Way back when this blog was starting out, I did one of my very first posts on International Mysteries. I love mystery novels, and I especially enjoy ones set in other countries. This time around, I’m going to share some mystery TV shows set in other countries (and not only the United Kingdom because there are a million of those!). International travel might be off the table right now, so here’s the alternative – you get to see another country, and there’s a zero-percent chance of getting murdered!
There are five seasons of this show (which ended in 2017). They are set in (and were made in) Australia, but they are also historical – specifically, the late 1950s. Dr. Blake is a medical doctor who also works as the medical examiner when needed, which leads to him getting involved in investigating murders. The supporting characters are also good – especially the foil his character has in his housekeeper, Jean.
While there is never a bad time to dig into a mystery, summertime is when I want to break out some Agatha Christie while basking in the sun to enjoy the off-screen demise of a country squire or unsuspecting rich auntie. This summer, escapism is more important than ever, so listed below is a brief breakdown of how to access some excellent murder mystery media at Mead. While I have highlighted some personal favorites, these searches can be adjusted to any particular genre of your liking.
What’s the best thing about Hoopla besides access to thousands of books, movies, and music CDs? NO WAIT TIME! Another thing I like about Hoopla is the intuitive search features. Click on “Browse” to the left of the search bar and select “Television”. The next screen will list all the subject categories so naturally, I chose “Mystery” which is listed as a “Top Category”. The top result was Death in Paradise Season One (2011) which is a great top result because the show is fabulous. Who wouldn’t love a fish-out-of-water cozy in a lush, tropical setting? Make yourself a pina colada to drink while you watch for verisimilitude. What if I’ve already seen this show and want to see more like it? Click on the thumbnail and from the next screen click on “BBC Studios”. This will take you to a new list of results; all media produced by BBC Studios. There’s also a way to search by publisher, which can be found under “Advanced Search” at the top of the page. Try searching “Acorn” in that field to get an astonishing list of BBC mystery series. There’s tons of Agatha Christie-inspired media like Marple and Poirot as well as more modern, gritty series like Wire in the Blood and Vera. Everyone should take some time to explore the wide range of television content Hoopla has on offer. You might be surprised because it is A LOT.
Not looking for a TV show or movie? Select “Audiobooks” from the “Browse” menu. From the next page it’s fun to see what everyone else has been reading, so under “SORT BY” select “Popularity” and feast your eyes. Lucy Foley’s excellent The Hunting Party (2018) appears near the top of this list, with good reason. Fans of locked-room, or snowed-in mysteries will get a kick out of the unreliable narrators and the sense that you are overhearing something not meant for your ears.
I also like to use the “User Ratings” setting of the “SORT BY” drop-down menu. Not everyone rates their checkouts on Hoopla so the results don’t line up with “Popularity”. Apparently, users really like The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Anthony Boucher. Will someone please read one of these to tell me if they’re any good?
Folks, I do not enjoy camping because in my mind, that is how one gets murdered by some unkillable psychopath who thirsts for the blood of co-ed campers. Confusingly, I cannot stop listening to true crime audiobooks that describe the psychology and pathology of the worst sorts of criminals. Hop on over to RBDigital to download some of the finest true crime you’ll ever encounter. First, there’s Robert Hare’s Without Conscience (1993). Hare is the man credited with creating the Psychopath Checklist and therefore a giant in his field. He’s also interviewed in Jon Ronson’s The Psychopath Test (2011) which is available on Hoopla. Now that some context has been laid, read Whoever Fights Monsters (1992) by Robert K. Ressler. This fella, right here, is credited with coining the term “serial killer” in the late 1970s. He also acted as a consultant to Thomas Harris while he wrote The Silence of the Lambs. More recently, he was fictionalized as Agent Bill Tench on the popular Netflix series Mindhunter. Quite the career!
Too much murderer talk? Check out Death’s Acre (2004) by William M. Bass. This man is responsible for the creation of the so-called Body Farm located at the University of Tennessee Knoxville. Bass’ contributions to the field of forensic science are pretty staggering. His research facility allowed scientists to study the decomposition of human bodies in open air, buried in barrels, submerged in water, and on and on. This research has been extrapolated to aid in murder investigations around the world. Death’s Acre focuses on the science behind crime scenes as opposed to the psychology of the criminal which I thought made the content less graphic. Plus, Bass seems like a big old sweety and I enjoyed his tone.
Once again, if murder mysteries or true crime are not your favorite things, rest easy in the knowledge that all three of our digital book platforms have thousands upon thousands of titles to choose from. If that is a daunting task, I will let you in on a little secret: librarians LOVE the chance to provide old-school library services such as reader’s advisory in this ever-modernizing library landscape. Please do not hesitate to reach out for book picks, or for help using our array of super awesome digital services.
The summer run of books are frequently called “beach reads,” but hammocks are really where it’s at. You don’t have to leave your backyard to enjoy a hammock; it’s typically shaded; and you never get sand in weird places. From real life secrets to a snarky send up of #girlboss wellness culture to a rom-com in a book, here are 6 titles perfect for reading while stretched out in a hammock with a cold drink in reach on a lazy summer day.
The library is open again (with limited services, as you can see here); some people are comfortable coming in, while others still want to limit their time in public places. So I’ve put together a little list of some popular new books that are available either in print or as eBooks through Hoopla.
The advantage of Hoopla, of course, is that there’s no waitlist even on popular new titles like these (as long as you haven’t hit your borrowing limit for the month); on the other hand, some people think the feel of a physical book in your hand is worth waiting for.
Descriptions below are taken from either Hoopla or our catalog.
You may already know that Mead has a “lucky day” collection of books and movies – new items that are first-come, first-served but have no waitlist. But now, you also have access to Lucky Day ebooks and audiobooks through WPLC/Overdrive/Libby! “No waiting required – these popular titles are available now! 7 day loan period for ebooks and 14 day loan period for audiobooks.”
Looking for something to read right away? Like with the physical Lucky Day items, the selection may change, but here are three that I’ve read and enjoyed that were available as of Monday morning. You can also browse everything in the Lucky Day collection that’s currently available with this link: https://wplc.overdrive.com/wplc-89-116/content/collection/1046004
Anne Perry has multiple mystery series, but the William Monk series is my favorite – he is a London detective and later commander of the Thames River Police in Victorian England. If you can bear to wait, I would start with the first book in the series – The Face of a Stranger – but there’s enough background given that you’ll have no trouble jumping in here, either.
“Social Distancing” is an ubiquitous term these days with the spread of COVID-19, coronavirus, because it affects all of us. In simple terms, it means that we should avoid physical contact and close proximity to each other.
Book clubs are gatherings of readers sharing in discussion, and in the case of the Book to Art Club, sharing art supplies. Due to the spread of coronavirus many of us are cancelling in-person meetings for the foreseeable future. This is disappointing to do, but it helps protect you and your club members from getting sick, and that is extremely important. However, cancelling isn’t your only option. Clubs can meet virtually via video chat, like Skype, Zoom, Facebook Messenger, or Microsoft Teams, just to name a few, or through a conference telephone call.
The Mead Library Romance on the Rocks book club met this week over Skype, and it worked well. It was new for many of us, so we struggled slightly with connecting to the group, versus everyone connecting individually with me because they connected through my Skype invitation, but that was easy to fix.
What you need to make this work is to create a group in Skype for your book club. Next, invite your members by email through the group to join. You can also add members to the group manually after they’ve created a Skype account. Then, all you and your participants need to do is click on the camera or phone icon at your designated meeting time. Skype allows participants to connect by video or phone, and covering your camera is always an option, for those who want to join the discussion but not be on camera.
The Moonlight & Murder book club will meet on Skype in April to discuss Alexander McCall Smith’s The Department of Sensitive Crimes, and the Book to Art Club will meet on Skype in April and May. These discussions are open to teens and adults.
The Book to Art Club discusses books while making hands-on projects, so to keep the making element, I have asked participants to work on a project at home during the discussion, and I hope to share pictures of the projects in our group Facebook album. April’s Book to Art Club read will be Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger, which will inspire steampunk projects related to a girls’ dirigible finishing and assassin school, and May’s discussion will be Nevermoor: the Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend, a Harry Potter-like fantasy featuring a curse, a talent competition, umbrella traveling, a giant cat and magical rooms. I’ve included links on the book titles to make it easy to join these discussions, and I hope you will. Digital book copies may be available through digital sources such as Overdrive/Libby and RB Digital.
I really enjoy reading mysteries, and my favorite ones are ones set in foreign countries. I guess I feel like I get to see the country the way someone visiting for a long time would, not just like a tourist. You see the lives, generally, of ordinary people; you see them dealing with violence and grief; you see them dealing with authority and what that relationship is like as well.
Below, I’ve listed some international mysteries that I’ve particularly enjoyed recently – or, in some cases, the first book of a series that I think is very good. I hope you’ll check some of them out – library books are, without a doubt, the cheapest way to travel!
All the summaries below are taken from our catalog unless otherwise noted.
Summary: “Sex, lies and ill-fitting swimwear … Sun Protection Factor 100. Jan Nyman, the ace detective of the covert operations unit of the National Central Police, is sent to a sleepy seaside town to investigate a mysterious death. Nyman arrives in the town dominated by a bizarre holiday village – the ‘hottest beach in Finland’. The suspect: Olivia Koski, who has only recently returned to her old hometown. The mission: find out what happened, by any means necessary” – provided by publisher.