Book – The Rosary Bride is the first of six cozy mysteries taking place in the western suburbs of Chicago. Much of this story occurs at a school based on the author’s alma mater, Rosary College in River Forest, now named Dominican University. The central character, Grace Marsden, is an accidental amateur detective whose curiosity is sparked during a brief encounter with a spirit haunting the college library. In this volume, her understated clairvoyant abilities lead her to investigate a generations-old unsolved crime. Ample location descriptions in all the suspenseful Grace Marsden stories, make it enjoyable to travel along with Grace as her investigations take her to local landmarks such as the Graue Mill in Oak Brook, a neighborhood bookstore in Lisle, local forest preserves, Brookfield Zoo, and eateries around her home in Downers Grove, and the homes of her large Italian family around Melrose Park. Often the history of local landmarks is embellished playfully within these tales. A love triangle, adds a compelling romantic story-line to the series. Less successfully, some international espionage occasionally appears.
TV Series – When I was exploring the library collection for Halloween related material, I came across the comedy series Reaper. Reaper was a funny television series lasting two seasons, and after flying through it on DVD, I was disappointed to reach the end. The show’s main character Sam learned his parents had sold his soul to the Devil (played fabulously by Ray Wise), and Sam was forced to work as the Devil’s bounty hunter. Sam’s friends helped him out, and his sidekick Sock often stole the scene with idiosyncratic humor. Part of the fun of the series were the creative antics of Sam and his friends while they were at their day jobs at a big-box home store. The comedy also had romantic story-lines, and engaging mysteries threaded through the series. The show ended before all of these loose ends were tied up. This was due to the stalling of syndication talks, during which time the show’s stars were recruited to other projects. In a 2010 interview with CliqueClack TV, creators Fazekas and Butters revealed many of the unresolved plots from the series: How Reaper would have ended.
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).