Thursday, June 14, 2012

Making Recommendations Part III: Want Some Mystery With Your Romance?

You may be surprised to learn that there is another genre of book that I read pretty regularly. Yes, romance novels are and always will be my nearest and dearest, but the little secret that I have so far kept from the pages of this blog is that I love a good mystery. I read mysteries long before romance novels entered my radar screen, and my love for them stayed with me, even as romance novels replaced them at the top of my most favored genre list.

Post-9/11 CIA terrorist-hunting spy novels are my favorite, but I don't discriminate much when it comes to mysteries. I simply love a good thriller. One that I can't put down; that keeps me up on a weeknight, reading into the wee hours of the morning. I just finished one lat night, actually. And even as I raced towards the ending at 2:30am, not able to stop until I reached the very last page, I wished it would go on forever. It was that good. [Aside - Though I generally don't make non-romance recommendations here, I cant help but make this one. The book I just finished is called Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn. If you like a good thriller where nothing is as you think it is, you'll love this one. Read it. You won't be sorry. End of aside]. So while my love for romance novels knows no bounds, I'm also sometimes in the mood for a little mystery.

So, imagine my delight when, while scouring used bookstores to amass my Nora Roberts collection during that one summer, I discovered that Nora writes thrillers. Good ones. Stories with vivid characters, beautiful scenery, and stunningly complex mysteries. And the very best part? Each of her mysteries comes complete with an impossibly beautiful romance, and her trademark happy ending. Color me amazed.

And as with the rest of her books, there really is something for everyone. Want to learn about wine making? There is a Nora mystery for that. Interested in the structure of the Russian Mob? There is a Nora mystery for that. Love 1960's British Invasion music? There is a Nora mystery for that. Archaeology and Anthropopogy tickle your fancy? There is a Nora mystery for that.Want to travel to Alaska, the Ozarks, The Northwest Woods, or the Louisiana Bayou? There is a Nora mystery for that. People sometimes tell me that I know a lot of esoteric information. Well, I do. And I learned most of it from reading Nora's mysteries.

It probably won't surprise you to learn that, at this point, I have read each and every mystery that Nora has written during her lengthy and illustrious career. So I can say with absolute certainty that if you like mysteries, Nora has written something that will appeal to you. You men out there think that this doesn't apply to you? Fear not. My lovely and amazing dad has enjoyed a Nora mystery a time or two. You will too.

Unlike her other books. Nora only writes one mystery a year, which I invariably buy the day it comes out, and devour within a week. I have already read her 2012 book, so as I anxiously await word on next year's release, I offer recommendations for some of my favorite Nora mysteries to you. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but rather just a sampling of my favorites. If you find yourself hungry for more titles, don't hesitate to contact me. I am always up for emailing a recommendation or two. I hope you enjoy.


Public Secrets (1998)
Emma remembers clearly the day her father, Brian McAvoy, swept into her life.  She was young, but she understood that with Brian, his bandmates, and his new wife, she felt safe.  And when her baby brother arrived, Emma thought she was the luckiest girl in the world...until the night a kidnapping attempt shattered all their lives. Yet now, even though Emma is still haunted by flashes of memory from that fateful night, she has survived.  She has a career she is passionate about, and has fallen desperately in love.  But the man who will become her husband isn't all that he seems.  And Emma is about to awaken to the chilling knowledge that the darkest secret of all is the one buried in her mind; a secret that someone may kill to keep.

The Villa (2002)
For three generations, the Giambelli wines have been renowned for their quality. The pride of the Giambelli family and a top PR executive, Sophia loves her job, and excels at it. But things are about to change at Villa Giambelli. Tereza, the matriarch, has announced a merger with the MacMillan family's winery, and Sophia will be assuming a new role, working alongside Tyler MacMillan. Sophia must teach Ty the finer points of marketing, and Ty, in turn, shows her how to get down and dirty, to use the sun, rain, and earth to coax the sweetest grapes from the vineyard. As they toil together, both in and out of the fields, Sophia is torn between a powerful attraction and a professional rivalry. At the end of the season, the course of the company's future, and the legacy of the villa, may take an entirely new direction. And when acts of sabotage threaten both the family business and the family itself, Sophia's quest will be not only for dominance, but also for survival.

Birthright (2004)
When five-thousand-year-old human bones are found at a construction site in the small town of Woodsboro, the news draws archaeologist Callie Dunbrook out of her sabbatical and into a whirlwind of adventure, danger, and romance. While overseeing the dig, she must try to make sense of a cloud of death and misfortune that hangs over the project-fueling rumors that the site is cursed. And she must cope with the presence of her irritating - but irresistible - ex-husband, Jake. Furthermore, when a stranger claims to know a secret about her privileged Boston childhood, she is forced to question her own past as well.

Northern Lights (2004)
As a Baltimore cop,  Nate Burke watched his partner die on the street-and the guilt still haunts him. With nowhere else to go, he accepts the job as Chief of Police in this tiny, remote Alaskan town. Aside from sorting out a run-in between a couple of motor vehicles and a moose, he finds his first weeks on the job are relatively quiet. But just as he wonders whether this has been all a big mistake, an unexpected kiss with the stunning and mysterious Meg Galloway on New Year's Eve under the brilliant Northern Lights of the Alaska sky lifts his spirit and convinces him to stay just a little longer. Suddenly, things in Lunacy start to heat up. Years ago, on one of the majestic mountains shadowing the town, a crime occurred that is unsolved to this day, and Nate suspects that a killer still walks the snowy streets. His investigation will unearth the secrets and suspicions that lurk beneath the placid surface, as well as bring out the big-city survival instincts that made him a cop in the first place. And his discovery will threaten the new life-and the new love-that he has finally found for himself.

Tribute (2008)
Cilla, a former child star who has found more satisfying work as a restorer of old houses, has come to her grandmother’s farmhouse in Virginia to rescue it from ruin. Sadly, no one was able to save her grandmother, the legendary Janet Hardy. An actress with a tumultuous life, Janet entertained glamorous guests and engaged in decadent affairs, but died of an overdose in this very house more than thirty years earlier. To this day, Janet haunts Cilla’s dreams. By coming east, rolling up her sleeves, and rehabbing this wreck of a house, Cilla intends to find some kind of normalcy for herself. Busy with the house, she’s almost too busy to notice her neighbor, graphic novelist Ford Sawyer, but his lanky form, green eyes, easy, unflappable humor, and ugly dog, Spock are hard to ignore. Cilla steels herself against Ford’s quirky charm, but she can’t help indulging in a little fantasy. But love and a peaceful life may not be in the cards for Cilla. In the attic, she has found a cache of unsigned letters suggesting that Janet Hardy was pregnant when she died, and that the father was a local married man. Cilla can’t help but wonder what really happened all those years ago. The mystery only deepens with a series of intimidating acts and a frightening, violent assault. And if Cilla and Ford are unable to sort out who is targeting her and why, she may, like her world-famous grandmother, be cut down in the prime of her life.

The Search (2010)
Several years ago, Fiona was the only survivor of the Red Scarf serial killer, who shot and killed Fiona's cop fiancĂ© and his K-9 partner. On Orcas Island, Fiona found the peace and solitude she needed to rebuild her life. But all that changes on the day Simon Doyle barrels up her drive, desperate for her help. He's the reluctant owner of an out-of-control puppy, foisted upon him by his mother. Jaws has eaten through Simon's house, and he's at his wit's end. To Fiona, Jaws is nothing she can't handle. Simon, however, is another matter. A newcomer to Orcas, he's a rugged and intensely private artist, known for the exquisite furniture he creates from wood. Simon never wanted a puppy-and he most definitely doesn't want a woman. Besides, the lanky redhead is not his type. But love is a mysterious creature. As Fiona embarks on training Jaws, and Simon begins to appreciate both dog and trainer, the past tears back into Fiona's life. A copycat killer has emerged out of the shadows, a man whose bloodlust has been channeled by a master with one motive: to reclaim the woman who got away all those years ago.

The Witness (2012)
Studious, obedient Elizabeth finally let loose one night, drinking too much at a nightclub and allowing a strange man’s seductive Russian accent to lure her to a house on Lake Shore Drive. The events that followed changed her life forever. Twelve years later, the woman now known as Abigail Lowery lives alone on the outskirts of a small town in the Ozarks. A freelance programmer, she works at home designing sophisticated security systems. Her own security is supplemented by a fierce dog and an assortment of firearms. She keeps to herself, saying little, revealing nothing. Unfortunately, that seems to be the quickest way to get attention in a tiny southern town. The mystery of Abigail Lowery intrigues local police chief Brooks Gleason, on both a personal and a professional level. Her sharp, logical mind, her secretive nature, her unromantic viewpoints leave him fascinated but frustrated. He suspects that Abigail needs protection from something, even if he doesn’t know what, and that her elaborate defenses hide a story that must be revealed. Accustomed to two-bit troublemakers, the sheriff is about to walk into the sights of very powerful and dangerous men. And Abigail Lowery, who has built a life based on security and self-control, is at risk of losing both.

River's End (2000)
Olivia’s parents were among Hollywood’s golden couples, until the night a monster came and took her mother away forever. A monster with the face of her father. Sheltered from the truth, an older Olivia only dimly recalls her night of terror, but her recurring nightmares make her realize she must piece together the real story. Assisted by Noah Brady, the son of the police detective who found her cowering in her closet so many years before, she may have her chance. Noah wants to reconstruct the night that has become an infamous part of Hollywood history. He also wants to help Olivia and heal the longing in her lonely heart. But once the door to her past is opened, there’s no telling what’s waiting on the other side. For somewhere, not too far away, the monster walks again.

No comments:

Post a Comment