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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


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

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
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: 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
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

Life isn’t Always a Fairy Tale: Nursery Crimes, The Sorcerer’s Appendix, The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse, and Grimm

2 May

Nursery Rhymes and Fairy Tales are often thought of as being just for kids, but they are packed with crimes like theft (Beauty and the Beast), breaking and entering (Goldilocks), and attempted murder (Hansel and Gretel), that have inspired authors to create adult mystery series based on the classics that we all know. Here are 3 book series and a TV series you will want to check-out if you enjoy your fairy tales or nursery rhymes with a dash of investigation and a sprinkle of humor.

The Fourth Bear and The Big Over Easy
by Jasper Fforde
You may remember that I mentioned Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series in my lists of favorites.  In the same alternate book universe where book characters are real, Jasper Fforde has written two books in his Nursery Crime Series.  In The Big Over Easy, detective Jack Spratt and his assistant Mary Mary look into the death of a certain Humpty Stuyvesant Van Dumpty III.  In the second novel in the mystery series, The Fourth Bear, Spratt and Mary must stop one tough cookie aka the Gingerbread Man from a murderous spree and find the missing Goldilocks.

The Sorcerer’s Appendix
by P.J. Brackston
If you ever wondered what happened to Gretel after she escaped the witch and her Gingerbread house in the woods; Brackston’s answer is that she is now all grown up and working as a private investigator in a whimsical fantasy version of 18th Century Bavaria inhabited both by historic characters like Mozart and fairy tale ones like big bad wolves. The Sorcerer’s Appendix is the latest in Brackston’s humorous Brothers Grimm Mystery Series.  In this outing story, Gretel must make her way back into the woods and discover whether a sorcerer who disappeared leaving behind only his appendix is really deceased or still alive.  Gretel is a prickly heroine who makes you route for her despite her less than perfect princess demeanor.

The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse
by Robert Rankin
In The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse, Robert Rankin imagines a Toy City where the classic nursery rhyme characters are the rich and famous elite, who are a target of a serial killer.  The only ones that can stop the murdering psychopath are the city’s sole detective Eddie Bear and his BFF Jack.  You can also check out the sequel The Toyminator, if you want to read more about Eddie and Jack’s humorous adventures.

Last year the long running TV series, Grimm, ended its 6 year run. Grimm was based on the idea that the creatures or “wesen” from the Brother’s Grimm stories were real and hiding among us only able to be viewed by “Grimms” like Nick, the detective main character of the show.  My favorite characters in the show were two of the “wesen”, Rosalie and Monroe, who helped Nick on his adventures.  I’ll miss the series, but luckily all six seasons are available on DVD to rewatch again and again.

Written by Aimee Harris, Head of Reference

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