D Is for Dunning: Bookman’s Wake by John Dunning

A former Denver cop who now runs a rare book store makes for an appealing amateur sleuth in the traditional Cliff Janeway mystery series. The big appeal for many fans I talk with is the knowledge readers gain about book collecting and values. Bookman’s Wake has many scenes in the Northwest (downtown Seattle; around North Bend). I think I knew enough about this series to recommend them without reading them, and now you do, too.

B is for Balzo: Bean There, Done That by Sandra Balzo

A barista and coffee shop owner stars as our amateur sleuth in this cozy series (Bean There, Done That is the third). Maggy Thorsen is a forty-something newly single woman who left a PR job to open Uncommon Grounds in an upscale bedroom community (Brookhills) outside of Milwaukee. In this installment, Rachel Thorsen (the new “Mrs. Thorsen,” married to Maggy’s ex, Ted) asks for Maggy’s help proving that Ted was cheating on Rachel at the same time he was cheating on Maggy. Soon Rachel disappears and a solid puzzle of a plot keeps things moving along Kirkus said, in a starred review: “Balzo gives an old formula new life with crisp dialogue, complex characters and a puzzle that can’t be beat.” I like this character and the series,
Books in the series so far: Uncommon Grounds; Grounds for Murder; Bean There, Done That; Brewed, Crude and Tattooed, From the Grounds Up.
Recommend to fans of Jill Churchill, Mary Daheim, M.C. Beaton and maybe to some who like Evanovitch (but not if they say they like Evanovitch because she’s wacky).
Another cozy author in the B’sMaggie Barbieri (academic setting, English prof)

2010: The year of reading alphabetically

I had this really great idea last summer to read my way through some of the mysteries that are on the shelf at the library where I work. I was going to read one author for each letter. I made a whole bunch of rules for myself, like: Had to be a book on the shelf, should be a book I might at some point recommend to a library reader, had to be an author I hadn’t already read, I had to stretch myself a little, and blah blah blah. One a week. I figured I’d get through the alphabet by the end of the year.

Well, listen to this: I made it to D! Wow, right? Actually, the good news is that the little experiment was immensely helpful to me already as I regularly recommend my B and C and D authors (Rhys Bowen for her historical mysteries set in 1900s New York; Robert Crais for being almost as good as Michael Connelly and being in L.A.; Lindsay Davis for the two people in the universe who like historical mysteries but haven’t already read all of hers) to voracious readers at our library. Gosh, that parenthetical phrase seems all twisted when I mentioned Lindsay Davis. Let me try again: When it comes to detectives sleuthing the mean streets of Rome (circa 70 A.D.), there’s no beating Marcus Didius Falco, the unforgettable lead character in 19 of Davis’s novels.

Back to 2010 A.D. … and the reason I’m blogging again: I’m going to do it all over again. And this time it doesn’t have to be one a week (because that little rule will have me looking for short books). There is no time limit. And I can read whatever I want, although it will be good to stretch a little bit. And just to prove I’m not a slacker, I’m starting all over again. That’s right. I’m in the A’s.