The mystery genre has been my favorite for as long as I can remember and I always have a stack or two (or three or four) mystery novels lying around my house (my shelves have long been filled to capacity). I grew up reading books by Agatha Christie, Colin Dexter, and other mystery writers. I also played violin and piano throughout my school years, and for me music and mysteries go together like the delicious combination of peanut butter and chocolate. While I do enjoy darker, grittier mysteries, it’s the cozy, traditional, and light-hearted ones that I gravitate to the most. That’s reflected in my list of favorite musical mysteries.
Included on that list is The Nine Tailors by Dorothy L. Sayers. I love British mysteries, both in book form and on television, and Sayers is, of course, one of the great British mystery writers. Part of the Lord Peter Wimsey series, The Nine Tailors centers around the practice of ringing church bells. After Wimsey’s car goes off the road on a snowy New Year’s Eve, he takes shelter at a nearby rectory. Wimsey returns to the community months later following the discovery of a murder victim and the mystery unfolds from there. I love the classic British feel of this mystery as well as the cast of quirky village characters. For me, the characters really bring the story to life but I also enjoyed the bell-ringing theme, which I’d never encountered in a book before.
A more recent music-themed mystery on my list is Kaye George’s Eine Kleine Murder. A traditional mystery, Eine Kleine Murder is the first book in the Cressa Carraway series and takes place at a rural lake resort. The main character is a composer and aspiring conductor who is attempting to compose a symphony at the resort when she gets caught up in a murder investigation. George does a great job of weaving the music theme throughout the story, and the book also has a great cast of interesting (and delightfully suspicious) characters.
Murder for Choir by Joelle Charbonneau is also the first in a series. This Glee Club Mystery fits into the cozy sub-genre and features Paige Marshall, a struggling opera singer who takes a job teaching show choir at a high school to make ends meet. While trying to win over her students, Paige also gets into sleuthing when she sets out to solve the murder of a rival choir director. I found Murder for Choir to be an enjoyable cozy read, laced with humor and a good dose of fun.
Another light-hearted, humorous mystery on my list of favorites is Size 12 and Ready to Rock by Meg Cabot. The main character, Heather Wells, is an ex-pop star who works at a college residence hall while writing songs on the side. Size 12 and Ready to Rock is the fourth book in the Heather Wells series. Although I loved all the books in the series that I’ve read so far, I chose this particular one for my list of favorite musical mysteries because it has a stronger musical theme than the first three. In this installment of the series, Heather is faced not only with solving a murder but also with a dormitory full of teen girls attending Teen Rock Camp. Size 12 and Ready to Rock is a light, fun read, as are the earlier books in the series. I always get a kick out of Heather’s humorous sleuthing adventures.
Rounding out my list is a music mystery I read just recently. The Rainaldi Quartet by Paul Adam is set in Italy and features a violin maker named Gianni as the main character. Following the murder of a fellow violin maker, Gianni and his friend from the police force become wrapped up in solving the mystery. The Rainaldi Quartet pulled me into the book right from the outset, and I enjoyed the story’s atmosphere as well as the violin theme. As with all the authors mentioned above, I plan to read more of Adam’s music-themed mysteries in the future.