Mystery, Thriller & Suspense
Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes by Denise Grover Swank
It’s safe to say that Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes is not a classic novel. It revolves around DMV employee Rose Gardner, her mother’s unexplained death, and the slew of wishes she haphazardly scribbles on the back of a Wal-Mart receipt — ones Gardner hopes to accomplish before visions of her own death, or jail time, come to pass. The book is more lighthearted than you might think, too, reveling in a next-door romance and subsequent murders. Take it at face value.
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Doyle did not invent the fictional detective archetype, that arguably goes to Edgar Allen Poe, but he certainly helped bring it to the mainstream. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes encapsulates 12 original tales featuring Holmes first published in The Strand Magazine, including classics like “A Scandal in Bohemia” and “The Adventure of the Red-Headed League.” Holmes’ astute reasoning logical is abound, as is his knack for forensics, fleshed out in easily-digestible snippets only Doyle could write.
The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan
As the first of five novels featuring the beloved action-hero Richard Hannay, Buchan’s Thirty-Nine Step has long been heralded for creating the man-on-the-run character we often see in literature and blockbuster films. It follows a retired mining engineer who becomes wrapped up in an international plot upon discovering body in his home and fleeing for his native Scotland. It offers a short read, with a tense introduction into the world of espionage novels.
The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
Collin’s classic is a must if you’re looking for a a tale of mistaken identity encased in a shroud of mystery. It’s considered among the first mystery novels ever written, incorporating elements of Gothic horror and psychological realism, and narrated by multiple characters. The book opens with teacher Walter Hartright encountering a mysterious woman in white upon a London road, but it unravels into a sensational love affair with subtle undercurrents of political commentary.
Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie
Having written more 80 detective novels during her lifetime, it’s safe to say Agatha Christie is considered a household name when it comes the genre. Her second novel, Secret Adversary, introduces the reader to Tommy and Tuppence, two characters who reoccur in other Christie tales down the line. Their goal? To find a woman who vanishes with government documents without becoming completely entrenches in a tangle of secret intelligence, false evidence and dubious affairs.
The Murders in the Rue Morgue by Edgard Allen Poe
Arguably the first detective story ever written, the short tale is centered on a man named C. Auguste Dupin and his work to unravel the mystery surrounding a baffling double murder on a fictional street in Paris. Although numerous witnesses heard the suspect, no one can seem to agree on the language spoken, and the only other piece of apparent evidence is a lone strand of hair Dupin believes to be nonhuman. It’s captivating despite its age and serves as prototype for numerous fictional detectives.
The Leak by Jacques Futrelle
Before going down with the Titanic in 1912, Futrelle penned a slew of short stories depicting the sly, logical deductions of Professor Augustus S.F.X. Van Dusen. The Leak is one of those stories, bursting with Dusen’s masterful reasoning and Futrelle’s gift for writing short, concise plots that are both clever and tangible. “The Leak” specifically refers to a breach of information pertaining to planned stock purchases that ultimately costs a Wall Street financier millions.
Murder on the Mind by L.L. Bartlett
It’s not surprising Murder on the Mind is a fitting title given book’s main protagonist, Jeff Resnick, gains the ability to see murders happen through a series psychic visions after sustaining traumatic brain injuries during a mugging. He, along with his brother, set forth to investigate the crimes and unravel the mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of his brother’s banker and another unsuspecting victim. It’s stark and well-paced, with twists to match.
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Dostoyevsky’s second novel following his return from exile in Siberia proposes more moral quandaries than any mystery or suspense novel on our roundup. It revolves around a penniless man named Rodion Raskolnikov who executes a plot to kill a corrupt pawnbroker to alleviate his financial woes and rid the world of a corruption. Is murder warranted if it serves a higher purpose? It’s tough to say, but Dostoyevsky’s wordy tale and elegant style leave the question open.
Blindsided (A Thriller) by Jay Giles
Blindsided is an appropriate title for Giles’ lighthearted thriller given how many twists and turns comprise stockbroker Matt Seattle’s life once he begins looking into the death of his former client and friend, Joe Jesso. The storyline is plausible and well-orchestrated, though short and predictable at times, with just enough suspense and action that you might overlook the sheer amount of loose ends left dangling at the end. Just blame it Giles’ multifaceted, cartel-riddled plot and status as a newly-minted author.
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