Death Takes a Priority

24611752  I am feeling back in a cozy-ish mood and picked up this one when I was out at Barnes and Noble.  I love the idea of the theme, the postmistress in a small town.  I have a small town near me that had a town post office and it was the hub of the town.  There was quite a protest when it was moved outside and people could no longer stop by there on their walk through town.  Needless to say I was eager to read about this.

So, I liked the theme and the main character, I read other reviews and some people didn’t seem to find her likable, but I didn’t have a problem with that.  The mystery was well paced with some red herrings to keep you guessing about  who the killer actually is.  Those were the positives for me.  On the other hand, I found some aspects of it too unbelievable.  Cozies can often stretch your ability to suspend your disbelief, but some of this went beyond my ability.  Still there is enough here to like to say that I would read another.

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The Unquiet Dead

22545465  I have no idea why I ordered this from the library, I have no memory of doing so and the book rings no bells. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Anyway I am glad that I did because it was a very good mystery read and a very meaty story overall.  A man is killed who may or may not have been who he seemed.  Esa Khattak who works for a community policing organization to deal with culturally sensitive cases is assigned and he brings along his partner, Detective Rachel Getty.  The death is bound up in history, specifically war crimes arising from the murder, rape and torture of Muslims in the Srebrenica massacre.  I am admittedly not entirely clear on the history of the region and other than knowing of the attempted genocide I don’t really know much else.

The historical details are woven in elegantly, it is not heavy-handed at all.  There is no “brain dump” of facts to bring the reader up to speed, instead there are flashbacks to the events at the time.  There are side plots involving the “victim” and his fiancée and her two daughters and Detective Getty and her dysfunctional family.  Really a fascinating read, I did feel that one part of Esa’s story was a little far-fetched, however I see that it was needed to bring about healing with him and his former best friend.

Overall a very well written mystery with an unfamiliar (to me) context and fascinating characters.  Highly recommended!

Agatha Raisin and the Haunted House

278557  This is number 14 in the delightful Agatha Raisin series.  I am continuing to fill in books that I missed from the series.  In this outing, Agatha and her new neighbor Paul, begin by investigating a house haunting. After putting aside the case as hoax, they end up finding themselves with a murder to investigate instead.  I am more and more charmed by Agatha as this series progresses.  Her vulnerability and desire to be liked is so human and relatable.  The scenes where she dithers about getting ready to go out feel particularly real.  Her new neighbor (and love interest) is as usual undeserving of Agatha and their interactions are humorous and engaging.  Lovely cozy read in a great series.

More Summer Reading…

 

Getting ready for Season 2 of Agatha Raisin on AcornTV, I am filling in some gaps that I have in the series.  I originally read many of these out-of-order which I regret, as Agatha’s personal life is a continuing storyline from one book to the next.  Agatha Raisin and the Case of the Curious Curate picks up with Agatha in a rather low place due to the end of her marriage with James. She has a new neighbor, who enthusiastically joins in as Agatha’s sleuthing partner when the new curate is murdered and the Vicar is suspected of killing him out of jealousy.  Great story, great characters and wonderful village setting with all the attendant residents to fill in the cast.

The Pick, The Spade and The Crow was this month’s read at the Kindle English  Mystery Club on Goodreads.  This follows the story of SI Joanne Stuart new to the Behavioral Sciences Unit of a National Crime investigation agency.  Jo is caught up in an investigation that has far-reaching implications and links to numerous missing men over a period of years.  The Masons (not the stoneworkers) organization  is explored as  a part of the case. The first part of the book was slow and somewhat heavy-handed with all the introductions to the team members.  The book did pick up steam in the second half and it ended well.  The character of Jo was a strength of the book, as was the plot line.  I was unclear as the “team” because they really didn’t seem to function as one.  There is good here and it definitely improved as the book went on.

Playing for the Ashes by Elizabeth George is book 7 in the Lynley series.  This is a series that gets better as it moves along.  This book had great characterizations and managed to make even unlikable characters sympathetic.  There were no winners here as the twisting and turning events came to a rather sad conclusion, much like one would expect in real life.  I would caution readers that there are discussions of animal cruelty, which I find difficult to read and they are central to one character’s storyline.  Overall, a really good read in a series that continues to improve, with more complex plots and in-depth character development.

I’ve had A Fatal Twist of Lemon on my Kindle for quite some time and hadn’t read it.  I think I just wondered if it would be too much like Laura Child’s series, which I’ve read quite a few of and really enjoyed.  I finally started it the other night and read it straight through.  It is a delightful cozy mystery. with a strong female lead in Ellen, the proprietor of the Wisteria Tea Room.  There is also a great love interest, Detective Tony Aragon, who has a couple of chips the size of boulders on his shoulder.  I enjoyed the interactions between them.  I ended up finishing this book and immediately ordering the second in the series,  A Sprig of Blossomed Thorn, right away which was equally as engaging and fun to read.   The series does address some sensitive topics in terms of bigotry and relationship between the non-hispanic and hispanic residents of Sante Fe.  Well done, I will be reading more in this series.

On Summer Vacation Books…

 

 

This is my latest batch of books, mostly Kindle reads with one library book thrown in for good measure.

Jenny Colgan’s books are always sweet, fun escapist reads and Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe is no exception.  Issy gets laid off from her office job fairly early on in the book and gets the courage to pursue her talent for baking, which had been nurtured by her beloved grandfather from a young age.  There is a cad of an ex-boyfriend, a perhaps new romantic interest, a couple of good friends and her aging grandfather/mentor to round out the cast.  Light hearted romantic read, the type of book that is a guilty pleasure.

Sweets & a Stabbing is a short, probably novella length, cosy.  The theme is a cupcake food truck.  Amelia Harley is a recently dumped wife and mother, who embarks on a career as a food truck cupcake baker, to support herself.  The lifestyle is definitely a step down from her former “ladies who lunch” life.  A food truck competitor is murdered and it seems as though a miscarriage of justice is occurring.  Amelia takes on the task of investigating the murder herself.  A quick cosy mystery with an interesting theme.

From Garden to the Grave is another Kindle cosy mystery.  I found it to be well written and interesting.  Verity Hawkes receives a call that her aunt is missing, presumed dead and this leads to her returning to her aunt’s home.  Once there she realizes the state of her aunt’s affairs, a falling down house, a business in debt with seemingly no way of collecting over due bills, enemies among town officials, and a mystery surrounding her aunt.  Then, there is a murder.  With the obligatory, “don’t leave town”, Verity is stuck and finds herself dragged further and further into the investigation.  Fun cosy with a twist.

In The Guilty Wife, the narrator has no problem stating she is guilty, except not of the murder.  She has twisted her life up in a series of lies and evasions to cover up an affair.  This leaves her hanging in the breeze as far as anyone believing her once it is important to be believed.  This book has a great plot and some interesting characters, it just really seemed to drag in the middle for me.  I liked the resolution and how the characters were left. Best described as a domestic thriller.

The Silent Girls is the first in a new series with Detective Anna Gwynne at the lead.  A young girl is abducted and brutally killed from her family farm.  The case has glaring similarities to an 18 year old case, which had been solved and the man convicted recently released from prison.  Of course, all eyes go to the original perpetrator, but Anna feels that something isn’t right about the case. She has the “assistance” from behind bars of a convicted serial killer, who knows more than he’s telling.  There is lots of misdirection here and theories of the crime to make it a really interesting read.  Good, solid police procedural.

I saw Find You in the Dark on a blog and was lucky enough that my library had it.  The protagonist here is a man, Martin, who is fascinated with serial killers, or really their victims.  He has a hobby, a successful one, of tracking down their burial sites to give families closure.  He has a close connection because his wife’s sister was taken, presumably by a serial killer and no one ever knew what happened to her or where her body was buried.  Unfortunately for him, serial killers generally don’t like people sticking their nose into the whole corpse disposal business.  Martin draws attention and puts himself and his family in danger.  I found Martin a little grating and so it made some of the book a bit of drag for me, however the resolution was very good and the plot line was excellent.

 

 

 

 

A Sight for Sore Eyes, 13 Steps Down, The Fortunate Brother, & Closer to Home

 

Closer to Home was a bargain read I picked up on my Kindle.  It is the first in the DI Kate Fletcher series.  I really liked it.  Kate is a well crafted character with a complex back story, a slight renegade but not ridiculously so, just enough to be interesting. The case is intriguing with twists and turns, connections to the past and to other crimes.  I did finger the villain, but I still feel as there was a lot that was well done here and I would be interested in reading another in this series.

The Fortunate Brother is a murder mystery set in a small coastal community in Newfoundland, Canada.  A small disclaimer here, this is the third in the series, and I did not read the others.  A thoroughly unlikable man dies and there are suspects a plenty in the claustrophobic community which houses its share of oddball residents.  Themes of mental illness, alcoholism, and abuse abound.  This didn’t really work for me.

I have been having a bit of a thing for Ruth Rendell and I read two of hers back to back.  The first was A Sight for Sore Eyes, which is really three stories which seem to be running along parallel tracks until they finally intersect with some awful consequences.  The first story involves a young girl who is home with her mother when she is murdered, the second story is about a young man who is raised with no affection and barely any human interaction leaving him devoid of normal human emotions, and the third concerns a beautiful young woman, the subject of a rock star’s affections for a time and a famous painter’s muse.  Ruth Rendell masterfully weaves the three tales together to their tragic ending.  As I’ve found in her other books, Rendell’s writing really shines at showing the inner lives of her characters and that is certainly true here.  Very good mystery read.

The second Rendell book I read was 13 Steps Down.  I found this to be a very current feeling story, with its theme of celebrity worship and obsessive love.  Mix is obsessed with a model and we follow his story and the story of his elderly landlady, who has never really had a life or a love of her own due to the controlling nature of her father, now long dead.  Again, the writing here really is at its best when revealing what is going through the minds of the characters, especially when the characters are twisted in some way and their thoughts are juxtaposed with the reactions of the others in the scenes with them.  Another excellent mystery read.

 

The Ruin and Other Reads…

I received The Ruin by Dervla McTiernan as a Giveaway from Goodreads in exchange for a fair review.  The book starts with Detective Cormac Reilly still wet behind the ears arriving at a remote cottage to find a quiet yet assertive young girl, her younger brother, Jack, and their very dead mother.  He delivers them to the hospital and forgets about the case until years later when Jack, now an adult, dies on his patch.  What is the connection?  Is there one?  What happened all those years ago and what happened to Maude and Jack in the intervening years?

Examinations of religious morality, the ability of “good” people to look the other way and not question the “wrong” right in front of them,  power and corruption,  and the far-reaching damages of childhood traumas are all woven in to this novel with intricate plotting and interesting characters.  Shades of Tana French.  Highly recommended read!

I am going to lump three very short, basically novella length, and free or very low cost Kindle novellas together here that I read through.  Sweet Masterpiece by Connie Shelton was the best of the three.  The protagonist, Sam, has a baking business and another job, getting foreclosed houses ready for sale.  She gets embroiled in a criminal investigation with the discovery of a grave on one property and some famous art.  There is also a tiny magical element here, so a magical cozy mystery.  This was a fun, short cozy mystery.  There was a bump at the end that I found somewhat jarring and probably should knock it down to 3.5 stars.  The other two,  Barbecue, Bourbon and Bullets and Pains and Penalties were just okay.  2 star reads.

Expiration Date is another cozy.  This one is a new-to-me cozy.  The theme is cook off contests.  The protagonist, Sherry,  is a competitor and one of the judges dies after tasting her dish at the contest.  Her sister is also a competitor and along with a friend she makes they look into clearing her name.  An interesting look at the cooking competition world.  This cozy feels like it is more focused on female friendships and lighter on the mystery side of things.

Fit to Die by J.B. Stanley is book 2 in a series I have been reading out of order.  I picked them up as I found them in used book stores as the series was discontinued.  Now the series seems to have been started up again so I am trying to fill in my gaps so I can read the newest book.

The theme here is supper club, a healthy eating supper club.  Professor James Henry is the town of Quincy’s Gap, Virginia’s librarian and the protagonist of the series.  The supper club in this book joins a new fitness/health club in town even though James has his doubts about the pushy salesmanship tactics the owner employs.  An arson and murder occur in town and the supper club investigates.  These books have a great setting, the community of Quincy’s gap with its characters and events is part of the storyline and makes for fun and engaging reading.  I really like this series and I’m happy to see that it has been continued.

See Her Run was a novel that I read about on a blog and ordered on my Kindle.  Aloa Snow is a disgraced journalist, she wrote a story using, let’s say “alternative facts” and now has no real career.  Someone she has a history with, who is now wealthy contacts her to investigate a case of an ultramarathoner who committed suicide.  The athlete is found barefoot dead in the desert, literally ran to death.  The local authorities did a cursory investigation and closed the case.  The more Aloa digs, the more evidence she finds of connections far beyond this one death.  Very good mystery with a suspenseful plot and engaging characters.

Sentence of Death is one of this month’s read at the Kindle English Mystery Club.  There is a serial killer on the loose in Gateshead and he has a mission.  The deaths are connected to a showing of the opera Ring Cycle that is occurring at The Sage.  Detective Sam Snow is in charge of the case.   Olivia is a recently divorced psychologist, who has come to Gateshead to see the opera when she becomes involved in tracking the killer.  The best part is the weaving of the opera and the killings in the story.  I thought the killer was somewhat obvious rather early on but overall I did enjoy read this.