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Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

En route to Paris, Belgian detective Hercule Poirot has booked winter passage on the fabled Orient Express.  Among the curious assortment of fellow passengers, one wealthy American holds a unique distinction; he has been found dead of multiple stab wounds in the night compartment of the Calais coach.  By dawn, thirteen travelers, each bearing a secret, will find themselves suspect in the most ingenious crime Poirot has ever solved…  Inspired in part by two real-life crimes and the author’s own experience of being stranded on the Orient Express during the Christmas of 1931, this novel reveals most explicitly in its surprising denouement Christie’s fascinating and uniquely personal moral system of justice – one that is not always relative to the letter of the law.

Flashpoint by Linda Barnes

Carlotta Carlyle, Boston’s favorite redheaded, wisecracking P.I., thinks she’s simply doing a friend a favor when she agrees to burglarproof an elderly recluse’s apartment.  But 24 hours later, when the woman turns up dead in her ransacked home, Carlotta finds herself with entertainment moguls and real estate magnates breathing down her neck, as well as a lot of questions. What is a suddenly vacant apartment worth to a greedy developer?  What “article of value” was the woman so eager to protect?  Why is there such interest in her will?  Is there a connection between the lady’s death and a long-forgotten robbery?  Carlotta’s mission to find the answers is filled with nerve-tingling plot twists and razor-sharp dialogue.

Real-Life X-Files by Joe Nickell

As a former private investigator and forensic writer, Nickell has spent much of his career identifying forged documents, working undercover to infiltrate theft rings, and investigating questioned deaths.  Now, he turns his skills toward the paranormal, researching the most well-known and mysterious phenomena all over the world – spontaneous human combustion, UFO visitations, auras, electronic poltergeists, and many, many more – with an eye toward solving these mysteries rather than promoting or dismissing them.  Using a hands-on approach, Nickell visits the scene of the so-called unexplainable activity whenever possible and attempts to physically duplicate the miraculous.  Whether he’s inflicting stigmata on himself or recreating the liquefying blood of Saint Januarius, Nickell does whatever necessary to eliminate the probable before considering the super-natural.  What is left is that much more fascinating.

The Vanishing of Katharina Linden by Helen Grant

It isn’t ten-year-old Pia’s fault that her grandmother dies in a freak accident.  But tell that to the citizens of PIa’s little German hometown of Bad Münstereifel, or to the classmates who shun her.  The only one who still wants to be her friend is Stink-Stefan, the most unpopular child in school.  But then something else captures the community’s attention: the vanishing of Katharina Linden.  Katharina was last seen on a parade float, dressed as Snow White.  Then, like a character in a Grimm’s fairy tale, she disappears.  But, this being real life, she doesn’t return.  Pia and Stefan suspect that Katharina has been spirited away by the supernatural.  Their investigation is inspired by the instructive – and cautionary – local legends told to them by their elderly friend Herr Schiller.  Then another girl disappears and Pia is plunged into a new and unnerving place, one far away from fairy tales – and perilously close to adulthood.

 

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