Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Can You Just Jump in?


Pardon me for composing a title that ends in a preposition, but that question seemed to be the clearest way to introduce this post's topic. Can you start reading a mystery series in the middle of the series? I had the good fortune to spend time yesterday with two former colleagues who happily remain friends. They are also mystery fans and as so often happened during my years working with reading friends, the topic turned to our latest reads. I mentioned  Cara Black's Murder on the Quai, which is number 16 in this very enjoyable series set in Paris. I offered to give my copy to my friend and she asked a good question, "Do I need to start at the beginning of the series, or can I just jump in?"

A lively discussion followed. We thought one could jump into Sue Grafton's Alphabet Series, but would caution against that for Ian Rankin's outstanding Scottish series. And, yes, a post on Ian Rankin is long, long overdue.

Also long overdue is a post on a mystery novel that begins one of my all-time favorite mystery series. I found C.J. Sansom's Dissolution in a bookstore in Notting Hill in 2005. I started reading in the bookstore and kept reading as I flew home across the Atlantic. I'm a fan of all things Tudor and besides being a complex and interesting mystery, it's an extraordinary historical novel. There are six books in the series which focuses on life in Tudor England. We meet the human, vulnerable and brilliant lawyer Matthew Shardlake, and follow him through the reign of Henry VIII. Each book builds on the one before and it would be a difficult series to jump into somewhere in the middle. The series is at most times dark, violent, sad, and yet always interesting.

When I first thought of writing a mystery novel blog I thought I would begin with a post on Dissolution. Like so many things in life I was sidetracked, but am happy to feature one of my favorite novels. If you're familiar with this series, you're a fortunate reader. If you're about to start reading it, you're in for a treat. The title refers to the Dissolution of the Monasteries, that took place under the reign of Henry VIII. 

So many books to read and so many books to write about and so, so little time! As ever, thanks for visiting and happy reading! 

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Gone to Nantucket in My Mind


One might think I'd never go into a bookstore or library again. I've got shelves of unread books and probably an unequal number waiting on my iPad. I'm circling new books in the New York Times Book Review every week and it's highly unlikely I will run out of books to read in this lifetime, however long it may be. But like a moth to light, I'm drawn to anywhere there may be books. I love looking at the shelves, never knowing what treasure I may find.

During tonight's bookstore visit -- thankfully there's still one in walking distance -- I made my way to the mystery section. I thoroughly enjoyed Heart of Ice, set in Mackinac Island, and had summer resorts on my mind. I was drawn to Francine Mathews' Death in the Off-Season. This is the first volume in the series set on Nantucket Island, featuring police officer Meredith "Merry" Folger. I did a quick flip through the first chapter and read the copy on the back cover, and yes, added this series to my endless "to-read" list.

 I find books and mystery series everywhere. I'm always on the lookout for a new series and the thought of five, ten or twenty volumes with the same main characters -- if I'm especially fortunate -- is a great prize.  How do you find new mysteries? Reviews? Blogs? Word of mouth and recommendations from friends? Coffee Light would love to know.

It's hot, hot, hot in New York City this week. One of my favorite activities is to sit in a cool corner with an iced coffee and a good mystery. So many mysteries and so little time!

Thanks for visiting. Keep cool and keep reading! 

Monday, July 4, 2016

Mackinac Island Mysteries


Happy Fourth of July, dear mystery readers!
 
I had the good fortune to travel to Mackinac Island, MI last week. It's a small, but beautiful island set in Lake Huron and it was definitely a good visit. Some of the most fabulous scenery imaginable, good food, good company and a visit to a wonderful bookstore, The Island Bookstore. There are stores on Mackinaw Island and just across the ferry in Mackinaw City. I spent time with the staff discussing mysteries set in Mackinaw Island and found a trove of books I hope to read.

 

My take away book and fabulous plane reading was  Heart of Ice, by PJ Parrish. It's the latest in the Louis Kincaid series. It kept me reading throughout a long, long delay in Detroit Airport, which is one of my gauges of a book that holds my interest. Private detective Louis Kincaid returns to Mackinaw -- great description of the island -- and becomes entwined in a decades old murder. There are twists, turns and some dark family secrets. Yes, this is often the premise of a mystery novel, but Louis is an interesting and engaging character, totally believable. I also enjoyed getting to know the other characters and seeing life on the island for the year round residents. I enjoyed it very much and though the other volumes aren't set on Mackinaw I look forward to catching up with the entire series and spending more time with Louis Kincaid. 
 
 
Another series on my reading list is written by Peter Marabell. Mackinac Island is the setting for Murder at Cherokee Point and Murder on Lake Street. Devils are Here is set in Petoskey, across the Straits of Mackinaw and down the highway. Peter Marabell is a historian who "retired" to Mackinac, and in his retirement runs a business and writes mysteries. I'm looking forward to starting his series with Murder at Cherokee Point. Cherokee Point is fictional, but I'm sure it will keep my memories of Mackinac happily stirred. 
 
Many thanks to my new friends at The Island Bookstore for great recommendations, good conversation and many happy hours of reading past and to come.  Wishes for a wonderful Fourth and happy hours of reading. 
 
So many mysteries, so little time!  
 

Saturday, June 4, 2016

It's No Mystery, I Love Paris

And I love Cara Black's mysteries that take place in Paris. No mystery, at all. 
 
 
 
I discovered Cara Black at this year's BookExpo America. I had the good fortune to encounter a copy of her soon to be published Murder on  the Quai. I started reading last week and I was hooked with the setting -- Paris -- and the main character, Aimee Leduc. This is very much a prequel and it tells the story of Aimee's life before becoming a detective. Of course it would be helpful if I had read the other books in the series, but as I've done so many times I am starting well past the beginning of the series.
 
On my most recent library trip I looked for other books in the series -- Murder on the Quai is number sixteen -- and found two more. I'm presently reading Murder in the Sentier and though I have other reading commitments, this one has jumped to the top of the list. I have to know what happens. Murder in the Sentier is the third in the series, but after this I'm going to be very organized and go back to the first volume, Murder in the Marais. Each title includes an area of Paris where the mystery focuses and describes the area in wonderful detail. If a trip to Paris isn't on your travel itinerary this year, I strongly suggest visiting vicariously via Cara Black's mysteries. That's exactly what I'll be doing this summer. 
 
Where will you be traveling in MysteryLand this summer?
 
 
So many mysteries and so little time! Here's to an iced coffee, a cozy chair and a mystery novel.  

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Coffee Light Goes to Chicago


Navy Pier -- what a great setting for a mystery!


Coffee Light is leaving in a few hours for Chicago and BookExpo America. I'm not sure what adventures wait for me at BookExpo. I may meet a favorite author or two or be introduced to a writer that's new to me. It's one of my favorite events of the year and I am so looking forward to it.

One of my favorite private investigators is a Chicago resident. I've long enjoyed Sara Paretsky's  mysteries and the exploits of V I Warshawski, who shows us some of the most noir scenes in Chicago. I know there are a few V I mysteries that I've missed and the latest one, Brush Back, is high on my list for this summer.

What are your favorite mysteries set in Chicago?

Alas, so many mysteries and so little time! Happy reading and best wishes. 

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Nothing Like a Murder (Novel) Around the Corner

There are few things more beautiful than a mystery series all in a row...at least for this reader.
 
It's been a long break for café con leche, but I'm home, settled in and back to blogging and reading. Though not a noir series, I've just read the latest in this series by Victoria Thompson, Murder on St. Nicholas Avenue. This is #17 in the Gaslight Mystery series, all set in different New York City neighborhoods at the turn of the century. 
 
There are some aspects of police procedural -- when Theodore Roosevelt was the Police Chief -- and we here we meet Detective Sergeant Frank Malloy. But in my mind, the star of these novels is Sarah Brandt, midwife and member of one of New York's socialite families. The difference between Frank and Sarah's social standing and perspective on New York City life provides some of the most interesting aspects of the novels.
 
The first in the series is "Murder on Astor Place," and it's definitely the place to begin. I read one book almost every week when I first discovered the series and the character development builds with each volume. This is one of my favorite historical series and the realities of life in New York City during the time of massive immigration isn't prettied. There are serious issues raised in each book and though the world view of Sarah and Frank isn't noir, these are not cozy mysteries in any way. I took the title for this post from one of the latest books in the series, "Murder on Amsterdam Avenue," which is only two blocks from where I live. 
 
There was lots of café con leche in Peru and lots of reading on the flights. I read two mysteries that featured forensic anthropologists -- not by planning -- and enjoyed both. I'll be writing about them in my next post.
 
 Until the next post, so many mysteries, so little time. Thanks for stopping by.


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Time for Cafe Con Leche

Coffee Light... is taking a short hiatus while I travel to Peru, for some café con leche.  I anticipate a lot of sightseeing in addition to a lot of coffee drinking. I'll be looking for mysteries set in Peru and reading my almost infinite to-be-read list on the flights. When I'm back I'll be writing about Ian Rankin, one of my all-time favorite writers.



 
 
Until then, so many mysteries, so little time.
Thanks so much for visiting.