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Saturday, March 24, 2018

Two by Gretta Mulrooney

NetGalley offered Low Lake (the 5th book in a series featuring PI Ty Swift) by Gretta Mulrooney.  I read and enjoyed it, then checked out the first in the series which was available through Kindle Unlimited.  :)  

The Lady Vanished Tyrone Swift worked for the Met, then for Interpol before deciding to open his own PI agency.  When the unpleasant Florence Davenport hires Swift to find her missing stepmother Carmen Langborn, he realizes that Davenport's interest has more to do with a possible inheritance than with concern for the older woman.

The police have gotten nowhere on the case.  There is no body and the woman has previously taken trips without getting in touch with anyone, but this time Carmen made no arrangements for someone to care for her beloved cats.  

Neither Florence nor her brother have genuine concern for their stepmother, but after months with no word, they believe her to be dead.  And Florence doesn't want to have to wait years for her share of the estate.

The book focuses on the investigation as Swift does the slow work of questioning various people about Carmen and her activities.  This is not an action-packed plot, but one of slow accretion of details.  Secrets emerge that could blow the family apart.

Favorite character--aside from Ty Swift--is Cedric, Ty's elderly upstairs tenant inherited from his Aunt Lily.  Ty also develops a fondness for Carmen Langborn's housekeeper, who has taken it upon herself to continue her basic housekeeping duties and and to care for the cats.  

Having read the most recent release, I already had some knowledge of the characters introduced in this first in the series.

Kindle Unlimited/Joffe Books

Mystery/Detective.  2015.  

Low Lake is the most recent book in the series featuring PI Tyrone Swift.  

Ty is asked to investigate a drowning death from two years earlier.  Did the young woman--who had an overwhelming fear of water--have an epileptic seizure and drown accidentally?  Or was there more to the situation?

Kim was a complicated young woman with a traumatic past.  Few people seem to have truly liked her and  a few actively hated her.  Her recent interest in archaeology had given her long-range goals and an enthusiastic interest in all elements of archaeology--from the digs, to the historical aspects, to conservation and museum exhibits.  

Ty feels some empathy with the dead woman in spite of her many flaws.  As the case proceeds, a young man is murdered, and Ty feels his own responsibility for the young man's involvement in the case.  Other aspects of Ty's life are fraught with grief and complications.  The case takes a few unexpected turns as possible reasons for Kim's death emerge.

NetGalley/Joffe Books

Mystery/Detectiv.  March 22, 2018. 

Sunday, March 18, 2018

The Guilty Ones and Imperfect Memories

The Guilty Ones is the 4th in the DI Rowan Jackman and DS Marie Evans by Joy Ellis.  Why do I enjoy Ellis' books so much?  It has much to do with the ensemble casts that Ellis creates for both this series and her DI Nikki Galena series.  I am at home now in the Fens and with either DI's team.  The characters are familiar, and I enjoy their sense of commitment to each other.  

That feeling of familiarity with characters in a book is similar to the reason I like certain television series.  I like the folks who inhabit the stories, and although the cases and problems are different each time, there is a sense of comfort when rejoining the characters in each new episode or new book.  

When Jackman's sister-in-law commits suicide, circumstances are too close to home.  Why would a happily married woman who adores her children do such a thing?

This one gets a bit elaborate, but kept me engrossed throughout.  The conclusion leaves an opening for a story-arc to be continued.

NetGalley/Joffe Books

Mystery/Crime.  March 14, 2018.  

Imperfect Memories (The Temporal Shift Series Bk 1) by Jody Wenner is an odd book, but one that kept me steadily reading...and wondering.

A bomb explodes in a local coffee shop.  Nina's husband and daughter are among the dead.  A senseless act of terror, but the perpetrator is caught and sent to prison.  

Nina is unable to come to terms with the incident and the loss of her husband and daughter.  She begins having nightmares, difficulty sleeping, gaps in her memory.  Which is odder that it seems because Nina is one of those rare individuals who remembers everything.  She has hyperthmesia, a neurological disorder that enables to her remember with remarkable detail the events in her life.  

As she feels her self unraveling, she approaches the man responsible to get answers.  Who can Nina trust if she can't trust herself?  

A strange book that left me wondering what is really going on.  The conclusion is sort of a "to be continued," as one thing is wrapped up, more questions arise.  A fast read.  I'm in for the next one.


Mystery/Suspense.  Feb. 16, 2018.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Murder at Half Moon Gate by Andrea Penrose:  A wealthy lord who happens to be a brilliant scientist . . . an enigmatic young widow who secretly pens satirical cartoons . . . a violent killing disguised as a robbery . . . Nothing is as it seems in Regency London, especially when the Earl of Wrexford and Charlotte Sloane join forces to solve a shocking murder.

I read the first in this series last year, but I think this latest novel shows definite improvement in developing plot and characters.  

NetGalley/Kensington Books

Historical Mystery.  March 27, 2018.  Print length:  304 pages

Dead Fish started off very well.  Dr. Geoffrey Quinn is arrested for the murder of his wife.  Authorities suspect his children are dead as well, but no bodies have been found.
Allison hope takes Quinn's case, but she isn't sure if she believes him and is certain that he is holding something back.

Unfortunately, as the book became a bit convoluted with red herrings and shocking crimes, the original promise did not hold up for me.

NetGalley/Thistle Publishing

Crime/Legal.  March 29, 2018.  (First published in 1999) Print length:  376 pages.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Lock 13 by Peter Helton and Mind of a Killer by Simon Beaufort

Lock 13 by Peter Helton:  Bath, England. When his life drawing model disappears without trace, painter-sleuth Chris Honeysett uncovers evidence of a dangerous conspiracy. 

Hmmm.  If you are interested in narrow boats and the canal system in England, you will enjoy this rather unusual mystery.  I did enjoy it and was interested in the narrow boats, which I've always found a romantic part of England's past and present. Sometimes amusing and often unexpected, especially Honeysett's narrow boat new found friend on the canals.

Read in Dec.; blog review scheduled for March 12.

NetGalley/Severn House

PI.  April 1, 2018.  Print length:  224 pages.

Mind of a Killer by Simon Beaufort.

Alec Lonsdale writes for the Pall Mall Gazette in London, 1882.  After once again having an interview canceled about the London Zoo, Alec happens on a tragic house fire.  He joins the crowd and asks a few questions.  Patrick Donovan's body is eventually recovered from the fire.  A young whore approaches Londsale and tells him that this isn't the first death and that they are not accidents.

Curious, but cautious, they arrange a meeting for the following night. Lonsdale attends the post-mortem and both he and the doctor are shocked that Donovan was not only murdered, but that his cerebrum has been excised.  Now, Lonsdale is definitely intrigued and plans to meet the woman that night.  He arrives too late;  the woman and her companion are dead and Lonsdale himself is attacked.

The police are reluctant for Londale and his colleague Hulda Friederichs to print anything about the story and discourage any further investigation.  

A tale of Victorian crime and mystery populated by many real characters of the era and with reference to many cases pulled from the headlines.  The plot of the narrative is fiction, but suspenseful and engrossing with intriguing characters, both real and fictional.

Of interest to me were the episodes with Sir Francis Galton, "Sir Francis Galton, FRS was an English Victorian statistician, progressive, polymath, sociologist, psychologist, anthropologist, eugenicist, tropical explorer, geographer, inventor, meteorologist, proto-geneticist, and psychometrician. "  (Wikipedia)

His presentation in the novel was a combination of hubris, unintended comedy, and general unpleasantness.  Although familiar with his name and with several of his accomplishments, I'd never read anything about the personal life of the man.  I've ordered a biography that promises to explain his remarkable accomplishments and hopefully, how the man himself (aside from his work) was viewed by his contemporaries.  

A compelling historical mystery, Mind of a Killer introduces an appealing protagonist in Alec Lonsdale set in a Victorian world of scientific advancements.

Who is Simon Beaufort?  Simon Beaufort is the pseudonym adopted by Susanna Gregory and  Beau Riffenburgh.

NetGalley/Severn House

Historical Mystery.  April 1, 2018.  Print length:  256 pages.  

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Let Me Lie by Clare Mackintosh

Let Me Lie by Clare Mackintosh was a bit of a disappointment.  I really liked her first novel and enjoyed the second one as well, but although I was engaged at the beginning of Let Me Lie subsequent events were too contrived and my interest waned.

There is definitely a twist that has been hidden throughout most of the first half of the book, but....perhaps attempting to be too clever the novel's conclusion left me flat.  

Read in November; blog review scheduled for 3/10/18.

NetGalley/Berkley Publishing Group

Mystery/Suspense.  March 13, 2018.  Print length:  400 pages.

Monday, March 05, 2018

The Echo Killing by Christi Daugherty

I love Savannah, but Christi Daugherty's The Echo Killing is not the Savannah of the cobblestone streets, lovely architecture, and many parks.  Daughtery's Harper McClain is a crime reporter and her job takes her to places other than the tourist mecca of Old Savannah.

Harper's mother was murdered when she was twelve, and when another murder takes place that echos the murder of her mother in surprising detail, Harper is compelled to investigate further.  Despite some discouragement from her mentor who doesn't believe the killer is the same one that murdered her mother, Harper continues digging.

And while the murder itself is eerily similar to that of her mother, the victim is an entirely different breed.  Is the killer the same one becoming active again after fifteen years...or is it a copy cat?  


Read in December; blog review scheduled for 3/5/18.

NetGalley/St. Martin's Press

Mystery/Suspense.  March 13, 2018.  Print length:  368 pages.  

Saturday, March 03, 2018

Oscars for Books, Korean Writers, Translators

I'm not terribly interested in the Oscars as I haven't seen most of the films nominated, but what if they gave Oscars to books?

If They Gave Oscars to Books, Our 2017 Nominees

I still enjoy Scandi Noir, but looks like Scandinavian authors may have some competition soon:

The New Scandi Noir?  Korean Writers Reinventing the Thriller

And an interesting connection,  a well-deserved prize for the translators who make so many of the books we enjoy available in our language.  Although I frequently read books that have been translated, I haven't read any of the books on the list.  Have you?

Quick guide

The 2018 TA first translation prize shortlist

Eve Out of Her Ruins by Ananda Devi
A novel, translated from the French by Jeffrey Zuckerman, and edited by Cécile Menon and Angeline Rothermundt at Les Fugitives.
Notes on a Thesis by Tiphaine Rivière
A graphic novel, translated from the French by Francesca Barrie, and edited by Clare Bullock at Jonathan Cape.
Second-Hand Time by Svetlana Alexievich
An oral history, translated from the Russian by Bela Shayevich and edited by Jacques Testard at Fitzcarraldo Editions.
Swallowing Mercury by Wioletta Greg
A novel, translated from the Polish by Eliza Marciniak, and edited by Max Porter and Ka Bradley at Portobello Books.
The Sad Part Was by Prabda Yoon
A short story collection, translated from the Thai by Mui Poopoksakul, and edited by Deborah Smith at Tilted Axis Press.
The Queue by Basma Abdel Aziz
A novel, translated from the Arabic by Elisabeth Jaquette, and edited by Sal Robinson, Taylor Sperry and Željka Marošević at Melville House.

Thursday, March 01, 2018

Murder in Belgravia

Murder in Belgravia by Lynn Brittney is set in London during WWI, a time period of great interest for many reasons.  

The Great War was in progress and the social landscape was changing:  drugs like cocaine and heroin were available at the local pharmacy; the male population was depleted as men enlisted or were conscripted; the zeppelin raids in 1915; women were needed in areas other than domestic service and were working in factories, wearing trousers, cutting their hair, and learning to drive;  suffragettes were still hoping for the vote, but suspended many of their political activities and offered their services to the government; only a small number of women were able to receive higher education, but the war increased the need for more women in fields that required more disciplined learning.

The book is a murder mystery that touches on all of the above, as well as examining the difficulty for many in accepting these rapid changes.  Today, approximately 100 years later, traditional society struggles to accept the many changes that result from technology.

Briefly, Chief Inspector Peter Beech finds himself investigating the murder of Lord Murcheson.  Murcheson's grievously injured wife has confessed to killing her husband, but questions arise as to whether or not her life-threatening injuries would have made it possible. 

Beech is given permission to assemble an unusual and off-the-record team that includes two women to pursue the Murcheson case.  

In spite of the tawdry elements of the case, the novel has an almost Pollyana-ish group of characters who are more open-minded than would have been typical of the time.  Beech's assembled team includes a retired policeman summoned back because of the loss of man power during the war, a young policeman who was wounded during the war, a female doctor, and a woman who studied law.  All of the characters are dedicated to solving the murder and are interested in making positive changes.

In the midst of a sordid case that includes murder, prostitution (both male and female), and drugs, the assembled team represent the best of humanity.  So...the novel deals with some of the most degraded offenses, but lightens up because of the respectable and decent members of the team.  It is a contrast between the terrible reality of the social ills faced and the virtual goodness of the team.  This contrast between reality and wishful thinking keeps the novel a step below what it could have been.

The plot is intriguing and held my interest, and the characters are likable, if a bit perfect.  

Although the research is obvious, there is no bibliography or list of sources.  This may simply be that my copy is an ARC.  Nevertheless, I enjoyed Murder in Belgravia and look forward to the next in the series.
Cocaine and heroin were available in pharmacies for almost every possible problem from helping babies to sleep, hay fever treatments, pain relief, etc. 

drug use during WWI


some of the drugs advertised during the period

Read in December; review scheduled for March 2018.

NetGalley/Mirror Books

Historical Mystery/WWI.  March 15, 2018.  Print length:  211 pages.