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Need Summer Mystery Suggestions? Murdoch Cast Is on the Case

For those seeking escapist summer entertainment, the answer is elementary: try a mystery. Maybe a book, a movie, a TV show (so long as you're watching it on CBC).

But that said, CBC's Murdoch Mysteries won't be back with fresh episodes 'til fall. And if you've already run through the reruns online -- plus the Maureen Jennings novels that inspired the series -- you'll need some distractions 'til Season 6 starts.

For some recommendations, CBC Live went to the stars. Check out their summer mystery suggestions.

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Murdoch Mysteries's lead, Yannick Bisson, is usually too busy for beach reads and TV binge-watching. (The show's in production all summer, after all.) But if he finds the time, the actor's favourite quick skims are mysterious action-thrillers -- like Pirate, the third book in Ted Bell's Alex Hawke series.

"He's a great writer," Bisson says of Bell, who wrote a few of his other favourites. But in Pirate, published in 2006, the world is under threat of nuclear war. The Chinese are involved, as are the French -- and also, somehow, a mad descendant of Napoleon Bonaparte. Only Hawke can stop them all. (His chances seem decent. Writes the New York Times, Hawke is "British and very Bond-like.")

"It's a little bit corny around the edges," says Bisson of the book, "but I like [Bell's] take on the modern super-agent for hire."

"Ludlum, spy-action novels: that's what I was sort of weaned on. I like that stuff."

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Truth is stranger on fiction. Even if we're just talking half-truths. Or flat-out hoaxes.

As such, Thomas Craig isn't offering a tip for a summer novel or movie. His favourite mystery is culled from real life: the enigma of the Loch Ness Monster.

("Is it real? I've driven down the side of Loch Ness and thought about it," Craig ponders. "And I think we might be doing an episode about a Loch Ness Monster.")

Spoiler alert?! It'll be months before fans solve that puzzle. Until then, you can always look up books and films that mine Nessie lore. One offbeat suggestion: Incident at Loch Ness. It's a mockumentary within a mockumentary -- more of a mystery of movie-making than a hunt for the mythical beast. Famed director Werner Herzog plays himself, as he stages a filmmaking expedition to find the monster. He's joined by another documentary film crew, who are ostensibly making a movie about him, as the project unravels monster-movie-style.

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Jonny Harris's pick is a modern whodunnit, one with a sci-fi bent: Stephen King's 2011 novel, 11/22/63.

"Excellent book!" he says, "though it's a bit of a beast. Like 900 pages."

"Basically it's about a guy who has the opportunity to go back in time to stop the JFK assassination, but first he's got to be sure that Lee Harvey Oswald did it. By himself. (That age-old question.) But it plays out like a detective novel," Harris says. "It's funny, I find when Stephen King steps away from the dark surreal thing, that's his best stuff."  

Or, you could just go with Constable Crabtree's fallback suggestion: "Well, I'm a big fan of the Murdoch Mysteries..."

For more mystery reads, you can always visit CBC Books for suggestions. And go to CBC.ca to watch Murdoch Mysteries online all summer long.

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