Friday, September 11, 2015

It's A Mystery

Scrolling down my list of Books Read, I noticed that I've read a lot of mysteries this year, most of them part of a series. I enjoy these series because they are typically quick, light reading. I've also noticed that each series has its own set of circumstances that reoccur from book to book.

A Scrapbooking Mystery


I finished the final three books in the Scrapbooking Mystery series that I began last year. These easy-to-read murder mysteries are set in modern day New Orleans and center around Carmela Bertrand, a French Quarter scrapbook store owner, and her friend Ava Grieux, owner of the Juju Voodoo Shop. The stories and mysteries intertwine with scenes and details of scrapbook projects Carmela is creating and classes she's teaching at her store.

Somehow Carmela (and often Ava, too) is the first person to discover the murder victim . . . in the back alley behind her shop or in a church or even tumbling in a dryer at a party in the Garden District. And at some point in most of the stories, Carmela and Ava venture off into a rural area outside New Orleans where they encounter dangerous people and situations. There's almost always a big rain storm, some type of costume party, and at least one visit to Cafe Du Monde for coffee and beignets! Scrapbooking tips and recipes are included at the end of each book.

I really enjoyed this series, although the last book in the series was not as well written as the others. This may be because there was a co-author. It seemed to me that some of the main individuals acted out of character in the last book, which was slightly jarring after I felt that I'd come to know them and their quirks from the previous ten books.

Nancy Drew Mystery Stories

Robbie and I enjoy listening to the Nancy Drew Mysteries audio books, so we picked up book 7 before heading out for our trip to Niagara Falls earlier this year. The narrator of these audio books, Laura Linney, does a fantastic job. We both enjoy these books, but often chuckle at some of the predictable scenes - boating accidents (luckily Nancy is a strong swimmer), flashlight batteries going dead at inopportune moments, Nancy's father being out of town and unreachable, and Nancy's always receiving a gift that will remind her of the adventure. We enjoy the foreshadowing in the books and try to solve the mystery along the way, too.

I didn't realize until recently that Carolyn Keene is actually a pseudonym for a variety of authors who wrote these books in the 1930s and 40s. The books that we are reading/listening to are actually the versions that went through a re-writing/revision process in the late 1950s that shortened the books, gave Nancy more feminine and less assertive characteristics, and (somewhat) eliminated racists stereotypes. I believe her character was changed again in the later books, The Nancy Drew Files, which I have not read.

Trixie Belden


I began reading and collecting Trixie Belden books when I was in elementary school. I recently began re-reading this series as part of my goal to re-read all my Children's/Young Adult books, and I'm currently on book number 10.

Trixie Belden, aspiring detective, is 13-years-old when the series begins. She and her best friend, Honey Wheeler, are neighbors who often find themselves in mysterious situations. Trixie's three brothers and Honey's adopted brother Jim, along with their friend Di Lynch, are other main characters in these light, easy-to-read mysteries. Once again there are a few similar events in many of the stories - the kids forget to exercise the Wheeler's horses and worry that the groom will get upset and threaten to quit, Bobby (Trixie's 6-year-old brother) gets lost or wanders off when the others get involved in solving a mystery or working on a project, Mart (Trixie's brother who's almost like a twin because they are only 11 months apart) can always figure out what Trixie is up to even when she's trying to keep it a secret, and the club they formed (Bob-Whites of the Glenn) is able to help someone in need.

I'm really enjoying re-reading these books and especially like the fact that the mysteries do not all involve some sort of crime (although some do). Sometimes the mystery is simply a matter of Trixie's imagination running wild because she encounters something she didn't know about before . . . like the old man living in a cabin way back in the woods in the midst of Mr. Wheeler's game preserve - he wasn't a poacher, as Trixie imagined, but had lived there for years and owned a small piece of the property that he was not willing to sell to Mr. Wheeler.

There are several editions of these books, which were written between 1948 and 1986. (The photos above are the newest Random House editions.) There are 39 books in the series, plus several additional Trixie Belden themed books. I own the Oval Paperback Editions, 25 of the 34 stories that were issued in this edition, plus the two mystery quiz books. As I was looking up information for this blog post, I found this great website with lots of information about the series and a synopsis of each book.

One thing I noticed as I've been reading these books again was a slight shift in the writing style and personalities of the characters beginning with book seven. I did some research and learned that the first six books were written by Julie Campbell, but the remaining books were written by various authors using the pseudonym Kathryn Kenny. I'm looking forward to continuing this FUN light reading throughout the fall.

Please share your favorite mystery series in the comments and let me know if you've read any of the ones I've shared about today.


  1. My very favorite mystery series is by Louise Penny about Three Pines. It's important to read them in order. I finally caught up with all of them earlier this year, and she just published the newest one. I've just started it.

  2. How awesome that you have all these mystery series for reading enjoyment! I love finding a good series. My husband is the mystery reader in our family, preferring the classics: Sherlock Holmes, Agatha Christie, etc.

  3. I didn't know Nancy Drew was written by more than one person. I used to love those books! I should seek them out again, and the scrapbooking mystery ones too. They sound like fun.

    My recommendation? Sue Grafton's Kinsey Milhone books

  4. I was a voracious reader of Nancy Drew when I was about 10 years old - I read every book available to me, as well as the Hardy Boys. Now I'm not so much into the mystery genre, although I do love young adult fiction!

  5. Great post. I still need to get back to that Laura Childs mystery series too. But I won't bother with those that have a co-author. I feel like that's a money grab by the writer (a la James Patterson); if they don't want to continue the series they should just wind it up. Hubby and I have both vowed to start tackling the Agatha Christie collection we have.


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