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July 12, 2012

It's no mystery that people love a mystery

Daily Star

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Mystery books are the second highest circulating items in our library. The circulation on these books is nearly double of regular fiction, except for big name authors/bestsellers. So many people love mysteries, and often individuals will check out a dozen or more at a time. The varieties are endless.

There are "cozy" mysteries, "hard boiled," "historical," "violent," "action," "suspenseful," and on and on. Mystery writers are just as varied as the stories they write.

For the last several mornings, NPR has been interviewing mystery writers. They talk about the settings of their stories and where they get their ideas, the craft of writing, and for me, it's interesting to hear the story behind the story. I've often wondered if mystery writers outline their story before starting, if they know the ending, or if it is revealed while writing, how they decide on a storyline, you get the idea.

If you read mysteries, are you able to figure out who did it before the denouement?

Summer is the perfect time to relax with a mystery. Here are just a few of the newest arrivals at Huntington in the mystery field:

Christopher Brookmyre is starting a new series of crime novels which take place in Glasgow. "Where the Bodies Are Buried" features Detective Catherine McLeod who is investigating the murder of drug pusher Jai McDiarmid. Jai had many enemies and there are no shortage of suspects. Instead of an easy case, there are soon more bodies along with bomb threats. Even when she interviews the local drug lords, she is soon caught up in anther similar case. Definitely a mystery you won't want to miss.

"Invisible Country" by Annamaria Alfieri is an historical mystery taking place in Paraguay in 1868. Paraguay is devastated after a war against Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay. Ninety percent of the males have been killed in the war and food is scarce. The local minister advises the women of his congregation to ignore the rules of the church and to get pregnant by any available man they can find. Padre Gregorio also finds the slain body of Ricardo Yorte, one of the most powerful men in the country, in the belfry. That's just the beginning of this complicated story that also features a search for lost gold, and answers to many secrets villagers carry as they search for the truth.

Sugar Land, Texas, is the setting for "Faithful Unto Death" by Stephanie Evans. It is a planned community and although everything looks perfect, it isn't. There had never been a murder, but when a man is found with a crushed skull on the golf course, it becomes obvious there are problems. Walker Bear Wells is a former college football play turned minister in Sugar Land. He doesn't really want to be a detective, but things keep turning up that intermingle with his own life as a result of this murder. So a detective he becomes.

There are lots of bookstores in Stoneham, N.H., and Tricia Miles is the proprietor of Haven't Got a Clue, a mystery bookstore. What the town really needs is bed-and-breakfast establishments. Pippa and Jon Comfort open an inn and invite town residents to give it a trial run. When Tricia stays overnight, she awakens to a nightmare. Pippa's murdered body is in the backyard, and Jon is actually Harry Taylor, a man she once loved two decades previously and long thought dead. Harry is the prime suspect but Tricia isn't buying that. Find out who did it in Lorna Barrett's "Murder on the Half Shelf."

Police recover the body of a young woman in Lars Kepler's latest mystery "The Nightmare." The police are certain it was death by drowning since her lungs are filled with water. If that is so, why aren't there any traces of water on her clothes or even her body? The next death is believed to be a suicide, but the ceiling is too high and there is no furniture in the vicinity of the hanging body. These gruesome crimes will have you on the edge of your seat as the police struggle to discover the culprit.

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Marie Bruni is director of Huntington Memorial Library in Oneonta. Her column appears in the community section of The Daily Star every Thursday. Her columns can be found online at