Saturday, 17 September 2011

A Week of Book Buying Pt 2 - A Touch of Mystery

I do love a good mystery, my tastes lean towards them these days. During our visit to Victoria last weekend, I managed to find a few that filled out some of my favourite series and I'm so looking forward to reading them. So what did I find? Well, let's see -

Gregor Demarkian Holiday mystery
 I discovered Jane Haddam when I first came to Comox. Her stories feature a retired Armenian - American FBI profiler, Gregor Demarkian. He and his two friends, fantasy writer, Bennis Hannaford and Father Tibor Kasparian. Gregor retired due to the death of his wife, but he has reluctantly become a Private Investigator. Many of his crimes have a religious over tone and often the crimes he works on occur during the various Christian holidays (the Holiday mysteries).

Dear Old Dead is a holiday mystery. "Media Mogul Charles van Straadt could have picked a better time for an unannounced call on the uptown health-care center he supported. A gang war rages across Harlem, making for wall-to-wall stretchers in the emergency room, and photos of the center's saintly director have been splashed all over the front pages after a vice charge arrest. It was an inconvenient time to drop in.. and an even worse time to drop dead.
Former FBI agent Gregor Demarkian is called in to investigate van Straadt's messy demise. Was it a premature Father's Day gift from one of the millionaire's grandchildren, hoping to head off a rumored change in the old man's will? Did the clinic director have a falling out with his prickly, uptight patron? Or did the smiling nun with a will of steel send Charlie to his Heavenly Father? Soon Demarkian has a Father's Day gift of his own, even more unwanted than a gaudy tie.. another corpse."

A quirky, interesting mystery series if you're looking for a new one.

A Lily Bard mystery
 Charlaine Harris is probably best known for her Sookie Stackhouse fantasies; or as they are known on TV, the True Blood series. But she has also created a variety of  mystery series; one featuring Aurora Teagarden, one with Harper Connelly and this one, the Lily Bard mysteries. Lily is a cleaner, but more than that. She moved to the town of Shakespeare, Ark to escape from her past, but finds herself involved in many events in the town. I've read a few and quite enjoyed and I'm looking forward to this one -
"Determined to move beyond her violent past, Lily heads to her hometown of Bartley for her estranged sister's Christmas Eve wedding. But there is something in the air besides her holiday cheer - murder.
The town's doctor and nurse have been bludgeoned to death - and Lily's detective boyfriend has followed an eight - year old kidnapping case straight to Bartley. It just might have something to do with the murders.. and her sister's widower fiance. With only three days before the wedding, Lily must work fast to clean up the messy case before her sister promises to love, honor and obey a killer.. " Cool!

The 15th Chronicle of Brother Cadfael
  I do enjoy a good historical mystery and one of the best is Ellis Peter's series set in England of the 1100's and featuring ex-soldier turned monk, Brother Cadfael. I've read a few of the series so far and also watched a few of the TV series featuring Derek Jacobi as Cadfael. I found this one at Russell Books. It's the fifteenth Chronicle of Brother Cadfael.

"After a mild autumn, December of 1142 brings a smothering, silent blanket of snow. Thus it comes about that the guest hall of the Benedictine Abbey of Saint Peter and Saint Paul is damaged, and the brothers must repair its roof before the danger worsens.

The treacherously icy conditions are to prove near-fatal for Brother Haluin. He slips from the roof in a terrible fall, sustaining such grave injuries that he makes his deathbed confession to the Abbot and Brother Cadfael. A startling story of trespasses hard for God or man to forgive emerges.

But Haluin does not die. On his recovery, he sets out on a journey of expiation, with Cadfael as his sole companion. An arduous trip, it leads to some shocking discoveries. And to murder.. Once again, Brother Cadfael must abandon his herbiary and turn detective."

An excellent series, sound mysteries and an interesting description of the time in which the stories are set.

A mystery of love and ivory
 David Rotenberg is a Canadian writer who sets his police mystery series in China. Police detective Zhang Fong is a disgraced police officer, who was banished to the countryside by the Communist Party. His exile was revoked in an earlier story and he now finds himself in Shanghai. This is a very interesting series, much political intrigue, that Fong must work through if he is to be able to keep his team safe, but still solve the crimes he is involved with.

"Body parts of an American police officer from new Orleans are found in a heavily trafficked alley, arranged in a bizarre and puzzling manner. The murder appears to be the work of a trained assassin with a deadly message to convey. And it isn't long before he leaves another message: the body of an African diplomat is found as skillfully carved up as the first. Rotenberg breathes life into modern-day Shanghai with its sights, sounds and smells, creating a cast of unusual and memorable characters."

A Chief Inspector Barnaby mystery
I find that there is nothing better to curl up with than a well-written British police procedural. PBS TV has discovered this and has brought so many of the excellent British police shows to life. Midsomer Murders is one of my favourite; the missus and I always enjoy a Sunday evening spent with Chief Inspector Barnaby as he solves the many crimes that seem to occur in the scenic Midsomer area of England. This series is the creation of Caroline Graham, who has actually only written seven Midsomer murders. I have found 4 of them so far; I found Written in Blood during our recent visit to Victoria, at Fairfield Books.

"It is clear to the more realistic members of Midsomer Worthy's Writers' Circle that asking best-selling author Max Jennings to talk to them is a little ambitious. Less clear are the reasons for secretary Gerald Hadleigh's fierce objections to seeing the man - a face from his past - again. But, astonishingly, Jennings accepts the invitation and, before the night is out, Gerald is dead.

Summoned to investigate, Chief Inspector Barnaby finds that Gerald's solitary life was as much of a mystery to his well-heeled neighbours as his violent death. The key is surely their illustrious guest speaker - but where is he now?"

John Madden mystery
 I only discovered Rennie Airth during a previous visit to Victoria when I purchased his first Inspector John Madden mystery, River of Death. A writer who originally hales from South Africa, he has only written three books in the series so far. The first was set just after WWI and the time frame provides an interesting backdrop for the mystery. The Blood - Dimmed Tide is his second in the series and sounds very interesting indeed.

"It is 1932 and John Madden, former Scotland Yard inspector, is now a farmer in the peaceful Surrey countryside, enjoying the idyllic days of his retirement and precious time spent with his wife, Helen, and their two children.

But the family's peace is about to be shattered. When a young girl goes missing, it is Madden who discovers her disfigured body hidden in a wood, and he is convinced the killer has struck before...

When a second body is found, Madden's instinct is proved right - there is a serial murderer at large. Allying himself with his old colleagues, and against the wishes of his anxious wife, he immerses himself in one more case.

The killer is a master of evil and reinvention who has been covering his tracks for many years. If Madden is to outwit him, he will need to stay one step ahead in the brutal dance he is performing. And soon significant links are discovered in Germany, where the Nazis are on the brink of power."

DI Anna Travis mystery (No 6)
 Lynda LaPlante is one of England's most prolific and successful writers, of mysteries and of television shows. She is probably most noted for the Prime Suspect series, starring the lovely Helen Mirren as DCI Jane Tennison. Her latest series of books (and also a TV mini-series) features Detective Inspector Anna Travis and already has 7 books in the series. I have previously read the first in the series, Above Suspicion and enjoyed tremendously. Blind Fury is the sixth in the series.

"When the body of a young woman is discovered close to a highway service station, DI Anna Travis is brought on to the team of investigators by her former lover and boss, DCS Langton. As more evidence is uncovered, the team realizes that they are contending with a triple murder investigation - and no suspect.

But then a murderer Anna helped arrest years ago makes contact from prison. Cameron Welsh insists that he can help track down the killer, but he will divulge his secrets only to Anna herself. Does her really have an insight into another criminal's mind, or is he merely intent on getting into hers?

The team soon realizes that they are dealing with a killer whose deviousness has enabled him to commit horrific crimes, yet remain undetected for years. As the case draws to a close, Welsh's obsession for Anna fuels a terrifying rage that will have disastrous consequences for Anna, who finds herself staring into the face of a desperate personal tragedy."

Nothing quite like a great mystery to stir the blood....

Keep on reading!

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