The holiday season is looming. It’s the time of year where most makers start pulling out their hair and drooling a little after long, long days in the studio. Eyes glaze over. Showering drops to “low-priority”. Burnout abounds.
When I’m busy and stressed out, I need someplace to escape to- a place where I can turn off my brain and get wrapped up in someone else’s story. Often, that place involves a glass of wine, a blanket and my Kindle. Lately, I’ve been obsessed with mysteries. The following is a list of my current obsessions of mystery series perfect for the burned-out brain. These books are not what I might call fine literature- they are more like candy. That you want to keep eating and keep eating. They are seriously delicious. Many of these books feature a murder mystery, but they somehow still manage to be light-hearted and fun- not the type of books that will keep you up at night and checking the locks. After all, you need your sleep- it’s the holiday season.
The Flavia de Luce Mystery Series- by Alan Bradley
The best part of this series is the protagonist. Flavia de Luce is an 11-year old girl living in the English countryside in the 1950’s. She is charming, brilliant, and snarky. Her favorite pastime is brewing poisons in her chemistry lab and imaging the untimely demise of her older sisters, Ophelia and Daphne. She doesn’t actually poison anyone, but she does become involved in the investigation and solution of a series of murders in the sleepy village of Bishop’s Lacey, much to the chagrin of the local police. Start with with first in the series, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie.
The Aurora Teagarden Mystery Series- by Charlaine Harris
I started reading this series after devouring the Sookie Stackhouse novels- a series also by Charlaine Harris that the HBO show True Blood is based on. The Sookie Stackhouse books are sexy, super-natural fun, but for those not into the whole vampire thing, the Aurora Teagarden books are your more classic murder-mystery stories. Aurora is a 28-year old librarian living in Lawrenceton, a small-town suburb of Atlanta. She’s a little bit old fashioned- not your typical daring heroine type. But she has a curious mind, a lot of time on her hands, and a perplexing habit of discovering bodies. This series of eight books follows a very predictable rhythm, but the real joy comes from the slightly-frumpy protagonist and the ins-and-outs of her small-town Southern life. The first in the series is Real Murders.
The Thursday Next Novels- by Jasper Fforde
The Thursday Next books are part mystery, part comedy, part alternate-universe adventure. Set in a very different 1980’s England than the one we are historically familiar with, Thursday Next is a literary detective for the British Special Operations Network. If you think “literary detective” doesn’t sound like a real job...you're right. Thursday travels through time and several dimensions of reality solving crimes and saving the world with her pet dodo Pickwick and Ms. Havisham. Yes, the Ms. Havisham. The writing is brilliant and full of literary inside-jokes, a definite treat for the well-read. Start with The Eyre Affair.
One final note- I've linked to the titles on Amazon for ease of finding these awesome books, but I'd like to suggest supporting your local library. I read literally every single one of these books (at quick count, seventeen of them!) borrowed on my Kindle from the San Francisco Public Library.
If you have mystery series you like please let me know- I'm always on the lookout for a new series. Happy reading!