Archive | Mysteries RSS feed for this section

Watch the Shows and Read the Books: Three Quirky Detective Series

22 Aug

Agatha Raisin, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, and Agatha Christie’s Criminal Games are three detective series which I had as much fun watching as I did reading.

Agatha Raisin

I was curious to check out the Agatha Raisin series – since I am a fan of cozy mysteries – and I enjoyed several of M. C. Beaton’s novels, which the series is based on.  In the movie pilot The Quiche of Death, a London PR executive, Agatha Raisin, fulfills her lifelong dream of early retirement in a small village in the Cotswolds. When she enters the local quiche-baking competition in hopes of impressing her new neighbors she learns all is not as idyllic in the village as she expected. Raisin doesn’t so much solve crimes but rather comically stumbles into their solution. I recommend checking out the movie before the rest of the eight episode series since it sets up the relationship between the various characters.  You might also recognize star Ashley Jensen as the Scottish BFF/coworker, Christina, from Ugly Betty.  You can stream the first season on Hoopla which also offers audiobook versions of the novels.

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency
Douglas Adams is best known as the author of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series which I had written about in a previous post, but his equally quirky Dirk Gently series about a holistic detective is also worth checking out. Serving as a follow up to the books, two seasons of the Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency have recently been created.  What makes Dirk a holistic detective is that he solves mysteries by following the interconnectedness of all things, so rather than seeking clues, he waits for the clues to come to him.  In both seasons the episodes start with confusing storylines that don’t seem in anyway cohesive, but by the end all is revealed and the mystery is solved.  I enjoyed the quirky way everything was wrapped up.  This is a good choice for those who like not only humor with their mystery, but also a bit of fantasy too.

Agatha Christie’s Criminal Games
Agatha Christie’s Criminal Games is a series of French Movies available to stream with subtitles from Hoopla or on DVD.  It takes classic Christie story plots and transports them to 1950’s France and inserts new crime solvers.  If you are a Christie fan who is open to new interpretations of her work than they are a treat.  I watched the adaption of Sparkling Cyanide (also published as Remembered Death) in which a movie star seems to have committed suicide but Inspector Laurence suspects murder.  He is reluctantly assisted by up and coming reporter Alice Avril and his always loyal secretary Marlène. There is a bit more humor infused in the movies than the original books which I enjoyed.  I also found it a lot of fun to see new faces solving old crimes.

Written By:
Aimee Harris
Head of Reference

What is Storytelling and What Makes a Good Storyteller?: My Name is Red

20 Jun


There’s something so refreshing about perspective. It nods to the juxtaposition between one’s heart and mind: both the reader’s and the writer’s. This is one of the many reason why I find My Name is Red so beautifully fascinating – especially since in its original form it was not written in English.

My Name Is Red is a 1998 Turkish novel by Orhan Pamuk which was translated into English in 2001. You can borrow My Name is Red from BCCLS libraries in English or Korean translations.  It is also available as an unabridged audiobook on CD.  You can check it out as an ebook or a digital audiobook from eBCCLS.

Whilst the “main” layer of Pamuk’s novel leans toward a genre of mystery, it also seamlessly blends romance and philosophical puzzles, causing one to think twice about the true narration within each chapter. The main characters in the novel are miniaturists in the Ottoman Empire, one of whom is murdered in the first chapter. In order to figure out whom is the killer, each chapter of the novel has a different narrator, giving way a different perspective and truth that gets you closer to finding the murderer. Since each chapter leads the way to a deeper and more detailed truth, there are thematic and chronological connections between chapters and because of this, unexpected voices are used. It is these chapters told by different voices, character’s, and “things” that nod to such a question that goes deeper than mind and heart: “what is a storyteller?” We are immediately thrown into a new wave of storytelling when the table of contents reveals each narrator within this novel starting from the corpse of the murdered, to a coin, to then Satan, and curiously even the color red.

The figure of the storyteller and the art of storytelling in My Name Is Red by Orhan Pamuk opens up new ground to the reality that is a storyteller – which also sparks this question “can a color tell a story?” Allowing you to look at things through a more colorful light, it both challenges and excites the reader to experiment with the connection one would have with the narrator.

The book plays with this idea of voice, but every voice is invented. Referencing the title, we are introduced to Red as an actual chapter and narrator in the book as it brags “The truth is I can be found everywhere”. Suggesting a small truth in this story within a story within a story, as this color can be seen everywhere. It is this impossible voice that sparked quite a kindred reaction within me. Not only is red my favorite color, it also gave me this glimpse into the child’s wonder we are initially born with. A creativity that has no bounds – an impossible voice.

Even the thought of being narrated by a color and being introduced as “My Name Is Red” is mind boggling and makes me giggle from the pure genius of the writer. Why can’t colors be storytellers? Its hues are found everywhere and probably know more about what is the truth than any living organism.

So, even though the mystery is solved in the end, it’s the colorful words and creative ways of storytelling that made this one of the most memorable books I have ever read. I am personally not a huge fan of mystery novels, but this particular one is deserving of a chance even for nonmystery fans. The way it was written and how each chapter is broken down, beautifully expands your mind and allows you to think twice about your own opinions.

If you enjoy My Name is Red you can check out several of Pamuk’s other works from the Hoboken Public Library including The Red-Haired Woman, Silent House, and The Museum of Innocence.

Written By:
Sherissa Hernandez
Adult Programming Assistant

%d bloggers like this: