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. Some of these books have longer reviews or mini-reviews on this blog. In that case, a link will be supplied.
Click here for a printable text-only copy of Mystery Memo # 108 (in Microsoft Word). Here is your chance to download the full list.
This Mystery Memo has one book in the Perfect Read category, False Mermaid by Erin Hart
* * *
Chris Grabenstein: Rolling Thunder (2010) ****
American police procedural.
Book # 6 with young police officer Danny Boyle and his partner John Ceepak, a by-the-book ex-soldier, set in a seaside tourist town in New Jersey.
MBTB mini-review: When a woman dies on the inaugural run of a new roller coaster at the amusement park, Danny and Ceepak are on the case. Was it just a heart attack? The dysfunctional family gives them lots to think about.
Great atmosphere and characters.
First book: Tilt-a-Whirl (2005)
## Related posts: MBTB review of Whack-a-Mole Book # 3
* * *
Murder on the Ballarat Train (1991) *** ½
Historical, set in Australia in the 1920s.
Book # 3 with the the Honourable Phryne Fisher, who works as a consulting detective in Melbourne.
MBTB mini-review: Phryne is on a train journey when chloroform is used in their first class car. After she shoots out a window to quickly get some fresh air, she discovers an elderly woman is missing from the train. The woman’s daughter hires Phryne to out what happened.
Subplot: a teenaged girl is found on the train who can’t remember who she is.
Good characters and depiction of the time.
First book: Cocaine Blues (1989)
* * *
Erin Hart: False Mermaid (2010) **** ½
Book # 3 in the series with Irish archaeologist Cormac Maguire and American pathologist Nora Gavin.
This book is set mostly in St. Paul, Minnesota.
MBTB full review of False Mermaid
So nicely written. This is a favourite series of mine.
The first two in the series:
Lake of Sorrows
* * *
Her Highness’ First Murder (2010) ***
Historical, set in 1546 England.
Book # 1 with Princess Elizabeth and her friend Simon, the physician’s son, both about 13 years old.
MBTB mini-review: King Henry asks young Simon to snoop around Princess Elizabeth’s household for information about a murdered attendant. The dead woman was found wearing a nun’s habit and the body was missing the head. With the assistance of Hugh, captain of the King’s guards, Simon and the Princess try to find out who the murderer was.
Slightly plodding, but still interesting due to the youth of the characters. I’ll look for the next one: Poison, Your Grace, coming in November 2011.
* * *
Graham Hurley: Beyond Reach (2010) ****
British police procedural.
Book # 10 with DI Joe Faraday, Portsmouth, England. Some of the book is from the point-of-view of newly retired police detective Paul Winter, now working for crime boss Bazza MacKenzie.
MBTB mini-review: Faraday's case: a hit-and-run death seems to be connected to a harassment case. The other storyline: Winter has to to find out if crime boss Bazza’s married daughter is having an affair.
Convoluted but good. Two investigations, sometimes overlapping.
First book: Turnstone (2000)
## Related post: MBTB full review of No Lovelier Death, Book # 9 with DI Joe Faraday
* * *
Donna Leon: A Question of Belief (2010) ****
Italian police procedural
Book # 19 with Guido Brunetti, police commissario in Venice. This book takes place in an August heat wave.
MBTB full review of A Question of Belief
I love the description of Venice in the heat, Brunetti’s family, the food, the little coffee bars, etc.
First book: Death at La Fenice (1992)
* * *
Stuart MacBride: Dark Blood (2010) ****
British police procedural
Book # 6 with DS Logan “Lazarus” McRaie, in Aberdeen, Scotland
MBTB full review of Dark Blood
A serial rapist has been released from jail and relocated in Aberdeen. Making sure the man isn’t killed by the local citizens is only one of McRaie’s assignments. The usual warning about violence.
First book: Cold Granite (2005)
## Related post: MBTB full review of Cold Granite # 1
* * *
Thomas Perry: Strip (2010) ****
This is a stand-alone, more a caper than a mystery.
MBTB mini-review of Strip
It reminded me of Donald Westlake’s books (e.g. the Dortmunder series.
* * *
Sally Spencer: Stone Killer (2005) *** ½
British police procedural. Historical, set in the 1960s.
Book # 14 with DCI Charlie Woodend in the English village of Whitebridge.
MBTB mini-review: A hostage-taking at a local bank. The demand: that Woodend look at the case evidence of the hostage taker’s wife (now in prison for murder) and find her innocent.
I find this series is a good blend of the personal and the procedural, and the setting in the 1960s hits just the right tone.
First book: The Salton Killings (1998)
* * *
P.J. Tracy: Shoot to Thrill (2010) *** ½
Part American police procedural, part thriller.
Book # 5 with Minneapolis police (Leo Magozzi and Gino Rolseth) and the Monkeewrench gang (software developers who often work with these two police officers).
MBTB mini-review: Several murders across the country don’t seem connected until the FBI notices that live videos of the murders are available on a certain website. The Monkeewrench gang and other computer experts across the country are contracted to try to find the murderers through the internet.
I found this book not quite so engrossing as some of the earlier books. It is assumed the reader already knows the quirky characters. I recommend reading at least the first book: Monkeewrench before starting this one.
* * *
Nicola Upson: An Expert in Murder (2008) *** ½
Historical, set in 1934 London, England.
Part amateur detective/part police procedural
Book # 1 with Josephine Tey, the real life mystery and play author, and her friend, police officer Archie Penrose, London, England.
MBTB mini-review of An Expert in Murder
The action was a little slow, but it was an enjoyable read. It reminded me of old English mysteries, similar to what Tey herself would have written.
Next book: Angel with Two Faces (2009)
posted by Sharon
## Related post: Mystery Memo # 108 part one
WHAT I'M READING NOW:
The Anniversary Man
by R. J. Ellory
Non-series American police procedural with crime researcher John Costello and NYPD detective Ray Irving, New York.
Summary: Twenty years after surviving an attack by a serial killer who murdered his girlfriend, a physically and psychologically scarred John Costello works in seclusion as a crime researcher and discerns a pattern in a string of murders.NoveList