This summer sees a flurry of revivals of classic mystery series, from some of your favourite authors. Read on to see who’s back in town.
Mrs Pargeter’s Principle by Simon Brett
Fans of cozy mysteries are sure to have heard of Simon Brett, author of the hugely popular Charles Paris series, featuring the inept actor and amateur sleuth, which has been adapted for BBC radio and stars Bill Nighy. Or perhaps you’re more familiar with his Fethering series, in which mismatched pals Carole and Jude solve the puzzling mysteries which occur around their retirement community.
Or perhaps your favourite is the Mrs Pargeter series, which follows the life of Melita Pargeter, widow to a kindly man whose wealth may not have been amassed in the most legal fashion. After a lengthy absence, Mrs Pargeter is back with us in her first adventure for seventeen years. Mrs Pargeter’s Principle sees our heroine attend the funeral of one of her husband’s former business acquaintances, but she rapidly finds herself in a whole pile of trouble as she comes up against gun-runners, shifty policitians and a kidnapped vicar.
Highly recommended for those who enjoy mirth with their murder, fans of Louise Penny and L.C. Tyler will love Mrs Pargeter’s Principle. Simon Brett has won the Last Laugh award on more than one occasion, and in 2014 was awarded the CWA Diamond Dagger for his contribution to crime fiction.
Walking by Night by Kate Ellis
Kate Ellis – an active member of the Murder Squad – is perhaps best known for her Wesley Peterson police procedurals. However, Kate also has another detective series which pulls on her archaeological training and fascination with the supernatural. DI Joe Plantagenet investigates suspicious goings on in the fictional city of Eborby, which is based on the medieval English city of York. Things have been quiet from Joe for a little while, but he is back with a vengeance in Walking by Night, which has been garnering first class reviews. Booklist said: “A keep-‘em-guessing plot, constantly escalating suspense, plenty of twists and turns, and a shock ending make this latest entry in Ellis’ Joe Plantagenet series a cracking read.”
Recommended for fans of British police procedurals, if you enjoy a hint of the supernatural with your mysteries, then Walking by Night is for you. If you like Joe Plantagenet, you should try the first in the Ishmael Jones series from Simon R. Green, The Dark Side of the Road.
Mr Campion’s Fox by Mike Ripley
Mike Ripley, author of the hilarious Fitzroy ‘Angel’ Maclean series has turned his hand to the Golden Age of British detective fiction, with his work continuing the legacy of Margery Allingham who, alongside Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers, is considered one of the queens of the genre. In his continuation of the Campion adventures, Albert is asked to investigate the young beau of the daughter of the Danish ambassador. For both the daughter and the young man, things take a turn for the worse and Albert is forced to rope in his entire family – including son Rupert, daughter in law Perdita and of course his wife, the imperious Lady Amanda – in order to reach the bottom of the mystery. With a cast of old and new favourites (look out for Lugg and the Sisters Mister) Mr Campion’s Fox received a starred review from Publishers Weekly, who said: “Ripley maintains a light touch in the service of an intricate mystery that will please Allingham devotees and newcomers alike.”
A warmly loyal continuation of Margery Allingham’s best-loved creation, with oodles of Mike Ripley’s own personal flair and humour, fans of the Golden Age of British detective fiction – and those who can remember the Swinging Sixties! – will love Mr Campion’s Fox. If you haven’t already, pick up a copy of its prequel, Mr Campion’s Farewell, which was completed by Mike Ripley from notes left by Pip Youngman Carter, Allingham’s husband and collaborator.
Plague of the Manitou by Graham Masterton
The Manitou, the first novel by Graham Masterton to feature the vengeful native American spirit Misquamacus was an instant bestseller, and was made into a movie starring Tony Curtis and Susan Strasberg. There have been several more novels in the series featuring fortune teller Harry Erskine, and the most recent in the series, The Plague of the Manitou is available now.
Not for the faint hearted, this gruesome horror story showcases Graham Masterton’s writing at its grisly best.
Heads or Hearts by Paul Johnston
Paul Johnston’s DI Alex Mavros series, featuring the half Scottish, half Greek detective, has garnered many glowing reviews over the years. 2013’s The Black Life has been described by one reader as “one of the most darkly noir pieces of crime fiction I have read”. We are delighted to say that Paul has once again taken up his pen to continue his other excellent detective series, featuring maverick PI Quint Dalrymple in his first mystery in fourteen years. In Quint’s world, Edinburgh is an independent crime-free city state operating under the watchful eyes of the Council of City Guardians. In Heads or Hearts, with an impending referendum on whether or not Edinburgh should join a reconstituted Scotland, a series of grisly murders – including a heart left on the pitch of one of the local football teams – prompts Quint to investigate before panic strikes the city.
Paul Johnston’s writing is as gripping as it intelligent and insightful, and is a must for fans of Tartan Noir.