After Rain by William Trevor

493323  This is my second William Trevor read and it is a collection of short stories.   This collection  shines with the quality of William Trevor’s wordsmithing.  His  writing was exquisite in this collection and I enjoyed every one of these gems, from the The Piano Tuner’s Wives, a story about a man’s second wife usurping the memory of the first to The Potato Dealer,  about a man paid to marry an unwed pregnant girl with unexpectedly melancholic consequences.  My favorite was probably A Day, a slice of life of a wife keeping her husband’s secret, even from him.

I would highly recommend this book, even if you are not normally a reader of short stories.   The stories feel like a window into  people’s lives, their hopes, dreams and fears.  There is a sense of authentic emotion in the writing.    William Trevor is definitely a master of his craft.

 

Detective Inspector Huss, Last Respects, and A Second Course in Homemaking

These are three of my library sale scores.

Detective Inspector Huss is the first in a Nordic Noir mystery series which I really expected to enjoy.  Unfortunately, I could not even finish it.  I generally enjoy  Nordic Noir. I picked it up and attempted it multiple times over a two-week period but just couldn’t. At first I thought perhaps it was the translation, I have encountered other books in which the translation has made for a bad read in English but after reading other reviews, I have found that this translator, Steven T. Murray, is excellent and not the cause of the issues.
1 – repetitive sentence structure, often short and choppy.
2 -confusing point of view switches at times
3 – lots of telling, little showing – as in, you find out how the investigation is progressing through the staff meetings where they discuss the investigation.
4- not much in the way of character building so there is little to care about in the characters
5- The writing has a very “freshman” feel to it – lots of adverbs

I almost never DNF but this is one that I could not justify spending any more time on. It is putting me behind on my reading challenge.

Last Respects by Catherine Aird on the other hand was excellent.  The mystery opens with the discover of a floating body by a local fisherman.  We soon discover that the mysterious corpse did not drown and so the hunt for the murderer is on.  Throughout the search, we meet a recently widowed local architect, his young niece whose fiance has just deserted her, DI Sloan, treasure hunters, and local boating men and fisherman.  The crime was well planned out and interesting.  The characters, especially Frank, Elizabeth and Horace are well drawn and engaging.  A quick engaging mystery read in a series that I look forward to reading more in.

A Second Course in Homemaking by Mabel Hyde Kittredge published in 1915 was a fascinating read for me.  I love to read vintage cooking and homemaking books.  There were chapters on preserving food, child care, cooking, laundry, cleaning, health, budgeting, and dealing with household refuse.  It is amazing to think that people were able to consistently cook and bake on ovens that they tested temperature by putting a piece of paper in the oven and  timing how long it took to burn.  It is also makes me wonder how many people today could do half of the modern-day comparable skills, even with the equipment now available, that these young girls were being taught to do.  I think the removal of home economics courses, including the budgeting portions, from curriculums has been a detriment to young people.

 

 

The Santa Klaus Murder

25571847  I’ve been on a bit of  a reading slump, mainly due to an ongoing battle with migraine headaches.  I seem to be getting a bit of a handle on  them now with some new medication so, fingers crossed :).  Anyway, this is the first read of 2017.  It was part of one of my Xmas presents, a set of 23 British Library Crime Classics gifted to me from my daughter.  The Santa Klaus Murder was  one of the Christmassy themed ones so I picked it to read first.  I’ve read one other mystery by Mavis Doriel May in this Crime Classic series.

This is a classic manor house mystery with an extended family and the staff brought together, an unexpected death, a plethora of suspects,  and of course the question of  an inheritance of substantial assets as part of the storyline.  What does the will say?  Is it the real will?  Is it what the victim intended?  Who knew about the contents of the will?  How was Santa Klaus involved?

The chapters have varying points of view but the narrators are clearly laid out in the chapter headings so there is no confusion regarding who is speaking at any given time (I really liked that).  The ending of the book  has a postscript which very neatly lays out why the culprit obviously had to be the guilty party and all the clues leading to his or her feet.

I enjoyed this book much more than the first book I read by Mavis Doriel May and now I look forward to reading more by her.

 

 

 

Haven, That Night & Never Alone

 

I’ve read these three in the last couple days.  Chevy Stevens wrote a book a while ago that I really liked, Still Missing, and so I was eager to try another book by her.  That Night of the title refers to the death of a teenage girl and then the story rolls forward to the release of her sister, Toni, and the sister’s boyfriend, Ryan,  from prison.  They had been convicted of the murder and now return home out on parole.  They decide to do the investigation that had never been done to find the killer and clear their own names.  There is a dark web of secrets and lies here and killer(s) that don’t care that Toni and Ryan spent 17 years in prison for a crime they didn’t commit.  The pacing is fast and Toni is a great character, who leaves the reader rooting for her all the way. I’d recommend both this and Still Missing.

Never Alone by Elizabeth Haynes is one of the reads this month at the English Kindle Mystery Club.  Sarah actually is alone.  She lives in an isolated farmhouse, her husband dead, her daughter grown and away at uni, and her son estranged.  She rents a cottage on her land to an old flame, Adrian, and the story takes off from them there.  The book includes second person perspective, which can be somewhat off-putting, but here is manages to catch the reader’s imagination and develop a sense of something being off, some inexplicable danger.  Sarah is an interesting character, a woman once successful in her career now struggling, once financially stable now sinking in morass of debt left by her husband, once a mother now with children who either don’t need her, Kitty, or don’t want her, Louis.  On top of that one of Louis’ friends continues to hang around often uninvited.

Sarah’s best friend disappears and all of a sudden  Sarah is left unsure.  Unsure of the people in her life, their motivations, even who they are.  There is an action packed conclusion that brings the book to a close.

At first,  I was really drawn into this and couldn’t put it down.  But further along once I knew who the narrator was and pretty much figured out their life story, I knew what happened to Sarah’s friend  and it made the last part just a trudge to the finish.   The red herrings just didn’t really work for me and I didn’t have any doubt as to what was going on, even before  the disappearance.  Interesting writing style and the story started off strong.  …On a side note, I really disliked the son character Louis…thought he was a right little entitled sod..

Haven was passed on to me and is not really my normal read.  An FBI/Paranormal investigation team member, returns to her home town to try to figure out what trauma she had that is keeping her from reaching her full potential.  This is book 13 in a series so the whole FBI/Paranormal unit is well established with,  I am assuming, recurring characters.

This was a fun quick read.  Nicely done twists and turns in uncovering the original crime and tracking the current villain.  I’m not a big paranormal reader, but I did enjoy it

 

 

Crime on the Fens

30647648  This is one of the reads this month over at the Kindle English Mystery Book Club on Goodreads.  DI Nikki Galena has survived traumatic events but they have left a mark on her which impacts her interactions and relationships with others and has left her with a burning desire more for vengeance than justice.  She is partnered with Joe as a last chance to redeem her career.  Nikki & Joe and their team of misfits investigate a crime spree that includes murder, assault, kidnapping, and random acts of violence perpetrated by villains wearing grotesque masks.

I did enjoy the fast paced action and want to the find out the resolution.  The sense of place was well-developed and gives a feeling of tension as the reader waits for what will happen next.  I did find that the reveal about the forces behind all the interconnected crimes was a little hard to believe, however there was enough good here that I would read another in the series.  The characters in particular are engaging and show depth and emotion very well.

Two More NetGalley Reads….

NetGalley provided free ebook copies of these titles in return for a fair review.

I was really excited to get approved for Patricia Wentworth’s The Miss Silver Mysteries:  Grey Mask, The Case is Closed, and The Lonesome Road.  I had heard about them from  Ian Hughes review over at Murder, Mystery, and More…

Miss Silver is a charming sleuth, similar in some respects to Miss Marple, but she is still her own person.  She is more assertive in her questioning styles, more professional than amateur, and more in the midst of the action.  The three stories encompassed a variety of themes blackmail, greed, lost love, mistaken identity, presumed death, and fights over inheritance.   My favorite of the three was Lonesome Road.  A woman hires Miss Silver to discover who is trying to kill her.  A great selection of possible suspects, classic red herrings and a nicely drawn together ending make it a perfect golden age mystery.   This collection is a must read for fans of Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers and the like.

The Secret is the second in a series, the first being The Teacher, which I have not read.  The book opens with Bridget, an undercover officer in a brothel, attempting to escape a man who has come to the house to kill her.  She slips his grasp only to wake up later in a basement room with no concept of time passing.  DS Imogen Grey and her partner DS Miles are on the case along with another DS Sam Brown who was working with Bridget.  Imogen and Sam have an unpleasant history making it difficult for them to work together as Imogen doesn’t trust him.

The book changes viewpoints between several of the characters to bring together the whole plot.  There is a lot of action to keep the pace moving quickly.  I will say that I feel I missed things by not reading the first book, it just seemed that as a reader I needed a clearer picture of what happened between Imogen and Sam early on.  Quite an enjoyable read with an intriguing strong female lead in DS. Grey.

 

Two NetGalley Reads…

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These are two of my latest NetGalley Reads. I received free ebooks of these titles in exchange for a fair review from NetGalley.  I requested Christmas at the Dog & Duck mainly because I am a sucker for Christmas stories in general.

The protagonist in Jill Steeples book is Ellie Browne, who recently was made redundant at her big city accountancy job and has returned home to lick her wounds, recover and decide what to do next with her life.  Her parents are away on contract work, so she has the family home to herself as she cobbles together a living from a dog walking/sitting service and shifts as a barmaid at the local pub.  She develops a couple of love interests, one old and one new and deals with changes happening in the little village that she holds dear.  There are classic misunderstandings and poor communication between the lovers and a HEA Christmas for all.  There was not as much emphasis on the Christmas theme here as in many of these novels, that came more at the end.  I didn’t really feel the chemistry between the leads and so the book fell a little flat for me.

A Killer Closet opens with a body being found in the closet of the newly ready consignment shop about to be opened by mother and daughter team, Irene and Adelle.  Irene is a big city DA, called home to help her mother through her latest financial crisis resulting from the death of her latest spouse.  She decides to stay since her mother refuses to move to the city and open a high end goods consignment shop.  The victim has connections to the shop and Adele and the clues begin to pile up as the local police look hard at Irene and Adele.  The novel covers murder, theft and plenty of secrets.  I had a difficult time getting into the book and the characters, that may be because I read and enjoyed Duffy Brown’s series, A Consignment Shop Series, and couldn’t help but compare the two.  An okay cozy mystery with a fashion/consignment shop theme.