Featured Mystery Author

Book Cover Image. Title: The Franchise Affair (Inspector Alan Grant Series #3), Author: Josephine Tey

The Franchise Affair (Inspector Alan Grant Series #3)

Josephine TeyRobert Barnard

The Franchise Affair, published in 1948, is an unusual detective story in that it contains no murder. It is, however, enthralling from beginning to end. A fifteen year old girl, Betty Kane, who has obviously been assaulted, accuses two eccentric and isolated women, Miss Marion Sharp and her elderly mother, of kidnapping, starving and ill-treating her, and forcing her to work for them as a servant. The amateur detective, a local solicitor, takes on the challenge of defending the two women and, despite the absence of egregious violence, the tension never slackens and we are totally absorbed in the mystery.

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Book Cover Image. Title: Dissolution (Matthew Shardlake Series #1), Author: C. J. Sansom

Dissolution (Matthew Shardlake Series #1)

C. J. Sansom

Dissolution, published in 2003 and written by an historian, established C. J. Sansom as one of the most talented and original new writers of detective fiction. The novel is set in 1537 when England is torn by the Reformation. The terrifying Henry VIII has proclaimed himself Supreme Head of the Church and his power is being enforced by savage new laws and a network of secret informers. The hero, Matthew Shardlake, a hunchback lawyer, intelligent and incorruptible, is sent by Cromwell, the King's powerful Chief Minister, to uncover the truth, an investigation which not only involves him in treachery and danger, but leads him to question everything he has been told and believes. The sights, the voices, the very smell of this turbulent age seem to rise from the page.
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Book Cover Image. Title: A Fatal Inversion, Author: Ruth Rendell

A Fatal Inversion

Ruth Rendell

Ruth Rendell, one of the most highly-regarded crime writers in the world, also writes psychological murder mysteries under the pseudonym Barbara Vine, and for me A Fatal Inversion, published in 1987, is one of the finest of these novels, demonstrating her understanding both of psychopaths and their victims. A group of young people spend a hot summer in a country house inherited by one of them, but the summer ends in tragedy and the mystery deepens ten years later when the bodies of a woman and child are discovered. This novel reveals her extraordinary insight into the human mind, her brilliant use of setting and her ability to create compelling mysteries in elegant prose.
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Book Cover Image. Title: The Complaints (Malcolm Fox Series #1), Author: Ian Rankin

The Complaints (Malcolm Fox Series #1)

Ian Rankin

The setting for The Complaints, published in 2009, as with Ian Rankin's Rebus stories, is Edinburgh, a great international city now in the grasp of the recession. The poor and vulnerable suffer most but there are powerful people, men with means and influence to call on even a psychopathic killer to ensure their survival, and Detectives Fox and Breck are in danger of losing more than their jobs and reputation. The story is told chiefly in terse and realistic dialogue, and always human lives are seen against the thread of history. Rankin is a master at what, for me, is one of the important aspects of a crime novel: the integration of setting, plot, characters and a theme which, for Rankin, is the moral dimension never far from his writing.
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Book Cover Image. Title: V Is for Vengeance (Kinsey Millhone Series #22), Author: Sue Grafton

V Is for Vengeance (Kinsey Millhone Series #22)

Sue Grafton

V is for Vengeance, set in 1988 but published in the USA in 2011, means that we only have four more fascinating books in the A-Z sequence. They are keenly anticipated. Sue Grafton's private investigator, Kinsey Millhone, courageous, sensitive but fallible, ranks highly among female detectives, not least because her creator knows from experience exactly what the job entails. Kinsey Millhone keeps records, writes up her case, pays her bills, exercises regularly and organises her private life. We share her life as well as vicariously participating in her latest adventure. As with all her novels, V is for Vengeance combines the excitement of a complex plot with total credibility.
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Book Cover Image. Title: Murder Must Advertise, Author: Dorothy L. Sayers

Murder Must Advertise

Dorothy L. Sayers

Dorothy L. Sayers is a revered writer of the Golden Age who influenced the development of the detective story and who is still read with pleasure today. There are different views about which is her most distinguished Lord Peter Wimsey novel, but certainly for me one of the most enjoyable is Murder Must Advertise, published in 1933. It is set in the office of Pym's Advertising Agency; Sayers herself worked in a similar office from 1922 to 1931. A copywriter is found suspiciously dead at the foot of an iron staircase and Lord Peter, under the pseudonym Death Bredon, takes his place to solve the mystery. The novel gives a fascinating picture of office life between the wars and demonstrates Sayers's virtues of originality, intelligence, humour and good writing.
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