Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Top Ten Underrated Authors in the Mystery genre

Hosted by the Broke and Bookish the topic for September 9: September 9: Top Ten Underrated Authors or Books in X genre.

I haven't been able to participate in TTT in ages but this one sounds fun so I wanted to put together a short list for "underrated" mystery authors.  I am not sure how much each of them count as underrated as much as currently under the radar or once rated but now disappeared? Something like that.

1. Janet Neel  (Janet Neel Cohen, Baroness Cohen of Pimlico) a a British lawyer who wrote seven mystery novels staring Francesca Wilson and John McLeish, plus a few stand alone mysteries. Very British, contemporary and I found them to be very well done. My favorite was Death Among the Dons (which to me has something of the feel of Dorothy L. Sayers' Gaudy Night. 

2. Sarah Caldwell (Sarah Cockburn) also a British Barrister, like Janet Neel, wrote four mysteries stories that centered around the lives of a group of young barristers practicing in Lincoln’s Inn and were narrated by a Hilary Tamar, a Professor of Medieval Law - an odd combination of mentor and hanger-on. One hook for the books is that the gender of the narrator is unknown. She passed away in 2000.

3. Kate Ross (Katherine Jean Ross) is an American mystery author who wrote four books set in Regency-era England about an enigmatic, poor, and superficially foppish dandy named Julian Kestrel. She passed away in 1998, way too young.  The first book is entitled Cut to the Quick.

4. Diana Killian is the author of two mystery series that I know of - one is called the Poetic Death series, starting with and stars a vacationing American school teacher and a reformed British jewel thief. They take rather a high level of suspension of disbelief but are great fun. I also like that the relationship between Grace and Peter developed throughout the four books. It takes time. Killian also has a Yoga mystery series, but I haven't read those yet. 

5. Edith Skom is the author of three detective novels featuring Professor Beth Austen, who specializes in nineteenth-century literature. The first book is The Mark Twain Murders. I found these when I was looking to fill the hole left by Amanda Cross (also books starting a female professor and the best of them all had an academic setting) when she stopped writing.

6. Sparkle Hayter is a Canadian author and journalist. She wrote a series of mysteries (six of them I believe) starting Robin Hudson and some stand alone books as well. I am not entirely sure how to explain her books -  The first one is entitled What's A Girl Gotta Do? and Robin is a journalist for a, well, trashy television news channel. The cover to the first book both helps and isn't right at all.

To give you an idea of our protagonist, she thinks her apartment may have been burglarized because it seems tidier than when she left it. I started reading these at the same time as the early Stephanie Plum books came out. I thought these were funnier.  But then I am considered strange. 

7. Katy Munger (who also wrote books under the pseudonyms Gallagher Gray and Chaz Mee) is an American author - the books that I enjoyed were her Casey Jones series, starting with Legwork. They are very hardboiled detective stuff staring a female detective - kinda if the femme fatale were the detective instead of Sam Spade. It is an interesting take and also stands in stark contrast to Stephanie Plum in terms of competence.

BTW - I never heard of Tart Noir until today. Wished I had heard about it at the time. 

8. Joanne Dobson is an American mystery author whose books feature Karen Pelletier, an English professor at the fictional Enfield College in ritzy Enfield, Massachusetts. I see that I have missed a couple will have to catch up. The first book was Quieter Than Sleep: A Modern Mystery of Emily Dickinson. The books do have some unfortunate tropes in them, but they were still quite enjoyable.

9. Victoria Thompson - author of the Gaslight Mystery series set in turn-of-the-century New York, staring midwife Sarah Brandt. Not underrated I suppose, but her books have been hard to find in the bookstore.  I have to start over and get caught up. I see that she is up to 15 or 16 books now. 

10. Donna Andrews - author of the Meg Langslow mysteries, starting with Murder with Peacocks, that I have already talked up several times. I guess she really doesn't count as underrated but I think she is a bit under-appreciated.   

11.  Carola Dunn - she has bunch of Daisy Dalrymple mystery series is set in England between the wars (I wonder if she is running out of time here and will have to introduce WWII ? We are on book 21 now). I haven't read any of her Cornish mysteries yet. Also not really underrated, but her books are a nice change of pace from most of the things I see out there, so I wanted to give her some blog love too.  

Happy Tuesday ! 

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