Monday, December 2, 2013

Perfect Gifts for Mystery Lovers

Hi, everyone. My name is Jessica Tribble and I’m a book lover. I also happen to be Publisher at Poisoned Pen Press. Poisoned Pen Press is one of the largest publishers of hardcover mystery in the country, and as of April, we will begin publishing Young Adult Mysteries as well. I consider this a smart move, one in which we will be providing the gateway book: we need a new generation of people who are as hooked on mysteries as we are.

As mystery lovers, you know how important it is to find great new reading material. And in the holiday season, you can’t help but share your book love with your closest friends and relatives.  Or, in my case, a bunch of readers who should be my friends.  You want to be my book buddies, right? Friends don’t let friends do without scintillating readings materials.

Many of you may already be familiar with Kerry Greenwood’s Phryne Fisher series. (A series that has recently been adapted for the small screen by Australian TV). Phryne is fun, flirty, and an embodiment of 1928 culture. But not many people know about Kerry Greenwood’s other historical series that gives new life to the women of Greek myth. The Delphic Woman series, begins with Medea, story of the woman made famous by her encounter with Jason and Argonauts. Greenwood’s Medea is a beautiful, conflicted woman whose struggle reveals Greek myth and history in new light. No wonder Publishers Weekly and Library Journal both gave the novel starred reviews. I read this novel in a single sitting, despite the need for sleep and for food.

Kerry Greenwood has done for Ancient Greece what Reavis Z. Wortham has done for Texas. Wortham’s 1960s Texas, like Cormac McCarthy’s, is full of complex characters with humanity. Wortham’s In his first in the series, The Rock Hole, Wortham introduces Constable Ned Parker a man who recognizes the gravity of the recent crimes in Center Springs, Texas. This is no average criminal. This is a man who has no feelings, no boundaries, and no morals. This is a criminal who introduces evil to a community that has been shielded from the civil rights changes and even most violence. Named one of Kirkus Reviews best books for 2010, Ned Parker is a police officer worth following, and Wortham is an author worth reading as he works now on his fourth in the series.

Clearly, I love a mystery with an unusual twist or turn. I’m compelled by characters who feel real and three-dimensional. That’s why I love The Dangerous Edge of Things, by Tina Whittle. This first in a series introduces Tai Randolph new owner of a Confederate-themed gun shop she just inherited. It also introduces Trey Seaver, the man who will become her love interest, in addition to helping clear her of homicide charges. I could talk about the plot of this book (which, by the way, is great), but it’s the characters that have kept me reading as this series has continued to develop. Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, and Library Journal each awarded starred reviews to this excellent installment.

I’ve talked a lot about books in series. For me, series reading is part of why I love mysteries: I get to stay with characters over many books and adventures. In Margit Liesche’s Triptych, I get everything I love about a series in a single book:  characters with history and stories across multiple generations.  In this story about two sets of mothers and daughters,  the reader bounces from 1956 Budapest to 1986 Chicago and reveals themes about redemption, trust, and, of course, murder. Unlike anything we’ve published before, this book is sure to appeal to the history and modern mystery lover alike.

At Poisoned Pen Press we never have a shortage of books to read, and I’m excited to share some of my favorites with you. We have something for everyone. All you need to do is browse your favorite kind of mystery on our webpage. Happy holidays and happy reading!


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  2. Jessica ~ Thanks so much for visiting this week and sharing your list of "must haves" for mystery lovers. Enjoyed your post! I'll certainly look at these titles and figure out which ones I need to give as gifts this year!

  3. Hi Jessica! Thanks for sharing all these great reads with us! Congratulations on starting your YA branch. Some of my earliest favorite books were mysteries, from Harriet the Spy to Nancy Drew. You're right: we need all the young mystery lovers we can get! Can't wait to check out your suggestions. 

  4. Medea: Psychotic or Seriously Misunderstood? Medea has always fascinated me. What compells a mother to kill her own children? The story that comes down to us through our patriarchal history paints her as a jealous psychotic woman, but I’ve never bought that version. Nor have I ever been happy with the historians’ version of Lucrezia Borgia. (I especially despise the version in Manchester’s “A World Lit Only by Fire.” Manchester is all atwitter and wrapped up in some 2-d “femme fatal” portrait of Lucrezia … but as always I digress.)

    Will Greenwood’s interpretation of this incredibly dark story expand our understanding of the forces acting on Medea and her own psychology or will it be more of the green-eyed monster of myth?

  5. Jessica...thanks for a great overview of some new writers. I'm a huge fan of Grafton, PD James and Tana French and am looking for some new books! I too love those series characters, can't wait for them to return. Very interesting all around.

  6. Yummy!! What a great list of books to choose among (or choose all!).

    I'm with Shellie - I've always thought Medea got a bum rap and wondered if there were a way to reinterpret her story so that Jerk Face Jason got his comeuppance, and she didn't have to kill her kids. Jerk. Face. Grr.

    I've recently re-read a couple of Dorothy Sayers' Peter Wimsey books. I fell in love with those 30 years ago. What a treat to have the old and the new, side by side under the tree!