This is a bit of a catch up post; update on the last books completed, some new books and the latest books started. I'll review the last 3 books I've read and the follow-on books plus I've received some new books this past week so I'll provide the synopses of those too.
Most Recently Completed
"Agatha Raisin and the Day the Floods Came is the 12th Agatha Raisin mystery by M.C. Beaton. Once again, Agatha, who had retired to the Cotswolds finds herself involved investigating a murder mystery.
The story starts with Agatha running away to an island out in the Pacific. Her marriage to James Lacey had ended when he ran off to a monastery. While Agatha enjoys her stay, the wife of a newly wed couple is found dead and her new husband arrested for murder. Back in Evesham, Agatha discovers she has a new neighbor, a mystery writer John Armitage. After a few mishaps, they finally meet but Agatha doesn't take to the man. Starting a new healthy life, she takes a Pilates course in a neighboring town. While there she discovers a body floating in the flooding river.
Along with her ex-partner in the publishing business, Roy, she begins investigating the murder of the young lady. They pretend to be news reporters looking into clubbing activities of the local young people. Her new neighbor also ends up assisting Agatha in her investigation. The young lady was found in her wedding dress and suspects abound, especially her work mates and her fiance and old boyfriend.
It's a very shallow group of people for the most part. Agatha still struggles with personal issues; should she or shouldn't she get involved with John. Is she too old? All the old issues come back to haunt her. For such a successful business person, Agatha has many issues still unresolved. But she is trying to quit smoking finally which is something. Her friend Mrs. Bloxby is a steadying influence, trying to protect Agatha from getting involved in another heart-breaking relationship. Her friend Bill, the local cop, makes appearances but not in such a major role as normal because Agatha is dealing with the Worcester police department. Even Charles, her rich friend and sometime paramour makes an appearance. Only James Lacey is absent.
It's an interesting tale even if Agatha is wearing a bit thin. She needs something good to happen in her life, needs to regain her bounce and confidence. Still, there is enough action, an interesting mystery and a satisfying ending. (3.5 stars)"
"Wycliffe and the Dead Flautist is the 17th book in the Superintendent Charles Wycliffe mystery series by W.J. Burley. The books are set in the Cornwall region of the UK. I've not read the series in any particular order and it hasn't affected my enjoyment of the books by reading them in this manner.
Wycliffe and his wife Helen have returned from the Dordogne region of France and Wycliffe is drawn immediately into a 'murder', or more accurately a suicide, which the investigating officer believes to be a murder. This has occurred on the estate of Lord and Lady Bottrel; the body of their groundskeeper has been found in his cottage, killed with his shotgun.
An aside here. Wycliffe has returned thinking he might like to retire in the Dordogne... except "his French wasn't very good, he found the summers there too hot, he had never fished in his life and he didn't particularly like the French.'... lol
Anyway, the body has been discovered by a young couple, son of the Lord and daughter of the Lord's lawyer, whose home is also on the estate. The investigation will for the most part stick to that seemingly isolated estate, with Wycliffe and his team, led by Inspector Kersey, his Scene of Crime expert Fox and DS Lucy Lane. Of course there are others who help, including the pathologist Franks, with whom he has a respectful relationship... Besides the investigators who make up an interesting team, you've got a mix of suspects / witnesses from the Bottrels, the Landers and the family of missing young woman Lizzie Biddick, whose importance to the investigation grows as the story moves along.
I do like Wycliffe, who uses his forensic teams and investigators, often as sounding boards for his thoughts as he tries to get a sense of the investigation. Wycliffe needs to be at the location (most Superintendents would stay back and let the investigators do their work) to get a feel for the area for the people for the crime scene. Of course that means that lovely, understanding Helen is once again on her own.
As always, an interesting mystery with tenuous clues and uncooperative but seemingly cooperative witnesses. It seems at times like Wycliffe is pulling teeth. There is a mixture of sexual issues, maybe blackmail, etc that Wycliffe must work through as he and his team investigate. I like the way they interact, an excellent working relationship, discussions over breakfast and meals at the local inn.
Considering the small cast of characters, progress is slow but steady and there are no obvious suspects (or all they all suspects?). The ending comes quickly and ultimately satisfyingly. I like Wycliffe very much, his style, his personality and I also like those who work with him, no matter how small their role. I think I like that we aren't swamped with their personal issues; it's all about the investigation. All in all, I enjoyed very much, have no complaints with the progress of the investigation or the final denouement. Very satisfying; a favorite series of mine. (4.5 stars)"
"The Moving Finger is the 3rd Miss Marple mystery by mystery author, Agatha Christie. Having said that Jane Marple plays a very small, albeit critical role in this entertaining story.
The narrator and focus of the story is one Jerry Burton, a young man who, along with his lovely sister Joanna, has moved temporarily to the small country town of Lymstock, taking up rented accommodation from elderly Miss Barton. Miss Barton, being somewhat down on her luck and experiencing monetary difficulties has rented out her house and moved herself and her maid into a smaller residence. Jerry was a flyer and injured himself in a crash and his doctor sent him off to the country for rest and rehabilitation.
Relaxation becomes something of an issue when the pair receive an anonymous letter implying that the two are not really brother / sister in very derogatory terms. While they find this very disturbing, the pair, as they make rounds of the other villagers discover that they are not the only ones who have received such letters; Mr Symmington is having an affair with his clerk, etc etc. For the first portion of the novel, we meet the other main characters as seen through Jerry and Joanna's eyes. Mr. Symmington, the lawyer and his fragile wife, their daughter, the unloved Megan who attaches herself to the Burton's, their nanny, young lovely Elsie Holland who cares for their two boys; the doctor Mr Griffiths and his busy body sister Aimee Griffiths; the quirky vicar's wife Mrs Dane Calthrop. She has a habit of seeing right through you, telling you truths which make you feel uncomfortable. Definitely my favorite character.
The letters ultimately result in the death (by suicide) of one of the residents. This brings in Inspector Nash, a competent, efficient police inspector who begins an investigation of the letters and who might have written them. It's deemed that while the death might have been a suicide, the letter writer must bear a responsibility. When another death, a murder takes place, the residents of town begin to suspect each other.
Finally, about 3/4's of the way through this entertaining, flowing story, Mrs Dane Calthrop calls in an expert, who turns out to be Miss Marple. And while she makes only small appearances to the story afterwards, she will be the source of the fascinating conclusion to the mystery. I have to say that I've probably seen various TV versions of this story, featuring one or two of the wonderful actresses who portrayed Miss Marple. And while I remembered the story and had a vague recollection of who might have committed the crimes, it still came as a pleasant surprise to me. It's a short story but is peopled with wonderful characters, especially the Burtons and of course the wonderful Dane Calthrop and it flows so nicely and is light, airy and wonderful. I really couldn't put it down and enjoyed everything about it... well, there could have been more of Miss Marple. (4.5 stars)"
""When the Dark comes
rising, six shall turn it back, three from the circle, three from the
track; wood, bronze, iron; water, fire, stone; five will return, and one
With these mysterious words, Will Stanton discovers on his 11th birthday that he is no mere boy. He is the Sign-Seeker, last of the immortal Old Ones, destined to battle the powers of evil that trouble the land. His task is monumental: he must find and guard the six great Signs of the Light, which, when joined, will create a force strong enough to match and perhaps overcome that of the Dark. Embarking on this endeavor is dangerous as well as deeply rewarding; Will must work within a continuum of time and space much broader than he ever imagined."
"When an unpleasant young man called Forrester forced his way into Quinns, determined that Mannering should finance his artistic efforts, the art dealer was firm but unimpressed.
The Baron was not to know that later that day he would receive a desperate phone call from the artist's terrified girl-friend. She had found Forrester half-dead, hanging with a noose round his neck. But why should such a brash young man want to kill himself? Or was the victim of attempted murder?"
"On a French golf course, a millionaire is found stabbed in the back…
An urgent cry for help brings Poirot to France. But he arrives too late to save his client, whose brutally stabbed body now lies face downwards in a shallow grave on a golf course.
But why is the dead man wearing his son’s overcoat? And who was the impassioned love-letter in the pocket for? Before Poirot can answer these questions, the case is turned upside down by the discovery of a second, identically murdered corpse…"
1. The President is Missing by Bill Clinton & James Patterson (2018).
"The President is Missing. The world is in shock.
But the reason he’s missing is much worse than anyone can imagine.
With details only a President could know, and the kind of suspense only James Patterson can deliver."
"This anthology of tales
by Rudyard Kipling contains some of the most memorable and popular
examples of the genre of which he is an undisputed master. The Man Who Would Be King (later adapted as a spectacular film) is a vivid narrative of exotic adventure and disaster.
The other tales include the ironic, horrific, poignant and haunting. Here Kipling displays his descriptive panache and realistic boldness. Shrewd, audacious, abrasive and challenging, he remains absorbingly readable.
Contents of this Wordsworth Classics edition:
* The Education of Otis Yeere
* At the Pit's Mouth
* A Wayside Comedy
* The Hill of Illusion
* A Second-Rate Woman
* Only a Subaltern
* The Phantom 'Rickshaw
* My Own True Ghost Story
* The Strange Ride of Morrowbie Jukes
* The Man Who Would Be King
* Wee Willie Winkie
* Baa Baa, Black Sheep
* His Majesty the King
* The Drums of the Fore and Aft"
"Cotton Malone retired
from the high-risk world of elite operatives for the U.S. Justice
Department to lead the low-key life of a rare-book dealer. But his quiet
existence is shattered when he receives an anonymous e-mail: “You have
something I want. You’re the only person on earth who knows where to
find it. Go get it. You have 72 hours. If I don’t hear from you, you
will be childless.” His horrified ex-wife confirms that the threat is
real: Their teenage son has been kidnapped. When Malone’s Copenhagen
bookshop is burned to the ground, it becomes brutally clear that those
responsible will stop at nothing to get what they want. And what they
want is nothing less than the lost Library of Alexandria.
A cradle of ideas–historical, philosophical, literary, scientific, and religious–the Library of Alexandria was unparalleled in the world. But fifteen hundred years ago, it vanished into the mists of myth and legend–its vast bounty of wisdom coveted ever since by scholars, fortune hunters, and those who believe its untold secrets hold the key to ultimate power.
Now a cartel of wealthy international moguls, bent on altering the course of history, is desperate to breach the library’s hallowed halls–and only Malone possesses the information they need to succeed. At stake is an explosive ancient document with the potential not only to change the destiny of the Middle East but to shake the world’s three major religions to their very foundations.
Pursued by a lethal mercenary, Malone crosses the globe in search of answers. His quest will lead him to England and Portugal, even to the highest levels of American government–and the shattering outcome, deep in the Sinai desert, will have worldwide repercussions."
"Paris, April 1999: Aimée
Leduc has her work cut out for her—running her detective agency and
fighting off sleep deprivation as she tries to be a good single mother
to her new bébé. The last thing she has time for now is to take on a personal investigation for a poor manouche
(Gypsy) boy. But he insists his dying mother has an important secret
she needs to tell Aimée, something to do with Aimée’s father’s unsolved
murder a decade ago. How can she say no?
The dying woman’s secret is even more dangerous than her son realized. When Aimée arrives at the hospital, the boy’s mother has disappeared. She was far too sick to leave on her own—she must have been abducted. What does she know that’s so important it’s worth killing for? And will Aimée be able to find her before it’s too late and the medication keeping her alive runs out?"
"The tranquillity of a
cruise along the Nile was shattered by the discovery that Linnet
Ridgeway had been shot through the head. She was young, stylish, and
beautiful. A girl who had everything...until she lost her life.
Hercule Poirot recalled an earlier outburst by a fellow passenger: "I'd like to put my dear little pistol against her head and just press the trigger." Yet in this exotic setting nothing is ever quite what it seems."
"Back on the job after an
involuntary leave of absence, LAPD homicide detective Harry Bosch is
ready for a challenge. But his first case is a little more than he
It starts with the body of a Hollywood producer in the trunk of a Rolls-Royce, shot twice in the head at close range - what looks like "trunk music," a Mafia hit. But the LAPD's organized crime unit is curiously uninterested, and when Harry follows a trail of gambling debts to Las Vegas, the case suddenly becomes more complex - and much more personal.
A rekindled romance with an old girlfriend opens new perspectives on the murder, and he begins to glimpse a shocking triangle of corruption and collusion. Yanked off the case, Harry himself is soon the one being investigated. But only a bullet can stop Harry when he's searching for the truth . . ."
"Chicago, 1954. When his
father Montrose goes missing, 22-year-old Army veteran Atticus Turner
embarks on a road trip to New England to find him, accompanied by his
Uncle George — publisher of The Safe Negro Travel Guide — and
his childhood friend Letitia. On their journey to the manor of Mr.
Braithwhite — heir to the estate that owned one of Atticus’s ancestors —
they encounter both mundane terrors of white America and malevolent
spirits that seem straight out of the weird tales George devours.
At the manor, Atticus discovers his father in chains, held prisoner by a secret cabal named the Order of the Ancient Dawn — led by Samuel Braithwhite and his son Caleb — which has gathered to orchestrate a ritual that shockingly centers on Atticus. And his one hope of salvation may be the seed of his — and the whole Turner clan’s — destruction."
"Lieutenant Luis Mendoza is tasked with solving a double murder, shrouded in strange rites. Acting on one of his famous hunches, he is drawn into the world behind the glitter of Hollywood and into the Temple of Mystic Truth. There he finds cultists Martin and Cara Kingman, who turn out to be less than spiritual . . ."
There you go. All caught up. Next post I'll try to get back to my ongoing look at favorite authors.