Mystery

The Mysterious Affair at Styles

Hercule Poirot, a charming and quirky retired Belgian police chief, is asked by his friend Hastings to assist in the unravelling of a confusing turn of events. An elderly, wealthy lady has been murdered; the suspects: her new husband, spiteful family, or long-time companion. The solution: one that nobody was expecting. Follow the unofficial detective and his friend as they tear apart the details of this murder at the Styles Estate in a race against the unknown murderer and the English court of law.

I would recommend The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie for ages 16+. This book is a classic whodunit complete with bumbling police chiefs, nighttime murders, dapper detectives, and family intrigue. There are a few mature details to watch out for, including some minor profanity; overall, a well-written and attention-grabbing mystery. 4 out of 5 stars.  

And Then There Were None

And Then There Were None is a thrilling, sinister mystery written by Agatha Christie and published as Ten Little Indians in 1939. This chilling story reveals the depravity of the human mind as it unfolds its bloodstained pages; ten strangers, invited to a lonely island by an anonymous host, share their darkest secrets…then one by one, the guests begin to die.

No one is safe from the hand of vengeance.

I would recommend this book for ages 16+. It’s dark and menacing, with a mature theme and twisted morals. The writing is excellent and gripping, the characters sympathetic yet unlikable. Agatha Christie outdid herself in the writing and plotting of this tale, but there are little to no redeeming qualities about the story; it’s a twisted tale of sin catching up with the sinner. 3.5 out of 5 stars. 

Dust and Shadow

The year is 1887, and Mr. Sherlock Holmes, the world’s most famous detective, is hot on the trail of a notorious killer who has taken the bloody epithet Jack the Ripper. Mr. Holmes is determined to run down this fiend and take him to justice, but when the great detective is laid low from a dreadful injury, he must entrust this case to the hands of his faithful friend Dr. John Watson and their new associate Miss Mary Ann Monk. To make matters worse, the press begins an investigation of their own, with Sherlock Holmes as the main suspect and the object of their suspicions. Beset on every side with distrust, scorn, and outright malice; the three friends must hasten to stop the killer known as “the Knife” before he strikes again, at all costs, for the good of all London.
I recommend Dust and Shadow, written by Lyndsay Faye and published in 2009 by Simon & Schuster, for ages 17+. This book falls under the mystery and thriller genres, and is an engaging and suspenseful read, true to the voice of the original Holmes stories. There is some mild language and mature elements to watch out for, as well as gruesome details that could disturb younger readers. All in all, a well-written story with a thrilling plot, Victorian drama, and a dash of menace. 4 out of 5 stars.

The Whole Art of Detection

My friend, Mr. Sherlock Holmes…*

The Whole Art of Detection: Lost Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes, written by Lyndsay Faye and published in 2017 by Grove Atlantic, is a marvelous addition to the Sherlock Holmes cannon. Consisting of fifteen short stories, including two selections from Mr. Holmes’ diary, a garden tea gone murderous, and a strange case of unsolved madness-these tales are sure to delight any Sherlockian. This book would fall under the historical fiction, crime, mystery, and adventure genres.
I would highly recommend this book for ages 13+. Written true to the original stories, The Whole Art of Detection is a remarkable read with only some violence and one or two uses of mature language to watch out for. A well-written book with engaging action and faithful renderings of the famous detective and his faithful counterpart. 4 out of 5 stars.

…has returned to Baker Street. *

*All excerpts taken from The Whole Art of Detection: Lost Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes, written by Lyndsay Faye and published in 2017 by Grove Atlantic.

Sherlock Holmes and the Needle’s Eye

How shall I begin? How might I convey to you, the reader, of a most troublesome circumstance which befell me, whereby I might kindle in you an understanding of the dark misgivings which linger in my nightmares? *

Sherlock Holmes and his faithful biographer, Dr. John Watson have embarked on a new set of fantastical adventures. A mysterious client has sent them a number of questions involving unsolved Biblical mysteries, and the great Detective is determined to solve every one. The only catch-the mysteries happened over 1,000 years ago. And in order to solve them, Mr. Holmes and Dr. Watson have to trust a machine that was designed by the nefarious Professor Moriarty to take them into the past to solve these mysteries. Will they be able to solve all the mysteries before the police get wind of their potentially illegal activities? And who exactly is this mysterious client that has sent them on this dangerous mission? Find out in Sherlock Holmes and the Needle’s Eye by Len Bailey, published in 2013 by Thomas Nelson. This book falls under the Christian fiction and mystery genres.
I highly recommend this book for ages 15+. There are some mildly thematic elements to watch out for, as well as some violence. This book is a medium reading difficulty, and the dialogue and descriptions are excellent. The book is a little slow at times, but the characters are well written and the mysteries are intriguing. All in all, 3 out of 5 stars.

*Excerpt taken from Sherlock Holmes and the Needle’s Eye, written by Len Bailey and published in 2013 by Thomas Nelson.

Mycroft and Sherlock

It’s London, England in the year 1872, and Mycroft Holmes is a rising young member of the British War Office. With wealth, friends, and a massive intellect, Mycroft has what appears to be an almost-perfect life with a promising future ahead. But with burdened with poor health, his unpopular prediction of British financial problems, past heartbreak, and an extraordinarily aggravating younger brother; not everything is a perfect as it seems with Mycroft’s personal life. And when his brother, Sherlock Holmes, gets fixated on the recent murders that have been plaguing London, Mycroft discovers that there may be more to these gruesome deaths than meets the eye. Featuring intrigues, rain-swept docks, smugglers, hidden romance, back-alley fights, friendships, secrets; and set against the enticing backdrop of Victorian England, this book is a must-read for any Holmesian.

Mycroft and Sherlock, written by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Anna Waterhouse and published in 2018 by Titan Books, is a book I’d highly recommend for ages 15+. There is one or two instances of mature language as well as some mature, gruesome details regarding the murders and some occasional violence. All in all, an excellent mystery\adventure story featuring the roots of the famous detective created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle with action, intrigue, and banter worthy of any original Holmes story. 4.5 out of 5 stars.

The Young Unicorns

Written by Madeline L’Engle and published in 1968, The Young Unicorns is a beautiful suspense\intrigue featuring an endearing family known as the Austins. We meet the Austins as they are adjusting to life in the bustle of New York City. Originally from a small county town, they are innocent to the evil that surrounds them in their new home; gangs, riots, and radical movements. Over time, the once close family begins to slowly drift apart. The children spend more time with friends than they do each other, and the father-Doctor Austin-is spending more time at his work than with his family. As a result of this, when strange things start happening to the different members of the family, they keep them secret. The mysterious appearance of a genie, the unusual actives of the Alphabat Gang, strange questions by strangers, and the secretive doings of the Head Bishop all are connected in some sinister purpose. If the Austins don’t realize what’s going on and start communicating, it might be too late to stop that evil purpose-and might even cost them their lives.
Madeline L’Engle is a remarkable author. Her writing style is very unusual; she uses little detail in the actual story but makes up for it by using plenty of detail in her dialogue. The Young Unicorns flows very well; it is not fast paced but something new is always happening to further the intrigue. I would say this book is an easy to medium read.
I would highly recommend The Young Unicorns for ages 13+. It is an outstanding story; however, there are some universalist and good versus evil themes that are difficult to grasp at times. All in all, a delightful read with excellent literature qualities and deep subject matter. 4 out of 5 stars.

The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

One of Robert Louis Stevenson’s best-known works, The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is an eerie tale of mystery and intrigue. It was published in 1886 and would be considered a psychological mystery thriller.

Henry Jekyll is a well-known man of science. To all outward appearances, he appears to have a comfortable, happy life; money, intellect, and many friends-one among them being Mr. Utterson, a lawyer. One day, however; things begin to turn sour for Dr. Jekyll after the sudden appearance of one Mr. Hyde. An unexplainable will, strange messages, and the sudden reclusiveness of his old friend make Mr. Utterson wonder if perhaps this Mr. Hyde is blackmailing his friend…or perhaps there is some darker corruption at work. Together with Poole, Dr. Jekyll’s butler, and Dr. Lanyon, an old friend; Mr. Utterson is determined to get to the bottom of the sinister business of the Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Robert Louis Stevenson is an amazing author. He combines just the right amount of detail and dialogue to make his stories flow smoothly with no dull spots in them at all. The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is at a medium to hard reading level.

I would highly recommend this book for ages 16+. There is a little bit of mild language, and some mature dark themes. All in all, a well written book with excellent food for thought. 4 out of 5 stars.

The Hound of the Baskervilles

“…He said there were no traces upon the ground round the body. He did not observe any. But I did- some little distance off, but fresh and clear.”

“Footprints?”

“Footprints.”

“A man’s or a woman’s?”

Dr. Mortimer looked strangely at us for an instant, and his voice sank almost to a whisper as he answered.

“Mr. Holmes, they were the footprints of a gigantic hound!” *

Among all of the numerous fictional characters that have made their entrance into the world of stories, legends, and mysteries; few have been as popular or as well-remembered as Sherlock Holmes and his faithful counterpart Dr. John Watson. The eccentric, amateur detective and the loyal, retired army surgeon solve crimes of the most bizarre types in four novels and fifty-six short stories. The Hound of the Baskervilles-written by Arthur Conon Doyle- was first published in 1902 by George Newness, and it falls in the mystery\detective genre.

The story takes place in England in the late 19th century.  Holmes and Watson are enjoying a leisurely morning in Baker Street when a young doctor comes to ask their opinion on a death that had recently happened at Devonshire, in Baskerville Hall. While most are convinced that the victim-Sir Charles Baskerville-died as the result of a heart attack, his doctor, Dr. James Mortimer, thinks otherwise. He tells Holmes and Watson of a strange tale that was handed down from generation to generation of the Baskervilles, a tale of a huge man-eating hound that was said to wander the moor at night. In recent years, this story was dismissed by most, but Sir Charles took it very seriously and refused to walk on the moor after sundown. In fact, he was becoming so nervous about the whole affair that Dr. Mortimer became very worried and was going to suggest a short holiday in town. The next night, Sir Charles was found lying dead on the outskirts of his estate. When the scene was examined, Dr. Mortimer found a footmark that alarmed him; the mark of the foot of a giant hound.

 Holmes agrees to take up the case, sending Dr. Watson as his agent to Baskerville Hall with the young heir to the estate; Sir Henry Baskerville. While there, a series of events causes much unrest and anxiety to both Sir Henry and Dr. Watson. What do missing boots, strange messages, lights on the moor, secretive servants, and a long, haunting cry have to do with the mystery of the Hound of the Baskerville? Is it just a dirty trick, playing on superstition to scare the inhabitants of Baskerville, or is there some deeper, more sinister intent? Is there really a hound on the moor? And if there is; is it just an ordinary hound, or, as some suggest, is it some agent of the devil? What is the truth behind all of these seemingly unrelated incidents?

Arthur Conon Doyle uses excellent dialogue in his Sherlock Holmes novels. His use of detail is immense-as he wrote mysteries-but it never becomes dull or monotonous. His stories flow very well and there were no dull spots. This book was not a particularly easy read; I would say about medium-hard.

I would highly recommend this book for 12+. There are some mature themes and very mild language, and it can be quite chilling at times. It has excellent literature qualities, a thrilling story, and well-loved characters. 4.5 out of 5 stars.

*Excerpt taken from The Hound of the Baskervilles, written by Arthur Conon Doyle, published in 1902 by George Newness.

 

P.S. I am a self-acclaimed fan of Sherlock Holmes. Just F.Y.I. 😉