Elly Griffiths: A Dying Fall ****

After a day of yard work I sat on the porch in the sun, drinking a glass…hmmm some glasses of Jersey Blush, the last in the group of three wines that I bought Jersey Red, Jersey White and Jersey Blush and finished my latest book from Elly Griffiths, A Dying Fall.

I was little concerned because Ruth leaves the familiar setting of Norfolk, where the other books were set. Ms. Griffiths developed such a sense of place in the first books that the setting was almost another character in the series. My fears were unfounded. The setting is not as moody and does not evoke the sense of isolation of the earlier books, nonetheless this book was another good episode in Ruth Galloway and crew’s story. The complicated relationship between Ruth, Cathbad and Nelson is expanded upon in a realistic manner leaving you not knowing what to hope for between them all.

The best part about it though, for me, was that the story line involved King Arthur and that has always been a favorite of mine. I read The Once and Future King and I think I have seen just about every TV serial/movie/History Channel discussion about Arthur, Camelot and the attending legends and history. Elly Griffiths’ exploration blends legend, fact, and an original twist for a satisfying take on King Arthur.

The mystery is well crafted and I didn’t figure out the culprit until revealed. There are red herrings and twists and turns in the plot that keep you guessing the whole way. If you enjoy mysteries of the “soft boiled” variety, I highly recommend this series. The tally is four stars for the book and the wine was good, too.

Kylie Logan: Button Holed ***

This is a first in a series about a …button expert. I will say I would never have picked up this book on my own. It is just not something that would have attracted me. However, that is one of the reasons I belong to book clubs on Goodreads. This was a selection from the Cozy Mystery Corner group. I joined because cozies are a genre that are close to my heart (think MC Beaton, Simon Brett, Diana Mott Davidson, Agatha Christie). That is a plus for this book, definitely a genre I enjoy.

The book is written well, as far as editing and language, and the series protagonist Josie Giancola is a likable character, however a little too stereotypical “shy girl swooped off her feet by extroverted cad”. The theme (button collecting/antiquing) does not overwhelm character or plot, which can be a problem with some of the more cutesy and theme specific cozy mysteries.

My main issue with this particular outing is that you will need to practice some serious belief suspension. Josie, button expert extraordinaire, is recruited by a police officer, Nevin, and embroiled in the mystery in a rather unbelievable, heavy handed manner.

To be fair, perhaps the problems I had with the book were caused by it being a first book in a series. It really had a feel that the author was setting things up for future books, establishing background, setting and relationships. With that in mind, I gave Button Holed 3 stars and given the opportunity, I would give another book in the series a chance .