female-detectiveNext Monday – February 17 – we will announce the results of All About Romance’s Annual Reader Poll for the best romance novels published in 2013. Working on the poll has me thinking about the best books published in 2013 from my other favorite genre, mystery.

One only has to check out Mystery and Suspense Discussion thread on AAR’s forums (now in its Fourth Edition) to know that there are a lot of other AAR readers who also love reading mysteries and suspense. So I thought it might be fun to talk about our favorite mysteries published in 2013. My top five, in no particular order, are:

Speaking from Among the Bones by Alan Bradley – I’ve been a huge fan of the Flavia de Luce mystery series since I first discovered it over three years ago and this latest entry didn’t disappoint. This time out in addition to getting involved in solving a mystery at her church, Flavia also discovers a lot of secrets relating to her mother who died when Flavia was a baby. I adore this modern, adult take on a girl sleuth set in 1950s England. This entry ended on a huge cliffhanger that has already been resolved in the 2014 entry in the series and I’m now counting down the months until the 2015 entry is released.

How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny – I didn’t think I would like this series set alternately in a small, hidden town outside of Montreal and Montreal itself. I tend to favor mysteries with women as the lead character, but Inspector Armande Gamache quickly won me over. The previous entry in the series ended on a dark note; not so this one. While much is up in the air for the future, the talented Ms. Penny tied together many loose threads from previous books and in addition to several intriguing mysteries, also provided a completely satisfying resolution for a few longstanding characters.

Behind the Shattered Glass by Tasha Alexander – I’m a longtime fan of Ms. Alexander’s Lady Emily series. I’ve enjoyed Lady Emily’s past visits to such interesting locations as Paris, Santorini, Vienna, and Constantinople, but this one set at Lady Emily and Colin’s country estate is among my favorites. This time, in addition to having the story told from Lady Emily’s point of view, parts of it are told from one of the maid’s points of view. This added a sort of “upstairs/downstairs” feel to the story and a completely different perspective on the series. As a huge fan of the late Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody series (and I know that Ms. Alexander is also a fan), I was delighted by Lady Emily’s interest in Egyptology, and holdout hopes that someday, Lady Emily and Colin will head to Egypt.

The Book of Killowen by Erin Hart – This is the fourth entry in the author’s series featuring archaeologist Cormac Maguire and pathologist Nora Gavin, but only the second I’ve read. While the book is set in modern Ireland, Maguire and Gavin investigate two bodies found in a bog – one a murder that took place recently and the second a 9th century murder. The story mixes ancient mysteries with the modern setting, as Maguire and Gavin stay in an odd commune seemingly filled with people with secrets. I liked this one so much that I’m determined to go back and read the entries I’ve missed.

The Midwife’s Tale by Sam Thomas – This debut mystery was released in January of 2013, but just didn’t sound like something I would like. While it’s historical – set in 1644 York – I tend to shy away from medical mysteries of any kind, and a series featuring a midwife was bound to feature lots of medical details. Thank goodness my mystery book group selected this as our January selection; if not I would have missed out on a fascinating new series. Yes, things are grim in York as the City is under siege, but the historian-author gets his historical details straight without making it feel like you’re reading a historical tomb. Bridget Hodgson, the midwife, isn’t particularly likeable at first; perhaps because she does have the behaviors and sensibilities of her time. I recently listened to a talk by the author and was fascinated to learn that before he began writing fiction he did much of his historical non-fiction writing and research on midwives, and that Bridget Hodgson is the name of an actual midwife.  The second in the series – The Harlot’s Tale – was recently released and is darker yet, but all of the main characters continue to develop in intriguing ways. I look forward to the third.

Honorable mentions for me go to A Dying Fall by Elly Griffiths; An Inquiry Into Love and Death by Simone St. James; Mortal Arts by Anna Lee Huber; Buried in a Bog by Sheila Connolly; and Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger.

If you read mysteries, what were some of your favorites published in 2013?