I have enjoyed a couple weeks of what I like to call “Comfort Reading”, settling in and enjoying some
favorite mystery authors who write compelling series that always feel like coming home and putting on your favorite pair of slippers! My most recent comfy books included Kathy Reichs’s “Bones of the Lost” featuring forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan. I love Tempe’s medical cases, and her trials and tribulations with ex-husband Pete, daughter Katy, and sometimes boyfriend Ryan. I love that the setting switches, book-to-book, from Montreal, Quebec to Charlotte, NC because Tempe works (as does Reichs herself) in these two jurisdictions. And I loved that in this most recent mystery (though chiefly set in N.C.) Tempe had to travel to Afghanistan on a case, a fascinating and gripping twist.
My second comfort read was “Dick Francis’s Refusal” by Felix Francis. I have read every Dick Francis horse-racing mystery (there are at least 40 of them) and was saddened, in 2010, to hear of his death at age 89. I knew that his son Felix had been helping his dad research his last few novels, so wasn’t too surprised when Felix took over writing his father’s mystery franchise shortly after. I was surprised, however, by how terrific and recognizable they were! Felix clearly inherited his father’s writing skills and style, and the three Felix Francis mysteries (thus far) have been very enjoyable, combining likeable jockey protagonists, English steeplechase racetracks, and murder. “Refusal” brings back an old Dick Francis recurring character, Sid Halley, an ex-jockey turned investigator who appears for the fifth time in the series. It’s a great story with an intriguing premise and lots of action!
And no comfort list should be without the 23rd appearance of Kinsey Millhone in Sue Grafton’s “W is for Wasted”. This time, still in the 1980s in Santa Teresa, California, Kinsey investigates what at first seems to be one murder and one unexpected death with no ties between them. However, as Kinsey digs, she eventually figures out how these two deaths are surprisingly linked. Kinsey is as witty and engaging as ever, although somewhat more subdued and thoughtful owing to the emotionally charged tasks she has to perform in this story. I love her car, her neighbor Henry, her eating habits, and her honesty. I will hate to see the end of this series, coming soon with just X, Y, and Z to go.
Reichs, Francis, and Grafton…three memorable and notable series that deserve to be read by any mystery lover. Of course, I’d always recommend starting with book 1 of each series and reading them in order! Now I’m waiting for the new Virgil Flowers mystery by John Sandford!