I have been a big fan of Peter May since reading the The Lewis Trilogy, a dark, moody series I loved. This is a different setting and a very different type of book than those. Sime is a Canadian Detective of Scottish descent, who must investigate a murder on an English-speaking island in a primarily French-speaking part of Canada. He is unfortunately paired with his ex-wife on the case which is one source of tension. The wife of the victim is the main suspect and immediately upon meeting her Sime feels a strong sense that he knows her. His connection seems to deepen and the book connects back several generations to a tragic love story, which had its roots in Scotland. This is a murder mystery with a strong historical romance element and an almost fantastical feel with the “lovers across time” theme.
Both storylines were well done and as with The Lewis Trilogy, the writing is very atmospheric with a well-developed sense of place. I am not generally a historical romance reader but I enjoyed this and liked reading about a time period and events which I did not know much about. Well written romantic mystery. I am going to recommend it to my friends who regularly read historic romance because a lot of them are fans of the Outlander and other Scottish romance novels. I think fans of those books would find a lot to like here.
White Bodies is this month’s read at the Kindle English Mystery Club. This is a psychological “thriller” about twins. Shades of Single White Female (the 80s movie) and Gone Girl are evident here although the author desperately tries to connect to the Patricia Highsmith classic, Strangers on a Train, instead. Personally I think it is a stretch to compare this to Highsmith’s writing. Quite frankly, I think anyone who tries to compare themselves to Patricia Highsmith better be on point.
I can’t really say specifically what I didn’t care for here. It just seems very Lifetime movie-ish and read like a YA book, lots of immaturity, self-absorption. I had to hold myself back from skimming somewhere in the middle because it didn’t really hold my attention. Themes of obsession, mental illness (NPD and Pica in particular), and deception abound. Two characters that are introduced and are in quite a bit of the book, Wilf and Felix, don’t seem to be fully fleshed out. Wilf in particular seems to just fill this “a girl NEEDS a man” purpose.
It seems to have quite good ratings, so others saw something here that I did not or maybe I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind for this.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.