A Necessary End & The Blood Split


Two more library books, A Necessary End is the third book in the Inspector Banks series.  This books begins with an anti-nuke pro-environment rally and ends with a dead copper.  Banks is left to solve the case, with too many suspects and yet no witnesses, and hampered by a dirty dealing Inspector brought in from the outside.  Banks has a history with Burgess and describes him as “..name anyone and Burgess is to the right of them”.

Really good snapshot of the Thatcher era with its  anti-nuke fears in the public,  anti-American air base protests, strikes,  and the beginning of privatization of public services.  Banks is a put in a position of separating his own politics and feelings from his job as he investigates the death of the police officer.  Banks is conflicted on another front as well, his wife is away and Jenny, a woman he had a small crush on in a previous book, is on the periphery of this case.  In the end, the case is all tied up neatly.   A good mystery that was also a picture of a point in time that I remember well as pictures in the newspaper and headlines.

The Blood Spilt is the second Rebecka Martinsson novel.  I read and enjoyed the first one and this picks up where that left off.  Rebecka has been profoundly affected by the events in book 1, to the point she is not really functioning.   She returns with a colleague, to the area of her hometown and gradually gets immersed in a case involving the murder of a female priest, who had a lot of enemies as well as worshippers.  The development of all the key characters in the story are well done and as a reader you can truly see how it all unfolded, leading to tragic ends.

An atmospheric read, with a measured pace, and great character development make for a very good mystery read.




Pop Goes the Weasel by MJ Arlidge

22236161  This is the second in the Helen Grace series. The first I enjoyed, lots of twists and turns and Helen Grace is a complex, interesting character.  I am giving this a 3 on Goodreads, on the strength of the writing and the story.  However, this book raised some questions for me but I don’t know how to address them without giving spoilers.   So….spoilers below…


Let’s just say there are no, with the exception of Charlie perhaps, redeemable/positive  female characters here.  Helen Grace is self-destructive, falling apart at the seams, her new superintendent, female, is amoral among other things, the female journalist is sociopathic, willing to reveal in the newspaper that an adopted boy was the child of serial killer,  the wife of one of the victim’s is a party to his abuse of her child,   “innocent” men are being killed as they attempt to purchase sexual services.  Even the murder and torture of a sadistic pimp is seen as evidence of female violence to men.

I had to think about this for a little bit.  It seemed as though the purpose of the book was to say that “see women are just as violent, immoral,  and depraved as men.”  While it is true that there are female serial killers, they are few and far between. Statistically speaking they are an anomaly, the idea that one local police officer would encounter two back to back in her career is pretty much an impossibility. Women are much more likely to be the victims of violent crime, rather than the perpetrators.

The writing is good and the actual investigation as written is interesting and I definitely wanted to know what happened, but even the resolution raised questions that were not resolved.

The Dark Winter by David Mark


I found this book by way of recommendations for a later book in the series.  I was interested in the series set in Hull as I’ve not read anything set there before to my knowledge and I have seen quite  a few posts from online friends about Hull, City of Culture.  I was fortunate in that my library had book 1 in the series.

DS Aector McAvoy is just returning from an injury and from working a case that was quashed due to political connections and probably the embarrassment of higher-ups.  He is working with a serious crimes team and is somewhat of a dark horse to his team members.  His boss Detective Superintendent Pharoah sees potential in him and they form a good team. Aector becomes personally involved in a crime due to being on the scene moments after it has occurred and interacting with the perpetrator.  As one crime becomes many Aector follows his instincts and his investigation to uncover connections between cases and ultimately reveal the tragic story behind it all.

Aector is not a religious man, but is highly moral.  He has sense of justice and desires to see it served.  He strives to live up to the pedestal his wife has place him on and to be seen as a good, competent detective.  He is very happily married and his wife and marriage are definitely his grounding point.  Really interesting, well thought out character, different from many other detectives, who show their trials by addictions and unhealthy relationships or no connections outside of work.  In some ways, he reminds me of Inspector Banks from Peter Robinson’s series.

I really liked this, I found it well written and engaging with some great characters. I will be reading more in the series.

The Scarred Woman and The Wolves of Winter

The Scarred Woman is book 7 in the Department Q series, which is one of my favorite series.  I love the relationships that the team of Carl, Assad, Rose and now Gordon have developed over time.  In this book, there is a lot going on and you certainly can’t see how it will be all pulled together in the end but it works.  There are even threats to the existence of Department Q itself.  Rose has an extensive subplot that is heartbreaking and gives loads of insight into her character.  My only tiny criticism would be that the reader spends a lot of time in the killer’s mind and I would have liked to see more of Carl’s thoughts.

Another great story in this series.  Love the characters, the setting, and the mystery plots!

The Wolves of Winter is a book I saw recommended somewhere and added to my library list.  It seems to have a bit of an identity crisis, it is marketed as an adult science fiction, but it read like a YA novel. The protagonist is a little old (23) but other than that it really feels YA-ish.  This is a post apocalyptic book with a little bit of Soldier (the Kurt Russell movie) thrown in.  Predictable.  No surprises.  The people you expect to be the bad guys are the bad guys.  The good guy and girl are “super-human” each in their own ways.

Written Off by E.J. Copperman

26196429  This is the first in the Mysterious Detective Mystery Series.  Rachel Goodman is the writer of a mystery series with a sleuth, Duffy Madison.  Out of the blue she gets a call from a man claiming to be Duffy Madison, not just sharing a name with her character, but actually being her character brought to life.  He brings her news of a serial killer targeting writers, including one Rachel knows.

Duffy drags a somewhat reluctant and disbelieving Rachel along for the ride, a ride that ends up making Rachel a target of the killer.  Fun, cozy mystery with interesting insights into the writing life.

The Dramatist by Ken Bruen

323489  This is book 4 in the Jack Taylor series which the TV show is based upon.  I hesitate to say I enjoy these books because they are somewhat of an emotional rollercoaster, depressing, upsetting, even maddening at points and The Dramatist is no exception.  It would be easy to say that Jack Taylor is his own worst enemy but unfortunately that isn’t the case, he has plenty of enemies.

This book starts with Jack in an unusual place, cold stone sober, off drink and drugs and trying to limit the cigarettes.  His dealer is in prison and asks for a favor that drags Jack into a case that no one else even thinks is a case yet.  Amid all that Jack deals with his mother, who is at the end of her tortured life, the jealous husband of an old lover,  and a vigilante crew, seeking justice in their own way.  The resolution is just as depressing and upsetting as Jack Taylor’s life.

I keep reading these because the writing is just that good, the sense of place is completely immersive, and Jack Taylor is a complex and engaging character.  I will definitely keep reading this series, but I would caution anyone starting it that it pretty much has to be read in order.  Galway is developed as a “small village” and Jack runs into people from previous books constantly.  I think it would be difficult to understand all the nuances of the interactions without having read the earlier books.

The Hanging Girl by Jussi Adler-Olsen


This is book 6 in the Department Q mysteries.  I just love this series, Carl, Assad and Rose are a great team.  Their interactions and methods of working drive the story along at a nice pace.  In this outing of the series, Carl receives a call which he as no interest in getting involved in.  The caller kills himself and a very reluctant Carl and his team are dragged in to look at a cold case that was the catalyst for the suicide.

Great sense of place, great (and in some instances tragic) characters, an interesting plot involving an obscure religious cult, and obsessive love come together to create an engaging novel.  I didn’t see the end coming and thought the resolution was really cleverly done.  A great, well written mystery, in a series that continues to be one of my favorites.

The Dogs of Riga & Water Like Stone

Two very different mysteries, both from series that I really like.  The Dogs of Riga is the 2nd book in the Kurt Wallander series that the TV show is based upon.   This books sees Kurt leaving home to continue with a case in a Soviet dominated Latvia.  He has no one to trust and at the same time is being told by desperate people that he is their only chance for justice.  The case starts with two bodies in a life raft and ends up being something much bigger and with the potential to end Kurt’s own life.  The atmosphere created here is fantastic, both in Kurt’s lonely and isolated life at home and in the terror filled streets of Latvia.  Really strong sense of place and the characters of Kurt, Baiba Leipa and Major Leipa are fully fleshed out and are able to evoke empathy from the reader.  Fans of the TV series and others who like Nordic thrillers or have an interest in Soviet-Latvian politics would enjoy this book.

Water Like a Stone is book 11 in the Duncan Kincaid & Gemma James series.  This is a Christmas book, as Duncan and Gemma take the children to visit Duncan’s parents for the holiday.  Unfortunately, the body of a small child is discovered by Duncan’s sister as they arrive and Duncan finds himself and even his family drawn into the case.  This was a lighter read and spent a lot of time focused on Duncan and Gemma’s kids and their relationship with Duncan’s family.  The reader also meets Duncan’s sister as she is dealing with accusations of infidelity, a troublesome teen child, embezzlement and a struggling new business.  This was a quick, lighter read, well written, not much of a mystery for the reader to solve, but there is a case to follow in which Duncan is not the lead detective,  and a lot of plot dealing with family life.  A nice addition to the series, I enjoyed it and will certainly continue reading about Duncan and Gemma.

Latest Books…


Last time I went to the library EIGHT of my holds all came in on the same day, so now I am frantically trying to get through them before the 31st.

A Dedicated Man is the second in Peter Robinson’s Inspector Banks series.  In this episode, Inspector Banks is investigating the murder of a man that everyone seems to say has no enemies, but the fact he ended up buried under a stone wall with his head bashed in seems to put paid to that notion.  Inspector Banks is given a rather green constable  to help him among others.   A second missing person adds to the case and with a wealth of characters, many who had connections from long ago and some nasty rumors about others swirling around the village, he has his work cut out for him.

A strong sense of place, great characters, and plenty of red herrings make this a great mystery read along the lines of PD James and Ruth Rendell.  I really enjoyed it and am happy to know that there are plenty more to read in the series.

River of Darkness was a book that I became aware of through the Kindle English Mystery Club and decided to give a try.  It is interesting in that it reads like a modern-day serial killer thriller, but is set in the period between the wars in rural England.  An entire family is obliterated and Inspector John Madden recognizes the wounds as he had served time in the Army.  He begins to investigate and eventually finds connections to other murders and builds his case.  In the course of this work, he meets a love interest to help him overcome his rather tragic past.

A decent quick mystery read, but I am not sure if I would invest the time in continuing the series.

Arctic Chill by Arnaldur Indridason is the 7th book in the Inspector Erlendeur novels.  I started this series with the 3rd book as that was the first one translated into English.  I am really enjoying reading these mysteries with the team of  Inspectors Erlendur, Elinborg and Sigurdur Oli.  All three of them are interesting characters alone, well drawn and realistic feeling.  Alongside the mystery, Erlendur deals with his adult children and with his dying mentor giving more insight into his character.

The mystery here has a modern feel as it is deeply wrapped up in  immigration, racism, and xenophobia.  A child with a Thai bride mother is murdered and emotions run deep giving the case a high-profile and lots of leads.  There is a second missing person case that Erlendur feels compelled to solve even though just about everyone else is certain it is a suicide.  A compelling mystery read with a good sense of place and a great cast of characters.   Recommended read!

Die Zauberflote is a libretto for Mozart’s opera The Magic Flute.  I had a ticket to see the show with a friend and wanted to read the libretto ahead of time to be familiar with it.  I felt the storyline was a contrived with over the top drama, but it is not really meant just to be read.  The performance had a great cast and beautiful music at Westminster College.  I still didn’t like the storyline, but I’m glad that I went to see it.




Blood Lines and other reads…


Insomnia strikes so I am updating my latest reads.  The first one is Blood Lines, I received a free copy of this title from NetGalley in exchange for a fair review.  This is the 5th book in the D.I. Kim Stone series.  I have read the first Kim Stone book and enjoyed it but fell behind on the series so I am reading this out-of-order.

Kim Stone is reconnected with an old nemesis, sociopath Dr. Alex Thorne, whilst she is in the midst of another case.  D.I. Stone is pushed and pulled between the current murder case and the trouble that Dr. Thorne is stirring up.

This was a great read.  Thrilling and interesting, with a wealth of  engaging characters, it kept me turning the pages long after I should have gone to sleep.  I was fascinated by the workings of Dr. Thorne’s mind and what she was able to achieve through her machinations while “safely” behind bars.  The resolution of D.I. Stone’s mother’s storyline played out well and gave reader’s a real understanding of D.I. Stone and what drives her as a person and an officer.

The main murder case storyline highlighted the importance of the team as a unit and gave time to each of the members.  There were red herrings and multiple leads that the team waded through before being able to tie it all together in a “down to the wire” finish.

I would highly recommend this and fully intend to go back and read the other books in the series.

The Ghost Fields is book 7 in the Ruth Galloway series.  Ruth is a forensic archaeologist, who often gets involved in solving crimes on top of being a college instructor and running archaeological digs.  In this case Ruth’s daughter is starting school.  Nelson is trying to be part of his daughter’s life and maintain his marriage.  The other regular crew of recurring characters are also present in this outing in the series.

The strongest point in all the Ruth Galloway books  has been the wonderful sense of place that they evoke and that is still true in this book.  The setting is so well-formed that it really becomes an essential art of the story.  I did find the mystery in this book was rather weak  considering the  murder happened in the war so the killer had to be in his or her 80s and there weren’t a ton of characters in that age range.  It seemed as though Nelson really didn’t investigate and everything was just sort of stumbled upon.  I am also getting a little weary of the Ruth-Nelson will they, won’t they storyline.

I have loved these books since the beginning but this one is definitely a weak outing in the series.

Night Blind by Ragnar Jonasson is the 2nd in the Dark Iceland series.  This takes place 5 years after the setting of the first book.  Ari Thor is with his girlfriend and they have a young child now.  He was recently denied a promotion and has a new boss since Tomas moved south.

Another good read in this series.  Ari Thor is a complex character with a past and a complicated relationship.  The story begins with a shooting and then Ari’s attempts to solve it are interspersed with diary entries from a mental hospital patient.  The book ties it all together in the end, solving the case and other crimes along the way.  There are themes of domestic violence, drug abuse, and mental illness.

This is a book with a well-developed sense of place. This is truly atmospheric as the reader is immersed in the feelings of being in Siglufjordur.  The setting evokes feelings of isolation and dread.  Really enjoyed this and will be interested to see what the next books bring.

Killing Kate is a  serial killer mystery read.  There is a serial killer in Kate’s home town and he is killing women that look like her.  That is enough to give anyone the heebie jeebies.   Kate was on holiday when it started but now she’s home and on top of the serial killer, she has an ex who is still somewhat persistent.  The main theme explored is domestic violence.  This was a quick read but not one that really grabbed me as anything special.