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5 mysteries that sizzle make cool summer reading

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(Read caption) "The Angel's Game" by Carlos Ruiz Zafón is a “twisty, sarcastic” thriller set in Barcelona.

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It's never too soon to start thinking about summer reading. Here at the Monitor, we're putting the finishing touches on our Summer Readers' Guide, which will appear in the Monitor's weekly print edition on May 24.

Of course we'll be looking at the new 2010 releases, but for readers looking for a sure bet (already on the shelves and available in paperback), we've also assembled a few lists of recent "classics" – really good reads by genre. Below is our list of five particularly gripping mystery stories. (And it doesn't hurt that each is set in a pretty fascinating locale.)

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Here are our five top recent mystery picks:

1. "The Angel’s Game," by Carlos Ruiz Zafón (Anchor, 544 pp., $15.95). From a writer who “specializes in bookworm fantasies” comes a “twisty, sarcastic” thriller set in Barcelona. (Monitor review 7/10/09)

2. "Fieldwork," by Mischa Berlinski (Picador, 356 pp., $14). “Your hands may as well be handcuffed to” this “anthropological odyssey” set in “encrusted jungles in Thailand.” (Monitor review 3/9/07)

3. "The Exception," by Christian Jungersen (Anchor, 502 pp., $15.95). E-mail death threats unsettle three women in this ”intelligent, empathetic” psychological thriller set in Denmark. (Monitor review 8/17/07)

4. "The Summer Snow," by Rebecca Pawel (SoHo Crime, 328 pp., $12). A detective strives for truth in Fascist Spain in this “delightful” book marked by “strong characterizations and a lively sense of humor.” (Monitor review 2/24/06)

5. "The Rainaldi Quartet," by Paul Adam (Felony & Mayhem, 201 pp., $14.95). An Italian violinmaker turns gumshoe to avenge his lifelong friend in this "well-crafted, expertly paced novel." (Monitor review 2/24/06)

Marjorie Kehe is the Monitor's book editor.

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