Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Just Finished, Now Reading and Many New Books

A nice dinner with Jenn and Dan
It's nice to be home. I've spent the past few days back East visiting my daughter, my brother / sister and my Dad, and other family members. It was a nice trip even with a bit of snow. While I was away, I visited a couple of book stores; Allison the Bookman in North Bay and The Book Bazaar in Ottawa and got two from brother before he traded his books in. I also finished three books on the trip (one I highlighted in my previous BLog entry - My Cousin Rachel) and have started 3 new books (once again, one I have already highlighted).

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.

Just Finished

1. The Leavenworth Case by Anna Katharine Green (Decades Challenge).

"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)"

2. Ice Lake by John Farrow (CanLit).

"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)"

Currently Reading

1. The Drowning Pool by Ross MacDonald (Lew Archer #2).

"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."

New Books

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 t
he 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!"

5. The Rocksburg Railroad Murders by K.C. Constantine (Mario Balzic #1).

"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.

Thursday, 25 October 2018

Just Finished and Some New Books

Well, here I sit in my hotel, watching Law & Order:SVU. I finished a book on my flight here. I won't start the next book until I get back home but I'll list it anyway. On Wednesday, I went to our local Rotary Club Book Sale and found a few books. I'll update for you as I sit here.

Just Finished
1. My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier.

"I've read a few books by Daphne du Maurier the past few years, short story collections, Rebecca and I'm growing to enjoy her stories more and more. My Cousin Rachel was another excellent story, even if it was kind of depressing.

Ambrose Ashley who has raised his cousin Philip since a child, has to start spending winters on the continent (Italy) due to health issues. Philip stays at the estate in Cornwall and runs it in Ambrose's absence. The two are confirmed bachelors who live a staid, comfortable existence, managing the estate, spending time with relatives and local friends and both are very satisfied.

A surprise is in store for Philip. He gets a letter from Ambrose stating the Ambrose has married a distant cousin that he has met in Italy. Rachel is a widow, previously married to Count Sangalletti. Philip's life is turned upside down, especially when follow-on letters from his cousin seem to indicate that Ambrose's health is deteriorating and that he suspects that Rachel might have poisoned him. Philip goes to Italy to see to Ambrose, only to discover that Ambrose is dead and that Rachel has disappeared.

Returning to Cornwall, Philip soon receives a visitor, that being Rachel. Thus begins a strange, winding suspenseful story. Philip's anger at Rachel changes the longer she stays in Cornwall. It's a story with twists and turns, suspicions of Rachel's motives and actions, suspicions from Philip's godfather and his daughter about what Rachel wants. Philip wanders from love to confusion. Clues pop up, discovered Ambrose letters, a visit from Rachel's friend from Italy, Rainaldi. Philip must reconcile his strong feelings for Rachel with disturbing concerns that she might have murdered his cousin.

I don't think the story is as great as Rebecca but it's still an excellent, suspenseful dramatic work of fiction (4 stars)"

Currently Reading
1. The Pusher by Ed McBain (87th Precinct #3).

"Most suicides don't realize the headaches they cause....Two a.m. in the bitter cold of winter: the young Hispanic man's body was found in a tenement basement. The rope around his neck suggested a clear case of suicide -- until the autopsy revealed he'd overdosed on heroin. He was a pusher, and now a thousand questions pressed down on the detectives of the 87th Precinct: Who set up the phony hanging? Whose fingerprints were on the syringe found at the scene? Who was making threatening phone calls, attempting to implicate Lieutenant Byrnes' teenage son? Somebody was pushing the 87th Precinct hard, and Detective Steve Carella and Lieutenant Pete Byrnes have to push back harder -- before a frightening and deadly chain tightens its grip."

Rotary Club Book Sale - New Purchases
1.  Margery Allingham - Tether's End (Albert Campion #16).

"In Hide My Eyes, private detective Albert Campion finds himself hunting down a serial killer in London's theatre land.

A spate of murders leaves him with only two baffling clues: a left-hand glove and a lizard-skin letter-case. These minimal clues and a series of peculiar events sets Campion on a race against time that takes him from an odd museum of curiosities hidden in a quiet corner of London to a scrapyard in the East End"

2. The Whisperers by John Connolly (Charlie Parker #9).

"''Oh, little one, ' he whispered, as he gently stroked her cheek, the first time he had touched her in fifteen years. 'What have they done to you? What have they done to us all?' ""In his latest dark and chilling Charlie Parker thriller, New York Times bestselling author John Connolly takes us to the border between Maine and Canada. It is there, in the vast and porous Great North Woods, that a dangerous smuggling operation is taking place, run by a group of disenchanted former soldiers, newly returned from Iraq. Illicit goods--drugs, cash, weapons, even people--are changing hands. And something else has changed hands. Something ancient and powerful and evil.

The authorities suspect something is amiss, but what they can't know is that it is infinitely stranger and more terrifying than anyone can imagine. Anyone, that is, except private detective Charlie Parker, who has his own intimate knowledge of the darkness in men's hearts. As the smugglers begin to die one after another in apparent suicides, Parker is called in to stop the bloodletting. The soldiers' actions and the objects they have smuggled have attracted the attention of the reclusive Herod, a man with a taste for the strange. And where Herod goes, so too does the shadowy figure that he calls the Captain. To defeat them, Parker must form an uneasy alliance with a man he fears more than any other, the killer known as the Collector. . . ."

c. The Woman Who Wouldn 't Die by Colin Cotterill (Dr. Siri Paiboun #9).

"In a small Lao village, a very strange thing has happened. A woman was shot and killed in her bed during a burglary; she was given a funeral and everyone in the village saw her body burned. Then, three days later, she was back in her house as if she'd never been dead at all. But now she's clairvoyant, and can speak to the dead. That's why the long-dead brother of a Lao general has enlisted her to help his brother uncover his remains, which have been lost at the bottom of a river for many years.

Lao national coroner Dr. Siri Paiboun and his wife, Madame Daeng, are sent along to supervise the excavation. It could be a kind of relaxing vacation for them, maybe, except Siri is obsessed with the pretty undead medium's special abilities, and Madame Daeng might be a little jealous. She doesn't trust the woman for some reason─is her hunch right? What is the group really digging for at the bottom of this remote river on the Thai border? What war secrets are being covered up?"

d. Gideon's Staff by J.J. Marric (Gideon #5).

"A maniac, obsessed by little girls with golden hair, roams the crowded beaches of an East Coast town."

e. Off With His Head by Ngaio Marsh (Inspector Alleyn #19).

"The village of South Mardian always observes the winter solstice with an ancient, mystical sword dance--complete with costumed performers. This year, however, the celebration turns into an execution when one of the dancers is murdered. Now Inspector Alleyn has to perform some nimble steps of his own to solve the case."

f.  Maigret at the Crossroads by Georges Simenon (Maigret #7).

"She came forward, the outlines of her figure blurred in the half-light. She came forward like a film star, or rather like the ideal woman in an adolescent's dream. 'I gather you wish to talk to me, Inspector . . . but first of all please sit down . . .' Her accent was more pronounced than Carl's. Her voice sang, dropping on the last syllable of the longer words.

Maigret has been interrogating Carl Andersen for seventeen hours without a confession. He's either innocent or a very good liar. So why was the body of a diamond merchant found at his isolated mansion? Why is his sister always shut away in her room? And why does everyone at Three Widows Crossroads have something to hide?"

g. The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester (SciFi). 

"In this pulse-quickening novel, Alfred Bester imagines a future in which people "jaunte" a thousand miles with a single thought, where the rich barricade themselves in labyrinths and protect themselves with radioactive hit men - and where an inarticulate outcast is the most valuable and dangerous man alive. The Stars My Destination is a classic of technological prophecy and timeless narrative enchantment by an acknowledged master of science fiction." 

h. The House of Seven Flies by Victor Canning (Thriller).

"A quarter of a million pounds worth of diamonds have been stolen from an Amsterdam bank - a prize big enough to attract treasure hunters. Furse, the Englishman, has knowledge of the stones' whereabouts. Detective Inspector Molenaar, acting for the bank; Constanta the Dutch girl, and Sluiter, who mysteriously dies, are also in the race. Then there are Rohner and Elsa, top-flight crooks, Charlie, Furse's shady friend and Farmer Beukleman." 

i. Game Without Rules by Michael Gilbert (Spy / Short Stories). 

"A collection of 11 stories:
- A Prince of Abyssinia (Mar 1962)
- On Slay Down (Apr 1962)
- The Cat Cracker (May 1962)
- The Headmaster (Jun 1962)
- Trembling’s Tours (Jul 1962)
- Prometheus Unbound (Aug 1962)
- Cross-Over (Oct 1963)
- The Spoilers (Oct 1965)
- Heilige Nacht (Jan 1966)
- The Road to Damascus (Jun 1966)
- “Upon the King...” (Mar 1967)

j. Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said by Philip K. Dick (SciFi).

"On October 11 the television star Jason Taverner is so famous that 30 million viewers eagerly watch his prime-time show. On October 12 Jason Taverner is not a has-been but a never-was -- a man who has lost not only his audience but all proof of his existence. And in the claustrophobic betrayal state of Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said, loss of proof is synonyms with loss of life.

Taverner races to solve the riddle of his disappearance", immerses us in a horribly plausible Philip K. Dick United States in which everyone -- from a waif-like forger of identity cards to a surgically altered pleasure -- informs on everyone else, a world in which omniscient police have something to hide. His bleakly beautiful novel bores into the deepest bedrock self and plants a stick of dynamite at its center."

Well, there you go. Almost time to call the missus. Tomorrow I'm heading up to see my Dad and maybe while I'm there I'll visit Allison the Bookman.. :0) 

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

The Mystery Genre - English Cops Part 4

In two days I'm going to visit my Dad and my older brother and sister as well as have dinner with my daughter. This morning it was a typical foggy Fall morning. I'm hoping it won't be like that Thursday as it might delay my flight out. Stupid weather!

So today, I'll continue with my look at English Cop mysteries. I finished with Elizabeth George in yesterday's entry.

The Mystery Genre - English Cops

I'll list two of Michael Gilbert's mystery series and also a couple of others.

Michael Gilbert
1. Michael Gilbert (Inspector Hazelrigg). Michael Francis Gilbert lived from 1912 - 2006 and was a lawyer and writer of mysteries. He wrote many standalones but also featured a cast of characters in some of his stories. Inspector Hazelrigg appeared in 6 of his novels from 1947 - 1958 as well as a number of short stories. Hazelrigg was a Chief Inspector at New Scotland Yard, later a Chief Superintendent.

a. Close Quarters (1947).

"Although it was first published in 1947, Gilbert began this novel in the years immediately before World War II and didn't finish it until he returned from active duty. Set behind the walls of the residential Close of Melchester Cathedral, it's a classic British mystery in which a young Scotland Yard detective is asked to interrupt his holiday to find out if the accidental death of Canon Whyte was indeed an accident." (3 stars)

b. Smallbone Deceased (1950).

"I've read a couple of other books by Michael Gilbert and have enjoyed them all so far. Smallbone Deceased ranks up there with Petrella at Q as my favorites of his. Smallbone is a perfect little mystery. It's billed as an Inspector Hazelrigg mystery and, indeed, the good Inspector does play a prominent role.

But the supporting cast also adds very much to the story, especially poor Sgt Plumptree who has to wander around London interviewing possible witnesses. He is an inexhaustible man, a credit to the London Police Force. As well, there is Henry Bohun, the newest member of the offices of Horniman, Birley and Craine, who finds himself helping Inspector Hazelrigg with his investigation to a great extent.

The basic story is that a body, that of Mr. Smallbone, a client of the firm, is found in one of the firm's deed boxes, having resided there for a few weeks. This starts up the investigation, which I enjoyed following very much. There was an interesting steadiness to the investigation; I've mentioned Sgt Plumbtree already, but the rest of the team of investigators are all excellent. I'll highlight Mr. Hoffman who works through the paperwork, checking the firm's finances to try and find reasons for the murder.

The investigation moves at a nice, steady pace, allowing all of the characters time to inculcate themselves into your memory. They all are enjoyable; there is a nice humour at times that keeps the story light. All in all, the book was so very enjoyable, even the ending was satisfying. I will definitely continue to find more books by Gilbert to enjoy. (5 stars)" 

The remaining Inspector Hazelrigg novels are -
- The Never Looked Inside (He Didn't Mind Danger - US) (1948)
- The Doors Open (1949)
- Death Has Deep Roots (1951)
- Fear to Tread (1952)

2. Michael Gilbert (Inspector Petrella). Inspector Petrella appeared in 10 novels and collections of short stories from 1959 - 2003. He is probably the best - known of the various characters created by Gilbert. He starts as a probationary Detective Sgt in the fictional Q Division and ended up as a Superintendent.

a. Blood and Judgement (1959). This is the first Petrella novel. I've just recently purchased and am looking forward to trying it.

b. Petrella at Q (1977). This excellent collection of short stories was my introduction to Petrella.

"This is the 2nd book by Michael Gilbert that I've attempted. It was excellent. The basic premise is that the book follows Detective Chief Inspector Patrick Petrella, of London's Patton Street Police Station over the course of a year. It is a collection of short stories, each a different case, but, at the same time, some that follow one on the other. 

There are some mundane cases and as you get into the stories, some that create a great deal of tension. The last couple of stories, especially, where Petrella and his team are involved with the local heavy - hitter underworld, had me on the edge of my seat. I quite enjoyed the investigation process, how Petrella and his inspectors follow leads and sort through issues, reminded me of the process that Law & Order followed as the police investigate the particular crimes. 

I also liked the personalities of the various team members and the bursts of inspiration that come from Petrella. He knows his area and the people there and uses his smarts in sorting through the chaff to come up with solutions. Excellent, perfect little book. It turns out that Gilbert also wrote 4 other books featuring Petrella. I will have to check them out. (5 stars)"

The remaining Petrella books are -
- Roller Coaster (1993)
- Games Without Rules (1968)
- Stay of Execution (1971)
- Amateur in Violence (1973)
- Young Petrella (1988)
- The Man Who Hated Banks (1997)
- The Curious Conspiracy (2002)
- Even Murderers Take Holidays and Other Mysteries (2007)

Caroline Graham
3. Caroline Graham (Inspector Barnaby / Midsomer Murders). Mystery writer, Caroline Graham, was born in Nuneaton in 1931.  She is best known for her Inspector Barnaby mystery series; 7 books from 1987 - 2004. For such a small output, the series has evolved into a long - running TV series, first featuring Barnaby himself and then his cousin in later series. Midsomer Murders has been a popular, entertaining series since 1998, now running for 20 seasons. I've read 3 of the books so far as well as Graham's two standalone mysteries.

a. The Killings at Badger's Drift (1987).

"Badger's Drift is the ideal English village, complete with vicar, bumbling local doctor, and kindly spinster with a nice line in homemade cookies. But when the spinster dies suddenly, her best friend kicks up an unseemly fuss, loud enough to attract the attention of Detective Chief Inspector Tom Barnaby. And when Barnaby and his eager-beaver deputy start poking around, they uncover a swamp of ugly scandals and long-suppressed resentments seething below the picture-postcard prettiness.

In the grand English tradition of the quietly intelligent copper, Barnaby has both an irresistibly dry sense of humor and a keen insight into what makes people tick. Badger's Drift marks Barnaby's debut." (4 stars)

b. Death in Disguise (1992). 

"I enjoyed this as much as I enjoy the Midsomer Murder series. Graham's writing style reminds me somewhat of PD James. The story was thoughtful and intelligent. It's more about the characters than the mystery; Inspector Barnaby and Sgt Troy don't come into until about one-third of the way through. In the meantime, we learn about the main characters, their lives and ultimately, the crime.

The characters belong to a commune and are quirky and interesting. Throw into their midst, the abrasive, rich father of one, plus the drugged up mother as well and you get a more interesting mix, until there is a murder. At this point, Barnaby arrives and the story progresses nicely until a very satisfying ending. I recommend most heartily. (4 stars)" 

c. A Place of Safety (1999).

"Charlie Leathers was not the most popular man in the charming English village of Ferne Basset, but few people seemed to hate him enough to murder him. Still, that was his fate one night, and it brings Inspector Barnaby to the scene to investigate. What Barnaby doesn't know is that before his death, Charlie witnessed what might have been the suicide--or murder--of a young woman whose troubles with the law have landed her in the home of a local retired minister and his none-too-pleased wife. Now a man is dead, a girl is missing, and a town is in chaos as long-kept secrets begin to unravel, with deadly repercussions" (3 stars)

 The remaining books in the series are - (as usual asterisked books are on my shelf)
- Death of a Hollow Man (1989)
- Written in Blood (1994) *
- Faithful unto Death (1996) *
- A Ghost in the Machine (2004) *

Martha Grimes
4. Martha Grimes (Inspector Richard Jury). Martha Grimes was born in 1931 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She is best known for her 24 book series featuring Scotland Yard inspector, Richard Jury and his friend, Melrose Plant. I read a couple of books in the series back early 2000's but set them aside for a few years. Recently, I've begun to acquire the series from the first book and am enjoying once again. This is the second series in the past two days that has featured American writers of excellent English cop series. I've read six of the books so far. I'll highlight the first three, even though I've only read the first so far. As a trivia note, all of the book titles are the names of English pubs.

a. The Man with a Load of Mischief (1981).

"The Man With a Load of Mischief by Martha Grimes is the first book in the Inspector Richard Jury mystery series. I've previously read 5 other books in the series but that was 3 or 4 years ago. I was glad to finally read the first book, especially glad as it introduced the core of characters who appear in many of the other books in the series (at least those that I've read)

Chief Inspector Jury of Scotland Yard has been assigned to a case in the town of Long Piddleton, where  two murders are being investigated. Both bodies have been discovered in local pubs, The Man with a Load of Mischief and The Jack and Hammer. During the course of his investigation, Jury is accompanied by his hypochondriac Sgt. Wiggins, more bodies are discovered. Jury's investigation introduces an intriguing cast of witnesses / suspects; from wealthy Melrose Plant, his precocious aunt Lady Agatha, antique dealer Marshall Trueblood, lovely poetess Vivian Rivington, and many others. I particularly enjoyed Jury's interactions with the Double children; they added a nice gentle touch to this murder mystery.

Set during the Xmas period, we get a nice feel for Jury's nature, personality and his manner of investigation. The case was intriguing and we continue to be fed new clues and information. Was the murder perpetrated by a stranger or someone local? The journey makes the solution even more enjoyable and satisfying. Having read some of the other books previously, but still many years ago, it was nice to meet those characters who appear in future books and often assist Jury with his investigations. Excellent story and mystery. Now to find book 2, The Old Fox Deceiv'd. (As an aside, if you are not aware of this, the titles of each book refer to pubs in the area of the particular mystery.) (4 stars)"

b. The Old Fox Deceiv'd (1982).

"It is a chilly and foggy Twelfth Night, wild with North Sea wind, when a bizarre murder disturbs the outward piece of Rackmoor, a tiny Yorkshire fishing village with a past that proves a tangled maze of unrequited loves, unrevenged wrongs, and even undiscovered murders.

Inspector Jury finds no easy answers in his investigation—not even the identity of the victim, a beautiful young woman. Was she Gemma Temple, an impostor, or was she really Dillys March, Colonel Titus Crael’s long-lost ward, returning after eight years to the Colonel’s country seat and to a share of his fortune? And who was her murderer?"

c. The Anodyne Necklace (1983).

"A spinster whose passion was bird-watching, a dotty peer who pinched pennies, and a baffling murder made the tiny village of Littlebourne a most extraordinary place. And a severed finger made a ghastly clue in the killing that led local constables from a corpse to a boggy footpath to a beautiful lady’s mansion.

But Richard Jury refused, preferring to take the less traveled route to a slightly disreputable pub, the Anodyne Necklace. There, drinks all around loosened enough tongues to link a London mugging with the Littlebourne murder and a treasure map that would chart the way to yet another chilling crime."

The remaining books of the series are - (asterisked where I have and rated where I've read)
- The Dirty Duck (1984)
- Jerusalem Inn (1984)
- Help the Poor Struggler (1985) * (3 stars)
- The Deer Leap (1985)
- I Am the Only Running Footman (1986) * (4 stars)
- The Five Bells and Bladebone (1987) * (3 stars)
- The Old Silent (1989)
- The Old Contemptibles (1991) * (3 stars)
- The Horse You Came In On (1993)
- Rainbow's End (1995)
- The Case Has Altered (1997)
- The Stargazey (1998)
- The Lamorna Wink (1999) * (3 stars)
- The Blue Last (2001)
- The Grave Maurice (2002) *
- The Winds of Change (2004)
- The Old Wine Shades (2006)
- Dust (2007)
- The Black Cat (2010)
- Vertigo 42 (2014)
- The Knowledge (2019)

There you go. Just to let you know, I may not have a chance to write another entry until my return from my visit home. We'll see. Enjoy your week!
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