Name: Heather Backman
Summary/Thoughts: This book begins and ends with a bang, with a more methodically-paced middle section. After a tense opening scene depicting a kidnapped woman in a lightless room, we’re introduced to depressed, injured detective Carl Moorck. He’s assigned to a newly-created cold case department; it’s intended to keep him out of the way, but despite himself and with a little prodding from his new assistant, he finds himself investigating the kidnap case. The book follows Moorck through each step of the investigation, alternating with scenes of the woman’s plight, until the explosive conclusion where Moorck stumbles upon and confronts the villains. Somewhat violent (though not gory) and fairly grim; the ending is only middlingly happy. Readers interested in watching characters struggle against obstacles both physical and psychological will appreciate the many difficulties Adler-Olsen’s characters confront; in many ways this is a book about resilience.
Genre: Scandinavian mystery
Title: The Keeper of Lost Causes
Author: Jussi Adler-Olsen
Summary/Thoughts: Here is a thoroughly refreshing slant on the cozy mystery genre set in the countryside of North Carolina among the Carters, a dysfunctional family quietly feuding over their matriarch’s fortune. Enter Blanche White, a black 40 year old housekeeper with moxie who knows she is made invisible by her color and profession. Blanche is an avid reader of people and situations who feels this is as much a part of her work as making beds. Nothing is what is seems in the tangled affairs of the Carter household and when Nate, the black groundskeeper, is murdered, Blanche summons all of her wits and gumption to bring the killer to justice.
Genre: cozy mystery
Title: Blanche on the Lam
Author: Barbara Neely
Appeal Factors: character-driven, amusing, inspirational , thought-provoking
Read Alikes: Sweetness at the Bottom on the Pie