Christmas Mystery Books 2016

Christmas Mystery Books 2016

Is there the perfect Christmas Mystery?  Detective novels and crime fiction are one of the top genres.

Who doesn’t love to snuggle down in front of a burning fireplace,  hot drink in hand, with a good mystery book.  Lucky for us, they usually come in series, featuring the amateur or professional detective.   So this list of Christmas Mystery books will get you in the seasonal spirit.  Hopefully.

1. Hercule Poirot’s Christmas – Agatha Christie

Christmas Mystery Books - Hercule PoirotChristmas Mystery Books 2016
Multi-millionaire Simeon Lee invites his family for Christmas gathering. But there are high tensions between family members. So when Simeon Lee is found dead there is more than one suspect. Hercule Poirot is called in to investigate and using his famous little gray cells he untangles the complicated web of family relations. It features many very interesting characters; from the black sheep of the family to the role of illegitimate children. The plot is interesting and of course the killer is revealed at the very end. But the most shocking part is the reason the multi-millionaire is killed. Agatha Christie is a famous crime writer and with this story she proves yet again why she is called Queen of crime.

2. The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle – Arthur Conan Doyle

Christmas Mystery Books - Sherlock HolmesChristmas Mystery Books 2016
This is one of the 56 short stories that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote featuring famous detective Sherlock Holmes and his friend Dr. John Watson. This story was first published in 1892 and it is a seventh out of twelve stories in the collection The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle is set on the Christmas Eve. Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson deal with the question how the Countess of Morcar’s blue carbuncle finds his way down to the gullet of Dr Watson’s Christmas goose. This is a classic mystery novel featuring the famous Sherlock Holmes who uses his logic and deduction method in order to solve the mystery.

This edition by Lego is hilarious and is illustrated with Lego characters sure to appeal to the young at heart as well as the younger readers.

3. Plum Pudding Murder – Joanne Fluke

Christmas Mystery Books - Hannah SwensonChristmas Mystery Books 2016
This is a 12th book in the Hannah Swenson mystery series. Hannah Swenson is a pastry chef, but also an amateur sleuth. In the 12th installment the story happens during the 12 days before Christmas. It revolves around the murder of “Lunatic Larry” Jaeger. This is a cozy mystery without too much suspense, no serial killer or gruesome descriptions of murder. It has some light romantic elements, with very interesting love triangle that will definitely not be resolved in this episode. Which is why WhyToRead loves series.

Additional charm is added to this story through secondary characters; Hannah’s family and friends. Because what is a life in a small town without meddling family and friends. All in all, a charming mystery story full of nice and tasty christmas recipes. This is a perfect Christmas Mystery book for the office kris kringle.

4. Tied up in Tinsel – Ngaio Marsh

Christmas Mystery Book - Inspector AlleynChristmas Mystery Books 2016
Another well respected crime series. Tied up in Tinsel is 27th book in the Inspector Roderick Alleyn series. It is happening during Christmas season. Inspector Alleyn’s wife is visiting an estate for Christmas where she is to paint the owner’s portrait. But when one guest disappears she calls her husband to help her find the lost man. This is great mystery set in a classic country house. It contains a variety of mismatched guests and residents. On one side a group of very rich people, on the other paroled murderers who are hired as help.

This is a well plotted and written story with very interesting cast of characters. Suspenseful, It will definitely keep you guessing and turning the pages. Highly recommend for all who enjoy authors like Agatha Christie or Georgette Heyer’s mysteries.

5. A Christmas Grace – Anne Perry

Christmas Mystery Book - Charlotte PittChristmas Mystery Books 2016
Ann Perry is the most famous for her William Monk and Charlotte and Thomas Pitt series. She also writes a Christmas Stories series. Each book in the series feature characters taken from one of aforementioned series. A Christmas Grace is Book 6 in her Christmas Stories series. Set in Ireland during the Victorian era, the main character is Charlotte Pitt’s sister Emily Radley. Emily is summoned by her dying aunt to spend some time with her before her death. Upon Emily’s arrival a violent storm ravages the town and brings back the memories of an unsolved murder. Emily is asked by her dying aunt to solve the mystery.

This is another interesting mystery from Anne Perry that fans of the Charlotte and Thomas Pitt series will enjoy.

6. A Little Yuletide Murder – Jessica Fletcher

Christmas Mystery Book - Jessica FletcherChristmas Mystery Books 2016
Jessica Fletcher is a fictional heroine from the very popular TV show Murder She Wrote.  In this Christmas mystery book Jessica Fletcher is in Cabot Cove to spend Christmas with her family and friends. But unfortunately a murder occurs. The death of Rory Brent, a man who for years served as the Santa Claus in the town’s annual Christmas celebration, ruins Jessica’s plans of a nice and relaxing holiday. So she becomes determined to find the killer before Christmas.

This is a cozy, Christmas mystery set in a small town. A Little Yuletide Murder is a perfect story for holiday season. It is highly entertaining, and WhyToRead is sure that fans of TV show Murder She Wrote will highly enjoy it also.

7. Murder on St Nicholas Avenue – Victoria Thompson

Christmas Mystery Book - Gaslight MysteryChristmas Mystery Books 2016
The Gaslight Mysteries are series set in turn of the 20th century New York City featuring Sarah Brandt, a midwife and Detective Sergeant Frank Malloy. This is an 18th book in the series. Newly weds Sarah Brandt and Detective Sergeant Frank Malloy are on their honeymoon, so when a woman asking for help knocks on their door, Sarah’s old nursemaid Maeve jumps in to help her. Now Maeve has to solve the murder of seemingly wealthy Randolph Pollock who recently married a poor Irish girl Una O’Neill. The problem is that Una was found cradling Randolph’s dead body.

This is highly interesting murder mystery and entertaining story that does not feature the main characters of the Gaslight Mystery series. Wonderfully written, full of another set of interesting characters, Murder on St Nicholas Avenue is another good choice for the holiday season.

Best Sci Fi Detective Stories to Read

Best Sci Fi Detective Stories to Read

Sci Fi is a very popular genre on WhyToRead.com.  As are detective/thriller books.  Today our review list show cases some of the best ever sci fi detective novels ever written.  Plunge into the future with robots, androids, personality chips and lots of murders to solve.

1. The Caves of Steel – Isaac Asimov

Sci Fi Detective novels - The Caves of Steel
First in the Isaac Asimov’s Robot series The Caves of Steel introduces an unusual partnership between a New York City detective Elijah Baley and a humanoid robot R. Daneel Olivaw. These two are forced to work together after prominent Spacer, Dr. Roj Nemennuh Sarton, is murdered.
The story takes place three millennia into a future. The Earth is not a nice place to live. But the more lucky ones  live in the Outer Worlds – colonized planets known as Spacer worlds. These two worlds are polar opposites; while Earth is overpopulated and has strict rules against robots; Spacer worlds are lowly populated and use robots for everything.  Needless to say, Elijah Baley does not like either Spacers nor his assignment.

What is interesting in this story are two worlds that Asimov created and two complete opposite characters who are forced to work together and overcome their differences.  This well known, classic sci fi detective story published in 1954 is still intriguing and very interesting to read.

2. Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency – Douglas Adams

Sci Fi Detective novels - Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency
Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency is a lesser known series written by Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. It contains only two books. Adams wanted to add the third one to the series but unfortunately he died before he finished it.

This is a strange and funny novel. It has disparate plotlines. Actually the story contains several plots. At the beginning the reader will meet “Electric Monk” who is looking for a Door. After that the focus shifts to Professor Urban Chronotis at St. Cedd’s College in Cambridge. Soon the story is full of strange things and the only person who can make a connection between them is a Dirk Gently. Dirk Gently is Holistic Detective. In another words he understands and know that all things are interconnected. Dirk Gently is not major character, but he is definitely the central one and he is the character that make this truly unpredictable story so interesting. Funny and different this story is must read for all Douglas Adams’ fans and beyond.

3. Altered Carbon – Richard Morgan

Sci Fi Detective novels - Altered Carbon
Set 500 years in the future, Altered Carbon is a hard boiled cyberpunk crime novel. The world that Morgan creates is an interesting one. It is a world in which other planets are inhabited by human beings. The United Nation Protectorate oversees these planets. In this world it is possible to digitally store a personality and downloaded it into new body. But not all humans are doing that; only the richest want to live forever by moving their personality into new body when the old one dies.

The main character is Takeshi Kovacs, ex-soldier who gets tasked to find out what happened to Laurens Bancroft. Laurens Bancroft is one of the very rich who has committed suicide to take a new body, but lost 48 hours of his memory in the process. Takeshi Kovacs’ task is to find out what happened in that 48 missing hours. Was it suicide, or actually murder?
This is brutal novel but with a very interesting premise. In 2003 it won the Philip K. Dick Award for Best Novel.

4. When Gravity Fails – George Alec Effinger

Sci Fi Detective novels - When Gravity Fails
This is a first book in the series about Marîd Audran, originally published in 1987. Set in the 22nd century in which Islamic world is prosperous while the US, Europe and Soviet Union are in decline. The main character is Marîd Audran, freelance operator and hustler. He is extremely proud to be independent and free from cybernetic modification. Still, in order to alter his mood he relies on drugs and alcohol abuse. Everything will change for Marîd when his acquaintances start dying. In order to catch the killer he is forced to undergo advanced cybernetic modification against his choice.
Effinger builds a fascinating world in which people can easily modify their personality by plugging in chips. Other chips can also enhance or bestow skills like the ability to speak a foreign language, or suppress some physical and mental functions.

A sci fi detective story with twists and turns of a great plot. Further, the story has provoking ideas about personality modification and genders. All in all very interesting read.

5. The Demolished Man – Alfred Bester

Sci Fi Detective novels - The Demolished Man
Alfred Bester’s The Demolished Man was a winner of the first Hugo Award in 1953. This is a so called inverted detective story, which means that the reader knows who the killer is from the very beginning. Therefore the story focuses on how the killer will be find and caught. Set in the 24th century where society consists of telepathic and non-telepathic humans. The murderer is an extremely smart non-telepathic human, Ben Reich. His goal is to get away with murder in a world where police officers have strong telepathic abilities. The telepathic police officer who tries to catch Ben is a Lincoln Powell. Lincoln Powell, despite of his telepathic powers cannot keep up with very clever Ben.

This is very interesting classic sci fi novel set far in the future yet does not involve aliens or robots. Definitely worth reading.

Best Sci Fi Detective Stories – continued

6. The Automatic Detective – A. Lee Martinez

Sci Fi Detective novels - The Automatic Detective
This is a story about Mack Megaton. Mack is not a human; he is a robot, a massive one. He is a robot built for destruction. But Mack is not destroying anything, because he is a taxi driver. When his neighbor and her family go missing Mack becomes an amateur detective on a mission to find his neighbors.
Although set in future the first half of the book is very much classical detective novel. The only difference is the characters/ suspects who Mike meets. They are every bit sci fi classics, some of them have extra limbs while some have tentacles instead, and then there are some monsters that are very Godzilla-like.

We found the second part of the story is a more action than talk oriented. But a great fun story.

The Automatic Detective is part noir, part action story full of very colorful characters. It is fun and interesting read

7. A Philosophical Investigation – Philip Kerr

Sci Fi Detective novels - A Philosophical investigation
A Philosophical Investigation was first published in 1992 and is set in 2013.  Researchers have discovered physiological basis for the most brutal criminal tendencies in men. Names of all men diagnosed with such a tendencies are stored in the database. The problems begin when one of diagnosed man breaks into the database, removes his name from it and start to kill other men in the database. The case is taken by Chief Inspector Isadora “Jake” Jakowicz who tries to catch the killer.

The story is told from two points of view. One is the POV of the Chief Inspector, and the other is diary entries of serial killer, code named Wittgenstein.  Although Kerr’s “future” is already past this story is still an interesting read in the genre of sci fi detective fiction.

8. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep – Philip K Dick

Sci Fi Detective novels - Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep is a classic SF novel that was made very popular by the movie Blade Runner with Harrison Ford. Yet this sci fi detective novel was first published in 1968.

The story is set in 1992 post-apocalyptic, post nuclear war San Francisco. The biggest consequence of the nuclear war was extinction of most animal species. Therefore being an animal owner became very prestigious and a sign of empathy. In order to get a real animal and to replace his electronic sheep, Rick Deckard signs up to a mission. His mission is to find and destroy six escaped, rogue androids. Deckard’s biggest problem is that androids look exactly like humans.

The story focuses on Deckard’s hunt of the androids, but the main question of the story is about what it is to be human. This is a classic novel that asks very important questions about identity, empathy and being human.

Best Crime Series 2016

Best Crime Series 2016

Wondering what the best crime series are in 2016? Read on.

Detective stories or crime fiction is unique as it must have a plot and a believable solution. A crime novel cannot leave you suspended in a conceptual idea or emotional drama. Most if not all loose ends must be neatly wrapped up or the reader will depart. Excitement must be balanced with logic. No cheating allowed.

These new and old crime series will definitely please the fans.

Best Crime Series 2016

1. The Big Fear (Hollow City Series) – Andrew Case

Best Crime SeriesBest Crime Series
A civilian investigator and veteran cop are forced to team up in a mystery involving corruption in the police force. The result is a highly suspenseful thriller with unique premise, yet remarkably believable. You will be turning page after page as each piece of the puzzle falls into place, leading up to a satisfactory conclusion that begs for a sequel. It is almost hard to believe that The Big Fear is the author’s debut novel, considering how skillful Case is at crafting an intricate plot and building up suspense.  We definitely think this deserves a place in the Best Crime Series list for 2016.

2. The Girl in the Ice (Detective Erika Foster series) – Robert Bryndza

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Detective Erika Foster was still grieving the loss of her husband when she has to investigate the death of a young socialite from a prominent family. With the victim’s father hindering her investigation in an attempt to uphold his daughter’s good girl image, the detective must follow her own gut and pursue her own leads to track down the killer. The Girl in the Ice is mainly a character based crime novel, filled with complex and sympathetic characters. As the first book of a crime series featuring Detective Foster, it is definitely off to a good start.

3. Hush Hush: A Tess Monaghan Novel – Laura Lippman

Best Crime SeriesBest Crime Series
Private investigator Tess Monaghan is entangled in the case of Melisandre Harris Dawes.  A woman who allowed her daughter to suffocate to death, but got off by reason of insanity. Although a crime novel, a few thought-provoking issues are explored, particularly the challenges of motherhood and maintaining a work-life balance as a working mom. Overall, Lippman has woven a complex tale with amazing psychological depth, featuring a complex female lead.

4. Make Me (Jack Reacher series) – Lee Child

Best Crime SeriesBest Crime Series
This is the 20th book of Child’s successful Jack Reacher series. This plot revolves around the protagonist teaming up with a former FBI agent to search for the latter’s missing friend. There is a mystery at hand in a small town of Mother’s Rest, which gradually unfolds. New comers to the series may enjoy the suspense, while long-time followers of the series may find this installment a bit too familiar to offer anything new.

5. Play Dead (Elise Sandburg series) – Anne Frasier

Best Crime SeriesBest Crime Series
Detective Elise Sandburg already has a lot on her plate, as far as her personal life goes. Now, she has to get to the bottom of a case where freshly buried male prostitutes – victims of a serial murder – are allegedly clawing out of their graves, supposedly driven by some voodoo ritual. You cannot go wrong with well-rounded characters, a murder mystery, and some supernatural elements thrown in for good measure.

6 Must Read Dark And Gritty Detective Crime Novels

6 Must Read Dark And Gritty Detective Crime Novels

A crime has been committed, and our dark, gritty, renegade crime detective has to solve it. If you’re a fan of crime novels, you’ll love the books on this list.

The Best Crime Novels

1. The Big Sleep – Raymond Chandler

Best Crime Novels

The Big Sleep is a problematic novel. The plot concerns detective Philip Marlowe’s efforts to protect the wealthy Sternwood family from blackmail, but from this starting point it spins out into several complicated directions.

2. The Maltese Falcon – Dashiell Hammett

Best Crime Novels

Dashiell Hammett’s Sam Spade is one of the most famous detectives from American literature and his novel is packed with action and mystery. In The Maltese Falcon, Hammett nails every element of the detective genre so precisely, that it’s a wonder anyone ever tried to write another detective novel after him.

3. Light of the World: A Dave Robicheaux Novel – James Lee Burke

Best Crime Novels

As its opening paragraphs expressly state, Light of the World is an exploration of evil, a familiar theme in James Lee Burke’s novels. It is Dave Robicheaux’s tale of how one of the most wicked creatures on earth made his way into the lives of Robicheaux’s family and friends.

4. L.A. Confidential – James Ellroy

Best Crime Novels

LA Confidential has been rightly hailed as a masterpiece of American fiction, not just of American crime fiction. If you like L.A. in the ’50s with crooked cops, beautiful hookers that look like movie stars, stupid criminals and a rather eclectic assortment of walk ons, you’ll love this story.

5. The Burning Room – Michael Connelly

Best Crime Novels

In The Burning Room, Harry Bosch and his new partner Lucy Soto investigate a decade old crime with the potential to influence an upcoming gubernatorial election.

6. And Then There Were None – Agatha Christie

Best Crime Novels

This novel concerns a group of ten previously unacquainted people who are lured via various pretexts to Indian Island, a resort home off the coast of Devon and are promptly accused by their unseen host of having escaped punishment for past crimes.