Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Updating some favorite series

Librarian Melissa was kind enough to share her reviews of three of our favorite mystery authors.

I eagerly look forward to the next book in the series from several mystery authors, and somehow it seems they all are on the same writing schedule (maybe they all know each other and go on holiday--or on tour--together once the books are published? ha ha), since their books come out within a month or so of one another. So I have yet again had a reading fest to catch up with them.

They are...

Why Kings Confess (Sebastian St. Cyr #9)
by C. S. Harris

Harris keeps her Regency mystery series going with consistent high-quality situations, emotions, and characterizations, plus a multifaceted murder mystery. I found one theme of this book--the possible restoration of the Bourbon dynasty to France--intriguing, since I knew little of the history of the heirs' years of exile in England after the French Revolution. Placing the murders in juxtaposition to a secret delegation sent to Britain by Napoleon to open peace talks gave full scope to the possibilities for volatile emotions to hold sway--between those who want peace at any price vs. those who want to win the war (and beat Napoleon), and those who want to restore the Bourbon monarchy vs. those who favor a more Republican solution. And introducing a character from Sebastian's troubled past in the military spiced it up even further. I also enjoyed a more intimate exploration of the character of Irish surgeon Paul Gibson, and also the interplay of emotions between Sebastian and his new wife. I don't want to say too much more about the continuing parallel personal story of Sebastian, because if you haven't read this far (or at all) in the series, that would spoil it for you; but it continues to be interesting!

The Outcast Dead (Ruth Galloway #6)
by Elly Griffiths

I am continuing to enjoy this narrative, and I liked the mystery in this one better than that in the last book. The parallel between the discovery by Ruth of a body thought to be the notorious Mother Hook, who was hanged in 1867 for murdering five children, and the present-day self-styled "Childminder," who is kidnapping (and possibly killing) children in Norwich is brought together when Ruth becomes a reluctant participant in the production of an episode of a TV series about her archaeology dig, dubbed "Women Who Kill." Meanwhile, DCI Harry Nelson can't figure out if he's looking for one killer or two... 

Griffiths "got" me with this one, because I thought I had solved the mystery (the whodunnit) from close to the beginning of the book, and I was wrong. That's always nice in a mystery!



Hard Going (Bill Slider #16)
by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles

Inspector Bill Slider has a real puzzler in the murder of Mr. Lionel Bygood, an old-fashioned sort of

gentleman who was bashed in the head during what Doc Cameron describes as "our old friend the Frenzied Attack." It seems like the poor man must have known his killer, but if that's the case, how to discern who it is from among the multitude of suspects? He was a gregarious old guy, so there are many.

I love this series. I can't say this one was my favorite, but it was well done. There were updates on life in the Slider household, as well as the goings-on at the police station. Porson offers up more hilarious malapropisms, and Harrod-Eagles provides good plot twists as usual.

And now I am back to waiting for a year (?) until the next round! It's a good thing I work in a library and can discover some new series to follow in the meantime!

Monday, April 21, 2014

World at War

With this being the 100th anniversary of the opening of World War I, you know we'll be seeing more books set in that era. Well, here's one that I really enjoyed. Jack of Spies by David Downing will be released in the US on May 13th and already it's a Publisher's Weekly Top 10 Mystery/Thriller for Spring as well as Library Journal Editors Pick.

David Downing is the author of the John Russell World War II thriller series (Zoo Station, etc.). This new series begins in 1913 as the world teeters on the edge of the abyss. Jack McColl, a Scottish luxury car salesman with a penchant for languages, is promoting his company's automobile in cities around the world from Shanghai to New York.

On the side, Jack collects intelligence for His Majesty's Navy. But the British Intelligence Service is in its infancy and Jack has only a shoestring budget  and little backup for his endeavors. As he travels the globe, though, it's becoming apparent that catastrophic events are brewing and things could easily explode in a world-wide conflagration.

Jack soon finds out how dangerous spying can be when his casual  intelligence gathering leads to knife attacks. Enter the beautiful young journalist Caitlin Hanley, a fervent suffragette and feminist. They begin an affair the spans from Shanghai across the Pacific to San Francisco to New York. At the back of Jack's mind, however, is the niggling fear that the relationship won't survive Caitliln and her family's Irish-American politics and her antagonistic view of British colonialism.

Some critics have stated that the book is more of a travelogue than spy thriller, but I really enjoyed the diverse locations. So many stories set in the World War I era plunge you immediately in the trenches and battlefields of France and Germany. Downing points out that it truly was a world at war. Political and social upheaval was touching off confrontations from Mexico to Ireland to India and everywhere in between.

It will be interesting to see where David Downing's story takes Jack McColl next.


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

New Mystery Releases for April

So many lovely mysteries to enjoy!
  • Death Come Quickly [China Bayles] by Susan Wittig Albert 
  • Aunt Dimity and the Wishing Well [Aunt Dimity] by Nancy Atherton
  • Aloha Betrayed [Murder She Wrote] by Donald Bain & Jessica Fletcher
  • The Target [Will Robie] by David Baldacci
  • Destroyer Angel [Anna Pigeon] by Nevada Barr
  • Warriors [Alex Hawke] by Ted Bell
  • From the Charred Remains [Lucy Campion] by Susanna Calkins
  • The Oxford Fellow  [Denton] by Kenneth Cameron
  • Death Money [Jack Yu] by Henry Chang
  • The Winter King [Hawkenlye] by Alys Clare
  • I’ve Got You Under My Skin by Mary Higgins Clark
  • Hanging by a Hair [Bad Hair Day] by Nancy J. Cohen
  • The Wolf in Winter [Charlie Parker] by John Connolly
  • The Marathon Conspiracy [Nicolaos] by Gary Corby
  • The Axe Factor [Jimm Juree] by Colin Cotterill
  • Blood Always Tells [Lily Moore] by Hilary Davidson
  • Under Cold Stone [Molly Smith] by Vicki Delany
  • Deadly Echoes [Donovan Nash] by Philip Donlay
  • Frog Music  by Emma Donoghue
  • The Blank Canvas by Glen Ebisch
  • Black Lies, Red Blood [Ann Lindell] by Kjell Eriksson
  • The Cold Nowhere [Jonathan Stride] by Brian Freeman
  • Waiting for Wednesday [Frieda Klein] by Nicci French
  • Don’t Ever Look Back [Buck Schatz] by Daniel Friedman
  • The Johnstown Girls by Kathleen George
  • Murder on High Holborn [Thomas Chaloner] by Susanna Gregory
  • Far Gone  by Laura Griffin
  • Everything To Lose by Andrew Gross
  • Under a Silent Moon by Elizabeth Haynes 
  • Dead People [Glyn Capaldi] by Ewart Hutton
  • Natchez Burning [Penn Cage] by Greg Iles 
  • Live To See Tomorrow [Catherine Ling] by Iris Johansen
  • Death on the Rocks [John Rawlings] by Deryn Lake
  • By Its Cover [Guido Brunetti] by Donna Leon
  • Night Diver by Elizabeth Lowell
  • Killer Physique [Savannah Reid] by G.A. McKevett
  • Ruin Falls by Jenny Milchman
  • Classic in the Pits [Car Detective] by Amy Myers
  • High Crime Area: Tales of Darkness and Dread  by Joyce Carol Oates
  • The Ballad of a Small Player by Lawrence Osborne
  • The Kill Switch [Tucker Wayne] by James Rollins & Grant Blackwood
  • The Collector of Dying Breaths by M.J. Rose
  • Miss Julia’s Marvelous Makeover [Miss Julia] by Ann B. Ross
  • Keep Quiet by Lisa Scottoline
  • Panthers Play for Keeps [Pru Marlowe] by Clea Simon
  • The Poor Boy’s Game by Dennis Tafoya
  • Gone and Done It [Dreamwalker] by Maggie Toussaint
  • A Few Drops of Blood [Natalia Monte] by Jan Merete Weiss
  • Carnal Curiosity [Stone Barrington] by Stuart Woods