Light Mystery authors I have recently discovered
I started reading light murder mysteries a few years ago, when I became bored with Fantasy. The books I like are not gory, heavy violence mysteries. Those kind of mysteries give me nightmares.
I still love anything Mercedes Lackey writes, and must read Star Wars books.
Charlene Harris' Sookie Stackhouse series is a wonderful crossover between Fantasy and Mystery. After reading all the Sookie books published, I began reading Ms. Harris', Lily Bard, and Aurora Teagarden mystery series. Than I found Diane Mott Davidson, love her stuff, and Janet Evanovich. Her Stephine Plum is hysterical.
Recently I became unemployed, and bored. So off I went to the recycle book store. There I started experimenting with any author I could find who had more than one book.
The first author I tried was Lillian Jackson Braun. She has written 29 books total. I loved her stories. The first 3 books of her "The Cat Who" series were written durning the 60's. I loved her description of an old newspaper office, pre-computer and cell phones, I also enjoyed how her lead character Qwill, adopted first one, than a second kitty. The kitties are a lot of fun. I love kitties. I have another Hub call "Living with Cats" that I write about my furry friends. After the first 3 books, Ms. Braun didn't write again till 1986. She than put out one to two books a year till 2007. The stories are charming, with excellent growth of characters, Sadly Ms. Braun, has retired from writing, She's 98 now. Such a shame. No new Qwill, KoKo & Yum Yum stories, but her body of work is a joy to read, andI highly recommend.
After a ran through all of Ms. Braun's books, I found Rita Mae Brown, and Shirley Rousseau Murphy. Both authors have Cats in their stories.
Ms. Braun's character KoKo, was an active assistant to Qwill in resolving the mystery, but remained very Cat like. Communicating with a look, a paw, meow, or purr.
Rita Mae Brown's books, co-authored with her cat Sneaky Pie Brown, currently 19 books and counting, are a bit more. There are two cats in her stories, Mrs. Murphy, Pewter, and a cute dog named Tee Tucker, They actually talk to each other and other animals, but can not be understood by humans. I enjoy the animals perspective, and their love for their person Harry. The animals view it is their job to protect Harry from getting into too much trouble.
Mary Minor Haristeen "Harry", is a wonderful female lead. She is basically a farmer in a small town in Virginia. What I love about Ms. Brown's books is the information she crams into the story. I have learned about Thoroughbred racing, and breeding, the different types of horses, and the differnet type of equipment for the horses, grapes for wine, farming, Monticello, and most recently, breast cancer. I very much admired Ms. Brown's courage at giving her lead character breast cancer. Most authors would have given it to a minor character. I can't wait for the next book. I also need to branch out to Ms. Brown's other books. she has a nice diversity of books, according to Wikipepida.
Shirley Rousseau Murphy's books are a bit different. The lead mystery solvers are the cats. Joe Grey, his girlfriend Dulcie, and their adopted kitten, Kit. The 3 cats actually talk and think like people, sort of. Their thinking does remind us they are Cats. Ms. Murphy bases the reason for the talking cats in Celtic mythology. There are 15 books so far. I didn't like parts of the early books, too much information about the cats hunting mice and rats, remember the gory problem, but the later books, have less of that and much more story.
I enjoy the relationship between the cats and each of their people. The first book when Joe Grey calls his human Clyde on the phone for help, is pricelessly funny. I also enjoy Ms. Murphy's on going exploration on how and why these cats can talk. The relationships between Joe, and his human Clyde's other animals, two dogs and 3 other non-speaking cats is very well done. The last book has the passing of the last dog, and Joe taking care of the little white kitty Snowball who is devastated at the lost of her friend made me cry. It reminded me too much of the reactions I see in my own pets when one of their friends leaves us. Very well done. The cats hanging around the police station to pick up on clues, and delivering what the police need to them is very amusing. In other words these books are fun. A nice way to combined Fantasy and Mystery. Remember I started out as a fantasy reader.
So I've now blown through everything the 3 above authors have currently written. The following are very new authors, with a much smaller body of work, but all of the books are relaxing and engaging reads.
Leann Sweeney, 3 books in her "Cats in Trouble" Series, delightful. Set in a small town in South Carolina, the stories revolve around her 3 cats though the cats are not actually part of the detecting portion of the story, they are part of the mystery.
Sofie Kelly, "Magical Cats" Series, I could only find 1 in print, another book comes out in September. Set in a small town in Minnesota, the lead Kathleen is a Librarian. The two cats actually have different magical abilities. Only one each though, but the ability is so Cat like, I enjoyed the creative use of the abilities in the story.
Miranda Jones, "Cat in the Stacks" series, 2 books. I've only read the first one so far. The 2ndbook just came out this month, and the local store did not have. The cat Diesel is nicely done, but is more of a charming character than a active detective in the story. The stories are set in a library in small town Mississippi.
Rebecca M. Hale, "Cats and Curios" series, 2 books out, 3rd is released in July. The first book I read, "How to Wash a Cat" has some wonderfully funny parts in it. Set in San Francisco our heroine has inherited her Uncle's Antique shop. The neighbor across the street annoys me. I really thought he was going to be the first victim. No such luck. Maybe I'll get lucky with the 2nd book.
Lorna Barrett, "Booktown" series, there are 4 books out now, the 5th comes out in June. This series I really wished the stores described in the books actually existed near me. I loved the idea of a area that is all specialty bookstores. Set in a small town in New Hampshire, the lead character, Tricia owns a Mystery bookstore. Her sister, buys the Cookbook store next door. The evolution in the relationship between the two sisters has been fun to read.
Claudia Bishop, oh boy, love her. She also writes under Mary Stanten. Both the "Hemlock Falls" series, 16 books and hopefully counting, and her "Dr. McKenzie" series, only 3 so far. Both series are set in upstate New York in small towns near Cornell Univ. The Hemlock Falls series the main characters are two sisters who own a small inn. The younger sister is a Master Chief, the Older one is an artist. Quill, the older sister, is the main detective in the series. The Dr. McKenzie series revolves around a "retired" Cornell professor who is also a Veterinarian. I enjoyed both series very much, and hope there will be more books soon.
Claudia Bishop under the name Mary Stanten, has the "Beaufort and Company" Series, 4 books are currently out, the 5th will be released in November. This series is very unique. The lead is a lawyer for the dead. She must figure out why the dead has asked for her help in getting out of hell. She has 3 or is it 4 Angels to help her. Very interesting ideas.
If you like to read for relaxation, the above books, are a lot of fun.
Adding two more authors;
M.C. Beaton. Agatha Raisin series are set in the English Cotswold's, about 20 books and counting. The lead, Agatha Raisin, is a 50 something retired business women. A character with a wonderfully flawed personality that is very good at solving murders with a little help from her friends. I enjoy the supporting characters a lot, and the descriptions of the English countryside. Very addictive books.
Carolyn Hart's, Death on Demand series. Set on an Island in the Carolina's, the lead owns a Mystery bookstore. She with her husband and various friends resolve the Mysterys. The stories are very diverse and I really wish her store, not to mention the location was real. I would love to meet her cat Agatha, the terror of the book store.