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Adult Book Lists

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Watership Down - Richard Adams

The River Wife - Jonis Agee

Blind Descent - Nevada Barr

The Ugly American - Eugene Burdick and William Lederer

Nell’s Elf - Jane Cowen-Fletcher

Ragtime - E.L Doctorow

The Great Gatsby - Scott F. Fitzgerald

Neverwhere - Neil Gaiman

The Elves and the Shoemaker - Brothers Grimm J398.22 SHO

Fear of Flying - Erica Jong

On the Road - Jack Kerouac

Carrie - Stephen King

Main Street - Sinclair Lewis

The Old Woman Who Lived in a Vinegar Bottle - Margaret Read MacDonald J 398.22 FIS

Cleopatra’s Daughter - Michelle Moran

After the Quake: Stories - Haruki Murakami

A Bend in the River - V.S Naipaul

The Jungle - Upton Sinclair

The Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck

Angle of Repose - Wallace Stegner

Sophie’s Choice - William Styron

The Age of Miracles - Karen Thompson Walker

All Clear - Connie Williams

The Right Stuff - Tom Wolfe - Paperback: Wolfe

groundbreakingreadsNon- Fiction

London Under: The Secret History beneath the Streets - Peter Ackroyd - 942.1A

Outwitting the Gestapo - Lucie Aubrac - 940.53A

F’em!: Goo Goo, Gaga, and Some Thoughts on Balls - Jennifer Baumgardener - 305.42B

Prohibition : Thirteen Years That Changed America - Edward Behr –363.4B

Silent Spring - Rachel Carson 363.738 C

Get it together: Organize Your Records So Your Family Won’t Have To - Melanie Cullen and Shae Irving –346.052C

The Divine Comedy - Dante Alighieri 851.1 D

On the Origin of Species - Charles Darwin –575.01D

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek - Annie Dillard - 508.755D

The Feminine Mystique - Betty Friedan - 305.42F

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life - Barbara Kingsolver –641.0973K

The End of Country - Seamus McGraw –333.79M

A Train in Winter: An Extraordinary Story of Women, Friendship, and Resistance in Occupied France - Caroline Moorehead –940.5344M

The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt - Edmund Morris - Bio: Roosevelt

Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition - Michael Okrent - 363.41O

Smithsonian Handbooks: Rocks and Minerals - Chris Pellant –J549P

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values - Robert M. Pirsig - Bio: Pirsig

The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals - Michael Pollen –394.12P

Cleopatra: A Life - Stacy Schiff –Bio: Schiff

1,000 Places to See before You Die - Patricia Schultz –910.202S

Working Studs Terkel –331.2T

Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded, August 27, 1883 Simon Winchester –551.21W

The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test Tom Wolfe - Bio: Wolfe



Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast

News of the World by Paulette Jiles

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens

The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi


Desert Queen by Janet Wallach

The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert

The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri

Once in a Great City by David Maraniss

The Turner House by Angela Flournoy

The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure

One Summer: America, 1927 by Bill Bryson

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Ngyuen

Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf

X: A Novel by Ilyasah Shabazz

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte


We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

Euphoria by Lily King

Shanghai Girls by Lisa See

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

An Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Alameddine

TransAtlantic by Colum McCann

Dead Wake by Erik Larson

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin


The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert

The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin

The Forgotten Waltz by Anne Enright

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

I Shall Not Hate by Izzeldin Abuelaish

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf


The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson

The View from Castle Rock by Alice Munro

Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt

Before You Know Kindness by Chris Bohjalian

Night Train to Lisbon by Pascal Mercier

The Round House by Louise Erdrich

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain

Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel

The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson

Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital by Sheri Fink

And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton


The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

The Tiger's Wife by Tèa Obreht

Remains of the Day by Kazou Ishiguro

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin

The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers

Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do? by Michael J. Sandel

The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez


The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

Tinkers by Paul Harding

The Art Student's War by Brad Leithauser

Please Look After Mom by Kyong-Sook Shin

Half the Sky by Nicholas D. Kristof

Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

The Submission by Amy Waldman

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens


Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly

Annie's Ghosts by Steven Luxenberg

Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner

The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver

The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

On the Road by Jack Kerouac

Arc of Justice: a saga of race, civil rights, and murder in the Jazz Age by Kevin Boyle

Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks


Stealing Buddha's Dinner by Bich Minh Nguyen

Birds Without Wings by Louis de Berniers

Still Alice by Lisa Genova

Presumed Innocent by Scott Turow

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Kings of New York by Michael Weinreb

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery

The Girls From Ames by Jeffrey Zaslow

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood

My Ántonia by Willa Cather




Little Heathens by Mildred A. Kalish

The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O'Farrell

Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson

The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch & Jeffrye Zaslow

Dreamers of the Day by Mary Doria Russel

Paul Revere's Ride by David Hackett Fischer

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Schaffer and Annie Barrows

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

The History of Love by Nicole Krauss

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Home by Marilyne Robinson



His Excellency: George Washington by Joseph J. Ellis

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

The Nick Adams Stories by Ernest Hemingway

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaleid Hosseini

Atonement by Ian McEwan

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

Loving Frank by Nancy Horan

Go and Come Back by Joan Abelove



Saturday by Ian McEwan

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards

A Thread of Grace by Mary Doria Russell

Julie and Julia by Julia Powell

Digging to America by Anne Tyler

Arc of Justice: a saga of race, civil rights, and murder in the Jazz Age by Kevin Boyle

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

March by Geraldine Brooks

The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls

The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham



The Bone People by Keri Hulme

True North by Jim Harrison

Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory

Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver

Shadow Divers by Robert Kurson

East of Eden by John Steinbeck

The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

Broken for You by Stephanie Kallos

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio by Terry Ryan



Benjamin Franklin by Walter Isaacson

The Three Miss Margarets by Louise Shaffer

Niagara Falls All Over Again by Elizabeth McCraken

Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi

The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood

My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult

Madam Secretary by Madeleine Albright

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon

The Jungle by Upton Sinclair

Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides



April 1865: the month that saved America by Jay Winik

The Runaway Quilt by Jennifer Chiaverini

Black Dahlia Avenger by Steve Hodel

Saul and Patsy by Charles Baxter

Empire Falls by Richard Russo

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn

The Giver, Gathering Blue, & The Messenger by Lois Lowry

Leap of Faith: Memoirs of an Unexpected Life by Queen Noor of Jordan

Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien

Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague by Geraldine Brooks

True to Form by Elizabeth Berg



John Adams by David McCullough

The Water is Wide by Pat Conroy

A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines

The Hours by Michael Cunningham

Angle of Repose by Wallace Earle Stegner

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

The Lucky Gourd Shop by Joanna Catherine Scott

A Year by the Sea by Joan Anderson

West of Kabul, East of New York by Tamim Ansary

Observatory Mansions (may be interloaned) by Edward Carey

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd



A Virtuous Woman by Kaye Gibbons

Drowning Ruth by Christina Schwarz

Seabiscuit: an American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Ahab's Wife by Sena Jeter Naslund

The Beet Queen by Louise Erdrich

Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns

Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier

The Bonesetter's Daughter by Amy Tan

The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell

Palace Walk by Naguib Mahfouz

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood



The Girl who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King

The Pilot's Wife by Anita Shreve

The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Nine and Counting: The Women of the Senate by Barbara Mikulski, et al.

Samurai's Garden by Gail Tsukiyama

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant

Beach Music by Pat Conroy

Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

A Boy's Life by Robert R. McCammon

Personal History by Katharine Graham

Sometimes I Dream in Italian by Rita Ciresi



The Shipping News by Annie Proulx

Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson

Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer

Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier

Follow the River by James Alexander Thom

Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang

No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II by Doris Kearns Goodwin

Evensong by Gail Godwin

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling

At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon



Charming Billy by Alice McDermott

Father Melancholy's Daughter by Gail Godwin

We Were the Mulhaneys by Joyce Carol Oates

I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb

The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells

The Dollmaker by Harriette Arnow

Patty Jane's House of Curl by Lorna Landrik

The Testament by John Grisham

The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy



Global Contemporary Mystery Series


South Africa

devils peakDeon Meyer’s Benny Griessel novels take place in post-apartheid South Africa.  Devil’s Peak  is a gripping suspense novel about revenge, forgiveness, and the race to catch a trained killer. Detective Inspector Benny Griessel, an alcoholic determined to stay sober in order to win back his wife and children is assigned to the case.  It also features Thobela Mpayipheli, a character in Heart of a Hunter and Dead at Daybreak.


Alexander McCall Smith - Besides being a worldwide expert on medical ethics, Smith is best known as the author of The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency which was published in 1988.  He was born in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and after university and a PhD in law and teaching at Queen’s University in Belfast he returned to Southern Africa in 1981.  There he helped found and teach law at the University of Botswana.  In 1984 he returned to Edinburgh, Scotland where he lives today.  Precious Ramotzwe is the star of this delightful series. 



Qiu Xiaolong is a Chinese expatriate who lives in St. Louis.  His Inspector Chen-Cao series is set in modern day Shanghai.  PDL’s collection begins with When Red is Black, the 3rd in the series. Here Chen’s subordinate lets Detective Yu of the Special Case Squad which deals with politically sensitive crimes, handle the murder of a dissident writer.

eye of jadeDiane Wei Liang’s book  features private investigator Mei Wang at a time and place when private investigators are illegal. In her book, The Eye of Jade,  When a family friend hires her to find a Han dynasty jade of great value that was taken from its museum during the years of the Cultural Revolution, she finds herself looking into the dark part of Chinese history and her own family history under Mao.  The author fled China after taking part in the Tiananmen demonstrations. 

Eliot Pattison is the author of the popular Shan Tao Yun mysteries.  In The Skull Mantra a conspiracy is discovered between American corporate mining interests, corrupt Party officials and Tibetan sorcerers after a headless corpse is found on a Tibetan mountainside.


David Peace’s projected Tokyo trilogy is soon after the end of WWII. Tokyo Year Zero revisits a series of crimes that happened in Tokyo. When the nude body of a young woman turns up in a local park, Inspector Minami of the Tokyo police and his squad of detectives investigate.  Then they find a second body.  This all takes place in war torn, occupied Tokyo where people are struggling to stay alive. 

Sujata Massey
- During a sightseeing trip, Rei Shimura, a young Japanese-American English teacher living in Tokyo, stumbles upon the body of the wife of a powerful businessman and turns sleuth to solve the crime in The Salaryman’s Wife. Thus begins the first in a series of ten novels of the Rei Shimura mysteries.  


James Church is the author of the Inspector O novels set in the enigmatic world of North Korea. While the authorities ask him to investigate a crime only to later try to stop him from uncovering anything, instead urging him to just file a report. A Corpse in the Koryo begins the series. It was named as one of the best mystery/thrillers of 2006 by the Chicago Tribune.  Church (pseudonym) was a former CIA intelligence officer who worked in Asia for decades. 


Colin Cotterwill is the other of several series of crime fiction.  His Dr. Paiboun novels, beginning with The Coroner's Lunch takes place shortly after the 1975  communist takeover of formerly French Laos.  Seventy-two year old Dr. Siri Paiboun, a Paris-trained physician, has been named state coroner, though he has no experience in that field. When an important official's wife is poisoned and after the sudden appearance of three bodies that may create an international incident between Laos and Vietnam, Dr. Paiboun enlists old friends including Hmong shamans to solve the crime. 


case of missing servant
Tarquin Hall
’s Vish Puri mysteries are humorous, cozies about an Hercule Poirot like character who loves to eat and is the head of Delhi's Most Private Investigators.  In The Case of the Missing Servant, the 1st in the series, Puri investigates the disappearance of and possibly murdered servant of an attorney.


John Burdett’s Bankok policeman Sonchai Jitpleecheep mysteries are set in Thailand.  In Bangkok 8,  Jitplecheep investigates the murder of an African American Marine sergeant and the subsequent death of his partner, making his way through a world of illicit drugs and corruption to find a vicious killer.  The series is fast moving and filled with noir humor.


Gary Disher - The Dragon Man the 1st of the  Inspector Hal Challis mysteries, is set in a small town southeast of Melbourne. Challis, who must apprehend a killer before he strikes again, is forced to first contend with the media, as well as his ex-wife, who is attempting to resurrect their marriage eight years after attempting to murder him.  “A straightforward police story with a terrific plot, nuanced characters and solid procedures, served up on refreshing new turf.”-Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review

Kerry Greenwood's Cocaine Blues features her character Spunky Phryne Fisher who leaves her adopted London for 1920s Australia to investigate the desperate letters she has been receiving from well-bred Lydia, a young woman married to a low-down scoundrel.




Frank Tallis’ series about Psychoanalyst Max Lieberman is set in Vienna during the early part of the 20th century.  Lieberman is a contemporary of Freud and is literature’s first psychoanalytic detective.  In A Death in Vienna, Lieberman uses Freud’s methods when his friend, inspector Oskar Rheinhardt, asks him for help in solving the murder of a medium who was found in her locked séance room.


Set in and around a cinema where a murder was recently committed, Innocence follows the unfolding of the investigation while telling the stories of the women who work there as ushers, each of whom is forced to support herself in difficult circumstances.  Nearly lost to censorship, Innocence; or, Murder on Steep Street by Heda Margolius Kovály depicts a chilling moment in history, redolent with the stifling atmosphere of political and personal oppression of the early days of Communist Czechoslovakia.


Cara Black is the author of the Aimee Leduc Investigations which are set in different sections of Paris and feature the sassy computer security detective Aimee Leduc. The 1st in the series is  Murder in the Marais (1999) in which LeDuc works inside a neo-Nazi group to hunt down a killer of a woman in the old Jewish Quarter. 

death in the truffle wood
Pierre Magnan
is said by Booklist to combine “elements of Alain Robbe-Grillet's surreal landscape; David Lynch's dark, oddball humor; Agatha Christie's old-fashioned gentility; and Peter Mayle's French pastoral”.   His first book,  Death in the Truffle Wood, published when he was 56, brims with delectable food, eccentric suspects, and the passion of Provençe.  

Fred Vargas is the author of the Chief Inspector Adamsberg investigations.  In Seeking Whom He May Devour, 2nd in the series, when the residents of a French Alpine village accuse a beardless local of being a werewolf and killing a sheep breeder, eccentric Commissaire Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg teams up with his ex-girlfriend, the victim's adopted son, and a shepherd to investigate clues linked to the village's history. 


Rebecca CantrellCrime reporter Hannah Vogel in 1930s Berlin delves into the city’s underside in A Trace of Smoke and finds political intrigue and sex scandals in the top ranks of the rising Nazi party while searching for her brother’s killer. 

Philip Kerr’s Bernard Gunther mysteries take place in Berlin and other locations during the Nazi era. A German Requiem, the 3rd in the series, finds private investigator Gunther In 1947 occupied Vienna, where he accepts an assignment from a mysterious Soviet colonel and uncovers a moral void involving a coalition between anti-communist American agents and former Nazis.

Nele  Neuhaus’ contemporary series which feature Police Detectives Oliver von Bodenstein and Pia Kirchhoff  began in 2013 with Snow White Must Die, “an atmospheric, character-driven and suspenseful mystery set in a small town that could be anywhere, dealing with issues of gossip, power, and keeping up appearances”. 

Jonathan Rabb is the author of the Berlin Trilogy, historical mysteries that follow the life and activities of Berlin Chief Inspector Nikolai HoffnerRosa,  set in 1919, deals with the disappearance and later discovery of the body of Rosa Luxemburg after her execution.  She has been found with four other womens’ bodies, each with distinctive markings cut into their backs.    The Last book in the trilogy is set on the eve of the 1936 Berlin Olympics, Hitler’s Olympics.


messenger of athensAnne Zaroudi’s Mysteries of the Greek Detective, starring Hermes Diaktoris, is a series of seven novels, each based on one of the seven deadly sins. is set on the Greek island of Thiminos.  In The Messenger of Athens, when the body of a young woman is found at the foot of a cliff, the local police are too quick to dismiss the case as an accident.  Then a stranger from Athens, Hermes Diaktoros, shows up and with his unorthodox methods sets out to find out the truth.


Grace Brophy - The Commissario Alessandro Cenni mysteries are set in Umbria, a little  traveled place in mysteries that are set in Italy.  Grace Brophy is an American writer living in Italy.  Book 1 in the series is The Last Enemy which concerns an American murdered during Holy Week. 

Andrea CamilleriPolice Inspector Salvo Montalbano with his sardonic take on Sicilian life is popular with those who like dark humor and character driven novels.  The Terra-Cotta Dog, 2nd  in the series, is available from Plymouth Library as are the rest of the series.  Translated from Italian. 

Gianrico Carofiglio is the author of the Guido Guerrieri series and a member of the Italian Senate.  He made his name as a judge in Southern Italy arresting mob bosses and breaking up syndicates.  In  A Walk in the Dark, the 2nd in the series, no one in Bari wants to represent Martina in her efforts to bring her ex-boyfriend to trial for assault and battery. He is a successful doctor and the son of a powerful and vindictive local judge. Guerrieri knows this case is likely to bring his legal career to a premature and messy end, but he cannot resist the appeal of a hopeless cause. 

Michael DibdinVendetta is the 2nd in the suspenseful Aurelio Zen series that features the world weary police inspector in mysteries that probe corruption and other social and political problems in Italy.  

Donna Leon – Venice Vice-commissario Guido Brunetti series features the urbane and death at la Fenice rational police inspector Brunetti who is often at odds with the politically ambitious Vice-Questore Giuseppe Patta.  Patta’s assistant is Signorina Elettra who really runs things at the station using methods that may not be so legal and she feeds Brunetti the information he needs to do his work.  Rounding out this dysfunctional “family” is another nemesis, Lieutenant Scarpa who doesn’t like to shake things up, or really solve cases, his associate, Inspector Vianello, and Brunetti’s wife, Paola, and children.  Death at La Fenice begins this captivating series.   Donna Leon has lived in Italy for thirty years.

Michele Guitari knows what he’s writing in his Chief Superintendent Michele Ferrara series set in Florence.  He served as the head of the Florence police for eight years where he was responsible for re-opening the Monster of Florence case and jailing several key Mafia figures.  The series reflects the beauty of the city and surrounding Tuscany with its food, opera and architectural beauty as well as the underbelly with crime and corruption.  A Florentine Death is the 1st in the series. 

John Maddox Roberts writes historical mysteries set in Rome in the first century BC. Decius Caecilius Metellus the Younger investigates crimes throughout the Republic.  The series known as the SPQR, begins with The King’s Gambit in which Decius uncovers world of corruption at the highest levels of his government that threatens to destroy him and the government he serves.

Iain Pears is the author of the Jonathan Argyll and Flavia DiStefano mysteries. In his second entry in the series, The Titian Committee, an American art historian and member of the scholarly Titian Committee is murdered. Flavia di Stefano of the Rome Art Theft Squad is sent to Venice to help solve that crime as well as the murder of an art collector.  She teams up with art historian Argyll to catch the killer.   


winter queen 

Boris Akunin’s allusive Erast Fandorin books are set in Czarist Russia in the late 1800s. In The Winter Queen when the young  Fandorin is sent to investigate the case of a university student who is suspected of shooting himself in full view in the Alexandra Gardens, he suspects foul play. 

Stuart Kaminsky’s Inspector Porfiry Rostnikov mysteries are set in Russia soon after the fall of the USSR. In A Fine Red Rain, Inspector Rostnikov, demoted for annoying the KGB, is assigned to the local Moscow police where he investigates several strange deaths at the circus.

Martin Cruz Smith’s Gorky Park is the 1st Arkady Renko book.  “Brilliant . . . enough enigmas within enigmas within enigmas to reel the mind.” –The New Yorker 

Scandanavia: The Nordic Mystery Boom

Karin Fossum’s Inspector Sejer novels are psychological suspense stories set in dark, cold Norway and feature dangerous criminals.  The series begins with Eva’s Eye in which a local factory worker's body is pulled from an Oslo river just months after the suffocation murder of a high-end call girl.  Both cases are tied to an artist named Eva. 

Arnaldur Indridason is the author of the Erlendur Sveinsson mysteries also known as Reykjavik murder mysteries.  In Jar City, Inspector Erlendur Sveinsson investigates the killing of a solitary man found murdered in his Reykjavâik apartment, and discovers that the dead man had been accused but not convicted of a rape forty years earlier.    The Guardian named Indridason  and Henning Mankell in their 10 Best European Crime Writers . 

Lene Kaaberbøl is the author of the ice cold Scandinavian crime/thriller series, Nina Borg series that is complete with grisly murders, bleak settings, deeply flawed characters, and desperate causes.  The Boy in the Suitcase begins in a train station in Copenhagen where Nina opens a locker using her friend Karin’s key.  Behind other things she finds a drugged 3 year old boy.  To make matters worse, Karin is murdered.  

ice princessCamilla Lackberg has five series to her name of which the Detective Patrik Hedstrom series is in the Plymouth Library’s collection.  In The Ice Princess Erica Falck returns to her tiny, remote hometown of Fjällbacka, Sweden, after her parents’ deaths only to encounter another tragedy: the suicide of her childhood best friend, Alex.  Erica teams up with Detective Patrik Hedström to solve the brutal death.  Like Henning Mankell, Lackberg deals with zenophobia and other social ills of Sweden.

Stieg Larsson wasn’t the first Scandinavian mystery writer, but he did draw attention to Scandinavian crime novels, a genre which is decades old. His Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is the first book in the Millenium Trilogy and was published posthumously.   Mikael Blomkvist the publisher of Millenium Magazine investigates the rape and other crimes against Lisbeth Salander.  

Henning Mankell’s misanthropic, headstrong  Detective Kurt Wallander is the central charter of Kurt Wallender mysteries which often looks at Sweden’s issues with immigration and other aspects of Swedish politics. Faceless Killers begins when a farmer finds the body of his neighbor and his dying wife whose last word is “foreigner.”  This unleashes a wave of zenophobia which complicates the search for the killers.  In comments made following Henning Mankell's death in 2015, Icelandic crime writer Yrsa Sigurdardóttir said that he “was undoubtedly the single most important person involved in bringing Scandinavian crime fiction to the rest of the world.”

Jo Nesbo’s  first novel starring Oslo police inspector Harry Hole,The Bat, finds the investigator travelling to Sydney Australia to investigate the murder of a young Norwegian girl.  These police procedurals are dark and graphic.  Like Henning Mankell’s Kurt Wallender, Harry Hole is a borderline alcoholic. 

In Kristina Ohlsson's first book to be published in English, Unwanted, Inspector Fredericka Bergman investigates the kidnapping and murder of a child who had been separated from her mother on a crowded train on a rainy Swedish summer day, a case that points to the work of a brilliant and ruthless killer." Superior prose, plotting, and characterization lift this procedural set in Stockholm, the first in a series.” - Publishers’ Weekly

last rituals
Yrsa Sigurðardóttir
is an Icelandic author of both crime fiction that star lawyer Attorney Thora Gudmundsdottir and her new partner, Matthew Reich.  In Last Rituals  Gudmundsdottir travels to a remote corner of Iceland to investigate whether the death of a German student may have been connected to her interest in witchcraft.

Helene Tursten is the author of another suspenseful, dark and frequently gruesome Scandinavian mystery series.  Detective Irene Huss of the Göteborg Violent Crimes Unit becomes involved in the search for the killer after the dismembered body of a woman is found in The Torso, the 2nd in the Irene Huss series.


Rebecca Pawel’s Death of a Nationalist is the 1st in the Sergeant Carlos Tejada Alonso y Leon investigations series set during the aftermath of the Civil War in Franco’s Spain.  When the sergeant arrives at the scene of the murder of a comrade of his and sees a woman in a red scarf kneeling over the body, he leaps to conclusions about who the murderer is.  When the facts come out though, he has to reevaluate his actions.

United Kingdom

Great Britain has been home for a large number of writers of detective fiction and crime novels. Author of the Sherlock Holmes novels, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was born in Scotland in 1859. During the Golden Age of Detective fiction, British writers Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, Ngaio Marsh (New Zealand), and Margery Allingham were considered the Queens of Crime.  Many of Agatha Christie’s novels take place outside of the UK, especially her Hercule Poirot series.  Given the continued large numbers of British writers of crime novels, only a few will be mentioned here.

Stephen Booth’s first crime novel, Black Dog: A Crime Novel, is a psychological suspense story from British journalist Booth.   The disappearance of a fifteen-year-old girl from a prominent family and subsequent discovery of a decayed body in the woods draw Detective Constable Ben Cooper and his new partner Diane Fry into a strange murder investigation with many suspects.

Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce series feature an eleven-year-old aspiring chemist with a passion for poison.  In Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, she is propelled into a mystery when a man is found murdered on the grounds of her family's decaying English mansion and Flavia's father becomes the main suspect.

In Tana French’s series the Dublin Murder Squad novels, the Irish writer walks the line between police procedural and thriller.  Detective Rob Ryan investigates a chillingly similar murder that takes place in the same wooded area in the book In the Woods.  This case forces him to piece together his traumatic memories of witnessing the violent disappearances of two companions from their small Dublin suburb twenty years ago.

 death by election
Patricia Hall ’s Yorkshire Mysteries are also known as the Laura Ackroyd and Michael Thackeray mysteries.  In Death by Election, Yorkshire reporter Laura Ackroyd finds some unsettling connections between a local election, a campaign to "out" elected officials, and a murder on the moor of a former sociology student, which leads to her being noticed by both Inspector Thakeray and the murderer. 

Elizabeth George’s Inspector Thomas Lynley series features the Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers who having had a hard time working with other detectives at Scotland Yard gets assigned to Inspector Lynley whom she resents because of his posh upbringing.  In A Great Deliverance, the two head to Yorkshire to investigate the murder of a man by his daughter. She is found sitting by her decapitated father and would only say "I did it.” 

Cynthia Harrod-Eagles is the author of the Inspector Bill Slider series in which music plays a prominent roll. In the first book of the series, Orchestrated Death, “Slider, respected by colleagues, despised by his upwardly-mobile wife, but somehow frozen in place in the department, goes to investigate a naked body found in an empty flat. The medical examiner recognizes that the callous on the neck was caused by a violin.” In the process of the investigation he meets Joanna, the stand mate of the murdered musician, and falls in love with her. He and Joanna become a pair through seventeen and counting more books.

John Harvey’s first Charlie Resnick book, Lonely Hearts, was named by the [London] Times as one of the top 100 crime novels of the last century.  When Shirley Peters is found strangled, her common-law husband is arrested, but a second victim appears while he is in custody, and Inspector Charlie Resnick has only a lonely hearts column to direct him to the killer.  

Reginald Hill won the 1995 British Crime Writers Association Diamond Dagger Lifetime Achievement Award for his Dalziel and Pascoe mystery series.  Anonymous letters and rumors of adultery are among the complications encountered by Superintendent Andrew Dalziel and Detective-Sergeant Peter Pascoe as they investigate the brutal murder of a former rugby star's wife, in the 1st book, A Clubbable Woman.

cover her faceP.D. James was known as the Queen of Crime and the doyenne of detective novelists. She received the Crime Writers' Association's Diamond Dagger award in 1987 for lifetime achievement and in 1991 she was created a Conservative life peer - Baroness James of Holland Park .  Her character Inspector Adam Dalgliesh rises through the ranks from Detective Chief Inspector to Commander, is a published poet, a widower and drives fancy cars.   In Cover her Face (1962), when a sly and sensuous young woman who had used her body and her brains to climb the social ladder is murdered by someone who believed that the wages of sin should be death, it falls to Inspector Dalgliesh to find out who the killer is.  

Jim Kelly's Death Wore White is the first in his series about Det. Insp. Peter Shaw and Det. Sgt. George Valentine who are often at odds with each other.  As they inspect the cars trapped in a blizzard behind a fallen tree, they find the body of Harvey Ellis who has been stabbed in his eye.  There are no footprints to or from the vehicle.  Meanwhile the evidence is melting, the murderer has vanished and other people who'd been trapped on the Norfolk coast road are disappearing.  In addition to winning the Crime Writers' Association Dagger in the Library in 2006, In 2010 Kelly won the New Angle prize for literature for Death Watch, the second in the Shaw and Valentine series.

Denise Mina writes novels that capture Glasgow’s seamy underbelly.  Like Scandinavian writer Steig Larson, her stories are often violent and the characters are all flawed.  In fact she wrote the graphic novel adaptations of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series.  Her first book, Garnethill begins the Maureen O’Donnell series  and won the John Creasey Memorial Award for Best First Crime Novel--the British equivalent of the Edgar.  Maureen is accused of killing her boyfriend, who it turns out, has been married for twelve years.  Mina is the author of two other mystery series, the Paddy Meehan series and Alex Morrow series.  

Stewart Neville – Belfast DI Jack Lennon mysteries.  Booklist called The Ghosts of Belfast, the 1st in the series,   “dark, powerful, insightful, and hard to put down”.—(Thomas Gaughan Booklist) It won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize.

let it bleedIan Rankin's Let it Bleed is the seventh of a long line of Inspector Rebus mysteries. Misanthropic Inspector Rebus searches for the answers to what at first seems to be a petty embezzlement case but turns out to be a crime that reaches into the top political echelons and has left at least four people dead. Rankin has another series that run parallel starring Detective Fox who takes over after Rebus retires.

Ruth Rendell’s Chief Inspector Wexford mysteries are only part of Rendell’s prolific body of work.  These darkly gripping British police procedurals feature a bright chief superintendent who uses his psychological insights into the inner self of suspects to solve crimes. Interweaving his family and the personal lives of his team with the mystery gives the stories complexity and believability. These character-driven mysteries are cleverly plotted and often are built around contemporary social problems.  Begin with From Doon with Death

Peter Robinson’s Inspector Alan Banks series is set in Yorkshire, where Banks has moved to escape London’s crime-ridden streets.  In the novel A Dedicated Man, when a beloved academician and historian turns up brutally murdered in his quiet new town, he is determined to catch the killer.

expert in murderNicola Upson’s Josephine Tey mysteries begin with An Expert in Murder.  Traveling to London in 1934 to celebrate her play's triumphant final week, popular writer Josephine Tey is caught up by the murder of a fellow train passenger, in a case that raises the suspicions of Detective Inspector Archie Penrose. 




Paul Doherty'sThe Mask of Ra is the first book in The Egyptian mysteries.   It is set against the background of Egypt's eighteenth dynasty--a time of great change, as warlike Pharaohs fought to control not only the tribes on their western and southern borders, but to bring their subjects firmly under their rule.


Saturday Morning Murder
Batya Gur
is the author of the Michael Ohayon mysteries. In The Saturday Morning Murder: A Psychoanalytic Case when a well-loved psychoanalyst is found at the Jerusalem Psychoanalytic Society headquarters, Chief Inspector Ohayon must penetrate the institute to find the killer.  Lots of red herrings. 

 Occupied Territories

Matt Rees’ character Omar Yussef is a 56 year-old History teacher in Bethlehem.  When a Palestinian Christian is arrested for the murder of a Palestinian guerilla fighter and being an Israeli collaborator, Yussef feels he has to help one of his favorite former students.  And so Yussef who has managed to stary free of troubles becomes embroiled in the uncertainties and violence of modern Bethlehem, even if it means endangering his own life.  The Collaborator of Bethlehem received starred reviews.  Rees was formerly the Jerusalem bureau chief for TIME. 

Saudi Arabia

Zoë FerrarisKatya Hijazi novels begins with Finding Nouf.  When sixteen-year-old Nouf goes missing and is found drowned in the desert outside Jeddah, Nayir--a desert guide hired by her prominent family to search for her--feels compelled to find out what really happened.


sultans seal
Jenny White
’s character, Kamil Pasha, magistrate in 19th century Istanbul, Turkey;
finds his dispassionate belief in science and modernity shaken by developments when the body of a young Englishwoman washes up on the beaches of nineteenth-century Istanbul in The Sultan's Seal.




Luis Alfredo Garcia-Roza’s Inspector Espinosa is a world weary intellectual who’d rather visit a bookstore than go to a crime scene.  In The Silence of the Rain a corporate executive is found shot in the parking lot of his office building and he has been robbed of his briefcase and wallet.  His beautiful widow is the beneficiary of a $1 million life insurance policy and his secretary Rosa,  who claims to have information, vanishes.  The circuitous plot thickens as two more people involved in the investigation are murdered.

Laighton Gage is the author of the Chief Inspector Mario Silva investigations.  Beginning with The Blood of the Wicked, Silva along with his nephew Hector Costa, a fellow officer, investigates the assassination of a bishop in the remote town of Cascatas do Pontal. 


Roberto Ampuero ’s The Neruda Case, readers are introduced to Cayetano Brulé as he takes on his first case as a private eye. Set against the fraught political world of pre-Pinochet Chile, Castro's Cuba, and perilous behind-the-Wall East Berlin, this mystery spans countries, cultures, and political ideas, and features one of literature's most beloved figures—Nobel Prize winner Pablo Neruda. Cayetano meets the poet at a party in Chile in the 1970s. The dying Neruda recruits Cayetano to help him solve the last great mystery of his life.  This is the only one in the series to have been translated into English.


beggars operaPeggy Blair’s  Ricardo Ramirez mystery series is new, with just two books out.  In The Beggar’s Opera, A young Cuban boy has been murdered and a vacationing Canadian policeman has been arrested. Inspector Ramirez, head of the Havana Major Crimes Unit, has only seventy-two hours to secure an indictment and prevent a vicious killer from leaving the island. And Ramirez has his own troubles. He's dying of the same dementia that killed his grandmother, an incurable disease that makes him see the ghosts of victims of his unsolved cases. 

Leonardo Padura is the author of the Mario Conde mysteries.  He is a well-known Cuban writer whose works have been widely translated.  PDL has two books that appeared following the original quartet of the series, Adiós Hemingway  and Havana Fever.  In a detective story set against the backdrop of Hemingway's Cuba, the discovery of the skeletal remains of the victim of a forty-year-old murder on the Havana estate of Ernest Hemingway, draws ex-cop Mario Conte back into the game to investigate a crime with roots in Hemingway's Cuba four decades earlier.




Vicki Delany is the author of the Constable Molly Smith mysteries of which PDL has Under Cold Stone, the 7th in the series.  A murder takes place when Molly’s mom on vacation in Banff with Molly’s boss, Chief Const. Paul Keller.  Unfortunately, his son seems to be the  Earlier books can be obtained through MEL.  

Louise Penny’s Inspector Armand Gamache mysteries provide a glimpse of life in the small towns of Quebec though Gamache’s homicide squad is located in Montreal.  Often the setting is the fictional town of Three Pines with its well-drawn quirky characters.   In Still Life,  a woman supposedly loved by the people of Three Pines is found in the woods, murdered. Chief Inspector Armand Gamache looks for the small clues which will point him to the killer. 

forty words for sorrowGiles Blunt’s John Cardinal series begins with Forty Words for Sorrow and takes place in the small town of Algonquin Bay in Northern Ontario.  The discovery of the body of a supposed thirteen-year-old runaway and the disappearance of another youngster in the rural town of Algonquin Bay force local cops John Cardinal and his new partner, Lisa Delorme, into a desperate search for a possible serial killer.

Books on Tap: Past Reading Selections 


Kindred by Octavia Butler - coming soon

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain - available via Interlibrary Loan

The Call of Cthulhu and other weird stories by H.P. Lovecraft

The Round House by Louise Erdrich

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers

Orfeo by Richard Powers

The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer

The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach

Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

If On a Winter's Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino (Available via Interlibrary Loan)

The Accursed by Joyce Carol Oates

On Beauty by Zadie Smith

Moo by Jane Smiley

Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff

I Wear The Black Hat by Chuck Klosterman

The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld

The Magicians by Lev Grossman

The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

A Thousand Years of Good Prayers by Yiyun Li

Train Dreams by Denis Johnson

Humboldt's Gift by Saul Bellow

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

Tenth of December by George Saunders

White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi

Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson

May We Be Forgiven by A.M. Homes

Hope: A Tragedy by Shalom Auslander

How To Be Both by Ali Smith

A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk

The Princess Bride by William Goldman

The Sparrow by Maria Doria Russell

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson

American Gods by Neil Gaiman

The Contortionist's Handbook by Craig Clevenger (Available via Interlibrary Loan)

The Good Lord Bird by James McBride

A Good Man Is Hard to Find, and other stories by Flannery O’Connor

Hunger by Knut Hamsun (Available via Interlibrary Loan)

City of Thieves by David Benioff

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: A Novel by Haruki Murakami

Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli

A Night of Serious Drinking by René Daumal (Available via Interlibrary Loan)

The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

How Should A Person Be? by Sheila Heti

Goodbye Columbus and Five Short Stories by Philip Roth

What is the What by Dave Eggers

A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

Honored Guest: Stories by Joy Williams

The Stupidest Angel by Christopher Moore

Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut

Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon

Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart

Just Kids by Patti Smith

Books of Beijing - Fiction set in China


Alexander, Alma – The Secrets of Jin-Shei: a novel – Adult Fiction – ALEXANDER

Buck, Pearl S. – The Good Earth – Adult Fiction – BUCK

Buck, Pearl S. – Dragon Seed – Adult Fiction – BUCK

Chen, Da – Brothers: a novel – Adult Fiction – CHEN

Cheng, Francois – Green Mountain, White Cloud – Adult Fiction – CHENG

Choa, Carolyn – The Picador/Vintage Book of Contemporary Chinese Fiction – Short Stories – VINTAGE

Dai, Sijie – Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress – Adult Fiction – DAI

Dai, Sijie – Mr. Muo’s Traveling Couch – Adult Fiction – DAI

Elegant, Robert S. –  Manchu – Adult Fiction – ELEGANT

Elegant, Robert S. –  Mandarin – Adult Fiction – ELEGANT

Elegant, Simon – A Floating Life: the adventures of Li Po – Adult Fiction – ELEGANT

Epstein, Jennifer Cody – The Painter from Shanghai – Adult New Books – EPSTEIN

Gao, Xingjian – One Man’s Bible: a novel - Adult Fiction – XINGJIAN

Gao, Xingjian – Buying a Fishing Rod for my Grandfather – Adult Fiction – GAO

Gao, Xingjian – Soul Mountain – Adult Fiction – XINGJIAN

Greenway, Alice – White Ghost Girls ­– Adult Paperbacks – GREENWAY

Hayder, Mo – The Devil of Nanking – Adult Fiction – HAYDER

Jin, Ha – In the Pond:  a novel – Adult Fiction – JIN

Jin, Ha – Waiting – Adult Fiction – JIN

Jin, Ha – The Bridegroom: stories – Adult Fiction – JIN

Jin, Ha – The Crazed – Adult Fiction – JIN

Larsen, Jeanne – Silk Road: a novel of 18th  century China – Adult Fiction – LARSEN

Li, Rui – Silver City: a novel – Adult Fiction – LI

Liang, Diane Wei – The Eye of Jade – Adult Mysteries – LIANG

Liu, Aimee – Cloud Mountain – Adult Fiction – LIU

Ma, Jian – Beijing Coma – Adult New Books – MA

Maugham, Somerset W. ­– The Painted Veil­– Adult Paperbacks – MAUGHAM

McCunn, Ruthanne Lum – The Moon Pearl – Adult Fiction – MCCUNN

Min, Anchee – Empress Orchid – Adult Fiction – MIN

Min, Anchee – The Last Empress – Adult Fiction – MIN

Min, Anchee – Wild Ginger:  a novel – Adult Fiction – MIN

Motley, Annette – Green Dragon, White Tiger – Adult Fiction – MOTLEY

Qui, Xiaolong – Death of a Red Heroine ­– Adult Fiction – QUI

Qui, Xiaolong – When Red is Black – Adult Mysteries – QUI

Jiang, Rong– Wolf Totem: a novel – Adult New Books – JIANG

See, Lisa – Snow Flower and the Secret Fan – Adult Paperbacks – SEE

See, Lisa – Peony in Love: a novel – Adult Fiction – SEE

See, Lisa – The Flower Net – Adult Fiction – SEE

See, Lisa – Dragon Bones:  a novel – Adult Fiction – SEE

Tai, Jeanne – Spring Bamboo: a Collection of Contemporary Chinese Short Stories – Short Stories – SPRING

Tong, Su – Rice – Adult Fiction – TONG

Vittachi, Nury– Feng Shui Detective Goes West – Adult Mysteries – VITTACHI

Wang, Anyi – Song of Everlasting Sorrow – Adult New Books – WANG

Wang, Lulu – The Lily Theater: a novel of modern China – Adult Fiction – WANG

Williams, Adam – The Palace of Heavenly Pleasure – Adult Fiction – WILLIAMS

Yu, HuaChronicle of a Blood Merchant – Adult Fiction – YU