The Death of an Irish Tinker by Bartholomew Gill

342340  This is book 13 in a series I have not heard of written by an author unfamiliar to me.  It was at a library book sale and I decided to take a chance on it.  The murder involves a villain known as the Toddler, who commits a crime witnessed by a traveller woman.  This sets in motion the rest of the events in the book.  Peter McGarr is the Chief Superintendent investigating the crimes here, which are both brutal and unusual.  The nature of the travellers’ distrust of the police and the Toddler’s far reaching power makes for a difficult investigation with many twists and turns before reaching the conclusion.

A very dark, somewhat depressing police procedural.  I won’t judge it very harshly, simply because I didn’t read the earlier books and don’t know the character’s back story and may be missing important details by reading this one as a stand alone.

Puppet for a Corpse by Dorothy Simpson

1856857This is the third in Inspector Luke Thanet’s police procedural series.  Inspector Thanet has a very dogged approach to solving crime.  He methodically goes through the clues, the suspects and witnesses, the alibis, and the motives until he comes up with his final theory of the crime.  In this case, a local country doctor has committed suicide, or has he?  His young beautiful wife, an actress and celebrity in her own right doesn’t believe it is suicide.  His son and housekeeper don’t believe it either.  It is up to Inspector Thanet to sort through the clues and uncover the truth.  At the same time, he is dealing with issues in his home life with his wife Joan and his family in a subplot that allow the reader to see a very human side of the Inspector.

A relatively short, clean (as far as language, no gore, no graphic violence or sex) police procedural that is well written with an engaging Inspector as the main protagonist.  I haven’t read others in the series, I just picked this up at a library sale on impulse.  If I come across other books by Dorothy Simpson, I would give another one I try.

Murder in the Lords by Nigel West

28323740  This was an impulse buy from my local used book store.  A murder takes place in the House of Lord and the Chief Inspector assisted by Phillip North, Conservative MP, try to solve the murder.  The case ends up involving Nazis, war crimes, Russian spies, wives (or not), a victim who may or may not be who everyone thought he was, drug addiction, suicide,  fraud and lawsuits, in essence a little bit of everything and the kitchen sink.  I actually had to keep checking on the dates, because it had a very “cold war” feel to it, however it is actually taking place in the 90s.  The book was published in 1994 and there are references to events in the 80s in the novel.

The author has written other books about MI5 and non-fiction spy and espionage works.  He is known as an expert in the intelligence field.   He previously worked as a police officer and was a conservative party MP.  He uses this insider’s view to give intimate details of the workings of parliament to his readers and this is really, in my mind ,the best part of the book.  The mystery is intricate and well laid out by I enjoyed all the background detail he provided.  An interesting political murder mystery read.

 

A Skeleton in the Family by Leigh Perry

15810106  This is the 1st in the Family Skeleton series. I will admit to having some deep reservations about reading this, I mean come on, a skeleton named Sid, as one of the main characters?  It seemed like it would be a little silly.  Well, I started and finished it last night and I really liked it!.  The sleuth is Georgia Thackery, an adjunct professor, who just moved home to her parents’ house while they are out of the country on sabbatical.  Sid has been in the family since Georgia’s childhood.  Georgia now has a teen daughter, who she brings home with her and together, the three of them make for a  delightful family.  Georgia is an intelligent, strong-willed, independent sleuth.  Sid is smart and witty and the relationship between them is both touching and comic.  The first case involves solving Sid’s murder as he starts to recover some memories from his life before he came to the Thackery household.

A great cozy read and I will definitely  read more in the series.

The Draining Lake by Arnaldur Indridason

498406  This is the 6th book in the series, but I have only read books 3, 4 and 5 due to the order that they were translated into English.  I really like the characters,  Inspectors Erlendur, Elinborg and Sigurdur Oli form a formidable team.  The murder case here takes them back to the cold war and soviet spies, communist East Germany, and left-wing student groups.  There are also glimpses into Erlendur’s personal life through his relationships especially with Marion and Eva Lind.

The historical elements and the modern mystery are smoothly intertwined to make for a story that has good pacing and flows.    The characters are fully fleshed out and engaging with all their very human flaws.  I have enjoyed all the books in this series so far and look forward to reading more!

Address to Die For by Mary Feliz

28686806  A new to me author and series,  Address to Die For, is the first in A Maggie McDonald Mystery Series.  The title character, Maggie, is a professional organizer.  As the series opens she is in the middle of moving with her family to a home her husband inherited from his aunt.  The move goes anything but smoothly and the main upset is a dead body found in her new house.  Maggie steps up the challenge of handling the move, fixing up the dilapidated house, meeting new people in town and figuring out who is trying to drive her family out of their new home with a fist full of lists and a smile on her face.

Maggie is different from the average cozy sleuth in that she is a happily married mother. In most cases, the sleuths are single women, or divorced or widowed. In this, the opening book of the series, her husband was called away for work, but the relationship between them was illustrated through their emails.  I look forward to seeing how it their family life is portrayed in the next book.

Very promising start to a new series!

Three Insomnia Reads…

I had some difficulty sleeping last night and made my way through these three.  I could swear that I have read The Corner Shop before. It seemed really familiar, but I couldn’t find a record of it, so if I did it was before I started keeping track on Goodreads.  Elizabeth Cadell was recommended to me because I like Barbara Pym, I can see some similarity but not an overwhelming amount.  The Corner Shop concerns Mrs. Abbey a young  divorcee, who manages a secretarial agency.  She has traveled out to the country on the eve of her holiday to see to a particularly troublesome client.  Through the client, an impossible dotty professor,  she becomes embroiled in  a mystery surrounding stolen goods, relatives who are up to no good, and strangers that she coincidentally runs into repeatedly.  The story leaves England and travels to France and continues there.  Probably best described as a madcap romantic mystery.  I found it to be a fun, quick read which I quite enjoyed.

Objects of My Affection is about single mom, Lucy, starting an organizing business.  She has sold everything she owned to pay for an expensive stint in rehab for her son.  She lucks into a famous artist for a client and the novel follows the progression of the organizing job, the relationship between Lucy and her client, and her son’s situation in rehab.  This is the chick lit treatment of some serious issues, suicide, addiction, and  hoarding.   Quick, light read, with enjoyable characters and some interesting commentary on parenting and family dynamics at points.

Weeding Out Trouble is book 5 in the Nina Quinn Mystery series.  Nina is a divorced landscaper currently living with her stepson.  She gets involved with a murder when one of her employees disappears under mysterious circumstances.  There is a large cast of characters supporting Nina and she has an interesting personal and career life.  The current murder case is complicated by massive snowstorm dropping feet of snow.  There are lots of possibilities to explore here with illegal drugs, crooked police, and jealous lovers.  Quick cozy read from Heather Webber, who also writes cozies as Heather Blake.

 

Murder for Choir by Joelle Charbonneau

13110452  First in a series and a new to me author, this A Glee Club Mystery seems like a Glee TV show spin-off.  Paige Marshall is an aspiring Opera singer who has landed home between professional gigs and is currently teaching a high school competitive show choir.  The atmosphere is cutthroat among the teaching staff and the students, eventually the pressure blows and someone ends up dead.  Paige discovers the body and puts herself squarely in the sights of a killer.  Fans of the TV show will probably enjoy this musical competition themed cozy.

Sketch a Falling Star by Sharon Pape

11737052  This is book 3 in the Portrait of a Crime Mystery Series.  I have really enjoyed the first two books in this series and looked forward to reading this one and it did not disappoint.  Rory and her ghostly sidekick Zeke, solve a modern day murder and one from the past.  Rory goes on a trip out west to hunt for clues into Zeke’s murder and gets involved in a modern day murder…or is it a murder?

The relationship between Zeke and Rory is what makes these books so special.  They have the push-pull power struggle, the conflicts caused by ideas from differing eras, particularly ideas related to male-female roles, and an underlying sense of loyalty and affection.  In this book, we have an addition of an elderly neighbor,who is also  aware of Zeke and stops by irregularly to add in her two cents worth to stir the pot.

A well written series with fully fleshed out protagonists whose relationship is the driving force behind the books.

Astrid and Veronika by Linda Olsson

181086 I had mixed feelings about reading this as I felt the trope is somewhat overdone, the whole “older damaged woman and younger damaged woman find each other and together they heal” has been seen in many novels and films and I wasn’t sure if I was interested in seeing it again.  I am really interested in books set in Sweden though and it is relatively short so I put aside my misgivings and gave it a try.

Astrid is the older  character here, living alone on her family farm, the villagers basically ignoring her in her old age, other than to refer to her as a witch.  Veronika is the younger woman, returning to Sweden after a life spent traveling abroad first with her father a diplomat and then as a young woman.  The women bond over their isolation and slowly over the course of the book, in alternating chapters they reveal the secrets and tragedies of their lives.

The writing is well done, the women’s stories are interesting and engaging, although I will say I think Astrid’s is much more compelling than Veronika’s.  There are some interesting parallels set up, both are abandoned by their mothers, and some contrasts for instance, one has a good father and one does not.   I just feel that the “sisterhood of damaged women” is an overdone trope and that there could have been a more interesting story here.