The following books are lightweight tomes for gentle, mindless entertainment – if you’re looking for something intellectually challenging, wet-your-pants funny or seriously thrilling, don’t look here. But if you fancy something undemanding, a little cosy, with a soupcon of humour or a touch of the supernaturals, to read while you’re having lunch or standing in a queue, these will fit the bill. And they’re all series so if you find you like them, there’s more of the same to be had. All available as ‘proper’ books or on Kindle.
Lady Julia Grey series
Starting with ‘Silent In The Grave’, these novels are set in late Victorian England and feature the aristocratic Lady Julia, whose cold and secretive husband dies on the first page of the first novel. Julia has a huge, eccentric family who provide a large portion of the entertainment. During the course of the novels, she gets herself embroiled in a series of mysteries and a will-they-won’t-they relationship with a Heathcliff-esque half-gypsy detective. If you like gorgeous posh women with a masochistic streak, Byronic heroes, and a historical setting that encompasses London, India, Italy and even ventures into Yorkshire, you’ll probably enjoy these. Humorous tone and mild peril.
Raybourne has also written a series based on a character called Veronica Speedwell.
Frances Doughty series
Beginning with ‘A Poisonous Seed’, this is another female detective series set in Victorian England, mainly in London. However, Frances, the heroine, is a less serendipitous detective than Lady Julia, setting herself up in business as a private investigator after solving a murder that is very close to home in book one. Yes, there is a propensity for mysteries to be solved by the application of outlandish coincidence and sudden bursts of intuition, BUT that’s true of Sherlock Holmes and it never did him any harm. I learned a few things about Victorian London from these books too, and there is an unexpected twist in the final novel (well, it surprised me anyway!).
The Invisible Library Series
Warning: contains fantasy. The heroine here is a young librarian in a magical library – another name to add to the great librarian heroes of literature, the Orang-Utan in Pratchett’s Unseen University library and the Cheshire Cat in Jasper Fforde’s Bookworld library – who, with her friendly and sexy human/dragon assistant, travels between worlds to safeguard the books. Look, I didn’t say it made sense, did I? But they are imaginative and well-written, so why not give them a go if you like this sort of thing?
Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children
I loved the first one, got a bit bored somewhere after that in the series but enjoyed the last two books (I loved about 90% of the series). They made a film out of the first book, so many people liked it enough to buy it! The basic premise is that Riggs built a story around a series of weird photos he found in secondhand shops etc, which is interesting in itself, but he used his awesome imagination to create an unusual and exciting story involving children with strange abilities, time-travel, particularly horrible nasties and an engaging hero. He incorporates the old photos into the novels so you can see them as illustrations which is cool – it even works on Kindle.