Check It Out Category: Mysteries/Thrillers/Suspense

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.

Book Discussion Questions: Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger

Ordinary Grace book coverTitle: Ordinary Grace
Author:  William Kent Krueger
Page Count: 307 pages
Genre:  Mystery, Psychological fiction
Tone:  Melancholy, Nostalgic, Strong sense of place

Summary:
Looking back at a tragic event that occurred during his 13th year, a man explores how a complicated web of secrets, adultery and betrayal shattered his Methodist family and their small 1961 Minnesota community.

SPOILER WARNING: These book discussion questions are highly detailed and will ruin plot points if you have not read the book.

The Library is happy to share these original questions for your use. If reproducing, please credit with the following statement:  2017 Mount Prospect Public Library. All rights reserved. Used with Permission.

1. In Robert Kennedy’s eulogy to John F. Kennedy he used the phrase “Awful grace of God.” This phrase was used several times in this novel. What do you think is the meaning?

2. Do you believe as Aeschylus said, “He who learns must suffer”?

3. Why do you think Jake’s stutter permanently disappeared after he gave grace?

4. What does ordinary grace mean to you?

5. Who do you consider the main character in this book?

6. Without the war, what path do you think Nathan would have ended up taking career wise?

7. What do you think drew Jake and Lise together?

8. Do you think Emil was still in love with Ruth and vice-versa?

9. When the body of the itinerant was found Frank downplayed Jake’s presence and that upset Jake. However, when Emil Brandt tried to kill himself Frank tried to turn Jake into the hero and that really upset Jake. Why?

10. Why do you think the author never actually told us what happened in the war that changed Nathan so much?

11. Ruth did not seem to care for Gus very much in the beginning of the story, yet her attitude toward him seemed to change by the end. Why do you think that was?

12. Jake said he is afraid that his mom won’t come back. I mean she might come home, but she won’t come back (pg 260).  What did he mean by that?

13. When Frankie was accusing Emil Brandt of killing Ariel, Jake asked if it really matters who killed her. What did you think about that?

14. What did you think of Warren Redstone?  Why did he keep all those trinkets in his can?

15. Why do you think he was in jail?

16. Why didn’t Frank tell anyone about Warren’s connection to the dead man?

17. Jake said “There are somethings you can’t run from. You can’t run from who you are.  You can leave everything behind except who you are” (pg 265).  Is that true?

18. What did you think about how it ended? What happened to all of the characters?

19. On the first page, as Frank is talking about the events that were to happen, he says “You might think that I remember that summer as tragic and I do, but not completely.” After having finished the novel, what do you think of that statement?

Want help with your book discussion group? Check out tips, advice, and all the ways the Library can help support your group!

OTHER RESOURCES:

Reading group guide provided by Simon and Schuster
Lit Lovers’ discussion questions
New York Journal of Books review
Q&A with William Kent Krueger
Interview with William Kent Krueger (video)

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