Reading in the Time of the Plague

Sep 23, 2020 | 2020 Articles, Mysteryrat's Maze

by Connie Berry

Here is the latest installment of our new column, Top 5 Mysteries I Have Read During the Pandemic, this one from mystery author Connie Berry. 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.

Thank goodness for books.

During this strange, disjointed time, we’ve cancelled commitments, postponed family get-togethers, and abandoned our travel dreams. The one thing we haven’t lost is reading. Through words on a page—or on a screen—we’ve roamed far and wide in our imaginations.

As Roald Dahl wrote of Matilda, his precocious five-and-a-half-year-old protagonist:

…books transported her into new worlds and introduced her to amazing people who lived exciting lives. She went on olden-day sailing ships with Joseph Conrad. She went to Africa with Ernest Hemingway and to India with Rudyard Kipling. She travelled all over the world while sitting in her little room in an English village.

Five books that have sustained me these past months are:

1. The Lantern Men by Elly Griffiths
Forensic pathologist Ruth Galloway has a new home, a new job, and a new love, but will a convicted serial killer with four unfound victims draw her back to the salt marsh on the north Norfolk coast and the detective inspector she left behind? This series is amazing.

2. Mortmain Hall by Martin Edwards
It’s 1930 in England, and journalist Jacob Flint joins a house party at Mortmain Hall in Yorkshire, hosted by an eccentric female criminologist. When a body is found beneath the crumbling cliffs, Jacob joins forces with the enigmatic heiress and amateur sleuth Rachel Savernake to foil an ingenious plot to get away with murder.

3. The Second-Worst Restaurant in France by Alexander McCall Smith
Food writer Paul Stewart has just six months to complete his book, The Philosophy of Food in Six Easy Chapters, but when his domestic situation becomes intolerable, he escapes to a village near Poitiers, France, only to find himself tangled up with the fate of the one restaurant in the village—the infamous Second-Worst Restaurant in France.

4. The Tuscan Child by Rhys Bowen
When WW2 bomber pilot Hugo Langley parachuted into German-occupied Tuscany, he found shelter in a ruined monastery and the arms of Sofia Bartoli. Thirty years later, as Langley’s estranged daughter, Joanna, plans his funeral, she finds among his effects an unopened letter to Sofia, containing a startling revelation. Joanna returns to Tuscany, hoping to understand her father’s history, but she soon discovers some would rather leave the past undisturbed.

5. The Benefit of Hindsight by Susan Hill
After the violent incident that cost him his arm, and nearly his life, DCS Simon Serrailler has returned to work, insisting he’s fully recovered, physically and psychologically. Soon even he must admit that isn’t so. With crime rates down, Lafferton has been quiet until one night when two men open their front door to a distressing scene. While handling the incident, Serrailler makes a serious error of judgment, an error that leads to a shocking death. As Serrallier struggles with guilt, he must find the killer or killers before they strike again.

mysteryIn my own latest mystery, A Legacy of Murder, American antiques dealer Kate arrives in the Suffolk village of Long Barston, dreaming of falling snow, log fires, and Tom Mallory, the detective inspector she met in Scotland. She also looks forward to spending time with her daughter, an intern at Finchley Hall, famous for the discovery in 1818 of an Anglo-Saxon treasure trove. But when a body turns up, romance takes a back seat. Long Barston is Tom’s patch, and the clues to the killer’s identity point backward more than 400 years to a legacy of murder and a blood-red ring. The Art of Betrayal, third in the series, will be released on June 2, 2021.

You can listen to the first chapter of A Legacy of Murder on Mysteryrat’s Maze Podcast!

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 just went up this 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:

Connie Berry’s dream of becoming an archaeologist ended when she learned there was a bit more to it than discovering the tombs of lost pharaohs. Instead, she created the Kate Hamilton Mystery series, set in the UK and featuring an American antiques dealer with a gift for solving crimes. Besides reading mysteries and writing them, Connie loves history, foreign travel, cute animals, and all things British. She lives in Ohio with her husband and (as of October 20) their new puppy, Emmie.

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. Thank you for including Connie Berry in your group of authors who provide their list of books they’ve read while trying to survive this pandemic. I enjoy Connie Berry’s books.

  2. I have several of these on my to be read pile. Thanks for sharing.


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