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A Nose for Mystery and Murder: The Essence of Malice, The Sniffer, The Emperor of Scent, The Secret of Chanel No. 5, and Perfume: The Story of a Murder

16 May

Break out the blood hounds this week, the library picks blog is tracking works with the scent of mystery.

The Essence of Malice
by Ashley Weaver

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The Essence of Malice is Ashley Weaver’s fourth book in her Amory Ames Mystery series starring a wealthy British Amateur detective who solves crimes in Europe in the 1930’s.  In The Essence of Malice, Amory tries to unravel a mystery when something smells suspicious in the death of a famous Parisian perfumer and learns that all is not what it seems amongst his family, who are struggling over the control of his perfume empire.  I especially enjoyed the twist ending.  Amory’s husband is a bit of a cad and this, like the other novels, deals with the suspicions and strife that occasionally pop up in their relationship; although this made me mildly dislike Miles, I found it refreshing to see a less than perfect spouse since so often in cozy mysteries the detective’s partner is a paragon of virtue. You can also check out the earlier books in the series Murder at the Brightwell, Death Wears a Mask, and A Most Novel Revenge.  The fifth book in the series, An Act of Villainy will be available September 4 and revolves around a mystery at a theater.

The Sniffer – Season 1
sniffer

The Sniffer is a Russian mystery series that Hoboken Library Resident Card Holders can stream from Hoopla.  “The Sniffer” is both blessed and cursed with an extraordinary sense of smell which helps him solve mystery and thwart crimes, but also plagues him in his private life.  If like me, you enjoyed Hugh Laurie’s portrayal of the brilliant, but irritable protagonist in the series House, than The Sniffer’s prickly detective should appeal.  There are eight episodes in season one so it is perfect for a long rainy weekend binge.

The Emperor of Scent: A Story of Perfume, Obsession, and the Last Mystery of the Senses
by Chandler Burr
emperor_of_scent
The Emperor of Scent is about a scientist, Dr. Luca Turin, who sought to unravel the mystery of what allows us to smell.  Dr. Turin believes that it isn’t the shape of molecules that allows us to smell, but the way the molecules vibrate that allow us to distinguish odors, but he is thwarted in pursuit to publish and promote his theory.

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer
by Patrick Süskind
Perfume_Murderer
Perfume: The Story of a Murderer is a historical fantasy novel which was originally published in German as Das Parfum.  The book follows a boy that though born without a scent himself, can perfectly smell the world around him.  This leads him on a quest for the perfect scent, which results in an obsession that leads to murder in order to distill the most pristine of odors.  You can also checkout the film adaptation from BCCLS libraries.

The Secret of Chanel No. 5: The Intimate History of the World’s Most Famous Perfume
by Tilar J. Mazzeo
ChanelNo5
Everyone has their favorite scents; I love Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab’s Aunt Caroline’s Joy Mojo, which never fails to brighten my day.  Tilar J. Mazzeo unbottles the mystery of one of the most beloved fragrances of so many in The Secret of Chanel No. 5.  The work moves from Coco Chanel’s success as a fashion icon, through the years to the scents increasing acclaim, and continued popularity even today when shelves are packed with celebrity endorsed perfumes.  It is available in print, but Hoboken Library Patron can check it out right now as an ebook or digital audiobook from Hoopla!

Written by: Aimee Harris, Head of Reference

40 Years of Favorite Part Two: My Favorites From My Twenties

9 Feb

You may remember I started a list of my favorite books or series of books through the years in honor of my milestone 40th birthday with books I loved as child and teen.  I thought I’d finish out my 40th year with part two and three of that post and look at favorite books from my twenties (and in the next post my thirties).

21. The Works of Tanith Lee

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I went through a period as a teen into my early twenties of being a huge fan of the dark fantasy of Tanith Lee and it would be impossible for me to pick only one of her works as a favorite from that time period; unfortunately not all of her prolific work is currently in print.  For vampire fans check out Personal Darkness available from BCCLS libraries.  For those who enjoy retellings of Fairytales, like I do, check out a very adult retelling of Snow White, White as Snow.  You can borrow her Lionwolf Trilogy as eBooks from Hoopla.

22. Ray Bradbury’s From the Dust Returned

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Ray Bradbury’s prose always hooks me into his stories. From the Dust Returned is composed primarily of a series of short stories Bradbury wrote decades earlier, centering on a family of monsters, vampires, and ghosts named the Elliotts. When I was in college I remember being on a Goth Music Discussion email list (these were the days before Facebook and even Myspace) where one of the participants was in love with one of the stories in From Dust Returned and encouraged everyone to check it out; I did and it remains a favorite. The cover art for the novel was provided by Charles Addams, who created his own macabre family, The Addams Family.

23. Poppy Z. Brite’s Lost Souls and 24. Drawing Blood

drawing-blood

Poppy Z. Brite, pen name of transgendered author Billy Martin, was known in the early 90’s for his horror stories.  My two favorites from that time are the haunted house tale Drawing Blood and the vampire novel Lost Souls.  Brite then went on to write several dark comedies in the late 90’s/early 2000’s set in the culinary world of New Orleans in the Liquor series.  Hopefully Martin will chose to come out of authorly retirement and start writing again sometime soon since I’d be curious to see what he has for his next chapter.

25. Spider Robinson’s Callahan Series, 26. John DeChancie’s Castle Perilous Series, and 27. Alan Dean Fosters’s Spellsinger series

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Following my dark fantasy period, there was a time in the 90’s where I couldn’t get enough of funny fantasy and science fiction.  Spider Robinson’s Callahan series is set in a bar where the regulars include a talking dog, a time traveler, and alien life forms; many puns and shenanigans ensue.  Several of Robinson’s books are available from BCCLS Libraries.  John DeChancie’s Castle Perilous series features a castle with thousands of doors, each of which opens onto another dimension; those who enter often receive surprising magical abilities.  Alan Dean Foster’s Spellsinger series features a student who is pulled into a world where animals talk and behave like humans, and the protagonist gains the power of using music to cast spells.  Books in these series are all available from Hoopla as eBooks or digital audiobooks.

28. Connie Willis’s Bellwether

bellwether

You may remember my post about Connie Willis’s terrific books about time travel; our book discussion group even read Doomsday Book one month. The book of hers I first picked up my freshman year of college when it came out was Bellwether which looks at a group of scientist who are attempting to study what causes and how to create a fads. Looking back on it now Bellwether seems predictive of the current fad of viral marketing and social media influencers, though at the time I just fell in love with the funny, quirky book.

29. Alice Hoffman’s Practical Magic

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I have written previously about my love of my Alice Hoffman’s magical fantasies which feature bold female heroines either in historical or contemporary settings. My first and still one of my favorites is her novel Practical Magic. It is definitely worth rereading since she just published in 2017 a prequel The Rules of Magic, where she writes about an earlier generation of the Owens family: Franny, Jet, and Vincent, set in the 1960’s.

30. Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale

handmaids-tale

Speaking of Dystopian works, The Handmaid’s Tale was shocking and thought provoking to me when I read it as a college freshman. The story has gotten a renewed buzz with its adaptation as a streaming series. I also enjoyed Atwood’s other fiction and poetry.  I got to see her at a reading/Q&A when I was in graduate school at a Non-for-Profit Theater in Brookline, MA, which for a book nerd was practically a holy experience at the time.

-Written by Aimee Harris, Head of Reference

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