The Curious Case of Blue Willow Mystery Day
Calling all armchair sleuths and thrill-seekers! We’re celebrating Blue Willow’s first-ever Mystery Day on Saturday, February 11. It’ll be just like any other day at the shop — opinionated service and possible hand-flailing — but we’ll be focusing especially on some of our favorite mystery novels for readers of all ages and inclinations. So stop by, check our special displays, and ask the staff for their favorite thriller or whodunnit — you’ll never see the twist coming! Here, Valerie shares a note on her lifelong love of the genre, followed by a handful of staff favorites you can look for on the 11th. The game is afoot — read on!
I’ve loved mysteries since I was a child, when I thought that I was Harriet the Spy. I was late to the game with Nancy Drew (why didn’t my grade school have them in the library?), so by the time I was introduced to that classic sleuth, I was already on to Nero Wolfe, Hercule Poirot, and Sherlock Holmes. In college, I took a “Mystery Novel” class recommended to me by my sister Kathleen who was and remains a mystery reader. Do the gothic mysteries count? The long driveway to the crumbling mansion and the brooding lord? I read them all! When I was a young mother desperately searching for anything other than Richard Scarry, I always went to the mystery shelves in the library. Fast forward twenty-six years, and the habit has stuck. The rest of the staff will agree! Whether I’m reading them or listening to them on Libro.fm, I always want to solve it before the end. And I always make sure Greg and I have a mystery to listen to on road trips. I hope you’ll join us in celebrating Mystery Saturday on February 11. Here’s a little preview of some of our favorites.
Elizabeth C. Bunce’s Myrtle Hardcastle Mysteries
A keen observer of her surroundings, Myrtle Hardcastle is passionately interested in all things medicine, toxicology, and especially criminal — not at all seemly subjects for a twelve-year-old Proper Young Lady of Victorian England. Fortunately for Myrtle, trouble has a way of finding her nonetheless. This delightful series is not to be missed for 5th graders and above. A colorful cast of Agatha-Christie-like characters — eccentric, quirky, reliable, and unreliable — abound and add to the fun.
— Jennifer G.
Mario Giordano’s Auntie Poldi Series
Auntie Poldi is a sixty-something Bavarian widow who moves to a villa in Sicily to drink herself to death. Inconveniently, she finds that she has a real knack for solving murders — and a major weakness for the handsome local police inspector. Heavier on laughs than on thrills, the Auntie Poldi books are a boozy, bawdy delight — and the translated prose sparkles like the best Italian prosecco.
Exiles by Jane Harper
What mother leaves her six month old in a stroller alone at a crowded festival? That is the question that has plagued family and friends of Kim Gillespie for a year. Kim disappeared that night, never to be seen again, and those that knew her just don't understand how she could leave the baby unattended. The investigators never recovered a body, but it is presumed she jumped off of a ledge into the water below. A year later at the same festival, there is an appeal held, asking the crowd for help with details. Kim's daughter, Zara, is leading the quest for new information that would explain what happened to her mom. Aaron Faulk has returned to see his friends, the Racos, for the christening that didn't happen last year due to Kim's disappearance. When he starts to study the details of that night with fellow cop Greg Raco, something doesn't add up. Thrown in the middle of this mystery is an unsolved hit-and-run from five years ago and a few budding romances that may or may not go anywhere. So many moving parts that brilliantly come together in the end. Highest praise for another great book that only Jane Harper could write!
The Maid by Nita Prose
Nita Prose's debut novel is the perfect example of a fun, light mystery. Molly Gray, also referred to as "Maid Molly," finds herself in a spot she had never imagined. Molly discovers the body of a well-known guest and must help the detective in the investigation. Unlike her peers, Molly struggles with social skills and as a result, she is too trusting. When Molly becomes a person of interest, the only way to clear her name is to determine who is telling her the truth and who is trying to cover for themselves. Will Molly be able to do it? If so, how?
Richard Osman’s Thursday Murder Club Mysteries
Meet Elizabeth, Joyce, Ron and Ibrahim, the unlikely members of the Thursday Murder Club. These septuagenarian sleuths might be unusual, but they’re lots of fun and they always get their man. As the series progresses, old friends and new come together to solve each case. Read them in order, then go back to the beginning and start again!
All the Dangerous Things by Stacy Willingham
Someone is messing with Isabelle Drake's mind. One year has passed since the "kidnapping" of her toddler Mason from his crib. She is obsessed with finding the truth. But there are so many twists and turns: her memories of sleepwalking as a child, the death of her younger sister under suspicious circumstances in the marsh, and more. Her husband, Ben, has left after supposedly exhausting all his resources after the disappearance. There is so much going on here with a deliciously unreliable narrator, completely flawed and completely believable. Lots of layers to uncover in this second novel which is even better than her first!
Robert B. Parker’s Spenser Mysteries
In audiobooks, I’d recommend a classic series — the Spenser mysteries by the late Robert B Parker. I started reading them in physical form when I was a teenager and have continued to enjoy them since then. It’s a series with unforgettable characters and has served as a connection with family members and some of my dearest friends. Cold Service, narrated by Joe Mantegna, remains one of my favorite audiobooks of all time. After Hawk, Spenser’s closest friend, is gunned down by the Ukrainian mob, he enlists old friends and old enemies in the search for the culprit so he can get even. It’s a story of revenge, power and agency that I will listen to over and over again.