|A nice dinner with Jenn and Dan|
I'll highlight the two books I've finished and started and, as well, go through the books I purchased on the trip. That might take a bit as I did purchase a few so be patient as you read this.
"The Leavenworth Case by Anna Katharine Green was originally published in 1878 and was considered to be one of the first full length detective novels. I had first heard of it from a friend in one of my book groups and decided to try and find a copy. Luckily I was successful.
The story involves the murder of a rich New York merchant in his home. Suspects include two nieces who live with him; one, Mary Leavenworth, his heiress, the other Eleanore, who is due to inherit nothing. We do later discover that Horatio Leavenworth was changing his will due to differences of opinion with his favored niece.
The case is investigated by Everett Raymond, the family lawyer and also the narrator, police detective Mr. Gryce and his assistant, Q. In some ways, the story makes Gryce a sort of precursor to Nero Wolfe. Like Wolfe, Gryce spends most of the story confined to his quarters, while he uses Raymond and Q to investigate for him.
The story was very interesting, well written and a methodical investigation of the crime. Of suspects, there are a few, not only the two cousins, but Mary's fiancé and also Horatio Leavenworth's assistant. Each investigator has their own favored suspect and this does at times influence their investigations. Clues begin to pop up and lead them in new directions.
All in all I found the story, for the time frame in which it was written, an engaging, interesting mystery. It was sometimes a bit overwrought emotionally but it never really took away from the story. I'm glad I read it; it reminded me of other favorite detective stories; Sherlock Holmes for example and others. Well worth finding and trying. (3.5 stars)"
"Ice Lake by Canadian author John Farrow is the 2nd book in his Emile Cinq-Mars mystery series set in Montreal Que. I liked the first book, which I read a couple of years ago but remember finding it a bit difficult to get into. This second book was more straight-forward and quite an excellent story.
Cinq-Mars a police detective on the Montreal police force is called to a secret meeting on a fishing camp on a frozen lake near Montreal. He brings his partner, Bill Mathers, and while waiting for his unidentified contact, a body is discovered under the frozen lake, stuck to the frozen surface. This begins an investigation that will involved drug companies, the Mafia, biker gangs and native Warriors, threatening both Cinq-Mars and his partner. At the same time, Cinq-Mars is trying to cope with the impending death of his father due to cancer.
Montreal drug companies have been experimenting on AIDS cures by sending reps to the US to try them on AIDS sufferers there. These illegal experiments result in a number of deaths and Lucy Gabriel, a native girl who works for the company, wants to try to get this information out. This has possibly resulted in the murder of the body found in the lake. Now Lucy and her friends area at risk.
I won't get into the story much more than that, other than to say the investigation is a fast-paced, tense ride with the tension building until the end. Farrow has a way of combining the police investigation with wonderful character development. By the end you will feel you know the characters very well and understand why they do the things they do, from Cinq-Mars fears for the safety of his family, to Mathers' doubts about his partnership with Cinq-Mars and its affect on his marriage, etc.
I'm glad I decided to try this second story as it now encourages me to look for the 3rd book. Excellent mystery. (4 stars)"
"When a millionaire matriarch is found floating face-down in the family pool, the prime suspects are her good-for-nothing son and his seductive teenage daughter. In The Drowning Pool, Lew Archer takes this case in the L.A. suburbs and encounters a moral wasteland of corporate greed and family hatred--and sufficient motive for a dozen murders."
2. Outsider in Amsterdam by Janwillem van de Wetering (Amsterdam Cops #1).
"On a quiet street in downtown Amsterdam, the founder of a new religious society/commune—a group that calls itself “Hindist” and mixes elements of various “Eastern” traditions—is found hanging from a ceiling beam. Detective-Adjutant Grijpstra and Sergeant de Gier of the Amsterdam police are sent to investigate what looks like a simple suicide, but they are immediately suspicious of the circumstances.
This now-classic novel, first published in 1975, introduces Janwillem van de Wetering’s lovable Amsterdam cop duo of portly, worldly-wise Grijpstra and handsome, contemplative de Gier. With its unvarnished depiction of the legacy of Dutch colonialism and the darker facets of Amsterdam’s free drug culture, this excellent procedural asks the question of whether a murder may ever be justly committed."
From Rick's Library...
1. Talking God by Tony Hillerman (Leaphorn & Chee #9).
"A grave robber and a corpse reunite Navajo Tribal Police Lt. Joe Leaphorn and Officer Jim Chee. As Leaphorn seeks the identify of a murder victim, Chee is arresting Smithsonian conservator Henry Highhawk for ransacking the sacred bones of his ancestors. As the layers of each case are peeled away, it becomes shockingly clear that they are connected, that there are mysterious others pursuing Highhawk, and that Leaphorn and Chee have entered into the dangerous arena of superstition, ancient ceremony, and living gods."
2. The Sinister Pig by Tony Hillerman (Leaphorn & Chee #16).
"Sergeant Jim Chee of the Navajo Tribal Police is troubled by the nameless corpse discovered just inside his jurisdiction, at the edge of the Jicarilla Apache natural gas field. More troubling still is the FBI's insistence that the Bureau take over the case, calling the unidentified victim's death a "hunting accident."
But if a hunter was involved, Chee knows the prey was intentionally human. This belief is shared by the "Legendary Lieutenant" Joe Leaphorn, who once again is pulled out of retirement by the possibility of serious wrongs being committed against the Navajo nation by the Washington bureaucracy. Yet it is former policewoman Bernadette Manuelito, recently relocated to Customs Patrol at the U.S./ Mexico border, who possibly holds the key to a fiendishly twisted conspiracy of greed, lies, and murder -- and whose only hope for survival now rests in the hands of friends too far away for comfort."
Allison the Bookman, North Bay, Ontario
1. Cross Check by Janice Law (Anna Peters #8).
"Anna Peters, Washington, D.C.-based private investigator, knows little about hockey or Florida when she agrees to help Jurgen "T-Rex" Parkes, star center of the NHL-expansion Orlando Showmen, clear his name of his teammate Alf Rene's murder. She also isn't entirely sure her client is innocent. Anna faces an uphill battle: Parkes asked Rene to meet him the night of the murder, and he has no alibi. The Showmen management is more concerned about the team's tarnished image than seeking the truth, and the media are swarming around Parkes and his family. As Anna digs into the case, she finds Parkes uncooperative, the victim's family and friends secretive and suspicious, and her own safety in jeopardy."
2. The Dirty Duck by Martha Grimes (Inspector Jury #4).
""Nothing ever happens in Stratford," insisted Superintendent Richard Jury of Scotland Yard. Unfortunately, he was wrong. Besides the stage murders committed nightly at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, a real one had been performed not far from the Dirty Duck, a popular pub. The victim had been a member of an exclusive group too: Those rare homicidal maniacs compelled to leave an intentional clue - in this case, a fragment of Elizabethan verse.
Now a nine-year old boy from the same tour had vanished and Jury was worried. For, if the killer intended to finish the rhyme, would it spell death for Stratford with each new line?"
3. God Save the Child by Robert B. Parker (Spenser #2).
"Appie Knoll is the kind of suburb where kids grow up right. But something is wrong. Fourteen-year-old Kevin Bartlett disappears. Everyone thinks he's run away -- until the comic strip ransom note arrives. It doesn't take Spenser long to get the picture -- an affluent family seething with rage, a desperate boy making strange friends...friends like Vic Harroway, body builder. Mr. Muscle is Spenser's only lead and he isn't talking...except with his fists. But when push comes to shove, when a boy's life is on the line, Spenser can speak that language too."
4. Death in Autumn by Magdalen Nabb (Marshall Guarnaccia #4).
"The body of a woman, clad only in a fur coat and jewelry, is found floating in the Arno at dawn. Marshal Guarnaccia of the Florentine carabinieri identifies her as a missing hotel guest. But how and why did she die? Was it a bizarre suicide? Or murder?"
5. Property of Blood by Magdalen Nabb (Marshall Guarnaccia #11).
"The kidnapping for ransom of a beautiful American-born contessa poses Marshal Guarnaccia's gravest challenge."
6. Cranks and Shadows by K.C. Constantine (Mario Balzic #11).
"This is the final book in the acclaimed Mario Balzic series. Balzic has been told to lay off five more staff in his already skeletal department. But he feels the town needs protection, and he is willing to run a private army to achieve this."
7. Corpus de Crossword by Nero Blanc (Crossword Mysteries #6).
"The strong and growing series returns with a brand-new fill-in-the-blanks puzzler!
Folks in Taneysville, Massachusetts, are furious when a builder decides to develop fifteen acres of their precious land. Then the determined developer is stopped cold in his tracks...not by a demonstration, but by a grisly discovery. The skeletal remains of a young woman have been unearthed by the construction crew. Belle and Rosco are fast on the case. It's not long before anonymous crosswords start pouring in-but even with so many clues, Belle and Rosco find that in this old-fashioned hamlet, not everything is black and white..."
8. Open Season by C.J. Box (Joe Pickett #1).
"Joe Pickett is the new game warden in Twelve Sleep, Wyoming, a town where nearly everyone hunts and the game warden--especially one like Joe who won't take bribes or look the other way--is far from popular. When he finds a local hunting outfitter dead, splayed out on the woodpile behind his state-owned home, he takes it personally. There had to be a reason that the outfitter, with whom he's had run-ins before, chose his backyard, his woodpile to die in. Even after the "outfitter murders," as they have been dubbed by the local press after the discovery of the two more bodies, are solved, Joe continues to investigate, uneasy with the easy explanation offered by the local police.As Joe digs deeper into the murders, he soon discovers that the outfitter brought more than death to his backdoor: he brought Joe an endangered species, thought to be extinct, which is now living in his woodpile. But if word of the existence of this endangered species gets out, it will destroy any chance of InterWest, a multi-national natural gas company, building an oil pipeline that would bring the company billions of dollars across Wyoming, through the mountains and forests of Twelve Sleep. The closer Joe comes to the truth behind the outfitter murders, the endangered species and InterWest, the closer he comes to losing everything he holds dear."
9. The Secret War by Dennis Wheatley (War).
"1936. As Mussolini's troops invade Abyssinia the international situation deteriorates - and the armaments kings look forward greedily to even fatter profits. No one, it seems, can halt the carnage. Except perhaps the Millers of God, a group of wealthy individuals dedicated to the systematic execution of all those who feed off human suffering. Sir Anthony Lovelace doesn't approve of the organization's methods. But when Christopher Penn and his beautiful fiancee call on his friendship, he too finds himself involved in a desperate gamble for the cause of peace."
The Book Bazaar, Ottawa, Ontario
1. The Gooseberry Fool by James McClure (Kramer & Zondi #3).
"Hugo Swart, faithful churchgoer and respected citizen, is found stabbed to death on the floor of his kitchen just before Christmas, on the hottest night of the year. If Mr. Swart's Reverend is to be believed, no one in the world could have a reason to kill him; the murder was most likely a robbery gone ugly, and the chief suspect is Swart's black servant, Shabalala, who has fled to the countryside. But Lieutenant Kramer suspects that not everything is as it seems. While Zondi pursues Shabalala in what turns out to be a treacherous tour of miserable outlying Bantu villages, Kramer tries to wring the truth out of some of Swart's acquaintances in Trekkersburg and Cape Town—it seems not everyone liked the victim quite as much as the Reverend did. But danger lies at every turn—what will this investigation cost the duo?
McClure's merciless depiction of 1970s South Africa, its many layers of racism, and the gaps between rich and poor make this perhaps the most devourable book in the Kramer and Zondi series yet."
2. A Week of Love by James Leasor (Jason Love #5)
"Contains 7 Jason Love adventures; Sunday in Giglio, Monday in Portugal, Tuesday in Holland, Wednesday in Scotland, Thursday in Spain, Friday in England and Saturday in the Surgery."
3. The Bachelors of Broken Hill by Arthur Upfield (Inspector Napoleon Bonaparte #14).
"Two men are killed by cyanide poisoning before Bony comes to Broken Hill to take up the case, and a third dies soon after he arrives. All die in crowded public places, and all are elderly and single. Witnesses recall a woman being near each man before he died, but their descriptions seem to be of entirely different women. Clues are old and witnesses have been mishandled by an inept investigator before Bony arrives in the prosperous mining town, but with the help of the local constabulary, a professional burglar vacationing in Broken Hill, and an amateur quick-sketch artist, Inspector Bonaparte mounts an investigation to identify the murderer before she finds another victim."
4. Saratoga Swimmer by Stephen Dobyns (Charlie Bradshaw #).
"Charlie Bradshaw is a regular, down-to-earth guy -- middle-aged, divorced, an ex-cop working as a security guard at a Saratoga stable. Then his boss gets killed. It shows Charlie what's behind those powerful and prestigious stable owners.
But Charlie doesn't back off. Aided by a motley band of guards and grooms, racetrack touts and toughs, Charlie discovers a far-reaching plot behind the murder -- a discovery that just might cost him his life!"
"The Rocksburg Railroad Murders is a crime novel by the American writer K.C. Constantine set in 1970s Rocksburg, a fictional, blue-collar, Rustbelt town in Western Pennsylvania (modeled on the author's hometown of McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania, adjacent to Pittsburgh, as well as his current place of residence, Greensburg, Pennsylvania).
Mario Balzic is the protagonist, an atypical detective for the genre, a Serbo-Italian American cop, middle-aged, unpretentious, a family man who asks questions and uses more sense than force.
As the novel opens, a man familiar to Mario has been found beaten to death with a Coke bottle on the platform of the Rocksburg railroad station. Mario becomes convinced that the man's stepson is the guilty party, but proving it will be a challenge."
6. Maigret and the Burglar's Wife by Georges Simenon (Maigret #38).
"While committing what he intends to be his last burglary, "Sad Freddie" discovers something completely out of his line: the body of a dead woman, her chest covered in blood, holding a telephone in her hand. Inspector Maigret is called in to solve the crime, and after an exhaustive search, a psychological duel, a marathon interrogation, and innumerable glasses of Pernod, wine, cold beer, and brandy--a sure sign that this is no easy case--the famous French sleuth triumphs."
Phew... Well, there you go. See any interesting reading material there? I repeat... It's great to be home.. Now to relax with the missus and puppies.