Cold in the Earth by Aline Templeton

This was my first Aline Templeton book.  Book 7 was December’s read for the Kindle English Mystery Group at Goodreads but I didn’t read it because I didn’t want to start reading the series so far into it.  Cold in the Earth introduces DI Marjory Fleming, a DI, a farmer’s wife, mother,and daughter of an old school police officer, who doesn’t quite approve of a female DI.   The mystery surrounds some corpses that seem to be connected set against the backdrop of a farming community enduring an outbreak of foot and mouth disease.  The interwoven storylines really kept the pace moving.  Besides Di Fleming’s professional and family life, there is also Laura Harvey’s search for a long missing sister, and the Mason family’s own passionate dramatics.  The stories come together neatly and the conclusion is well done, if not entirely unexpected.

I will be reading more in this series to see how Di Marjory Fleming develops.

Written in Bone by Simon Beckett

  I didn’t read the first book in this series, The Chemistry of Death, however that didn’t impact my enjoyment of Written In Bone.  The protagonist, Dr. David Hunter, is a forensic anthropologist called in to help an overwhelmed Scottish police force investigate what might not even be a crime on an isolated island.  Once David lands on the island he forms a team with a retired DI, Brody, Sergeant Fraser and a young officer, Duncan.  There is some friction with them working together, however once Dr. Hunter determines that a crime has been committed they pull together more.  Then, the bodies start to pile up at a rather alarming rate for a small isolated community, made even more isolated by a storm that makes contacting the mainland difficult.

There is some fascinating discussion of spontaneous combustion and the scientific explanation for it.  The setting is detailied and develops a strong sense of place (a personal love of mine).  It reminded me of Elly Griffith in that respect, her books always have a well defined sense of place.  Well written and paced to keep you turning the pages.  I will add The Chemistry of Death to my TBR list and am looking forward to reading it.

Under Your Skin by Sabine Durrant

Thanks to the blizzard that wasn’t, I read this today: 

The protagonist, Gaby Mortimer, is a married TV presenter with a very privileged life style, house cleaner, nanny, expensive house, and hedgefund manager husband.  On her morning run she falls over a body of a young woman and that begins the mystery, who is she, what is her connection to Gaby (or from Gaby’s perspective “to Gaby’s house”).  At some point the police investigation starts to focus on Gaby and she begins to investigate to save her life, her marriage and her career.  Through the investigation, Gaby meets Jack, a journalist, who helps push both  the story line and the investigation forward.  Gaby and Jack follow the trail of the dead young woman looking for connections.

I liked most of this book, even though I found a couple things odd.  Gaby’s relationship with her new nanny for one, how can you live with someone and not really know them at all? ehhh.  The plot was well paced and well thought out until the end.  I really found the ending a little off putting. I would have bought into it more if the book was written in third person or told as flash backs rather than in the present tense.   I can’t say anything more without writing a spoiler.


World of Trouble by Ben H. Winters

This is the final book in the The Last Policeman Trilogy that I have been reading.  The book starts out with 14 days left in the countdown to the end of the world.  Hank Palace is on the trail of Nico with Cortez and Houdini at his side.  They little group start to rate towns they pass in a color system, red for towns “seething with active violence”, Green were the opposite, Black for empty, and all colors in between.  They run into all varieties of desperate people dealing with the end that is coming in the best way that they can.

Hank is less concerned with the end of the world, except in regards to being a timeline to solve his final case, Nico’s disappearance.  Hank’s dogged determination is the defining feature of his character and drives this final book of the trilogy.  I don’t want to give any spoilers but the resolution of the story was very well done in an understated manner.

Highly recommended read!

Muffin but Murder by Victoria Hamilton

  This is the second book in the A Merry Muffin Mystery series by Victoria Hamilton.  The series premise is that Merry inherited a “castle” in a rural/small town area, Autumn Vale, and left her New York City career (and scandal) and life behind.   As Merry seeks to prepare the castle for sale, she begins baking muffins as a business.  This book picks up where the second one left off.  Merry and her created family of friends are still working on the castle, including hosting events for prospective buyers, and fending off a new heir who has appeared on the scene.

During the open house event for prospective buyers, someone is killed and the body left on the scene.  Merry is off and investigating, trying to solve the mystery to clear one of her friends and the save the reputation of the Wynter Castle.  The castle itself is more of a focal point of the series than the muffins, so even though it is called the Merry Muffin series, it is not just another food based cozy.  There are several story lines and characters and references to the first book.  This makes for an entertaining and engaging read in a series that I am enjoying.

Three Womens Fiction Reads

I’ll talk about these in reverse order.  Ten Days, I just finished today.  I took the day off for my birthday and spent it lounging, reading and going to lunch with my kids.  This was a book about any parent’s nightmare a sick child and the destructive impact that can have on a marriage.  Jake and Anna are married and are already experiencing a “rough patch” when Eddie becomes life threateningly ill.  Anna’s whole world begins to revolve around Eddie and staying by his side in ICU (Eddie is a six month old). Her husband Jake reaches out to an old girlfriend in his despair (and guilt).  This was well written and probably very realistic account of how a family would fall apart under this stress, but I have to say the husband, a doctor, was written as a typical arrogant surgeon and was patently unlikable.  Anna, the mother, was  histrionic with no real explanation as to why she would react that way, in every other part of her life she was portrayed as calm, cool and collected.  Overall, a good read with realistic characters and situations.

The Week Before the Wedding is a love triangle story.  The career woman who is about to get married to Mr. Responsible and Stable meets up with her ex, Mr. Harley Riding Bad Boy, the week before her wedding and chaos ensues.  Entertaining enough read but too formulaic to be special.

My favorite by far of the three was Cooking for Harry.  I love to cook and have tried various diets in my life so I had some connection to the story immediately.  Francie and Harry have been married for 25 years.  They have children, friends and a happy home life that centers around food.  Harry is the family and indeed the neighborhood chef.  He is truly passionate about cooking…and eating.  Over the course of the 25 years, Harry has packed on quite a bit of weight and finally a doctor’s check up convinces him and Francie that he is morbidly obese.  The story really becomes about how Harry changes as the result of committing to a new “healthy” life style and program and how these changes alienate Francie and in fact set their marriage on a course to self destruct.  Themes of guilt, passion and most of all change run throughout this novel.  I found it well written and very realistic, marriages often self destruct in the wake of what should be “positive” changes.  I would read more by this author.

Only the Innocent & Someone Else’s Skin

  These are both the reads for this month over at the Kindle English Mystery Club on Goodreads.  I have been in a little bit of a slump reading and so have been trying all other kinds of reading, including some comics, but these both grabbed my attention and drew me into finishing them.

Only the Innocent  is a mystery with interesting characters,  twisted perverse crime(s), and a story line that twists and turns.  The ending is not what is I would expect regarding Tom, the police officer, and Laura, the victim’s wife.  There is a current element to the story dealing with immigration and the victimization of young women.  I enjoyed this read and would read another book by this author.

Someone Else’s Skin is a very dark mystery with a strong female lead, Inspector Marnie Rome.  She has some issues but doesn’t come across as so damaged that she is fragile like some damaged female characters.  Her reactions and the reactions of people who know her past come across as authentic and make for a very believable character. This book actually has several strong female characters.  The plot is well done with some captivating twists.  The pacing was excellent and I read it straight through in one sitting.  It does have some brutal scenes that made me shudder and skip a page or so, but then I did go back and read it.  Very good read and I look forward to reading more about Inspector Marnie Rome.