Light ("cosy") mysteries, anyone?

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Light ("cosy") mysteries, anyone?

Postby portia » Thu May 03, 2007 7:35 pm

Is there anyone here besides yours truly who is interested in light mysteries? I am referring to mysteries where the murder usualy takes place "offstage" as it were and the detective is not a hard boiled type. The others in the story are not generally hard boiled, either, and even the murderer is frequently an ordinary person who would otherwise be acceptable in polite circles.

These are often set in the UK, but not always, and an unusual setting, or an unusual "day job" for the detective, are frequent features. Cats and dogs often appear.


I just finished one of an enjoyable series involving a husband and wife detective team in the early 1900s who do their work aboard the luxury cruise liners of the day. These are written by Conrad Allen.

Mary Daheim has two series out. One involves a Bed and Breakfast proprietress in Seattle and the other involves the Editor of a weekly newspaper in the Washington State mountains.

A little more hard boiled is a series by Nevada Barr featuring a law enforcement ranger in the Park Service.

Tony Hillerman's novels set on the Navajo Reservation fall into this category, as do those of his imitators (some of which I have read and enjoyed).

One of my favorites is a series set in Las Vegas, by Carol Nelson Douglas (who has also done good Sherlock Holmes "pastiches" featuring a character from the stories--not Holmes), featuring Midnight Louie, a tomcat who manages to"help" solve mysteries.

Anyone else into this genre?
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Postby The Nameless Thing » Fri May 04, 2007 8:10 am

I enjoy the more hard boiled stuff.

Harry Bosch (by Michael Connelly)
Elvis Cole (by Robert Crasis)
Jack Reacher (by Lee Child)

I read these by the truck load and gravitate toward authors who have a large body of work. One of my joys in life is to find a new author and discover he has written many books (I just discovered Elvis Cole last month and have 8 books in front of me to read). :)

This might be a little lazy, but finding authors who can write and be inventive at the same time is not easy.
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Postby Almond Puff » Fri May 04, 2007 9:52 pm

Me, I'm more into fluffy mysterys, like you, portia! Also, I cannot stand mysterys where the main character is "sulky" and "brooding". They REALLY annoy me. :x
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Postby ambershadow » Sat May 05, 2007 2:25 pm

Before I became interested in sifi amd fantasy I was a big mystery fan any and all hard core and the light ones as well. I liked the challange of trying to guess the who done it before the end. I always judged the quality of the book by how long it took me to solve it. The longer the better the book. I have been missing those stories lately and think I will start reading some soon.
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Postby Hunter » Mon May 28, 2007 10:50 pm

~

No you're not alone portia. :)

I too enjoy mysteries, either hard core or 'light.' For a time, about 10 yrs or so ago, I was entertained by the "Cat Who" series written by Lillian Jackson Braun. It was light, fun reading. Another reason I enjoyed them is their setting in the Great Lakes area which is a familar.

~
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Re: Light ("cosy") mysteries, anyone?

Postby Edmund the Scholar » Tue May 29, 2007 7:53 am

portia wrote:Is there anyone here besides yours truly who is interested in light mysteries?


Thanks for starting this thread Portia. I have been looking for a good mystery to read. I'll check out some of the selections people have mentioned here!
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Postby portia » Fri Jun 01, 2007 6:26 pm

Another series of books that might interest people:

Peter Tremayne (pen name of an academic Celtic scholar) has written a series of mysteries featuring Sister Fidelma, a trained advocate in the law courts of 7th Cent. Ireland. She solves mysteries all over Europe (so far) when she is sent to Wales, Rome, Whitby, etc. for other reasons.

And another:

Donna Andrews has two series out. One involves a self-aware Artificial Intelligence who directs her human friends in solving mysteries (A little like Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin). The other involves the adventures of Meg Langslow, a female blacksmith. The one book I read in the series was so funny that there were parts I wanted to read to my husband but couldn't as I was laughing too hard.
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Postby Morwenna » Sat Jun 09, 2007 5:09 pm

Oh heavens yes!! I've been a big Christie fan for over 30 years. My more recent favorite is Charlotte MacLeod, who unfortunately died a few years ago after having written four different series under two different names. Currently, I like Jill Churchill's Jane Jeffry series (I haven't gotten into her Grace and Favor series yet), and Diane Mott Davidson's Goldy Bear series (which ought to be in the cookbook section; won't somebody please issue all her recipes in a single spiral-bound volume?) which sometimes can be a little darker than the average because of the first-person narrative and the domestic trials of the protagonist.
I also have enjoyed the Cat Who... series, but I don't always think of them as fluff by any means; there are some very depressing bits in some of them.
Outside of fluff, there are several authors of historical mysteries whom I love: Ellis Peters (Brother Cadfael), Robert Van Gulik (Judge Dee), Leonard Tourney (Matthew and Joan Stock).
For something a little different and a bit eerie, try Sharyn McCrumb, whose work is set in Appalachia and makes use of mountain folklore and customs.
But do try MacLeod. She's utterly delightful.
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Postby portia » Mon Jun 11, 2007 1:32 pm

I agree on McLeod. Her stories of the Old Boston Families and their foibles are great.

Before Sharyn McCrumb wrote her Appalachian books, she wrote three very funny books: "Highland Laddie Gone" about a murder at a Scottish festival and "Zombies of the Gene Pool" about a reunion of writers to open a "time capsule" and "Bimbos of the Death Sun" about a murder at a writers' convention.

Elsewhere I have mentioned the Amelia Peabody books, written by Elizabeth Peters. These should be read in order.

Is this enough of a list to start people off?
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Postby Morwenna » Tue Jun 12, 2007 7:47 pm

Bimbos and Zombies were my first intro to McCrumb; I've been going to SF conventions for over 25 years. Then I discovered her other books and was hooked.

MacLeod's stories about the Boston bluebloods (the Sarah Kelling series) are great, but even funnier are the Peter Shandy stories (set in an agricultural college). Have you also read her Canadian series originally written under the name Alisa Craig? The Madoc Rhys series and the Grub-and-Stakers. The G&S books make me laugh out loud!
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Postby portia » Tue Jun 12, 2007 10:33 pm

Ah, yes. I had forgotten Peter Shandy and the agricultural college. I have also read 2 (?) of the Madoc Rhys books.

Highland Laddie Gone quickly made the rounds of the people who go to Scottish Festivals. A good deal of laughter resulted. McCrumb has a very good eye for the ridiculous in any situation.(I especially liked it when the police sergeant arrived and was ridiculing the Scottish attire. He, of course, was still dressed in his Civil War outfit, having just come from a re-enactment of Pickett's Charge!)

If it appears that we are wasting a lot of time on lightweight books. . . well you could be right. But I can usually read one in 1 1/2 days, so not as much time is involved as may appear.
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Postby Gilaglar » Wed Jun 13, 2007 1:48 pm

This is maybe a bit more edgy than most of the others listed (although I confess my ignorance of everything mentioned so far, bar Holmes), but I like Harlan Coben's series about Myron Bolitar, a wisecracking Sports Agent who solves crimes with the aid of his psychotic, WASP college buddy Windsor Horne Lockwood III.

There is a lot of humour in there, and the stories are generally a little too far fetched to be taken too seriously. ;)
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Postby portia » Wed Jun 27, 2007 5:23 pm

A fairly strange series is one by Shirley Rousseau Murphy featuring three cats who actually talk. They go so far as to phone in tips to the police. That is too much for me. I like cats, but . . . . noooo. not this.
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Postby MrsSmeagol » Thu Jun 28, 2007 3:13 am

Sometimes hard edged, sometimes soft but I love Ruth Rendell, writing as herself and even more when she writes as Barbara Vine. She's a top notch literary writer as well as good at plotting, which helps.

http://www.penguin.co.uk/nf/Author/Auth ... 90,00.html

Her Inspector Wexford (played on TV by the lovely George Baker) is one of my favourite characters - an avuncular, old fashioned sort of copper, a decent and good man who isn't boring which many 'good' characters tend to be in novels.

http://www.tabardroad.co.uk/

This is one of my favourites:

http://www.tabardroad.co.uk/series/simisola/



She's usually at the top of her game when she writes as Barbara Vine, dunno why that is. Really really recommend her. Page turners but beautifully written and intelligent.

Given where we are posting, people may also enjoy Ellis Peters' Brother Cadfael series - a medieval monk who solves crimes! Wehey!

http://www.steveconrad.co.uk/cadfael/index.html
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Postby portia » Mon Nov 19, 2007 6:02 pm

I took 6 weeks off from readig for pleasure because I had several projects going that needed my time (retired does not equal leisure, let me tell you).

When I came back, I found 2 of the 4 books I tried to read --light mysteries--too boring to keep reading. I am undecided on the 5th one.

To be fair, should say that none of these books was by one of my 5 or 6 favorite authors.

Did my tastes change in that 6 weeks, or is the genre becoming boring.
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Postby Frelga » Tue Nov 20, 2007 2:21 pm

portia wrote:Elsewhere I have mentioned the Amelia Peabody books, written by Elizabeth Peters. These should be read in order.


I second the Peabody mysteries, or anything by Peters. The Peabody/Emerson saga is among my favorites, especially because it is so rare to see a book of any genre that portrays a healthy, loving marriage of two strong individuals. And of course Emerson himself is adorable, plus a doze of Egyptology and a hint of H. Rider Haggard are delicious.
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Postby portia » Wed Mar 03, 2010 4:08 pm

There is a new Peabody mystery due out in May. I think it is called "A River in the Sky" it follows chronologically after the others. It is no. 19, I believe.

I also should mention two other series that I have been reading.

1. Sarah Andrews has written 4 or 5 mysteries featuring a Geologist who is drifting towards a formal specialty in forensic geology. This is one of a type of mystery where the reader gets a big dose of some scientific discipline, along with the mystery.

2. Actually two series. Both are forensic anthropology. Kathy Reichs and Aaron Elkins each write books featuring forensic anthropologists, so the reader gets a large dose of bone names, bone diseases and descriptions of skeletons and how bodies become skeletons. Not for the squeamish, but I like them.
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Postby portia » Wed Mar 31, 2010 6:00 pm

I am reading "Grave Secrets" by Kathy Reichs. It is making me re-examine the definition of "cosy mysteries." Stories that go on and on with grizly descriptions of unearthing the skeletal remains of the victim aren't very cosy. They are good for my knowledge of human anatomy, however.

Later: Well, I picked up Reichs' "Fatal Voyage." Holy bone fragment! The first 1/4 of the book --at least-- is a blow by blow description of what happens when there is a plane crash, but the passengers' bodies are not consumed by fire, and someone has to piece together the parts and identify them.

That was tough to get through. She writes very well, but did I need to know all that????? :shock: :shock: :shock:
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Postby portia » Sun Jun 06, 2010 1:30 pm

I am currently reading "Cat of the Century" by Rita Mae Bown. In the last two days, I have spoken to two other people reading that same book, at the same time.

A coincidence, or her books are VERY popular. Possibly both.
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Re: Light ("cosy") mysteries, anyone?

Postby Bellandora » Fri Aug 23, 2013 3:54 am

Roger Chapman series of books by Kate Sedley

I discovered three of her books in the library over three years ago and made for great reading.
Main character is Roger who is a Pedlar by trade and when things occur becomes a part time sleuth. Set in medieval times.

Another author worth taking a look into is Candace Robb
Owen Archer series
Margaret Kerr series
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Re: Light ("cosy") mysteries, anyone?

Postby Dunthule » Fri Aug 23, 2013 12:25 pm

Hola everyone,
I started out on mysteries as a kid. (Sherlock Holmes, Agatha Christie).

Me wifey turned me onto an Louise Penny and the "Armand Gamache" series.
Take a looksee if you get a chance. I read the first two books in the series and enjoyed them.
I believe the first book in the series is 'Still Life'.

http://www.louisepenny.com/books.htm#sl
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Re: Light ("cosy") mysteries, anyone?

Postby GoodSam » Fri Sep 20, 2013 9:05 pm

I'm a fan of the Jack Reacher (Lee Child) books and the Longmire (Craig Johnson) books. Jack Reacher is the indestructible hero that does to the bad guys what you really want to see done to them. Longmire is a more flawed true-blue character from ol' Wyoming. Longmire makes you think hick them surprises you with very educated perspectives.
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Re: Light ("cosy") mysteries, anyone?

Postby portia » Thu Sep 26, 2013 2:47 pm

I just finished the latest "Hamish McBeth" book: "Death of a Kingfisher." Poor Hamish, he just can't get anywhere with women.
I also just finished a Holmes pastiche, called "The House of Silk." It might be a little long, but it captured the Conan Doyle style well.
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Re: Light ("cosy") mysteries, anyone?

Postby solicitr » Wed Oct 02, 2013 7:25 am

Although her books may be a touch darker than "light," Elizabeth George's Inspector Lynley books are quite good, and he is a very likeable character (a toff in modern-day Britain who tries to hide the fact that through no fault of his own he's an earl). I do think the early ones are better; the later ones are less taut and more soap-opera-y.

-----------------------

There are also some neat little mysteries surrounding art theft and forgery by Ian Pears, better known for heavier fare like An Instance of the Fingerpost and The Dream of Scipio.
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Re: Light ("cosy") mysteries, anyone?

Postby Morwenna » Tue Oct 08, 2013 6:42 am

I've recently read a few by Ngaio Marsh, and one by Josephine Tey. Pretty good, though not exactly "cosy"; but I rather like Marsh's settings.

Another favorite: Jane Haddam.

(I do like series with recurring characters...)
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Re: Light ("cosy") mysteries, anyone?

Postby Frelga » Sat Feb 15, 2014 6:22 pm

I am reading the Vicky Bliss books by Elisabeth Peters, the author of the Amelia Peabody series. Clever, fun, light.
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Re: Light ("cosy") mysteries, anyone?

Postby Morwenna » Wed Apr 02, 2014 11:18 am

I never thought I'd say this, but I've come across a Christie that's struggling to keep my attention! And I used to just gobble them down. This one is The ABC Murders. I've put it down three times already. It's downright tedious! Let's see if I can keep my patience and read it through, rather than just skipping to the end. And it's not even long!

I read another Christie years ago that was incomprehensible, much to my annoyance because it was the last appearance of Tommy and Tuppence, my favorites among her regulars. I read it quickly enough, but it made no sense! :shock:
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