Crimson Snow & Missing Joseph

 

Crimson Snow is one of this month’s read at the Kindle English Mystery Club.  Rather than a novel, it is a collection of classic short mysteries, all with a Christmas theme.  My hands down favorite was a Christmas “ghost” story, The Ghost’s Touch.  I always enjoy a Christmas ghost story and this one had fun twists and characters.   There is also a selection from Margery Allingham featuring her sleuth Mr. Campion, The Man with the Sack, which was also quite good.  Some of the other selections fell short, but overall it was a good Christmas mystery read.

Missing Joseph is book 6 in Elizabeth George’s Inspector Lynley series.  The book begins with a chance meeting with a vicar, who ends up “accidentally” poisoned.  The mystery here is well plotted and has quite a few twists and turns before the final reveal.  The side plots are equally important as the main mystery here with emotional upheaval in Lynley’s personal life and in St. James’ marriage.  The characters in this series are really well drawn and fully fleshed out and they are what really keep me coming back for more. Great book in an excellent series.

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Shadow over the Fens & Still Midnight

These are my latest two reads.

Shadow over the Fens is the second in the Detective Nikki Galena series.  The mystery surrounds what at first seems like a data gathering assignment, during the lull the team investigates a spike in suicides in their area.  The case becomes personal when the latest suicide is a neighbor of Nikki’s.  The first case becomes entwined with Joseph’s past and some brutal new crimes which are being committed.  Lots of tension and twists and turns.  In this book, we see more exploration of Joseph as a character and his past and how he connects to Nikki, as a boss and now as a friend. Very well paced, the story moves quickly and smoothly to a good, if slightly predictable conclusion.  I really enjoyed this and will be reading the next in the series.

Still Missing by Denise Mina is a very current feeling police procedural.  You have a family, who seems to be targeted for some “unknown” reason.  They receive some poor treatment initially from the police due to concerns of radicalization.  Threads of religion, family, and culture intertwine with the plot of this mystery.  The most interesting parts of the story to me are Aahmir’s reactions to his kidnapping and thoughts during the events.

The police are battling without and within.  This is a high media attention case due to political/community tension and on top of that DI Morrow has difficulty getting along with anyone.  She resents her superiors and at the same time keeps secrets from them so they are not making informed decisions.  I read this through to the end because I wanted to see the conclusion, but it didn’t really grab me.  I didn’t care for DI Morrow and I thought it was pretty obvious what had happened from quite early on.

 

All Day and A Night by Alafair Burke

18635057Finished this as I had a lazy Sunday morning in bed.  This is book 5 in the Ellie Hatcher series.  I have read one other in this series so I am someone familiar with the characters, but I have not read them all in order to know the entire back story.

Ellie is tasked with investigating a conviction that is being reopened due to new evidence.  The case is very public being it relates to a serial killer and the original cop who closed the case is a local legend.  Ellie finds herself pitted against the attorney for the convicted man and her team, which includes a young woman who just happens to be the half-sister of one of the original victims.

This is a well written mystery, with a myriad of twists and turns and characters who each have their own concerns and motivations leading to lots tension, suspicion, and leads in all directions.  With the exception of Ellie and her partners, you don’t really know who else to trust.  Well written mystery with great tension and good pacing throughout.  Works as a standalone although you probably will get more out of the personal subplots if you have read the series in order.

 

Telling Tales & I See You

 

Telling Tales is book 2 in the Vera Stanhope series and is just such a great police procedural.  I started reading it while cooking Thanksgiving dinner and had such a hard time tearing myself away every time I had to stop to tend to some cooking.  Vera is her usual insightful, stodgy, and somewhat unnerving self.

In this mystery an old case that was thought to be solved is now reopened and Vera is brought in as a new set of eyes.  The death of young girl in the past is tied to the death of a young man in the current day.  The witnesses and survivors from the original case are brought back together and secrets and lies are brought to light through Vera’s digging.  Great writing, wonderful sense of place, intricate plotting of the mystery, and well drawn characters, Vera is one of my favorite detectives.  Highly recommended read!!

I See You is  what I guess would be a domestic thriller.  Zoe finds her picture in the personals, only she didn’t put it there.  She then sees a pattern with other women’s pictures and crimes that are occurring.  The sense of menace gradually builds as the story winds its way through Zoe’s life.  The crime has a very modern feel with the cyber crime hook and the liberal use of CCTV.  The writer gives you glimpses into the villain’s thoughts with journal type entries that are inserted between chapters.  They are well done, short enough that they don’t disrupt the flow of the book and  vague enough that they do not give away the resolution.

The book has a great sense of tension that builds throughout, great red herrings, and a twist at the resolution that is very well done.  Good pacing, a quick read that I finished in one sitting.

Ice Lake by John A. Lenahan

35126380  Finished this on my Kindle last night, to be honest I don’t even remember when I bought it or why.  Might have been recommended to me or I may have just read about it on a blog.  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I liked the detective, Harry Cull, retired from the police force due to a personal tragedy and now working as a freelance investigator mainly in the field of interrogation and lie detection.  Harry gets a call from a state trooper who is investigating a murder in rural Pennsylvania and intrigued, Harry takes the case and we get plunged into life and death in the small town.

The relationship between Harry and his state Trooper friend Cirba is engaging and fun with lots of banter and obvious deep friendship between the two.  I think that the characterization of the victim is actually the strongest point of the book.  We really get to “know” Bill, who he was before he was a body in the woods, what motivated him, who loved him and who he loved.  For a victim who is dead within the first couple pages, he has a strong emotional impact.  I really wanted to see his killer punished.

The book explores fracking and the impact on a community and the environment as a major plot point and I found that interesting and more than a little scary.  A side plot involving a teen environmental warrior added humor and felt very current.

The weakness of the book was in the resolution, I think it was a bit of a stretch.  I will say that it might just be me, I’m not a huge fan of organized crime storylines.  Overall a solid mystery read.

For the Sake of Elena by Elizabeth George

6446004  This is book 5 in the Inspector Lynley series.  I have watched the entire series on TV and am now working my way through the books.  I love the characters in this series, Lynley and his sidekick Havers, Helen, and St. James and they are all here in For the Sake of Elena.

This outing in the series involves the murder of a university professor’s d(D)eaf daughter, the Elena of the title.  As the case unwinds it involves infidelity, Deaf culture, parental alienation, and the nature of inspiration or creativity.  As the case goes on there are subplots involving Lynley, Helen, and Helen’s sister’s postpartum depression and Haver’s dilemma about her aging mother’s care.  The storylines are written sensitively and add depth as the character’s grapple with these issues.  Another great book, in a series I really enjoy.

A Pretty Place for A Murder & Good Me Bad Me

 

A Pretty Place for A Murder is a book I picked up because my local used book shop was culling mysteries, so I found it in the culled books.  I have never heard of Roy Hart or his sleuth, Superintendent Roper, but I am really impressed.  Set in the “pretty” village of Cort Abbas, which the local heirs to the manse are turning into an attraction for artistic types,  there is a lovely, engrossing sense of place and village life in the late 70s,  This is not a thriller, it is a solid police procedural with attention to the details.  The driving strength is definitely in the characterizations, From Jollyboy, the local copper to Roper the Superintendent brought in on the murder investigation, the main characters are all very well drawn.  These are not cardboard cutout characters, there is depth and interest built into each one.  I’d highly recommend for fans of P.D. James or if you like police procedurals.  I’ve already put the first in this series on hold at my library.

As an aside, I cannot find any information about Roy Hart, mystery author.  There is no biography that I can find online.  I don’t even know if it is a pen name or his actual name.  I’d love to hear more about him, so if you know something let me know in the comments.

Good Me Bad Me by Ali Land is this month’s read at the Kindle English Mystery Book Club on Goodreads.   There is not really a mystery here, it is more of a psychological thriller.  There are some dark themes explored here, child sexual abuse, child abduction, torture and murder, mental illness and the impact of trauma on a child.  The book is told from the point of view of  Milly/Annie, the child of a serial child killer.  I can’t really talk much about the plot without giving things away, so I’d just say that I pretty much saw where the book was heading early on.

I did find the themes interesting and the portrayal of a victim of childhood trauma was well done.  As was the psychologist character, Mike, who couldn’t deal with the dysfunction in his own family.  Classic, the shoemaker’s children have no shoes…  All said it dragged a little while I was waiting for something to happen in the beginning, but once events were set in motion in ended nicely tied up.

By the way, The Kindle English Mystery Club is available here on WordPress, https://kindlebritishmysterybookclub.wordpress.com/  as well as on twitter as @KindleCrimeClub, and Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/48703-kindle-english-mystery-book-club