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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
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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
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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
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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
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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

Six Books I’ve Read So Far for the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge

30 Mar

Dear reader, I am now halfway through the 2018 Book Riot Read Harder Challenge, with 12 of the 24 tasks completed! I am proud to be halfway through the challenge so early in the year. 

Without further ado, here are the books I read to complete 6 more tasks.

The Task: A book with a female protagonist over the age of 60

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The Woman Next Door by Yewande Omotoso

The only book I could think of to fulfill this task was Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf, which I read last year with the Mile Square City Readers Book Club. (A moving book, by the way.) I already had The Woman Next Door checked out, and when I realized the two protagonists were female octogenarians I was excited that this book would complete this task. Hortensia and Marion are neighbors in post-apartheid South Africa whose relationship is contentious, but evolves into friendship and mutual understanding. I read this book in one day.

The Task: A book with a cover you hate

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Raspberry Danish Murder by Joanne Fluke

Raspberry Danish Murder is the latest entry of Joanne Fluke’s Murder She Baked series, which follows bakery owner and part-time sleuth Hannah Swenson in a small Minnesota town with an alarmingly high murder rate. The writing has become almost painful and I read this since I’ve read the other books in the series. I have a sweet tooth, which is what initially drew me to Fluke’s books but the raspberry danish on the cover looks so unappetizing. For that reason, plus the overall decline of this series’ quality, is why I used Raspberry Danish Murder to complete this task.

The Task: A comic written and drawn by the same person

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The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

I first read The Complete Persepolis in graduate school, and it blew me away. Marjane Satrapi tells her extraordinary story of growing up in Iran before, during, and after the Revolution. My favorite parts were about the lengths Marjane and her friends and family went through to live their daily lives with celebrations, parties, and romance, all while evading government authorities prepared to arrest them for crimes such as women not being properly veiled and drinking at home. The Lady Memoir Book Club I lead at Little City Books discussed this book at our last meeting.

The Task: A mystery by a person of color or LGBTQ+ author

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The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey

In The Widows of Malabar Hillwe meet Perveen Mistry, the first female lawyer in 1920s Bombay. A routine estate settlement case becomes complicated for Perveen when the deceased’s three wives who live in purdah (a practice of Muslim women choosing to live in seclusion) sign away their inheritances to charity,  and then a murder occurs in the home. It is up to Perveen to solve the mystery and protect the women’s interests. This book is the first in a series called A Mystery of 1920s Bombay, and I definitely want to read more from Sujata Massey.

The Task: An Oprah Book Club selection

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An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

I finished An American Marriagelast week, and I am still thinking about it. Celestial and Roy are newlyweds when Roy is wrongly imprisoned for rape. This book, told in part by the letters Roy and Celestial write to each other, generated an excellent discussion at a recent Mile Square City Readers Book Club meeting. It raises a lot of questions, too. What is an American marriage? What would you do if your spouse was sent to prison for a crime they didn’t commit? Oprah made an excellent choice with this book, in my opinion. I plan to read Tayari Jones’ other books.

The Task: A comic written or drawn by a person of color

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Black Panther: World of Wakanda by Roxane Gay and Ta’Nehisi Coates

I saw the film Black Panther, and absolutely loved it. Black Panther: World of Wakanda features writing by literary heavyweights Roxane Gay and Ta’Nehisi Coates, plus other authors. The story begins with the Dora Milaje (the female protectors of the Wakandan royal family), where Captain Aneka and Initiate Ayo fall in love during training, and where Initiate Folami goes rogue. I enjoyed reading about the fierce, strong women of the Dora Milaje, who believe in protecting all Wakandans in addition to the Royal Family.

This will be the last post I write for the Staff Picks blog, as I am moving on from the Hoboken Public Library. It has been wonderful sharing my reading journeys with you in this space. Thank you to those who have read and commented on my work. Feel free to find me on Goodreads. Happy Reading!

-Written by Kerry Weinstein, Reference Librarian

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