Wednesday, 20 February 2019

A Few New Books and My Ongoing Look at the Mystery Genre - American PI's

Jo and I are relaxing and just about to watch the first game of the Jeopardy Team tournament. Sounds like it'll be an interesting show. While I'm doing that I'll update a couple of books I purchased yesterday at my local used book store, while I was there to drop off a few books. I'll also start my look at American mysteries, featuring PI series.

Newly Purchased

1. The Next Accident by Lisa Gardner (Quincey & Rainey #3) - I just finished the 2nd book in this series and enjoyed it very much. I was pleased to see the third book at Nearly New Books.










"FBI Agent Pierce Quincy is haunted by his daughter's death in a drunk-driving accident. Pierce knew about his daughter's problem with alcohol, and about her loneliness. And so, he is sure, did the man who killed her. Rainie Conner is an ex-cop with a past overshadowed by violence. She was once involved with Pierce in a harrowing case that brought them together personally and professionally. Then, he came to her rescue. Now it is time for her to help him. This killer is different. He has an insatiable hunger for revenge - and for fear. He isn't satisfied with taking his victims' lives - he wants to get inside their minds and strip them of every defense. And his target is Quincy's surviving daughter. Rainie believes that the only way to stop him is to put herself directly into the killer's murderous path and herself become - the next accident."

2. Night Rounds by Helene Tursten (Inspector Huss #2). I readily admit that I didn't enjoy the first book in the series but I've been wondering if it might have been the translation. So when I saw the 2nd book, I figured it might be worth the try.









"Irene Huss is a former Ju-Jitsu champion, a mother of twin teenage girls, the wife of a successful chef, and a Detective Inspector with the Violent Crimes Unit in Goteborg, Sweden. And now she’s back with a gripping follow-up to Detective Inspector Huss.

One nurse lies dead and another vanishes after their hospital is hit by a blackout. The only witness claims to have seen Nurse Tekla doing her rounds, but Nurse Tekla died sixty years ago. Detective Inspector Irene Huss of the Violent Crimes Unit has the challenge of disentangling wandering ghosts and complex human relationships to get to the bottom of this intriguing case."


3. Crimes of Winter by Philippe Georget (Inspector Sebag #3). I've read the 2nd book in this mystery series set in southern France and I've now got the first book. I was pleased to see that they had the 3rd and final book. And it was an excellent copy.









"This winter is going to be a rough one for Inspector Gilles Sebag, for he has discovered a terrible truth: Claire has been cheating on him. Bouncing between depression, whisky, and insomnia, he buries himself in work in an attempt to forget.

But his investigations lead him inexorably to bigger tragedies--a woman murdered in a hotel, a depressed man who throws himself from the roof of his building, another who threatens to blow up the neighborhood--all of them involving betrayals of some sort. Perpignan seems to be suffering from a veritable epidemic of crimes of passion. Adultery is everywhere! And each betrayal leads to another dramatic crime.


Sebag has an uncanny ability to slip into the skin of his suspects and solve apparently unsolvable crimes. Though professionally charmed, he is unlucky in love. He is a perfect protagonist for the town of Perpignan, sleepy and leisurely on the surface, seething with vice and violence underneath."


4. Murders in Volume 2 by Elizabeth Daly (Henry Gamadge #3). I've read a few of Daly's Henry Gamadge books. This series belongs under the Golden Age of mystery category, along with Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, etc.









"New York at its most charming? (New York Times) is the setting for Volume 2, first published in 1941. One hundred years earlier, a beautiful guest had disappeared from the wealthy Vauregard household, along with the second volume in a set of the collected works of Byron. Improbably enough, both guest and book seem to have reappeared, with neither having aged a day. The elderly Mr. Vauregard is inclined to believe the young woman's story of having vacationed on an astral plane. But his dubious niece calls in Henry Gamadge, gentleman-sleuth, expert in rare books, and sufficiently well-bred it is hoped to avoid distressing the Vauregard sensibilities. As Gamadge soon discovers, delicate sensibilities abound chez Vauregard, where the household includes an aging actress with ties to a spiritualist sect and a shy beauty with a shady (if crippled) fiance. As always in this delightful series, Gamadge comes up trumps, but only after careful study of the other players  cards."

My Ongoing Look at the Mystery Genre - American PI's


Isaac Asimov
1. Isaac Asimov - The Black Widowers. Isaac Asimov lived from 1920 - 1992. I first read his science fiction series; Foundation and Empire and then gradually began to try others; the Robots of Dawn series, Fantastic Voyage, etc. Even then I could see his love for mystery. The Robot series involved robot detectives and the short story collection, I, Robot, while focused on the laws of robotics, also involved mysteries or problems to be solved. Recently I discovered his Black Widowers series. I've managed to read one of the collections so far and have another on order. The series consists of six books, although they seem to be a bit difficult to find.


a. Banquets of the Black Widowers (#4 / 1984).









"I've read many of Isaac Asimov's science fiction books; the Foundation and Empire trilogy, the robot books, Fantastic Voyage, etc. He was such a good story teller. It's been many years since I last read one of his books and recently I discovered this mystery series; the Black Widowers and I bought one of them; Banquets of the Black Widowers.

The Black Widowers are a group of six gentlemen who meet on a monthly basis for a dinner and drinks and then to interrogate a visitor about a mystery in their life. They are ably assisted by their waiter, Henry, maybe the smartest member of the group.
 

The collection of short stories are gentle and cozy. They follow the same formula for the most part. In each one, one of the members is the host of a visitor; they chat and have dinner and then while they relax over drinks afterward, they interrogate the visitor. Even their interrogation starts off in a similar fashion; first the member must justify their lives and then they tell a story that has troubled them while the members try to offer a solution that might help the person.
 

There is no violent crime just incidents in their lives that they need help either remembering or rationalizing. The six widowers are middle-aged or older, curmudgeonly and interesting. Their waiter Henry serves and observes and is the voice of final solution, deferred to by the others. I enjoyed this collection very much and will search for the others. Excellent concept. (3 stars)"

The remaining books in the series are -
- Tales of the Black Widowers (1974)
- More Tales of the Black Widowers (1976) (on order)
- Casebook of the Black Widowers (1980)
- Puzzles of the Black Widowers (1990)
- The Return of the Black Widowers (2003)

David Baldacci
2. David Baldacci - King & Maxwell. Baldacci was born in 1960 in Richmond Virginia. He's developed a number of series; the Camel Club (I've read one and thought it was ok), Amos Decker, Will Robie, etc. The one I'm focusing on is King & Maxwell, a series that deals with two former Secret Service agents who become PI's. It was also an entertaining TV series starring Jon Tenney and Rebecca Romijn in the lead roles. I've read the first two books in this six book series and have a couple of more waiting my attention.

a. Split Second (#1 / 2003).












"This is the first King and Maxwell mystery/ thriller, the story where Michelle Maxwell, a Secret Service agent, whose charge, a presidential candidate, is kidnapped from under her nose, meets Sean King a former Secret Service agent, whose candidate was assassinate while under his protection. Both cases seem to be related. It's an action-filled thriller, with many deaths and explosions. King is now a lawyer, who finds his relatively sedate new life turned upside down. There are many suspects in this mystery; although over all, it's probably not that complex. There were some things I found irritating; why, oh why do they always go off by themselves when anybody on their own seems to get killed!! Or just when things get ticklish, someone's cell phone falls off that person's belt and is lost!! But these were relatively minor matters, it was a nice intro to the two intrepid agents. I wonder what the future will hold for them. (3 stars)"

b. Hour Game (#2 / 2004).











"Baldacci throws everything, including the kitchen sink, at you in this action-packed thriller, the 2nd in the King and Maxwell series. A killer stalks Wrightsburg Virginia, imitating infamous serial killers with each murder. Sean King and Michelle Maxwell, two ex-Secret Service agents, working now as Private Detectives in the area are called in to help with the investigation by the local police chief. As well, they are working a separate case for a lawyer, defending a break and entering suspect. Are the two situations related? Before they get to the crux of solving this case there will be many murders, almost daily, their lives will be threatened. But they plug on, working to solve the case. It's an easy, exciting read. I wish Maxwell was more than just the physical presence in the partnership, but that's a minor complaint. You have to suspend disbelief somewhat, but that was easy to do. I enjoyed the writing, the pacing and the steady throbbing action. Looking forward to getting into the 3rd book, Simple Genius. (3 stars)"

The remaining books in the series are (asterisked where I have it) -
- Simple Genius (2007) *
- First Family (2009)
- The Sixth Man (2011)
- King and Maxwell (2013) *

Nero Blanc
3. Nero Blanc - Crossword Murders. Nero Blanc is pseudonym for husband and wife team, Cordelia Biddle and Steve Zettler. The Crossword mysteries all have one linking feature, crosswords. The stories definitely fall in the cozy mystery category, along the line of Lilian Jackson Braun's Cat Who... mysteries. Between 1999 and 2006, the team have written 12 books in the series. I've read 2 so far and have two more on my book shelf.

a. The Crossword Murder (#1 / 1999).












"The Crossword Murder is the first book in the Crossword Mysteries series by husband  wife team Cordelia Biddles & Steve Zettler, who write under the pseudonym Nero Blanc. I've had it for awhile and am glad that I finally read it.

PI Rosco Polycrates of Newcastle, Mass, is hired by the mother of Thompson Briephs to look into his death, as she thinks he was murdered. Briephs works as the crossword puzzle editor for the local paper and also leads a seamy life. As is quickly shown, he is being  blackmailed for something and this blackmailer might have been the murderer.

Polycrates, an ex-police investigator, looks into the death and trying to get a handle on this crossword business, asks for assistance from the editor of a rival paper, Annabella Graham. Together they continue the investigation, working through clues from a series of unpublished puzzles left by Briephs. Someone doesn't like their investigation and there are threats to Graham's life.
There is a developing relationship between Polycrates and Graham, one that they both resist, as she is married.

The investigation is interesting, the puzzle aspect a unique mystery technique. I liked both characters and how the story developed. It's definitely a cozy style mystery, reminding me somewhat of Lilian Jackson Braun's 'Cat Who... ' mysteries. Most enjoyable and a fun read. I'll keep on with this series. (3 stars)"

b. Wrapped Up in Crosswords (#9 / 2004).









"Wrapped Up In Crosswords is the ninth book in the Crossword mysteries by husband and wife team who go under the pseudonym of Nero Blanc. I've read one book in the series so far and found it light and a nice cozy mystery. This one was for the main part Christmas fluff, more concerned with the Xmas Secret Santa and with the various owners dogs discussing the bad qualities of buying birds for pets. Yes, the dogs talk.

As a minor side issue, three convicts have escaped from the State Pen and they look like the 3 main male characters in this story, Roscoe, Lt Al and Coroner Abe. So there you have the story in its simplest form. It was light and lightly humorous, a nice little Xmas fix. (2.5 stars)"

The remaining books in the series are (asterisk where I have it) -
- Two Down (2000) *
- The Crossword Connection (2001)
- A Crossworder's Holiday (2002)
- A Crossword to Die for (2002)
- Corpus de Crossword (2003) *
- A Crossworder's Gift (2003)
- Anatomy of a Crossword (2004)
- Another Word for Murder (2005)
- A Crossworder's Delight (2005)
- Death on the Diagonal (2006)

So there you go folks. The start of a new sub-genre, the American PI. I hope you see a series you might like to try. Enjoy the rest of your week.

Monday, 18 February 2019

A Week Starting Reading Update and My Ongoing Look at the Mystery Genre - American Standalones

Well, it's the start of a new week. In BC, we have a provincial holiday, imaginatively known as Family Days. If you're single or are married without children, you don't get the day off.. Even if you're retired. OK, I'm just kidding. The Americans are celebrating President's Day. I just noticed that the current one finally wished everyone a Happy Day, after first spending the morning tweeting about conspiracies, yada yada... Ah well, I'm happily up north. :0) Oh, if you want to have a little fun, check out this link.... (Notes from the National Emergency)

So this weekend, I finished one more book and have started one more. I'll update those and continue with my ongoing look at the Mystery genre. Today I'm heading for the US of A, starting with three authors I've either tried or want to, who have written standalone mysteries.

Just Finished

1. The Third Victim by Lisa Gardner (Quincey #2).









"The Third Victim is the 2nd book in the FBI profiler Pierce Quincey thriller series by Lisa Gardner. I have read the first book, The Perfect Husband, and while I enjoyed it, it wasn't my favorite thriller of all time. I much preferred The Third Victim.

Considering what has been going on in the US currently with regard to mass shootings, this book, originally published in 2001, dealt with a school shooting. In Bakersville, Oregon, police officer Rainie Quinn is called to a shooting in the local K - 8 school. On the way, her boss advises her that she is the primary on the situation. When she arrives, she finds that the crime scene has already been compromised by EMT paramedics and also by her boss, Shep O'Grady. Surprisingly, it turns out that O'Grady's 13-year old son, Dan,  is holding his father at gunpoint. Two young girls have been murdered as well as a young teacher.

FBI profiler, Quincey, who is avoiding a family situation, heads to Bakersville to offer his particular assistance (he being an expert in mass shootings). Also, the Oregon state police send Abe Sanders down to work the case as well. This is the basis of the story. The police work through the case to gather evidence. Shep, even though technically off the case, wants to prove his son's innocence. The O'Grady family must deal with the tragedy, their emotions (already frazzled with a family situation), try to keep younger daughter, Becky safe and secure as well. Rainie, Quincey and Sanders work together, sometimes difficultly, gathering evidence to prove and / or disprove Danny's guilt. And in the mix is the mysterious man who stays in the shadows and may have been involved in the murder.

There are varied suspects and various threats that keep this story humming along nicely. The relationships between the police investigators develop nicely and sometimes antagonistically. I like Quincey very much; smart, dedicated and with his own familial issues. Rainie is an interesting character with a shrouded past and Sanders is sometimes a stick in the mud but his character does flesh out nicely as the story progresses. The tension builds to an excellent climax and resolution. Very good story and one that makes me want to keep reading this series. (4 stars)"

Currently Reading

1. Wycliffe and the Guild of Nine by W.J. Burley (Wycliffe #22).












"A murder at an artists' colony - but not everyone wants Chief Superintendent Wycliffe to investigate . . .

The artists' colony is at the site of a disused mine working on the moor west of St Ives, and it's run by Archer and his wife Lina, according to astrological principles. The newest member of the colony is Francine, a beautiful if fey young woman with a legacy to invest. Archer isn't keen - not least because she is a Scorpio - but Lina takes a more pragmatic view.

Then Francine is found dead, killed by a deliberately blocked gas-heater flue.

Wycliffe investigates - and soon discovers that several members of the colony have very good reasons for not wanting the police poking into their affairs . ."


My Ongoing Look at the Mystery Genre - American Standalones

Matthew Pearl
1. Matthew Pearl. Pearl is a writer of historical thrillers. Since 2003 he has written five books. I've yet to try his work but I have the first two books awaiting a look-see.

a. The Dante Club (2003).












"In 1865 Boston, the literary geniuses of the Dante Club—poets and Harvard professors Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, and James Russell Lowell, along with publisher J. T. Fields—are finishing America's first translation of The Divine Comedy and preparing to unveil Dante's remarkable visions to the New World. The powerful Boston Brahmins at Harvard College are fighting to keep Dante in obscurity, believing that the infiltration of foreign superstitions into American minds will prove as corrupting as the immigrants arriving at Boston Harbor.

The members of the Dante Club fight to keep a sacred literary cause alive, but their plans fall apart when a series of murders erupts through Boston and Cambridge. Only this small group of scholars realizes that the gruesome killings are modeled on the descriptions of Hell's punishments from Dante's Inferno. With the lives of the Boston elite and Dante's literary future in America at stake, the Dante Club members must find the killer before the authorities discover their secret.

Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes and an outcast police officer named Nicholas Rey, the first black member of the Boston police department, must place their careers on the line to end the terror. Together, they discover that the source of the murders lies closer to home than they ever could have imagined.

The Dante Club is a magnificent blend of fact and fiction, a brilliantly realized paean to Dante's continued grip on our imagination, and a captivating thriller that will surprise readers from beginning to end."


b. The Poe Shadow (2006). 












"Through the eyes of a Baltimore lawyer named Quentin Clark, Pearl opens a new window on the truth behind Poe’s demise, literary history’s most persistent enigma.

“I present to you . . . the truth about this man’s death and my life.”

Baltimore, 1849. The body of Edgar Allan Poe has been buried in an unmarked grave. The public, the press, and even Poe’s own family and friends accept the conclusion that Poe was a second-rate writer who met a disgraceful end as a drunkard. Everyone, in fact, seems to believe this except a young Baltimore lawyer named Quentin Clark, an ardent admirer who puts his own career and reputation at risk in a passionate crusade to salvage Poe’s.

As Quentin explores the puzzling circumstances of Poe’s demise, he discovers that the writer’s last days are riddled with unanswered questions the police are possibly willfully ignoring. Just when Poe’s death seems destined to remain a mystery, and forever sealing his ignominy, inspiration strikes Quentin–in the form of Poe’s own stories. The young attorney realizes that he must find the one person who can solve the strange case of Poe’s death: the real-life model for Poe’s brilliant fictional detective character, C. Auguste Dupin, the hero of ingenious tales of crime and detection.

In short order, Quentin finds himself enmeshed in sinister machinations involving political agents, a female assassin, the corrupt Baltimore slave trade, and the lost secrets of Poe’s final hours. With his own future hanging in the balance, Quentin Clark must turn master investigator himself to unchain his now imperiled fate from that of Poe’s."


Pearl's other books are -
- The Last Dickens (2009)
- The Technologists (2012)
- The Last Bookaneer (2015)

Hillary Waugh
2. Hillary Waugh (1920 - 2008). Waugh was a pioneering American mystery writer. He's written a number of series and also 20+ standalones. I've read two of his standalones, his first (1952) and his final (1988). I'd say that they were both among my favorite mystery novels.

a. Last Seen Wearing (1952).












"This was my first experience with Hillary Waugh and I enjoyed it very much. Old school police drama, it features a small police force in Massachusetts investigating the disappearance of a young woman, a student at a boarding school, who disappears without any explanation. The story focuses on the Chief of Police, Frank Ford, a grizzled, experienced cop and one of his detectives, Cameron, as they methodically search for clues to Lowell Mitchell's disappearance. 

It's not an exciting, gruesome mystery in any way, but the relationship between Ford and Cameron is great, both characters are interesting, the story flows nicely as the two work through each avenue of investigation. The story was written in 1952, and has a feel for many detective movies I've seen from that time. It was a refreshing story and excellent read. Highly recommend to anyone and I will definitely find more Hillary Waugh books to read. (4 stars)"

b. A Death in Town (1988).











"Excellent, excellent! This is the second mystery I've read by Hillary Waugh and I loved both of them. Such a unique way of presenting a mystery. The first was Last Seen Wearing, which I enjoyed very much. 

This was no different. Basically the plot revolves around the murder and rape of a young teenage girl in a small town in Connecticut. The way this is presented is via a series of interviews of the town citizens, from the family of the murdered girl through various others. As well, there are records of meetings of the police board and the town council. He portrays small town attitudes and how they change as the investigation drags on. 

Racism and other attitudes of intolerance begin to come to the fore; innocents are accused and their lives turned upside down. And the ending is so surprising and almost had me out of breath. I found this to be one of those books I couldn't put down. As it developed, I had to read a few more pages, then a few more, until I had to get to the end. I can't recommend more. (5 stars)"

The complete list of Waugh's series and novels is at this link.

Jake Tapper
3. Jake Tapper. Tapper is an American journalist, cartoonist and author. He has written non-fiction novels and in 2018 published a historical political thriller.

a. The Hellfire Club.












"The Hellfire Club by CNN anchor Jake Tapper was one of a number of political - type books, both non-fiction and fiction, that my wife bought me for our anniversary. The Hellfire Club falls into the latter category, a historical political thriller set in the 1950's.

New Congressman, Charlie Marder, a WWII veteran and also a published novelist, is placed in a vacant seat by his congressional leadership from New York. The previous congressman had died and the spot needed to be filled. Charlie and his wife move to Washington and Charlie begins his new career.

This is during the time of the McCarthy hearings and Charlie soon finds himself in a new life style, often hard drinking and with lots of political intrigue. The story starts with Charlie returning from a party with a strange woman in his car, an accident, the woman found dead, help from a political lobbyist to hide the incident (of course, Charlie remembers none of what happened), and the follow-on events.

The story jumps back a few months to go through the events that lead up to this accident. It's not necessarily a fun time for Charlie and his wife, Margaret. Their time together shrinks, eve though Margaret is newly pregnant. She heads off to a biological research activity, he heads to other political activities, finds himself often caught in the middle of competing desires.

It's an interesting story, lots of intrigue, some gun fights, some sex, some research into this Hellfire Club and other neat political activities. You'll meet historical people, like McCarthy, Eisenhower, the Kennedys, etc and get a peek at actual events the color the story. Tapper writes well and creates interesting characters and a fast-paced, page-turning political thriller. It reminded me of movies like The Rocketeer and those old serials that used to start off a movie, a great adventure with lots of action and twists and turns. Very entertaining (4 stars)"


Well, there you go, some Family Day / President's Day mysteries for your perusal. Next entry on this topic will move into the realm of American detectives. Enjoy the rest of your day!

Saturday, 16 February 2019

A Weekend Reading Update and My Ongoing Look at the Mystery Genre - English Standalones Part 4

It's been a bit of a lazy day so far this Saturday... well, at least I'm feeling a bit lazy. I got up to check the live feed of Brighton's FA Cup match against Derby, which Brighton managed to win 2-1. I then watched Millwall against Wimbledon as I spent the rest of the morning dozing and reading. Jo and I just finished watching Rogue One, a most entertaining movie.

I finished my seventh book of February yesterday and have started one more. This was in my 12 + 4 Reading Challenge, my fourth book completed in that challenge. I'll update both and also continue with my look at the Mystery genre, with the fourth part of English standalone authors / mysteries.

Just Finished

1. Cold Streets by P.N. Elrod (Vampire Files #10).












"Cold Streets is the 10th book in the Vampire Files series by P.N. Elrod and the 4th that I've read so far. The series focuses on vampire / night club owner / private detective Jack Fleming who lives in Chicago in the '30s. He works with partner, Charles Escott, helping him with cases and also runs a night club with girl friend, singer Bobbi.

Both Escott and Fleming are working on a kidnapping case as this story opens, the daughter of a wealthy Chicago socialite has been kidnapped and the two detectives are working to make the pay-off with the kidnappers. Escott is the face of the business and Fleming uses his vampire powers in assisting him. In this case he keeps himself invisible as he follows the kidnappers to their hideout.

As well, this story has two other plot lines. Fleming's friend, Gordy, a  Chicago mob leader is having meetings and difficulties with the New York mob and Fleming is trying to help him stay out of trouble. As well, Bobbi wants to hire a dance act for the night club, but there are difficulties with the relationship, with the husband cheating on his partner.

So there are many different features to this mystery  thriller. One of the kidnappers also tries to blackmail Fleming with his knowledge of Fleming's vampire nature. Everything that is going on makes for a fascinating story, lots of action, lots of intrigue and vampire skills and talents. The story builds very nicely and comes to an intriguing climax. Along with the action and mystery, the story is peopled with interesting characters. It will definitely hold your interest. (3.5 stars)"

Currently Reading

1. Lazybones by Mark Billingham (Tom Thorne #3). I'm already hooked.











"The first corpse was found hooded, bound, and naked, kneeling ona bare mattress in a seedy hotel room. This was no ordinary murder but rather the work of a killer driven by something special, something spectacular. The fact that the dead man was a convicted rapist recently released from prison only increases the bizarre nature of the gruesome crime ... and the police's reluctance to apprehend the perpetrator. It's the body count that troubles Detective Inspector Tom Thorne, as brutal slaying follows brutal slaying, each victim more deserving than the last. Though he has no sympathy for the dead, Thorne knows he must put an end to a cruelly calculating vigilante's bloody justice before time runs out -- and a horrifically efficient serial killer targets a life worth fighting for."

My Ongoing Look at the Mystery Genre - English Standalones Part 4
In my last entry on this topic I highlighted Cyril Hare, Val McDermid and Julian Symons. I'll finish off the final 4 in this post.

Andrew Taylor
1. Andrew Taylor. I have yet to try English writer Andrew Taylor's books but I do have two sitting on my book shelf awaiting my attention. Taylor was born in East Anglia in 1951 and has written a number of series, children's books, thrillers and historical novels. As I mentioned I have two of his historical mysteries.

a. The American Boy (2003).












"England 1819: Thomas Shield, a new master at a school just outside London, is tutor to a young American boy and the boy's sensitive best friend, Charles Frant. Drawn to Frant's beautiful, unhappy mother, Thomas becomes caught up in her family's twisted intrigues. Then a brutal crime is committed, with consequences that threaten to destroy Thomas and all that he has come to hold dear. Despite his efforts, Shield is caught up in a deadly tangle of sex, money, murder and lies -- a tangle that grips him tighter even as he tries to escape from it. And what of the strange American child, at the heart of these macabre events, yet mysterious -- what is the secret of the boy named Edgar Allen Poe?"

b. The Scent of Death (2013). It seems to be basically set in America but there also seem to be British links in this historical mystery.











"August, 1778. British-controlled Manhattan is a melting pot of soldiers, traitors and refugees, surrounded by rebel forces as the American War of Independence rages on. Into this simmering tension sails Edward Savill, a London clerk tasked with assessing the claims of loyalists who have lost out during the war. Savill lodges with the ageing Judge Wintour, his ailing wife, and their enigmatic daughter-in-law Arabella. However, as Savill soon learns, what the Wintours have lost in wealth, they have gained in secrets. The murder of a gentleman in the slums pulls Savill into the city's underbelly. But when life is so cheap, why does one death matter? Because making a nation is a lucrative business, and some people cannot afford to miss out, whatever the price..."

Taylor's remaining historical novels are -
-- Bleeding Heart Square (2008)
-- The Anatomy of Ghosts (2010)
-- The Silent Boy (2014).
  
Minette Walters
2. Minette Walters.  One of my favorite mystery writers, Walters was born in 1949 and since 1992 has written 18 mysteries. Of these stories, her first five books were adapted for television by the BBC. Since I discovered Walters, I've read six of her stories and have a number of others on my bookshelves. I'll highlight two of my favorites and also two that I've yet to read.

a. Disordered Minds (2003).












"Excellent 'mystery' by Minette Walters. I think she is one of the most unique mystery writers I've ever read. Each story I've read is unique in its own right and covers different aspects of human behavior. In this story, two investigators, one a university professor and the other a town councillor, Jonathan and George, delve into the past to try and prove that a convicted murderer, a young man with mental difficulties, who committed suicide in prison, was, in fact, innocent of the murder. The trail of their investigation is an interesting one, involving many twists and turns, potential suspects, deceit, etc. As well, they both must deal with their own issues, that many or man not colour their investigation. Walters has a unique style of writing, this story is partly written in emails, case transcripts, etc. I liked both Jonathan and George and their book editor, Andrew Spicer and the other characters are interesting and full of mystery. Excellent story and highly recommended. (5 stars)"

b. Acid Row (2001).


"Acid Row is a crime-infested housing project that exists by its own laws. When news comes that a child has been kidnapped, the frustration and anger that has been seething on the streets of Acid Row is ignited. And no one will be safe." I rated this 4 stars.





c. The Breaker (1998).












"Twelve hours after Kate Sumner’s broken body is washed up on a deserted beach on the south coast of England, her traumatized three-year-old daughter is discovered twenty miles away walking the streets of Poole, alone. The police are puzzled.

Why weren’t mother and daughter together? Why was Kate killed and her daughter allowed to live? More curiously, why had Kate boarded a boat – apparently willingly – when she was scared stiff of drowning at sea? Who had tempted her to her death?

The police suspect a young actor, a loner with an appetite for pornography, who lies about his relationship with Kate and whose sailing boat, Crazy Daze, is moored just yards from where the toddler was found…

As the investigation proceeds, the police discover a gaping hole in Kate’s husband’s alibi. Was he really in Liverpool at a conference the night she died? Was Kate the “respectable woman” he claims she was?

And why does their daughter scream in terror every time he tries to pick her up…?"


d. The Echo (1997).









"In this hypnotic novel of psychological suspense, a homeless man is found starved to death in the garage of a ritzy London home. The police chalk it up to an unfortunate accident, but a journalist, Michael Deacon, is intrigued. Amanda Powell, a socialite whose wealthy husband vanished five years ago after being accused of embezzlement, is just as interested as Michael in finding out who died in her garage. They have no idea that this simple story will unveil a web of deceit that is an appalling as the people behind it."

The remaining novels are below. I'll highlight (*) those I've got and rate those I've read.
- The Ice House (1992) (4 stars)
- The Sculptress (1993) *
- The Scold's Bridle (1994) (3 stars)
- The Dark Room (1995) (3 stars)
- The Tinder Box (1999) (3 stars)
- The Shape of Snakes (2000) *
- Fox Evil (2002)
- The Devil's Feather (2005) *
- Chickenfeed (2006)
- The Chameleon's Shadow (2007) *
- A Dreadful Murder (2013)
- The Cellar (2015)
- The Last Hours (2017)
- The Turn of Midnight (2018)

Ruth Ware
3. Ruth Ware. Born in 1977, Ruth Ware is a new author for me. Since 2015, she has written 4 thrillers. I've read the first one and enjoyed and I've since purchased the next two.

a. In a Dark, Dark Wood (2015).









"In a Dark, Dark Wood is Ruth Ware's first novel and she has created a spooky, tense thriller. Nora, a reclusive writer, is invited to a hen party in northern England for a woman who was a childhood friend but who she has not seen in ten years; the parting was not necessarily a happy one. She attends with another old friend, Nina and with 3 others. 

Nora isn't sure why she has been invited, in fact, she wasn't invited to the wedding. The reason is surprising, especially when she finds out who Clare is marrying. (I'll leave that as a teaser). There is considerable tension at this party; the hostess, Clare's friend, Flo, who has organized the event, is quite strange. There are incidents throughout the course of the weekend that cause the tension to increase. 

The story builds very nicely, moving from Nora in the hospital and being interviewed by the police about events that took place at the hen party; Nora trying to remember a crucial part of the weekend and then back to the party itself. Very well written, very tense and a nicely crafted ending. An excellent first book. (4 stars)"

b. The Woman in Cabin 10 (2016).









"In this tightly wound, enthralling story reminiscent of Agatha Christie’s works, Lo Blacklock, a journalist who writes for a travel magazine, has just been given the assignment of a lifetime: a week on a luxury cruise with only a handful of cabins. The sky is clear, the waters calm, and the veneered, select guests jovial as the exclusive cruise ship, the Aurora, begins her voyage in the picturesque North Sea. At first, Lo’s stay is nothing but pleasant: the cabins are plush, the dinner parties are sparkling, and the guests are elegant. But as the week wears on, frigid winds whip the deck, gray skies fall, and Lo witnesses what she can only describe as a dark and terrifying nightmare: a woman being thrown overboard. The problem? All passengers remain accounted for—and so, the ship sails on as if nothing has happened, despite Lo’s desperate attempts to convey that something (or someone) has gone terribly, terribly wrong…"

c. The Lying Game (2017) - I don't have this one yet.

d. The Death of Mrs. Westaway (2018).












"On a day that begins like any other, Hal receives a mysterious letter bequeathing her a substantial inheritance. She realizes very quickly that the letter was sent to the wrong person—but also that the cold-reading skills she’s honed as a tarot card reader might help her claim the money.

Soon, Hal finds herself at the funeral of the deceased…where it dawns on her that there is something very, very wrong about this strange situation and the inheritance at the centre of it."


Colin Wilson
4. Colin Wilson. English writer, novelist and philosopher lived from 1931 - 2013. I have read one of his books, a science fiction novel, The Space Vampires. I also have a non-fiction novel, Order of Assassins and one mystery / thriller. Over the course of his life, he wrote more than 100 novels.

a. The Schoolgirl Murder Case (1974).










"It's this bloody case which is keeping the C.I.D.'s Saltfleet awake--& bloody it is with Colin Wilson's penchant for criminosexual horribilia & the clinical mot juste (try intracrural intercourse for starters) having to do with the schoolgirl who is raped & strangled with a telephone cord only it turns out she's a call girl for a pervert called Lytton who is found dead & nude on a black pile rug. The plot is basic enough but of course it's tufted with fetishism, black magic, et dreadful al. The only filing you really have to think about is that the king of kink plans to write 11 more in this series."

Wilson's complete bibliography can be found at this link

Well, there you go folks. In my next entry on the mystery genre, I'll move over to the US of A. See you there. Have a great weekend!
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