The Year I Rediscovered Short Stories

Sep 16, 2020 | 2020 Articles, Mysteryrat's Maze

by Victoria Hamilton

Here is the latest installment of our new column, Top 5 Mysteries I Have Read During the Pandemic, this one from mystery author Victoria Hamilton. As we continue to spend most of our time at home, we are all looking for book suggestions so we asked mystery authors and reviewers to share the top 5 mysteries they have read during this pandemic.

I’ve spent a fair bit of my summer reading, which isn’t a surprise. I don’t really ‘do’ vacations, so I usually consider my books a vacation. I relish my reading time, but this summer has not been as good for a big summer read. In past summers, I have staycationed with Scott Westerfeld’s YA Uglies series and Ken Follet’s Kingsbridge series, (a prequel has come out – The Evening and the Morning – and I’m so excited, but I also have to decide if I can spend $19 dollars CAD on an ebook!), but this year has been more eclectic. So, in reverse order, here are my Top Five Summer of 2020 Pandemic Reads.

5 – Naked In Death by J. D. Robb. I’ve heard so much about the ‘In Death’ series, and yet hadn’t tried the books. BookBub had a sale on the first one, and I snatched it up (some time ago) but hadn’t gotten around to reading it. I’ve read it now, and did enjoy it. Robb/Roberts is obviously an excellent writer; no need to even say that to her legion of fans! However…for my mystery taste there is a little too much ‘Roarke Roarke Roarke, he’s so handsome and rich I want him so bad’ stuff. I don’t mind romance in mystery novels, but this teetered on the edge of too much. BTW, never having read the series, I was struck that it was a little like ‘Kinsey Millhone in the future, and she gets a hot billionaire boyfriend’ even down to Eve’s awful haircut. But I did enjoy Robb’s subtle shout out to Sue Grafton! So…I enjoyed it, my curiosity about the series is fulfilled, but I doubt I will read on.

4 – Parnell Hall presents Malice Domestic: Mystery Most Edible. A short story collection, part of the annual Malice Domestic anthology. As I said in the title, this is the summer I rediscovered how much I love short stories. This was wonderful… jam packed full of stories, and each one completely original. I enjoyed it so much I bought two more, Mystery Most Historical, which I have already read and thoroughly enjoyed, maybe even more than Mystery Most Edible. Do dive into the collections; they are just the thing if you want to sample some new-to-you-authors!

3 – Killer Queen by Julie Mulhern. This predictably enjoyable entry in the Country Club series starts with Ellison packing to leave on a trip with Anarchy, which is, of course, interrupted by a body, and not just any body, but that of Mrs. Anarchy Jones! Chaos ensues, Ellison’s mother is a pain, and there is fun all ‘round for the dedicated reader of this lovely series. I look forward to every new entry in this series.

2 – A is for Alibi/B is for Burglar by Sue Grafton Alphabet series. Sometimes there is just nothing as comforting as a reread, and so I present to you…the best of mystery fiction, in my opinion, Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone books. I have, of course, read every word Ms. Grafton wrote (most multiple times) and still mourn her untimely passing. I was collecting the series in paperback, but my shelf space is limited, and I must save it for research books, so…I wanted to dip back into them and purchased an ebook omnibus edition of the first three. I read the first two and now look forward to dipping back in to read C is for Corpse.

1 – The Beat of Back Wings by Josh Pachter – Editor. This book of fine short stories wins the day for the short mystery story collection I wish I had been a part of. It is an entire collection of short stories using Joni Mitchell (my favorite singer/songwriter and Canadian icon) titles/songs as inspiration. The quality varies, but there are plenty to relish and enjoy. A true delight. (PS – I’ve already begged to be a part of any future Joni Mitchell mystery anthology… LOL!)

So, there you have it, my Pandemic Summer Reading list. What have YOU read this summer?

Victoria’s newest books to consider adding to your Pandemic reading:

Cast Iron Alibi – Vintage Kitchen Mystery #9 (November 2019) When an over-amorous handyman is found murdered, Jaymie will have to use every tool at her disposal to nab the culprit.

Muffin But Trouble – Merry Muffin Mystery #6 (July 2019) With plans for a new performing arts center at Wynter Castle taking up all her time, Merry Wynter has been unaware of the fringe group compound near her small town – until a street preacher accosts her with taunts of doom and damnation.

Lady Anne and the Menacing Mystic – Lady Anne Addison Historical Mystery #4 (July 2020) While in Bath preparing for her upcoming marriage to Lord Darkefell, Lady Anne learns of a profoundly accurate mystic working in town whose uncanny predictions have stunned the gullible and the skeptical alike. Certain there’s a harmless rational explanation for the medium’s supposed otherworldly abilities, Anne’s tolerance turns to defiance when the seer’s dark pronouncements begin having a decidedly harmful affect on her friends… and a vicar loses his life.

You can use this link to order this book on Amazon. If you have ad blocker on you may not see the link:

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Also listen to our new mystery podcast where mystery short stories and first chapters are read by actors! They are also available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and Spotify. A new episode went goes up next week!

You can use this link to purchase many of these books from indie bookstore Mysterious Galaxy, and KRL gets a portion of the sale:

Victoria Hamilton is the national bestselling author of four mystery series: the Vintage Kitchen Mysteries, the Merry Muffin Mysteries, the Lady Anne Addison Historical Mysteries and the Gentlewoman’s Guide Regency Mysteries. In 2019/2020, she has published with Beyond the Page Publishing three new books.
Victoria loves to read, especially mystery novels, and enjoys good tea and cheap wine, the company of friends, and has a newfound appreciation for opera. She enjoys crocheting and beading, but a good book can tempt her away from almost anything…except writing!??A member of Sisters in Crime and Crime Writers of Canada, she now happily writes about vintage kitchen collecting, muffin baking, and dead bodies for publisher Beyond the Page. Website:

Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.


  1. It’s an honor to be your #1 pick for this summer, Victoria. Let me mention that a third of all royalties generated by the sales of this anthology go to support the work being done by the Brain Aneurysm Foundation. (Joni suffered an aneurysm in 2015 but has made a remarkable comeback!)

  2. I agree with every word Victoria wrote about Sue Grafton and the alphabet series. I, too, am still mourning her passing. I have all of her books on the top shelf of my bookcase. Thanks for the reminder to reread them when I really want a great book! As for J. D. Robb’s Naked in Death, whew! I clearly remember driving home from work one day, listening to that audio book, and right at the time when the “hot” scene arrived. I agree that maybe more mystery is better, but it made me sit up and take notice.


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