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Three Books with Blood ... and Brains

"Three Books..." is a new series in which we invite writers to recommend three great reads on a single theme.

I never used to read mysteries or thrillers. I thought they were empty calories — silly summertime reading, all about suspense and action. But then I moved to Florida, and everything changed.

Florida is mystery central: It must have something to do with the combination of moody swamps, corrupt politicians and a year-round demand for no-pressure beach reading. There are entire bookstores here that consist of little more than well-thumbed paperbacks with the word blood in the title.

Suddenly, all my friends were writing grisly murder yarns — and having a ball in the process. I had to take a crack! It was while I was looking for books to help me learn this new genre that I stumbled across a type of mystery that had it all — character and action, subtlety and suspense.

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Diana Abu-Jaber