Archives for: July 2011


Mysteries set in Greece

Before, during and after any trip I take, I try to read mysteries set in the destination. Here's what I've read so far about Greece - I was on vacation there from mid-May till mid-June.

These books run the gamut of contemporary, historical, police procedural (and at least one with a "woo woo" component).

Barbara Cleverly: Tomb of Zeus (2007) *** ½

Historical, set on the island of Crete in 1928.

Book # 1 with amateur archaeologist Laetitia Talbot

MBTB mini-review: After she is tossed out of Cambridge for bad behaviour, Laetitia goes to help with an archaeological dig in Greece. While there, she gets involved looking into the death of the head archaeologist’s wife. This was a re-read for me, and I liked it better now that I’ve been to Greece.
Book # 2 Bright Hair About the Bone is actually set earlier in time than this book, and could be read first.

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Lindsay Davis: See Delphi and Die (2005)
** ½ for the mystery

*** for the description of traveling, the historical setting and the characters

Private investigator/Historical

Book # 17 with Marcus Didius Falco, an “informer” for Emperor Vespasian in 1st century Rome

Summary: Now married to his beloved Helena Justina, Marcus Didius Falco is hired to take on a murder investigation that will require him and Helena to travel to Olympia, Greece, to uncover the truth about a series of disappearances. NoveList

MBTB mini-review: The best parts, for me, were the descriptions of the ancient sites (Olympia, Athens and Delphi), ancient even then, and the tribulations of being a tourist. The characters were great, but the mystery didn't really catch my interest.

First book: Silver Pigs

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Paul Johnston: A Deeper Shade of Blue (2002) ****
Private investigator, Greece
Book # 1 with Alex Mavros, a half-Greek, half-Scottish private investigator in Greece

Summary: When Alex Mavros is asked to track down a missing woman, he jumps at the chance to leave the stifling heat of Athens. Travelling to the small island of Trigono, he soon realizes that there is more than one mystery to be solved. How did a young couple drown in the nets of a fishing boat? Why did a British journalist leave without telling her friends? Why is the millionaire Theocharis so nervous and whose bones does old Maro keep beneath her bed? The answers lie in events that took place during the Second World War, events that tie in with the island's most ancient history. In a race to prevent a terrible crime being repeated, Alex Mavros is pitted against a ruthless and depraved killer... Fantastic Fiction

MBTB mini-review: Lots of action and interesting descriptions of the Greek islands. I liked the character of Alex and I'm going to track down Book # 2.

Next book: The Last Red Death

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Jeffrey Siger: Assassins of Athens (2010) ** ½

Book # 2 with Andreas Kaldis, a Chief Inspector in Athens, Greece

Summary: Chief Inspector Andreas Kaldis investigates after the body of a boy from one of Greece's most prominent families turns up dead in a dumpster in Athens.

MBTB mini-review: a little over the top but good detail on Greece. Not bad, but I doubt if I would have read it if not for my upcoming trip.

First book: Murder on Mykonos

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Mary Stewart: My Brother Michael (1959) ****
non-series, set in Greece
Romantic suspense

Summary: Camilla Haven and her mysterious companion, Simon, are plunged into a deadly adventure as they search Delphi for the truth implied in a letter Simon's brother, Michael, had written before his death.

MBTB mini-review: Nicely done romantic suspense, with a little more action and violence than I remembered, having read it for the first time several years ago.

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Anne Zouroudi: The Messenger of Athens
(2007) ***

Book # 1 with Hermes Diaktoros, the Fat Man, a mysterious investigator from Athens, Greece

Summary: Idyllic but remote, the Greek island of Thiminos seems untouched and untroubled by the modern world. When the battered body of a young woman is discovered at the foot of a cliff, the local police - governed more by archaic rules of honour than by the law - are quick to close the case, dismissing the death as an accident.

MBTB mini-review: Hermes Diaktoros is an otherworldly investigator, with mysterious powers connected to Greek mythology. He appears on a remote Greek island after the death of young woman is written off as suicide. About half the book takes place before the murder, setting the scene. I preferred the second half, reading about the unusual Hermes talking to people and solving the mystery. Nice descriptions, and the "woo woo" aspects were subtle and believable in context.

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Try the Stop, You're Killing Me! location index - Greece for a few more suggestions.

I'm reviving the category Murder by the Book meeting lists for themed lists with star ratings. This category was used for several years to report the star ratings assigned by our mystery book group members after we discussed mysteries with a particular theme.
Check out the themed book lists Pat and I created, still available in the Readers' Cafe - Book and Author Lists - Mysteries

series descriptions from Stop, You're Killing Me!

posted by Sharon


by Jan Burke

Book # 11 with Irene Kelly, a newspaper reporter in southern California

Summary: When the master criminal sons of serial killer Nick Parrish formulate a plan to spring their father from prison, investigative journalist Irene Kelly finds herself targeted by a deadly vengeance plot. NoveList

First book: Goodnight Irene


Another great place to check for new mystery releases

Check out the Stop, You're Killing Me! page for New Mystery Releases.

There are links on the left side of the page for:
New Hardcover Releases

New Paperback Releases

New Additions (including new series)

(each of these categories also has an Archives feature to look at previous months new releases)

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Here are a few I'm looking forward to in the New Hardcover Releases July 2011:

Deadly Cove by Brendan DuBois
Book # 7 with Lewis Cole, a former Department of Defense research analyst, retired in Tyler Beach, New Hampshire

Summary: Investigating the background of a murdered activist, Lewis Cole discovers ties to activities of anti-nuclear protesters who are gathering by the thousands on the New Hampshire seacoast, where they threaten violent action to promote their cause. NoveList

First book: Dead Sand

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The Taint of Midas by Anne Zouroudi
Book # 2 with Hermes Diaktoros, the Fat Man, a mysterious investigator from Athens, Greece

Summary: For over half a century the beautiful, ruined Temple of Apollo has been in the care of the old beekeeper Gabrilis. But when the value of the land soars, he is persuaded through unscrupulous means to sign away his interests - and hours later he meets a violent, lonely death. When Hermes Diaktoros finds his friend's battered body by a dusty roadside, the police quickly make him the prime suspect. But with rapacious developers threatening Arcadia's most ancient sites, there are many who stand to gain from Gabrilis' death. Hermes resolves to avenge his old friend and find the true culprit, but his methods are, as ever, unorthodox. . . . Fantastic Fiction

First book: The Messenger of Athens

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Now You See Me by S.J. Bolton

Summary: Stumbling onto a murder scene that a reporter likens to the crimes of Jack the Ripper, young detective constable Lacey Flint races against time to prevent additional deaths and realizes that the killer is taunting her with secrets from her past. NoveList

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and here's what I'm watching for in the New Hardcover Releases August 2011:

A Bitter Truth by Charles Todd

Book # 3 with Bess Crawford, a British army nurse in WWI

Summary: Bess reaches out to help an abused and frightened young woman, only to discover that no good deed ever goes unpunished when the good Samaritan nurse finds herself falsely accused of murder.

First book: A Duty to the Dead
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Louise’s War by Sarah R. Shaber

Book # 1 with Louise Pearlie, a young widow working as a clerk for the OSS, in 1942 Washington, DC

Summary: The first in a new series from the author of the ‘Simon Shaw’ books - set in 1942. Louise Pearlie, a young widow, has come to Washington DC to work as a clerk for the legendary OSS, the precursor to the CIA. When, while filing, she discovers a document concerning the husband of a college friend, Rachel Bloch, – a young French Jewish woman she is desperately worried about – Louise realizes she may be able to help get Rachel out of Vichy France. But then a colleague whose help Louise has enlisted is murdered, and she realizes she is on her own, unable to trust anyone . . fictiondb

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Cold Vengeance by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

Book # 11 with Aloysius Pendergast, an FBI special agent

Summary: A bonding trip for Pendergast and his brother-in-law, Judson Esterhazy, turns violent. Before abandoning a mortally-wounded Pendergast, Esterhazy announces his sister, Pendergast's long-dead wife Helen, is alive. publisher

First book: Relic

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The Most Dangerous Thing by Laura Lippman


Summary: Once the best of friends until a terrible secret tore them apart, a group of friends are suddenly brought back together under tragic circumstances and wonder if their long-ago lie is the reason for their troubles today and if someone is out to destroy them. NoveList

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Now that I'm aware of this feature, I will check out many others as well.

character descriptions from Stop, You're Killing Me!

posted by Sharon


Think of a Number
by John Verdon

Book # 1 with Dave Gurney, a recently retired 40-something NYPD homicide detective with a reputation for catching serial killers, in rural upstate New York

Summary: Recently retired after a prestigious career with the NYPD, homicide detective Dave Gurney is pulled back into service when an old college friend receives threatening letters from a murderous sender who has an uncanny ability to read a person's thoughts.NoveList


Ariana Franklin: A Murderous Procession (2010) ****

Ariana Franklin: A Murderous Procession (2010) ****

Historical, set about 1178. This book takes place mostly in France.

Book # 4 with Adelia, who is an expert in anatomy and autopsy. She works for King Henry II of England.

MBTB mini-review: In this book, Adelia is required to accompany Henry II’s young daughter on a journey across Europe. They haven't gone very far before Adelia realizes that someone in the large royal retinue is determined to murder her.
I like historical mysteries, especially ones that include travel, and author Franklin handles historical detail very well. For maximum enjoyment, read at least the previous book Grave Goods.

First book: Mistress of the Art of Death (2007)

## Related posts:
MBTB review of Mistress of the Art of Death # 1

MBTB review of Grave Goods # 3

This is a mini-review from Mystery Memo # 108

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Here's what the Booklist review had to say:
In the fourth Mistress of the Art of Death mystery, medieval forensic pathologist Adelia Aguilar has been an enjoying a quiet life in the countryside with her daughter and friends. Then Henry II demands that she accompany his daughter and her formal procession to Italy and offers to “keep” her daughter with Queen Eleanor until her safe return. But death stalks the procession, and Adelia and her loyal friends soon realize that the killer is someone from her past bent on revenge. As with previous books in the series, historical details are many and add an extra layer of atmosphere. Readers who doubt the likelihood of a female Jewish pathologist in twelfth-century Britain will be reassured by Franklin’s detailed historical notes at the end of the book. With some uneven pacing and a plot that relies heavily on previous series knowledge, this book isn’t the best place to start for readers new to the series, but it will be enjoyed by series fans.

posted by Sharon


One Was a Soldier
by Julia Spencer-Fleming

Book # 7 with Clare Fergusson, a newly-ordained Episcopal priest, and Russ Van Alystyne, Chief of Police, in Millers Kill, New York

Summary: As five Iraq veterans struggle to adjust to life after brutal tours of service, an effort complicated by permanent injuries and PTSD, they investigate the murder of one of their own.NoveList

First book: In the Bleak Midwinter


Thomas Perry: Strip (2010) ****

Thomas Perry: Strip (2010) ****

This is a stand-alone, more a caper than a mystery.

MBTB review: When strip club owner Manco is robbed at the night deposit, he asks around and deduces that a new man in LA, Joe Carver, is likely the robber. Carver tries to tell Manco that he has the wrong man, but Manco won’t change his mind. In the meantime, the reader also sees the story from the point-of-view of the actual robber, a man who has no idea of the trouble he’s causing. Nicely written.

It reminded me of Donald Westlake’s books (e.g. the Dortmunder series - see Related Post below).

## Related post: Donald Westlake 1933 - 2008

This is a mini-review from Mystery Memo # 108

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Here's what Library Journal had to say:
/* Starred Review */ Former bar owner Joe Carver has come to L.A. with a new identity and lots of cash only to find that thugs hired by low-level mobster Manco Kapak are out to get him. Carver has been mistakenly fingered as the person behind the armed robbery of Kapak's night deposit, a hefty sum used in part to launder drug profits, only the first of many hits the gangster will absorb from a masked gunman. Failing to clear his name, Carver counterattacks. Along the way, readers meet bigamist detective Nick Slosser, who is juggling the demands of two families and trying to capture the increasingly brazen robber while investigating Kapak for a drug lord's murder. As these and other colorful characters spiral around each other with gripping intensity and one startling twist after the other, the question is: Who's going down, and who's getting away?
VERDICT Featuring rich, complex characters, Perry's 18th novel (after Runner ) is pure, unadulterated fun, sure to please not only the many fans of this master craftsman but also lovers of imaginative, character-driven thrillers a la Elmore Leonard.

posted by Sharon


Devil's Peak
by Deon Meyer

Book # 1 with Benny Griessel, an aging, alcoholic police inspector in Capetown, South Africa

Summary: In the aftermath of a gruesome child abuse case that has caught the attention of the media, Inspector Benny Griessel struggles to maintain his sobriety in order to bring down a vigilante killer who has won the sympathy of the public. NoveList

Next book: Thirteen Hours

series information from Stop, You're Killing Me!