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Murder Most Persuasive
Murder Most Persuasive by Tracy Kiely (2000s)
This is the 3rd book in a series set in modern-day suburban Maryland near Washington, D.C. The author mimics the plot & characters of Jane Austen's novel Persuasion. Elizabeth Parker's great-uncle Martin dies shortly after selling his country home. The new owners of the home dig up the swimming pool, a body is discovered, which turns out to be the former fiance, Michael, of one of Elizabeth's cousins, Reggie. He had disappeared eight years before, when a huge sum of money was embezzled from Martin's company, where Michael was an officer. Everyone in the family assumed Michael had taken the money and left town after Reggie broke off their engagement. Now they must figure out who murdered Michael and why. A complicated picture of family dynamics emerges as you read this light, cozy mystery. An appropriate quote from an Austen book introduces each chapter. An enjoyable read, Austen fans may like the updating of her classic story. -- Added by ElizabethR on 03/08/2014

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The Bughouse Affair
The Bughouse Affair by Marcia Muller & Bill Pronzini (Other)
This book was a quick, fun read. The authors are husband & wife, mystery writers of their own series, who have teamed up for this story of a pair of private detectives in 1894 San Francisco. The detectives are former Pinkerton agents who have formed a partnership. The story starts with a search for a pickpocket and a housebreaker targeting San Francisco's wealthiest homeowners. The plot expands to include murder and (maybe) even Sherlock Holmes. I hope to read the next in the series, The Spook Lights Affair. Entertaining, enjoyable characters, and lots of insight into what the city was like in those times. I had fun researching the 1890's slang! (Look up "bughouse" in the dictionary!) -- Added by ElizabethR on 03/02/2014

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The Album
The Album by Mary Roberts Rinehart (1930s)
This mystery, written by a woman known in her heyday as "the American Agatha Christie," is set in an unnamed city in the early 1930's. In a very insular, wealthy neighborhood, an old woman is murdered in her own bedroom, with her husband and 2 adult daughters in the house but hearing nothing. From there the story gets very complicated, and all the neighborhood characters are involved in some way. It is narrated by Louisa Hall, a young woman living next door to the murdered woman. More deaths ensue, and a very involved plot is slowly revealed. The writing style seems reflective of authors of the time; 1933. Not for readers who want a quick read or lots of action. -- Added by ElizabethR on 03/01/2014

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His Majesty's Hope
His Majesty's Hope by Susan Elia MacNeal (1940s)
This is the 3rd book in a series about Maggie Hope, a young woman who is British but grew up in the U.S., cared for by her aunt after her parents are killed in an auto accident. In this installment, Maggie begins the next phase of her career with MI5, the British secret service organization. She completes her training and is sent into Germany undercover to gather information to aid the British efforts in the war against Nazi Germany. This series seems to be getting a bit more serious & dark, but the plot & subplots are fascinating. I learned a bit more about what Britain & Germany were like in 1941--the author has done a wealth of period research. I look forward to the next episode, due out in July, 2014. -- Added by ElizabethR on 02/23/2014

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This title has been my favorite in the series so far. -- nanwise on 02/24/2014  
The Fallen Angel
The Fallen Angel by Daniel Silva (2000s)
This book is the 12th in the author's series starring Gabriel Allon, a world-class art restorer, semi-retired Mossad agent and sometime assassin. The story starts with what appears to be a suicide, spectacularly staged in St. Peter's Basilica, below Michaelangelo's masterpiece dome. But is is really a suicide? The Pope's private secretary is not so sure, and calls in Allon to investigate. Allon has been restoring one of the Vatican's priceless paintings, a Caravaggio, in the nearby conservation lab. He is also using the Vatican City as a refuge from those who want him dead, after his previous successful assignment (Portrait of a Spy). Allon is drawn into an investigation which becomes a battle against terrorism. This is one I could not put down! Hope to have time to read all of the others in this series (15); they are very exciting. The author also imparts a real sense of place and a great deal of insight into history. -- Added by ElizabethR on 02/13/2014

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The Chicago Way
The Chicago Way by Michael T. Harvey (2000s)
This book is about a private detective, Michael Kelly, a former cop, who is persuaded by his former partner to look into an old cold rape case. His partner is found dead shortly after talking to Kelly, so now he has two cases to investigate. It is an interesting story, somewhat complicated by connections to the mob, an imprisoned serial killer, and events in Kelly's past. I enjoyed it; the very short chapters made it seem easier to read. -- Added by ElizabethR on 02/09/2014

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W is for Wasted
W is for Wasted by Sue Grafton (1980s)
This latest installment of the Kinsey Milhone series is a very serious one. It touches on homelessness, addiction, clinical drug trials, and Kinsey's always touchy relationships with her family. It is one of her longest books, but I found the way she wove several plot lines together very interesting. A few things happen which are bound to affect how Kinsey leads her life in the future, so I am looking forward to the next books. I always enjoy Grafton's portrayal of California and Kinsey's wry outlook on life. -- Added by ElizabethR on 02/02/2014

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The Case of the Love Commandos
The Case of the Love Commandos by Tarquin Hall (2000s)
Tarquin Hall writes a charming series set in modern-day India about Vish Puri, India's "Most Private Investigator." In this episode, two university students, a young man from the Untouchables caste and a young woman of a high caste are in love and wish to marry. Of course her family is scandalized and confines her at home to prevent any future meetings. A group of volunteers, The Love Commandos, tries to spirit the 2 off so they can make their future together. Many obstacles arise, involving the young man's mother and his village, and there is a very humorous sub-plot which draws Vish Puri's mother into spying on a wealthy man and his entourage. This was a really enjoyable read--lots of humor as well as a complex plot. For those interested in other cultures, you can learn a lot about India in these books, and there are recipes and a very valuable glossary of Indian terms at the back of the book. -- Added by ElizabethR on 01/26/2014

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The Draining Lake
The Draining Lake by Arnaldur Indridason (2000s)
This book is the 4th in a series set in Iceland starring Inspector Erlendur. A skeleton is revealed in the mud when a lake begins drying up. The task of identifying it is made more complicated when a broken Russian listening device from the 1960's is found tied to the bones. This is a complex mystery with its roots in the socialist movement in Europe, and the attempts to indoctrinate Icelandic students in East Germany so they can return home to spy on and possibly overthrow the more democratic Icelandic system. There is an intriguing backstory which Indridason very slowly reveals, and characters you will really come to care about. -- Added by ElizabethR on 01/26/2014

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Dance in the Dark
Dance in the Dark by Terence Faherty (1960s)
This book is the 5th and most recent in Faherty's series featuring Hollywood private investigator Scott Elliott. The series starts in 1945, and each subsequent book moves forward in time 6 or 7 years in Elliott's life. This book takes place in 1969, and Elliott and his wife have just been notified that their son Billy is missing in action in Viet Nam. Elliott is asked by a friend to find his missing daughter, an aspiring actress, who her father fears has been drawn into pornographic films. While Elliott tries to figure out how to locate the runaway, his boss assigns him to find out who is smuggling drugs into L.A. from Mexico amongst the employees of an independent film company. The company is making a film about two motorcycle "gypsies" searching for peace and the meaning of life, culminating in scenes from a monolithic outdoor rock concert. (The author is obviously borrowing from Easy Rider & Altamont, though he cannot name them.) This was an enjoyable read. I look forward to finding out what happens to Scott Elliott in the next installment. -- Added by ElizabethR on 01/26/2014

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Death in Springtime
Death in Springtime by Magdalen Nabb (1980s)
This story takes place in Florence, Italy. It opens with a freak snowstorm on March 1, which turns out to be a key factor in the story, since no one who experienced it can remember observing other circumstances which could help Marshal Guarnaccia solve the mystery of a kidnapped foreign university student. This is the 3rd in a series of 14. It was an interesting plot, and I learned about some interesting cultural differences between Italians of different regions. A quick read. -- Added by ElizabethR on 01/19/2014

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Dare Me
Dare Me by Megan Abbott (2000s)
Interesting book about a high school cheerleading squad, told in 1st-person by one of the girls on the team. There is a murder, and the narrating character has to figure it out. A real eye-opener about contemporary teen culture & lifestyles. This author usually writes noir-style mysteries set in the 1940's, so this was a real departure. -- Added by ElizabethR on 01/18/2014

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Princess Elizabeth's Spy
Princess Elizabeth's Spy by Susan Elia MacNeal (1940s)
This is the 2nd in a series set mainly in London in 1940, during the German blitz. Maggie Hope is a British citizen who was raised by an aunt in America because her parents were killed in an automobile accident when she was an infant. She earns a graduate degree in math and plans a grand future in that field, but returns to London to sell her grandmother's home when the grandmother dies. Through circumstances explained in the first book in the series, Mr. Churchill's Secretary, Maggie ends up working with MI5, and forgets about returning to the U.S. In this second book, she is assigned to work undercover at Windsor Castle, ostensibly to be Princess Elizabeth's math tutor. Her real assignment is to ferret out a suspected spy who is threatening the princess's life and protect both princesses, Elizabeth & Margaret, from danger. There's plenty of action and lots of information about what life was like in England at the time. I'm looking forward to reading the next in the series, His Majesty's Hope. -- Added by ElizabethR on 01/11/2014

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V is for Vengeance
V is for Vengeance by Sue Grafton (1980s)
Sue Grafton's intrepid detective Kinsey Milhone is back in this story which explores several disparate plot lines in another intriguing story. An arrogant young gambler suffers an unexpectedly unpleasant fate. Kinsey flags a shoplifter at Nordstrom's and is later hired to find the woman (who disappeared after being arrested & bailed out) by her elderly fiance. We learn about a gangster who wants out of the family "business" and his family who have other ideas. It's all woven together by Grafton's skillful prose, set in 1988 Santa Teresa, CA. I really enjoy her books and look forward to W Is for Wasted, but am sad too, knowing that there will only be 3 more Kinsey books after that. -- Added by ElizabethR on 01/11/2014

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