Continuing my catch-up from 2010, here are a handful of mysteries (all part of a series written for adults, all historical, all with female sleuths – I’m nothing if not predictable).

  • The Mapping of Love and Death by Jacqueline Winspear (audio): The Maisie Dobbs series has had ups and downs for me, but this one hits all the right marks – an interesting mystery (involving WWI, of course) and some developments in Maisie’s personal life (hurray!)  Winspear has an interesting style – very steady and calm, and somewhat repetitive, which makes these work well as audio books.  The narrator’s tone is suited to Maisie’s deliberate habits, and there’s never any danger of losing the thread of the story, even if you listen while baking.  Definitely start at the beginning of the series, though, to appreciate Maisie’s backstory and development as a character.
  • Dark Road to Darjeeling by Deanna Raybourn: The Lady Julia books are historical mystery fluff, but I continue to enjoy them (just remember to suspend your disbelief and go along for the ride).  I enjoyed the trip to India (and the microcosm of British society) along with Lady Julia.
  • A Poisoned Season by Tasha Alexander: While there are plenty of similarities between this series and the Lady Julia books, I give Alexander credit for creating a more historically likely heroine.  In the first book, she had a reasonably gradual transformation into a more iconoclastic character, and by this second book she’d grown on me.  I appreciate that Emily wants to flaunt certain of society’s rules, but in the end is still a product of the Victorian era.  Recommended for historical mystery fans.
  • The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag by Alan Bradley (audio): In contrast to the measured tones of the Maisie Dobbs audiobooks, Flavia de Luce is another matter entirely, and the audio version has a more snarky, frantic tone.  Flavia is as sharp and annoying as ever, yet somehow still endearing. My only complaint about the whole thing is that these are not the type of mystery where you’re constantly guessing and re-guessing how it will turn out. Apparently I prefer that kind of mystery to one where you’re along for the ride but not particularly invested in how the mystery will resolve itself.  Recommended for fans of the first book.