by Sandra Murphy,
& Lorie Lewis Ham
Another year has come to a close and the main reviewers of KRL have been asked to pick their top 5 books of 2015, but some of us couldn’t keep it to 5! Let us know if you have a few we haven’t mentioned you’d like to share about in the comments, and while you are here check KRL’s book review section for many more great books that may not have made it on the list!
Stiff Penalty by Annelise Ryan
Hands down, one of the funniest mysteries I read all year. Mattie Winston is the crankiest, pregnant assistant medical examiners you will ever meet, and her life is a continual roller coaster of disasters and chaos. She meets every obstacle with the blackest of humor- not to mention a beleaguered psychiatrist – much to the reader’s delight.
Bye, Bye, Love by K.J. Larsen
One of the most entertaining mysteries of the year comes from three sisters who somehow manage to not kill one another while collaborating to write this fantastic series. The Chicago setting requires mobsters, and possibly crooked cops, some of whom may be related to our heroine. A private detective specializing in catching philanderers with their pants down, Cat DeLuca is exasperated, wry, and relentless.
A First Date with Death by Diana Orgain
The question has always been why there haven’t been more murders committed on a reality dating show, and author Diana Orgain takes advantage of this by making her heroine the most unwilling and unlikely of contestants. That romance manages to win out in this very funny first of the series, only adds to the surprises in store for readers.
The Scam by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg
Two of my favorite authors who are guaranteed to make me laugh out loud once again unite to write a sexy, complex, and always fun caper novel. Kate O’Hare and Nicholas Fox continue their tantalizing dance between FBI agent and rogue. I was hesitant to have their series make my best list two years running, but scenes making the most of Hawaii’s unique culture cemented their place.
Fry Another Day by J.J. Cook
Murder during a television reality competition food truck race is yet another arena ripe for murder. Tasty recipes are enhanced by a genuinely likable character and her budding romance with her attractive attorney. For purely sentimental reasons, this series is written by the authors Jim and Joyce Lavene. Ms. Lavene passed away in 2015, and while we are fortunate enough to still have more books to come from the couple, her loss will be felt.
Top five? My first run through the books I reviewed in 2015 gave my 16 “Ooh, I liked that” novels. It took me four runs through the list to get down to a quintet of novels…with a few fudges of the rules.
Malice at the Palace by Rhys Bowen
I’m a big fan of Rhys Bowen, and she managed to create a fact-inspired period piece, a solid mystery, and a ghost story in one nifty book, possibly the best in the Her Royal Spyness series. Georgie is in charge of helping a royal bride-to-be adjust to English life, and is led to a dead body linked to the future groom. (Fudgie Honors to Bowen’s The Edge of Dreams—Molly survives a horrid accident that may have been an attempt on her life, and deals with dreams and the beginnings of psychiatry).
The Clockwork Crown by Beth Cato
A steampunk-influenced, paranormal-suffused techno-thriller! Olivia, a doctor with religio-magical healing powers, tries to save her world, kingdom, and herself. She’s on the run from the Queen’s not-so-secret service and the rebels who want to use her powers. Lots of fun! (Fudgie Honors to The Clockwork Dagger—Olivia’s debut, she travels on a zeppelin with people who want to kill her, and people who are supposed to kill her but don’t want to).
Buffalo Herd by Godfrey Coppinger
A silhouette-illustrated modernization of the traditional “Mockingbird” lullaby by a local storyteller who has successfully avoided becoming an adult. Godfrey’s debut book (No Fudgie Honors here, unless you want to seek out her storytelling CD’s) is silly, touching, and a springboard for the artistic imagination and future Weird-Al parody writers.
The Thorn of Dentonhill by Marshall Ryan Maresca
A student-mage in a multi-mooned world conducts a late-night crusade against a drug-lord, with the help of magical rope and a cape…and a feisty employee of the university. (Fudgie Honors to Maresca’s The Alchemy of Chaos, a sequel, and to A Murder of Mages—a book I didn’t get to review—which has different characters in the same world.)
Off and Running by Philip Reed
A not-too-successful writer gets a big break, ghostwriting the memoir of a beloved Gleason-esque TV star. When the comic has a stroke, his son cuts off access, so the writer takes the only action that makes sense…kidnapping the father to finish the book. This book is wacky, surprising, and a great read, with the son, police, the FBI, and a crazed gun-for-hire all out to get the writer.
A Little Night Murder by Nancy Martin
Likely the last in the series, sad to say.
Basket Case by Nancy Haddock
First in a new series – senior citizens, still active and up to who knows what.
Death on the High Lonesome by Frank Hayes
Greenfellas by Rob Lopresti
The mob goes green.
In the Drink by Alison K. Abbott
Darker than cozy but with enough clues left in the back story, it makes you want to read more.
Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes by Denise Grover Swank
Gets into more trouble without trying than anyone else – fabulous dialogue.
Top of the Top # 1 pick –
My Old Dog by Laura T. Coffey, with photographs by Lori Fusaro
No sad stories here, all dogs getting another chance at a second act – great photos (and there’s George Clooney!)
Dead to the Last Drop by Cleo Coyle
Dead to the Last Drop is the latest coffeehouse mystery by Cleo Coyle (which is a pseudonym for Alice Alfonsi, writing in collaboration with her husband, Marc Cerasini). I LOVE every book in this series. Not only are there great characters, and fun mysteries, but I love the coffeehouse setting, and can almost smell the coffee!
A Gift From Bob by James Bowen
Two of the most heartwarming books I’ve ever read are A Street Cat Named Bob and The World According to Bob where James Bowen shares how this street cat named Bob saved his life. This smaller book shares about one of their most heartwarming Christmas’s together.
A Murder of Mages by Marshall Ryan Maresca
A Murder of Mages is the first book in a new series by Marshall Ryan Maresca, but it is set in the same world as his debut novel The Thorn of Detonhill (one of Terrance McArthur’s top books). This is probably my favorite new series. I love the characters in this book and the perfect mix of mystery and fantasy. Satrine is a wonderfully strong character who proves herself more than capable of keeping up with the men, as she has to deal with their prejudices against her getting this position. Minox is a complex and fascinating character who has always been a bit of an outcast, because he is a mage (in a world where they are not looked upon well), because he is uncircled, and because he is a bit socially awkward. Minox is absolutely brilliant, and makes me think a great deal of a young Sherlock Holmes.
Wicked Embers by Keri Arthur
Wicked Embers is the second book in a new series by fantasy author Keri Arthur. The main character is a Phoenix named Emberly Pearson who is working as a PI with a fire fae named Jackson Miller. Again the perfect mix of fantasy and mystery, written by one of my favorite fantasy authors.
Sherlock Chronicles by Steve Tribe
If you are a fan of the BBC show Sherlock this is a must have book for you! If you haven’t seen the show yet, but are a Sherlock Holmes fan, there are fun things in here for you too-and shame on you for not having seen Sherlock!
Prince Lestat by Anne Rice
This one is my extra cheat because I waited sooooo long for another Lestat book that I have to give it a mention. While in some ways this book was a disappointment, even after the long wait Anne Rice did keep true to these wonderful characters and I very much liked how she ended it. As much as I love Lestat, I do hope that this is the end of his story since it had such a good ending.
Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & short stories in our mystery section.
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