Category: Private investigator
Homicide in Hawaii
Aloha fellow readers, I'm off to sunny Hawaii and I thought I would share some of the titles I will be taking with me on vacation.
Primitive Secrets (2002)
By Deborah Turrell Atkinson
Book # 1 in the Storm Kayama series
An exciting new voice richly and suspensefully evokes modern and ancient Hawaii...
When Storm Kayama walks into her lucrative Honolulu law firm one morning, she's shocked--and grieved--to find her adopted uncle at his desk, stiff and cold. Years before, Miles Hamasaki had fulfilled a promise to Storm's father and brought her to be raised with his own family. But, as questions surround Miles' death and her adopted family begins to close ranks, Storm suspects that he has been murdered.
Heading to the Big Island for a weekend escape from escalating pressures, she narrowly escapes a terrible accident. Storm takes refuge in the home of her Aunt Maile, a traditional Hawaiian healer, and Uncle Keone, a paniolo on the huge Parker Ranch. There she encounters a legend from her youth and a family totem, or 'aumakua, which Aunt Maile promises will protect her. As Storm struggles to heal her own childhood wounds and bring justice to Hamasaki's killer, she also comes to grip with the rifts in her own life and culture. (Book Description)
The Green Room (2005)
by Deborah Turrell Atkinson
Book # 2 in the Strom Kayama series
Storm Kayama needs to build her clientele, so when surf promoter Marty Barstow's wife Stephanie walks into her new law office, Storm agrees to represent her, despite her distaste for a bitter divorce situation.
When Stephanie's son Ben, a promising surfer, invites her to O'ahu's North Shore for a contest, Storm jumps at the chance. Not only will it be a thrill to observe the meet, but Storm will also have the opportunity to watch a distant cousin compete. Nahoa Pi'ilani has grown from a mischievous kid to a surfer of international renown, and he seems to have put the trouble that once brewed between their families behind him.
Then a child delivers a package to Nahoa containing an ancient Hawaiian weapona wooden club encircled with shark's teeth. Storm recognizes the lei o mano. It's a threat, a call to battle.
Events soon suck her into a vortex of escalating peril. As if she were in the green roomthe underwater space where tons of churning water can imprison a surferStorm is buffeted and disoriented by local legend, greed, and cutthroat competition and must confront not only a vicious killer but a haunting incident from her past. (Book Description)
Hula Done It? (2005)
By Maddy Hunter
Book # 4 in the Passport to Peril series
For travel escort Emily Andrew and her fellow Iowans, aloha means "hello" to all the sun, surf, and scrumptious cuisine their Hawaiian cruise has to offer. But for Professor Dorian Smoker, a renowned expert on the legendary Captain Cook, aloha also means "good-bye" -- as in "man overboard."
Sure, it could have been an accident. But Emily wonders if some guest with a grudge might have knocked off the opinionated professor. Or maybe it had something to do with that missing journal Nana's friend lent him -- the one with the mysterious treasure map. Emily figures the map is probably a fake. But when another copy turns up, she and her friends take off, rafting down rivers and plunging through jungles to find the treasure themselves. Unfortunately, Professor Smoker's killer just might have the same idea. And this tropical heat wave could quickly turn into a crime wave... (Book Description)
The Flaming Luau of Death (2005)
By Jerrilyn Farmer
Book # 7 in the Madeline Bean Culinary Mystery series
When Holly Nichols sets her wedding date, trendy L.A. party-planner Madeline Bean decides to throw her top assistant the hippest and most lavish bridal shower on the planet. The guests embark on a “destination” party to a fabulous and exclusive spa/resort in Hawaii. The salt-rubs! The paraffin pedicures! The dead body in the mud bath! Ew. It doesn’t help matters when Holly confesses to Maddie that she can’t really go through with the upcoming wedding after all. In her effort to smooth the matrimonial path for her dear friend, Madeline must track down the mystery man Holly may have married ten years earlier and never actually got around to divorcing. How hard can that be? Well, with the elusive gentleman in question running from a gang of rare vegetable smugglers, the bridal shower guests imbibing in one “Bridesmaid Mojito” too many, the current fiancé developing an allergy to scandal, and a murderer on the loose, it looks like anything but clear sailing down the aisle for one of Mad Bean’s best employees. (Book Description)
Right from the Gecko (2007)
By Cynthia Baxter
Book # 5 in the Reigning Cats and Dogs series
Surf’s up . . . and so are the stakes when veterinarian and amateur sleuth Jessica Popper escapes to the land of hula, hibiscus, and geckos for a professional conference. The last time she and boyfriend Nick Burby touched down on the island of Hawaii, Nick caused a volcanic eruption when he unexpectedly popped The Question to commitment-phobic Jess. But this trip proves just as dangerous when Jess befriends an ambitious young reporter whose body later washes up on the sand . . . and someone thinks Jess holds the clue to the killer’s motive.
There’s no end of suspects among the exotic flora and fauna, from the victim’s journalistic rivals and a mystery boyfriend to an eccentric beachcomber and a governor’s aide with ties to a controversial biotech firm bringing progress to paradise. One of them is a killer with the chameleon-like ability to stay hidden?and if Jessica doesn’t uncover hula-dunnit in time, she’ll be saying aloha . . . permanently. (Book Description)
## Related post: Hawaii Mysteries (posted in 2010 - includes MBTB mini-reviews)
Sue Grafton's new book: Kinsey and Me
Here is a non-fiction book about one of my favourite fictional private investigators, California-based Kinsey Milhone and her author, Sue Grafton.
Kinsey and Me: Stories by Sue Grafton
Description: In 1982, Grafton introduced readers to Kinsey Millhone. Thirty years later, Kinsey is an established international icon and Grafton is a number-one bestselling author. To mark this anniversary year, Grafton delivers stories that reveal Kinsey's origins and the author's past.
Read Grafton's interview with Oprah magazine here. She talks about writing, her childhood and her new book, Kinsey and Me.
or check out Sue Grafton's website
". . . Kinsey and Me has two parts: The nine Kinsey stories (1986-93), each a gem of detection; and the And Me stories, written in the decade after Grafton's mother died. Together, they show just how much of Kinsey is a distillation of her creator's past even as they reveal a child who, free of parental interventions, read everything and roamed everywhere. But the dark side of such freedom was that very parental distance. . ."
## Related posts:
MBTB review of T is for Trespass # 20
MBTB review of U is for Undertow # 21
Here is the full list of titles featuring Kinsey Millhone, a private eye in fictional Santa Teresa, California at Stop, You're Killing Me!
posted by Sharon
WHAT I'M READING NOW:
Eleven Pipers by C.C.Benison
Book # 2 with Father Tom Christmas, a widower with a 9-year-old daughter. He is the new vicar in Thornford Regis, a picturesque village in England
Summary: The annual Burns dinner at Thornford Regis is an occasion for bagpipes, haggis and scotch. It ends up an occasion for tragedy when Will Moir, one of the pipers, is found alone, in a tower, dead of an apparent heart attack. Father Tom Christmas, the vicar of the town, is privy to all of the secrets of its inhabitants, and is one of the first to find out that Will Moir was poisoned. NoveList
First book: Twelve Drummers Drumming
Mystery Memo # 114 featuring Private Investigators
The Mystery Memo is a log of all of my mystery reading, with brief comments and a star rating for each book read. It is published every 4 to 6 weeks.
I have pulled out investigators and private investigators to feature in this post, including one Perfect Read: The Sherlockian by Graham Moore
Click here to download the entire Mystery Memo # 114 and see all 16 mysteries.
Kate Atkinson: Started Early, Took My Dog (2010) ****
Private investigator, England
Book # 4 with private investigator Jackson Brodie, a former police inspector.
Jackson is hired to look for birth information for a young woman now living in New Zealand.
He discovers that the story she knows about her birth 35 years ago is false. As usual, we see the story from many points of view. Nice writing – not neatly tied up. Not exactly a mystery, but a good read.
First book: Case Histories
Reed Farrel Coleman: Innocent Monster (2010) ****
Book # 6 with Moe Prager, a former investigator who now runs a wine store business.
Moe’s grown daughter asks him to look for the missing daughter of a friend. Good old fashioned private investigating.
First book: Walking the Perfect Square
Norman Green: Sick Like That (2010) *** ½
Book # 2 with Alessandra Martillo, an investigator's assistant in New York
Martillo is now running the investigation agency along with the woman who had been the secretary, Sarah Waters. Sarah discovers new skills as she starts to handle some of the more routine cases. Good writing and interesting characters as several cases lead them into unexpected areas.
First book: The Last Gig
Graham Moore: The Sherlockian (2010) **** ½
Non-series. Literary mystery/puzzle-based.
Fast-paced with lots of Holmes trivia.
Plot Summary: Literary researcher and Sherlock Holmes enthusiast Harold White is shocked when a scholar who discovered Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's missing diary is murdered, while in 1890s London, Conan Doyle hunts a serial killer to prove his superiority to his famous character.
Betsy Thornton: Dream Queen (2010) ****
Book # 6 with Chloe Newcombe, a victim advocate in Arizona. This is a prequel to the series and could be read first.
Chloe goes to visit her brother in Arizona but after he picks her up, he disappears at a gas station. Good characters.
First book: The Cowboy Rides Away
posted by Sharon
Old Favourites: Sharon's pick
Have you read the Globe & Mail article Clued in : 12 mystery masters name their favourites ? The subtitle "Michael Connelly, Harlen Coben and 10 more unearth buried treasure just for you."
Here's my buried treasure: John D. Macdonald's Travis McGee series.
Published from 1964 to 1984, they follow the life and investigations of Travis McGee, an adventurer, philosopher, and “salvage consultant” who does unofficial favors for friends, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida (series description from Stop, You're Killing Me!)
The stories often start on McGee's beloved houseboat "The Busted Flush" as clients and friends bring problems to him.
The writing has everything I look for in a mystery: first-person narration, beautiful original descriptions, unusual (yet believable) characters and unlikely (yet believable) plots.
They're all good. I've collected a full set, plus spares to give away or take on trips.
Here's one of my favourites:
A Tan and Sandy Silence
Booklist /* Starred Review */ MacDonald’s Travis McGee (“a refugee from a plastic-structured culture, uninsured, unadjusted, and unconvinced”) remains, long after the 21-volume series ended in 1985, one of the crime genre’s most appealing nonconformists. He lives the life every individualist craves: independent, adventurous, and unpredictable. Sequestered on his houseboat sanctuary, The Busted Flush (won in a poker game), moored in slip F-18, Bahia Mar Marina, Fort Lauderdale, he ventures out into the wider world whenever someone he cares about loses something — a loved one, money, or even self-respect — getting back whatever has been lost and keeping 50 percent of the profits. This novel, the thirteenth in the series and quite possibly the best, represents an important turning point for McGee. On the surface, it looks like a typical McGee adventure: our hero discovers that one of his “wounded ducklings” (emotionally scarred women he has nursed back to psychic and sexual health) has disappeared, leaving a distraught husband. McGee smells foul play and is soon locked in mortal combat with a Ted Bundy–like psycho who enjoys torturing his victims. Although McGee eventually dispatches his antagonist, it is not before much damage has been done, both to the people he was trying to protect and to his own sense of self. For the first time in the series, McGee is truly vulnerable: “In all my approximately seventy-six inches of torn and mended flesh and hide, in all my approximately fifteen-stone weight of meat, bone, and dismay, I sat on that damned bed and felt degraded.” McGee’s “wounding” forces MacDonald to deal with an inevitable problem for series authors: how to let the heroes grow and change without sacrificing their mythic stature. By immersing Travis a little further into the everyday world of slowed reflexes and failing nerves, MacDonald heightens the tension between myth and reality, and we receive a stronger jolt of mythic energy when that tension is released. “I know what counts,” Travis tells us, “is the feeling I get when I make my own luck.” After A Tan and Sandy Silence, that feeling is harder to come by, but it’s all the more satisfying when it finally arrives.
* * *
If you are hunting through the library catalogue for this series, all of the Travis McGee series have a colour in their title.
posted by Sharon
WHAT I'M READING NOW:
Elegy for Eddie
by Jacqueline Winspear
Book # 9 with Maisie Dobbs, a psychologist and investigator based in 1920s and 1930s London, England
Here's what Booklist had to say: London in the 1930s serves as backdrop for Winspear’s engaging, best-selling series featuring psychologist, investigator, and former war nurse Maisie Dobbs. A woman of humble beginnings who received a sizable inheritance from her mentor, Maurice, Dobbs harbors great compassion for the working-class woman and man. When local fruit peddler Eddie Pettit is killed in a violent accident, Dobbs suspects foul play, for Eddie was a simple soul with a kind heart and a knack for communicating with horses. Those who knew Eddie say he seemed uncharacteristically agitated in the last days of his life. Had he fallen in with the wrong crowd, or fallen prey to power brokers who took unfair advantage of his naïveté? Dobbs’ investigation takes her from the gritty streets of Lambeth to glamorous London dinner parties, where guests include press magnates and politicians with money and ambition to burn. Winspear’s books are stronger on atmosphere than plot, and here she vividly evokes early-twentieth-century London and the glaring disparity between the haves and have-nots.
MBTB review of Maisie Dobbs # 1
MBTB mini-review of The Mapping of Love and Death # 7
Two by Laura DiSilverio
I've just read the following two books, "first books" in two different series by author Laura DiSilverio:
Swift Justice (2010) ****
# 1 with Charlotte “Charlie” Swift, a former Air Force investigator, now working as a private investigator, in Colorado Springs, Colorado
Here's what Booklist had to say: /* Starred Review */ Charlotte “Charlie” Swift of Swift Investigations has just started on her newest case — finding the mother of a baby left with a woman who doesn’t want her husband to know she’s the baby’s grandmother. Then Gigi shows up; her ex-husband was Charlie’s silent partner, but he ran off with a much younger woman — after cleaning out the couple’s bank account—leaving Gigi with no income, two teenage kids, and the partnership papers for Swift Investigations. Loner Charlie definitely doesn’t need a middle-aged, inexperienced woman who has no idea of how to work as a private detective; but they’re stuck together. Readers will sympathize with Gigi, who manages to turn crazy assignments into even crazier situations. Meanwhile, Charlie’s case gets more complicated when the missing mother turns up dead. The odd-couple relationship between the two women may appeal to fans of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum and Lula. DiSilverio deftly mixes light, zany humor with the darkness of the crimes.
MBTB mini-review: I liked this a lot - a private investigator mystery with lashes of humor. Great characters.
Next book: Swift Edge
Die Buying (2011) ****
# 1 with Emma-Joy “E.J.” Ferris, a 30-something medically-retired military policewoman, now a security officer with the Fernglen Galleria, in Vernonville, Virginia, near Washington DC, in the Mall Cop series
Summary: A local developer is found naked and dead in a boutique window at the mall after someone liberates the reptiles from the pet store. E. J. Ferris decides to solve the case herself with the help of her grandpa, a retired CIA operative, after an arrogant homicide detective dismisses her as "only" a mall cop.
MBTB mini-review: E.J.'s actions are believable as a former military police officer. Her knee injury keeps her out of regular policing and she struggles with the limitations of her job as a shopping mall security officer.
An enjoyable read with an interesting setting.
Next book: All Sales Fatal
posted by Sharon
WHAT I'M READING NOW:
Crying Out Loud
by Cath Staincliffe
Book # 8 with Sal Kilkenny, a single mother private eye in Manchester, England
Description: An abandoned baby on her doorstep significantly complicates the life and career of Manchester private investigator Sal Kilkenny, who is working on a difficult case involving a shattered client and a murder convict who has recanted a confession. NoveList
First book: Looking for Trouble
Three I'll Read Soon: Rozan, Hayder, Hamilton
Here are three books at the top of my "To Be Read" pile:
Ghost Hero by S.J. Rozan
# 11 with Lydia Chin, a 30-something Chinese American private eye, and Bill Smith, a 40-something Army brat private eye in New York City
Summary: Investigating a rumor about new paintings by a famous contemporary Chinese artist who has been dead for twenty years, private investigator Lydia Chin and her partner, Bill Smith, discover that a new client is not who he claims to be. NoveList
Hanging Hill by Mo Hayder
British police procedural. Non-series.
Summary: After a popular Bath teen's murder, police detective Zoe Benedict looks beyond the usual motives to solve the crime; while her divorced sister, Sally, takes a housekeeping job for a wealthy entrepreneur who behaves in increasingly suspicious ways. Publisher's description
The Disciple of Las Vegas by Ian Hamilton
# 2 with Ava Lee, a young Chinese-Canadian forensic accountant who specializes in recovering massive debts.
Summary: Ava and her uncle are hired by Tommy Ordonez, the wealthiest man in the Philippines, to recover $50 million in a land swindle. NoveList
## Related post: MBTB review of The Water Rat of Wanchai # 1
posted by Sharon
WHAT I'M READING NOW:
by Priscilla Masters
British police procedural/forensic science
Book # 2 with Martha Gunn, the coroner in Shrewsbury, England
Description: When a pop diva is brutally attacked minutes before a theatrical performance and the chief suspect is promptly found dead, Detective Peter Diamond uncovers bitter rivalries among the cast and crew and must confront his own mysterious theater phobia to find the killer. NoveList
First book: River Deep
Nevada Barr: The Rope (2012) **** ½
Nevada Barr: The Rope **** ½
Prequel to the 16 book series with Anna Pigeon, a park ranger at various national parks in the USA
Library Journal: /* Starred Review */ The adventures of park ranger Anna Pigeon have filled the pages of 16 books, and now her legion of loyal fans can find out how her story began. After her husband's death in 1995, Anna leaves New York City to take a seasonal position at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. On a hike to explore the dry canyon lands around Lake Powell, Anna literally falls into a mystery. Fighting thirst and drug-induced delirium, she extricates herself from the dry well and begins to unravel the who and why of her tortuous ordeal. Barr's luxuriant depictions of desert landscapes with its colors and hues and details about Lake Powell's tourist population are interwoven into the narrative as an indispensable element of her popular series. Anna emerges from this canyon escapade as a strong, determined woman who plans to return to park service employment as a law enforcement ranger, stating that "more women should carry guns."
VERDICT Another awesome winner for Barr.
MBTB review: Many of Anna's actions in The Rope are puzzling, as she gets herself into some serious near-death situations, but I must remind myself, she is younger and far more inexperienced than we see her in later books. And she is grieving the recent death of her husband. I put this in my "Amateur Sleuth" category, since at this point in her career, Anna has had no investigator training.
An enjoyable, often edge-of-my-seat read.
Prequels seem to be all the rage. Recently I've read the prequel to Lee Child's Reacher series The Affair. Still on my "to be read list": the prequel to Steven Havill's series with Undersheriff Bill Gastner, One Perfect Shot.
They are an excellent way to start a series .... and for those of us who are already fans, prequels fill in some early background and give us a glimpse of the character before they accumulate all the experience.
First book: Track of the Cat
posted by Sharon
WHAT I'M READING NOW:
by Robert Crais
Book # 15 with Elvis Cole and Joe Pike, a pair of Hollywood private eyes, in Los Angeles, California
Description: Hired along with Joe Pike to investigate the alleged kidnapping of a young law student, Elvis Cole goes undercover to infiltrate a ring of professional border kidnappers only to be abducted himself.
First book: The Monkey's Raincoat
Anthony Horowitz: The House of Silk (2011) ****
Anthony Horowitz: The House of Silk: a Sherlock Holmes novel ****
Publishers Weekly /* Starred Review */ The hype surrounding what’s being billed as the first pastiche ever officially approved by the Conan Doyle estate is amply justified in this authentic, if melancholy, recreation of the beloved Baker Street characters by the creator of the acclaimed Foyle’s War TV series. A year after Sherlock Holmes’s death (from natural causes), Watson takes up his pen one last time to recount a case they shared in 1890 that was “too monstrous, too shocking” to appear in print. The opening is prosaic enough. London art dealer Edmund Carstairs asks for the detective’s help. A shadowy figure in a flat cap, apparently an Irish-American thug bent on revenge, has surfaced near Carstairs’s Wimbledon home. When a murder follows, Holmes getting involved. The trail leads him and the good Doctor Watson to a powerful secret society known as the House of Silk.
Horowitz gets everything right — the familiar narrative voice, brilliant deductions, a very active role for Watson, and a perplexing and disturbing series of puzzles to unravel — and the legion of fans of the originals will surely be begging for Horowitz to again dip into Watson’s trove of untold tales.
MBTB mini-review: Complex, but true to the original Holmesian style. A great read on a winter afternoon.
Want more Sherlock Holmes?
MBTB Discussion Group Meeting: Sherlock and Friends (includes book descriptions and star ratings)
or check out our Sherlock and Friends book list, created in 2008.
posted by Sharon
WHAT I'M READING NOW:
Three Day Town
by Margaret Maron
Book # 17 with Deborah Knott, district judge in North Carolina
Judge Deborah Knott and Sheriff's Deputy Dwight Bryant are in New York for a delayed honeymoon. January might not be the perfect time to visit, but they'll take it. The trip is a present from Dwight's sister-in-law, who arranged for them to stay in an Upper West Side apartment for one week. While in New York, Deborah has been asked to deliver a package to Lt. Sigrid Harald of the NYPD. Sigrid offers to swing by the apartment to pick up the box, but when they reach the apartment, they discover that the box is missing and the doorman has been murdered.
First book: Bootlegger's Daughter
Some Starred Reviews to Ring in the New Year!
A Thousand Cuts (2011)
By Simon Lelic
***Nominated for the 2011 Macavity Award***
Starred Reviews by both Publisher's Weekly and Booklist
A stunning debut novel that unravels the hidden story behind a school shooting
It should be an open-and-shut case. Samuel Szajkowski, a recently hired history teacher, walked into a school assembly with a gun and murdered three students and a colleague before turning the weapon on himself. It was a tragedy that could not have been predicted. Szajkowski, it seems clear, was a psychopath beyond help. Yet as Detective Inspector Lucia May- the only woman in her high-testosterone office in the Criminal Investigations Department-begins to piece together the testimonies of the various witnesses, an uglier and more complex picture emerges, calling into question the innocence of others. But no one, including Lucia's boss, is interested.
As the pressure to close the case builds and her colleagues' sexism takes a sinister turn, Lucia begins to realize that she has more in common with the killer than she could have imagined, and she becomes deter mined to expose the truth. Brilliantly interweaving the witnesses' accounts with Lucia's own perspective, A Thousand Cuts is a narrative tour de force from a formidable new voice in fiction. (Description taken from Syndetic Solutions, Inc.)
Invisible Boy (2010)
By Cornelia Read
***Won Publishers Weekly Best Books of the Year in 2010***
Publisher's Weekly Starred Review
The smart-mouthed but sensitive runaway socialite Madeline Dare is shocked when she discovers the skeleton of a brutalized three-year-old boy in her own weed-ridden family cemetery outside Manhattan. Determined to see that justice is served, she finds herself examining her own troubled personal history, and the sometimes hidden, sometimes all-too-public class and racial warfare that penetrates every level of society in the savage streets of New York City during the early 1990s.
Madeline is aided in her efforts by a colorful assemblage of friends, relatives, and new acquaintances, each one representing a separate strand of the patchwork mosaic city politicians like to brag about. The result is an unforgettable narrative that relates the causes and consequences of a vicious crime to the wider relationships that connect and divide us all. (Book Description taken from Amazon)
The Scent of Rain and Lightning (2010)
By Nancy Pickard
***Nominated for the Agatha Award in 2010
Nominated for the Macavity Award in 2011***
Starred Reviews by both Publisher's Weekly and Booklist
A decades-old mystery is solved and a woman’s haunting questions put to rest in Pickard’s latest thriller. When she was just three years old, Jody Linder lost both parents in one night, when her father, Hugh Jay—eldest son of the wealthiest rancher in the small town of Rose, Kansas—was killed and her mother, Laurie, vanished. Raised by grandparents, Hugh Senior and Annabelle Linder, and with loving support from three uncles, Jody spends years collecting human detritus around the area’s towering Testament Rocks, where authorities once searched for clues to Laurie’s disappearance. Jody’s world is rocked 23 years later when Billy Crosby, the vicious drunk convicted of her father’s murder on circumstantial evidence, is released for a new trial; his return to town brings events to a head. Pickard shows her storytelling skills, weaving elements of deception, revenge, and romance into a novel with full-bodied characters who deal with tragedy as best they can; Annabelle Linder’s encounter with Crosby’s wife is particularly moving. From an award-winning author, this is engrossing fiction with an eminently satisfying denouement. (Description taken from Booklist)
Random Violence (2010)
By Jassy MacKenzie
Starred Reviews by both Publisher's Weekly and Library Journal
Set in contemporary South Africa, Mackenzie's triumphant debut introduces PI Jade de Jong. After roaming the world for a decade, Jade returns home to Johannesburg to take her revenge on the convicted murderer, about to be released from prison, who she believes killed her highly respected police commissioner father. Meanwhile, David Patel, her father's former assistant, asks Jade for help in investigating the murder of Annette Botha, gunned down one night after getting out of her car to unlock a malfunctioning automatic gate outside her home. David and Jade later learn that robbers killed Botha's brother a few years earlier, and that the dead woman recently retained a detective, who has since disappeared. The plot has more than its fair share of nice twists, and Mackenzie does a superb job of making the reader care for her gutsy lead while offering a glimpse at life in South Africa after apartheid. Readers will wish Jade a long fictional career. (Description taken from Publisher's Weekly)
Posted by Shiela
Three I've just finished: Carr, Cleverly and Krueger
I had a good couple of days off. Finished my Christmas shopping and read three mysteries:
Carol K. Carr: India Black *** ½
Historical, set in 1876 London, England.
Book # 1 with India Black, a young madam running a brothel catering to gentlemen, in 1870s London, England
MBTB mini-review: Just what I was looking for on a cold winter day: a first-person narrative in a historical mystery, with lots of action. I like the character of India and how she throws herself into the impromptu spying job. The complex politics of the time is presented in an understandable way. It was a fun romp.
Here's what the Publisher's Weekly review had to say: Set in 1876, Carr's breezy, fast-paced debut introduces feisty India Black, who runs a London brothel catering to gentlemen, many of whom recognize the reference to the Tennyson poem in the brothel's name, Lotus House. When a patron turns up dead at Lotus House, India plots to dump the corpse elsewhere to preserve her business's reputation, but her efforts are interrupted by the shadowy Mr. French, who assumes responsibility for disposal of the body. In exchange, India agrees to go undercover at the behest of the prime minister himself, Benjamin Disraeli, to prevent highly sensitive documents that the victim was carrying from falling into the wrong hands. The dead man proves to have been Sir Archibald Latham, of the War Office, and the missing documents regard England's readiness to fight the Russians in the Balkans. Readers should be prepared for formulaic plot twists involving numerous escapes and gunfights.
Next book: India Black and the Widow of Windsor
* * *
Strange Images of Death ****
Historical, set in 1926 France/Police procedural
Book # 8 with Commander Joe Sandilands, a Scotland Yard detective, a World War I veteran
MBTB mini-review: This has all the elements I like in a historical mystery: interesting setting (a chateau in rural France transformed into an artists colony), great characters (Joe Sandilands, a top Scotland Yard detective with some horrific WWI experiences behind him; Joe's counterpart in France, the quirky Commissaire Jacquemin) and an intriguing mystery (a photographer's model murdered in the tiny chapel). To make it even better, it's a version of a locked room mystery - the chateau is so isolated, the murderer is very likely one of the residents.
I've liked this series from the first book (The Last Kashmiri Rose) and I love the first four especially, set in post-WWI India.
Here's what Publisher's Weekly review had to say:
/* Starred Review */ Set in 1926, Cleverly's excellent eighth mystery to feature British Cmdr. Joe Sandilands takes Sandilands to France, where Dorcas Joliffe, a precocious teenager who regards the Scotland Yarder as an honorary uncle, enlists his aid in finding her long-lost mother. Another inquiry, as the pair travel through Provence, soon takes precedence. When someone smashes a stone effigy to pieces in a medieval chapel, the steward in charge of the chapel ask Sandilands to help find the person responsible. This act of vandalism proves to be merely the prelude to the murder of Estelle Smeeth, an attractive young Englishwoman stabbed to death in the same chapel. Cleverly keeps the plot complex, but less convoluted than in Folly du Jour, returning to the form that made the first six in the series models of their kind. Golden age fans who appreciate deceptive storytelling enhanced by the kind of in-depth characterization lacking in Agatha Christie will be more than satisfied.
First book: The Last Kashmiri Rose
## Related post: MBTB review of Tug of War # 6
* * *
William Kent Krueger:
Northwest Angle ****
Book # 11 with Cork O’Connor, a three-quarters Irish and one-quarter Ojibwe ex-sheriff in Aurora, Minnesota
MBTB mini-review: Good fast-paced stuff. Surviving a devasting storm in remote Lake of the Woods is just the beginning. Within hours, someone is shooting at Cork, his daughter Jenny and a small baby they found on the island they took shelter on.
Here's what the Booklist review had to say:
The eleventh novel starring ex-Chicago cop and longtime Minnesota private eye Cork O’Connor is part adventure, part mystery, and all knockout thriller. Krueger takes the catastrophic storm system known as a derecho, which swept hurricane-strength winds through northern Minnesota on July 3, 1999, as his catalyst. With O’Connor and his family still reeling from the disappearance and death of his wife two years before, he decides to make a stab at reuniting them and staunching some of the pain by orchestrating a houseboat vacation on a lake that borders Canada. The derecho hits, the family is scattered, and O’Connor and teen daughter Jenny find themselves on an uninhabited small island—uninhabited, that is, except for a lone infant. The infant’s mother is nearby, not killed by the storm but bound, tortured, and bludgeoned to death. O’Connor and Jenny soon learn that the killer is now stalking them. Catch-your-breath suspense throughout.
First book: Iron Lake
## Related post: MBTB review of Heaven's Keep # 9
WHAT I'M READING NOW:
by Alafair Burke
American police procedural
Book # 1 with Ellie Hatcher, a detective for the NYPD in New York City
Summary: When two young women are murdered on the streets of New York, exactly one year apart, Detective Ellie Hatcher is called up for a special assignment on the homicide task force. The killer has left behind a clue connecting the two cases to First Date, a popular online dating service, and Flann McIlroy, an eccentric, publicity-seeking homicide detective, is convinced that only Ellie can help him pursue his terrifying theory: someone is using the lure of the Internet and the promise of love to launch a killing spree against the women of New York City. To catch the killer, Ellie must enter a high-tech world of stolen identities where no one is who they appear to be. . . .
This is one of two series written by Burke, author of the popular 2011 stand-alone Long Gone
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