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Great Gifts for … Literary Snobs

Holiday Contest!

What could be better than starting the new year out with a couple of great books—FREE? Join our email list and you could win your picks from the Felony & Mayhem list. (We will choose the winners in a blind drawing on January 5.)

Have a holly jolly Christmas, and a heckuva good New Year.

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Death in the Garden, by Elizabeth Ironside

Death in the Garden, by Elizabeth Ironside

The perfect example of what I think of as a “novel with mystery elements” – in other words, a book that meets all the criteria one would look for in a fine literary novel (elegant prose, unusual and finely drawn characters, compelling setting, an intricate plot without a hint of formula), plus dead bodies. This was shortlisted for England’s “Gold Dagger” award for best mystery of 1995, and was named one of the twelve Best Books of the Year by National Public Radio.
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Hide My Eyes, by Margary Allingham

Hide My Eyes, by Margery Allingham

Allingham began her career, in the late 1920s, with a series of mysteries about a charmingly eccentric “gentleman-sleuth” named Albert Campion. She never killed off Albert or even two-timed him with a different protagonist, but as she matured the books became richer and more nuanced. Hide My Eyes, written after World War II, concerns a handsome young psychopath and the aging woman who loves him (Albert gets a walk-on at the end). It’s a heartbreaker and, to my mind, even better than Tiger in the Smoke, widely regarded as Allingham’s masterpiece.
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King and Joker, by Peter Dickinson

King and Joker, by Peter Dickinson

For those who think “mystery fiction” is all formulaic plots and cardboard characters, this novel about a supremely middle-class English family that happens to be the Royal Family will be a mind-blower. The “mystery” element concerns a practical joker whose jokes are getting less and less funny as they increasingly focus on the teenage Princess Louise, but it is the relationships between the characters (and the various ways in which they cope with life in the royal fishbowl) that is so fascinating.
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The Suspect, by L.R. Wright

The Suspect, by L.R. Wright

When the relatively unknown L.R. (Laurali Rose) Wright won the Edgar for Best Mystery of 1985, The Suspect became the first Canadian novel to win the prestigious award. It also beat out entries by heavy-hitters such as Jonathan Kellerman and Ruth Rendell.  We put it in the “Foreign” category, which feels a bit like cheating, but Wright’s evocation of the “Sunshine Coast,” actually feels quite exotic, with its impossibly lush gardens and the dense fogs that conceal so much. (Also available as an ebook.)
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The Second-Last Woman in England, by Maggie Joel

We are delighted to publish the U.S. debut of Ms. Joel, who despite her youth – as in, she wasn’t alive in the 1950s – does a brilliant job of recreating the feel of London after the war, the pressures to believe that past is dead and gone, and the sometimes hideous cost of insisting that really, everything is fine, just fine. We think this one might be an award-winner. (Also available as an ebook.)
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