In the rush to compile "Best Mysteries of 2006" lists, the first mystery novel often is overlooked. Here are three that I enjoyed in 2006:
- Murder 101, by Maggie Barbieri (St. Martin's). A lively academic mystery with a young professor and bon mots such as "Our school has a motto: Keep your alumni close and your rich alumni closer."
- Billy Boyle, by James R. Benn (Soho). An interesting look at the Norwegian contribution to WWII with a Boston Irish cop-turned-soldier who is related to General Eisenhower.
- Still Life, by Louise Penny (St. Martin's). A wise and often lyrical mystery set in Quebec that involves the murder of an artist and its effect on a small town.