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Saturday, December 31, 2016

Whining and Two Reviews

I've had a period of "withdrawal" since Thanksgiving.  When periods of stress and anxiety hit, I withdraw as much as possible into myself, avoid anything I can get away with, and read. 

Unfortunately, my library is having some work done and the parking lot is full of building materials.  When I arrived last time to return my books, I had to park in the neighboring parking lot, a minor inconvenience, because the worst was yet to come.  

The fiction section was blocked off with yellow tape--you know, like what you see on television marking off a crime scene.  A couple of sad-faced people were standing there looking longingly at the stacks.  I was about to slip through the tape to get to the books, when someone said the section will be off limit for a month!  My frustration left me stuttering.  If I'd had a list I could have had one of the librarians pull the books, but I didn't and was so derailed that I couldn't even think of a single title.  

None of this helped my general attitude or anxiety, but there are book bargains from various sources.

One of those bargains was Fellside, a one day offer for $3.29 (usually $13.99).  I really liked The Girl with All the Gifts, and have had Fellside on my list for some time, so I was quite pleased to find that bargain.

Is there anyone who is not familiar with the plot?  Heroin addict, fire, death of a young boy, conviction, prison, ghost?   There are so many reviews that go into great detail about the plot, and I'm not going to give a synopsis here, just a few thoughts...  

* I found Jess Moulson's conviction of murder hard to believe.  Not that I think the judicial system always works well or fairly, but I couldn't see a murder conviction from the evidence.  Of course, Jess does nothing to help herself.

* Fellside, the maximum security women's prison where Jess is sent, is aptly named.  One meaning of "fell" is a barren moor, but older meanings of the word are distinctly malevolent:  sinister, baleful, deadly, cruel.  Even the "side" part of the name works well with the book's content and the idea of a parallel world.   Fellside is a brutal place with plenty of corruption and violence among both the keepers and the kept.  The prison story is distressing because I suspect that it has more truth than I want to think about.

* The astral projection into dreams and the ghost story...could have worked, but didn't really convince me.  There was a twist in this portion, however.  

* Although I sympathized with Jess, empathy was a little harder to come by because in some sense she didn't feel real to me.  She was, in a way, almost a ghost herself; never a fully-realized person.

I was a little put off from the beginning since Jess' conviction did not make sense to me. The book is too long, and although many scenes are suspenseful, they ended up feeling like filler. If the prison episodes had been condensed, the plot would have been tightened.  The action does speed up toward the end of the book and some of the mystery of the fire is explained--but like most readers, I'd figured out most of it in the initial chapters.  Waiting for hundreds of pages for the principals to figure it out was a bit annoying.

Was I expecting too much?  I don't really believe so.  I read The Girl with All the Gifts in 2014, and there have been so many books since then.  Fellside wasn't my cup of tea, but it has pleased hundreds of others.  


Mystery/Suspense/Paranormal.  2016.  Print length:  485 pages.

I'm not sure how I missed The Sound of Broken Glass as Deborah Crombie's series featuring Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James is a favorite.

The Sound of Broken Glass is the 15th book in the series that began in 1993.  Duncan Kincaid is taking time off to care for Charlotte, his and Gemma's foster child (this story is told in Necessary as Blood), so the main plot involves Gemma.  

Gemma and DS Melody Talbot investigate the death of a respected (but not particularly liked) barrister found in a compromising situation in a hotel that the man has used for casual sexual encounters.  Then another barrister is found murdered in similar fashion. 

The case requires backtracking to an event 15 years earlier and is slowly unraveled through both interviews and flashbacks.

As usual, Crombie makes use of characters from previous books, but in a way that doesn't interfere with understanding the current book.  I like the feeling of meeting familiar characters who have appeared in previous plots, and the way Crombie weaves them into the story in a purposeful way.  Have to admit to being surprised at Melody Talbot's out-of-character behavior.  

I read To Dwell in Darkness (#16), the next in the series last year, but Crombie has a new book scheduled to come in February.


Police Procedural.  2013.  Print length: 531 pages.

Interesting that The Sound of Broken Glass is actually a little longer than Fellside--and did not feel nearly as long.
I have 18 book reviews scheduled for 2017--from January - June.  One of the hazards of NetGalley is that you can read a book 6 months or more before publication.  These are books that I've read since July of 2016--so I've been scheduling them for 6 months.  All of these are already posted to Goodreads, but the blog posts are scheduled closer to publication.  

Half of them are scheduled for January:

The Girl Before by JP Delaney

The Fifth Petal by Brunonia Barry

Right Behind You by Lisa Gardner

The Girl in the Garden by Melanie Wallace * (beautifully written!)

The Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak

Old Bones by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles * (great one-liners:  "You're no fun on a road trip, Thelma"

The Chilbury Ladies Choir by Jennifer Ryan

Dare to Remember by Susanna Beard

Stasi Wolf by David Young * (interesting look at East Germany in 1975; unique police procedural because of setting)

The three with asterisks are my favorites-of course, that's just my opinion, but for me they stand miles above the rest.  Most disappointing was Brunonia Barry's The Fifth Petal.  I really liked The Lace Reader, but found The Fifth Petal boring.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Two Days Gone by Randall Silvis

Two Days Gone started out beautifully, and I was full of praise--in the way you just comment to yourself about the writing with excitement and pleasure, but...

I'm going to link to Deb Marten's review, which says almost everything I intended.  The only difference is that she does not mention the ending, then the ending, then the ending.  She was probably exhausted.

So much potential here!   I've rarely been so disappointed by a book that had such promise at the beginning.  

Read in Oct.; blog review scheduled for Dec. 19.


Crime/Suspense.  Jan. 1, 2016.  Print length:  400 pages.

Friday, December 16, 2016

The Ghosts of Belfast by Stuart Neville

I've had The Ghosts of Belfast on my list for awhile, and after reading So Say the Fallen, I made a point of checking for it on my next library visit.

So Say the Fallen is a crime/police procedural novel, and I enjoyed it, but The Ghosts of Belfast is in another category altogether.   It is an important book about a period in Northern Ireland that resonates with the problems many countries are facing today.

 Gerry Fegan , a "hard man" and former IRA assassin, was responsible for the deaths of twelve people, including innocent civilians.  When released from prison, Fegan tries to repress the past, drinks heavily, and has trouble sleeping.  Haunted by the twelve individuals he has killed, Fegan is a shell of a man who sees ghosts--and the ghosts are demanding revenge.  The ghosts view Fegan as a tool, and wordlessly, they demand that he kill those who gave the orders or were in some way responsible for their individual deaths.  

For seven years after his release from prison, Fegan resists the ghosts, but when Michael McKenna tries to draw him back into the game--now more criminal and less political--Fegan breaks.  McKenna is the first to die--leaving Fegan with only eleven ghosts seeking revenge. Fegan's vendetta, however, could disrupt the peace process, and he becomes a target from both sides, but his ghosts are relentless in their quest.  Guilt and the possibility of redemption drive Fegan.  No, not even redemption, but at least he hopes that appeasing the ghosts will set him free. 

The Ghosts of Belfast is a crime novel with psychological and supernatural elements.  It is novel about political terrorism, The Troubles, the "disappeared," the brutality and murders committed by the various paramilitaries on both sides--even as the fragile possibility of a resolution was in process.  

Brutal and terrifying and strangely moving, The Ghosts of Belfast gives an intimate look at the violence and the effects of violence on the people of Belfast.  Neville does not spare either side--both sides were guilty of atrocities.  Even now, Belfast is a divided city, physically and emotionally, still dealing with what took place during those 30 + years and the damage to the psyches of not only those who suffered from the violence, but on those who committed acts of violence as well.

This article explains why Northern Ireland has the highest suicide rate in the UK.  


New York Times Notable Book and Winner of The Los Angeles Times Book Prize, Neville's debut remains "a flat-out terror trip" (James Ellroy) and "one of the best Irish novels, in any genre, of recent times" (John Connolly).

Barry Award Nominee for Best First Novel (2010)Macavity Award Nominee for Best First Mystery Novel (2010)Anthony Award Nominee for Best First Novel (2010)Dilys Award Nominee (2010)Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Mystery/Thriller (2009)

Other good books I've read that deal with the period known as The Troubles:

The Bird Woman by Kerrie Hardy
Shadows on Our Skin by Jennifer Johnston
The Birdwatcher by William Shaw (from NetGalley; review scheduled for June, 2017)

Another good article about this period by Anthony Quinn, who grew up during The Troubles and has written a book I'm adding to my list.

It is one of those strange coincidences that I had just been reading Yeats when I started this book.  I think a line from The Second Coming best illustrates the senseless bloodshed during The Troubles and that is currently happening in the world.  
"The best lack all conviction, while the worstAre full of passionate intensity."

Library copy.

Crime/Historical.  2009.  337 pages.

A Rustle of Silk and Death Notes

A Rustle of Silk by Alys Clare introduces a new historic mystery series featuring Gabriel Taverner, whose life as a ship's surgeon is no longer possible after a head injury results in irremediable sea sickness.

He settles in rural Devon near his family and begins life as a country physician.  Asked to accompany the local coroner and give his opinion on a decomposed body, Gabriel discovers a connection that could have a serious impact on the sister he loves.

Overall, a quick read of a new series that may improve as it develops.  I hope to see more weight given to several of the secondary characters in the next one.

I've only read a couple of books by Alys Clare, each one a part of two separate medieval mystery series she writes.  I was glad to be reminded that I'd enjoyed those books.

read 9/8/16; review scheduled for Dec. 16

NetGalley/Severn House 

Historic Mystery.  Jan. 1, 2017.  Print length: 256 pages.

Death Notes by Sarah Rayne is another debut series.  

From Severn House:  Introducing professional researcher Phineas Fox in the first of a brand-new series of chilling mysteries.
Phineas Fox has mixed feelings when he’s asked to research the infamous 19th-century violinist Roman Volf for a TV documentary. Hanged for his part in the assassination of Tsar Alexander II in 1881, Volf was a notorious criminal and womaniser, whose glittering talent was undermined by his scandalous private life. However, on uncovering evidence which suggests that Volf could not have been involved in the Tsar’s murder, Phin’s investigations lead him to the west coast of Ireland – and a series of intriguing, interlocking mysteries reaching from 1881 to the present day. 

A number of twists in this one, and as many involve the present day as the past.  

read 9/7/16; review scheduled for Dec. 16 

NetGalley/Severn House

Mystery.  Jan. 1, 2017.  Print length:  256 pages.  (yep, I checked--both books are 256 pages)

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Phantom and Police by Jo Nesbo

Jo Nesbo has a new book coming out in 2017, and I realized that I still had not read the last two in his Harry Hole series.  I was getting a little tired of Harry's frequent falls from grace and the increasing violence, red herrings, and misdirections and took a break after reading Snowman.

But last week's library trip found me placing Phantom (2012) and Police (2013) in my bag, and I read through both novels within a couple of days.  I will be prepared when Thirst comes out in 2017.

*The Harry Hole series can be best appreciated if you've read the earlier novels.  But fair warning, these are dark and brutal books.

Phantom brings Harry back to Oslo from Hong Kong because Rakel's son Oleg has been arrested for the murder of his junkie friend Gusto.  Much of the story is interspersed with Gusto's dying thoughts which explain some of the backstory required for this complicated plot.  

Harry has returned to find a way to prove Oleg's innocence--if he is innocent.  He is not terribly concerned with who killed Gusto, as long as it wasn't Oleg.

Parts of Phantom are engrossing, but it is a brutal story of vicious violence and corruption.  The book feels even longer than it actually is because of the number of characters and various subplots that are all intertwined--drugs and the mysterious drug lord called Dubai, police and political corruption, lots of murders.

The secondary characters that made up Harry's team in the previous novels are barely mentioned because Harry is no longer a policeman.  In previous books, the balance provided by the familiar team helped counteract some of the darker elements of the plots.  

As usual, Harry finds himself in a fine mess and struggles with commitment, but his character does show a change in Phantom.  The conclusion may come as a surprise.

Library copy.

Crime/Nordic Noir.  2012.  466 pages.

Police continues the misdirection Nesbo used in Phantom It is difficult to review this book as almost any comment on the plot becomes a spoiler.

At first, I was happy because the old team reunites to help with the murders of several policemen.  Seeing the team work together was initially rewarding, but Nesbo throws in some unpleasant surprises.  

To keep the reader off balance and prevent the reader from making any logical deductions, Nesbo uses "he" to refer to the actions of the bad guy, and the tangled schemes leave the guilty party ambiguous--makes it pretty difficult to have any insight into character or behavior when the villain could be almost any of the characters.  Nesbo puts more effort into keeping the reader in the dark and offering conflicting scenarios than anything else.

The novel turns out to be more complicated than complex, and the complicated manipulation of  plot elements annoyed me.  Gimmick after gimmick.  

And yet--having followed the series for several years (although I did begin to have reservations after Snowman, reviewed here), Nesbo does keep me reading.  Which is why I will read Thirst when it comes out--and hope that it will conclude the series.  Oh, and hope Mikael Bellman meets his downfall.  Of course, I've hoped for that for a long time, and the man survives.

Library copy.

Nordic Noir.  2013.  644 pages.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Fiction and Comfort Reading

Confirmed readers almost always have some comfort books to which they return.   Sometimes we reread them, at other times, simply remembering the book or books provides a sense of consolation or contentment.  How many bloggers have mentioned their love of Anne of Green Gables (my personal favorite was Anne of Windy Poplars) or Alcott's Little Women (my favorite was actually Little Men)?  Not great literature, but amazingly influential and unforgettable.  

Now an entire generation has been influenced by Harry Potter.  Young people who became readers because of the imaginative impact of one book; who have grown up with the adventures of Harry and friends, even as the characters grew up and the plots grew up as well.

And sometimes we have comfort genres:  mystery, historical fiction, science fiction, fantasy.  We read them because they are entertaining, not because they are going to win prizes (although the best often do).  Books that allow us to have adventures and experiences we would never have otherwise, to examine human motivation, to realize that the problems of human beings are essentially the same in different cultures and different time periods--that the human condition involves the same flaws and strengths, the same desires and goals, the same problems with relationships, the same fears of power and corruption.

Fiction doesn't have to be good literature to be good entertainment, or to be educational, or to broaden horizons.   

Many studies have been done and articles written about the benefits of reading fiction--not necessarily good literature, but good stories.  The Surprising Benefits of Reading Fiction lists 9 important benefits of reading fiction with which I'm sure all of you would agree.

The one thing the above article does not mention, but which applies to many of us is that reading fiction also encourages curiosity about facts.  I frequently go off on tangents relating to something I've read-- do a little Google research, follow up on bibliographical info, read nonfiction associated with some topic mentioned in a novel, check out allusions to music, pop culture, literature, or  historical events the author might include in the story.

Several years ago, I read The Terror by Dan Simmons, a fictional account of the Franklin Expedition after reading Stefanie's review on So Many Books .  After finishing the novel, I found myself reading more about the expedition (the search for the Northwest Passage and the search for Franklin and The Terror after the ship went missing) in nonfiction and some tangential fictional accounts as well.  In September of this year, The Terror was found in about 80 feet of water--so well preserved that experts said it could probably float.  

The original theory that lead poisoning from improperly sealed canned food resulted in the death of many of the crew members has been thrown out in just the last few days.  The analysis of a fingernail sliver from John Harknell's body reveals that a prolonged zinc deficiency resulted in Hartnell's death and would almost certainly have been the case for other crew members.

So...reading a highly imaginative fictional account of the Franklin Expedition led to reading a number of nonfiction accounts and an interest in that 168-year-old mystery that continues to fascinate me as new discoveries are made.   


I love Sandy Mastrioni's dolls, pillows, and plates.  
All of her creations are odd, whimsical, and amusing!  
Book lovers can appreciate this one.
Sandy's Etsy Shop

Friday, December 09, 2016

Three January Releases

Modern Crimes by Chris Nickson

Although the Women Police Service was founded in 1914 to deal mainly with pimps and prostitution, the founders of the WPS took advantage of the war situation by replacing men who were involved with the war effort in the hope that women could continue advancing after the war.  

 Female officers were allowed to go into brothels, nightclubs and betting houses to observe and gather evidence of untoward behavior, but at the first sign of crime being committed, they had to call in male colleagues. They were not allowed to carry handcuffs unless instructed to by a senior officer, and were not allowed to make arrests until 1923.  (source)

The novel takes place in 1924 in Leeds.  WPC Lottie Armstrong and her partner WPC Cathy Taylor are eager to take on larger policing roles, but must deal with the prejudices of many men on the force.   Lottie's ability to talk to people results in good information, and DS McMillan values her assistance, but not everyone appreciates a woman exceeding her prescribed role.

I enjoyed doing a little more research on women in the police at that time period in the UK.


NetGalley/Trafalgar Square Publishing.

Mystery/Police Procedural.  Jan. 1, 2017.  Print length: 288 pages.

Blood and Bone is the third entry (but the first I've read) in Giambanco's Alice Madison series set in Seattle.  

Alice and her partner Detective Sergeant Kevin Brown find themselves on a case that has some crossover with one of the previous books.  A bit complicated at times between two story lines.  Not bad, but could have used either a bit more back story and/or fewer complications.

Read in September


Crime/Police Procedural.  Jan. 3, 2017.  Print length:  384 pages.


To  Clear the Air

First an old man from the small German village of Merklen is murdered, then another.  Clearly there is a connection to a decades old crime, but no one in the small village is much inclined to talk about it.  Inspector Peter Bohm needs to prevent another murder, but in order to do so, he needs information that the villagers are reluctant to provide. Someone is seeking revenge...or justice.

To complicate matters, Peter's marriage is unsettled.  His wife left town to attend a conference, then decides to stay away to give some thought to her situation.    

To Clear the Air was Borrman's debut novel, and she has written two, but I don't know how many have been translated.
"She [Borrmann] has been a full-time writer since 2001, and To Clear the Air was her first novel. Silence, her third, won the Deutscher Krimi Preis in 2012 for best crime novel and was nominated for the Friedrich Glauser Prize."
Read in November

NetGalley/Amazon Crossing

Crime/Police Procedural. Jan. 24, 2017.  Print length:  242 pages.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

A Side Trip to Poetry

The other day, my Kindle failed to connect to the internet, and I was unable to download some recent books that I was eager to read.  In response, I turned to one of my Norton anthologies of contemporary poetry published nearly 50 years ago--so--hardly contemporary by today's standards.  I found this one at a library sale decades ago when another edition was published.

I read through Hardy and enjoyed reading the poems I've read many times and tackling a few that in the past I'd only skimmed through.  Hardy has never been a favorite, but he does have some wonderful lines that would make excellent book titles.  In spite of Hardy's rather bleak outlook, he occasionally reveals a wryly humorous  vein, and rereading The Ruined Maid gives me the same pleasure as the first time.

On through Robert Bridges--mostly skimmed.  I did try once again to appreciate Bridges, but failed.  His work doesn't engage me.  

Through Houseman, who though preoccupied with lost youth and wistful looks at times gone by, also has such memorable lines.  I do like many of his poems, and I always smile a little at the first lines of  'Terence This Is Stupid Stuff -- 

‘TERENCE, this is stupid stuff:
You eat your victuals fast enough;
There can’t be much amiss, ’tis clear,
To see the rate you drink your beer.
But oh, good Lord, the verse you make,        5
It gives a chap the belly-ache.

And then to Yeats.  I love Yeats' poetry, at least the ones I understand.  This anthology includes 89 of his poems, and I reread some of my favorites and worked at some of the ones that leave me bewildered.  Since this is my own copy, I added more underlining and marginalia to those I've added previously in many readings.  When I taught, I read all of my poetry books frequently, both for my own pleasure and for insights into teaching--so my anthologies are all marked up with thoughts, underlining, questions, and comparisons. With Yeats, my thoughts are both appreciative of poems and lines that I find amazing--and puzzled over those lines and poems that continue to baffle and perplex.

When I got about half way through the 89 poems, I decided I wanted to know more about the period before and after the Easter Rising, partly to know more about some of the people involved.  In Easter, 1916, Yeats mentions, among others, John MacBride, Maude Gonne's abusive husband from whom she was separated.   Below is an excerpt from the second verse:
This other man I had dreamed 
A drunken, vainglorious lout. 
He had done most bitter wrong 
To some who are near my heart,   
Yet I number him in the song; 
He, too, has resigned his part 
In the casual comedy; 
He, too, has been changed in his turn,   
Transformed utterly: 
A terrible beauty is born. 

and the final lines:
I write it out in a verse— 
MacDonagh and MacBride   
And Connolly and Pearse 
Now and in time to be, 
Wherever green is worn, 
Are changed, changed utterly:   
A terrible beauty is born.  
I don't think Yeats entirely forgives MacBride, but he acknowledges his commitment to the Irish cause in which Yeats himself believes.

Yeats' love of Maude Gonne resulted in her presence in many of his most loved poems.

Anyway, on my library trip Monday, I checked out The Apprentice Mage, without realizing that this is the first (huge) volume of a two volume set, which unfortunately ends in 1914 just when my interest picks up.  Yes, now I see the I in the title, but at the time with my arms full of books....

I'm giving it a try, and while not impressed with the writing, I have found some great bits embedded in the tedious detail. 

A section in the introduction says that one has to look at so many aspects of Yeats' life to gain insight into the man and his work; Foster calls it a "palimpsest of Irishness" that Yeats continued to develop, question, and change throughout his life. Not just for Yeats, but for all of us, our development is overwritten again and again by experience, even if the original is still there in large or small portions.  For Yeats, because of the times in which he lived and his own creative genius, the layers are more interesting and more important.

And yet...the author almost loses purpose in the extraneous detail.  The book is over 500 pages with another 200 pages of end-notes (to which I've already had to refer several times); the print is very small, and the line spacing very narrow (another element that makes for less pleasant reading), and it doesn't even cover the period I'm most curious about.  I may have to skim this one and look for another biography with a cleaner, more efficient style.

I've only been through about 1/2 the poems (so I have many favorites left--including The Second Coming, which once again seems prophetic), but I want more historical context, especially about the Home Rule crisis and the effects of WWI on Yeats' poetry.  (Not that I'm not interested in his love affairs, his fascination with spiritualism, automatic writing, and Honor Bright--I do love me some gossip.)  

Monday, December 05, 2016

The Ice Beneath Her by Camilla Grebe

The Ice Beneath Her by Camilla Grebe begins with the  horrific murder of an unidentified woman.  The macabre tale is told from three different points of view:  Peter, a detective; Hanne, a profiler who has done no police work in years; and Emma, a young woman who has been associated with the man suspected of the murder.

All of the main characters have issues that keep the reader alternating between sympathy and frustration, but it is easy to get caught up in their stories. 

The atmosphere throughout is creepy; and there is a question of the reliability of the narrators--creating that uneasy gut feeling of uncertainty.  All of the characters seem to have relinquished making decisions in their lives, choosing  a kind of passive aggressive acceptance of  events as they come.  

Hanne has, in the past, made one attempt to free herself, but when that fell through, she reverted to her previous passivity.  Despite the circumstances stacked against her, Hanne does again try for something better when she returns to her role with the police against her husband's wishes.

The weakest element is the too typical use of a bizarre murder to get the reader's attention. The murder does not require the shocking method to retain the symbolic concept the author intends, and strangely, the sensational aspect of the murder lessens as the plot proceeds.

Nevertheless, this is one of those psychological thrillers that will keep you riveted as you puzzle out the pieces of this enigmatic crime novel. 

Read in Aug.; blog review scheduled for Dec. 5, 2016.

NetGalley/Random House

Psychological/Scandinavian Crime.  Dec. 27, 2016.  Print length:  368 pages.

Saturday, December 03, 2016

The Obelisk Gate and So Say the Fallen

Two more November books that kept me interested.

The Obelisk Gate is the second book in N.K. Jemisin's Broken Earth trilogy.  I can't imagine what goes into writing a trilogy with the scope and depth that Jemisin produces.  The characters and the world continued to entertain me, and I was pleased to continue the development of Hoa and Nessun.  Essun remains the touchstone, but other curious stories are emerging around other characters.  

Did I like it as much as the first book?  No, and I'm not entirely sure why.  Maybe the world-building and character introduction were so unexpected in the first book that the second book couldn't compete with that novel experience. Some sections felt slow as well, and the deliberate hiding of certain information was less titillating and more frustrating than in the first novel.

Which is only to say that I didn't love it with the same intensity as The Fifth Season (reviewed here), but I'm still fascinated with some of the characters and eagerly await a conclusion to the trilogy.

Library copy.

Dystopian/Scifi/Fantasy.  August, 2016.  Print length:  448 pages.

So Say the Fallen by Stuart Neville  is the second in Neville's DCI Serena Flanagan series, but the first I've read.  

Serena Flanagan is not at first suspicious of the suicide of the severely disabled Peter Garrick.  His injuries from an accident are terrible; his wife seems devastated.  Yet some ambiguous, indefinite aspect of the death bothers Serena, and she finds herself unable to immediately sign off on the death as suicide.  The Reverend Peter McKay, a close family friend, comforts Roberta Garrick in her grief over her husband's death.  

Tragedy has followed the Garrick family, and even before Peter Garrick's accident, the couple had lost their young daughter, but even while feeling the sadness of two tragedies in the little family, Serena's instincts tell her to keep digging.

A well-plotted mystery with interesting characters.  A series I will happily pursue.

Library copy.

Crime/Police Procedural.  September 2016.  Print length:  336 pages.