Friday, April 4, 2014

D is for Death and Mayhem

My Favourite Things: Death and Mayhem

You are probably wondering, what is she talking about?  Death and mayhem?  Psychotic much?  Weird much?  Yes, on both counts, but only in the sense that one of my favourite genres to read is murder / mystery.  There is nothing that is more pleasurable to read than a good, old-fashioned murder mystery.  It definitely touches us on a deeper level than other novels, as situations in which the characters find themselves can delve on so many possibilities in life, and some of them are so evil we can hardly contemplate they exist.  We are attracted to them, but repulsed at the same time.  I know they often make me think about human nature, and how far a person will go when he/she becomes desperate, and I often shudder in reaction and think, "How is that possible that a human being can sink to such low levels?"  Even the best and most interesting of the murder mysteries can't answer that question, but we search anyways for the ultimate answer to the "Why?"

Exploring death, and the reasons behind death, can make us uncomfortable, and yet we sometimes seek that thrill, through books, because it is exciting.  And there is always that sense that the bad guy will get his due in the end, and I know I am shocked when things don't turn out the way I am hoping, expecting, and the bad guy walks free and clear.  There seems to be a miscarriage of justice, and we rant about it, upset, because reading is supposed to be a fantasy world where we see justice done.  But that just adds to the greatness of what mystery is all about, doesn't it?

Here are a few of my favourite mystery series.  It is impossible to list them all or you would be here all day, but these are authors I never miss, for a variety of reasons.

1. Anne Perry

Charlotte and Thomas Pitt have been part of my life for quite a while now, and I have just finished the latest book in the series, Death on Blackheath.  There is something about these books that I have enjoyed so much as there is no subject the author does not discuss in her books.  I am also quite fascinated with the descriptions of the Victorian Era. Following the footsteps of Thomas Pitt as he rose through the ranks of the police force, and is now the commander of Special Branch, has been a delight. 

2. Louise Penny

Canadian author Louise Penny is another of my favourite mystery authors and I have followed the career of Armand Gamache with bated breath through the many novels featuring him and his colleagues.  They are tightly woven, brilliantly written, and tear at your emotions.  I often have to take a deep breath when beginning one of her novels, but I know the emotional journey is worthwhile.  I can't wait until book #10 comes out, The Long Way Home, and continues the adventures of Gamache.  Books 7, 8, and 9 (How the Light Gets In) put me through an emotional wringer, but book 9 was deeply satisfying and I am curious as to what will happen next. I do recommend that you read this series in order however, as events will make much more sense if you do. Absolutely love this author!!!

3.  Agatha Christie

This book was my introduction to Agatha Christie I can't even remember how many years ago.  I then went into a phase where I read every single one of her her books featuring the amazing Hercule Poirot, then devoured the Miss Marple mysteries.  She came to define murder mystery for me.  I just introduced her to my son, and he loves her books.  They are definitely timeless.  One of my bucket list items is to ride the Orient Express one day, but hopefully with less drama than the one in the book.

 4. Peter Robinson

This series, featuring Inspector Banks, is another favourite of mine.  Written by an author who resides in both England and Canada, he has won numerous awards for his work and for his gritty crime fiction.  The books are best read in order as they make more sense, but some could be read as stand-alones, if you wish.  I like them as I never know exactly what will happen, and I tend to like Banks gruff exterior.  He is a man who will do what it takes to see justice done, and I always wonder what he will do next in the next novel.  Interesting reading!

5. C.J. Sansom

If you like historical mystery, then these books are for you.  With a wonderful setting during the time of Henry VIII and all of the political upheavals and intrigues of that time,  our hero, Matthew Shardlake, has to manoeuver some dangerous waters as he searches for the truth to various crimes, both political and domestic.  These novels are in-depth and well-researched, and I have been fascinated by the political machinations as well as the day-to-day conditions that people faced during this time period.

Another interesting novel by this author, completely different than the Matthew Shardlake series, is his Dominion.  It is an interesting take on what Great Britain would be like in the 1950s if Hitler had actually won World War II.  Fascinating book, and I highly recommend it.

I could go on and on about other murder mystery series that I adore, but I decided to limit it to five just to keep the post shorter.  Some other authors that I like are Elizabeth George, Elizabeth Peters, Dennis Lehane, Josephine Tey, Ellis Peters, Lee Child, Harlan Coben, Val McDermid, John Sandford, Michael Connelly, Karin Slaughter, Henning Mankell, Ian Rankin, Tana French, Jo Nesbo, Martha Grimes, Nelson DeMille, and the list goes on and on.  What are some of your favourites?


  1. Fantastic post! This was definitely the best post of the day I've seen.

    It would mean so much to me if you could visit my blog:

    The theme focuses on books and the title according to the letter of the day!

    1. Thank you very much!! I did visit and I enjoyed your review - and will probably take a good look at the book you recommended.

  2. I don't read a lot of mystery- my preferred genre seems to be espionage- but I have liked Arthur Conan Doyle's Holmes and Watson. I recently reread Hound Of The Baskervilles once again.

    1. Yes, I like his mysteries too. And I am also a huge fan of espionage and thrillers. Mind you, I am a very eclectic reader and tend to go through phases. I am reading Runner right now and am enjoying it tremendously.