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The game is afoot in these mystery series

Hutchinson Leader - 9/3/2017

For a lover of mysteries, there is nothing better than finding a series to dive into. Who can resist the attraction of continuing characters? Each new book is an opportunity to reconnect with old friends in new circumstances.

In August, Estelle Ryan released her 11th Dr. Genevieve Lenard book - "The Netscher Connection." What I like about Ryan's books is her protagonist - Dr. Lenard. She has high functioning autism spectrum disorder who is recognized as one of the world's leading experts in nonverbal communication and behavior.

In the first book "The Gauguin Connection," Genevieve is asked to investigate via her computer the death of an artist. Through it, she is thrust out of her safe, daily routine and becomes part of a team of people that push the letter of the law. The books take place in France.

Reappearing characters include Manny, a police officer; Francine, a computer hacker; Vinnie, the brawn that keeps the group safe; and Colin, an art thief who works for Interpol.

Ryan's books titles are named after artists. She does a great job building the relationships between the characters as well as how they relate to Genevieve. Her treatment of high-functioning autism spectrum disorder feels real and honest.

If you choose this series, definitely read the books in order because the relationships develop and deepen from book to book.

Another favorite series is Jacqueline Winspear's books featuring Maisie Dobbs. Again, read these book sin order. So far, there are 13 books in the series.

The reappearing characters are Dobbs, who is a psychologist and investigator. The books take place in England and follow Maisie from when she went into service as a young girl working for Lord Julian and Lady Rowan Compton through World War I and into World War II.

Dobbs is a character that pulled herself up by her bootstraps and joined the gentry. She has a foot in each camp and at times isn't sure where she belongs. Winspear does an excellent job of setting the stage for each book. You get a real sense of what England was like before and after World War I.

Reappearing characters include her employee Billy Beale, a World War I veteran with sons of age for World War II, and Priscilla Patridge, Dobbs' college friend, who drove an ambulance during World War I. Patridge's three brothers died in the war. Now, like Beale, she has three sons on the cusp of World War II.

Things get complicated for Maisie when she falls in love, goes undercover for Scotland Yard's Special Branch and the Secret Service, and is faced with changing times and circumstances.

Author Clara Benson has written two series that are worth reading. Both take place in England during the 1920s and '30s

The first features 10 books with protagonist Angela Marchmont, a wealthy woman, who has a knack for solving crimes.

The second series, which features three books, stars Freddy Pilkington-Soames, a wealthy layabout who takes a job as a reporter. Remarkably, he discovers that he's good at ferreting out the news. It proves to be the entree to interesting places including an undercover role for Special Branch. In the latest book, "A Case of Conspiracy in Clerkenwell," Freddy finds himself attending a meeting of communist sympathizers. Murder rears its head when a temperance advocate is killed in the same hall where the communists meet. Does one have anything to do with the other?

Recently I discovered the Drew Farthering mystery series. It features Drew Farthering, a wealthy young man who is looking for purpose. These books should be read in order.

The first book "Rules of Murder" sets the stage for Drew's involvement in crime investigation and introduces the reoccurring characters of Nick, his best friend and butler's son, and Madelaine, an American who he falls in love with.

While the books are set in England during the 1930s, the author is a fifth-generation Texan, who makes her home north of Dallas. Her mysteries are published by Minnesota-based Bethany House.

 
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