The first one that I tried was The Secret Hangman: An Inspector Peter Diamond Investigation by Peter Lovesey. I started reading and I didn't want to put it down. It flew. Well written. Charming characters. Wonderful editing. Good story. Lots of red herrings. Wit. Plot twists that will please the most picky mystery reader. Suspense.
Condensed from the book flap: "Peter Diamond is being pursued by a secret admirer even as he pursues a serial killer. First, Delia Williams, a waitress with two young daughters, is reported missing by her mother. She is found dead in a park, hanging from the crossbar of a swing set. Looks like a suicide, but it isn't. Other deaths by hanging follow with Mrs. William's ex-husband among the victims. The search for the secret hangman begins."
The second Lovesey that I read was The Circle: An Inspector Henrietta Mallin Investigation (with a cameo appearance by Peter Diamond). This one had a different feel to it -- wittier, laid back, but with three murders by fire.
Condensed from the book flap: "The members of the literary circle come from all walks of life and practice many forms of writing, from fantasy to torrid romance to household hints. Yet there sems to be nothing about any of them to incite a serial killer. But it becomes clear that there is an arsonist in their midst who is determined to burn his victims to death. Detective Chief Inspector Hen (Henrietta) Mallin is in charge of the investigation of the Chichester murders by fire."
Getting to know the members of the literary circle is key to solving the crimes. This is an old-fashioned whodunit written with style and deviousness. More red herrings, plot twists, digs at writers of the unpublishable and at publishers. Black humor. Another good one.
And, finally, Literary Feasts: Inspired Eating from Classic Fiction by Sean Brand. This is a delightful little book that I think readers and food lovers would enjoy.
From the flap: "While Leopold Bloom fortified himself for his rambles through Dublin with a hearty breakfast of grilled kidneys with pepper, thinly sliced bread and butter, and a large pot of tea, James Bond started his days off with a half pint of chilled OJ, three scrambled eggs, two cups of black coffee, and a pack of Chesterfields. The lucky revelers invited to Jay Gatsby's mansion feasted on baked hams, pastry pigs,and turkeys bewitched to dark gold, all washed down with champagne served in glasses the size of finger bowls. And of course P.G. Wodehouse made sure that Bertie Wooster always dined in style."
The book is divided into Breakfast, Lunch, Tea, Dinner, Eating Outdoors, Children's Meals, and Special Occasions with visits to literary treats like Dickens, Fielding, Melville, Shakespeare, Austen, Twain, Fitzgerald and others. This is when cooks really cooked. No prepared, in the box foods here!