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March UN-official SFF-KIT: Mystery/Police/Detective

2019 Category Challenge

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Feb 16, 11:18am Top

My two favorite genres (two and a half perhaps) are Science Fiction-Fantasy and Mystery. How much fun it is when a book combines both! For this month's SFF-Kit challenge, I hope you find an enjoyable book that combines those two. Probably the most famous of all are the Harry Dresden books by Jim Butcher (mysteries sent in a Chicago with wizards for hire) but there are lots more out there.

Here are a few suggestions to get you started.

, ,

from my library and recommended
Naked in Death by J.D. Robb -- the first of the In Death series. Police procedural/mystery taking place in the New York of the not-too distant future.
Dead until Dark by Charlaine Harris -- the first of the Southern Vampire Mysteries.
The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde -- the first of the Thursday Next series.
Sweet Silver Blues by Glen Cook -- the first of the Garrett Files. A human detective in a world of gnomes.
Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch -- the first of the Rivers of London series. Police procedural in a London with magic afoot.
Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire -- the first of the October Daye series. Toby is an investigator in a very magical fantasy world.
The Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov -- Asimov wrote many science fiction mysteries, including these featuring a New York City detective and his robot partner.
The Disappeared by Kristine Kathryn Rusch -- the first of the Retrieval Artist series. Highly recommend series taking place on the Moon and other planets.
When Gravity Falls by George Alec Effinger
Flashback by Dan Simmons -- one of my favorite authors
Greywalker by Kat Richardson

other ideas
Zombies of the Gene Pool by Sharyn McCrumb
Sherlock Holmes in Orbit by Mike Resnick
The Children of Men by P.D. James

Happy Reading!

Feb 16, 11:33am Top

I love the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter books, and most of those revolve around some level of mystery and detective work, so I'm planning on reading one of those since it will also fit the seriescat favorite-author challenge for the month. If time permits, I'm going to try to get to the The Last Policeman, too, and I *think* that will fit since it's got the backdrop of the world ending...

Feb 16, 12:23pm Top

>2 whitewavedarling: I was going to put The Last Policeman on here, but didn't at the last minute. It definitely fits this category.

Feb 16, 12:34pm Top

>3 owlie13:, Good to know :)

Edited: Feb 16, 3:54pm Top

I have yet to figure out what I'll be reading for this month. I highly recommend The Yiddish Policemen's union by Michael Chabon.

Feb 16, 6:58pm Top

My sister got me Lies Sleeping by Ben Aaronovitch, the latest Rivers of London book, for Christmas, so that will be my choice for this month.

Feb 16, 7:30pm Top

I'm planning to read Midnight Riot. I've been meaning to start this series for awhile now.

Edited: Feb 18, 8:36am Top

I've decided to start the Dresden Series with Storm Front. Really wasn't on my horizon but this CAT prompted me as well as Audibles Start a series sale.

Feb 19, 2:14pm Top

I have been working on Sweet Silver Blues by Glen Cook since we had this theme in last year's MysteryCAT for December. I've really been enjoying it, I'm just slow with reading print books. Maybe I will be able to get it finished in March. I also have the Audible edition of the next October Daye for me, Chimes at Midnight.

>5 chlorine: Thank you for mentioning The Yiddish Policeman's Union. I've owned a copy of this since 3/2009 and just found an audio version available at my library, so will try to get to this one too. It also gives me a U for the AlphaKIT, for which I was having a hard time coming up with something.

Feb 23, 5:24pm Top

I read a fantastic book in January called Spring-Heeled Jack that is set in Victorian (sort of) England and has both time travel and early detective work that I can highly recommend.

Would the Diana Tregarde series be considered detective-y enough for this month? Or Faith Hunter's series of vampire hunters?

I have both on my shelves and want to start the right book that would fit the criteria :)

Feb 23, 7:55pm Top

>10 threadnsong: They certainly sound like they fit. I consider private investigators to be detective enough. That Spring-Heeled Jack one sounds interesting.

Feb 24, 12:28pm Top

Haven't really picked one yet but I'll probably end up counting a Dresden book for this if I can find a copy of Summer Knight.

Edited: Feb 24, 8:08pm Top

>11 owlie13: Excellent! I'll start on Faith Hunter's series; I bought Skinwalker last fall.

Spring-Heeled Jack was really pretty amazing. I picked it up from my local bookstore as a used book, thinking i wanted to read what looked to be a steam-punk book, and it blew me away. The gadgets were part of daily life, there was plenty of reference to wearing goggles, but the combination of a detective in a burgeoning police force and the time travel element all were brilliantly combined. If you happen to luck into a copy I recommend it.

Thanks for hosting this month!

Feb 25, 11:58am Top

I think I may try to finally get to The Yiddish Policeman's Union.

Also, I hosted the futuristic/fantastical month for the MysteryCAT last year - if you're still looking for some more ideas in addition to all the good ones here, have a look:


Feb 26, 12:21pm Top

>14 LisaMorr: thanks. Nothing posted here has appealed to me so far.

Mar 2, 11:48am Top

I finished Lock In by John Scalzi. Great book!

Mar 2, 2:14pm Top

>16 majkia: I really liked that one too.

Mar 2, 4:26pm Top

GOT to get Marid Audran done...When Gravity Fails will be completed this month!

Edited: Mar 5, 5:24am Top

Finished my March book today:

Storm Front by Jim Butcher
Harry Dresden is a private detective who consults for the Chicago P.D. And he's a wizard. He gets pulled into a particularly nasty murder case involving black magic, mobs, prostitutes, and a new illegal drug that promises wizard's sight when taken.
Noir crime novel meets wizard fantasy. A cool idea, and the plot was interesting enough, but I've never been a fan of the misogyny inherent in noir fiction and it's here in spades (the way Butcher has Dresden describe female characters made my skin crawl in places, and Dresden's 'old-fashioned good guy' routine is tiresome). That, coupled with the clunky writing of a seemingly not-yet-mature writer makes this one not really a winner for me.

Mar 3, 9:40am Top

I found another Dresden book on my shelves: Death Masks. I liked it better than my first, Storm Front, but it's still not an outstanding series for me.

Edited: Mar 3, 11:31am Top

The story behind the Dresden Files was that Jim Butcher wrote the first one, Storm Front as an example/joke about bad writing and what sells in the marketplace. No one was more surprised when the book actually sold and readers clamored for more! The series is a little uneven with the first three or four being where Butcher is really trying to get the series on its feet and, with a couple of missteps in books 5-8. But the series does overall improve. I prefer the audio (James Marsters basically is Harry Dresden!) :-)

Mar 3, 4:58pm Top

>19 scaifea:, I am reading that one too, I'm about half way. >21 Tanya-dogearedcopy:, very interesting. As it does seem like not very good writing.

Mar 4, 5:30am Top

>21 Tanya-dogearedcopy: Huh. Interesting. But nope, I'll not read anymore of them.

Mar 4, 8:24am Top

It just occurs to me that Adam Sternbergh's Spademan series might count for this? A professional hitman? I've got Near Enemy on the TBR...

Edited: Mar 4, 12:01pm Top

Finished Storm Front. Prettty easy read. Probably will not read further into series.

Mar 4, 1:21pm Top

Before I ever read any of the Dresden Files books (before I had even heard of them), I was invited to join Ro (luvamystery65) at a book signing and appearance by Jim Butcher for the first book of his new series (The Aeronaut's Windlass). It was very entertaining and with reassurances from Ro that the books get better, I'm a fan. I've read five now and they have become more complex; maybe seeing and hearing the author in person makes a difference. Anyway, I'm looking forward to reading a bunch more of the Dresden Files this year with the group read.

Edited: Mar 7, 5:29pm Top

>26 LisaMorr: Did I hear my name? Ha ha! The series definitely gets better and Harry matures immensely. >21 Tanya-dogearedcopy: I couldn't have said it any better.

I'm listening to Lies Sleeping by Ben Aaronovitch. Great series!

Mar 7, 6:38pm Top

>27 luvamystery65: Oooh! Another series that's better in audio (IMHO!) The first two or three that Kobna Holdbrook-Smith narrates are a little rough production quality-wise (booth noises, etc.) but then the rest or the Rivers of London/Peter Grant series sounds great! At one point, I had the a print copy of one of the novels in hand because I wanted to quickly catch up but it wasn't the same. I ended up re-listening to it in audio :-)

Mar 16, 12:31pm Top

I would recommend two books that aren't very well known. Deadly Silents by Lee Killough and Wrapt in Crystal by Sharon Shinn. Both older books and very good.

Edited: Mar 17, 8:26am Top

Edited: Mar 17, 9:22am Top

I read Des larmes sous la pluie (Tears under the rain) by Spanish author Rosa Montero.
I really liked the world building but I cared less about the style and characterization. It was overall a so-so read for me.

Mar 17, 6:33pm Top

>30 Kristelh: thank you!

Mar 18, 11:31am Top

I took >1 owlie13: Elaine's suggestion that a Southern Vampire mystery would fit this category, so I read number 4, Dead to the World. Lots of fun and definitely full of fantasy.

Mar 18, 1:23pm Top

I've read Rule 34 which is a continuation of the Halting State series by Charles Stross. Set in a near-future Edinburgh and if you don't know what the title refers to then it's probably best if you don't google it (at least not in a public space). Didn't enjoy this entry into the series as much as the first but it was still an enjoyable read.

Mar 18, 3:05pm Top

I'm ill plugging away at Sweet Silver Blues by Glen cook. Probably won't get it finished by the end of the month. I did manage to finish two others though:
The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon, this was good, but other than the fact that it's an alternate history where there is a Jewish settlement in Sitka, Alaska, there aren't any sci fi/fantasy elements to the story.
Feet of Clay by Terry Pratchett. This Discworld installment features the City Watch investigating the poisoning of the Patrician and several connected murders in the city. I had just picked this one up for a fun quick read, and realized when I was finished that it's a perfect fit here.

Edited: Mar 18, 3:56pm Top

Oh, excellent topic! I am late to the March challenges, but this is one of my favorite types of book too! I will now post an extremely long list of suggestions!


Authors/works which combine fantasy, mystery, and also romance (of the gay/lesbian/queer variety).*

KJ Charles: The Magpie Lord series, and associated stories about some of the side characters. Here is the series described on the author's website. The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal also fits the category (it is a volume of linked short stories). Spectred Isle is another one, it is the first book of a trilogy that is currently in progress.

Alexis Hall: Iron & Velvet, Shadows & Dreams. The Kate Kane series (only two books in so far) are sort of like Dresden Files crossed with Twilight (tongue firmly in cheek), with lesbians instead of straight people and good writing. Possibly his Prosperity series would also count, though that doesn't read as much like a traditional mystery as the Kate Kane books.

Ginn Hale: Wicked Gentlemen reads the most like a mystery, although there are mysterious elements in her other books too, such as the Lord of the White Hell and Champion of the Scarlet Wolf stories, and The Rifter. These can be pretty dark, so it is a good thing they have romantic elements or I might not want to read them, and that would be a pity since they are all excellent.

Melissa Scott: Point of Hopes and the rest of the Astreiant series, partially written with her late partner, Lisa Barnett. Police procedurals in an imaginary Renaissance-era(?) city with a matriarchal social system and strong integration of astrology. Extremely good and historically grounded with much period detail. The romance is comparatively low-key. Also, Death by Silver and A Death at the Dionysus Club are mysteries, set in a London with magic, and she has probably written more fantasy/mysteries that I haven't read yet.

Irregulars: (stories by several authors in shared universe). About various agents in a paranormal law enforcement department. Grilled Cheese and Goblins by Nicole Kimberling has more of these, all with the same main character.

Jordan Castillo Price: PsyCop series (these have perhaps more sexy romance than they do mystery, at least in the first four volumes, but they're still quite good). Most of them are about a police officer who can communicate with ghosts, which isn't always as helpful as you would think.

Generally popular works to varying degrees (i.e. not marketed as "romance"), which have not been mentioned:

Eoin Colfer: Artemis Fowl, an YA series about a 12-year-old billionaire crime lord who gets involved with supernatural intrigue, very entertaining.

Barry Hughart: Bridge of Birds, The Story of the Stone, and Eight Skilled Gentlemen. These are extremely good mysteries in an ancient and well-imagined magical Chinese setting.

Sarah Monette: The Bone Key: the necromantic mysteries of Kyle Murchison Booth. Rather dark and moody, like the classic ghost stories by M. R. James.

Discworld series by Terry Pratchett: (>35 staci426: beat me to it because I take so long posting!). All of the City Watch books are basically mysteries (police procedurals). The City Watch books are: Guards! Guards!, Men at Arms, Feet of Clay, Jingo, The Fifth Elephant, Night Watch, Thud!, and Snuff.

John Bellairs - Lots of YA horror/mysteries (again with the sort of moody, M.R. James feeling that I prefer from my horror reading), plus The Face in the Frost which is my favorite.

Jonathan Stroud - I seem to remember the Bartimaeus trilogy (also YA) being mysterious, although it's been awhile and I have not got around to rereading it yet. I liked it a lot.

Books I haven't read in years, but seem to fit the category: (I still have them in my collection, so I must have liked them).

Patricia C. Wrede: Magic and Malice aka A Matter of Magic: omnibus containing Mairelon the Magician and The Magician's Ward, about a teenage thief who falls in with a magician in Regency England. Also Sorcery and Cecelia, or, The Enchanted Chocolate Pot, which I read more recently, is a mystery. Probably a lot of her other books are also mysteries.

Randall Garrett: Lord Darcy stories (another omnibus volume). More alternate history concerning a wizard investigator.

Webcomic/graphic novel: Skin Horse by Shaenon Garrity and Jeffrey Wells. Available online and in several print volumes. About the employees of a social services agency for nonhuman sapients. I feel like many of the plots are mysteries, although the agency isn't primarily for law enforcement.

*If you hate romance, you might not like the books on this first list, but that's what I thought when I used to hate romance and I was mistaken. We could have an entire discussion about the problems inherent in practices of marketing genre fiction, but this post is already long enough. I don't think most of these have much more romance, proportionally, than some of the books that have already been mentioned--the mystery plot element is as strong or stronger than the romance element. They do tend to have happy endings, unlike non-romance books, which often (not always) contain relationships that end with somebody dying.

Mar 18, 6:07pm Top

>36 amaranthe: Echoing the love for Patricia C. Wrede! I adore Sorcery and Cecelia especially. And I didn't realize Barry Hughart's Bridge of Birds was a mystery -- that one's been on my TBR for a long time. Thanks for the list!

Mar 30, 5:31am Top

COMPLETED Lies Sleeping by Ben Aaronovitch - a police procedural urban fantasy

Mar 30, 7:11am Top

I picked up Gnomon by Nick Harkaway intending to use it for the Favourite authors seriescat before coming to the realisation that I couldn't as it wasn't actually a part of a series. It does fit here though so that's a bonus. My favourite book of the year so far. Review may or may not be forthcoming at some point in the future.

Mar 31, 8:30pm Top

Read Skinwalker by Faith Hunter. I picked it up at a convention thinking, "Oh, I hope I like it" and I totally did. It has vampires and a motorcycle babe vampire killer, but all are likeable (well, the vampires are a bit creepy). There's bodies, some very nice bodies, but I was soooo relieved that this book did not depend on sex in order to tell a story. In fact, there's almost no sex described, though it does take place in a brothel in New Orleans.

Mar 31, 11:39pm Top

I reread a favorite, Snake Agent by Liz Williams, a police procedural featuring Inspector Chen in a futuristic Singapore investigating the murder of a rich young woman. Her soul SHOULD be heading for (the Chinese) heaven, but instead is somehow channelled to (the Chinese) Hell.

Apr 1, 9:14am Top

Finished The Last Policeman earlier this month and just didn't have time to be on LT. The book was fantastic, and I can't wait to read more by this author. If you haven't already look it up, I highly recommend it, though it's definitely heavier on the mystery and lighter on the sci-if/fantasy.

Apr 3, 10:24pm Top

I finished Death Masks from Jim Butcher's Dresden Files series, in which Harry hunts down a stolen religious relic while vampires make his life difficult.

Edited: Apr 4, 7:50am Top

I had a handful of books picked out for this one but only managed to finish one in March (scattershot reading of late) - Flatlander by Larry Niven, collected short stories with Gil Hamilton, ARM detective, an elite UN police force. And I'm about halfway in The Prefect by Alastair Reynolds - Prefect Dreyfus, a "policeman of sorts" with the Panoply (Revelation Space series). Also started rereading Caves of Steel by Asimov.

Edited: Apr 4, 2:33pm Top

>44 okeres: I really enjoyed The Prefect and its sequel, Elysium Fire.

Group: 2019 Category Challenge

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