12. N or M? by Agatha Christie
Most of the Agatha Christie I've read in the past has Hercule Poirot as the detective. This looks to be from a different series, because our heroes are Tommy and Prudence ("Tuppence") Beresford, and it's set during World War II. It's more of a spy novel than a true murder mystery. Sure, someone dies at the beginning, but they were a spy (for England), and the goal is not really to find out who killed them, but who is the spy for the Germans. The man's dying words are the title of the book - our heroes know they are looking for German spies codenamed N and M, one male and one female. But they don't know which one is actually present in the small seaside resort town. Pretty typical Agatha Christie, lots of twists and turns and misdirection, all coming to a point very quickly at the end. It was highly enjoyable. A
13. The Hunt Ball by Rita Mae Brown
I actually didn't know whether or not this would be a mystery when I picked it up. I've read most of Brown's "collaborations" with her cat, Sneaky Pie Brown, in which the primary detectives are the pets of a postmistress of a small southern town. Turns out her "solo" works share most of the same flavor - odd murders, small southern towns, clever female protagonist(s), and talking animals (although the humans can't understand them, of course). In this case, the action of the book revolves around foxhunting, although the mystery has nothing to do with the sport; instead, the foxhunting provides a way for the characters to let off steam and try to resume "normal" life, while the case slowly unfolds around them. (The foxes and hounds do find a few clues, though.) I like the way Brown emphasizes "life goes on" with her mysteries; the folks involved all seem normal enough, and the eventual reveal is because the criminals make very human mistakes.