My Favorite Mysteries of 2013

female-detectiveNext Monday – February 17 – we will announce the results of All About Romance’s Annual Reader Poll for the best romance novels published in 2013. Working on the poll has me thinking about the best books published in 2013 from my other favorite genre, mystery.

One only has to check out Mystery and Suspense Discussion thread on AAR’s forums (now in its Fourth Edition) to know that there are a lot of other AAR readers who also love reading mysteries and suspense. So I thought it might be fun to talk about our favorite mysteries published in 2013. My top five, in no particular order, are:

Speaking from Among the Bones by Alan Bradley – I’ve been a huge fan of the Flavia de Luce mystery series since I first discovered it over three years ago and this latest entry didn’t disappoint. This time out in addition to getting involved in solving a mystery at her church, Flavia also discovers a lot of secrets relating to her mother who died when Flavia was a baby. I adore this modern, adult take on a girl sleuth set in 1950s England. This entry ended on a huge cliffhanger that has already been resolved in the 2014 entry in the series and I’m now counting down the months until the 2015 entry is released.

How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny – I didn’t think I would like this series set alternately in a small, hidden town outside of Montreal and Montreal itself. I tend to favor mysteries with women as the lead character, but Inspector Armande Gamache quickly won me over. The previous entry in the series ended on a dark note; not so this one. While much is up in the air for the future, the talented Ms. Penny tied together many loose threads from previous books and in addition to several intriguing mysteries, also provided a completely satisfying resolution for a few longstanding characters.

Behind the Shattered Glass by Tasha Alexander – I’m a longtime fan of Ms. Alexander’s Lady Emily series. I’ve enjoyed Lady Emily’s past visits to such interesting locations as Paris, Santorini, Vienna, and Constantinople, but this one set at Lady Emily and Colin’s country estate is among my favorites. This time, in addition to having the story told from Lady Emily’s point of view, parts of it are told from one of the maid’s points of view. This added a sort of “upstairs/downstairs” feel to the story and a completely different perspective on the series. As a huge fan of the late Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody series (and I know that Ms. Alexander is also a fan), I was delighted by Lady Emily’s interest in Egyptology, and holdout hopes that someday, Lady Emily and Colin will head to Egypt.

The Book of Killowen by Erin Hart – This is the fourth entry in the author’s series featuring archaeologist Cormac Maguire and pathologist Nora Gavin, but only the second I’ve read. While the book is set in modern Ireland, Maguire and Gavin investigate two bodies found in a bog – one a murder that took place recently and the second a 9th century murder. The story mixes ancient mysteries with the modern setting, as Maguire and Gavin stay in an odd commune seemingly filled with people with secrets. I liked this one so much that I’m determined to go back and read the entries I’ve missed.

The Midwife’s Tale by Sam Thomas – This debut mystery was released in January of 2013, but just didn’t sound like something I would like. While it’s historical – set in 1644 York – I tend to shy away from medical mysteries of any kind, and a series featuring a midwife was bound to feature lots of medical details. Thank goodness my mystery book group selected this as our January selection; if not I would have missed out on a fascinating new series. Yes, things are grim in York as the City is under siege, but the historian-author gets his historical details straight without making it feel like you’re reading a historical tomb. Bridget Hodgson, the midwife, isn’t particularly likeable at first; perhaps because she does have the behaviors and sensibilities of her time. I recently listened to a talk by the author and was fascinated to learn that before he began writing fiction he did much of his historical non-fiction writing and research on midwives, and that Bridget Hodgson is the name of an actual midwife.  The second in the series – The Harlot’s Tale – was recently released and is darker yet, but all of the main characters continue to develop in intriguing ways. I look forward to the third.

Honorable mentions for me go to A Dying Fall by Elly Griffiths; An Inquiry Into Love and Death by Simone St. James; Mortal Arts by Anna Lee Huber; Buried in a Bog by Sheila Connolly; and Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger.

If you read mysteries, what were some of your favorites published in 2013?




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31 Responses to My Favorite Mysteries of 2013

  1. maggie b. says:

    My favorite was Touch & Go by Lisa Gardner. Wow. Thoroughly scary. It tied with A Matter of Honor by Charles Todd. Second place was probably Inquiry into Love and Death. I’ll have to look at my reading log to think of more but these top my list.

  2. HeatherS AAR says:

    Oooo, I have a few of these authors/books in my TBR pile. I shall add the others to my list to try as well. This is the perfect weather for reading a good mystery!

  3. Valerie L. says:

    My favorite was the 2013 offering of the Sebastian St Cyr mysteries by C S Harris What Darkness Brings. This series has you wishing for the next book to be written NOW, and breaks your heart when you realize you have to wait a year for the next one. My wait is almost over, Why Kings Confess is due out on March 4th. This is a Regency-set mystery series with a tortured hero and plots twists that never cease to amaze and gets you thinking about what will come next. You’ll need to start reading form the beginning, though, because the plot builds upon itself. The first book is What Angels Fear. Try it; you won’t be disappointed.

  4. leslie says:

    I have found myself becoming disillusioned with my favorite mystery authors.

    Deborah Crombie’s last one was so blah and she left off with a big cliff hanger. I have never warmed to Gemma and it seems the series is becoming more about her than of Duncan who was the main protagonist in the beginning of the series.

    Elizabeth George and Elly Griffiths I’ve given up….completely!

    George’s Careless in Red and Crombie’s Necessary as Blood were brilliant books, but since then their characters’ directions are not very enjoyable to me as a reader or as a fan of Lynley and Kincaid.

    I am very fond of Gamache, but I hated A Beautiful Mystery with the passion of a thousand suns! I have the new one on hold at the library, I am not buying them anymore.

    I don’t mind dark and brooding in the leads, but I am so tired of the constant harassment, oppression by their superiors or what have you. I just want to read a good mystery, not have the constant personal down spiral (career wise) of the protagonists.

    Yikes….I sound so bitchy!

    • LinnieGayl says:

      The Elly Griffiths’ aren’t holding my interest as much as the first few did either.

      I still enjoy Crombie, but Necessary as Blood was fantastic.

  5. Thea says:

    I lately have found mysteries more rewarding reads than romance. (Although romance is still my first love.) In 2013, I liked:
    Blood, Ash & Bone by Tina Whittle
    Through the Evil Days by Julia Spencer-Fleming
    Circle of Shadows by Imogen Robertson
    Braking Points by Tammy Kaehler
    Cold & Lonely Place by Sara J. Henry
    Once Upon a Lie by Maggie Barbieri
    Her Last Breath by Linda Castillo.
    I would add many in your top five and honorable mentions to this list, too, but I won’t repeat them.

  6. LSUReader says:

    My favorite mysteries of 2013 were Suspect by Robert Crais, Unseen by Karin Slaughter, Touch & Go by Lisa Gardner, The 9th Girl by Tami Hoag, Always Watching by Chevy Stevens, Death Angel by Linda Fairstein and Never Go Back by Lee Child.

    So far in 2014, Lisa Gardner’s Fear Nothing is a real winner!

  7. Eggletina says:

    One not mentioned already that I finally tried last year:

    The first Julian Kestrel mystery by Kate Ross (Cut to the Quick). I believe there are three more in this series, which I plan to track down at some point.

    • Valerie L. says:

      There are only four mysteries because the author died way too young. They are beautifully written and leave you mourning her loss when you finish the last one.

    • Connie says:

      I love the Julian Kestrel books. They are all now on ebooks. It is sad that Kate Ross passed away so young. I read them years ago and am now doing a reread. I also hated Penny’s A Beautiful Mystery but loved the last one.

      I am a big fan of Ashley Gardners (aka Jennifer Ashley) Capt. Lacy mysteries and P.B Ryan’s Nell Sweeney mystery series set in Boston after the Civil War. These were written around 2005.

      I am also a fan of Anne Perry…both the Monk and Pitt series.

  8. LinnieGayl says:

    Great suggestions! I’m really enjoying reading about all of your favorite mysteries of 2013.

  9. Renee says:

    I love mysteries and will have to add many of these to my TBR list. I really enjoy the Julia Spencer Fleming series though I have not read the latest in the series that was recently released. I sometimes have a problem with mysteries involving children and that Fleming’s most recent release starts with what seems like a child’s kidnapping.

    • LinnieGayl says:

      I’m embarrassed to admit that I finally purchased the first in Julia Spencer Fleming’s series. I just never thought the series would be for me, but after getting recommendations from so many people whose taste is similar to mine I think it’s time to give her a chance.

      • cawm says:

        I also started the Julia Spencer Fleming series late, but I have really enjoyed it. This year I definitely found myself preferring mystery to romance. Some of my favourites:
        The Yard – Alex Grecian
        Some Danger Involved – Will Thomas
        False Mermaid – Erin Hart
        A Dying Fall – Elly Griffiths
        Massacre Pond – Paul Doiron
        Cold in the Earth – Aline Templeton

      • Renee says:

        I actually got started with the Fleming series as audiobooks and have really enjoyed the audio versions.

  10. SandyH says:

    I would recommend Felicity Young, The Anatomy of Death (Dody McCleland) and Antidote to Murder. Love C.S. Harris. I have her latest on order. Also Deanna Raybourn.

  11. Tee says:

    Hi LinnieGayl. I’ve read some good suspense/mystery books in 2013. They were:

    Touch & Go | Lisa Gardner
    The Mystery Woman | Amanda Quick
    Her Last Breath | Linda Castillo
    The 9th Girl | Tami Hoag
    Unseen | Karin Slaughter
    Let Me Go | Chelsea Cain
    The Edge of Normal | Carla Norton
    Deadline | Sandra Brown

    • LinnieGayl says:

      Thanks, Tee! I need to pick up Linda Castillo’s book. I liked the last one. And I missed The Mystery Woman! How did that happen?

  12. Rosario says:

    I liked several books that have already been mentioned, but of the ones that haven’t, I was surprised at how much I liked The Cuckoo’s Calling, by Robert Galbraith (aka JK Rowling). Great characters, and an interesting plot.

    I also liked several slightly older books:

    The Blood Detective, by Dan Waddell, which has a genealogist helping the police solve murders with ties to much older ones.

    The Night of the Mi’raj, by Zoe Ferraris: mystery set in Saudi Arabia

    Talking to the Dead, by Harry Bingham: contemporary mystery set in Cardiff, with a really unique female police detective as a protagonist.

  13. Paola says:

    I Remember You by Yrsa Sigurdardottir, an Icelandic novel that scared me to death.

  14. Elaine C. says:

    Louise Penny’s “How the Light Gets In” is one terrific mystery. My husband and I always take a trip so that we can listen to her latest together (downloaded from What a wonderful writer Ms. Penny is!

  15. JMM says:

    Donna Andrews put out TWO books last year! Yay!

    Hen of the Baskervilles and Duck the Halls!

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  17. Robert Barnes says:

    Anything from John Benedict is hard to beat for me. I read Adrenaline a while back and absolutely adored it and then more recently picked up On The Edge Of Death (the sequel) and I was just blown away. If there is any book series destined for a great movie it would be these. I rarely go back and re-read anything but I found these so engaging and thrilling that I read On The Edge Of Death again just a couple of weeks later. Definitely worth checking out if you haven’t already.

  18. sue from england says:

    I also love all the books by Deanna Raybourn, Sandra Brown, C.S.Harris and the Julain Kestrel series was awesome! So sad that the author died so young. Julia Spencer-Fleming is an auto buy for me too.
    Can I also recommend Jill Paton Walsh’s additions to the Lord Peter Wimsey novels of Dorothy L. Sayers for those who like Golden Age Crime and a fab new find for me: Jane Casey’s Maeve Kerrigan novels, starting with The Burning, they are brilliant!

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