I read over 60 books in 2015. It was easy to identify my top favorites; still, there were many more I liked and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend.
Mysteries hold a certain fascination for me, maybe because like historians, detectives have to sort through information to decide what holds up, to see how it all fits together. I am a devoted fan of several mystery series, both historical and contemporary.
For that noir vibe, nothing beats Philip Kerr’s Bernie Gunther series. Originally a policeman in Berlin in the 1930s, Gunther has been coerced into working for the Nazis. In The Lady from Zagreb, Joseph Goebbels tasks Gunther with convincing the beautiful actress Dalia Dresner to star in a certain film. The job leads Gunther to Yugoslavia, where he confronts a web of atrocities.
In Dreaming Spies, Laurie King situates her main characters, Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes, in Japan in the mid-1920s in a tale of international blackmail. This series had begun to sag, but this is a terrific installment.
Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs series has been stellar from the start. Maisie is a private detective living in England in the interwar period. Memories of the Great War loom large, and now, as evidenced in A Dangerous Place, new horrors are on the horizon. Traveling through Gibraltar in 1937, Maisie stumbles on a murder that has international consequences.
Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley’s personal past is haunting him less. In Elizabeth George’s A Banquet of Consequences, he and his partner Barbara Havers turn their attention to a poisoning that leads them to the dysfunctional Goldacre family. Lynley is determined not only to solve the mystery, but to help Havers salvage her professional reputation.
Cormoran Strike is one of the most intriguing fictional detectives to grace a contemporary mystery series. J.K. Rowling, writing as Robert Galbraith, has crafted another fine entry. Career of Evil starts with a severed leg delivered to Strike’s office, addressed to his assistant, Robin. The resolution of this case goes hand in hand with a recalibration of Strike’s relationship with Robin.
Ben Winters concluded his innovative Last Policeman trilogy with World of Trouble. An asteroid is still headed toward Earth and will still obliterate life on the planet. Henry Palace is determined to solve one final mystery: what happened to his sister Nico?