A Smattering of Mysteries

Staff PicksShepherd Park/Juanita E. Thornton Library

A Smattering of Mysteries

Welcome audio distractions for uncertain times

There's something about mysteries. Perhaps it's the process of puzzle solving that takes us out of our day-to-day. Perhaps it's the certainty that regardless of the circumstances, at the end of the book the mystery will have been solved. In any case, they are certainly a pleasure to listen to whether or not you want a book that you have to think about. Here are a few audio selections in DC Public Library's OverDrive collection to suit varied tastes.

A Beautiful Blue Death by Charles Finch
Let's start off with a traditional English pick, since so many people have been watching BBC mysteries in the past few weeks. Charles Lenox is an erudite Victorian, who is called upon by his virtuous (and youthfully widowed) neighbor Lady Jane to investigate the poisoning death of her past maid, who had since moved employ. Between the constant references to Victorian investigatory science developments and Lenox's impassioned desire for a good cup of tea on a rainy day, this one tics all the boxes for an English traditional.

Malice by Keigo Higashino
Higashino is one of the world's most literary modern mystery writers. With a talent for keeping the reader riveted long after the murderer has been revealed, he succeeds again with this entry in the Detective Kaga series. Told with multiple narrators, Malice explores the murder of a well-regarded author, Kunihiko Hidaka, who was just about to leave Japan for a move to Canada. As always, Higashino masterfully conceals elusive motive and method until the very end. A literary treat and international bestseller.

Heads You Lose by Lisa Lutz and David Hayward
Like no mystery you've read before, this one was a true mystery even to the authors. One-time couple Lutz and Hayward churn out a collaboration by alternating chapters, neither knowing where the other is going. While their occasionally bubbling frustration with each other can become off-putting or rote at points, overall it leads the reader to hope that they are in fact able to complete the project, especially with such a beginning. Paul and Lacey Hansen find a headless corpse deposited on their property, and when they dispose of it without calling the police (to avert suspicion on their marijuana business) it ends up coming right back to them a second time. This bizarre and dynamic work will keep you entertained while staying in genre.

Sacred Clowns by Tony Hillerman
Hillerman's Navajo Tribal Police series takes place in Navajo Nation and although dated tech wise, the series is still used today in Diné middle and high schools to teach language and culture. In Sacred Clowns, Officer Jim Chee is tasked with locating a Tano and Navajo boy who has run away from his boarding school. When Chee visits Tano Pueblo during a kachina ceremony hoping to find the boy, a koshare clown is murdered, making the case significantly more complex. Hillerman's series is an excellent read for Louise Penny fans, who will appreciate Hillerman's skill at building a detailed setting and exploring the inner lives of his characters.

White Tears by Hari Kunzru
As a cross genre examination of appropriation and how modern generations sustain benefits gained from the atrocities of the past, White Tears eschews the traditional bindings of mysteries. Part murder mystery, part ghost story, part historical fiction, and part societal commentary, the book follows Seth, a music mixer and producer. When Seth and his wealthy friend Carter produce an artificial 1920s blues record track by a man named Charlie Shaw, they soon find out that their made up singer actually lived in the 1920s. Haunted by the song, and the mysterious history behind it, Seth is left to embark on a journey to discover what it is that Charlie Shaw wants from modern day.