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Old 01-07-2005, 12:27 PM
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book recommendation request: Exotic mysteries


I love mysteries set in exotic locales, Hillerman's Navajo mysteries, medieval settings, Amelia Peabody amongst the pyramids.

I like mysteries to have a strong sense of place (or time). I tend to prefer the "cozier" type rather than the harder boiled, and I tend not to prefer extreme graphic violence.

Suggestions?
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Old 01-07-2005, 12:55 PM
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Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee by Robert Van Gulik
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Old 01-07-2005, 01:07 PM
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Hmm...well, there's Steven Saylor's "Gordinius the Finder" series, and Lindsey Davis's "Falco" mysteries, both set in ancient Rome (Saylor's are at the end of the Republic, Davis's during the Principate). In terms of medeval mysteries, you might want to check out the Brother Cadafel books (Ellis Peters) or the Sister Fidelma books (Peter Tremayne). If you want an Elizabethan mystery, check out Faye Kellerman's "The Quality of Mercy". You might also want to check out her other books (the Peter Decker/Rina Lazarus series). They take place in LA, but the main characters are Orthodox Jews, and Judaism plays a role in most of the mysteries. Depending on your background, you might find that exotic.
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Old 01-07-2005, 01:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Captain Amazing
Hmm...well, there's Steven Saylor's "Gordinius the Finder" series, and Lindsey Davis's "Falco" mysteries, both set in ancient Rome (Saylor's are at the end of the Republic, Davis's during the Principate).
There has been a movie made based on the Falco series of novels, called "Age of Treason." I liked it all right -- it was a fun little movie, though a lot of Falco novel fans dissed it (I've never read any Falco novels.)
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Old 01-07-2005, 01:22 PM
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The "Number One Ladie's Detective Agency" series is set in Botswana, and the detective is sort of an African Miss Marple. There is very little violence--I think in some of the books no one even gets killed.

Alexander McCall Smith is the author. He's also starting another series with a Scottish detective, I believe.
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Old 01-07-2005, 01:38 PM
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Susanna Gregory's Matthew Bartholomew series is one of my favorites. It's set in Cambridge in the 1340s and 1350s, at the time when the plague hit Cambridge and later. You'll probably have to order them from Canada or the UK, though.

Paul Harding's Sorrowful Mysteries of Brother Athelstan are good, too- they're set in Southwark in the 1370s and 1380s, before the Peasant Revolt. Again, you'll probably have to order from the UK.
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Old 01-07-2005, 02:19 PM
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The Rei Shimura series by Sujata Massey. Some of it is in San Francisco, but much of it takes place in Japan.
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Old 01-07-2005, 02:21 PM
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...and here I read the thread title as erotic mysteries...
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Old 01-07-2005, 02:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Anne Neville
Susanna Gregory's Matthew Bartholomew series is one of my favorites. It's set in Cambridge in the 1340s and 1350s, at the time when the plague hit Cambridge and later. You'll probably have to order them from Canada or the UK, though.

Paul Harding's Sorrowful Mysteries of Brother Athelstan are good, too- they're set in Southwark in the 1370s and 1380s, before the Peasant Revolt. Again, you'll probably have to order from the UK.
Looks like the Gregory and Harding books are available through my library. (Is Harding also Paul Doherty?) Any ideas where's a good place to start in either series?

Actually, I should have asked that in the OP. If any of the mentioned series have a good place to start, I'd like to try to start there.
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Old 01-07-2005, 03:07 PM
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Originally Posted by jsgoddess
Looks like the Gregory and Harding books are available through my library. (Is Harding also Paul Doherty?)
Yes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jsgoddess
Any ideas where's a good place to start in either series?
A Plague on Both Your Houses is the first novel in the Matthew Bartholomew series. Later books do reference earlier ones, so you will probably get spoilers if you read them out of order. The list in chronological order is:

A Plague on Both Your Houses
An Unholy Alliance
A Bone of Contention
A Deadly Brew
A Wicked Deed
A Masterly Murder
An Order for Death
A Summer of Discontent
A Killer in Winter
The Hand of Justice

There is a new book, The Mark of a Murderer, coming out this summer

The Paul Harding ones are also chronological, but are less likely to have major plot spoilers in later books IIRC. The list in order:

The Nightingale Gallery
The House of the Red Slayer
Murder Most Holy
The Anger of God
By Murder's Bright Light
The House of Crows
The Assassin's Riddle
The Devil's Domain
The Field of Blood

He wrote the last two under his own name, Paul Doherty. Paul Doherty is a very prolific author, and I don't like his other books that I've read nearly as well as I like the Brother Athelstan series.
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Old 01-07-2005, 03:16 PM
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I don't know if this is exotic enough to ping your exoti-meter, but I'm fascinated by Barbara Hambly's Benjamin January series. The first book is A Free Man of Color. January is an emancipated black man in New Orleans in the early 1800s. She really presents a detailed and intriguing view of life for free persons of color at this time and the complex social rules and manners that developed in this community, and in the way that it intersected with both the white and the slave communities. There are also a lot of conflicts and clashes between the French society and the newly arrived Americans, as well as Catholicism and African traditional religions.

It's much more interesting than I'm making it sound. I guess on the surface it might not seem that exotic compared to pyramids, but at the same time, it's almost more exotic to me because it takes place not too long ago, in America, and yet it's about a society that is more or less completely foreign to my experiences.

I would say on the violence scale, they are about the same as Hillerman's books. Sometimes crime scenes and victims are described in a straightforward way, but she doesn't dwell on the grisly details.
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Old 01-07-2005, 04:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cher3
The "Number One Ladie's Detective Agency" series is set in Botswana, and the detective is sort of an African Miss Marple. There is very little violence--I think in some of the books no one even gets killed.
Yes, I have read a few of these books and enjoyed them. I don't know if I could read a large number in a row, but they are very pleasant.

Captain Amazing, those all look very interesting. I have read one book by Kellerman. Orthodox Judaism might not count as truly "exotic" for me, but that doesn't mean I don't find the culture fascinating.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Anne Neville
He wrote the last two under his own name, Paul Doherty. Paul Doherty is a very prolific author, and I don't like his other books that I've read nearly as well as I like the Brother Athelstan series.
I'm glad you said that, Anne. I'm actually reading one of Doherty's books right now and while it's competent, I'm not really excited about it. It's one of his Hugh Corbett books. But if you say his different series can have different appeal, I'll give another a try!

delphica, I've read some of Hambly and she's got an incredible sense of place. Good call.

If I didn't mention you, that doesn't mean that I'm not furiously scribbling down your suggestions!
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Old 01-07-2005, 04:25 PM
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Originally Posted by jsgoddess
I'm glad you said that, Anne. I'm actually reading one of Doherty's books right now and while it's competent, I'm not really excited about it. It's one of his Hugh Corbett books. But if you say his different series can have different appeal, I'll give another a try!
I've found most of the Hugh Corbett books to be kind of meh.

Definitely read The Nightingale Gallery if you can find it- the ending made me cry. That's very rare for mystery stories for me.
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Old 01-07-2005, 04:27 PM
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Our Man in Havana by Graham Greene.

Any of Graham Greene's mysteries, really.
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