Top Ten Mysteries

I’m a huge fan of mysteries. “Top Ten Tuesday” is a list-making meme currently hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, and the theme for this week is a FREEBIE. Since I’ve noticed a troubling lack of mystery-related lists for Top Ten Tuesday, I offer up my list of the top ten…specifically, the mysteries which most took me by surprise or had the most satisfying twists!Top Ten Mysteries — Kimia Wood

1– Have His Carcase, Dorothy Sayers

Mystery author Harriet Vane is on a walking tour along the coast of England when she discovers a body with its throat cut. Along with her suitor and friend, noble sleuth Lord Peter Wimsey, she sets out tracking down suspects, busting alibis, and cracking conspiracies.

The twist is truly original, beautifully foreshadowed, and is surprising yet inevitable – and thus very satisfying.

All in all, an excellent mystery story, with a smattering of romance mixed in.

2– Gemini Rue (2011)

Top Ten Mysteries — Kimia WoodThe hook for this sci-fi puzzle game is a former assassin hunting for his long-lost brother. But there’s way more in this story about organized crime, friendship, and whether we can really trust our memories.

Read my full review to see how the twist totally floored me and made me a fan for life!

3– The Bourne Identity, Robert Ludlum

Top Ten Mysteries — Kimia WoodA man washes up in the Mediterranean Sea, riddled with bullets and more dead than alive. Several months of care on a tiny fishing island restore him to health, but not to himself – he can’t remember who he is.

Once he steps off the island, a world of danger and secrets rears up, threatening to swallow him unless his “gut-instincts” from who he was can keep him alive long enough to figure it out.

This amnesia mystery is not for everyone, but if you’ve got a strong stomach and conscience, it’s a fascinating onion of conspiracies and secrets!

4– The Maltese Falcon (1941)

This classic noir detective film stars the iconic Humphrey Bogart as Sam Spade – smooth-talking, quick-thinking, razor-sharp intelligent, and sly as a fox. When his partner is murdered, Sam sets out untangling a conspiracy of greed and murder, accompanied by a beautiful and mysterious woman wound in a cocoon of lies.

It’s not just a cultural icon — it’s also a terrific mystery story.

5– Clouds of Witness, Dorothy Sayers

Lord Peter Wimsey’s brother-in-law to be is murdered in the dead of night. Lord Peter’s brother is arrested for the crime, and to clear him Wimsey must delve deep into his sibling’s darkest secrets.

Full of intelligence and British wit, this is a fantastically tangled tale that resolves with a dramatic twist that stuns the entire House of Lords!

6– The Westing Game, Ellen Raskin

A bizarre chain of events begins when sixteen unlikely people gather for the reading of Samuel W. Westing’s will. And though no one knows why the eccentric, game-loving millionaire has chosen a virtual stranger—and a possible murderer—to inherit his vast fortune, one thing’s for sure: Sam Westing may be dead…but that won’t stop him from playing one last game!

This is a suspenseful and intriguing mystery, with a satisfying ending. There are a lot of characters, but they’re colorful and individual enough to be easily distinguished from each other.

7– “Now You See Him…” (Columbo Season 5)

Top Ten Mysteries — Kimia Wood

Image credit: marketwatch.com

The main question of Columbo is not who committed the murder, but how our shabby, trenchcoat-wearing, cigar-chomping protagonist assembles the evidence to finally nail the culprit.

In this episode, Lt. Columbo faces down a magician. While the ending might be a little “goofy”, it’s adorable, satisfying, and totally condemning (of the bad guy, that is).

8– Murder on the Orient Express, Agatha Christie

Fourteen passengers on a train. One is brutally murdered in the night. It has to be one of them…but who? The Russian princess? The Swedish maid? The American secretary?

Only Hercule Poirot could solve such a case. And trust me, it’s worth it to read the original classic!

9– “Candidate for Crime” (Columbo Season 3)

This episode is one of my all time favorites. As the ending stretches on, Columbo seems to be doing nothing, while the murderer trundles along doing exactly what he wants. Then, in the last five minutes of the show – BLAM! Columbo unleashes his smarts, and the perp can do nothing but hang his head in defeat.

10– Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective (2010)

Another video game – but one well worth your time! Sissel awakes in a junkyard to discover that he’s dead…but not just dead, dead with powers. He remembers nothing about his life, and must use his abilities to unravel the mystery of his own murder before dawn!

Full of easy physics puzzles, bright humor, and unforgettable characters, if you venture into Ghost Trick you will make friends for life (and also explore a neat amnesia mystery)!

Honorable Mention– The Tuesday Club Murders, Agatha Christie

This book is good the way pizza and popcorn are good. Perhaps they don’t have many vitamins, but they’re great to chow down on once in a while.

The short stories in this volume each feature a little mystery, and can be finished in about one sitting each. If you like brain puzzles, clever clue-laying, and brilliant old ladies, you’ll suck this down like a peanut-butter chocolate shake – just as I did!

What are some of your favorite mysteries? What story twists have made you go, “Uhg! I should have seen that coming. This is awesome!”

(Did you see what I did? I went through a whole TTT post without mentioning the Master Chief!)


Top Ten Mysteries — Kimia WoodKimia Wood grew up under an aspiring author, so spinning words and weaving plots is in her blood.

She currently lives with her family somewhere in the American midwest, bracing for the collapse of society by knitting, baking, writing, and reading as much Twitter as possible before the web goes dark.

Join the mailing list for a FREE copy of her post-apocalyptic adventure novella Soldier!

Top Ten Relationships

“Top Ten Tuesday” is a list-making meme currently hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, and the topic for this week is “Love Freebie (Romances, swoons…) etc.

I’m not actually a fan of romances, and I’ve already shared my top “ten” romantic hits-and-misses and the top ten fictional guys I really admire (and would have crushes on if I did the “crush” thing), so to avoid just talking about the Master Chief again I want to share the Top Ten Relationships (friendships, platonic bonds, etc.) that I find most compelling.

1– Frodo and Sam (Lord of the Rings, Tolkien)

Frodo is the meta heroic protagonist who goes from quiet-living aristocrat in an ivory-tower corner of the world, to laying down his life to save all creation.

Sam is the down-home, unassuming, cleaning-the-toilets type who’s there to take care of his employer…and ends up helping to save the world. Continue reading

“God’s Not Dead 2”

 It’s a rare sequel that can match, let alone surpass, its predecessor. As controversial as God’s Not Dead was – an unabashedly Christian movie with steps and missteps – I think the sequel is an improvement.

The story: when popular public school teacher Grace gets a question in her history class about Jesus, she well-meaningly answers it in the historical context, quoting from the historical texts that establish Jesus’s actions and teachings.

Shortly after, she finds herself being sued by the ACLU for “preaching” to her students and trying to spread her Christian faith, with a non-believing young lawyer to advise her. Continue reading

“God’s Not Dead”

Movie For Christians, Not the Unchurched

 A Christian freshman sits down in his Intro to Philosophy class, to find the professor insisting that every student write “God is dead” on a piece of paper and sign their own name.

This one student decides this act violates his conscience, and refuses.

The professor challenges him to prove to the class that God actually exists – or lose 1/3 of his semester grade right off the bat.

While “Christian” films have gotten their share of grief over the years for sappy plotting or lazy writing, my personal reaction to this film was mostly positive. Continue reading

Top “Ten” Romances

Ten Eleven Romance Hits and Near-Misses!

The Top Ten Tuesday topic for today is “All About Romance Tropes/Types.” I’m not a huge fan of romance for its own sake, but I do have some favorite fictional couples and almost-couples:

1. “The Big Show” — Dragnet

In this episode of Dragnet, a military officer’s wife doesn’t see him for two years, and in her loneliness has a baby out of wedlock. To avoid hurting her husband, she decides to secretly give up the baby. It might not sound very profound explained like that, but the profound part is when her husband returns to the country, he not only forgives her, but takes the baby as his own. Now, that’s the kind of romance I can get behind! Continue reading

Class Your Character

What Would Your Character Be?

smaller I came up with a cool way to explore your characters. It’s all about archetypes (which are like stereotypes, but good).

Here it is: what role-playing class would they be? Not just in their fighting styles, but in their essential method of dealing with life.

Maybe you’ve already thought of something similar, but it sounded like fun to me. I’ll use some examples from popular fiction, and from my own works to show the brainstorming in action. Warning: major geek alert! If you’re not up on the World of Warcraft/DnD field, here’s a quick crash course (with pictures!). Continue reading

“Blind Dates Can Be Murder” by Mindy Starns Clark

41TOogxWSAL._SX315_BO1,204,203,200_ I wasn’t really raised reading “romance” novels, so even though Blind Dates Can Be Murder contained mystery elements this book proved to be a new genre experience for me. When read in the context of the other “Smart Chick” books, it’s my least favorite of the three.

In the first book, The Trouble With Tulip, photographer Danny Watkins realized he was in love with his childhood friend Jo Tulip. However, when she decided to set romantic relationships aside to focus on God, he secretly consented to wait for her.

Now, though, he’s going to take the plunge: he’s going to tell her he loves her! Jo, however, has no idea. Continue reading