Maigret in Vichy
Georges Simenon rivaled Agatha Christie when it comes to being prolific: he wrote seventy-five novels featuring his detective, Jules Maigret. As a commissioner with the Paris police, Maigret’s job is solving murder. So when he and his wife go on holiday to the French countryside, he is supposed to be taking a break. But when a murder occurs in the quiet town, the detective feels compelled to solve the crime.
Death in the Family
Shana Merchant walked away from a job as a New York City detective to take a job up in the Thousand Islands region in northern New York. Reports of a missing man bring her out to a remote island where the assorted members of the Sinclair family have gathered. When a storm bears down and traps everyone on the island, Merchant must solve the crime before the murderer strikes again.
Jess Walker is a student at an English university that looks nothing like the hallowed halls of the Oxbridge colleges. But she has chosen the location in order to study from Dr. Lorna Clay. As Walker falls in love with Clay’s teaching, she becomes part of a tight-knit cadre of students who take pride in being outsiders. When tragedy strikes, secrets will be revealed that will threaten everything Walker holds dear.
Walter Mosley’s detective series featuring Easy Rawlins (played by Denzel Washington in Devil in a Blue Dress) take place against the backdrop of a changing Los Angeles. When Rawlins starts a new detective agency with two partners he can trust, he hopes for a calmer way of being. But that calm is shattered when Rawlins is asked to clear a young black man who has been charged with killing two white men. The fact that the young man was found standing over the two bodies is going to make Rawlins’ task so much harder.
The Body in the Castle Well
Benoît Courrèges—Bruno—is the chief of police in the quiet French village of St. Denis. But life there never stays quiet for long. When the body of a young American woman is found in a castle’s courtyard, Bruno must investigate. The woman was studying with a noted art historian, a man whose authentications of paintings is suspect. As Bruno plunges into the case, he discovers that the water has been made murky by a mixture that involves the French Resistance and the American singer Josephine Baker.
The Satapur Moonstone
In 1922 Bombay, Perveen Mistry is the only lawyer who is also a woman. When two female members of a royal family cannot reach an agreement, Mistry is asked to mediate. At the Satapur palace, however, she is ensnared in a web of politics and intrigue. At stake are the younger members of the royal family who are burdened with the legacy of ancient enmities. Mistry must find a way to undo the harm inflicted by a past that isn’t really past.
Death Going Down
María Angélica Bosco
In the days following the end of World War II, Argentina becomes refuge to those seeking to escape Europe’s destruction. Late one night, a reveler comes home from a night of drinking, he confronts the sobering sight of a murdered woman in his building’s elevator. As police investigate the crime, they discover a range of suspects, all of whom are hiding secrets. But which one felt the need to kill the woman in order to keep their secret safe?
Murder in Bel-Air
Aimée Leduc is a private investigator in Paris. Right before she is scheduled to give a speech, she receives a phone call from her daughter Chloe’s daycare. Chloe’s grandmother is a no-show, but it’s part of a familiar pattern between Aimée and her mother. When she witnesses the body of a homeless woman being removed from a soup kitchen, she is shocked to discover that the last person to see the woman alive was Aimée’s mother, who has now disappeared from the city. Is her mother caught up in a crime?
The Familiar Dark
Eve Taggert works as a waitress in a small town in the Missouri Ozarks. When she is given the horrific news that her daughter has been murdered on a playground, Eve seeks answers. Her grief and her anger drive her to ask questions that stir up the townspeople who have much to hide. And as Eve follows the trail of her daughter’s last day, she is forced to reckon with her own family’s legacy.
An Unwanted Guest
Mitchell’s Inn is a perfect Catskills getaway for those looking to sweeten their romance or who are seeking a quiet escape. A winter blizzard cuts off access to the hotel. The power goes out. And then the first guest turns up dead. What appeared to be an accident is revealed to be murder, and the hotel’s residents become aware that each of them are under threat. Without any access to the outside world, how can they protect themselves from the murderer who is trapped with them?
The mystery “genre” actually comprises several different categories of stories. A “thriller” is different from a “cozy mystery,” which is different from “crime fiction,” which may not necessarily be “detective fiction,” and these are just some of the flavors in the mystery stew.
Agatha Christie’s corpus of work—seventy-nine novels and short-story collections, plus fourteen plays—encompassed many of the sub-genres that have emerged. While her two most famous creations, Hercule Poirot and Miss Jane Marple, were at the center of much of her detective fiction, they were often called on to solve “locked room” mysteries, in which a death in an inaccessible space created puzzles for her sleuths to solve. In books such as And Then There Were None, she wrote a thriller in which ten people on a remote island are killed one-by-one as the survivors try to understand what has made them targets. In Witness for the Prosecution, Christie experimented with the unreliable narrator. And Christie moved her stories away from her native Great Britain, offering readers the chance to read stories set in places such as Turkey, the south of France, or Egypt.
These ten mysteries share elements of classic Christie stories. Whether you want a mystery set in an unfamiliar locale or you’re looking to immerse yourself in the work of a particular fictional detective or you want a harrowing mystery in which no character is safe, Read it Forward is on the case.
Featured image: Nyesha Viechweg