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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Three Mysteries (more from 2012)

A Door in the River:  A Hazel Metcallef Mystery by Inger Ash Wolfe was an e-book from Net Galley.  I read The Calling by Wolfe (actually, the pseudonym of Michael Redhill) a few years ago and had mixed feelings.  I thought the characters were well done, liked having a protagonist in her 60's, and loved the satirical wit of Hazel's mother, but didn't really care for some of the more gruesome and the over-the-top aspects.

Found the dialogue improved in this one; much easier to determine who was speaking than in The Calling.  An interesting initial murder mystery turned into a more complicated conspiracy involving drugs and human-trafficking.  It is at this point that the novel moves into the area that some readers like better than others--sadistic, psychopathic criminals/crimes.

It seems that often the purpose of the plot is to provide opportunity for shock value.  Or perhaps, the shocking (or titillating) aspects of a novel are to camouflage a weak plot.

In some ways, A Door in the River is a compelling mystery; I just wish the author would concentrate less on making villains monstrous and on excessively sadistic situations-- because the regular characters (Hazel, her police department, and her friends and family) are really worth following.  Oh, one more point:  I'd like to see Emily's (Hazel's 88-year-old mother) health improve and find her more active again.  Her relationship with Hazel is one of the strongest points in this series.

Net Galley.  Open Road Media.  Pegasus Press

Fiction.  Police Procedural/Mystery.  2012.  print version 288 pages.

Eleven Pipers Piping by C.C. Benison is also a Net Galley read.  Classified as a cozy (and the titles in this series, the setting, and  the main character are definitely part of the cozy genre), the novel has deeper characterization and some edgier elements than many cozy mysteries.

Once you get over the Father Christmas nomenclature and begin to view Tom Christmas as a real man and not as a caricature, the characters and situations become more intriguing.  Vicar of a small English parish, Tom has a tragedy in his past that influences his behavior and makes him seem less the typical cozy protagonist and more of a real person.

The interplay of all the villagers and the role of gossip move the plot forward in an interesting way as the reader contemplates various red herrings and tries to interpret situations from various sources.

I enjoyed this mystery and will look for the first in the series, but found the conclusion a bit convoluted and deus ex machina.

Net Galley; Delacourt Press

Fiction.  Mystery.  2012.  print version 496 pages.

The Hangman's Row Enquiry by Ann Purser features crotchety Ivy Beasley, and elderly but shrewdly intelligent inhabitant of an assisted living
residence in a small English village.  Her cousin Deirdre and the mysterious Gus Halfhide round out a strange trio of characters who form Enquire Within, a private investigation service.

What I liked:  the characters, the inclusion of an often neglected age group, and the incongruous nature of the relationships.  The plot was lacking, but maybe the plotting will improve as I move on to the next in the series.  The characters, including Roy, who has taken a fancy to Ivy, are enjoyable.  A light, fun read.

I read this one after reading Teresa's review over at My Highland Cottage.

Fiction.  Mystery.  2010.  print version 320 pages.

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