The Absent One by Jussi Adler-Olsen

  I just read the first one in this series and really enjoyed it so I was happy to get this one so quickly.  I love the character of Carl Morck.  I liked seeing how his success on the first Dept. Q case has changed him, making him more confident and more passionate about his work.

I do think this second outing in the series was not as good as the first.  My first issue was that the translation did not seem done as well.  The dialog flowed better in the first book and I am assuming that this is a translation issue not a writing issue.  The second “problem” was the limitation of Assad’s role in this book, he was not as prominent or as humorous as in the first one.  I really enjoyed this character and the developing relationship with Carl in the first book.  I will say that Assad came back strongly in the last 50 pages.  Finally, the plot as a whole seemed  more far fetched in this book. The over the top villain and all the animal hunting/cruelty was a little much.

The reader should be aware this is not really a whodunnit.  From the beginning, it is just an effort to find proof to link the group to their crimes, rather than determining a culprit.   I did not have an issue with the  violent, destructive nature of the group, I actually find that very timely with stories in the news today of teens “wilding” and events that occur in the city I work in, so that part was believable for me.   There was still plenty to like here and so even with the issues I had with The Absent One, I still will continue with this series.

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The Killing of the Tinkers by Ken Bruen

 

I  just recent read the first in the series and enjoyed it so much that I picked this one, The Killing of the Tinkers, up from the library.  In this  outing of the series, Jack Taylor is more messed up (if you can believe that is possible) than he was in the first book.  Jack has decided to add a side of cocaine addiction to his already rampant alcoholism on his path to self destruction.  On top of the drugs and alcohol he also is burning through women, including a wife he picked up in London.  Now that Sutton is gone, Jack has acquired some new sidekicks, Keegan and Sweeper, who add their own color to the book.

In this book, the mystery surrounds murdered gypsies (tinkers) and as a side plot, murdered swans.  Jack stumbles his way drunkenly  through the mystery, acquiring some pretty brutal injuries along as the way and losing some teeth.  It seems like you should be able to smell the whiskey dripping off the pages at some points.   The resolution is messy, not a typical  “neat and clean with all the ends tied up”, but it suits Jack and his decidedly messy life.  I am definitely going to continue with this series of very engaging page turners, even though this biggest mystery might be how Jack stays alive.

The Last Detective by Peter Lovesey

 

The Last Detective is the first novel in the Peter Diamond mystery series.  I saw it mentioned as a recommendation and picked it up from the library and I am so glad that I did.  The character of Peter Diamond was engaging in his own way.  I am not normally a fan of the “anti-technology” quirk but it works for him.  He has an earnest manner about him and his lack of arrogance is quite endearing.  I also liked the changing points of view as the book progressed.  It was handled very well.  I have read books in which changing points of view can be confusing or just a device that adds nothing to the plot, but that is not the case here.

I did know who the “villain” was prior the reveal but that didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the book.  I am definitely going to continue this series.  Great mystery read!

 

Pain Killers = No Sleep

 

  I am taking pain killers for my ankle and they are seriously disrupting my sleep cycle.  Due to this I have been getting a lot of reading done at  night.  Last night I read the above four novels, all relatively short and quick reads.  My favorite by far was Peter Mayle’s French Lessons.  His books evoke a fantastic sense of place and his obvious love of France and all things food comes through in his writing.  The book is broken up into topics or explorations into food and wine throughout France.  From snails to wine and from cheese to spa food, Peter Mayle’s writing allows the reader to experience La Foire aux Escargots in May and  Les Glorieuses in December among many other excursions.  Well written and interesting, a highly recommended read for anyone interested in food, wine and/or France.

The other three books were all cozy mysteries and were all firsts in their series.  Pleating for Mercy is a Magical Dressmaking Mystery, Family Skeletons is a genealogy themed, Torie O’Shea Mystery, and Frankly My Dear, I’m Dead is a travel agency/tour company themed mystery.  All three of these would just fall under okay, as far as I would say. There was nothing to make them stand out from the vast selection of cozy mysteries.  The characters seemed standard cozy mystery fare and somewhat one dimensional and/or unlikable.  In Frankly My dear, I’m Dead, there was an attempt to make a Christie-esque isolated house where the murders occurred and all the suspects are trapped there…except they really weren’t, the police were there and other people were coming and going.

 

The Keeper of Lost Causes and The Burning

 

I read these two last night, unable to sleep because I have given up on pain meds.  Anyway it can only get better, at least that is what I keep telling .

I loved The Keeper of Lost Causes!  Sometimes translated works can have awkward translations and be problematic especially for dialogue, but I didn’t notice that here.  Carl Morck is a wonderfully realistic character.  I could completely understand his giving up on things and counting the hours each day and the days to retirement.  Assad as a catalyst was very well written and a character in his own right.  As a watcher of the TV series, Cold Case, the whole concept of Dept. Q was fascinating.  The actual crime itself and the victim’s story is horrifying and totally enthralling.    I had a sense of who the perpetrators were but no real conclusive evidence before the reveal.   Highly recommended read, particularly for readers who like their sleuths “damaged”.

The Burning by Jane Casey is a mystery about a serial killers who burns his victims when he is done with them.  After coming off of reading The Keeper of Lost Causes, this simply did not compare.  Maeve Kerrigan did not seem really grip me as a character and the mystery seemed predictable.  Overall, the plot and the characters lack depth, everything seemed one dimensional.  As a reader, you totally lose sight of “the burning man” during the course of the book. Since this is the first in a series, perhaps depth will develop over time.

 

Great Night of Mystery/Thriller Reading!

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I picked all these up from the library.  The Nicci French, Waiting for Wednesday, I had read a review for and it sounded interesting so it was an impulse selection.  Loved the character of Frieda  and her relationships with Karlsson, Josef, Reuben and others.  The author attempted to fill in back story as the book went along, but I do feel that I missed something by not reading the previous books in the series.  Perhaps it is the missing background, but I didn’t really find the comment that sent Frieda off in search of a serial killer plausible.  However, I still enjoyed the mystery and the characters.  This was a fast paced  read, that kept me turning the pages.

The Body in the Belfry is the first in the Faith Fairchild series.  I have read one other, number 4 out of order, and decided to go back to this one.  This is a series that surprised me in that I am not religious and I usually do not like religious themed books at all.  In this series, Faith is a minister’s wife, and yet the books manage to not be preachy or full of morality lessons, etc.  I liked the mystery and the characters, Faith and her husband Tom manage to be fully fleshed out characters, not defined by their faith. I did find the ending a little odd in the resolution.  but it was still okay.  The book is a product of its time, written in 1990 and may feel a little dated, especially to younger readers, who didn’t live through it.

I selected The Guards after watching the Jack Taylor series on Acorn TV.  I really enjoyed the tv show and wanted to see what the books were all about.  The novel was very well done, it captured the ravages of Jack’s alcoholism, his introspection, his relationship with his mother and the few he counts as friends.  The mystery is almost a side story with the focus really being on Jack, what happens to him and because of him and his actions.  Violent scenes with starkly written prose set the scene for Jack Taylor’s world. Dialogue carries the story and Ken Bruen certainly has a unique voice.  The quotes and turns of phrase that open each section are meaningful and add to the text.  This is a technique that for me at least, often falls flat in some novels, however it works very well here.

Death of a Policeman by M.C. Beaton

 

I just finished this, the 30th (I can hardly believe I’ve known Hamish that long) outing in the Hamish MacBeth series by M.C. Beaton.  I do feel as though these books are like visiting an an old friend.  I’ve followed Hamish through his ups and downs in his romantic and professional life and through various threats to his beloved station in Lochdubh.

In this book, there is another threat to Hamish’s posting in Lochdubh.  Small stations are closing all over and Hamish obviously doesn’t want that to happen.  Blair sends a young officer, Cyril, to spy in Hamish.  Cyril ends up dead with Hamish as a suspect. With that opening, the mystery is up and running.  This book had a slightly different feel than others in the series, a bit faster pacing, more violence (murders), and more twists and turns in the mystery and in both Hamish and Dick’s personal (romantic) lives.  It actually came across as a more modern soft boiled mystery than a cozy.

I hope that there will be many more Hamish mysteries to come.  This one is a highly recommended read!