Hidden Depths by Ann Cleeves

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This is book 3 in the Vera Stanhope series by Ann Cleeves.  In this episode the killer engages in some rather artistic death scenes for his victims, leading Vera and her team on a chase to make the connections.  There is an interesting connection back to Vera’s roots, with references to birds and bird watchers.

The book opens with a single mum returning home to find her son murdered and left displayed for her to find.  There are plenty of suspects and clues to keep the reader the guessing about the connection between the victims and the reason behind the killings.  Vera is her usual self, pushing her team hard in her frustration with the case and the memories of her father that parts of it evoke.  Vera is such a wonderfully drawn character, I always feel as though I am reading about a real person when reading these books.

Great atmospheric  mystery read in a great series!

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Some Mystery Reads…

These are my latest mystery reads.  One of my favorites was  A Place of Safety by Caroline Graham, book 6 in the series that became Midsomer Murders on TV.  I love the characters, Barnaby, Joyce, Sgt. Troy and others, and the sense of place in the small villages.  In this outing, the feelings of menace and tension were particularly well done, as well as the closed in, claustrophobic effect of Mrs. Lawrence’s life in the vicarage.  The mystery was interesting with lots of clues to sift through, I guessed what was going on, however I may have already seen an episode based on this book, so that does not mean much and it did not hinder my enjoyment at all.

The Remorseful Day is a book I have been putting off reading because it is the final book in the Inspector Morse series and I am sad to see the series done.  There was definitely a sense of an ending throughout the book and it was a well done send off to a beloved character.  I would definitely say that you need to be a reader of the series  and invested in the characters before reading this one, as everyone comes full circle here with Strange, Lewis and Morse having their arcs.  Great mystery in a great series, I’m sorry that it has ended.

Outrage by Arnauldur Indridason is book 6 in the Erlendur series.  There has always been a team effort effect rather than an individual sleuth in these books, Erlendur, Sigurdur Oli, and Elinborg and in this particular book, Erlendur is on a leave of absence and Elinborg takes the lead to solve a particularly brutal murder of a perhaps not so nice young man.  Amidst chasing down details of the man’s involvement with date rape drugs and looking into an older closed case, Elinborg is also dealing with personal issues with her children.  The resolution takes the reader right up to the end of the book and is very well done.  There is a little bit of a cliff hanger regarding the whereabouts of Erlendur and whether he will be back for the next book or not.  Very well done Nordic mystery.

Ritual by Mo Hayder is bit more on the brutal side than I usually like to read.  The book is very well written and plotted, so intriguing, and definitely very contemporary with issues of cultural integration and policing.  I liked the character of Flea Marley a great deal, I don’t think I’ve read a police procedural with an emphasis on the police/forensic divers.  Flea’s thoughts in the water as she searched, and the sense, at times, of claustrophobia, that I would feel, yet Flea remained calm was really well done.  Good thriller.

Cleaver Square by Daniel and Sean Campbell has been on my Kindle for a little while, so I decided to pick it up.   Loved the story and the idea behind the crime.  Very modern feel dealing with trafficking and the care system; children being lost within the system is all very current news.   I think that it needed a little fleshing out.  It just felt a little thin to me in character development and details.  It was a quick read and fast paced.  I would read another in the series.

Spring Break Reads…

 

I’ve been off on spring break and read quite a few books, cleaning up my kindle for the most part, although a few are library books.

Broken Silence is this month’s bargain read at the Kindle English Mystery Club on Goodreads.  Jack Brady is the typical train wreck of detective, marinated in drink, recovering from a shooting caused by recklessness, mourning the loss of his marriage due to his own infidelity.  He is dragged into a particularly brutal case that will test his loyalties and drag up connections from his past.  Themes of child abuse, secrecy, loyalty and lies are explored here as Brady, clearly a black sheep, investigates a cast of dark characters.  Although the pacing seemed a little rushed,  I did enjoy this one.  It struck me as similar in some ways to a French mystery show I just watched The Disappeared.

The Man Who Smiled is another Kurt Wallander mystery.  A death meant to look like an accident, some shady international business affairs, a mysterious multi-millionaire, and Wallander freshly back from leave after a shooting come together to make for an intriguing mystery.  Plenty to think about here, with twists and turns, even though some things stretch my belief a little (a landmine in a residential neighborhood?? really?) .  I really like this series and find it very well written.  The character of Wallander is a well drawn and complex character.   I really enjoy this series and plan to continue reading it.

Dark Lies is a serial killer book, with a serial killer who has a particularly gruesome sense of humor.  I found the mystery here intriguing, however the writing was choppy and somewhat disjointed, making it hard to follow in places.  There were some good ideas as far as plot, but I think the characters were a little over the top as far as going for “quirky”.   Explores ideas of having evil genes and the theme of “good twin vs. evil twin”, people who are interested  in those ideas might like to read this.

The Murder List is the first in a series with Detective Zac Boateng.  Zac has had his own personal brush with tragedy, which has left his family still reeling five years on.  His new case is intertwined with old ones and leads him down the path to the one case he can’t let go of, his daughter’s murder.  A thriller with good character development, showing the detective as a family man.  A slow starter, but I really enjoyed this one.

Dead to Me was almost a “did not finish” for me.  I like my damaged protagonists, indeed Jack Taylor is one of my favorites, but they have to be intelligent, use common sense, have some part of their personality that makes you want to root for them.  Detective Kate Matthews really has nothing that makes me want to keep reading, she is just a stereotypical “cowboy, disgraced cop” and the story doesn’t make up for any of the character’s shortcomings.

My Soul to Keep has a really good character, Detective Alex Brady and some interesting supporting characters as well, including a sweet, old lady “pretend” clairvoyant.   The story or mystery is intriguing and kept me reading.  There were some issues with editing and writing, this could have used a firm hand with an editor in places.  Still overall, I enjoyed it and would give this series another try.