Echoes From the Dead by Johan Theorin

 

I picked this up based on a Goodreads recommendation and my local library had it.  This is a Swedish mystery translated into English.  I think that this accounts for the fact that the dialogue seems stilted at times, probably a translation issue not a writing issue.

If you are looking for fast paced thriller, this is not the book for you.  This moves at a much more sedate and at times non-linear pace. The focus is more on the after effects of the crime over time.  The central crime is the disappearance and assumed murder of a young child that occurred 20 years in the past.

The case is reopened with the appearance of one of the child’s sandals.  This brings the mother back to the “scene of the crime” and reunites the local people who were around at the time of the child’s disappearance.  Nothing is as it seems, the resolution is not what I expected and it was good to see that it was not a stereotypical child abduction/pedophile story.

The mother, Julia, reunites with her father in the course of investigating the new evidence.  The writer did an excellent job with the depiction of loss and depression that follows in the wake of a child’s disappearance.  I could completely relate to Julia’s issues with not being able to “let go” or move on from the loss of Jens.  I have always imagined that having a child disappear without a trace would be worse than a situation in which you know they are dead.  The not knowing would drive me mad, in Julia’s case she hangs on to her sanity with the aid of drink and isolation.

My only criticism would be that the ending or reveal seemed somewhat abrupt, however I have since realized that this is book one in a quartet so that is maybe to be expected.

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The Calling by Inger Ash Wolfe

 

Not even sure why I checked out this one, maybe a Goodreads recommendation?? Anyway, I picked it up from the library.  This is a Canadian based series, similar to Louise Penny’s series that is so popular.

I really wanted to like this.  I had a lot of sympathy for the protagonist, a Detective Inspector with a chronic pain injury, recently divorced and dealing with some issues related to alcohol and to not being able to let of her ex.  Hazel is a well drawn character, however her actions and even attitudes don’t always make a whole lot of sense, especially when you think of her as a law enforcement professional.  Maybe it was all the drugs she takes for her pain?  There is a token gay character, who has a reveal scene that really adds nothing to the plot and seems just meaningless, like a box to be checked.

The whole law enforcement/procedural piece is very unflattering to Canadian law enforcement.  The serial killer piece is confusing, slowly paced and not entirely clear even at the resolution.  For a killer with an interesting, to say the least, method of “work”, it was just not that engaging.

I understand that this is work written by a literary writer under a pseudonym, but it just didn’t really work for me.

Eclectic Reading: Immobility & The House of Mirth

Two very different books this time.  The first is Immobility a dystopian novel set after the “Kollaps”.  Our lead character is a paraplegic survivor with a  very valuable skill.  Awoken from suspended animation and completely dependent upon those that awoke him, he doesn’t know who he is, who to trust, or what the truth is.  Very fast paced, thriller style writing with an intriguing plot.  Dystopian books are not really my go-to genre but I found this a good read.

The writing allows you to experience the confusion and disorientation of Horkai as he makes his way through the lies and the desolate landscape.  Horkai is a sympathetic protagonist and I was rooting for him all the way.  The near extinction of the human race, the mutations, and the continuing poison in the air and water are described in enough detail to be imagined but not so much as to slow the plot.  Very good read.

The second book was also very good, however as it is a classic and considered a landmark book in American fiction so you don’t need me to say that it was good.  The title comes from the quote from Ecclesiastes 7:4:

 “The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth” 

The novel follows the downward spiral of Lily Bart.  A combination of unfortunate circumstances, poor decisions, and societal pressures culminating in the downfall of Lily Bart.  Lily finds a good match, personality-wise, and intellectually in Lawrence Seldon, however he is not able to support her to the standards she feels she needs, that her society has groomed her to seek.  Lawrence remains throughout the tale as  a touchstone for Lily.  He actually opens the book…and closes it, with Lily at the beginning of her story and the end. 

The novel exposed the hypocrisy that surrounded the New York society of the time.   Edith Wharton was a member of this society and attacked it with the precision of a surgeon.  The novel is both a satire and a form of tragedy, not necessarily a tragedy in a classical sense but tragic nonetheless.  The strength of the novel is this insider’s perspective of the society and revelation of how a society molds its inhabitants, impacts their choices, and  opportunities.

I read this for my One Drink Minimum book Club and enjoyed it far more than I expected to at first glance.  I haven’t really been a big reader of classics in recent year so this was a real change of pace.  I can’t wait to have the book club meeting to discuss it!

 

Murder Strikes a Pose by Tracy Weber

 

Finally! My copy came in to my local bookshop.  This is the first in a new yoga themed cozy mystery.  The series opens with the reader meeting Kate, a yoga studio owner, who has a run-in with a homeless man and his dog Bella.  Eventually, they become friends or at least Kate tolerates George and Bella’s presence outside her studio.  George is murdered and Kate can’t just let it be written off as a dispute between the homeless, which is what it seems the local police are doing.

She investigates with her sometimes side kick, Rene, and Bella, George’s dog.  Along the way, she meets Michael, the owner of Pete’s Pets, and a romantic interest.  There is a lot of investigation and quite a few leads and suspects.  The mystery is very well crafted.  The main characters are all developed and realistic.

I really appreciated the urban setting, which is very different from the average cozy.  This is very reminiscent of the urban setting in Kerry Greenwood’s Corina Chapman series, which I love.  Very different characters, themes and settings, but both series have a similar contemporary urban feel.

 

The mystery plot and the yoga theme flow seamlessly together.  The theme does not overwhelm the mystery plot or the characters.  A fun, well written first in a new  mystery series.  I’d recommend it to anyone who likes cozies, especially ones with a more contemporary feel.  I am definitely going to be looking forward to the next one in this series.

 

Ellery Adams Writing as J.B. Stanley

I really love this A Supper Club Mystery Series written by Ellery Adams as J.B. Stanley.  I definitely find it one of the better food based cozies.  I finished these two in the last couple days.   Chili con Corpses is book 3 and Stiffs and Swine is book 4 of the series.  I enjoyed both of the books, in particular I love the character of James, the professor turned small town librarian.  Between books 3 and 4, there are lots of romantic ups and downs, not just for James, as well as mysteries to solve.

In book 3, the supper club joins a Mexican cooking class and soon gets involved in a case involving poisoned food and murder.  This book also introduced a new charming character in the form of Milla, the cooking school teacher.  Interesting mystery with plenty of characters to place the blame on and investigate.

In Stiffs and Swine, James and the supper club are asked to judge a BBQ and pig beauty contest.  The mystery was well crafted and the setting certainly well defined, but what really stood out in this book were the developments in the personal lives of the Supper club members.  James, especially, has some hard decisions to make by the end of the book.

This is definitely a well written series with mysteries that are fun and interesting to follow along with to the resolution.  One of the strongest features of these books is the growth the characters show over time.  These are not static characters and I really appreciate that.  James seems to be growing in self confidence, as he shrinks in size!

I look forward to reading the next books in the A Supper Club Mystery series.

 

A Broth of Betrayal & A Question of Proof

I read these two in between packing for a move, shopping and having my daughter home from college.  A Broth of Betrayal is the second in A Soup Lover’s Mystery series. I am really enjoying this series.  The main character, Lucky, is charming and her grandfather, Jack, seems to have recovered nicely from his issues in the first book.  The mystery plot was very well done, combining murder(s), assault and a kidnapping of the town mayor and Lucky’s good friend, Elizabeth.  I really liked the plot in this outing of the series.  Definitely, a series I will be continuing to follow.

A Question of Proof by Nicholas Blake is the first book in the Nigel Strangeways series.  This involved a very proper British boys school with all the backstabbing and machinations that can evolve in these close knit communities.  A murder occurs and there is a multitude of suspects to consider, many who have good reasons for lying.  I found this a little slow to start and slow reading with all the period slang and references.  There was some humor and the sleuthing follows a logical approach to investigation.  I found the ending flat, almost anti-climatic with everything that had been exposed throughout the story.  I’m not sure that I will read any others in this series.  Perhaps fans of very period specific mysteries will enjoy it.

 

 

On the Slam by Honor Hartman & Mayhem at the Orient Express by Kylie Logan

I have read the two other series written by Dean James/Miranda James/Honor Hartman and enjoyed every book.  I have recommended them to my few cozy reading friends, they were so good. I finally got to this series under the name of Honor Hartman, A Bridge Club Mystery series.

On the Slam is another delightful cozy mystery.  I used to play Bridge years ago, along with several other card games, but I don’t know anyone who plays anymore. Reading this quick, fun cozy brought it all back for me.  I actually went on  Meetups to see if there were any local Bridge clubs I could join, alas there were none.  I will have to get my fix vicariously through this series.

The main character, Emma Diamond, is a widow, who recently moved into the neighborhood to be close to an old friend.  There is a neighborhood bridge club and at the first meeting that Emma  attends there is a murder.  Emma and her Bridge playing sidekicks, jump into the investigation.  The character of Emma is likeable and interesting.  She is still grieving her husband, but not in the woe is me self pitying way.  She seems to have too much self respect for that.

There are interesting suspects and twists and turns on the way to a neat resolution.  There are some hints of romance, not necessarily for Emma.  There are also typical neighborhood gossips, cats, and dogs to round out the story.

Highly recommended cozy.  I’m off to order the rest of the series.

Mayhem at the Orient Express, is a relatively new series from author Kylie Logan, who also writes the Button Box mysteries, which are quite good.  In this series, there is a team of sleuths, Bea Cartwright, Chandra Morrisey and Kate Wilder.  They are also neighbors and end up together due to the fact that they cannot get along and the local judge is fed up with it.

Sentenced to a book club and to reading Murder on the Orient Express, the women put aside their differences in the face of a real murder at their much loved local Chinese restaurant, The Orient Express. The story line runs many parallels to Christie’s work, which makes it a wonderful read for Christie fans.  The female leads are very different and there is someone for everyone to relate to.  Bea is the B & B owner with the mysterious past, Kate is the consummate business woman, and Chandra is the holistic healer, earth mother type.

I really enjoyed all the characters, the ties to Christie’s work and the mystery itself.  A fun, quick read for cozy mystery fans.  I am sure I will read more in this series.