Ah Spring! It is the time of first flowers, warm sun, and, of course, stories. Among those are some terrific spring-themed mysteries to savor. Here are a few:

Agatha Christie’s Absent In The Spring is a character-drive psychological analysis of a middle-aged woman stuck at a desert outpost who, for the first time, looks back at what she thought was a happy, fulfilling life. As her past unravels before her, she realizes her life, and she herself, were not what she believed, but rather, to quote Shakespeare’s Sonnet 98, she had been “absent in the spring” seasons of life.

A Dangerous Place by Jacqueline Winspear is a powerful story of political intrigue and personal tragedy when a brutal murder in the British military town of Gibraltar leads Maisie into a web of lies, deceit, and peril.

It is spring 1937 and four years after Maisie Dobbs set sail from England, leaving everything she most cared for behind. Since then Maisie has experienced love, contentment, stability—and the deepest tragedy a woman can endure. On the ship Maisie realizes she isn’t ready to return home. All she wants is the peace she believes she might find by returning to India. Against the wishes of the captain who warns her, “You will be alone in a most dangerous place,” she disembarks in Gibraltar. Though she is on her own, Maisie is far from alone: the British garrison town is teeming with refugees fleeing a brutal civil war across the border in Spain. But her sojourn in the hills of Darjeeling is cut short when her stepmother summons her home to England; her aging father Frankie Dobbs is not getting any younger.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, the 1865 English novel by Lewis takes place in May when a young girl named Alice falls through a rabbit hole into the fantasy world of human-like creatures. An example of literary nonsense, the story was written by English author Charles Lutwidge Dodgson under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll. The tale plays with logic, which is why it appeals to children and adults. The big mystery is, of course, what really happened to Alice?

I’ll end with Glass Eels, Shattered Sea, book number 4 in my own mystery series. The story begins on a warm spring night in Maine. Alongside a roaring river where glass eels battle upstream currents to find the perfect place to lay their eggs oceanographer Mara Tusconi and her cousin Gordy find an old eel fisherman with a bullet in his chest. Unknown to them, Mara and Gordy have stepped into the deadly and stunningly lucrative world of international eel trafficking.

“Glass Eels” was a terrific book to research. I was amazed to learn that during the peak elver fishermen could make $3000-$4000 in one night! The eels’ life history is fascinating as well. They hatch in the Sargasso Sea’s warm waters south of Bermuda. Then they swim up rivers along our east coast where they spend most of their lives before migrating back to their birthplace to spawn and die. Little is known about eel spawning because scientists have yet to witness it – despite investing many hours and funds trying – because eels’ breeding grounds in the Sargasso Sea is remote and difficult to sample.

About Charlene DAvanzo

I'm a marine ecology/college professor who never, ever thought I'd write fiction. That assumption changed in an instant as I listened to another scientist - a climatologist named Ray Bradley at UMass, Amherst - describe being harassed by climate change deniers. The idea to write mysteries with climate change understories to help readers understand what's happening to our climate in the context of a fast-paced exciting story came to me out of nowhere. That's what I do in my "Maine Oceanographer Mara Tusconi" series.
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