A Suitable Vengeance by Elizabeth George

234232  This is the fourth in the Inspector Lynley series.  The series that the PBS TV series was based on.  0783421427792_p0_v2_s192x300  This is a mystery/romance/other fiction all in one and equal parts of each.  The plot does involve a murder, but the other elements of the storyline could hardly be called subplots, as they contribute equally to the book as a whole.  Many of the cast of recurring characters are here,  Lady Helen, St. James, Deborah, and Lynley are mainly featured.  For people following the series and the friendship of St. James and Lynley, this book is a pivotal one in an excellent series, as it is actually a prequel.  It showcases events happening prior to book 1 giving readers of the series the back story of the series’ characters.

This series is criticized as creating a romanticized and unrealistic view of the British Upper Class and I can understand that critique.  However, I enjoy this world that Elizabeth George has created and her characters and it is, after all, fiction.  This is not intended to be a gritty, life on the streets, mystery/crime novel.  It is a novel, in a series, that is first and foremost about people, Lynley and his friends and relations.  It speaks to how difficult relationships can be to navigate, particularly when a crime, like murder intrudes. I have really been enjoying the series and would highly recommend it.  I would also recommend the TV series, just keep in mind that it does not stay true to the books.

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Reading Up a Storm by Eva Gates

25894011  This is the third book in the Lighthouse Library series set on the outer banks.  I really love the setting having spent a couple vacations on the outer bank years ago.  The library in the lighthouse itself is unique and has an atmosphere all of its own.  Lucy is a likeable and intelligent main character who drives the story.  I find that the characters in this series in general are more realistically written than in many cozy mysteries.  There is a romantic element that is written in a playful and fun way adding a good subplot to the mystery.

Here the mystery involves a returnee to the outer banks, who ends up murdered practically on the library doorstep.  Lucy’s friend is accused and Lucy finds herself investigating almost reluctantly, although she is eager for Stephanie to be cleared of the murder.  The mystery includes a boat wreck, old tales of wreckers, a long lost father, romance and of course murder.  Good solid cozy mystery read!

 

#Friday56

friday2b56

Presumably an unneutered tom, which would account for the smell.  And hadn’t Daphne said something about the old doctor only being interested in young people and babies and the general burgeoning of life?  So he might well be against any interfering with Nature…

8697340From the fabulous Barabara Pym’s work   A Few Green Leaves.  She is an author who is currently being rediscovered (her books have been republished and released on kindle).  Some great articles about her include:

https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/a-nice-hobby-like-knitting-barbara-pym

and

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/23/books/review/pride-and-perseverance.html

There is also a Barbara Pym Society that meets twice a year, once in London and once in North America, keeping her work alive.  I am really enjoying working my way through her catalog of work!

Kill ‘Em with Cayenne & A Finer End

Last night’s reads include these two that I checked out from my local library, the wonderful Mercer County Library System.  I checked out Gail Oust’s spice shop mystery, Kill ’em with Cayenne because I recently read one of  Leslie Budewitz’s spice shop mysteries and it piqued my interest in spices.

This  spice shop series is set on the opposite coast of Leslie Budewitz’s series, in Georgia to be precise.  The mystery involves a not very nice woman who is murdered when the town is all in a frenzy already due to an upcoming barbeque contest.  Piper stumbles across the body while walking her dog and of course sticks her nose into the investigation.  The mystery was made interesting because of the number of people who were potential suspects.  Piper investigated digging up clues the police missed.  I did find the police incompetence, a little over the top in this one, stretching my ability to suspend my disbelief.  I did like the resolution and the fact that the stereotypical blonde baracuda proved to be not that and was really a victim.  There is a romantic triangle subplot here that seems to be just warming up, with Piper, her vet and the Chief, that will probably play out in future books.  Interesting read with information on chili peppers and some recipes as well.

A Finer End is the next book in the Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James series that I love and this one was in some ways completely different.  The attempt/murder is not what drives this book at all.  The story centers around an architect, Duncan Kincaid’s cousin, who is receiving messages  in the form of automatic writing in Latin, no less.  He brings together a group of aquaintances including, a love interest, a pagan worshipper, a teen runaway, and an academic/author to attempt to understand what is happening.  There are other paranormal type happenings, people experiencing euphoric feelings and losing time, people experiencing drives or uges to do things, and a painter driven to paint the portrait of a child she has never met over and over.

The threads of all these characters become tightly wound together, until the tension becomes too much and violence erupts.  I enjoyed the first half of the book which just had small snippets of Gemma and Duncan, but I liked it much better once they intersected with the architect and his group.  I felt that the pacing picked up them and the flow of the story became much more natural feeling, that might be because at that point it became more like what i would expect in a mystery.   The resolution was well done and not what I expected which I liked. The romantic subplot for Duncan and Gemma is moving along very nicely, as is the subplot of Duncan and his son.   Very enjoyable read, a mystery with paranormal/spiritual elements.

Death on the Cherwell by Mavis Doriel Hay

18526939  This is another re-released British Library Crime Classic.  Death on the Cherwell involves a group of young women, students at an Oxford Women’s College, who have formed a secret “club” or group, mainly it seems for the purpose of complaining about the college bursar, Miss Denning.  The girls find the bursar dead, at first apparently drowned, but very quickly found to be murdered.  They join in investigating the murder with Detective Inspector Wythe.  The story ebbs and flows, there are parts that are very good, particularly after the niece arrives and some of the conversational pieces are excellent.  Fans of college based mysteries will in particular enjoy this.  I liked it but not as much as the John Bude books, also released as part of this set by the British Library.

Jamie Quinn Mysteries Box Set Books 1 – 3

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000032_00038]  I received this, Jamie Quinn Mystery Collection:  Box Set Books 1 -3 free from the author in return for a fair review.   The collection includes  Death By Didgeridoo, The Case of the Killer Divorce, and Peril in the Park.

I read these through this afternoon as I lay inside avoiding the heat.   The series is based around a reluctant family  lawyer, Jamie Quinn, who has some leeway in how much she works due to the recent death of her mother and the inheritance she received as a result.  The three cases are very different.  The first involves Jamie being called in by her desperate aunt to defend Jamie’s cousin, who has Asperger’s Syndrome, and has been arrested for murder.  The second involves one of her family court cases that turns criminal, when her client is accused of murdering her soon to be ex and the third involves corruption and murder surrounding a real estate deal.  Throughout these, there is an overarching mystery about the identity and location of Jamie’s father.

Jamie is a great character, who shows resourcefulness and intelligence.  The cast of supporting characters include a PI, who Jamie helped in his divorce and now she calls on  for help.  Also, a long term lawyer friend, who Jamie consults with frequently, Nick, a prosecuter, who seems to have a grudging respect for Jamie, and Kip, an employee of the park service and an old friend that Jamie had lost track of for quite some time.  The mysteries are interesting, fast paced and resolved successfully.

My only issue with the set is that the individual books are too short and so to me they feel rushed, although to be fair I should clarify.  The three books together are just over 300 pages and so I would say that each one is just about a novella’s length.  I don’t tend to care for reading short mysteries and that is just a personal preference. I do know that there is a market now for these shorter stories, even James Patterson is releasing Bookshots, books under 150 pages.   I will say that reading them together, book 1,2 & 3 made it better for me because I could see the development of relationships between the recurring characters that you would get in a longer novel.  Nicely done mystery, interesting characters and setting, would be especially good for fans of shorter mysteries.