Book – The Spellmans are a madcap, zany family and a lot of fun to spend some pages with. Mom and Dad are the owners and directors of Spellman Investigations and employ their daughter, Izzy, as a detective. The problem is that Izzy is a bit of a rebel and not good at following rules or, in some cases, even the law. Not only do the Spellmans investigate their cases, but they usually have some hidden agendas within their agency and much of their time is devoted to discovering and exposing their own family’s secrets. Izzy’s seemingly perfect lawyer brother is often enlisted for help and her precocious younger sister Rae infiltrates the best-laid plans. Izzy narrates the books and provides footnotes at the bottom of the pages to offer further explanations regarding her family’s background, her romantic foibles and other items of interest. The series kicks off with The Spellman Files and the sixth Spellman novel was published earlier this year.
Book – Brandreth, a noted real life biographer of Oscar Wilde, has turned to fiction and brought to life a series of historical mysteries which cast Oscar Wilde as a savant of deduction and even an inspiration for Conan Doyle’s invention of Sherlock Holmes. These stories are full of biographical detail and the dialogue is inspired by Wilde’s quotable witticism and his mercurial personality. It is easy to sympathize with the narrator of these tales, the struggling young writer Robert Sherard, who was a good friend and the first actual biographer of Oscar Wilde. In this series Conan Doyle is cast as a close associate and respected friend whom assists with details of intriguing investigations. A Game Called Murder is the second in the series, yet I easily enjoyed it without having read the first installment. Individuals such as Bram Stoker, and actual events, such as the first boxing match using Queensbury rules, populate the pages of this book. This tale’s amateur detectives seek to reveal a murderer who is daily working their way down a list from a dinner party game, a list from a game that asks “Who would you murder?”, a list that includes Oscar and his wife.
Book – In Storm Front, Jim Butcher introduces Chicago’s own wizard named Harry, Harry Dresden. The sarcastic yet vulnerable Harry derives much of his living from consulting for local law enforcement. The detective story format used for Harry’s stories gives them a 1940s’ film noir quality. In this introduction to Harry’s world, he is called in to investigate a double homicide, apparently committed with dark magic. His investigation is complicated because he’s trying not to taint his own reputation after a mysterious death in his past placed him on probation under the rule of the wizard’s council. This 300 page book is a quick read with plenty of inventive action and mysteries to unravel. Butcher has created a detailed world of magic as well as a memorable cast of characters that inspired the TV series The Dresden Files. The library collection contains 15 books in this series as well as eMedialibrary editions such as eAudiobooks that are performed with the well matched narration of James Marsters (who played Spike on Buffy the Vampire Slayer).