The New Year brings about new changes, new attitudes or perhaps a new hobby. Those who love reading novels may read a particular subject favorite or a variety of topics. Whatever your taste in reading, a good mystery is sure to leave you grappling for more.
With so many crime dramas or crime related programs that dominate network and cable television including film, plots of these stories are based on novels or real events. Due to their popularity, many crime related and mystery books hit the shelves in 2012 and were a success, including blockbusters “The Racketeer” by John Grisham, “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn and “The Black Box” by Michael Connelly.
It was only fitting to visit the Martin Luther King (MLK) Library to find out what crime mystery novels were frequent checkouts. The information provided about these novels was given by the MLK Popular Services Manager Jameely Dahma; questions were emailed to her. Many thanks for the answers and support (Ms. Barbara Gauntt).
From Ms. Dahma (via email): “I had consulted with one of our expert librarians and avid mystery readers, Barbara Gauntt, Cleveland Park Library. Below are her responses.”
(1) What mystery or crime related books are being checked out at the library at this time?
Mystery authors currently of high interest are Tana French, Philip Kerr, Louise Penny, and Scandinavian mysteries in general. Mystery authors that are of steady interest to our customers are Harlan Coben, Michael Connelly, Robert Crais, Alan Furst, Donna Leon, James Patterson, George Pelecanos, and Ian Rankin.
(2) There are many types today that are categorized as a mystery/crime related topic (i.e. police procedural, suspense, horror, paranormal). What do you define as a true definition of a mystery and/or crime related book?
Any book whose plot centers on crime, usually murder, is crime fiction. Most mystery readers would include espionage and thrillers within the mystery genre.
(3) Are there any authors coming to the MLK Library on this topic in the fall season? If so, who?
I am not aware of any mystery author appearances scheduled at the DC Public Libraries in the near future. However, Azar Nafisi, author of Reading Lolita in Tehran, will appear at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library on November 10 at 2:30pm in an onstage conversation with NPR host and journalist Jacki Lyden. Azar Nafisi’s Reading Lolita in Tehran is the celebrated work of our DC Reads program this year.
(4) Name three television programs you believe are mystery and/or crime related which have good plots that are defined as “crime dramas.”
There are scads of television crime dramas, but currently most popular are the new BBC One Sherlock Holmes series and, based on customer requests, "The Wire" and "Midsomer Murders."
(5) What mystery/crime related book would you recommend a novice interested in the topic to read?
Kate Atkinson or Harlan Coben
(6) Is there a mystery/crime book club at the library? If so, when do they meet?
The Cleveland Park Library’s Mystery Book Club meets the first Thursday of the month, 6:30 pm, at Barnes and Noble, 12th & E Streets, N.W.
The “I Love a Mystery” Book Club meets the third Wednesday of each month at 7:00pm at the Chevy Chase Library.
(7) Who in your opinion is today’s best mystery/crime writer?
There are absolutely too many excellent writers to single out one.
On the two recommendations Barbara Gauntt mentioned -
Harlan Coben. Coben is an American writer from New Jersey known for the Myron Bolitar and Mickey Bolitar series. Wikipedia describes his novels as the following:
“The plots of his novels often involve the resurfacing of unresolved or misinterpreted events in the past (such as murders, fatal accidents, etc.) and often have multiple plot twists. Both series of Coben's books are set in and around New York and New Jersey, and some of the supporting characters in the two series have appeared in both.”
Coben’s latest novel “Stay Close” release date is Feb 12, 2013. Here is a summary from amazon.com -
Megan is a suburban soccer mom who once upon a time walked on the wild side. Ray used to be a talented documentary photographer, but now he finds himself in a dead-end job posing as paparazzo. Broome is a detective who can’t let go of a cold case.
Three people living lives they never wanted are hiding secrets that even those closest to them would never suspect. And as each confronts the dark side of the American dream—the boredom of a nice suburban life, the excitement of temptation, the desperation and hunger that can lurk behind even the prettiest facades—they will discover the hard truth that the line between one kind of life and another can be as whisper thin as a heartbeat.
Kate Atkinson. British writer Atkinson has written seven novels; which four is based on the popular Case Histories series whose main character is private investigator Jackson Brodie, played by actor Jason Issacs. Issacs was recently in the short-lived NBC program “Awake” in which he played Detective Michael Britten. Awake premiered on March 1, 2012 and ended May 24, 2012.
Atkinson’s new novel “Life After Life” will be released in April 2013. Here is a caption from amazon.com:
What if you could live again and again, until you got it right?
On a cold and snowy night in 1910, Ursula Todd is born to an English banker and his wife. She dies before she can draw her first breath. On that same cold and snowy night, Ursula Todd is born, lets out a lusty wail, and embarks upon a life that will be, to say the least, unusual. For as she grows, she also dies, repeatedly, in a variety of ways, while the young century marches on towards its second cataclysmic world war.
Does Ursula's apparently infinite number of lives give her the power to save the world from its inevitable destiny? And if she can -- will she?
Darkly comic, startlingly poignant, and utterly original -- this is Kate Atkinson at her absolute best.
"Kate Atkinson is a marvel. There aren't enough breathless adjectives to describe Life After Life: Dazzling, witty, moving, joyful, mournful, profound. Wildly inventive, deeply felt. Hilarious. Humane. Simply put: It's one of the best novels I've read this century." (Gillian Flynn, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Gone Girl ).
Visit the Martin Luther King Library in Washington, D.C. and check out the crime mystery section. The historic landmark celebrated 40 years last August. The library is open seven days a week, located at 901 G Street, N.W. Phone number is 202-727-0321, website www.dclibrary.org/mlk.