Check It Out Category: Mysteries/Thrillers/Suspense

Donna S’s Pick: The Disappeared by C.J. Box

Donna S Staff Pick photoC.J. Box is an award-winning author whose works have been translated into 27 different languages. His Joe Picket mystery series follows the life of a game warden in the modern West. The latest one is The Disappeared, in which a female British executive disappears during a vacation at a four-star dude ranch. Was she kidnapped or just on a longer vacation?

Have you taken up this summer’s challenge of Reading Takes You Everywhere? Enjoy this book for either of the following categories:

A. Read a book written by a new-to-you author.
I. Read a book involving travel.

Get Caught Reading with Capers in Fiction

May is Get Caught Reading month! Caper stories typically center around the main character performing crimes in full-view of the reader. Up your reading game by reading stories about characters that are just doomed to get caught as they swindle, thieve, and con their way across the plot.

The Vintage Caper book coverThe Vintage Caper by Peter Mayle

Join former lawyer and wine connoisseur Sam Levitt across France from Paris to Bordeaux, as he is called in to investigate the disappearance of a expensive collection of wine. This is decadent, fast-paced mystery also comes with menu and wine-list recommendations!

 

The Lies of Locke Lamora book cover

 

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

The first in the Gentleman Bastard series follows infamous con-artist Locke Lamora, the head of a crew of thieves. A well-built setting paired with intricately designed crimes makes this a great read for fantasy and crime readers alike.

 

Faking It book cover
Faking It by Jennifer Crusie

Humor and romance unite to create a little con-artist mayhem. This playful romp is packed with characters that are a little loopy and a plot that will keep you on your toes!

 

 

The Good Thief’s Guide to Amsterdam book cover
The Good Thief’s Guide to Amsterdam
by Chris Ewan

Charlie, a novelist of caper stories, moonlighting as a thief stumbles into a job that turns ugly when his employer is almost beaten to death that he is now a suspect of. His writing is going have to wait as he must clear his name of murder without admitting his own theft.

 

 

Fiction: If You Like Red Sparrow

Red Sparrow book coverWith thrilling spycraft, shocking double- and triple-crosses, and a chameleon-like femme fatale, Red Sparrow is poised to be one of the season’s more memorable movie adaptations. The first of a series by ex-CIA operative Jason Matthews, the novel tells the story of intelligence agent Dominika Egorova, a former ballerina trained in the arts of seduction and intrigue, who is determined to expose a Russian mole. Her fixation, her unique skills, and her gift for sensing when someone is lying all lead to a sultry cat-and-mouse with an American agent.

Want more like this? Try one of these smart, sexy spy thrillers:

 

Tightope book coverTightrope
by Simon Mawer
Marian Sutro has survived Ravensbruck and is now back in dreary 1950s London trying to pick up the pieces of her pre-war life. De-briefed by the same shadowy branch of the secret service that sent her to Paris to extract a French atomic scientist, Marian is now plunged into the Cold War.
Cutout book coverThe Cutout
by Francine Mathews
When videotape of the Vice President’s abduction reveals that CIA analyst Caroline Carmichael’s husband–presumed dead for two years–may be still alive, Caroline investigates, hoping to discover his motives and loyalties.
Castros Daughter book coverCastro’s Daughter
by David Hagberg
Forced by Cuban Intelligence Service colonel Maria Leon–who is also the illegitimate daughter of the dying Fidel Castro–to help her find the fabled seven cities of gold, former CIA director Kirk McGarvey tackles the deadliest and most bizarre mission of his career.

 

Fall of Moscow StationThe Fall of Moscow Station
by Mark Henshaw
When the Moscow Station is left in ruins after a major intelligence breach, CIA analyst Jonathan Burke and agent Kyra Stryker are fast on the trail of Alden Maines, an upper-level CIA officer whose defection coincides with the murder of the director of Russia’s Foundation for Advanced Nuclear Research.
Walking Back the Cat book coverWalking Back the Cat
by Robert Littell
When Parsifal, a Soviet-era KGB agent who has been living quietly in the United States, is given orders to assassinate someone working in an Apache-run casino, Finn, a disillusioned Gulf War vet, is drawn into the plot.
Our Game book coverOur Game
by John le Carré
A romantic triangle on a retired British intelligence officer, his girl, and the spy who stole her. It is told against the backdrop of the rebellion in Chechnya and the international intrigues surrounding it. A tale of the moral wastes of post-Cold War Europe in both East and West, written by a master of the genre.

Staff Pick: The Lions of Lucerne by Brad Thor

Picture of JoyceIf you like a high testosterone protagonist in fast-paced political thrillers then Scot Harvath might be the man you’re looking for. The ex-Navy Seal finds himself in a variety of situations, from working as a Secret Service Agent to Homeland Security to a covert operative in Brad Thor’s series. The brave hero, a dastardly villain, and an enticing woman find themselves embroiled in these page-turners resembling Vince Flynn’s Mitch Rapp. Start with The Lions of Lucerne and hold on for the ride!

Fiction: Mysteries with Indian Detectives

In addition to their love for the whodunit, mystery fans appreciate both a fascinating investigator and a strong sense of place. Most often this may manifest in stories of British detectives or in Scandinavian thrillers, but crime narratives set in all parts of the globe deserve attention. One quieter trend to discover is that of mysteries set in the complex lands of contemporary Southeast Asia. If you have yet to explore the delights of puzzling through a case set in India, use your deductive skills to identify the most likely suspect to spark new curiosity.

Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra book coverThe Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra
     by Vaseem Khan
Baby Ganesh Agency Investigations series

A young man found drowned in a puddle of water, an eight-month-old elephant, and the last day before forced retirement all compete for full attention of a longtime police officer. With offbeat charm and obvious affection for Mumbai, this first in a series establishes a winning premise to engage mystery fans.

 

 

Case of the Missing Servant book coverThe Case of the Missing Servant
     by Tarquin Hall
Vish Puri Mysteries series

If Agatha Christie’s iconic Hercule Poirot were Indian rather than Belgian, he would look a lot like Vish Puri, a careful investigator with amazing deductive skills and keen powers of observation. The search for a missing woman, a suspected victim of foul play, provides introduction both to the vibrancy of Delhi and to a celebrated series.

 

 

Six Suspects book coverSix Suspects
     by Vikas Swarup

When playboy Vicky Rai was acquitted of a senseless murder committed in front of 50 witnesses, riots broke out. So it is no surprise that he himself is murdered at the very party he throws to celebrate his release. However, when six different guests are found to have guns in their possession, stories need to be heard. Presented in alternating points of view, this satirical yet tightly constructed mystery invites the reader to play the role of detective against the backdrop of modern India.

 

Perfect Murder book coverThe Perfect Murder
     by H.R.F. Keating
Inspector Ghote Mysteries series

Not quite as contemporary but with the time-tested credibility of a long-running series, the first case in the classic Inspector Ghote series presents a perplexing death in Bombay complicated by misinformation, incompetence, and corruption.

 

 

Nancy’s Pick: A Murder of Magpies by Judith Flanders

Picture of NancyA Murder of Magpies is a humorous cozy mystery about book editor Samantha Clair, who finds herself in the midst of a wave-making manuscript, a missing author, and a dead courier. This series kick-off by Judith Flanders is clever and charming, great if you’re looking for a smart but light read. I enjoyed the London publishing scene, the entertaining characters, and the lively, brisk narration.

Fiction: The Switch by Elmore Leonard

Switch book cover

Meet Ordell and Louis, two small-time crooks in search of a get-rich-quick scheme. Everything they dream seems within reach when they kidnap a millionaire’s wife and hold her for ransom. It all goes without a hitch…until the husband doesn’t want her back.

A light caper novel with a gift for flavorful dialogue and for the details of Detroit, The Switch exemplifies author Elmore Leonard’s hard-boiled leanings and dry humor. The mismatched trio of abductors and victim is great fun, and wife Mickey turns out to be the real draw. The fun can continue for book-to-movie buffs; it was adapted as the 2014 release Life of Crime.

Audiobook: Morgue Drawer Four by Jutta Profijt

Morgue Drawer Four audiobook cover

As a finalist for one of Germany’s most prestigious crime novel awards, Morgue Drawer Four could have been…stiff. Dear listeners, it isn’t. Instead we have mild-mannered Martin who likes the solitude of his work as a coroner. One day he performs his customarily precise autopsy on car thief Pascha — and then begins hearing the man’s ghost. First smart-alecky and then downright obnoxious, Pascha wants Martin to get to the bottom of the ‘accident’ that claimed his life.

Reader MacLeod Andrews effectively plays up Pascha’s wry, self-absorbed narration as well as the tension of Martin’s out-of-character escapades. Written by Jutta Profijt and translated from German by Eric J. Macki, this odd-couple pairing of reluctant detective and annoyed ghost is a promising pick for those who like action-driven mysteries with a decidedly sarcastic bent.

Choose Your Mystery: Big City P.I. or Small Town Inspector?

We love a mystery. Setting can be crucial to a whodunit, whether it be the isolation and limited resources of a small town or the overwhelming suspect pool and crusade against the system of the big city. Here are two puzzlers in which the investigator finds that crimes of the present are linked to scandals of the past.

HardballHardball book cover by Sara Paretsky

Seasoned private investigator V.I. Warshawksi follows her cases where they lead, but she doesn’t expect a missing person’s case to take her back to an ugly time in Chicago’s past. Not only does the death of a young black woman at a peaceful march led by Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1966 come into play but also ties to Warshawki’s own family history. In the present, V.I.’s own fresh-out-of-college cousin is kidnapped after her arrival in Chicago, but that’s a separate mystery — isn’t it?

 

 

Red Bones book coverRed Bones by Anne Cleeves

You can’t get much more small-town than the remote Shetland Islands, an area that is spoiled for lack of major crime. When Inspector Jimmy Perez is called to the scene of a shooting death, one of an eccentric grandmother, it first appears a tragic hunting accident. However, the bones at a nearby archaeological dig may not be nearly as old as first believed, and that may shed light on the current investigation. You may know the story from the BBC series Shetland, but don’t miss the full impact of the novel’s tight plotting and atmosphere.