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!

“Kate’s Innocence” by Sarah Holman

"Kate's Innocence" by Sarah Holman — Kimia Wood — innocence Can Kate prove she didn’t bomb her college campus? Can FBI agent Patrick trust God to reveal the truth as he tries to clear Kate?

For this indie Christian book, I’m going to front-load all my complaints, and then focus on what I liked.

That way, it’s like struggling to remove the sticky wax-paper wrapper on a chocolate toffee, then getting to eat the toffee! (I’m sure lots of people compare my reviews to chocolate toffee…) Continue reading

“The Racketeer” by John Grisham

"The Racketeer" by John Grisham — Kimia Wood — Grisham In the first few chapters, Malcolm Bannister plays his sympathy cards by explaining his situation as a guest of the federal government. In year five of ten for being unknowingly involved in a big-time racketeer’s money laundering, Malcolm has lost his wife and son to divorce and has a rocky relationship with his hard-nosed, lawful dad.

By the end of the book, I thought he deserved everything the FBI could stick on him, and finished reading partly to find out whether he was thrown in an oubliette.

Guess I’m not John Grisham’s target audience. [SPOILER ALERT] Continue reading

“The Bourne Identity” by Robert Ludlum

"The Bourne Identity" by Robert Ludlum — Kimia Wood — Bourne A 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.

Full of shoot-outs, bodies, and secrets peeling back like onion skins, this book is an action-packed read – for the discerning. Continue reading

“Goodbye California” by Alistair MacLean

 Alistair MacLean is known for action-packed, fast-moving, high-stakes mysteries. Goodbye California is no different.

Terrorists have attacked a nuclear power station, stolen truck-loads of nuclear fuel, and kidnapped several nuclear physicist professors and some female secretaries. What is their plan? What do they want?

The husband of one of the kidnapped women is a detective sergeant – a “cop” who can be a terror to those both inside and outside the law. He and his son (CHP) lay down their badges to pursue their own lines of inquiry…all of them racing against the clock once the villain threatens to detonate a nuclear device to create a tidal wave across Los Angeles. Continue reading

Get More Than You Pay For With Free Books

Get More Than You Pay For With Free Books

Over the past year or so, I’ve been downloading and reading free ebooks from a number of sources – partly because I have a weakness for free, partly because I want to find greats reads for you that you don’t have to shell out a penny for!

But sometimes “you get what you pay for”. Sometimes a book is free because we wouldn’t slog through it for any other reason.

Is that the rule? Are the reading-gems the exception? I’ve dug back through my review archives to figure out which books are worth reading (and worth paying for, even if I didn’t have to).

Note: All deals are listed as of this writing. Authors naturally have the prerogative to change how they charge for their works. By that same token, some books that I loved but couldn’t list because they didn’t qualify might become free again later 😉! Continue reading

“Submerged” by Dani Pettrey

Perhaps it’s a mistake to read reviews (especially critical reviews) before reading a book. I read a few reviews of Submerged, and my memory of one of them amounts to: 1) there is no coral in Alaskan waters, and 2) the female protagonist, in clinging to her past unworthiness, was making a mountain out of a molehill.

A sabotaged plane. Two dead deep-water divers.

Yancey, Alaska was a quiet town…until the truth of what was hidden in the depths off the coast began to appear.

Bailey Craig vowed never to set foot in Yancey again. She has a past, and a reputation–and Yancey’s a small town. She’s returned to bury a loved one killed in the plane crash and is determined not to stay even an hour more than necessary. But then dark evidence emerges and Bailey’s own expertise becomes invaluable for the case.

Cole McKenna can handle the deep-sea dives and helping the police recover evidence. He can even handle the fact that a murderer has settled in his town and doesn’t appear to be moving on. But dealing with the reality of Bailey’s reappearance is a tougher challenge. She broke his heart, but she is not the same girl who left Yancey. He let her down, but he’s not the same guy she left behind. Can they move beyond the hurts of their pasts and find a future together?

My responses: 1) the Wikipedia page was inconclusive, and 2) yes, she totally is. Continue reading

“Hazardous Duty” by Christy Barritt

A Cautionary Tale for Writers

 Surfing Amazon one day for “Christian mystery” (or some similar keyword) I came across this book about a crime scene cleaner who finds evidence that the police missed – and it was free! I downloaded it, eager to start reading, and went to load it onto my e-reading device.

BLAM!

File is locked with DRM (digital rights management), meaning I couldn’t read it on my Nook (it’s a Kindle/.mobi file), nor on my dad’s Kindle (device registered to him, book registered to me).

Almost a year later, I did finally get to start reading (because AT&T got me a smartphone, long story short)…but needless to say it left a bad taste in my mouth.

Gabby St. Claire is a professional crime scene cleaner, and an interesting enough character. The perky go-getter type, with an interest in chemistry and forensics, she uncovers evidence in one of the houses she’s cleaning that seems to shed light on a murder investigation.

She then immediately jumps to a conclusion, and pursues that conclusion through the rest of the book. Most sleuths pursue a mystery: she pursued her conclusion…and guys. Continue reading

“Grim Fandango: Remastered”

There’s something rotten in the Land of the Dead. Manny Calavera, travel agent to the recently deceased, is desperate for a big commission so he can pay off his dues to the “powers that be” and start his own “four year journey of the soul.”

When he tampers with the system to steal a client from his rival, he falls into an adventure that will have him pointing-and-clicking all over this hilarious Mexican-inspired landscape. Continue reading