracy.  Theodora is “the product of eight generations of Anglican priests” and she has seen enough senior clergy to know that “they were men whose talents entitled them to be humble”.  Are there any Trollope fans out there?

1.  Clerical Errors (2009)

2.  Unholy Ghosts by (2009)

3.  Idol Bones by (2009)

4.  Holy Terrors by (2012)

5.  Every Deadly Sin (UK: 1995)

6.  Mortal Spoils (UK: 1996)

7.  Heavenly Vices (UK: 1997)

8.  A Grave Disturbance (UK: 1998)

9.  Foolish Ways (UK:  1999)

4.  Holland, Isabelle        Rev. Claire Aldington

Isabelle Holland (1920-2002), a prolific American author, wrote over fifty books in her lifetime.  Her suspense novels were quite popular in the 70’s:  many will remember The DeMaury Papers (1977) and The Marchington Inheritance (1979).  She was equally adept at writing adult and young adult fiction, mysteries, romance and children’s books.  Many of her young adult titles tackle serious subjects such as rape and death. Her best-known book is the controversial novel The Man Without a Face (1972) about a boy’s relationship with a disfigured homosexual recluse, which was made into a movie by Mel Gibson in 1993.  In 1984, she created her series protagonist:  Episcopalian priest Claire Aldington, whose first case was A Death at St. Anselm’s. As happens with many beginning amateur sleuths, Claire is the prime suspect when the miserly church treasurer is murdered and she must find the real killer to prove her own innocence.  St. Anselm’s is an upscale church in Manhattan where Claire is the pastoral counselor.  She is recently widowed with a troubled daughter.  Isabelle Holland graduated from Tulane University in 1942 and worked in publishing in New York. One of the first books she worked on as a publicity director at J. B. Lippincott Company was To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, with whom she began a lifelong friendship.

1.  A Death at St. Anselm’s (1984)

2.  Flight of the Archangel (1985)

3.  A Lover Scorned (1986)

4.  A Fatal Advent (1989)

5.  The Long Search (1990)

5.  Ockley, Martha           Rev Faith Morgan

The first book in a projected series, this was so well-received that I decided to include it here in the hope that further volumes will materialize. Rev. Faith Morgan is a former policewoman who has just been ordained in the Church of England.  When she travels to the village of Little Worthy, Winchester, the parish that will be her first assignment, she runs right into a murder.  Romantic interest is supplied by local policeman Ben Shorter, who is coincidentally Faith’s previous boyfriend.  Martha Ockley is the pen name of Rebecca Jenkins, the daughter of a minister. She lives in Teasdale, in northeast England, and is a full-time author.  She has also written two Regency mysteries starring Frederick Raif Jarrett, agent to the Duke of Penrith.

1.  The Reluctant Detective (2011)

6.  Rickman, Phil            Rev. Merrily Watkins

This series begins when Anglican priest Merrily Watkins and her fifteen-year-old daughter, Jane arrive in the bucolic town of Ledwardine, England.  There they solve a series of paranormal/supernatural mysteries.  In the second book Merrily’s special talents are officially recognized when she is asked to be the “deliverance consultant” (aka exorcist) to the diocese of Hereford.  The likable and realistic characters develop as the series continues.  Merrily’s relationship with local musician/poet Lol Robinson matures.  English horror novelist, Phil Rickman, writes fast-paced, well-characterized thrillers set in a rural England in which the past is still very much part of local lives. The novels, originally published in the U.K., are distributed in the U.S. by Trafalgar Square.  So far there are eleven books in the series.

1.  The Wine of Angels (1998)

2.  Midwinter of the Spirit (1999)

3.  A Crown of Lights (2001)

4.  The Cure of Souls (2001)

5.  The Lamp of the Wicked (2002)

6.  The Prayer of the Night Shepherd (2004)

7.  The Smile of a Ghost (2005)

8.  The Remains of an Altar (2006)

9.  The Fabric of Sin (2007)

10.  To Dream of the Dead (2008)

11.  The Secrets of Pain (2011)

7.  Scott, Janice B(easant).         Rev. Polly Hewitt

Recently ordained in the Church of England, Polly Hewitt starts her first post in Norfolk as a curate for Canon Henry Winstone, who is as old and traditional as Polly is young and innovative.  She has wild blond curls and a decidedly wicked sense of humour.  The author describes her as a livewire “with a huge personality but with the sort of impulsiveness that often led her into trouble.”  Polly’s warmth and openness seems to bring out the best in most people.  She is “never shy and rarely at a loss for words.”  Author Janice Scott was raised in London and ordained priest in Norwich Cathedral in 1994 with the first batch of women priests.  She first served as curate in a large city parish, then rector in a rural setting.  Her three books about Rev. Polly Hewitt’s experiences in the church ring with authority.  Now retired, Scott is working on her fourth Polly Hewitt book.

1.  Heaven Spent (2010)

2.  Babes and Sucklings (2010)

3.  Vengeance Lies in Wait (2011)

8.  Spencer-Fleming, Julia           Rev. Clare Fergusson series

The series begins when newly ordained Clare Ferguson is appointed priest of St. Alban’s Episcopal church of Millers Kill, New York.  As the first female priest in this small town in upstate New York, she must work hard to earn the respect of her parishioners. Clare’s rather blunt manner, gained in her former career as an Army pilot, tends to disturb her new flock.  In her first case (In the Bleak Midwinter, 2002), Clare meets Police Chief Russ Van Alstyne as they work to discover the identity of an abandoned baby.  Van Alstyne is perplexed, then intrigued by the new “lady priest”.  So far there have been seven Clare Fergusson mysteries. Millers Kill is modeled after the author’s hometown of Plattsburgh, NY.

1.  In the Bleak Midwinter (2002)

2.  A Fountain Filled with Blood (2003)

3.  Out of the Deep I Cry (2004)

4.  To Darkness and to Death (2005)

5.  All Mortal Flesh (2006)

6.  I Shall Not Want (2008)

7.  One Was a Soldier (2011)

9.  Sumners, Cristina       Rev. Dr. Kathryn Koerner.series

Reverend Kathryn Koerner is minister of St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church in the small university town of Harton, New Jersey (read Princeton).  The “Divine” series began with Crooked Heart (Bantam, 2003) which introduced the wealthy, witty and erudite priest as well as Tom Holder, Harton’s Police Chief.  Tom is bored working in a town without crime and he is stuck in a very unhappy marriage, so it is no surprise that he falls for the attractive priest.  Kathryn describes Tom as “forty-eight but he looks fifty eight, his belly hangs down over his belt, he’s going bald. . . “  Nevertheless, she becomes attracted to him when she becomes involved in a missing person case, though both of them deny the attraction.  There are only three books in this well-received cozy mystery series.  Perhaps author Cristina Sumners is too busy maintaining her flock—she is an Episcopalian priest.

1.  The Crooked Heart (2003)

2.  Thieves Break In (2004)

3   Familiar Friend (2006)

Note:  Phillip Grosset’s website Clerical Detectives lists a few more series, but the books are largely British or unattainable in the US.

–posted by Janet Husband, 9/7/2012

Norwegian Mystery series is second to Sweden in the production of mystery series, at least judging by those that have made their way to our shores.  Here is an updated list of the major authors and their series.  Please let me know if you spot any omissions.

Dahl, Kjell Ola

K.O. Dahl’s novels feature a mismatched pair of Oslo policemen:  Chief Inspector Gunnarstranda is short and short-tempered.  He is a widower with false teeth and thinning hair and he doesn’t suffer fools gladly.  Though he respects and uses modern forensic tools like DNA analyses, his methods are traditional.   He relies on close interrogation and informed suppositions. His assistant, Frank Frolich, is the easy-going, overweight and usually put-upon partner.  Gunnerstranda’s acerbic comments and the interaction between the two detectives create a touch of droll humor.  These suspenseful and atmospheric stories are less likely to feature thugs and drug lords than some other Scandinavian mysteries.

1.  The Last Fix (2010)

2.  The Man in the Window (2009)

3.  The Fourth Man (2008)

4.  Lethal Investments (2012)

Enger, Thomas

Thomas Enger is a young journalist, composer and novelist living in Oslo.  His first two mysteries in the Henning Juul series have won high praise. When we first meet him, Juul is struggling to recover from a tragic house fire in which his young son Jonas was killed.  He is determined to prove to himself and his colleagues that his emotional trauma and facial scars will not prevent him from returning to his work as a successful crime reporter.  Engaging on many levels, these books are fast-paced and suspenseful.

1.  Burned (2011)

2.  Pierced (2012)

3.  Scarred  (2014)

Fossum, Karin (Provincial Norway)

Karin Fossum’s Inspector Sejer novels take place in rural communities north of Oslo, making them different from the city settings favored by Anne Holt, K. O. Dahl and Jo Nesbo.  Konrad Sejer is a middle-aged widower when we first meet him—thoughtful and kind and a bit melancholy.  His young assistant Jacob Skarre is grateful to be working and learning from such a successful, experienced policeman. His proficiency increases with each case.   As the series continues, Sejer worries about his daughter and her adopted son from Somalia and eventually he meets an attractive woman who returns his affection.   Fossum’s first published work was a book of poems, so the crisp and colorful prose of her crime novels is not surprising.  Her experience working in hospitals with addicts and the mentally ill, gives authority to her portrayal of the sad and demented characters at the heart of her novels.  Though Fossum has been called the “Queen of Crime, her Sejer novels are psychological suspense, rather than mysteries.   Broken (Houghton Mifflin, 2010) is a stand-alone novel.  Eva’s Eye, published in the U.S. in  2013) was the first Sejer book Fossum wrote.

1.  Don’t Look Back (2002)

2.  He Who Fears the Wolf (2005)

3.  When the Devil Holds the Candle (2006)

4.  The Indian Bride (2007)

5.  Black Seconds (2008)

6.  The Water’s Edge (2009)

7.  Bad Intentions (2011)

8.  The Caller (2011)

9.  Eva’s Eye (2013)

9.  The Murder of Harriet Krohn (2014)

Holt, Anne

Anne Holt is one of the most successful Norwegian crime writers.  Trained as a lawyer, Holt has worked in broadcasting as a journalist and anchor woman.  She also spent two years working in the Oslo police force before opening her own law practice.  She has written five novels in the Vik/Stubo series.  Johanne Vik is a Norwegian-American psychology professor and former FBI profiler. She is the divorced caretaker of a mentally challenged six-year old. Adam Stubo is an Oslo police inspector who is recovering from the deaths of his wife and young child.  Together they are a formidable team.  Holt has also written a series of eight crime novels starring lesbian police officer Hanne Wilhelmsen.  Scribner seems to be releasing them in the U.S, but not in the correct reading order.  1222 (Scribner, 2011) is the second book in the series.  The Blind Goddess (Scribner, 2012, published in Norway in 1993) is the first.  It introduces Hanne and tells how she became paralyzed. All of Holt’s mysteries are well-written and suspenseful.They feature fully drawn characters and plenty of Scandinavian atmosphere.

1.  What Is Mine (2006)

2.  What Never Happens (2008)

3.  Death in Oslo (2009)

4.  Fear Not (2019)

5.  Flimmer (2010)

Horst, Jørn Lier

Horst has worked as a policeman in Larvik (65 miles southwest of Oslo) since 1995 and now holds a position as the head of investigations.  His first mystery was published in 2004, and has been followed by five more books in the Inspector William Wisting procedural series. Wisting heads the CID at Larvik. He is an experienced policeman familiar with the dark side of human nature.  He is a careful and concerned investigator and a good-hearted person respected by the members of his team.  Wisting is a widow with two grown children.  So far only Dregs, the sixth book in the Wisting series, has been published in English translation.

1. Key Witness (2004)

2.  Disappearance of Felicia (2005)

3.  When the Sea Calms (2006)

4.  The Only One (2007)

5.  The Night Man (2009)

6.  Dregs (2010)

7.  Closed for Winter (2011)

Kjærstad,  Jan

Kjærstad has written a string of novels, short stories and essays and was editor of the literary magazine Vinduet (The Window). He has received a number of prizes, the most important being the Nordic Council Literature Prize, which he received for his trilogy about Jonas Wergeland, a famous television producer whose documentaries take him to dangerous and exciting locations.  The series starts as an anonymous biographer tells of Wergeland’s adventures and how he arrives home one day to find his wife dead on the livingroom floor.  The second book delves more deeply into Wergeland’s life, both past and present.  In the third book, Wergeland tells his own story.  This is not your average crime story.  Sounds a bit like a long Norwegian version of Camus’ The Stranger.

1.  The Seducer (2006)

2.  The Conqueror (2009)

3.  The Discoverer (2008)

Nesbo, Jo

Harry Hole is a hard-boiled detective, Norwegian style–tall and blonde.  His boss describes him as the best investigator and the worst public servant in Oslo’s Crime Squad.  Harry is a dogged investigator always ready to spring into action, sometimes leaving his girlfriend on hold.  He fights alcoholism with the help of a rather droll counselor.  Author Jo Nesbo quit his job as a stockbroker to concentrate on writing crime fiction and sing in a popular Norwegian rock band.  The Redbreast was chosen by Norwegian book clubs in 2004 as the “Best Norwegian Crime Novel Ever Written”.

1.  The Redbreast (2007)

2.  Nemesis (2009)

3.  The Devil’s Star (2010)

4.  The Redeemer (2009)

5.  The Snowman (2010)

6.  The Leopard (2011)

7.  The Phantom (2012)

Rygg, Pernille

Igi Heitmann is a research psychologist living in Oslo with her transvestite husband and 4-year-old daughter.  When her father, a former policeman and private investigator, is killed in a hit-and-run accident Igi gets drawn into her first investigation. A memento of a strange woman is found among his papers and Igi wants to meet her, but when she arrives, the woman has been murdered.

1. The Butterfly Effect  (1998)

2. The Golden Section  (2003)

Scheen, Kjersti

Scheen is a prolific author of more than thirty books, mostly for young people. She has written an award-winning series addressing issues such as anorexia nervosa and teenage sexuality.  Final Curtain (Arcadia, 2004) is the first novel of a series starring middle-aged private eye Margaret Moss who lives with her daughter in Oslo and drives an old Renault.  Margaret, whose various work experiences include acting, has decided to become a detective so she can be her own boss.  She is an engaging and humorous character whose sleuthing is a bit eccentric, but effective in the end.  Only the first book listed below is available in the U.S.

1.  Final Curtain (1994)

2.  No Applause for the Killer (1996)

3.  Englemakerne (1998)

4.  The Seventh Sin (2000)

5.  Similar to the Load (2003)

Skredderberget, Asle

Skredderberget has created  a detective named Milo Cavalli who is half Norwegian and half Italian.  In an article in the Winter 2014-5 issue of “Mystery Readers Journal”,  Skredderberget writes that Milo has a “vast family fortune from his Italian side of the family and a background as a financial analyst in Oslo,”  which make him a sunny, confident, devil-may-care investigator.   Alas, the two books about Milo, Soft as Metal and Painkiller, have not yet been published in the U.S.

Staalesen, Gunnar

Staalesen’s Varg Veum, a private eye in the city of Bergen, is modeled on Philip Marlowe, Raymond Chandler’s classic American hard-boiled detective.  Divorced and living on a shoestring, Veum never has quite enough work to keep him busy.  But his persistence and methodical, low-key style of inquiry usually pay off.  His experience as a former child protection officer has made him especially sensitive to the plight of neglected and abused children. While Bergen is not in the  Los Angeles or even the Stockholm league of criminality, it does have its share of thieves, perverts and hoodlums as well as domestic strife.   Norwegian author Staalesen has published more than 40 books, and has been translated into 12 different languages.

1.  Yours Until Death (1997)

2.  At Night All Wolves Are Grey (1986)

3.  The Writing on the Wall (2002)

4.  The Consorts of Death (2009)

5.  Cold Hearts (2012)

–posted by Janet Husband, 6/15/2012

Icelandic mystery series of those gloomy Swedish detectives?   Perhaps it’s time to dip into some Icelandic crime novels.

Arnaldur Indridason’s novels about Detective Inspector Erlendur Sveinsson of Reykjavik, may be a good introduction to Icelandic crime fiction. Erlendur is less gloomy than Wallender, but he is just as disheartened by the stupidity and greed that motivates criminals. He is also burdened with a dysfunctional family: he is divorced and estranged from his two drug-abusing children. Modern Iceland is relatively peaceful and murder is rare, but the seamy underside of Reykjavik keeps Erlendur busy. These novels are well-paced and suspenseful. At times the author captures the strange and menacing emptiness of the landscape. Icelandic names present a problem for catalogers. The last name is a patronymic, not a family name; thus a person is properly referred to by his or her given (first) name. Best to look for Indridason’s books under both A and I. (Ditto for Sigurdardottir).

Reykjavik Nights (Minotaur, 2015) is a prequel about young Erlendur’s first case.

1. Jar City (2004)

2. Silence of the Grave (2006)

3. Voices (2007)

4. The Draining Lake (2008)

5. Arctic Chill (2009)

6. Hypothermia (2009)

7. Outrage (2011)

8. Black Skies (2012)

9. Strange Shores (2014)

Yrsa Sigurdardottir’s books are about as different from Indridason’s as they can get. Thora Godmundsdottir is a Reykjavik lawyer who invariably gets drawn into the problems of her clients. She manages to juggle her legal work, her amateur sleuthing, and the care of her teenaged son and six-year-old daughter without much help from her unsatisfactory ex-husband. Thora is personable, but no-nonsense and diligent in her sleuthing. Her knowledge of the law and willingness to ask uncomfortable questions (a la Miss Marple) enable her to get to the bottom of some very knotty puzzles. Interesting characters take precedence over suspense in these cozies with an exotic setting. Sigurdardottir is a civil engineer as well as an author.

1. Last Rituals (2007)

2. My Soul to Take (2009)

3. Ashes to Dust (2010)

4. The Day is Dark (2011)

5. Someone to Watch over Me (2015)

The sixth book in the series, The Silence of the Sea, has been published in England by Hodder and Stoughton.

Quentin Bates is an Englishman who lived in Iceland for ten years. Young Icelandic policewoman, Gunna Gisladottir is the protagonist of this series. In the first book, Frozen Assets, Officers Gisladottir and Hvalvik investigate when a dead body is found floating in the harbor of their ordinarily peaceful Icelandic fishing village. Eventually, a web of corruption connected to Iceland’s business and banking communities is uncovered. In the next book, Gunna has accepted promotion to Sergeant in the Reykjavik police department, where she is still getting accustomed to her role as a manager. In addition to watching the prickly and Gunna grow into an astute and effective police detective, the reader also learns about Iceland’s financial collapse. Summerchill and Winterlude are short stories available on Kindle.

1. Frozen Assets (2011)

2. Cold Comfort (2012)

3. Chilled to the Bone (2013)

4. Cold Steal (published in England, 2014)

We will have to wait to read Stella Blomkvist’s novels; none of them have reached the U.S. Stella is the author, narrator and protagonist of a series of thrillers set primarily in Reykjavik. Stella is an ambitious young lawyer–smart, beautiful and single; every woman’s dream of power, sophistication and glamour. No surprise her fans are legion in Iceland. In fact, Blomkvist is a pseudonym of a well-known Icelandic public figure, so her insider’s take on politics and the media may just be authentic. These sound like fun, but we will have to wait for a translation to be sure.

1. The Bronze Statue (1997)

2. The Perfect Crime (2000)

3. The False Killer (2001)

4. The False Witness (2002)

5. Murder at Thingvellir (2005)

6. The Last Meeting (2006)

And last but not least, there is Hallgrimur Helgason, an award-winning Icelandic author whose only book available in English is the sardonic Hitman’s Guide to Housecleaning, published by Amazon Crossing in January 2012. Tomislav Boksic (aka Toxic) is a Croatian hitman who flees the U.S. after a botched assassination and finds himself unemployed and unemployable in Iceland. Imagine one of Carl Hiaasen’s characters in the frozen north. Here are some of his Rules for a Hitman:

Don’t miss the target. People tend to get a bit upset if they notice you’re trying to kill them.
Don’t waste a bullet. You have to think about the environment, too–you really shouldn’t add an unnecessary gunshot to an already noisy city.
Morning is for murder. Nobody expects a bullet for breakfast.
Don’t confuse killing and murder. Murder is for amateurs, killing is for the professionals.
Embrace every new passport they give you. It’s always nice to get a new life now and then.
Don’t kill the wrong guy. Or you’ll end up in Iceland.
When in Iceland, stop the killing. There are so few of them.

–post revised 4/11/2015


Hurricane Novels

Hurricane novels: Great Reading before, between, or after storms (or during if the lights stay on)


Bonansinga, Jay     Twisted (Pinnacle, 2006)    Former FBI profiler Ulysses Grove comes to post-Katrina New Orleans for the funeral of a  friend.  As he uncovers disturbing traces of past ritual murder, another hurricane approaches.

Casey, Kathryn     The Killing Storm (Minotaur, 2010)      Lt. Sarah Armstrong, a criminal profiler for the Texas Rangers, searches for a kidnapped 4-year-old as Juanita, a category 4 hurricane, heads for Galveston.

Clark, Mary Jane     Nobody Knows (St. Martin’s, 2002)     TV reporter Cassie Sheridan, now a reporter for a local Sarasota (FL) television station, is following  the course of a hurricane as a hunt for a stolen ring follows its own course.

Connor, Beverly    Skeleton Crew (Cumberland, 1999)     A hurricane interferes with  forensic archeologist  Lindsay Chamberlain investigation of a 500-year-old galleon sunk off the Georgia shore.

Conwell, Kent    Skeletons of the Atchafalaya (Avalon, 2003)     During a family renion at a plantation house in Whiskey Bend, LA, private eye Tony Boudreaux is trapped with everyone else when hurricane Bella blows through—followed by three murders.

Cussler, Clive  Trojan Odyssey (Putnam, 2003)     A hurricane threatens the Ocean Wanderer, a luxury floating hotel in the Caribbean owned by a mysterious billionaire.

Haddam, Jane     Baptism in Blood (Bantam, 1996)     Bellerton, North Carolina, is the scene of a hurricane and the murder of an infant whose body is found on the grounds of a controversial women’s retreat.

Parrish, P. J.     Island of Bones (Pinnacle, 2005)     After a hurricane whips into Florida, Private Investigator Louis Kincaid finds a baby’s skull on the  debris-filled beach on the Gulf.

Wingate,  Anne     The Eye of Anna (Walker, 1990)     Japanese-American police chief of Bayport, Texas Mark  Shigata fights Hurricane Anna as he  searches for a serial killer.


Abel, Kenneth    Down in the Flood (Minotaur, 2009)     Set in New Orleans shortly before and during Hurricane Katrina. Danny desperately tries to save Louis Sams, who has been kidnapped to prevent him from testifying against his crooked    concrete manufacturer boss.

Burke, James Lee    Tin Roof Blowdown (S&S, 2007)

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, detective Dave  Robicheaux is assigned to investigate the shooting of two looters who were foolish enough to ransack the home of New Orleans’s most powerful mobster.

Downs, Tim     First the Dead (Nelson, 2008)     In New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina,  Dr. Nick Polchak, the “Bug Man”, discovers several floating corpses who were dead before the hurricane hit.

Dunbar, Tony   Tubby Meets Katrina (NewSouth Books, 2006)      Tubby winds up in New Orleans’ Convention Center as Hurricane Katrina hits and his daughter finds herself the target of an escaped psychopath who sees himself as the human embodiment of the storm.


McDonald, Craig    Toros and Torsos (Bleak House, 2008)      The  Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 hits Key West  in a mystery about a killer who rearranges his   victims to resemble surrealistic art.  Ernest  Hemingway and Orson Welles play cameo roles.


Hiaasen, Carl     Stormy Weather (Knopf, 1995)        New York ad executive Max Lamb decides to add  excitement to his Orlando honeymoon by taking his bride and his camcorder into the teeth of  Hurricane Andrew.

Barry, Dave   Tricky Business (Berkley, 2003)      The usual Dave Barry crooks and fall guys are aboard an offshore gambling boat when a   hurricane hits.

Dorsey, Tim   Hurricane Punch (Morrow, 2007)      Lovable homicidal maniac Serge A. Storm roars across Florida in a stolen Hummer with his  usually drunk or stoned friend, Coleman, following one hurricane after another, evading his  nemesis, Agent Mahoney.


Koontz, Dean   Dead and Alive (Bantam, 2009)      As a devastating hurricane approaches New Orleans, the future of mankind depends upon Frankenstein’s original creation.

Lehane, Dennis   Shutter Island (Morrow, 2003)       Two U. S. Marshalls tackle a missing person case at a     hospital for the                 criminally insane.   The gale force winds of an approaching hurricane heighten the suspense.

Light-hearted mysteries (Cozies)

Andrews, Donna   Murder with Puffins (Thomas Dunne, 2000)      Hurricane Gladys hits Maine as Meg  Langslow and her boyfriend travel to Monhegan Island for their vacation.  A very unpopular local artist is murdered soon after they arrive.

Cohen, Nancy    Died Blonde (Kensington, 2004)      Marla Shore, hairdresser and owner of the Cut’N’Dye beauty Salon in Florida is the star of the Bad Hair Day mysteryseries.  In this episode Marla finds a dead body in her shop as a hurricane  hits town.

Hart, Carolyn    Dead Man’s Island (Bantam, 1993)      Henrietta O’Dwyer Collins ( “Henrie O”), a retired investigative reporter, helps an old friend  discover who tried to kill him with poisoned candy.  Hurricane Derek complicates things.

Lakin, Rita    Getting Old Is a Disaster (Dell, 2009)      Fort Lauderdale retiree  Gladdy Gold investigates the long-buried skeleton of a murder victim  is unearthed at the Lanai Gardens apartment complex after a hurricane hits.

Maron, Margaret    Storm Track (Mysterious, 2000)      Judge Deborah Knott investigates the murder of a local woman found strangled in a motel room while Hurricane Fran bears down on the small town of Colleton North Carolina. Her large family clan gathers for hot chocolate and a hurricane party.

Taylor, Phoebe Atwood    Proof of the Pudding (Norton, 1945)       Now here’s an old one:  Cape Cod’s amateur sleuth, Asey Mayo, finds a corpse among the  wreckage following a hurricane

Viets, Elaine     Murder Unleashed (Signet, 2006)       Helen Hawthorne, now working at  the Pampered Pet Boutique must solve a murder and find a   kidnapped Labradoodle puppy before a Category 3 hurricane hits Fort Lauderdale.

–compiled by Janet Husband for

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Posted September/2/2011

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