The best fun mystery books you may never have read

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been a mystery reader my entire life, starting with the Hardy Boys series as a child and then progressing to authors like Agatha Christie, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Chester Himes, Ellery Queen, Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, and many, many others. I love trying to figure out the crime or mystery before the reveal, but usually don’t. And, I have always truly enjoyed mystery books which have humor and quirky characters in them. More recently, I have become an award-winning mystery novelist myself, having published both a historical fiction mystery series and stories set in contemporary times in an ongoing anthology series that combines murder, mystery, and music.


I wrote...

Pignon Scorbion & the Barbershop Detectives

By Rick Bleiweiss,

Book cover of Pignon Scorbion & the Barbershop Detectives

What is my book about?

In 1910 England, in the countryside town of Haxford, there’s a new Chief Police Inspector – the dapper, unflappable Pignon Scorbion. It isn't long before Haxford finds itself very much in need of his detective abilities. Luckily, Scorbion and the town’s barber are old acquaintances, and they, the barbershop’s quirky, memorable employees, and a young reporter investigate a trio of crimes using the barbershop as their interrogation room. Just as it seems nothing can derail Scorbion’s cool head and unerring nose for deduction, in walks Thelma Smith – dazzling, whip-smart, and newly single. Has Pignon Scorbion finally met his match? 

For fans of Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot, this quirky new detective and ensemble cast of characters will feel both comfortingly familiar and thrillingly new.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Never-Open Desert Diner

Rick Bleiweiss Why did I love this book?

This book grabbed me so much that I constantly remember the joy I had in reading it over five years ago.

It is an offbeat, but very well-crafted mystery featuring quirky, but unforgettable, characters in an unusual setting in rural, off-the-beaten-path Utah – and its mystery is perfectly crafted. It is literate, funny, challenging, compelling, and powerful. It’s not often that you find a book in which one of the characters is a cellist.

I could not put this book down once I started reading it.

By James Anderson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Never-Open Desert Diner as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A singularly compelling debut novel, about a desert where people go to escape their past, and a truck driver who finds himself at risk when he falls in love with a mysterious woman.

Ben Jones lives a quiet, hardscrabble life, working as a trucker on Route 117, a little-travelled road in a remote region of the Utah desert which serves as a haven for fugitives and others looking to hide from the world. For many of the desert’s inhabitants, Ben's visits are their only contact with the outside world, and the only landmark worth noting is a once-famous roadside diner…


Book cover of The Night John Lennon Died: ...so did John Doe

Rick Bleiweiss Why did I love this book?

A wonderful read.

One of the authors was the person in charge of the hospital John Lennon was brought to when he was actually murdered, and the book fictionalizes many of the real-life events of that day and night. But, in addition there’s a second man, a John Doe, and it’s his murder that has to be figured out by the hospital administrator and a policeman. The timing is also in the early days of GRID, which later became better known as AIDS.

It makes for a fascinating read, a great mystery, and a slice of history.

By Louisa Burns-Bisogno, Saundra Shohen, Carol Dorn (illustrator)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Night John Lennon Died as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"The Night John Lennon Died...so did John Doe" is the ER Administrator's baptism by fire when John Lennon’s bloodied body is carried into Roosevelt Hospital ER over the shoulder of a policeman. Moments later, in the next room there is the suspicious death of an elderly John Doe. As the old man’s frail body is placed next to Lennon’s in the morgue van, Annie believes her involvement in these two senseless deaths is over. It is just beginning…


Book cover of Double Play

Rick Bleiweiss Why did I love this book?

Robert B. Parker’s Spenser for Hire is among my very favorite mystery novels.

I love the characters, humor, and crimes to be solved in them – but Double Play is not a Spenser book. So why did I choose it? It’s simply because it’s one of the most fascinating historical fiction mysteries I’ve ever read.

I’m a baseball fan and this book which postulates what might have happened to Jackie Robinson in 1947 when he broke in the major leagues told from the perspective of him and his bodyguard (and with gangsters involved) is just outstanding hard-boiled crime noir.

This was another book I could not put down.  

By Robert B. Parker,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Double Play as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It is 1947, the year Jackie Robinson breaks major-league baseball's colour barrier by playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers - and changes the world. This is the story of that season, as told through the eyes of a difficult, brooding, and wounded man named Joseph Burke. Burke, a veteran of World War II and a survivor of Guadalcanal, is hired by Brooklyn Dodgers manager Branch Rickey to guard Robinson. While Burke shadows Robinson, a man of tremendous strength and character suddenly thrust into the media spotlight, the bodyguard must also face some hard truths of his own, in a world where…


Book cover of Carter Beats the Devil

Rick Bleiweiss Why did I love this book?

Charles Joseph Carter, known as Carter the Great, was a real American magician whose career started in the late 1800s when he was just ten.

This book, which I’ve loved enough to read three times, takes place later in his career and postulates that one of the things he did (pure fiction) was to have President Warren G. Harding join him on stage and be cut into pieces, have his head sawed off, and then be restored to health. And then, shortly thereafter, Harding is dead. I am not going to give away the rest of the story because it’s way too good to spoil in any way.

Read it and enjoy historical fiction mystery at what I think is its finest.

By Glen Gold,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Carter Beats the Devil as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The mysterious death of President Harding in 1923 is only the curtain raiser to this extraordinary novel of magic and science. Charles Carter is Carter the Great, a name given to him by the supreme showman, Harry Houdini. Carter was born into privilege but became a magician out of need. Only at the moment of the performance, when an audience is brought together by a single experience, can Carter defeat his crippling fear of loneliness. But with every step into the twentieth Century, the stakes are growing higher. Science and the cinema are fast out-stripping even the master magician and…


Book cover of A Crime of Passion Fruit

Rick Bleiweiss Why did I love this book?

Ellie and I live in the same town and met when a mystery reading group that I was a member of read her book and then she spoke to us.

This particular book is part of her cozy Bakeshop Mystery series set in Ashland, Oregon and is totally fun to read – and not just for someone who lives here and can identify with the shops in town that are in the book.

The writing is light, airy, and enjoyable, and the mystery was fun to read, especially since it strayed a bit from town and was involved in a murder on a cruise ship.

By Ellie Alexander,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Crime of Passion Fruit as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Torte―everybody's favorite small-town family bakeshop―is headed for the high seas, where murder is about to make a splash. . .
Jules Capshaw is trying to keep her cool as Torte gets set to make its transformation from quaint, local confectionary café to royal pastry palace. Meanwhile, Jules's estranged husband Carlos is making a desperate plea for her to come aboard his cruise ship and dazzle everyone with her signature sweets. She may be skeptical about returning to her former nautical life with Carlos but Jules can't resist an all-expense-paid trip, either. If only she knew that a dead body would…


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The Last Whaler

By Cynthia Reeves,

Book cover of The Last Whaler

Cynthia Reeves Author Of The Last Whaler

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Arctic adventurer Eternal optimist Unrealistic realist Foodie Teacher

Cynthia's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

This book is an elegiac meditation on the will to survive. Tor, a beluga whaler, and his wife, Astrid, a botanist specializing in Arctic flora, are stranded during the dark season of 1937-38 at his remote whaling station in the Svalbard archipelago when they misjudge ice conditions and fail to rendezvous with the ship meant to carry them back to their home in southern Norway. 

Beyond enduring the Arctic winter’s twenty-four-hour night, the couple must cope with the dangers of polar bears, violent storms, and bitter cold, as well as Astrid’s unexpected pregnancy.

The Last Whaler concerns the impact of…

The Last Whaler

By Cynthia Reeves,

What is this book about?

The Last Whaler is an elegiac meditation on the will to survive under extreme conditions. Tor, a beluga whaler, and his wife, Astrid, a botanist specializing in Arctic flora, are stranded during the dark season of 1937-38 at his remote whaling station when they misjudge ice conditions and fail to rendezvous with the ship meant to carry them back to their home in southern Norway. Beyond enduring the Arctic winter's twenty-four-hour night, the couple must cope with the dangers of polar bears, violent storms, and bitter cold as well as Astrid's unexpected pregnancy. The Last Whaler concerns the impact of…


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