Nominating Titles for the Anthonys

How hard is it to pick our favorite mystery titles? If you’ve read every book in a series, I hope that means you enjoy them! There are some series that I lose interest in after a while, probably because I’m just looking for something new. Other authors such as Charles Todd (duo in earlier years), I just can’t read enough.

It gets more difficult in all the different categories to choose nominees because I’m not always sure which books belong in which category. I’ve gotten better with the YAs since I make a point to get a feel for what’s being published. Short stories are always difficult to choose too. G.M.Maillet stood out this year but there are always great stories to be read by Barb Goffman and John Floyd and others from the Short Fiction Mystery Society.

Still, as I thumb through the mystery books published in 2022, there are so many! And what a problem to have! We are very lucky. My mom would have loved all the choices we have even if she always went back to reread Miss Marple and Poirot, and of course, her Nero Wolfe stories.

Malice Domestic this weekend! I’m looking forward to doing my first Malice go Round where I get two minutes to chat up my book at ten different tables! Not much you can say in two minutes, or is there?

Death on the Nile

Agatha Christie wrote this book after a winter in Egypt. I’ve always wanted to go to Egypt and this past December I realized that dream. Obviously, the Egypt of Christie’s time varied in some important ways. The politics are more complicated today. The people are still complex too. Her characters focused on the Europeans on the cruise from Aswan with a complicated plot. I found the Egyptians surrounding me to far more interesting (no offense to my fellow travelers!)

Ms. Christie starts out in England where the difference between the have’s, the incredibly rich and beautiful Linnet, and the have not’s, Jackie and her fiancé Simon is blatantly obvious. The strength of Agatha Christie’s book always tracks to a significant theme. So we know something is going to happen even in the superb weather of Egypt’s winter. Hercule Poirot is never a disappointment.

As I cruised down the Nile myself, I had quite a few ideas for my second book about Sissy Holmes and her sidekick El who is full of surprises. Death could happen in the shadow of the large Ramses II statues that were moved instead of being left at the bottom of Lake Nassar when the most recent Aswan Dam was built. Or maybe in one of the many markets that are set-up outside of every tomb and temple. Thanks to Ms. Christie for the idea of  mysteries taking place in unusual locations!

Mary Stojak has had a number of short stories published in anthologies, journals, and magazines. Most recently she had stories published in The Letters a Sherlockian publication, In Short, Volume III a collection of Flash Fiction, and The Raven Review. Mary received her Masters in Fiction from Johns Hopkins Hopkins University.

Another Favorite – Christie’s The Mysterious Affair at Styles

It is a problem, is it not mon ami? Agatha Christie introduces us to Captain Hastings, our master sleuth Hercule Poirot, and our friend Inspector  Japp all in one fell swoop.

For some of us the country house is a wonderful setting, giving us a hint of how the war had changed life in England. It is easy to picture the rolling grounds, the ancient house, and the nearby village. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s influence is also evident in the creation of the somewhat dense Captain Hastings acting as Hercule Poirot’s Watson. But Christie’s story and characters are uniquely hers.

If you’ve never read her first Poirot novel, this is a must read. Not only does it set the stage for all of his future exploits, the book is a masterful puzzle starting with a locked room, plenty of clues and red herrings, and suspects with motives and opportunities.