River Heights Book Review

The books you'll want to read.

Summertime, and the binge-reading is easy…

Summer is made for binge-reading, but if you burn through books as quickly as we do, it can make for an expensive habit. Fret not, though; the River Heights Book Review has you covered. Here are five traditional mystery series you can binge-read from start to finish for about the cost of a single hardcover:

1. Phyllis Richman’s Chas Wheatley Mysteriesthe butter did it

Books in order:

The Butter Did It: A Gastronomic Tale of Love and Murder
Murder on the Gravy Train
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Ham?

Kat’s pitch:  Foodies, these mysteries are for you. Series heroine Chas Wheatley is a restaurant critic for the Washington Examiner. At the time that she wrote these books, Phyllis Richman was a restaurant critic for the Washington Post, and according to Newsweek, was the most feared woman in Washington. Are these mysteries romans à clef? You decide.

Availability: None of these is available in ebook format, but every major online used book outlet I checked (AbeBooks, Alibris, Thriftbooks, Better World Books, and yes, Amazon) had copies of all three in stock.

dim sum dead. jpg

2.  Jerrilyn Farmer’s Madeline Bean Catering Mysteries

Books in order:
Sympathy for the Devil
Immaculate Reception
Killer Wedding
Dim Sum Dead
Mumbo Gumbo
Perfect Sax
The Flaming Luau of Death

Kat’s pitch:  A series of smart, funny mysteries from TV writer Jerrilyn Farmer featuring Hollywood caterer Madeline Bean. Sympathy for the Devil was nominated for the Agatha and the Edgar and won the Macavity. Immaculate Reception was nominated for the Agatha and won the Lefty. An eighth Mad Bean mystery, Desperately Seeking Sushi, was scheduled for release in 2006, but was never actually published (much to my great dismay). This book is my white whale; I still troll the internet for it, hoping that some form of the manuscript will surface and I can finally get some closure.

Availability: The whole series is available in ebook format, though buying them this way will run you around $33. Sympathy for the Devil, Dim Sum Dead, Mumbo Gumbo, Perfect Sax are still available as new mass-market paperbacks. The rest appear to be out of print. Last I checked, cheap used copies of all seven books were available at AbeBooks, Alibris, Thriftbooks, Better World Books, and Amazon.

3. Wendy Lyn Watson’s Mysteries a La Modeparfait murder

Books in order:

I Scream, You Scream
A Parfait Murder
Scoop to Kill

Kat’s pitch:  This series chronicles the exploits of Tallulah Jones, proprietress of the Remember the A-la-mode ice cream parlor in Dalliance, Texas. Watson’s a helluva good writer. Her plots are fun, her prose is gorgeous, and if you’re an ice cream aficionado, the flavors Tally and company dish up will make you drool.

Availability: Though no new installments have come out since 2011, this series is still in print. Used copies are available from AbeBooks, Alibris, Thriftbooks, Better World Books, and Amazon, but you can also get brand-new mass market paperbacks or ebook versions of all three books.

you've got murder4.  Donna Andrews’ Turing Hopper Mysteries

Books in order:

You’ve Got Murder
Click Here for Murder
Access Denied
Delete All Suspects

Kat’s pitch:  From the author who brought you the wildly popular Meg Langslow Mysteries, here’s a series of “techno-cozies” with an Artificial Intelligence Personality named Turing Hopper for a protagonist. You’ve Got Murder won the Agatha Award for Best Novel and was a Finalist for the Dilys Award.

Availability: This series is out of print and ebooks aren’t available, but AbeBooks, Thriftbooks, and Amazon have used copies of all four books in stock.

5.  Karen E. Olson’s Tattoo Shop Mysteriesmissing ink

Books in order:

Ink Flamingos
Driven to Ink
Pretty in Ink
The Missing Ink

Kat’s pitch:  Series heroine Brett Kavanaugh owns The Painted Lady — a high-end, custom-art tattoo shop located in a swanky Las Vegas hotel. These books are hip, edgy, and amazingly well written. And as a relatively tattooed person, I can attest to the fact that Olson nails tattoo culture and the art of tattooing.

Availability: These are all available as ebooks and new mass-market paperbacks. Used copies are available from AbeBooks, Alibris, Thriftbooks, and Amazon.


3 comments on “Summertime, and the binge-reading is easy…

  1. Barbara
    July 22, 2015

    What a hoot! Thanks for the recommendations. If I only read one it will probably be the “butter” book.


  2. Shashank Singh
    July 22, 2015

    it looks intresting will definitely buy it.!!!


  3. Shashank Singh
    July 22, 2015

    i have already read The Butter Did It. it was good.


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This entry was posted on July 22, 2015 by in Crime Fiction, Miscellany and tagged , .
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