We don't review books "on a curve", but we want to acknowledge that some mysteries are simply better than others. In order for our readers to recognize this, most of the mysteries we review are awarded "average" marks. This doesn't mean they are bad; generally, it simply means that these books didn't impress us as much as those rated higher. Our highest rating is reserved for those few books that are exceptional in one way or another and we try to highlight in our review why we believe they deserve this high mark.
Here are the 5 mysteries from 2006, in the order in which they were published, that we believe deserve space on your bookshelf.
The Geographer's Library by Jon Fasman. This book was published in hardcover in 2005, with the trade paperback, the one we reviewed, published in early 2006. We were captivated by both the literary adventure and the way it was presented to the reader. It is an exceptionally well-written book with an unexpected twist at the end.
May 2006: Through a Glass, Darkly by Donna Leon, the 15th mystery to feature Venice Commissioner of Police Guido Brunetti, and a fine example of her body of work. Leon continues to impress us after all these years. In our review we wrote, "The storylines are multi-faceted, each side amplifying another, to produce a brilliance that is rare in detective fiction today." If you haven't read one of the mysteries in this series, make a resolution to do so in 2007; you won't be disappointed.
August 2006: When Good Bras Go Bad by Gayle Trent, the 2nd mystery in the Myrtle Crumb series. This slender book was an unexpected delight. Targeted to pre-teen girls, this gem of a mystery can be enjoyed by all. We said in our review, "Fully developed characters, a well thought out plot, and expressive and eloquent dialog, are all deftly composed in a book that runs less than 100 pages." A good example of never judging a book by its cover, its title, or its intended audience.
September 2006: Messenger of Truth by Jacqueline Winspear, the 4th mystery in the Maisie Dobbs series. Somehow, someway, we managed to miss reading the first three books in this award-winning series. We're glad we caught this one, however, which we found mesmerizing. With eloquent prose, finely drawn characters, a reasoned investigative process, and atmospheric settings, it truly was one of the year's best.
October 2006: False Harbor by Michael Donnelly, who demonstrates considerable talent as the author in his debut mystery. Though we found the plot somewhat formulaic in places, the depth of characterization, the descriptive locales, and the accomplished prose elevated this book into the top tier of mysteries published this year.
If you haven't already read these mysteries, seek them out. They're worth the effort.
All of our mystery book reviews are conveniently organized by date, author, and "star" (or, in our case, "magnifying glass"). If you'd like to comment on our reviews, you may do so on this blog, or by sending a message to [email protected].
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