5 “Best of 2014″ Mysteries

MysteryMondayBannerAt the end of the year, it is commonplace for reviewers to pick the “best of 2014” novels.  Here’s a look at 5 mysteries that are on more than one “best of” list for 2014.  (I would classify most of these as mystery thrillers.)

The Son by Jo Nesbo

Sonny Lofthus has been in prison for a dozen years for crimes he didn’t commit to feed his heroin addiction.  Now’s he’s discovered some new information about his father, whose suicide started his downhill spiral into drugs.  He cleans up, escapes and is dead set on seeking revenge even if it leads him to Oslo’s crime overlord, a terrifying man known as the Twin.  If you’re wondering where the police are in this rampage, Simon Kefas is an aging detective who was Sonny’s father’s best friend and is trying to catch Sonny before the Twin does.  Note: there is a lot of violence in this tale.

The FarmThe Farm by Tom Rob Smith (who also wrote the excellent novel, Child 44)

Imagine that your mother and father moved to Sweden to retire peacefully on a rural farm.  You then get a phone call from your father who tells you that your mother is not well and has been admitted to a mental asylum.  Then you get a phone call from your mother who is on her way home to you in London and she insists that she is not insane but that your father is in the middle of a horrible crime and conspiracy and trying to lock her up.  That’s the scenario that the main protagonist is this story, Daniel, is thrown into.  While his mother’s story is difficult, it is not implausible.  Who should he believe?  What will the truth be?

I am a Pilgrim by Terry Hayes

Pilgrim is a codename for a man who once headed up a secret unit of the C.I.A. and also wrote a book detailing forensic criminal investigation techniques.  Now that book has come back to haunt him because someone else used it to commit the perfect crime and Pilgrim has to find him.  Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as it sounds.  Soon Pilgrim is in a race against time and traveling the world to stop a jihadi terrorist who is planning to introduce a strain of plague that is vaccine-proof.

Good GirlThe Good Girl by Mary Kubica

Colin Thatcher is supposed to kidnap Mia Dennett.  Colin Thatcher is not supposed to hide her in a secluded cabin evading the police and his superiors.  This story is told from different perspectives: Mia’s socialite mother, the detective and even Mia herself.  What starts out as a simple kidnapping turns into a thriller that reveals how nothing is as it seems.

The Secret Place by Tana French

In the leafy suburbs of Dublin, a boy named Chris Harper was murdered on the grounds of a girls’ boarding school.  A year later, the police are still searching for answers. Then, Holly Mackey, who attends the boarding school and is Dectective Frank Mackey’s daughter, brings the police a photo of Chris found posted at her boarding school where someone wrote: “I know who killed him”.  A haunting look at teenage friendship and loyalty, this is another tale involving the Dublin Murder Squad.  Previous books in this series: In the Woods, The Likeness, Faithful Place, Broken Harbor.

–Carol W.

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Mystery Monday — Holiday Mysteries


Mysteries and the holidays are like snow and winter, or caroling and cocoa, or shopping and wrapping, or—well you get the picture!

In the midst of this season, be sure to check out the many holiday themed mysteries to enjoy during your down time. Even the most harried readers should have some luck finding satisfying books to wind down with. Even better if you are busy–we have short stories, and audio books to take on your travels, too.

A Rumpole Christmas by John Mortimer

rumpoleThis collection of 5 short stories was released after the author’s passing in 2009. A special treat for established Rumpole fans, it’s also a way for readers new to Morton’s colorful Horace Rumpole character to get acquainted. Though he is not a big fan of the season, Rumpole is almost sure to get you in the holiday spirit.






Silent Night by Robert Parker, with Helen Brann

silentnightHere’s a holiday gift for Spenser fans and crime readers needing a Spenser fix. Parker’s longtime literary agent, Brann, completed this novel that was left unfinished when Parker died in 2010.

It’s December in Boston, and Spenser finds himself pulled into a situation that threatens a group of homeless boys who are trying to get a break.   Christmas is just days away as Spenser prepares for a showdown.



Veiled Threat by Alice Loweecy

veiledthreatIt’s private investigator Giulia Falcone’s second Christmas since leaving the convent, and she is content. But Giulia’s holiday is darkened with disturbing news from her friends Anya and Laurel–their adopted baby girl has been kidnapped. When she discovers that two kidnappings in nearby communities, both involving same-sex couples, ended fatally, Giulia goes undercover to snare the kidnappers before they can kill again.




Duck the Halls by Donna Andrews ( A Meg Langslow Mystery)

duckthehallsWhen Christmas preparations are disrupted by a series of pranks being pulled on the town’s churches, Meg Langslow is called in to restore order and discover who is behind it. Suddenly things escalate beyond skunks, boas constrictors and ducks, and an elderly vestryman from Trinity Episcopal winds up dead. This series is as much about the town and Meg’s crazy extended family than it is about mysteries. Listen on CD to this latest, light hearted Christmas installment guaranteed to enhance the holiday mood.

A Christmas Grace by Anne Perry

a christmas graceThis is the sixth Victorian Christmas offering by best-selling author Perry. Emily Radley is drawn to a remote Irish village to care for her dying aunt. A violent storm looms on the horizon, and a terrible secret haunts the villagers. Will Emily solve the mystery and weather the storm? A slight tale that will appeal to Perry’s fans, and complement her other Christmas books.




Jane and the 12 Days of Christmas by Stephanie Barron

jane and theDenver’s own Stephanie Barron, aka novelist Francine Matthews, here serves up a satisfying holiday plot which combines Barron’s courtly language with an engaging group of characters from her popular series about English author, Jane Austen.

Jane and her family are invited to spend Christmas at an English country home, The Tyne. The festive holiday crowd includes other genteel country dwellers, but when one of their snow-bound party dies in a tragic accident, Jane’s suspicions are piqued. If the accident was in fact murder, the killer is one of Jane’s fellow guests. Jane works to discover the truth even as she grapples with discerning just who among their party she can really trust. Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas is number 12 in this charming series.



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The Remedy for Love by Bill Roorbach

Glad you don’t live in Buffalo? But sort of wishing you were snowed in for a weekend so you could read?

RemedyforLoveHere’s the perfect book for you – The Remedy for Love by Bill Roorbach (from Algonquin and finalist for the 2014 Kirkus prize for fiction). Two strangers meet by chance in a grocery line, and end up together in a cabin during the storm of the century in Maine.

Eric – a defense lawyer who is trying in a last ditch effort to save his marriage, even though his wife has moved on, decides to cook a romantic dinner. He needs groceries. While in line he notices a young woman who in his mind is clearly homeless, probably unstable, and struggling to pay. He helps her and offers her a ride back to where she lives.

Danielle – is alone, squatting in a cabin far off the road and near the river. She doesn’t want him to help her home. Eric insists and that’s when he sees the rustic cabin with no running water, electricity or heat. He decides to help her whether she wants him to or not. She is distrustful of his intentions.

The storm comes. In this page turner, the reader isn’t sure about the motivation of either character; it is like watching a weird psychological tennis match with killer serves delivered by both parties. As several feet of snow falls and is measured in feet, there’s an odd world in that lonely cabin unfolding and it’s hard to step back without finding out how the characters will survive.

So settle into your favorite chair with your tea or cocoa and put your feet up. You will be reading this story from start to finish. Bill Roorbach is a gifted storyteller you will find yourself drawn into that cabin and into the characters’ troubled lives.LifeAmongGiants

The author lives in Maine and his novel, Life Among Giants has recently been picked up by HBO as a series. Roorbach is working on the script. You won’t regret settling into any book by Bill Roorbach.

~Lisa C.                         Program Liaison at James H. LaRue

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Volunteer Views

Volunteer Views


In this week’s list, our DCL volunteers offer some reviews which cover books for all ages!

miraclemapleshillMiracles on Maple Hill by Virginia Sorensen

All the best stories ring with truth and Miracles on Maple Hill is no exception. Ms. Sorensen very deservedly won the Newberry for this delightful juvenile book, which features glimpses of both the mundane and the complexities of life as experienced through a young girl’s senses during four seasons in rural Pennsylvania. Marly’s voice is so authentic and relatable that I found myself feeling a deep regard for all the people she meets and places she goes. Be prepared for the urge to consume some pure maple syrup at some point in the reading!


~Juvenile fiction; rated 5 stars by James H. LaRue volunteer Sara

inspectorpawsInspector Paws and the Wonders of Europe by Rosemary Budd

Inspector Paws moves in with Stella and Ernie Clayton and they provide him with food, and a big backyard, which caters to his roaming instincts. The best part is that there are no kids around to torment him. When Ernie has a fatal heart attack his death is attributed to natural causes, but the tingle in his whiskers convinces Paws there’s more to it. Then Stella and her friend Jo kidnap Paws and drag him off on a European tour, during which he becomes the tour mascot and self-appointed sleuth. Can he solve the mystery of who killed Ernie? An amusing little book that captivates you, much like other cat mystery books.

~Adult fiction; rated 5 stars by Castle Pines volunteer Bev

prolonged exposureProlonged Exposure by Steven Havill

Undersheriff Bill Gastner is recuperating at his daughter’s home in Michigan. Detective Estelle Reyes-Guzman calls from his hometown of Posadas, New Mexico, to notify him that his home has been robbed. She also tells him that his elderly neighbor has buried his wife on Gastner’s property. Gastner and his daughter return to New Mexico and are soon entangled in the search for a missing three year old boy. The search becomes more personal and heart wrenching when another little boy is kidnapped. Gastner must cope with his home invasion and his neighbor while supporting the kidnapping investigation. The plot is gripping, and I found myself unable to put the book down until the kidnapping was resolved.

~ePub fiction; rated 5 stars by James H. LaRue volunteer Sheryl

cotillionCotillion by Georgette Heyer

With some romance novels, you pretty much know what you’re going to get even before you flip to the first page. Not so with novels by Georgette Heyer, who consistently comes up with refreshingly original situations for her unique heroines and heroes. Cotillion is one of the best examples of her work. If you’re interested in atypical characters, an engrossing storyline with unexpected twists and turns, and a well-researched depiction of Britain’s Regency era – and you’re not looking for the literary genius of Jane Austen or the steamy heat of bodice rippers – then grab this e-book. You won’t be sorry.

~ePub fiction; rated 4 stars by James H. LaRue Volunteer Chris

angerviolenceAnger is Okay, Violence is Not by Julie Federico

This story delivers an empowering message appropriate for all people at all times. My kids, ages 5, 8, and 10 wanted me to read it over and over because it spoke to a solution for a universal problem. Though unsophisticated, the bright illustrations make a serious theme safe, accessible and conversational. The title is superb and my thanks go to Tate Publishing and Ms. Federico for this important book.

~Picture book; rated 4 stars by James H. LaRue Volunteer Sara 
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Mystery Monday — The Man Who Died Laughing

Mystery MondayI love to check out mysteries based on different cultures and settings.  As I was looking at different options, I decided to check out The Case of the Man Who Died Laughing by Tarquin Hall which is set in India.  The title was intriguing and I hadn’t read any mysteries set in India before.  The victim, Dr. Suresh Jha, is murdered during a meeting of the weekly Laughing Club.  Apparently he has been killed by the goddess Kali, who hovers in the air and runs a sword through him while the other members of the club are helplessly laughing and magically unable to move.

The Man Who Died LaughingBecause this is such a sensational murder, Vish Puri, a famed detetective with a reputation for explaining the unexplainable is called in to assist.  However, Inspector Singh makes sure that Puri understands his involvement is not to be made known to the head of the police department.

The main suspect is Maharaj Swami, who leads a wealthy religious group and who Dr. Jha was extremely critical of.  Dr. Jha was the founder of the Delhi Institute of Rationalism and Education (DIRE) and a constant critic of Maharaj Swami as well as other Indian spiritualists.

Can this unusual murder be solved in a satisfactory way?  Most definitely.  With the help of his undercover agents, Detective Puri is able to put all of the pieces of this puzzle together.

This is the second Vish Puri Mystery.  Though I didn’t start with the first book in the series, it probably would be best to read them in order though I didn’t feel like I missed too much by not having read the first book (The Case of the Missing Servant in 2009).  Additional Vish Puri Mysteries include The Case of the Deadly Butter Chicken (2012) and The Case of the Love Commandos (2013).  But to really get a feel for the setting in India and correct pronunciation of the different names, I strongly recommend that you listen to the audio versions of these mysteries.

– Carol W.

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Amazon Names Ten Books

Recently Amazon named its ten best rated books for 2014 –so far. The list includes some of our own staff favorites as well–click here to see it.

red rising

My personal favorite from the list is Pierce Brown’s riveting debut, Red Rising, the masterfully told tale of sixteen year-old Darrow and life in a Martian mining colony where all is not as it seems.



Golden Son, book II in the trilogy, is available now for requests prior to the January 6 publication date.

golden son





~ djc

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An Evening with Bestselling Author – Ally Condie

BigBuzzBannerHer Matched trilogy has made her an international bestselling author, and now Douglas County Libraries welcomes Ally Condie to the  James H. LaRue Library in Highlands Ranch, on Thursday, November 13th at 6:30pm. She will talk about her new stand-alone young adult book, Atlantia.


Registration is required for this free event, and is available online by clicking here or by calling 303-791-7323. Books will be on sale, of course, courtesy of the Tattered Cover Book Store.

Critically-acclaimed author Ally Condie is known for her spare, poetic prose and inventive storytelling. In 2010, her ‘superb’ (Wall Street Journal) novel Matched became one of the most talked-about books of the year, garnering two starred reviews and widespread critical acclaim. Entertainment Weekly raved, ‘Matched is the hottest YA title to hit bookstores since The Hunger Games,’ and Publishers Weekly named the novel one of their ‘Best Books of the Year’.”

AtlantiaFor as long as she can remember, Rio has dreamt of the sand and sky Above—of life beyond her underwater city of Atlantia. But in a single moment, all her plans for the future are thwarted when her twin sister, Bay, makes an unexpected decision, stranding Rio Below. Alone, ripped away from the last person who knew Rio’s true self—and the powerful siren voice she has long hidden—she has nothing left to lose…

In this heart-breaking novel, Condie masterfully conjures a world both dazzling and deeply flawed, and a heroine whose profound love for her sister and her city drives her to question everything she has known to be true.”

~Lisa C.

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Book Lover’s Night – JHL

Looking for just the right book to curl up with on a chilly evening? Well you’re not alone, and you’re in luck, because the Book Lover’s Night at the James H. LaRue library on October 22 featured some wonderful reading suggestions. Whether you are in the mood for a new novel, or if non-fiction is your thing this fall, you can always trust our staff to come through! Here are a few of their favorites from the list.

How to Tell Toledo from the Night Sky, by Lydia Netzer

HowtoTellToledoLibrary Journal review: “Netzer’s sophomore effort is a love story like no other. Irene, a brilliant astrophysicist, believes in science, not love. George is convinced everything on the planet, from the stars to the living beings, has a twin soul. He just hasn’t found his yet… As George and Irene balance the fine line of fate, old secrets are exposed, and true love is put to the test.

Netzer’s poetic storytelling results in a surreal yet believable tale of two lives intertwined more than they could have realized. As in the author’s first novel, Shine, Shine, Shine, the imaginative characters are full of eccentricities, adding a touch of humor to a story that’s also tinged with remorse and regret. Recommended for all literary fiction fans, this would also make a great book club selection for anyone who has ever pondered soul mates and the role individuals play in controlling destiny.”  (Suggested by Dodie O.)


The View from Penthouse B, by Elinor Lipman

ViewfrompenthousebGwen-Laura Schmidt lost her husband suddenly and is trying, without much success, to cope with his death. When her older sister Margot invites her to move into Margot’s luxurious Village apartment, it’s a setup that could work for both. Margot herself is fighting back from financial ruin and a scandalous divorce from her husband, a fertility doctor who ran afoul of the law. This is a chance to shake Gwen out of her grief that will also help Margot make ends meet. Another boarder rounds out their group, an attractive guy named Anthony, who bakes cupcakes. Dreaming up money-making schemes with Margot and Anthony and venturing back out into the dating world begins to bring Gwen around. Meanwhile the arrival of Margot’s paroled ex in the efficiency apartment downstairs livens things up even more. A sweet and witty sister story, this novel is all about love, grief, loneliness, forgiveness and new life in middle age.                                 (Suggested by Katherine J.)


No Silent Night: the Christmas Battle for Bastogne, by Don Cygan and Leo Barron

bookcoverCA0CJ75LOn Christmas morning, 1944, there was little reason to celebrate as the Battle of the Bulge raged. A small force of American solders—including the famed 101st Airborne division, tank destroyer crews, engineers, and artillerymen—was completely surrounded by Hitler’s armies in the Belgian town of Bastogne. The Germans desperately needed to drive back the Allies and thus turn the tide of the war. As the newly reinforced German army of men and tanks attacked just before dawn, the outnumbered, ill-supplied Americans gathered in church for services or shivered in their snow-covered foxholes on the fringes of the front lines. The horrific battle brought the enemies up close and personal, with the cold, exhausted soldiers of both armies fighting for every square foot of frozen earth. In the end, Allied forces prevailed to hold Bastogne, and the pivotal and hard-won victory hoisted up morale and sounded the death-knell for Hitler’s Third Reich. The Nazis never launched another offensive again.        (Suggested by Lisa)

Author Don Cygan will talk about his book at the Roxborough Library on Friday, November 7th at 7pm. Register online or by calling 303-791-7323.

For the complete list of the Book Lover’s titles,  click here.


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Mystery Monday – Ghostly Tales

Mystery MondayWhat could be better than even more ghost stories this time of year? Actually for some people (myself included) a spine-tingling ghost story is fascinating entertainment at any time of year. Ghostly tales have always appealed to people of all ages, too. Whether it’s the whole “I see dead people” thing, or there’s an unseen entity that helps or menaces us– or both– it happens to be the perfect time to try a well done ghost story! Here are a few new books for your consideration and enjoyment.

Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld

afterworldsWesterfeld’s unique new book features Darcy Patel, a college-age woman working to publish her teen novel, Afterworlds. Darcy arrives in New York and quickly doubts her decision to set out with no apartment or friends in the city. Then she meets a group of writers who accept her into their diverse group. Westerfeld tells Darcy’s story in alternating chapters, switching between her real life and the story told in her novel. He cleverly navigates readers between these stories and somehow creates two fully realized worlds– one contemporary romance and one horror fantasy.
Darcy struggles with the ins and out of survival in today’s publishing world. Meanwhile, in Darcy’s novel, her character Lizzie slips into the ‘Afterworld’ to survive a terrorist attack. But the Afterworld is a place between the living and the dead and as Lizzie drifts between, she is pulled into a world of ghosts.

Rooms by Lauren Oliver

roomsYA sensation Lauren Oliver offers readers a mesmerizing adult mystery, complete with ghosts and family secrets. When Richard Walker dies, his estranged family shows up at his sprawling country house looking to collect their inheritance. But when his embittered ex-wife and two troubled children arrive, they find they are not alone. Alice and Sandra, the ghosts of long dead former residents now bound to the house, linger within the crowded rooms. As the ghosts observe the family arguing and trading barbs, Alice and Sandra use the house itself to speak to the unhappy living—through hissing radiators, a creaky staircase, and the like. The characters are all haunted by painful truths that soon surface with explosive force as the lives of the living and the dead intersect.
Oliver is the New York Times bestselling Young Adult author of Before I Fall and the Delirium trilogy. Rooms, her imaginative adult debut, has drawn comparisons to The Lovely Bones, Her Fearful Symmetry, and The Ocean at the End of the Lane.

Jackaby by William Ritter

JackabyFans of “quirky” are in for a treat with Jackaby, in which we meet the endearingly naïve but adventurous narrator, Abigail Rook. It’s 1892 when Abigail sets out for the US, seeking adventure and a job. She arrives in New Fiddleham, penniless and with few employable skills, but when she meets R.F. Jackaby, he takes her on as his assistant. Her new boss is peculiar to say the least– an investigator who can see supernatural beings. Abigail has a keen eye for detail but no knowledge of the paranormal, yet Jackaby is drawn to Abigail when he sees immediately that she has managed to pick up a spirit somewhere in her travels.  Abigail’s first case proves a thrilling one, involving a serial killer. Jackaby believes that a nonhuman creature is responsible but the police deny the existence of the creature. That is, all except a handsome young detective named Charlie Cane.
Described as “Doctor Who meets Sherlock “, Ritter’s debut novel is first in a series that’s “brimming with cheeky humor and a dose of the macabre.”

The Little Book of True Ghost Stories by Echo Bodine

littlebookofTrueGhostStoriesIf you are looking for stories where the ghosts are real, check out this publisher’s description: “Echo Bodine sees dead people. And, in the course of her thirty year ghostbusting career, she has escorted countless souls of the dearly departed from bordellos, bars, and boardinghouses in which they have overstayed their welcome. ‘Ghosts,’ Echo Bodine once said, ‘are like everyone else, except they are dead.’ This always entertaining, and often scary, collection of true stories bears out this point. The dead are a lot like you or me – or the psychopath down the street. Based on her ghost-busting experiences, Bodine introduces the reader to over 40 different ghosts…These tales of ghosts and things that go bump in the night are often funny, sometimes unnerving, and always perceptive.”







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Mystery Monday: Paranormal Mysteries

Mystery MondayIn anticipation of Halloween, it seems fitting to discuss mysteries that have paranormal or ghostly elements to them.  These mysteries may have vampires, werewolves, witches or people with psychic powers.   As so aptly stated by MysteryAuthors.com, these are ”…mysteries solved by involving the things that go bump in the night, are solved by people with powers or at times by people who aren’t really people at all.”

Storm FrontMy husband’s favorite series is the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher.  This series follows Harry Dresden, a wizard and private investigator who works hard to protect the general public in modern day Chicago from the mythical creatures (ghouls, vampires, werewolves, zombies, fairies, etc.) and other dark forces out to destroy them.  There are currently fifteen books in this series.  I would strongly recommend reading this series in order beginning with the first book, Storm Front.

On the lighter side, check out the Ghost Hunter Mysteries by Victoria Laurie.  In this series, M. J. Holliday runs a ghost busting business with her best friend, Gilley Gillespie.  There are currently eight books in this series: What’s a Ghoul to Do? (#1), Demons are a Ghouls Best Friend (#2), Ghouls Just Haunt to Have Fun (#3), Ghouls Gone Wild (#4), Ghouls, Ghouls, Ghouls (#5) and Ghoul Interrupted (#6), What a Ghoul Wants (#7)  and The Ghoul Next Door (#8). No Ghouls Allowed (#9) will be coming out in January of 2015.  An interesting tidbit:  Victoria Laurie is a real life professional psychic and also writes another mystery series: Psychic Eye Mysteries.

And for those of you who have loved the True Blood Series on HBO, check out the Southern Vampire Mystery series by Charlaine Harris, featuring Sookie Stackhouse, a telepathic waitress who deals with vampires and werewolves.  Here’s a list of this series in order: Dead Until Dark (#1), Living Dead in Dallas (#2), Club Dead (#3), Dead to the World (#4), Dead as a Doornail (#5), Definitely Dead (#6), All Together Dead (#7), From Dead to Worse (#8), Dead and Gone (#9), Dead in the Family (#10), Dead Reckoning (#11), Deadlocked (#12) and the final book in the series Dead Ever After (#13).

Happy Haunting!

– Carol W.


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