Guest Post: Kristin’s Top 5 Mysteries/Thrillers


Still Life with CrowsI link over to My Bookish Ways frequently — both here on the blog and via Twitter. Kristin writes great reviews and has stellar taste. She and I tend to expose each other to books outside our reading comfort zone. I coax her into a book with an alpha male, and she nudges me into straight mystery. And the woman is always right. So, for those of you wanting to venture outside the paranormal, Kristin has compiled her top 5 mystery recommendations for VBC readers. Trust her. I do.


I admit it. I’m a sucker for vamps, weres, ghosties, and all manner of things that go bump. The fantasy section of the bookstore is where I head first, and I usually spend an obscene amount of time there. However, before I leave, I always find myself in the mystery section. I like all kinds of mysteries: historical, humorous (Stephanie Plum is a fave), crime, noir, you name it. However, there are a few titles among my long love affair with mysteries that stand out from the rest.

Picking only five was tough, but I looked over my trusty Goodreads “read” list, and let my heart guide me. These titles are the ones that inspired an instant reaction in me, a little “jump.” It’s hard to describe, but you know the feeling, yes? The feeling you get when a book touches you on a basic level, makes you fall in love with the characters, and makes you never want to leave its pages. These are five of my favorites, and I hope they become yours, too.

(In no particular order)

1. Still Life With Crows by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

Still Life is the fourth novel in the Pendergast series and seven books later, still one of the best. My favorite Special Agent encounters a particularly nasty horror in a small town and gets help from a most unlikely source: a very different teen named Corrie Swanson. If you haven’t discovered this series, start with Relic and work your way up. You won’t be sorry.

2. Whiskey Sour by J.A. Konrath

Whiskey Sour is the first book in the Jacqueline “Jack” Daniels crime/mystery series by J.A. Konrath. It took me about three books of this series to realize the author was male, because he writes Jack, a female Lieutenant unlucky in love but great at her job, so damn well. Jack’s a good cop, but it’s her humanity and flaws that make me come back for more every time, and the author has a knack for creating laugh out loud situations when some really bad stuff is going down. This series also has one of the nastiest female killers going, make no mistake, and the hoops she makes Jack jump through will keep you glued to the pages of this awesome series.

Blindsighted3. The Blue Hour by T. Jefferson Parker

I’ll read anything Mr. Parker writes, but I particularly love his Merci Rayborn series. Merci is a young cop, impetuous and brash. Tim Hess, old enough to be her father, is her partner. Together they must track down a killer targeting young women and an unlikely affection develops. I’m a sucker for this one, I’ll admit it. Merci and Hess’ love story is heartbreaking and beautiful, and contrasts perfectly among the labyrinth of murder they must navigate and the steamy Cali backdrop that Mr. Parker does so well. Not to be missed.

4. Blindsighted by Karin Slaughter

When Blindsighted came out, it knocked me for a loop. When Sara Linton, Grant County, Georgia coroner, discovers Sybil Adams dead in a local diner, her life will never be the same. She’s forced to work with Sheriff and ex-husband Jeffrey Toliver to solve the mystery, and face the possibility that they may have a serial killer on their hands. Blindsighted is an expertly written debut, and Sara and Jeffrey’s love story will thrill you and break your heart. A wonderful start to a superb series.

5. Shadow of a Broken Man by George C. Chesbro

I saved the best for last simply because the Mongo series by George C. Chesbro has a special little warm place next to my heart. Shadow of a Broken Man is the first of 15 in this beautiful series and in it, we get to know Dr. Robert Frederickson, or “Mongo” to his closest friends. Mongo is a former circus performer, karate black belt, doctor of Criminology and professor. He’s also a dwarf. The tortured and brilliant Mongo has the heart of a giant though, and the relationship he has with his brother Garth is a study in love and loyalty.

In my opinion, Mr. Chesbro is one of the first authors to infuse his noir with a touch of the otherworldly, and the two entwine to create a poignant and beautifully written series that will appeal to fans of crime/noir and thrillers alike. Unfortunately, the author passed away in 2008, but he gave us 15 Mongo books as well as the Chant Series and the Veil Kendry series (and more). His work was singular and not to be matched. You can order the series directly through his website, and find used copies floating around Amazon. If you can snag the books with the original covers (the original Penguin Group publication), go for it, they’re awesome. If you’re a fan of mystery and noir, this series is not to be missed!

I felt I should address why I didn’t include a John Connolly book in my list. If you read my blog, you probably know about my love for Connolly’s Charlie Parker series. It’s up there in the top, to be sure, but I wanted to give some other gems a chance to shine! Happy sleuthing!

6 Responses to “Guest Post: Kristin’s Top 5 Mysteries/Thrillers”

  1. I am a HUGE fan of Karin Slaughter!

  2. Marina says:

    This post is going to add a few new books to my TBR list!

  3. Kristin says:

    Thanks for posting this, girlie!!

  4. SharonS says:

    I love the Pendergast novels! the last two haven’t been the best, but those earlier ones are awesome 🙂

  5. Denise Z says:

    The wishlist is growing. Thank you for this wonderful post and sharing about some very interesting reads. I am a very eclectic reader and love all kinds of books and several of these caused me to go a searching 🙂

  6. I have always been a huge fan of the Twilight series , and have been at every midnight showing!! This last movie coming out is bitter sweet. I want to see if but at the same time I know it is the end:(

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