The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith

16160797  I’ve had this on my bookshelf forever.  I’d heard such mixed reviews that I wasn’t sure I wanted to read it.  Cormoran Strike is an amputee ex-military man, who now has a PI firm.  On top of this, he is the illegitimate child of a notorious rock star.  Robin is referred to Cormoran through a temp agency, to work as a secretary/assistant.  They form a great team as they investigate the suicide of a supermodel, Lulu.  Cormoran and Robin are both great characters and coupled with an intriguing storyline, I could not put this book down.  This is not a thriller with car chases and lots of death-defying feats, this is more of an investigative mystery.  The reader follows Cormoran as he interviews all the people who touched Lulu’s life and follows up on the leads that Robin digs up for him.

I really enjoyed it and suspect that lots of people who rated it poorly were expecting more thrills and action ala Harry Potter and this is really quite different.  I am glad that I already own the next one and plan on reading it.

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The White Lioness by Henning Mankell

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This is book 3 in the Kurt Wallander series.  Wallander is confronted with a seemingly normal middle class well-liked woman’s murder.  As he searches for a reason why she would be executed, connections are revealed to the South African political upheaval.  The book works back and forth between the South African plot and Wallander’s search fo the killer in Sweden.  He follows false leads and is confounded by the South African connections as they are revealed.  Eventually, the story lines are connected as Wallander follows the leads.  I enjoy this series, but this was definitely not my favorite book in it.  Quite a bit of the book was spent in South Africa and following the political upheaval that followed Nelson Mandela’s release from prison.  I will still continue with the series as I have liked the other books and the character of Wallander.

 

I’m Travelling Alone by Samuel Bjork

25716670  This was a book that was recommended to me on a discussion in Goodreads related to cult themed Nordic Noir reads and I was fortunate that my library had it.

This book hooked me in immediately.  Loved the lead characters, Munch and Mia, and the newbie to their team, a hacker, who is just finding his footing in police work.  The characters are well-developed enough so that the reader can get into their heads, but without slowing down the pacing of the story.

The crime(s) involve six-year-old girls being abducted and killed.  A storyline with a local cult is occurring in tandem to this.  At the same time Munch and Mia are having issues in their personal lives.  All these intricate story lines thread together in the end along with a sprinkling of red herrings to keep the reader guessing.  This was a really good Nordic Noir read and I hope they continue to translate the series.

The Devil’s Claw by Lara Dearman

32187728  I saw some reviews for this on Goodreads and decided to give it a try.  Set in Guernsey, it has a great deal of atmosphere and that closed in feel that a somewhat isolated, small community setting can give a book.  The protagonist, Jennifer, is an island girl, who left for a career in journalism and now has returned after her pursuit of a story went wrong.  She finds the body of a beautiful young woman on the beach and is unwilling to drop the story.   She shares her research with a local police officer, Michael, and then, as another girl is missing, it becomes a race against time.

There is a lot of tension built here and many red herrings.  I was convinced I knew who did  it and was completely wrong.  There are also references to Guernsey’s history of Nazi occupation and the impact that had on the community.  Themes of suicide, loss of a child, and obsession are explored.

The killer’s voice is heard in excerpts throughout the book beginning in his childhood and continuing up until the end of the book.  They give insight into his thoughts and especially his triggering (or motivating) event.  I enjoyed this thriller and would read more by the author.

The Devil’s Wedding Ring & Where Memories Lie

 

Where Memories Lie is book 12 in the Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James series, which I have been reading in order for a while now.   This is a much more Gemma-centric book, Gemma is called to her friend Erika’s house to resolve a WW II related case.  Erika is Jewish and escaped Germany with her husband.  Her father, a famous jeweler, was left behind and perished in the camps.  Gemma’s investigation into a piece of jewelry that has surfaced from Erika’s past, sets off a chain of present day crimes connected to past ones.  Gemma and Duncan get to work together on the interconnecting cases.  As well as dealing with the mystery and investigating the handling of past crimes, Gemma deals with a personal crisis in her family.  An on-point depiction of the push-pull that many working women face.

This was a good read in this series, which is best read in order as the characters grow and their relationship changes over the course of the series.  The ending left me anxious to read the next one and see what happens.

The Devil’s Wedding Ring is from a new to me author, Vidar Sundstol.  I saw this book mentioned on a discussion of cult themed stories in the Nordic Noir  genre, books like Sun Storm, The Hanging Girl, etc.  Max is the sleuth here, a man who in his youth was a police officer in Norway.  He left abruptly upon deciding he was not cut out for the type of police work being done and spent the rest of his life, some 30 years,  in the US working as a private investigator.  He returns to Norway for the funeral of an old friend and finds himself questioning everything about his friend’s death and connections to old crimes, including the one that drove him off the force and out of Norway.

Max is a well drawn character, a man who has lived a good life but now is returning to face the regrets of his youth.  Themes of religion, ritual, sacrifice, fertility,  and regret wrapped in solid investigation.  Nicely paced Nordic Noir read.

 

Hypothermia by Arnaldur Indridason

7896271  This is book 8 in the Inspector Erlendur mystery series.  Themes of loss, regret, and secrets are weaved throughout connecting Erlendur’s personal life and relationship with his ex-wife and daughter, a series of old missing persons cases, and a current suicide.  Erlendur works mainly solo in this book as he is not really on an official case for the most part.  A woman has hung herself and it is found to be suicide, however Erlendur, at the prompting of one of the woman’s friends has to know why.  The area is the same as earlier missing persons cases, definitely cold cases but never closed.  Finally, his daughter is convinced that a meeting between Erlendur and her mother will resolve old issues and give her the family she is craving.

Really well done mystery with lots of interconnected stories and clues from one plot line to the next.  This is not really a traditional police procedural but more of a straight forward mystery.  Erlendur is a great character and stood well on his own without his team to interact with and assist with the case(s).

Death is Now My Neighbor by Colin Dexter

  Just finished this, the 12th book in the Inspector Morse series.  Such a bittersweet read, knowing what I know about Morse and that I have almost reached the end of the series.  I kept putting the book down to make it last longer.  Great character work is displayed in this depiction of Morse and in the “persons of interest” .   Morse’s bad habits are catching up with him and we see foreshadowing of what is to come.  The mystery is intriguing and it is really engaging to watch Morse and Lewis work through it, playing off of one another.  Strange also has a plot line here that is pointing to the 13th  and final book in the series.

The piece at the end brought me to tears and made me commit to rereading the series once I am done.  Very moody writing here, feelings of regret and melancholy tinged with some slivers of hope.  5 star read!