Mystery Books That Are Book Mysteries

Most mysteries still feature private eyes and cops, but people from all sorts of professions are getting into the sleuthing act: priests, hockey players, hair stylists—and quite a few from the world of books. Writers, of course, are readers, and they love hanging out in bookstores and libraries and thinking, “What a wonderful setting for an unsolvable murder!”

Below I have gathered a few mystery books I’ve enjoyed that are also book mysteries. Check them out and let us know of any of your favorite book-mystery mystery books we didn’t include.

Booked to Die
John Dunning, 1992
Booked to Die was the first of five books in Dunning’s series featuring detective Cliff Janeway, who also just happens to be a book collector and bookstore owner. The series is set in Dunning’s hometown of Denver, where he has worked as a newspaper reporter and owned the Old Algonquin Bookstore, which specialized in second-hand and rare books. There’s a lot of collectible-book knowledge and lore in this series—enough that we have often recommended Booked to Die to HPB’s pricers.

booked to die

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Mystery Solved: A Book Nerd’s Look at Mystery Series Week

Some people would kill to fall in love. Some people are thrilled to be scared out of their socks. Some people are dying to escape to a totally different world. Me? I like to solve mysteries. Of course, I don’t mind if those mysteries include a little love, scare me out of my socks or take me to a different world. Fortunately, no matter what your poison, there is a mystery series out there for you. So, if you’re dying to find a new mystery series to read this Mystery Series Week (October 1-7), here are some that just might crack the case.

The Mystery Lover’s Must-Reads– Classic Mystery Series:
With overly observant detectives, a meddling old lady and a bunch of curious teens, this list may seem elementary to some, but you’ll have to look elsewhere if you think the butler did it.

  1. Sherlock Holmes Mysteries, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  2. Miss Marple Mysteries, by Agatha Christie
  3. The Hardy Boys Mysteries, by Franklin Dixon
  4. Nancy Drew Mysteries, by Carolyn Keene
  5. Hercule Poirot Mysteries, by Agatha Christie

Just Doing Their Job– Crime Detective Mystery Series:
Looking for those hard-boiled detectives and rebel cops? These guys will have you on the edge of your seat.

    1. Inspector Rebus, by Ian Rankin
    2. Alex Cross, by James Patterson
    3. Harry Bosch, by Michael Connelly
    4. Harry Hole, by Jo Nesbo
    5. Virgil Flowers, by John Sandford

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Top 10 Mystery Sleuths to Kill For

The first mystery ever published was Edgar Allen Poe’s Murders in the Rue Morgue, in which the brilliant sleuth Auguste Dupin solved a crime that had everyone else baffled.  And thus, our fascination with mystery novels and their brilliant (or just plain lucky) sleuths began.  Today, the mystery genre is the top-selling fiction genre, with more than 1,000 new mystery novels being published each year. With so many books available, how is anyone to know which brilliant sleuths to follow?  Well, I asked our 3,000 Bibliomaniacs to give me 10 mystery sleuths worth killing for, and they solved the mystery (Okay, that was hokey.)

  1. Sherlock Holmes (created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)
  2. Nero Wolfe (created by Rex Stout)
  3. Stephanie Plum (created by Janet Evanovich)
  4. Nancy Drew (created by the Startemeyer Syndicate under the pseudonym Carolyn Keene)
  5. Hercule Poirot (created by Agatha Christie)
  6. Encyclopedia Brown (created by Donald Sobel)
  7. Miss Marple (created by Agatha Christie)
  8. Harry Hole (created by Jo Nesbo)
  9. Martin Beck (created by Maj Sjowall & Per Wahloo)
  10. Kurt Wallander (created by Henning Mankell)

The fact that Sherlock Holmes was at the top of this list may have been no mystery, but some of the others are new to me, which means another trip to Half Price is in my future.

So what mystery sleuth is your favorite? — Julie

Julie is Production Manager at Half Price Books Corporate.
You may follow her on Twitter at @auntjewey.

Plum Ready for “One for the Money”

When I heard that Janet Evanovich’s first Stephanie Plum book, One for the Money, was finally hitting the big screen, I thought, “It’s about time.” Finally, the luckiest (though not the most competent) bounty hunter and her two hunky counterparts will be chasing bad guys, hauling in naked septuagenarians and blowing up cars at a theater near you. The film adaptation takes full form with the leading lady played by a brunette Katherine Heigl.

For those of you who may not have read Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series, let me give you a run down of the first book:

Stephanie has lost her job and is desperately seeking a new one, before she is forced to eat hamster pellets for breakfast.  She begs her cousin Vinnie (a bail bondsman) for a filing job, but ends up working as a bond enforcement agent instead. Her first case involves Joe Morelli, a cop accused of shooting an unarmed man.  She teams up with ex-Special Forces hunk-turned-bounty-hunter Ranger to help her learn the ropes and, on occasion, help her reach her handcuff keys. Throw in a crazy grandma, auto theft, a psycho boxer and dumpster diving and you have a laugh out loud book, which promises to be a laugh out loud movie.

One for the Money premiers in theaters today, so grab some popcorn and report back on what you think. And be sure to check out all the other books in the Stephanie Plum series on the shelves at your local HPB store or online at HPB Marketplace.

— Julie

Great Detectives in Film

With the holiday movie season being in full swing, one of the anticipated sequels is Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. To me Sherlock Holmes is probably the most popular detective in history, hands down. It made me wonder if there are any other detectives as popular. My guess is no, but here are some that make the top of the list as memorable detectives in film.

JJ Gittes, played by Jack Nicholson in Chinatown (1974) – One of Nicholson’s best characters in my opinion. He plays a detective that specializes in matrimonial cases. Hired by Ms. Mulwray to follow a suspicious husband. Things get dark and twisted as Gittes starts to suspect he is being set up finding the person who hired him wasn’t Ms. Mulwray at all. This movie contains a famous movie quote you may have heard before: “Forget it, Jake, it’s Chinatown.” A top notch detective film noir type of thriller! And a great 70s throwback flick to see Nicholson in his younger years.

Great Film Detective Trivia: Because this film was the first of a planned trilogy, Nicholson turned down all detective roles he was offered so that the only detective he played would be Jake Gittes.

Sam Spade, played by Humphrey Bogart in The Maltese Falcon (1941) – This film isn’t film noir like, this is film noir at its best. Things start going wrong for Sam Spade right away as his partner is killed on a case. Trying to clear his own name, he discovers a sinister plot to obtain the rare and valuable Maltese Falcon. It contains some great lines for Spade’s character too – “I don’t mind a reasonable amount of trouble” and “We didn’t exactly believe your story, Miss O’Shaughnessy. We believed your 200 dollars. I mean, you paid us more than if you had been telling us the truth, and enough more to make it all right.” A true must see classic! If you’ve never seen it before, I highly recommend it.

Great Film Detective Trivia: Word-for-word and scene-for-scene, Maltese Falcon is virtually the same as the original novel published in 1930.

Harry Callahan, played by Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry (1971) – The roof-top killer Scorpio is loose in San Francisco and is demanding money or he will kill again. Just put Dirty Harry on the case. Known for his “dirty” attitude and blunt way of handling situations, Clint Eastwood created one of the more memorable police detectives in film history. Even if you have never seen the film or its sequels, it’s memorable lines proceed the character: “Go ahead, make my day.”

Great Film Detective Trivia: Warner Brothers orignially sought out Frank Sinatra to play the role of Callahan. When he turned it down, they offered it to Marlon Brando, Steve McQueen and Paul Newman.

Those are my favorite film detectives. What are some of your favorites? If you are headed to the theater to see the new Sherlock Holmes, be sure to pick up the first film, Sherlock Holmes (2009), on DVD or Blu-Ray at HPB and get up to speed on the adventure. And always remember, no talking or texting during the movies!

— Jim