Here are my four latest crime reads. Snow White Must Die is book 4 in a series in which I have not read the others. I will probably go back and read them because this was an excellent read. A man is released from prison and returns home after serving time for the murder of two female classmates. He was convicted with no bodies ever being located. Now one of the bodies has been found and the investigation that is kicked off threatens to uncover secrets that an entire town has hidden away. The story builds and reveals how one lie leads to another until it seems to take on a life of its own and become unwieldy and unsustainable. Great crime read.

The Chestnut Man is an excellent crime read. Bodies are found with little chestnut men at the scene. The chestnut men have a finger print on them which seems to be impossible as the person is a missing child presumed dead. After believing her dead her parents, one of them a high ranking politician, are forced to reexamine their daughter’s fate. Lots of twists and turns and at points a back and forth time line as the past reveals clues into the current case. Highly recommended read.

Cruel Mercy is book 6 in the Aector McAvoy series. In this installment of the series, Aector is pushed far from his family and his comfort zone, all the way to New York City. His wife’s Traveler background has pulled Aector into a crime in New York in which one man is dead, another near death, and Aector’s brother-in-law is missing. This is a series that I really enjoy and even though I am not a big fan of the New York setting this was still an excellent read in the series. Glimpses into the worlds of Boxing, Russian organized crime and the Mafia. All three form a bloody intersection and Aector just wants to find his brother-in-law and return home before the trouble in New York spreads to the families at home.

The Inspector and Silence is book 5 in the Inspector van Veeteren series. Here are protagonist is getting older and tired. He dreams of a little job in a bookshop, a respite from the blood and tragedies of police work. Before he can move any further towards retirement, he becomes involved in a case concerning the disappearance of a young girl and a religious cult. The depiction of the cult life with its austerity and beaten down women and girls was well done. There are many red herrings as two more bodies through fuel on the flames. A good wrap up ending solving the case. This was fast paced with some dark humor shown through Van Veeteren’s thoughts and interviews.

Pre-Thanksgiving Reads

Out of all these Black Run is the only new series for me, although I have watched the TV series. I really love the show and the picked up the book based on that. The book did not disappoint. Very similar feel to the show. In Black Run, we meet Rocco, who has been banished from his beloved Rome to the north of Italy. He is called to the scene of a gruesome “body squashed by snowplow” scene. Rocco is not exactly a straight and narrow kind of policeman, however he is very good at what he does. He has many suspects and clues pointing this way and that. Well paced, immersive, police procedural. I will definitely be reading more in this series.

Victim 2117 is book 8 in the Department Q series. This installment had a different feel as the focus is on Assad and his family. This is a much darker outing in the series as the reader learns of the tragedies in Assad’s past. Along with Assad’s story line there is a connected subplot of a young deranged man, Alexander, who intends to wreak havoc on the real world just as he does in his computer games. Excellent book in a great series. Very dark themes of child sexual abuse.

Winterkill is book 6 in the Dark Iceland series. Ari Thor is looking forward to seeing his ex and child again as they are coming to visit for the holiday. In the midst of all this though a new investigation begins as a young girl seems to commit suicide in the middle of town. Ari finds himself torn between the investigation, dealing with his less than respectful protege, his ex and child, and a possible new romance. Interwoven storylines come together to make an engaging read. Highly recommend.

Deception on His Mind is book 9 in the Inspector Lynley series. Although the series is Inspector Lynley, he does not figure in this installment of the series. This is entirely about DI Barbara Havers, his partner. Barbara is on leave to recover from injuries but decides to follow her neighbor to Balford-el-Nez rather than rest and relax. She gets involved in a case that has all the hallmarks of a hate crime and tensions are running high in the local community. The case has a well written cast of characters with red herrings and clues to follow. A very good installment that allows Havers to carry the book on her own.

The Heron’s Cry & Blood at the Root

Sitting home recovering from my booster shot of Moderna, I finished The Heron’s Cry by Ann Cleeves. I am really liking this new series of hers almost as much as her Vera Stanhope series. Matthew Venn is obviously a very different protagonist, from Vera. A man who grew up in a rigid sect, The Bretheren, broke away from them and joined the police force.

Matthew is called to a bloody scene of the murder of a seemingly well liked doctor. As he and his team investigate, tenuous connections seem to exist between the current murder and some older suicides. The victim’s daughter, Eve, is dragged into the investigation as she found her father’s body. Eve’s relationship with Matthew’s husband, Jonathon adds some tension as Matthew is someone who values the rules and order and compartmentalizing. There is a significant subplot about Matthew’s relationship woven into the story. There is also a glimpse into the minds and lives of the other team members, particularly Ross.

The clues continue to point off in various directions and it seems like everyone has secrets to hide. Some really great twists and turns towards the end here. Strong themes of suicide and suicidal ideation. Highly recommended

Blood at the Root is book 9 in the Inspector Banks series. This outing in the series definitely poses the question, what happens when the victim is someone who would be difficult to feel sorry for under any circumstances? A young man is found stomped to death and Banks begins his investigation. Upon finding his identity, they uncover a rather sordid association with Neo Nazis. The further the investigation drags on the more of a political minefield it becomes, with Neo Nazis on one side and members of the local community on the other. Great read in an excellent series.

The Clutter Corpse is the first in a series by Simon Brett. I have read other series by him and enjoyed them, such as The Fethering and Mrs. Partgeter series. Although this may seem like a cozy mystery as many of his mystery books do, they really are commentary on social class and topical issues, so more of social satires that have mysteries for plots. In this series, the protagonist/sleuth is a widow who has a decluttering business that is one part doing the organizational labor and one part therapist as she works with a lot of hoarders and people suffering from other traumas. In the course of her business, Ellen comes across a body in a hoarders home and this sets off the case. Along with the murder investigation topics such as suicide, suicidal ideation, drug addiction, mental illness, and child neglect are raised, through the clients Ellen has and people in her personal life. There are some excellent twists and great writing to keep you reading a good pace through this short (under 200 pages) novel.

My Sister’s Grave is the first in a series by Robert Dugoni, a new-to-me author. Tracy’s sister disappeared some twenty five years ago, presumed murdered by Edmund House. He was out of prison where he served time for a brutal crime against another young woman. In the present day, Tracy is a homicide detective, who has never let go of her sister’s case. She gets a call that Sarah’s body was discovered and returns home. The discovery of the body is the impetus for Tracy to push even harder to reopen the case as she felt that the original investigation was flawed or even corrupt and that Sarah’s killer has never been caught. Tracy is a well drawn flawed lead character here. The reader is pulled into the story and roots for Tracy to get the resolution she needs. Well plotted and paced this was a good start to a new series.

Unto Us a Son is Given is actually book 28 in a series. I haven’t read any of the others, I have often seen Donna Leon books at my library but had no idea the series was this long running. Definitely a slow burner here, the murder doesn’t even occur until you are more than half way through the book. I enjoyed this but hesitate to comment because I really think that I didn’t appreciate it fully as I have missed out on so much of the character development over the course of the series. Commissario Brunetti has many connections and relationships throughout Venice and I think a new reader to the series at this juncture misses out on much of the subtext here. I would like to pick up the first couple in this series and see how Brunetti begins his journey.

Two More Mystery Books

The Darkest Evening by Ann Cleeves is book 9 in the Vera Stanhope series. This is a series that I love to read. I also enjoy the TV show and Brenda Blethyn’s portrayal of Vera. In The Darkest Evening, Vera finds a child abandoned in a car stuck in a snowdrift. The mother is eventually discovered to have been murdered. Vera and her team work to uncover the murderer, even though there could be a perceived conflict of interest as the murder occurred on the grounds of the Stanhope ancestral home. The murder plot clips along at a good pace with while the novel also gives us more insight into Holly’s life and Vera’s somewhat isolated childhood. The ending had a good twist to it and the case really came together in a believable way. Excellent police procedural mystery read in a great series.

Ruth Rendell’s The Water’s Lovely is more of a psychological study than a mystery read. The primary focus is on two sisters and the long term ramifications of the death of their stepfather. One sister, Ismay, has delusions of herself as “the watchful guardian” of her sister. The other sister, Heather, is infinitely more practical and faces the world head on. Their relationships cracks as each sister begins her own serious relationship. Ismay’s fantastical self absorption, that she reframes as concern for Hannah’s boyfriend, Edmund, becomes a focus. The plot interweaves storylines about both the men in their lives, the actions and death of the stepfather, and a grifter who targets the elderly. I do like Ruth Rendell’s writing. There is a developed sense of menace and you can sense from reading the first few pages that tings will not end well. However, this just seemed too long, too drawn out and just being too convoluted. I would still give this three starts because the actual character developments, the tension building at places, and individual scenes are so well done.