“Okay Marlowe,” I said to myself, ‘You’re a tough guy.” – Our choice of December’s mystery showcase books.

“Okay Marlowe,” I said to myself, ‘You’re a tough guy. You’ve been sapped twice, choked, beaten silly with a gun, shot in the arm until you’re crazy as a couple of waltzing mice. Now let’s see you do something really tough—like putting your pants on.” Philip Marlowe in Murder My Sweet (1944).

Whether your taste in mystery novels is for the grimy rain-washed streets of downtown American cities or the more genteel settings of rose-covered cottages in the idyllic British countryside, there’s murder afoot in this month’s mysteries showcase. There’s a new book by Janet Evanovich called Look Alive Twenty-Five as well as other gems including the latest V.I. Warshawski novel from Sara Paretsky called Shell Game. So why not settle into a comfortable Chesterfield chair (or its equivalent) and indulge yourself in a fine mystery read!

Syndetics book coverAgatha Raisin and the dead ringer / M. C. Beaton.
The team of bells at St. Ethelred church is the pride and glory of the idyllic Cotswolds village of Thirk Magna, together with the most dedicated bell ringers in the whole of England: the twins Mavis and Millicent Dupin. As the village gets ready for the Bishop’s visit, the twins get overly-excited at the prospect of ringing the special peal of bells created for the occasion and start bullying the other bell ringers, forcing them to rehearse and rehearse . When the twins’ home is broken into one night and Millicent is found dead, struck from a hammer blow, suspicion falls onto the lawyer.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA Snapshot of Murder (Kate Shackleton Mysterie) [paperback]
“Yorkshire, 1928. Indomitable sleuth Kate Shackleton is taking a well-deserved break from her detective work and indulging in her other passion: photography. When her local Photographic Society proposes an outing, Kate jumps at the chance to visit Haworth and Stanbury, in the heart of Brontë country, the setting for Wuthering Heights. But when an obnoxious member of their party is murdered, the group is thrown into disarray. Is the murderer amongst them, or did the loud-mouthed Tobias have more enemies than they might have imagined?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDark sacred night / Michael Connelly.
“Detective Renée Ballard is working the night beat and returns to Hollywood Station in the early hours to find a stranger rifling through old file cabinets. The intruder is retired detective Harry Bosch, working a cold case that has gotten under his skin. Ballard can’t let him go through department records, but when he leaves, she looks into the case herself and feels a deep tug of empathy and anger. She has never been the kind of cop who leaves the job behind at the end of her shift — and she wants in. The murder, unsolved, was of fifteen-year-old Daisy Clayton, a runaway on the streets of Hollywood who was brutally killed, her body left in a dumpster like so much trash. Now Ballard joins forces with Bosch to find out what happened to Daisy, and to finally bring her killer to justice. ” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLook alive twenty-five / Janet Evanovich.
“There’s nothing like a good deli, and the Red River Deli in Trenton is one of the best. World-famous for its pastrami, cole slaw, and for its disappearing managers. Over the last month, three have vanished from the face of the earth, and the only clue in each case is one shoe that’s been left behind. The police are baffled. Lula is convinced that it’s a case of alien abduction. Whatever it is, they’d better figure out what’s going on before they lose their new manager, Ms. Stephanie Plum.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe sentence is death / Anthony Horowitz.
“‘You shouldn’t be here. It’s too late…’ These, heard over the phone, were the last recorded words of successful celebrity-divorce lawyer Richard Pryce , found bludgeoned to death in his bachelor pad with a bottle of wine – a 1982 Chateau Lafite, to be precise. Odd, considering he didn’t drink. And why those words? And, most importantly, which of the mans many, many enemies did the deed? Baffled, the police are forced to bring in Private Investigator Daniel Hawthorne and his sidekick, the author Anthony.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Katharina code / Jørn Lier Horst ; translated by Anne Bruce.
“Twenty-four years ago Katharina Haugen went missing. All she left behind was her husband Martin and a mysterious string of numbers scribbled on a piece of paper. Every year on October 9th Chief Inspector William Wisting takes out the files to the case he was never able to solve. But now Martin Haugen is missing too. As Wisting prepares to investigate another missing persons case he’s visited by a detective from Oslo. Adrian Stiller is convinced Martin’s involved in another disappearance of a young woman and asks Wisting to close the net around Martin. But is Wisting playing cat and mouse with a dangerous killer or a grief-stricken husband who cannot lay the past to rest?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA missed murder / Michael Jecks.
“London, 1555. Queen Mary is newly married to Philip II of Spain – and not everyone is happy about the alliance. The kingdom is divided between those loyal to Catholic Mary and those who support her half-sister, Lady Elizabeth. Former cutpurse turned paid assassin Jack Blackjack has more immediate matters to worry about. Having been ordered to kill a man, he determines to save him instead. But Jack defies his spymaster at his peril.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverShell game : a V.I. Warshawski novel / Sara Paretsky.
When V. I Warshawski gets word that her closest friend and mentor Lotty Herschel’s nephew has become a suspect in a murder, the legendary detective will do everything she can to save him. The cops found Felix Herschel’s name and phone number on the unknown victim’s remains, but Felix insists he doesn’t know why. As Vic digs deeper, she discovers that the dead man was obsessed with Middle Eastern archeology. The first clue in a bewildering case that leads to a stolen artifact and a shadowy network of international criminals.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA Christmas revelation : a novel / Anne Perry.
Christmas is coming and the streets of London are full of festive cheer. As young Worm returns to his home at the Portpool Lane clinic, he encounters the most beautiful woman he has ever seen and, spellbound, he follows her until she is dragged away by two evil-looking men. Convinced that she is in grave danger, Worm begs Squeaky Robinson to help him track her down. But Elouise is embroiled with dangerous criminals who want information that only she can tell. They will stop at nothing to get what they want and, with Christmas day fast approaching, Worm and Squeaky must conjure up a daring plan to help Elouise before it is too late.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMaigret and the Saturday caller / Georges Simenon ; translated by Siân Reynolds.
“When Maigret returns home at the end of a long day, he is surprised to find a tense man named Léonard Planchon waiting on his doorstep with an unusual problem. Planchon wants to kill his wife, or perhaps his wife and her lover, who for two years have been making him sleep on a cot in the dining room. He has even worked out a plan to hide their bodies in concrete. Uneasy and hoping to stop the man before he goes too far, Maigret must investigate a murder that has not yet been committed and uncover the truth behind this peculiar ménage à trois.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

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