Magpie Murders, Gather the Daughters, The Conflict, & In the Still

Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz is this month’s read at the Kindle English Mystery Club on Goodreads.  I really enjoyed this read with its “book within a book” set up.  I have seen this technique used in the past but not as successfully.  The book “within” was an obvious homage to Christie’s Poirot and as such was a fun read.

I also liked having insight into the editor’s mind as she analyzed the book trying to work out the ending and then she used the same technique to solve her real mystery.  I wasn’t certain about the outcome of the Atticus Pund mystery and I enjoyed the reveal and the use of misinterpretation. I suspected the villain in the real mystery early on but still enjoyed reading through Susan’s reveal and seeing how she put all the pieces together.  The connection between the two mysteries was particularly clever.   Highly recommended for fans of classic mysteries and modern ones.

Gather the Daughters by Jennie Melamed is told from the point of view of four girls living in an isolated religious cult that sprung up after a great scourge caused the rest of the world to be deemed “the wasteland”.  This is a tremendously disturbing book that tackles child sexual abuse, grooming and pedophilia, euthanasia,  misogyny, religious absolutism, and male power and violence.  There are shades of Lord of the Flies and Handmaid’s Tale both present here.  Absolutely compelling writing.  The girls’ characters are incredibly well drawn and pull the reader completely into their horrifying  world.  There is one scene of extreme animal cruelty that caused me to put the book down for a short while, but I did finish it.  I wouldn’t say I “enjoyed” this book, it was too disturbing, but it is a powerful book and it shines a light on some uncomfortable topics.

The Conflict:   How Modern Motherhood Undermines the Status of Women by Elisabeth Badinter is a non-fiction read.  While I didn’t agree with all of her conclusions from her data, the points that she raises are thought-provoking and an important consideration, not only for feminists, but for mothers and fathers.  The connections to Rousseau’s naturalism as a school of thought are interesting as is the historical perspective on motherhood in France contrasted with other countries.

In the Still by Jacqueline Chadwick is a murder mystery involving Ali, a former profiler, who has emigrated from the UK to Canada with her family.  A murder occurs in her small town, not far from her house and she immediately senses that the scene is not a one-off killing.  The novel follows Ali and her eager side kick’s investigation tracking a serial killer that not everyone, including Ali’s husband, is sure exists.  Ali as a character is her own worst enemy in some ways.  She can be rude, antagonistic, anxious and sinks into depressive funks.  She is not a very likeable protagonist, but she is certainly intelligent and what is more, she is the only one capable of and willing to do whatever it takes to solve the crime.  Good start to a new series.