A Taste for Death & Did You Ever Have a Family

I am reading through the Dagliesh series by P.D. James and I really loved A Taste for Death.  The plot was intricate with multiple emotions running through it.  The handling of the religious themes was well done and balanced.  The victim had recently had a religious experience and it caused him to make extreme changes in his life leading to his murder.

Dagliesh and his team work tirelessly through interviews with  large cast of suspects.  Sorting through lies and half-truths, many spun with some emphasis on class consciousness that seems to work its way into many of the Dagliesh books.  Political issues, ageism, the plight of the “sandwich generation”, sexism, religion, and child welfare agencies all garner some type of treatment in this outing. An excellent mystery read with many subplots running beneath the surface adding to the depth of the story and the character’s lives.

Did You Ever Have a Family?  is on the Mann Booker Long List and I picked it up because of this.  The book starts out with a tragedy.  On the eve of June’s daughter’s wedding, there is an explosion and fire killing June’s ex-husband, boyfriend, daughter and soon to be son-in-law.  Such a horrific event pulls you in and then ther rest of the book examines, events leading up to it, people’s reactions, and the effects on those left behind.

This book was really, really uneven.  Pieces of it are hauntingly beautiful in their writing, full of remorse and regret.  Other parts are just plain boring or don’t really seem to do anything to move the story along.  There are also parts that just don’t work for me, four bodies and no investigation conducted??  My take away on it, is that the parts that work, work really well but there are just as many parts that don’t.

Going, Going Ganache by Jenn McKinlay

This is the 5th book in the Cupcake Bakery Series by Jenn McKinlay.  In this outing, the bakery is invaded by a corporate group looking to have a team bonding experience.  Unfortunately, rather than bonding someone actually ends up dead.  Meanwhile, the bakery crew, Melanie, Angie and Tate are dealing with lots of personal traumas as well.  Angie has broken up with Roach, who is publishing songs lamenting their lost love.  Tate has his own crisis and chooses an ill advised way to try to overcome it.  Melanie and Joe hit a rocky patch as well.  In this book in the series, the recurring characters personal issues overshadow the murder mystery.

While I enjoy this series, this was not my favorite book in the series so far. I prefer the murder mystery to be front and center.  I will still continue this series because it has been very good so far and I enjoy the characters and the cupcake bakery setting.  Hopefully, book six will rebound.

Three Very Different Mysteries

A cozy, A Police Procedural, and a Nordic Noir, all different takes on the mystery genre.  Of the three Borkmann’s Point was my favorite.  I like the detective Chief Inspector Van Veeteren and his methodical, painstaking ways.  In this mystery, he is on the tail end of his vacation and is asked to ivestigate a pair of murders in which the weapon is an ax.  Beate Moerk is also an interesting character, a highly ambitious policewoman who sees the murders as means to advancement and works doggedly to track down the clues.  There are flashes from the killers point of view and I did have an inkling of who the killer was before the reveal, but it was just a feeling nothing certain.  This is the second in the Van Veeteren series and I will definitely read more.

Cat on the Edge has been on my TBR list for a while.  I normally like cat themed mysteries, such as Ali Brandon’s, Miranda James’s and  Lillian Jackson Braun’s.  This was more to the paranormal side that I could handle.  Lillian Jackson Braun’s “the cat who…” series gives hints to the cats abnormal intelligence (ability to read, give clues, etc), but it is done with a light touch and is not overwhelming.  This book, the first Joe Grey Mystery, is into paranormal from the very beginning.  Talking cats, people who turn from animals into cats, and psychopaths who can sense them.  It was too much for me, but paranormal fans will probably like it because it was well written, the personalities of the characters were engaging, and  it was well paced.

The Rocksburg Railroad Murders is set in Pennsylvania, not too terribly far from where I live.  The setting and the action in the ethnic neighborhoods is very realistic.  The characters, the local bars, and the attitudes towards and from the Italien Americans are very accurate to my experiences.  The murder case is interesting but there really is not much of a mystery as right from the beginning, Mario Balzic, has the idea of who was guilty and it was just  a matter of putting the evidence together.  I think that I didn’t enjoy this one that much because there was not much of an escape factor, which I look for in books.  The setting and characters are too familiar and so realisticaly drawn that it in some ways bored me, much as real life can at times.  The tedium of life is so clearly protrayed here that I feel like it is well written to be able to evoke that sense, but it just made the actual book a drag to read at times.

Some Thriller Reads…

Over the last week or so I’ve managed to read these three thrillers.  The Treatment is book 2 in the Detective Jack Caffery series.  This was this month’s read on the English Kindle Mystery Club at Goodreads. I read Birdman quite some time ago and I remember it being graphically violent and very disturbing.  The Treatment is less graphic but just as disturbing..  Mo Hayder’s writing is very engaging.  Her books are well written and certainly pull the reader in, but the crimes being investigated are extremely disturbing.  I did find Jack’s personal life distracting in this book, moreso than I remember in the first.  Well written, very dark psychological thriller involving child victims.

Bones of You also involves a child who goes missing and ultimately is found dead in nearby woods.  Other than those similarities, this book and The Treatment are nothing alike.  Bones of You is told from the point of view of Kate, a neighbor to the child, with excerpts from the child’s thoughts leading us up to the crime. The only tension really left in the story was the presence of a second child, who might be at risk. This was an okay mystery, but I found the villain pretty obvious,  mainly because the red herrings were heavy handed.

The Purity of Vengeance was my favorite read of these three.  I have enjoyed every book so far in the Department Q series.  In this book Carl Morck and his team are working on tying together a series of cold cases, in which the crimes occurred in same short time period.  Each team member brings his or her particular skills to the case to tie up the loose ends.  Carl Morck’s home life is also underging some changes, with Moerck’s divorce finally being settled, Morten being involved in a relationship, and Hardy appears to be making some improvement.  Well written mystery with many twists and turns picking up threads from multiple characters and tying them all together.  Great mystery read in a fascinating series.

I haven’t been getting too much reading done with school just coming back into session, but I did read these two.  The Silent World of Nicholas Quinn is book book 3 in the Inspector Morse series.  The characterizaiton of Morse is very true to the TV series (or the TV series is true to the books).  Well done intricate plotting, multiple suspects and motives to sort through along with Morse and his long suffering sidekick Lewis.  These are really well written and engaging police procedurals.  I would recommend reading them in order to watch Morse and Lewis progress over time.

A Great Deliverance by Elizabeth George is book 1 in the Inspector Lynley series.  I have watched the whole series on DVD and read a couple of the books out of order but now I am beginning at book 1.  I loved this opening to the series.  It gave such insight into Lynley’s and especially Havers.  Her life is much more bleak than portrayed in the TV series.  It really shows that the characters grow and develop over time of the series.  I highly recommend this one.