Sunday, December 23, 2012

Mysteries My Son Reads Part 1

A few years ago my son and I decided to sample books from each other's favorite genres. He would suggest books in the fantasy and science fiction genres for me to try. I would suggest mystery series I thought he might like.

Unfortunately, the experiment was more successful at his end. I guess he is the more flexible, open-minded reader of the two of us. (Of course, there is the fact that he reads much faster than I do.)

Regardless, he has since sampled several mystery series that I suggested. A few of the authors he has read and liked are:

Jane Haddam (Gregor Demarkian series)
The Gregor Demarkian series is about an ex-FBI profiler (retired) who is often pulled back into detection (as a consultant). Set in an Armenian-American neighborhood in Philadelphia. The first books in the series all were set around holidays; by about book 11 that theme was left behind. Some of the later novels center around social issues, sometimes overshadowing the actual mystery.

There are currently 27 books in the series; I have read the first 24 books. I read the first 20 books in three months in 2005. I liked the novels because they have interesting continuing characters and are centered around interesting issues. I usually find that she presents the issues from both sides, although it may be clear which side she favors.

Christopher Fowler (Bryant and May series)
The Bryant and May mysteries star two elderly detectives, Arthur Bryant and John May, members of the fictional Peculiar Crimes Unit. The series is set primarily in London, and the novels often feature flashbacks to cases from the two detective's past. Before the Bryant & May mystery series began, the detectives were featured in three of Fowler's books in the horror genre: Rune, Darkest Day, and Soho Black. I have not had the nerve to try those yet.

This series is more popular with my son than with me. He has read the first eight books; there are now ten books in the series, although the last has not been published in the US yet. I have only read the first three. I have not found them as compelling as other mysteries I have read.

Donna Andrews (Meg Langslow series)
Per the Donna Andrews page on Wikipedia: "Her first book, Murder with Peacocks (1999), introduced Meg Langslow, a blacksmith from Yorktown, Virginia. It won the St. Martin's Minotaur Best First Traditional Mystery contest, the Agatha, Anthony, Barry, and Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice awards for best first novel, and the Lefty award for funniest mystery of 1999." The series has continued for fourteen more books (one yet to be published).

This is a series that only my son has read. I initially bought a few of the books, never got around to reading them, and suggested he try them. I thought that they would be too, too cozy. He has enjoyed them and he says I should give them a try.

Aaron Elkins (Gideon Oliver series)

Aaron Elkins (born 1935) is best known for his series of novels featuring forensic anthropologist Gideon Oliver—the 'skeleton detective'. The fourth Oliver book, Old Bones, received the 1988 Edgar Award for Best Novel. My son and I have each read only a few novels in this series. Each book is set in a different and often exotic locale (Les Eyzies-de-Tayac, France; Egypt; Tahiti). I have many books in this series because I collect books with skeletons or skulls on the cover. So I will continue with the series, sooner or later.

Elkins also has written a series about a museum curator Chris Norgren, an expert in Northern Renaissance art. A stand alone novel, Loot, is about art stolen by the Nazis. With his wife, Charlotte Elkins, he has also co-written a series of golf mysteries.

My son has read (parts of) several other mystery series. He has sampled a few authors of vintage mysteries but so far read only one from each author. I plan to follow up with more on those authors in another post. And also post about the science fiction and fantasy books that I tried.

As far as my plans for 2013:
  1. I am committed to reading at least 3 science fiction books and 3 fantasy novels. Quite possibly more.
  2. Now that I have profiled these authors (although briefly), I hope to read at least one book by each of these authors in the next year.


Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Merry Christmas, Tracy, and Happy Holidays! I am looking forward to reading more sf and fantasy too and more mysteries as well.

Anonymous said...

Tracy - I think it's great that you and your son decided to try different things. What a terrific experiment. I like your son's choices, too, especially the Gideon Oliver series and the Bryant and May series. I must spotlight those two authors! Have a wonderful Christmas!

TracyK said...

Thanks for the good wishes. I will be watching your blog to see what books you read.

TracyK said...

You have a wonderful Christmas too. I will be looking for those spotlight posts.