Monday June 19, 2017

9 great mysteries you need to read this summer

Margaret Cannon, J.D. Singh and P.K. Rangachari recommend nine mystery novels.

Margaret Cannon, J.D. Singh and P.K. Rangachari recommend nine mystery novels.

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The next Chapter mystery panel returns! Margaret Cannon, J.D. Singh and P.K. Rangachari recommend nine mystery and crime fiction books they've enjoyed recently — and think you will too.

The Thirst by Jo Nesbø ​

The Thirst by Jo Nesbø

Jo Nesbø is a Norwegian writer, musician, former economist and reporter. (CBC/Penguin Random House)

Margaret Cannon says: "If you haven't already heard of Nesbø, this is the book to begin with. It's as up to date as Tinder, which is a central plot focus. The murdered woman in the case has been on Tinder. [Detective Harry Hole] has to do his famous sleuthing and sorting of facts, but he also has to go into the incredible web of social media. This is a terrific book. You'll want to read all the others though, so plan on that." 

Full Dark House by Christopher Fowler 

Fowler Full Dark House

Chris Fowler is the author of more than 40 books, including the detective fiction Bryant & May series. (Chris Fowler/Penguin Random House)

J.D. Singh says: "The principle characters in [Fowler's] novels are two elderly police detectives, Arthur Bryant and John May. The unit they head up is called the Peculiar Crimes Unit. This is the unit that's assigned all those murky cases that Scotland Yard would have difficulty dealing with. There are always flashbacks to things that had happened, let's say, during the Second World War. Bryant is now suffering from dementia, and it's quite interesting to have him travel back to, say, Victorian days. Just like that he'll be back there without really knowing what's going on. The writing is elegant, there's a great deal of wit in there, the plots are reasonably complicated — all the things that make me interested in sticking with a story."

A Family Matter by Chris Laing 

Chris Laing A Family Matter

Chris Laing's short stories have appeared in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine and Hammered Out. (Quick Brown Fox/Seraphim Editions)

P.K. Rangachari says: "It's a Max Dexter mystery. It's set in 1947 Hamilton. Max Dexter runs a private detective agency, and his mother abandoned him when he was a kid. After 20-odd years she turns up again, and she turns out to be a very interesting person. She's a financial consultant for the mob. This book is very interesting, very well written and it catches a slice of history and the moments in time." 

Testimony by Scott Turow ​

Turow Testimony

Scott Turow is an American writer and lawyer who has authored 11 novels and three nonfiction books. (Scott Turow/Hachette Book Group)

​Margaret Cannon says: "This is an international thriller that begins with a testimony in front of the international criminal court for murders committed in Bosnia. With all Turow novels, it is heavy on the legalism, and it's wonderful. It's well thought out, carefully constructed and it has marvelous characters. I couldn't put this one down."

Desperation Road by Michael Farris Smith 

Farris-Smith Desperation Road

Michael Farris-Smith is an award-winning author. He has won several awards, including the Mississippi Author Award for Fiction. (Simon & Schuster)

J.D. Singh says: "I love novels set in the southern U.S. Lots of moonshine, lots of drugs, lots of poverty, lots of violence. It gets me every time. Desperation Road is about a young man whose name is Russell Gaines who made a stupid, careless mistake. He spent 11 years in jail and now has been released, and although he thinks he's paid the price to society, there are others who aren't so sure that he has. The other principle character is a young woman named Maben who's had a life of nothing but mistakes. As you can imagine, and as cliché as it may sound, they're on a collision course. This is the kind of novel that I love reading." 

Quicksand by Malin Persson Giolito ​

Malin Quicksand

Quicksand was named the Best Swedish Crime Novel of the Year by the Swedish Crime Writers Academy. (Ahlander Agency/Other Press)

P.K. Rangachari  says: "I was intending not to do a Scandinavian book, but, I gave up. It's a really funny book. Most Scandinavian things are noir and dreary and damp, but this one's wildly funny. It deals with a girl who is 18 years old and is labeled as a mass murderer. Did she do it? Or did she not do it? It's written in her own voice, and the girl is very funny, witty and makes sarcastic remarks about society and the way we behave."

A Month in the Midnight Sun by Cecilia Ekback 

Ekback Midnight

Cecilia Ekback is a Swedish author but currently lives in Canmore, Alta. (Headshots UK/HarperCollins)

Margaret Cannon says: "This is the follow up to her brilliant first novel, Wolf Winter, which came out a year ago. This is a terrific book taking place 10 years later. We're in 1856. A couple are headed back up to Lapland. Both of them have a project that they're working on. And I won't go any further than that except to say it's terrific." 

You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott 

Abbott Know Me

Megan Abbott has won or been nominated for the CWA Steel Dagger, the International Thriller Writers Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and five Edgar Awards. (Simon & Schuster/Hachette Books Group)

J.D. Singh says: "This is an excellent novel. It's about a young woman who is an elite gymnast who's on her way to becoming an Olympian. And the story is about all of the effort that's required, all the dedication, and then the dedication on the part of the parents as well. There's a dark side: Some parents are happy to ride their children all the way to Olympic bronze, silver and gold." 

Human Remains by Melissa Yi 

Yi Remains

Melissa Yi is the author of the Hope Sze medical mystery series . (Melissa Yi/Windtree Press)

P.K. Rangachari  says: "I talked about her book Stockholm Syndrome last time, and this one is set in the Ottawa Stem Cell Institute. It's got a lot of contemporary stuff, there's a virus very similar to Zika virus. It brings out a lot of interesting issues." 

All comments have been edited and condensed.