Plano Reads: Fantasy Mysteries

For our June Mystery Book Club meeting, we will delve into magical new worlds with Fantasy Mysteries. The addition of magic and fantastical creatures adds a unique element to the familiar twists and turns of the mystery genre.

Join us in-person at Haggard Library or virtually through Zoom on Thursday, June 16 at 7 pm. If you would like to attend virtually, you can register online here.

This month, Emery will be diving into A Master of Djinn by P. Djèlí Clark and Grave Reservations by Cherie Priest while Meredith will be reading Murder in G Major by Alexia Gordon and The Imaginary Corpse by Tyler Hayes. If you aren’t sure where to get started with this month’s theme, check out some selections gathered by our librarians.

Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch (Print; eBook)

Probationary Constable Peter Grant dreams of being a detective in London’s Metropolitan Police. Too bad his superior plans to assign him to the Case Progression Unit, where the biggest threat he’ll face is a paper cut. But Peter’s prospects change in the aftermath of a puzzling murder, when he gains exclusive information from an eyewitness who happens to be a ghost. Peter’s ability to speak with the lingering dead brings him to the attention of Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale, who investigates crimes involving magic and other manifestations of the uncanny. Now, as a wave of brutal and bizarre murders engulfs the city, Peter is plunged into a world where gods and goddesses mingle with mortals and a long-dead evil is making a comeback on a rising tide of magic.

A Spell for Trouble (Enchanted Bay Mysteries #1) by Esme Addison (Print)

Aleksandra Daniels hasn’t set foot in the quiet seaside town of Bellamy Bay, North Carolina in over twenty years. Ever since her mother’s tragic death, her father has mysteriously forbidden her from visiting her aunt and cousins. But on a whim, Alex accepts an invitation to visit her estranged relatives and to help them in their family business: an herbal apothecary known for its remarkably potent teas, salves, and folk remedies. Bellamy Bay doesn’t look like trouble, but this is a town that harbors dark secrets. Alex discovers that her own family is at the center of salacious town gossip, and that they are rumored to be magical healers descended from mermaids. She brushes this off as nonsense until a local is poisoned and her aunt Lidia is arrested for the crime. Alex is certain Lidia is being framed, and she resolves to find out why. Alex’s investigation unearths stories that some have gone to desperate lengths to conceal: forbidden affairs, family rivalries, and the truth about Alex’s own ancestry. And when the case turns deadly, Alex learns that not only are these secrets worth hiding, but they may even be worth killing for.

A Master of Djinn by P. Djèlí Clark (Print; eAudio; eBook)

Cairo, 1912: Though Fatma el-Sha’arawi is the youngest woman working for the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities, she’s certainly not a rookie, especially after preventing the destruction of the universe last summer.

So, when someone murders a secret brotherhood dedicated to one of the most famous men in history, al-Jahiz, Agent Fatma is called onto the case. Al-Jahiz transformed the world forty years ago when he opened up the veil between the magical and mundane realms, before vanishing into the unknown. This murderer claims to be al-Jahiz, returned to condemn the modern age for its social oppressions. His dangerous magical abilities instigate unrest in the streets of Cairo that threaten to spill over onto the global stage.

Alongside her Ministry colleagues and a familiar person from her past, Agent Fatma must unravel the mystery behind this imposter to restore peace to the city—or face the possibility he could be exactly who he seems…

The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman (Print; eBook)

Collecting books can be a dangerous prospect in this fun, time-traveling, fantasy adventure from a spectacular debut author. One thing any Librarian will tell you: the truth is much stranger than fiction… Irene is a professional spy for the mysterious Library, a shadowy organization that collects important works of fiction from all of the different realities. Most recently, she and her enigmatic assistant Kai have been sent to an alternative London. Their mission: retrieve a particularly dangerous book. The problem: by the time they arrive, it’s already been stolen. London’s underground factions are prepared to fight to the death to find the tome before Irene and Kai do, a problem compounded by the fact that this world is chaos-infested–the laws of nature bent to allow supernatural creatures and unpredictable magic to run rampant. To make matters worse, Kai is hiding something–secrets that could be just as volatile as the chaos-filled world itself. Now Irene is caught in a puzzling web of deadly danger, conflicting clues, and sinister secret societies. And failure is not an option–because it isn’t just Irene’s reputation at stake, it’s the nature of reality itself…

Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey (Print; eBook)

Ivy Gamble was born without magic and never wanted it.

Ivy Gamble is perfectly happy with her life – or at least, she’s perfectly fine.

She doesn’t in any way wish she was like Tabitha, her estranged, gifted twin sister.

Ivy Gamble is a liar.

When a gruesome murder is discovered at The Osthorne Academy of Young Mages, where her estranged twin sister teaches Theoretical Magic, reluctant detective Ivy Gamble is pulled into the world of untold power and dangerous secrets. She will have to find a murderer and reclaim her sister—without losing herself.

The Conductors (Murder & Magic #1) by Nicole Glover (Print; eBook)

Hetty Rhodes and her husband, Benjy, were Conductors on the Underground Railroad, ferrying dozens of slaves to freedom with daring, cunning, and magic that draws its power from the constellations. With the war over, those skills find new purpose as they solve mysteries and murders that white authorities would otherwise ignore. In the heart of Philadelphia’s Seventh Ward, everyone knows that when there’s a strange death or magical curses causing trouble, Hetty and Benjy are the only ones that can solve the case. But when an old friend is murdered, their investigation stirs up a wasp nest of intrigue, lies, and long-buried secrets – and a mystery unlike anything they handled before. With a clever, cold-blooded killer on the prowl testing their magic and placing their lives at risk, Hetty and Benjy will discover how little they really know about their neighbors…and themselves.

Murder in G Major (Gethsemane Brown #1) by Alexia Gordon (Print; eAudio; eBook)

With few other options, African-American classical musician Gethsemane Brown accepts a less-than-ideal position turning a group of rowdy schoolboys into an award-winning orchestra. Stranded without luggage or money in the Irish countryside, she figures any job is better than none. The perk? Housesitting a lovely cliffside cottage. The catch? The ghost of the cottage’s murdered owner haunts the place. Falsely accused of killing his wife (and himself), he begs Gethsemane to clear his name so he can rest in peace.

Gethsemane’s reluctant investigation provokes a dormant killer and she soon finds herself in grave danger. As Gethsemane races to prevent a deadly encore, will she uncover the truth or star in her own farewell performance?

The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss (Print; eBook)

Based on some of literature’s horror and science fiction classics, this “tour de force of reclaiming the narrative, executed with impressive wit and insight” (Publishers Weekly, starred review) debut is the story of a remarkable group of women who come together to solve the mystery of a series of gruesome murders—and the bigger mystery of their own origins.

Mary Jekyll, alone and penniless following her parents’ death, is curious about the secrets of her father’s mysterious past. One clue in particular hints that Edward Hyde, her father’s former friend and a murderer, may be nearby, and there is a reward for information leading to his capture…a reward that would solve all of her immediate financial woes.

But her hunt leads her to Hyde’s daughter, Diana, a feral child left to be raised by nuns. With the assistance of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, Mary continues her search for the elusive Hyde, and soon befriends more women, all of whom have been created through terrifying experimentation: Beatrice Rappaccini, Catherin Moreau, and Justine Frankenstein.

When their investigations lead them to the discovery of a secret society of immoral and power-crazed scientists, the horrors of their past return. Now it is up to the monsters to finally triumph over the monstrous

The Affair of the Mysterious Letter by Alexis Hall (Print)

Upon returning to the city of Khelathra-Ven after five years fighting a war in another universe, Captain John Wyndham finds himself looking for somewhere to live, and expediency forces him to take lodgings at 221b Martyrs Walk. His new housemate is Ms. Shaharazad Haas, a consulting sorceress of mercurial temperament and dark reputation. When Ms. Haas is enlisted to solve a case of blackmail against one of her former lovers, Miss Eirene Viola, Captain Wyndham finds himself drawn into a mystery that leads him from the salons of the literary set to the drowned back-alleys of Ven and even to a prison cell in lost Carcosa. Along the way he is beset by criminals, menaced by pirates, molested by vampires, almost devoured by mad gods, and called upon to punch a shark. But the further the companions go in pursuit of the elusive blackmailer, the more impossible the case appears. Then again, in Khelathra-Ven reality is flexible, and the impossible is Ms. Haas’ stock-in-trade.

Midnight Crossroad (Midnight, Texas #1) by Charlaine Harris (Print; CD Book; Playaway; eAudio; eBook)

From Charlaine Harris, the bestselling author who created Sookie Stackhouse and her world of Bon Temps, Louisiana, comes a darker locale–populated by more strangers than friends. But then, that’s how the locals prefer it. Welcome to Midnight, Texas, a town with many boarded-up windows and few full-time inhabitants, located at the crossing of Witch Light Road and Davy Road. It’s a pretty standard dried-up western town. There’s a pawnshop (someone lives in the basement and is seen only at night). There’s a diner (people who are just passing through tend not to linger). And there’s new resident Manfred Bernardo, who thinks he’s found the perfect place to work in private (and who has secrets of his own). Stop at the one traffic light in town, and everything looks normal. Stay awhile, and learn the truth…

The Imaginary Corpse by Tyler Hayes (Print)

A dinosaur detective in the land of unwanted ideas battles trauma, anxiety, and the first serial killer of imaginary friends. Most ideas fade away when we’re done with them. Some we love enough to become Real. But what about the ones we love, and walk away from? Tippy the triceratops was once a little girl’s imaginary friend, a dinosaur detective who could help her make sense of the world. But when her father died, Tippy fell into the Stillreal, the underbelly of the Imagination, where discarded ideas go when they’re too Real to disappear. Now, he passes time doing detective work for other unwanted ideas – until Tippy runs into The Man in the Coat, a nightmare monster who can do the impossible: kill an idea permanently. Now Tippy must overcome his own trauma and solve the case, before there’s nothing left but imaginary corpses.

Rosemary and Rue (October Daye #1) by Seanan McGuire (eBook)

The world of Faerie never disappeared; it merely went into hiding, continuing to exist parallel to our own. Secrecy is the key to Faerie’s survival—but no secret can be kept forever, and when the fae and mortal worlds collide, changelings are born.

Outsiders from birth, these half-human, half-fae children spend their lives fighting for the respect of their immortal relations. Or, in the case of October “Toby” Daye, rejecting it completely. After getting burned by both sides of her heritage, Toby has denied the fae world, retreating into a “normal” life. Unfortunately for her, Faerie has other ideas…

The murder of Countess Evening Winterrose, one of the secret regents of the San Francisco Bay Area, pulls Toby back into the fae world. Unable to resist Evening’s dying curse, Toby must resume her former position as knight errant to the Duke of Shadowed Hills and begin renewing old alliances that may prove her only hope of solving the mystery…before the curse catches up with her.

Grave Reservations (Booking Agent Series #1) by Cherie Priest (Print; eBook)

Meet Leda Foley: devoted friend, struggling travel agent, sometime psychic. When Leda, proprietor of Foley’s Flights of Fancy, books Seattle PD Grady Merritt on a flight back from Orlando, she does not expect it to change her life. When Grady watches the plane he was set to travel on catch fire while he remains safely in the airport, he seeks out Leda, and despite her rather scattershot premonitions, he enlists her help in investigating a cold case he just can’t crack. But Leda has her own reasons for helping: her fiancé Tod was murdered under mysterious circumstances several years ago. Her psychic abilities weren’t good then, but now she’s been honing them at her favorite bar’s open-mic nights, where she draws a crowd klairvoyant karaoke-singing whatever song comes to mind after holding other patrons’ personal effects. With a rag-tag group of bar patrons and friends, Leda and Grady set out to catch a killer–and find that the two cases that haunt them may have more in common than they think.

Murder by Magic: Twenty Tales of Crime and the Supernatural edited by Rosemary Edghill (Print)

This anthology features 20 original stories of murder by acclaimed and award-winning science fiction and fantasy writers.

City of Light, City of Poison: Murder, Magic, and the First Police Chief of Paris by Holly Tucker (Print; eAudio; eBook)

In the late 1600s, Louis XIV assigns Nicolas de la Reynie to bring order to the city of Paris after the brutal deaths of two magistrates. Reynie, pragmatic yet fearless, tackles the dirty and terrifying streets only to discover a tightly knit network of witches, poisoners and priests whose reach extends all the way to Versailles. As the chief investigates a growing number of deaths at court, he learns that no one is safe from their deadly love potions and “inheritance stews”–not even the Sun King himself. Based on court transcripts and Reynie’s compulsive note-taking, Holly Tucker’s riveting true crime narrative makes the characters breathe on the page as she follows the police chief into the dark labyrinths of crime-ridden Paris, the glorious halls of royal palaces, secret courtrooms and torture chambers in a tale of deception and murder that reads like fiction.

Join us in-person at Haggard Library or virtually through Zoom on Thursday, June 16 at 7 pm. If you would like to attend virtually, you can register online here.

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