The Seagull, Spider’s Web, & Borderline



This week, I just finished these three although I started a few others so they will be posted next week.

I received a free ARC of The Seagull  from the publisher in exchange for a fair review.  I was so excited to get an ARC of The Seagull, book 8 in the A Vera Stanhope Mystery series and it was a great read.  When it got towards the middle, I kept putting it down to try to drag it out because I didn’t want it to end!

DI Vera Stanhope visits a prison on the orders of her boss to give a talk to inmates.  Once there she meets up with an old inmate, who strikes a deal with her for information on the location of a body.  This jumps starts an investigation into a twenty year old murder..or two and sets off a chain of events in the current time.  The plot line becomes heavily intermingled with Vera’s, or more correctly her father, Hector’s past.  His “hobby” of bird and egg poaching and the men he associated with are enmeshed in this investigation causing Vera more than one episode of being haunted by her memories.  This novel really shows Vera as a woman, a daughter, a friend, and an intelligent, critically thinking DI, an amazingly well drawn character.

The team of Charlie, Joe and Holly are really well done here, fully fleshed out characters, who are engaging in their own right, not just in the relation to Vera.  I particularly enjoyed the development of Charlie’s character over the course of the series and love that it goes against the stereotype of the older, maudlin, divorced cop who sinks into a puddle of alcohol in despair.  There are other characters outside of the team, who are just as well done, and demonstrate the effect of crimes on the families left behind.

The setting is just as well done, evocative and atmospheric.  There is a highly developed sense of place, which I really love in a book.  The setting is as important as the characters and the plot.  I would highly recommend The Seagull to readers of mystery fiction, to readers who love strong female leads, (particularly ones that are not in their 20s and beautiful), or to readers who just love good books!

I read Spider’s Web, the play by Agatha Christie because I had tickets to go see it performed at Princeton University.  The play was funny, lots of humor, and light-hearted for a murder mystery.  The female lead, Clarissa, was a great character, engaging and making the reader root for her success in all of her machinations. The plot did not feel as complex as some of Christie’s other work and it is my understanding that this play was overshadowed by The Mousetrap and is Christie’s least performed work.   I did enjoy reading it and seeing it performed.

Borderline is an urban fantasy, which is definitely NOT my go-to genre.  My daughter was reading it and I picked it up and was hooked by the first few pages and the lead character, Millie.  Millie is the survivor of a suicide attempt that left her a disfigured face and a double amputee.  She is recruited by the secretive Arcadia Project directly out of the institution in which she has been living. No longer suicidal, she is now dealing with the aftermath of her attempt, borderline personality disorder, and living in a house owned by the Arcadia Project full of other damaged characters and…. magic.

I loved the character of Millie and her portrayal of Borderline Personality Disorder.   She has been taught coping skills at her stay in the institution and through her the reader learns a great deal about BPD, in a straightforward, no pitying or wringing of hands, kind of way.  This is a fantastic example of a protagonist,who is both physically disabled and dealing with mental illness.

My only issue with the book was that I felt the ending seemed a little rushed and I don’t want to say anything else and give spoilers.  Definitely recommend this one, even if, like me, you are not a big reader of urban fantasy.