Silence of the Grave by Arnaldur Indriason

 

 

This is the second book I have read in the series.  I read Jar City,which is book 3 in the series.  Unfortunately, it does not appear that Book 1 & 2 have been translated into English.  Starting with book 3, does not seem to have impacted my enjoyment of this series.

Here in book 4, Silence of the Grave, we again meet Erlendur as he investigates a body found at the site of a now demolished chalet.  The book is told in current time as Erlendur attempts to solve the crime and also in the past with the tragic story of the family that inhabited the house.  The sense of dread builds as the book progresses.  We all know that a human body has been found, but not who is it and meanwhile we are reading about the horrific circumstances of the family.

As a story on the side, we again meet Eva Lind, Erlendur’s drug addict daughter and she has a story line within the book.  Her story line serves to reveal aspects of Erlendur’s past and more of his relationship with Eva and his ex-wife.  The mystery is surprising, especially the twists surrounding the identity of the body.

Very good mystery and I look forward to reading more in this series.

 

 

 

 

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Awakening by S.J. Bolton

I just finished Awakening by S.J. Bolton.  I will start off by saying that I love all the books I have read by this author.  Sacrifice, her debut novel, in particular sticks out in mind as excellent.  Awakening is a good mystery novel.  The snakes alone make it particularly scary, especially as someone who lives in an older house and knows how they could get in if they wanted to and hide in nooks and crannies. {{{insert shudder here}}}

The protagonist is Clara Benning, a physically and emotionally scarred veterinary surgeion, who does a great deal of wildlife rescue work.  She prefers her animal charges to people.  The other characters like Matt, Sean and Sally are well developed and fit seamlessly together.  The misdirection worked very well and I was surprised at the ending.  The novel seemed well researched in terms of the snakes, not that I am an expert by any means.

S.J. Bolton writes in an extraordinarily well paced style.  There are no dull moments or “filler, everything is purposeful.  The book is a mystery and yet it also explores a “monumental change” for Clara through the events in the book and the people she meets, in her perspective and outlook on life.  She is certainly a character that shows growth and change.

I would definitely recommend this book, although I did prefer Sacrifice over it.

Thursday 13

This is a new-to-me meme, I have read about it in other blogs but this is my first time participating.  It is currently hosted here.  Basically just pick a theme and 13 things to go with it.

Mine is books to read next:

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In no particular order, I have:
Steamed to Death – Peg Cochran
Killer in Crinolines – Duffy Brown
Laced with Poison – Meg London
Arsenic and Old Cake – Jacklyn Brady
Death of a Greedy Woman – MC Beaton
South of the Border, West of the Sun – Murakami
Practically Perfect – Katie Fforde
In the Woods – Tana French
Death of a Perfect Wife – MC Beaton
Silence of the Grave – Arnaldur Indridason
Birdman – Mo Hayder
The Chessmen – Peter May
Awakening – SJ Bolton

Some of these I own and some are from the library.  I’ll probably hit library books first.  I’ve read most of MC Beaton but I read them out of order and I think I missed these couple.  What is your Thursday 13?

Simon Kirby-Jones Mysteries by Dean James

 

 

I just finished reading the wonderful Simon Kirby-Jones Mystery series by Dean James.  Mr. James is also writes under the pen names of Miranda James, Honor Hartman, and Jimmie Ruth Evans.

I first read Posted to Death which I found at my local library.  I loved the humorous, almost campy take on the cozy mystery series.  Unfortunately, my library didn’t carry the others in the series so I ordered the other three  and just recently received them.

Books 2,3 and 4 do not disappoint.  The character of Simon Kirby-Jones continues to be a wonderful mix of off beat humor, genuinely nice person, and sly sleuth.  The other characters develop nicely along the way, Sir Giles as his sidekick-assistant-love interest, Robin  as the police officer who respects Simon’s intelligence and help,  and Lady Prunella, village Grand Dame who becomes much more human and likable as the series progressed through the reader seeing her vulnerability behind her persona.

In these three books, Simon faces a variety of villains, a Renaissance/Medieval Faire and a classic locked room murder.  Each mystery was well crafted with twists and turns that Simon navigates with his usual cool self assurance, although we do see Simon’s feathers ruffled a little on the personal level.  Simon as a sleuth is logical and smart.  He is not one to run around throwing out accusations at random.  There are many nods to Agatha Christie and John Dickinson-Carr.  I don’t know if the author intends to end the series at Book 4, but it does offer a satisfying conclusion to an ongoing story line.

An excellent, humorous cozy mystery series written by a talented writer.  Definitely worth the read for cozy fans.  I have now read two series by Mr. James and will seek out the others.

 

 

Final Sentence by Daryl Wood Gerber

I just picked up my copy of Final Sentence yesterday. I have been waiting for this for quite a while.  The author Daryl Wood Gerber also writes  the Cheese Shop mysteries under the name of Avery Aames.  I really enjoy the Cheese Shop series and believe  it is one of the better written cozy mystery series.

This new series, A Cookbook Nook Mystery, does not disappoint.  The character of Jenna Hart is well written and believable.  She is a widow still dealing with the grief of losing both her husband and her mother.  She returns home to run a new business with her Aunt Vera.  The other characters are interesting with a fair share of the quirky variety thrown into the mix, her Aunt Vera, Pepper and Rhett to name a few.

The mystery is well done.  I was not sure “whodunnit” until the reveal, many of the characters displayed suspicious behavior leaving the reader wondering.  Being the first in  a series, there was quite a bit of establishing the setting, the recurring characters, and some of the back story, but it did not interfere with the flow of the story.  Additionally, there was device used that I have seen recently in two other books, “dropping” the names of authors and books throughout the text.  For some reason, I found this very disruptive when I read  Death on Demand and A Killer Read, but I did not in this book.  Perhaps I am getting more used to it, being this is the third one I’ve read using this device ? Or maybe it is because it is so clearly incorporated into the plot here, Jenna is selling cookbooks and she is learning to cook?  It did not feel like just gratuitous name dropping; it felt as though it was a natural part of the dialogue and plot.  Maybe it is just that I collect cookbooks and so knew almost all the titles mentioned and didn’t feel the need to stop and look them up? Whatever the reason, I feel that it worked in Final Sentence.

The other point that I really liked was that there were some loose threads that I’m sure will be picked up in subsequent books. What is the real story behind Jenna’s husband?  Was he good guy or up to something?  What was the whole story between Aunt Vera and her fiance?  These open questions will be part of what keeps me going with the series.

Great series opener!  Can’t wait for the next one.

Weekend Cooking II: We Love Madeleines

This is an addendum post for the Weekend Cooking meme hosted by BethFishReads who can be found here.  Today I actually tried three of the recipes from the lovely little cookbook, We Love Madeleines.  I made the:

  • Fontina and Smoked Paprika
  • Basic
  • Cherry-Cornmeal

The Fontina & Smoked Paprika was my first savory madeleine ever and I really liked it.  The “cookie” had an intensely rich cheese flavor.  We had a bean soup tonight for dinner and they went with that really well, but I could also see serving them with chili.  The texture was soft and light…like little cheesy pillows 🙂  The recipe made 24, so you would need 2 regular sized madeleine pans – or you could just wash and re-butter between batches.

The Basic recipe produced a small batch (12) of a very good standard madeleine.  I appreciate the small batch because I have little self control when it comes to cookies.

The Cherry-Cornmeal was my daughter’s favorite.  I thought the cornmeal would overwhelm such a delicate cookie but it was a just-right balance between flour and cornmeal.  The chopped dried cherries combined with a glaze of citrus made a very tasty cookie (I don’t care for orange so I made mine lemon & lime instead).  This recipe also made 24 regular sized madeleines.

Overall, a well written cookbook with successful recipes in it (so far).  I liked the organization of the book overall and of the recipes on the pages.  The pictures were bright and I always prefer cookbooks to have pictures as they inspire me.  In the front of the book is a section which is  basically the dos and don’ts of madeleines.   Helpful information in general, whether you have made them before or not.

If you like madeleines or have madeleine pans pining away in a cupboard somewhere, this is definitely a book to consider.

Weekend Cooking: We Love Madeleines

Weekend Cooking is a meme hosted by BethFishReads found here.

My entry relates to madeleines.  I have a set of madeleine trays that I have not used in at least a year, even though I do like them, I just don’t ever think about making them.  I was in the library this week and on the new acquisition shelf sat this book:

I picked it up and it has an amazing variety of madeleines, both savory and sweet.  The plan this weekend is to do some test batches of a few of the recipes, seems like a fun thing for a rainy weekend.

The varieties include:

  • the traditional basic
  • gluten-free basic
  • chocolate olive oil
  • chocolate and ginger
  • bacon and chocolate
  • pistachio and cardomom
  • lemon poppy seed
  • chorizo
  • smoked paprika and fontina
  • and lots more

I’ll post again when we have a few done to let you know how it went!