The books didn’t make it high enough to rate 5 stars and it did not feel right to stick them in Honorable Mentions…but I read several great detective books (and series) this past year. Here are a few that especially stick out:
Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death by M.C. Beaton
So, this book did not actually get a particularly high rating from me. But it deserves a spot on this list because I found the heroine so fascinating! It is a mystery about a career woman who retires young and moves to a rural, English town. She wants to impress her neighbors, so she buys a quiche to enter into a homemade quiche making contest…but her quiche ends up poisoning the judge! Usually detectives in rural, English villages are the sweet, Miss Marple type. Not Agatha Raisin. She is a horrid person and I loved it. It was so nice to read about someone with such a unique personality! And with the hint of romance at the end, I might have to go find the sequel… (The mystery itself was okay, nothing to write home about.)
The Thin Woman by Dorothy Cannell
Reading this book felt like drinking a brisk cup of tea. Every time I sat it down, I wanted to go do something practical and efficient. Which is kind of a weird reaction to a book…but it made the story memorable. I went in expecting a whodunnit and found instead a Very British mystery/romance/adventure. It was good but not quite what I had in mind. Still, engaging story with solid characters that I found mostly memorable for the writing.
Haley Randolph Series by Dorothy Howell
Imagine the heroine from Confessions of a Shopaholic developed a habit of stumbling upon dead bodies everywhere she went, and you have the Haley Randolph series. Haley is self-centered, bad with money, and always hunting for the next designer purse. But you cannot help loving her. No matter how many times her work ethic makes me physically cringe, I want to keep reading. I think I love this series because it is so random. Plot points come from every direction and rarely actually fit together. You would think that would make the books annoying, but instead it makes them engaging. Anything could be important. Add a heavy dose of humor and multiple attractive guys floating around with minimal romantic angst, and you have a fluffy series I really enjoy.
Miss Fortune Mystery Series by Jana Deleon
Where is a CIA assassin with no family to go when her cover gets blown? In the Miss Fortune Mystery series, the answer is: the bayous of Louisiana. While Fortune – the heroine of this series – is enjoyable character, the real show-stoppers are the crazy old women she runs around solving mysteries with. I love the characters, the setting, and the humor of these books. Highly recommended.
Amory Ames by Ashley Weaver
Amory Ames is a glamorous, wealthy society woman married to a notorious playboy in the 1930s. While the mysteries are interesting, the setting and relationship between Amory and her husband are really what keeps me glued to this series. At the beginning, the couple is estranged and contemplating divorce. However, as the books go on, they begin to work more closely together and rebuild their marriage. I love both Amory and her husband. If you like Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, you’ll probably like this series.