7 great mysteries

Feeling a little mysterious? Secretive? If you’re in the mood for a little sleuthing or a dash of international intrigue, here are some great reads.

By Donna Leon

The critically acclaimed novels of Donna Leon star the warm-hearted and cultured Venetian Commissario Guido Brunetti. And for Leon fans, it’s not just about the great mystery writing: as a bonus, readers get an inside view of Venice in all its aspects from history and high culture to tourism, food and family. In this installment of the popular series, Brunetti finds himself in the middle of an environmental crisis — and murder and corruption more dangerous than anything he’s seen before.

By David Ignatius

Washington Post columnist (and author of the best-selling Body of Lies), David Ignatius’ new spy novel is set in Washington, London and Iran. The CIA receives information that Iran is making alarming progress in its nuclear program — but because the agency has no assets in Iran, veteran American operative Harry Pappas is forced to go rogue and ask the Brits for help in discovering the truth about Iran’s nuclear secrets before a bellicose White House launches a full-scale attack on the nation’s nuclear assets. The Increment is a classic spy thriller, and it’s ripped-from-the-headlines subject matter — along with Ignatius’ insight into the Middle East and espionage tradecraft — makes for engrossing entertainment.

By Laurie R. King

Award-winning author Laurie R. King continues with her popular series featuring Marry Russell and her famous husband, Sherlock Holmes. In a case that will push their relationship to the breaking point, Russell tries to reverse the greatest failure of Holmes’ past. From suicides at Stonehenge to a bizarre religious cult, from the demimonde of the Café Royal at the heart of Bohemian London to the dark secrets of a young woman’s past on the streets of Shanghai, Russell will find herself on the trail of a killer more dangerous than any she’s ever faced — a killer Sherlock Holmes himself may be protecting for reasons of his own.

By Olen Steinhauer

Likened to writers such as John le Carré and Graham Greene, Olen Steinhauer tells the tale of Milo Weaver who used to be a “tourist” for the CIA — an undercover agent with no home and no identity. But after having retired from the field to become a middle-level manager at the CIA’s New York headquarters (complete with a wife, a daughter, and a brownstone in Brooklyn), he is forced to go back under cover when the arrest of a long-sought-after assassin sets off an investigation into one of Milo’s oldest colleagues. Set against the backdrop of some of the world’s most beautiful places, The Tourist is an intricate story of betrayal and manipulation, loyalty and risk. (Note: Apparently George Clooney’s company has bought the film rights with the actor slated to star and produce.)

By Dan Simmons

On June 9, 1865, while traveling by train to London with his secret mistress, 53-year-old Charles Dickens — at the height of his powers as the most famous novelist in the world — is involved in a tragic accident that changes his life forever. During the disaster, he encounters a ghoulish figure named Drood, who will obsess him for the next — and last — five years of his life. Dickens, who can no longer write, pursues him into the nightmarish world beneath London’s streets. Based on the historical details of Dicken’s life and narrated by his friend Wilkie Collins, Dan Simmons draws from history to create a compelling and terrifying narrative.

By Alexander McCall Smith

In this novel, the tenth of the internationally best-selling series starring Botswana detective Precious Ramotswe, the ever-charming and resourceful Mma Ramostwe is once again called upon to help people with their problems. A proprietor of a local football team enlists the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency to help explain their dreadful losing streak: surely someone is fixing the games — it can’t just be a case of unskilled players, can it? And to make matters worse the unpleasant, yet glamorous Violet Sephotho gets herself a job at the Double Comfort Furniture Store. The reason is obvious: to make a play for Mma Romotswe’s assistant’s fiancé, Mr. Phuti Radiphuti.

By Spencer Quinn

Dog lovers and mystery fans alike will love this hard-boiled detective novel, which is entirely narrated by the PI’s lively mongrel (who happens to have one white ear and one black ear). The trouble begins when wealthy divorcée Cynthia Chambliss hires Bernie, a former cop, to find her missing 15-year-old daughter, Madison. When Madison reappears and disappears again, her dad says she’s just a runaway, though Bernie thinks otherwise. In the end, Chet must use all his superdog tricks to save the day.

Photo ©iStockphoto.com/ Elena Elisseeva

Do you have a favourite mystery read? Please add it to the comments below.

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