Thrillers and mysteries have been my favourite genre for at least 20 years. After reading so many of them, it’s not so easy to blow my mind anymore. You know, been there, done that. Just how Miss Marple used to say, if it reminds you of something that happened, it’s possible you are onto something. The little old lady from St. Mary Mead certainly knows what she’s talking about, because I’ve figured out many a mystery purely because they reminded me of another one. Is that a bad thing? Hell, no!
Everything already happened, there’s nothing new out there, so we can’t expect authors to come up with newer and newer ways of killing people. What matters the most, is how believable the scenarios and how relatable the characters are. At least for me.
That said, I collected five books I’ve enjoyed throughout the years. So, let’s see!
Presumed Innocent by Scott Turow
Great courtroom drama, complex, layered characters, and a mind boggling mystery from 1986.
Rusty Sabich is chief deputy prosecuting attorney in a large mid-western city. His boss is in the midst of a bitter campaign for re-election. A fellow prosecuting attorney, Carolyn Polhemus, has been brutally murdered. Rusty is handling the investigation– and he needs results.
Before election day.
Before his illicit affair with Carolyn is uncovered.
Election day brings a new prosecuting attorney into office. A political enemy who wants Rusty out. A man whose own secret investigation has revealed Rusty’s relationship with Carolyn. A man who takes Rusty off the case– and charges him with murder. Rusty now faces a long battle in court. Each side will twist the evidence to win its case, and try any procedural ploy, any courtroom trick that might ensure victory. Rusty’s ordeal will uncover corruption, deceit, depravity and incompetence– and keep you spellbound. Who did kill Carolyn Polhemus?
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie
Eliciting quite a lot of gasps with its twists at the time of its publishing in 1926, this book is a real gem for all murder mystery aficionados.
In the village of King’s Abbot, a widow’s sudden suicide sparks rumors that she murdered her first husband, was being blackmailed, and was carrying on a secret affair with the wealthy Roger Ackroyd. The following evening, Ackroyd is murdered in his locked study–but not before receiving a letter identifying the widow’s blackmailer. King’s Abbot is crawling with suspects, including a nervous butler, Ackroyd’s wayward stepson, and his sister-in-law, Mrs. Cecil Ackroyd, who has taken up residence in the victim’s home. It’s now up to the famous detective Hercule Poirot, who has retired to King’s Abbot to garden, to solve the case of who killed Roger Ackroyd–a task in which he is aided by the village doctor and narrator, James Sheppard, and by Sheppard’s ingenious sister, Caroline.
The Winter Queen by Boris Akunin
A twisty historical mystery and a charming detective who makes it impossible to not fall in love with him.
Moscow, May 1876: What would cause a talented young student from a wealthy family to shoot himself in front of a promenading public in the Alexander Gardens? Decadence and boredom, most likely, is what the commander of the Criminal Investigation Division of the Moscow Police thinks, but still he finds it curious enough to send the newest member of the division, Erast Fandorin, a young man of irresistible charm, to the Alexander Gardens precinct for more information.
Fandorin is not satisfied with the conclusion that this is an open-and-shut case, nor with the preliminary detective work the precinct has done—and for good reason: The bizarre and tragic suicide is soon connected to a clear case of murder, witnessed firsthand by Fandorin. There are many unresolved questions. Why, for instance, have both victims left their fortunes to an orphanage run by the English Lady Astair? And who is the beautiful “A.B.,” whose signed photograph is found in the apparent suicide’s apartment? Relying on his keen intuition, the eager sleuth plunges into an investigation that leads him across Europe, landing him at the deadly center of a terrorist conspiracy of worldwide proportions.
Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz
Evoking the atmoshpere of Agatha Christie’s mysteries, Magpie Murder is not only an interesting murder case, but it’s also a book within the book. The amateur detective has to solve the real life puzzle by solving the murder in the fictional book!
When editor Susan Ryeland is given the manuscript of Alan Conway’s latest novel, she has no reason to think it will be much different from any of his others. After working with the bestselling crime writer for years, she’s intimately familiar with his detective, Atticus Pünd, who solves mysteries disturbing sleepy English villages. An homage to queens of classic British crime such as Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers, Alan’s traditional formula has proved hugely successful. So successful that Susan must continue to put up with his troubling behavior if she wants to keep her job.
Conway’s latest tale has Atticus Pünd investigating a murder at Pye Hall, a local manor house. Yes, there are dead bodies and a host of intriguing suspects, but the more Susan reads, the more she’s convinced that there is another story hidden in the pages of the manuscript: one of real-life jealousy, greed, ruthless ambition, and murder.
Blood on the Tracks by Barbara Nickless
While the murder case itself may not be anything out of the ordinary, the characters nearly leap off the page. Sydney Parnell, a railroad cop, and her K-9 partner Clyde are pretty much one of my all time favourite detective duos. Let me just say, they are so good, they blow my mind!
A young woman is found brutally murdered, and the main suspect is the victim’s fiancé, a hideously scarred Iraq War vet known as the Burned Man. But railroad police Special Agent Sydney Rose Parnell, brought in by the Denver Major Crimes unit to help investigate, can’t shake the feeling that larger forces are behind this apparent crime of passion.
In the depths of an icy winter, Parnell and her K9 partner, Clyde ― both haunted by their time in Iraq ― descend into the underground world of a savage gang of rail riders. There, they uncover a wide-reaching conspiracy and a series of shocking crimes. Crimes that threaten everything Parnell holds dear.
As the search for the truth puts her directly in the path of the killer, Parnell must struggle with a deadly question: Can she fight monsters without becoming one herself?
What about you? What do you look for in mysteries and thrillers?
Top 5 Tuesday is hosted by Shanah @ Bionic Bookworm.