NOT YOUR USUAL SUSPECTS

A group blog featuring an international array of killer mystery, suspense, and romantic suspense writers. With premises and story lines different from your run-of-the-mill whodunits, we tend to write outside the box. We blog several times a week on all topics relating to romantic suspense and mystery, our writing, and our readers. We welcome all comments and often have guest bloggers. All our authors can be contacted separately, too, using their own social media links.

We find our genre delightfully, dangerously, and deliciously exciting - join us here, if you do too!


Julie Moffet . Clare London . Cathy Perkins . Jean Harrington . Daryl Anderson . Nico Rosso . Maureen A. Miller . Sandy Parks . Lisa Q Mathews . Sharon Calvin . Lynne Connolly . Janis Patterson

Friday, May 6, 2011

It Started with Nancy Drew

I grew up reading Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys mystery series. Solving puzzles in exciting locales? That's catnip to a problem solver like myself. I traveled to Brussels solely because I wanted to know if the houses would be like what I read in a Nancy Drew book. I enjoyed the books so much as a child that I succumbed to nostalgia and watched the most recent film adaptation of the former. (This act still feels slightly shameful.)


When I hit my mid-teens, I became distracted by the romance genre and cut a wide swath through all the sub-genres: historicals, contemporaries, fantasies, and pseudo-science fiction. As I grew older, crankiness cynicism set in and I could no longer handle damsels in financial distress (usually of their fathers' making) who needed big, strapping men endowed with large bank accounts to bail them out. For a time, I read only single title thrillers where every villain is a sadistic serial killer and every hero is a moody and suicidal alcoholic. (Of course, I still like to revisit those books every now and then.) After a detour into science fiction, I found my way back to the oddly comfortable realm of the mystery series. It wasn't, however, easy and I had to try a lot of different series before I found the right ones for me.


Jacqueline "Jack" Daniels series by JA Konrath. A heroine who's smart, tough, and knows when to relieve the tension with a joke. She kicks ass without dressing up in movement-restricting black leather. A great cast of supporting characters who are as witty and capable as Jack. These mysteries aren't whodunits but howtocatchems, and they're by turns laugh-out-loud funny and cringe-inducingly violent. Konrath is only planning one more title in the series and I'm not sure how I'm going to cope.


Amelia Peabody series by Elizabeth Peters. A historical (1884-1923) mystery series set predominantly in Egypt with a heroine who is introduced as the spinster daughter of a reclusive scholar who bequeaths to her a small fortune. After his death, she travels to Egypt where she has a "meet cute" with Radcliffe Emerson, her future husband. The mysteries wouldn't stump a five-year-old, but I loved this series from the first title because of the colorful details that bring Egypt to life (Peters has a PhD in Egyptology) and the equally colorful characters. Amelia is bossy, nosy, witty, and deadly with a parasol--and she owns a utility belt Batman would envy. Emerson is short-tempered, irascible, willing to resort to violence to protect his family, and fully deserving of the sobriquet "Father of Curses." Peters also created complex and entertaining supporting characters and *gasp* allows them to grow, not only in depth but also in years.


What mystery series do you read? Any recommendations? But, please, no knitting, baking, crime-fighting cats, or "adorably" inept sleuths.


11 comments:

Toni Anderson said...

My favourite mysteries are PJ Tracy's Monkeewrench series. Love her writing. Also Tami Hoag & Lisa Gardner, but I really miss their more romancy novels. I love the blend of RS/mystery that those two ladies write.

Rita said...

I did the Nancy Drew Hardy Boys thing also. I have resisted reading Jack Daniels series until I’ve got time to go through several books. Silly I know but I hate waiting between books. I went through Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series a book every two days a couple of years back. Lordy I hate waiting for the next one. Stephen White’s Dr Alan Gregory the same way. His next book has been stalled out. Ugg! And just for fun I love Stuart Wood’s Stone Barrington they are quick easy reads.

Marcelle Dubé said...

I resist series, to be honest but the Jack Daniels series sounds interesting and I went through Paretsky's V.I. Warshawski series like it was candy. Lately, I've been gobbling up Louise Penny's Three Pines mysteries, Christy Evans' Georgianna Neverall comic mysteries, and Kris Nelscott's Smokey Dalton series.

Hmm. Maybe I don't mind series after all...

Wynter Daniels said...

I was a Nancy Drew reader but I haven't read many series as an adult. I'll have to try Konrath's series. I've heard so many good things about it.

Kathy Ivan said...

I grew up reading all the Nancy Drew books, too. One of my fondest memories is sitting down with these friends.

The only series I've been reading with any true consistency has been the J.D. Robb "In Death" series.

Clare London said...

I'm ashamed to say I haven't read either of these series - though it sounds like I should!

Is it the same Elizabeth Peters who wrote the Inspector Lynley series? Because I loved the blend of romance and crime in that series, at least until it got too angst-ridden.

I'm a HUGE Lee Child fan, the only books I'll every buy in hardback because I won't wait for the next one in paperback :).

I was a keen fan of the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich as well, though I left that in the end, when it started spiralling in on itself without any step forward :(. But no one made me laugh like her Grandma.

Stevie Carroll said...

I follow Kate Ellis' Wesley Peterson and Joe Plantagenet series, although I was a little disappointed with the ending of the last book I read of the former. I also follow Stephen Boothe's Fry&Cooper series as Mum is an avid collector.

Then, of course there's Charlie Cochrane's Cambridge Fellows series, which I'm slowly catching up with.

Ann Bruce said...

@Toni Anderson: For its name alone, I think I'll try the Monkeewrench series.

@Rita: I was a fan of the Stone Barrington series...until the books consisted of namely Stone dining at Elaine's, sleeping with an endless array of impossibly gorgeous women, and getting paid incredible sums of money for doing...well, the first two items.

@Marcelle Dube and Wynter Daniels: The Jack Daniels series is pretty much awesome. I think everyone should read it.

@Kathy Ivan: For purely nostalgic reasons, I'm tempted to pick up a Nancy Drew title and reread it.

@Clare London: You're thinking of Elizabeth George.

@Stevie Carroll: For the alliteration alone, I want to try Charlie Cochrane's Cambridge Fellows series. I do enjoy mysteries set in England (well, I assume the series is set in England).

Clare London said...

@Clare London: You're thinking of Elizabeth George.

I blame early senility - mine, not hers :).

Josh Lanyon said...

Anything by Elizabeth Peters and you can't go wrong!

Stevie Carroll said...

Ann,

All those series are set in England. Charlie's are historical mysteries (most set pre-WWI and the latest set immediately after) while the others are contemporaries. The Wesley Petersons have a modern day mystery running alongside a modern investigation into a historic mystery, which is often fun.

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