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I was wrong – dead wrong . . .

Boy I was wrong about my New Years Resolution.  Dead wrong.  I don’t need to vary my reading.  I don’t need to read a great novel.  Why? Some of my Best Reads have been Mysteries. And that’s because mysteries can be great novels; great literary fiction.  Think about it.  A mystery is part fiction surrounded by careful research of a culture or era (i.e. nonfiction) and fueled by suspense. Who done it as well as when and where done it as well as why done it.  It is not only the death of a character; a mystery can also be about the death of a society; culture; an unraveling of a persona.  The detective can be anyone – knitter, chef, stamp collector or in case of the book I am reading now – a lexicographer.

To be honest I am reading 2 mysteries right now.  The first one is The Broken Teaglass by Emily Arsenault; a wonderfully charming witty wordy mystery set in a dictionary publishing company.  Two young lexicographers find strange disjointed clues about the possibility of an old unsolved murder within their word citations files at Samuleson Dictionary Publishing Company – the citations came from a novel called The Broken Teaglass.  Does the novel actually exist?  Was it written by one of the older editors who may or may not have witnessed a murder or perhaps been the killer themselves?  It is really, really fun and very clever.  Try it!  You will never read a dictionary the same way.  (Hardcover $25.00 and worth every word)

The other mystery is very different.  A Beautiful Place to Die by Malla Nunn is set in South Africa in 1950’s at the beginning of apartheid.  It is a rich full novel about race and politics and power and relationships but it’s also a good classic detective story.  You get a sense of what it must have felt like to be in South Africa at that time period and from all perspectives (and there are a lot of perspectives!).  And you are drawn to the characters who slowly reveal secrets and truths.  So, not only is it a good story but it also a great mystery.  (Paperback $15.00)

Rest in Peace- Robert Parker.  I thought his earlier Spenser mystery Looking for Rachel Wallace was one of his finest.

– Molly

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