Category: Mystery

“Fell Murder” by E.C.R. Lorac

“Fell Murder” by E.C.R. Lorac

First published in 1944 Fell Murder sees E.C.R. Lorac at the height of her considerable powers as a purveyor of well-made, traditional and emphatic detective fiction. The book presents a fascinating ‘return of the prodigal’ mystery set in the later stages of the Second World War amidst the close-knit farmerfolk community of Lancashire s lovely Lune valley.

The Garths had farmed their fertile acres for generations and fine land it was with the towering hills of the Lake Country on the far horizon. Garthmere Hall itself was old before Flodden Field, and here hot-tempered Robert Garth, still hale and hearty at eighty-two, ruled his household with a rod of iron. The peaceful dales and fells of the north country provide the setting for this grim story of a murder, a setting in fact which is one of the attractive features of an unusual and distinctive tale of evil passions and murderous hate in a small rural community.

I loved this mystery! This is the second classic crime that I’ve read from this author and the writing is just so rich and descriptive that I just feel like I’m there on the farm with the characters. And the Garth family is a fascinating group of personalities. This is a shorter book than the mysteries we get today but it really packs a punch and lacks not at all in twists and turns. The villain is not immediately obvious and the means of murder are vicious. This story has everything a good mystery should have and I highly recommend it. If you’ve never tried a classic crime novel E.C.R. Lorac is a great place to start.

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“Give the Devil His Due” by Sulari Gentill

“Give the Devil His Due” by Sulari Gentill

Rowland Sinclair Mystery Series #7

Wealthy Rowland Sinclair, an artist with leftist friends and a free-wheeling lifestyle, reluctantly agrees to a charity race. He’ll drive his beloved yellow Mercedes on the Maroubra Speedway, renamed the Killer Track for the lives it has claimed. His teammates are a young Errol Flynn and the well-known driver Joan Richmond. It’s all good fun. But then people start to die…

The body of a journalist covering the race is found murdered in a House of Horrors. An English blueblood with Blackshirt affiliations dies in a Maroubra crash. Reporters stalk Rowly for dirt while bookmakers are after an edge. When someone takes a shot at him—it could be anyone. Then the police arrest one of Rowly’s housemates for murder.

This is the second book I’ve read from this series and I have to say that the character of Rowland Sinclair and his various companions continue to grow on me. Ms. Gentill has crafted some incredible personalities for the lead characters which all work together to keep the reader engaged and at times on the edge of their seat. While this book is not a thriller it does contain some harrowing moments, this time centered around a racetrack which by its very nature is a threat to life and limb. There’s also a coven of witches coming out to play and complicate the mystery, and a quirky young lady trying get break in to the art world. Although I was never a big fan of the actor Errol Flynn, his appearance in this story helps to draw you into the time period. Overall, I found this to be a fun romp through Australia in the years between the wars and look forward to more installments in this series.

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“Kindness Goes Unpunished” by Craig Johnson

“Kindness Goes Unpunished” by Craig Johnson

Narrated by George Guidall

Book 3 in the Walt Longmire Series

The Blurb:

Walt Longmire has been Sheriff of Absaroka County, Wyoming, for almost a quarter of a century, but when he joins his good friend Henry Standing Bear on a trip to the City of Brotherly Love to see his daughter, Cady, he’s in for a shock. Walt hasn’t even put his boots up when Cady is viciously attacked and left near death on the steps of the Franklin Institute. He soon discovers that she has unwittingly become involved in a deadly political cover-up. Backed by Henry, Dog, Deputy Victoria Moretti, and the entire Moretti posse of Philadelphia police officers, Walt unpacks his saddlebag of tricks to mete out some Western-style justice.

My Thoughts:

Walt Longmire and Henry Standing Bear in Philadelphia! Talk about fishes out of water. But these two will do anything for Walt’s daughter Cady, including tracking down the bad guys who put Cady in the hospital. This particular story is my favorite so far in this series. Walt gets to meet up with Vic’s family and they are a delightful bunch and helpful too since a couple of them are on the police force. In the process of finding the guy who put Cady in the hospital, Walt is instrumental in uncovering a major crime ring. Craig Johnson’s characters continue to fascinate me with their broad range of personalities. George Guidall has once again delivered a fantastic narration. If you like your mysteries rugged than you can’t go wrong with this series.

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“Death Has Deep Roots” by Michael Gilbert

“Death Has Deep Roots” by Michael Gilbert

Blurb:

An eager London crowd awaits the trial of Victoria Lamartine, hotel worker, ex-French Resistance fighter, and the only logical suspect for the murder of her supposed lover, Major Eric Thoseby. Lamartine—who once escaped from the clutches of the Gestapo—is set to meet her end at the gallows.

One final opportunity remains: the defendant calls on solicitor Nap Rumbold to replace the defence counsel,and grants an eight-day reprieve from the proceedings. Without any time to spare, Rumbold boards a ferry across the Channel, tracing the roots of the brutal murder back into the war-torn past.

My Thoughts:

This story makes me smile every time I think about it. I was very surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. I even refused to make dinner for the family one night just so I could finish it. This is the Golden Age of Mystery’s version of John Grisham. The story is part courtroom drama and part thriller. As Macrea and Rumbold senior manage the courtroom drama, Rumbold junior is traipsing across France, evading enemies, as he works to uncover the truth about Victoria Lamartine’s history. Victoria is a damsel in distress and these lawyers will risk their lives their lives, if necessary, to see her found not guilty. The characters are wonderful, the plot has enough twists to keep the reader guessing, and the lawyers have a few Perry Mason tricks up their sleeves. Definitely a classic!

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“Death Without Company” by Craig Johnson

“Death Without Company” by Craig Johnson

Narrated by George Guidall

Blurb:

When Mari Baroja is found poisoned at the Durant Home for Assisted Living, Sheriff Longmire is drawn into an investigation that reaches fifty years into the mysterious woman’s dramatic Basque past. Aided by his friend Henry Standing Bear, Deputy Victoria Moretti, and newcomer Santiago Saizarbitoria, Sheriff Longmire must connect the specter of the past to the present to find the killer among them.

My Thoughts:

Book 2 in the Walt Longmire series and just as good as the first. In addition to Sheriff Longmire there is a cast of quirky characters to make the story happen. And you know how much I love quirky characters. The wilds of Wyoming is just the kind of place for them too. This particular installment of the series moves back and forth between the present investigation into Mari’s death and the events in the past that ultimately triggered her murder. As usual, Walt and his deputies are in it till the end and will do whatever it takes to get the job done. And let’s not forget that this is all taking place in the middle of a blizzard. And of course, this book is narrated by George Guidall, one of my favorite narrators. He just seems to become Walt and draw you in. I am definitely loving these stories from Craig Johnson and can’t wait to start on book 3.

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“Y is for Yesterday” by Sue Grafton

“Y is for Yesterday” by Sue Grafton

Narrated by Judy Kaye

Blurb:

In 1979, four teenage boys from an elite private school sexually assault a fourteen-year-old classmate—and film the attack. Not long after, the tape goes missing and the suspected thief, a fellow classmate, is murdered. In the investigation that follows, one boy turns state’s evidence and two of his peers are convicted. But the ringleader escapes without a trace.

Now, it’s 1989 and one of the perpetrators, Fritz McCabe, has been released from prison. Moody, unrepentant, and angry, he is a virtual prisoner of his ever-watchful parents—until a copy of the missing tape arrives with a ransom demand. That’s when the McCabes call Kinsey Millhone for help. As she is drawn into their family drama, she keeps a watchful eye on Fritz. But he’s not the only one being haunted by the past. A vicious sociopath with a grudge against Millhone may be leaving traces of himself for her to find…

My Thoughts:

I am a die-hard Kinsey Millhone fan and have read every book in the series but this one I listened to which felt like coming full circle. My first exposure to Kinsey was I don’t even remember how long ago. I was traveling and made a stop at my aunt and uncle’s house and my aunt said I should listen to books on tape while driving and she loaned me this great book she had called “A is for Alibi”. I don’t remember who narrated the first one but it definitely captured my imagination. This latest in the series was no less captivating than the first one. Kinsey seems to be a little bothered to have a case but needs something to do, if for no other reason than to get away from the homeless people camped out in her landlord’s yard. I have to say that Sue Grafton is really an expert at characterization and her characters always act in a way that surprises but seems to fit them completely. That being said, the facts of this case are at times graphic and brutal. The story moves back and forth between the events in 1979 and the “present day” of 1989. I was particularly impressed with the way that the author depicted how the past events, the choices the kids made as teenagers, impacted how their lives played out. These people are haunted by those events, each in different ways, but you get the sense that they will never be able to get away from them.

Finally, I want to give a shout-out to the cat in this story, who plays a key role in catching a bad guy. This book hits all the marks for me and if you haven’t yet met Kinsey, what are you waiting for?

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“Bloody Genius” by John Sandford

“Bloody Genius” by John Sandford

Pay attention mystery lovers, a new Virgil Flowers investigation has just hit the shelves. Never mind that his girlfriend is about to pop out twins and the hay needs to be harvested, the governor of Minnesota needs Virgil’s help to uncover who killed a prominent University of Minnesota professor. A leading light in his field, someone has bashed his head in with his computer and left his dead body locked in a carrel in the library undetected for two days. Virgil is perceived as an intruder into her investigation by Minneapolis detective Trane, but Virgil’s unique charm soon wins her over.

This is a twisty investigation that is constantly running into leads that go nowhere. One of my favorite things about John Sandford’s books in general is the way that he weaves his character’s personal life seamlessly into the investigations making the character a well-rounded person instead of a one-dimensional caricature. Then there is Minnesota which Sandford brings to a life in a way that just makes you want to be there and discover what all the fuss is about. Finally, I found the pairing of Flowers and Trane to be fun and delightful. They are opposites in everything but their search for the truth and it gets crazy before it’s over. You might find yourself wanting to take notes as you work your way through this story just so you can keep track of all the players, but you will definitely enjoy the process.

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“Death Comes to Dartmoor” by Vivian Conroy

“Death Comes to Dartmoor” by Vivian Conroy

Blurb:

Miss Merula Merriweather barely saved her uncle from the gallows after he was wrongly accused of murder—and now, she’s left the bustle of Victorian London to recuperate in the fresh air of Dartmoor with her fellow zoologist, Lord Raven Royston. The trip offers a unique treat, as they’ll be staying with a friend of Raven’s, who owns a collection of rare zoological specimens—including a kraken, a sea monster of myth and legend.

But all is not right in the land of tors, heaths, and mist. Their host’s maid has vanished without a trace, and the townspeople hold him responsible, claiming that his specimens are alive and roam the moors at night, bringing death to anyone who crosses their path. Merula and Raven are skeptical—but the accusations become more ominous when they find several specimen jars empty.

As the two hunt for clues across a desolate and beautiful landscape, a stranger appears bearing a shadowy secret from Merula’s past. Could there be a connection between her family history, the missing girl, and a fearsome monster that could be on the loose? The race is on to find the truth.

My Thoughts:

This story was very middle-of-the-road for me. The storyline was intriguing and I liked the idea of the mad scientist accused of murder but I didn’t take very well to the characters. I seemed as though Merula and Raven didn’t have much depth and I couldn’t quite figure out exactly what the nature of their relationship is. The Dartmoor setting wasn’t particularly special and while I was curious as to how the story would end, and I did finish it, I just didn’t feel very satisfied with it overall.

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“Death in the Covenant” by D. A. Bartley

“Death in the Covenant” by D. A. Bartley

Blurb:

Detective Abish “Abbie” Taylor returned to the mountain town of Pleasant View, Utah, hoping for a quiet life. But that hope dissipates like a dream when she wakes to an unsettling phone call. Arriving at the scene of a fatal car accident, she discovers that the victim was one of the most beloved leaders of the Church—and an old family friend.

Abbie is skeptical when her father insists the death was not an accident, but in an attempt to patch up their relationship, she takes a few days off from her job as the sole detective in the police department, and heads to Colonia Juárez, a former LDS colony in Mexico. There, she uncovers a plan hearkening back to the Church’s history of polygamy. But Abbie knows too well that bringing secrets to light can be deadly. Is that why her father’s friend died?

Abbie realizes with a jolt that her investigation could cost her father his job and possibly get him excommunicated. Who is the murderous mastermind of this secret plot? Time is running out for Abbie to save her father’s position—and her own life—as dark forces close in, and the outlook for Pleasant View turns decidedly unpleasant.

My Thoughts:

Abish Taylor is my newest female detective heroine. I found her incredibly relatable. Her conservative upbringing, walking away from the faith she was raised in, struggling with loss and moving on, are all things that I could connect with immediately. The author picked a beautiful setting in Utah to place this story and drew it in words to perfection. The story itself has a very complex plot woven into it that really gave me food for thought. The themes of domestic abuse and polygamy are seamlessly inserted into the plot and I think they were handled with care. This is the second book in this series and the author can’t write a 3rd one fast enough for me. Highly recommend!

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Links:   Amazon   |   Goodreads   |   Author’s website

 

“Liar in the Library” by Simon Brett

“Liar in the Library” by Simon Brett

Blurb:

Fethering has everything a sleepy coastal town should: snug English pubs, cosy cottages, a little local library – and the occasional murder . . .

Bestselling author Burton St Clair, complete with soaring ego and wandering hands, has come to town to give a talk. But after his corpse is found slumped in his car, he won’t be leaving. Jude is the prime suspect; she was, after all, the last person to see Burton St Clair alive. If she is to prove her innocence, she will have to dust off her detective skills and recruit her prim and proper neighbour (and partner-in-sleuthing) Carole to find the real culprit.

My Thoughts:

This is book 18 in the Fethering series but the first one from this author that I have read. I have listened to some of Simon Brett’s BBC radio productions in the past and enjoyed them so I thought I would give one of his books a try. I found this book to be a fun, cozy mystery. The characters are all very unique but some of them took me a little time to warm up to. I even liked the villain, but only until he was exposed for his crimes at the very end. Mr. Brett’s vivid characterizations is what I had enjoyed the most in the radio programs and the characters here are equally vivid. Jude and Carole rule the show of course, but they are so different. I was surprised by the number of avenues of investigation these two explored. Fethering turns out to be a quite charming village but it is not immune to the challenges of our times like drug addiction and a reduction in library funding. This was a fun little mystery and I was not disappointed.

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Links:   Amazon   |   Goodreads   |   Author’s website