I forgot to post last month! What are months, anyway? So here is June's
reading and July's reading, in no particular order ...
Tales from Daggy Bottom, Kath Middleton: very funny series of short stories set in the same little village, involving ghosts, thieves, drug dealers, wellie dancers, and all kinds of miscreants. An absolute delight!
Murray Bailey, Singapore Ghost: I picked this up free and found it's the fourth in the series, but it didn't matter much. I wondered a bit about the tagline, 'A Mystery-Crime Story with an Historical Twist'. It's set in post-Second World War Malaya - that's not an historical twist, that's an historical setting. Some Ian Fleming flavour to it, and I did love the setting, the jungle and the towns and the army bases. For a book which at first sight seems rather gungho, the female characters are stronger than you would expect. I'm not sure I would necessarily make an effort to read more in the series but if you put one in front of me, I'd pick it up.
Paula Williams, Burying Bad News: Kat is in trouble again, trying to balance three dodgy jobs. The hair salon is at risk, and her bar job is threatened, but her newspaper is also bought over by someone whse journalistic values are not her own. And then someone else is murdered. Entertaining but very human, this is another good read in the series.
Jim Kelly, The Mathematical Bridge: This lovely, meditative atmosphere again, though we start with a child swept away in the river on an icy night. These are intriguing books, filled with memories of the first war, technicalities of living in Cambridge, the duties of police when war is coming, and nocturnal hospital scenes, and I find them bewitching.
Elly Griffiths, The Blood Card: I picked this up thinking, for some reason, that it was the first in the Stephens and Mephisto series, but it's actually the third. It didn't take long to get into it, though, and to wriggle into the lives of the two main characters. I've always thought it's brave to write a historical about a period people still remember, particularly when the author themselves would not be of an age to recall it, but this rings very true with the research lightly worn. It was very enjoyable with a tense, exciting ending and lots of interesting detail as well as the usual well-rounded, complicated characters one expects from Elly Griffiths.
Sharon Bolton, Dead Scared: It's a while since I've read one of these, remembering them as very well-written but a bit too gritty for my mood. But having dived in, I found this one very good. An investigation into too many strange suicides at Cambridge draws Lacey Flint into an undercover job. It's a picky thing, I know, but I find the name Mark Joesbury really irritating - I don't like it at all! But if you take that away the rest of the book was terrific.
Denzil Meyrick, Jeremiah's Bell: Excellent as always, chilling in several places, an exciting and hilarious read.
Cecilia Peartree, The French Heir: I do like this series, a kind of Brighton Jane Austen with a spin of adventure and peril. It's interesting, too, that the author moves from one character to another from book to book: in the first the focus was Jack, eventually heir to Marshingdean, and now we're seeing things from the perspective (mostly) of Sebastian, with his mysterious French background. There is a very different atmosphere here from the author's Pitkirtly series, which I absolutely love - you'd almost think you had hit a different writer - but it's very appealing still.
Cecilia Peartree, The Heir to Nothing: Back to the same setting again but this time we focus on a third character, Dev, in another well-plotted tale with hints of smuggling and the French wars and a sweet romantic side. I'm delighted there's to be a fourth in the series - I'd thought it was a trilogy!
Douglas Skelton, The Blood is Still: Rebecca is in more trouble poking her journalistic nose into murder and local banditry. There is plenty of action here and suspense, too, not just over the murder case (a well-handled plot) but also over the future of poor Rebecca's career in the current climate of print journalism. Good characters and a realistic setting.
Alex Walters, Small Mercies: A new series for me from an author I've enjoyed before. The lead character is very jagged, defensive and uncomfortable, which means it takes a little time to settle in, but as there's a very odd corpse found in the first few pages, the reader is willing to cut her some slack. I particularly liked Burbage and Wharton who play a minor but amusing part, and the book as a whole was very satisfying - less of a whodunnit and more of a how and why.
Deborah Masson, Hold your Tongue: When the author signed my copy at Granite Noir in February she did apologise for treating her character Lexie so appallingly, and now I see why! A gritty, gory book but very well written: the complexities of her main character's troubled background occasionally need a map, but the plot is pacey.
Michael Malone, In the Absence of Miracles: It's over two years since I first saw this author at Granite Noir and intended to follow him up, but I've been a bit slow! A shame, too, as this is immediately intriguing and very well written - a plot with a few twists and turns and a very human problem at the centre of it.
J.D. Kirk, A Whisper of Sorrows: A really excellent, edge-of-your-seat episode in this terrific series. It's a bit more serious than the other books, but still full of wit - and tragedy.
Chris Longmuir, Devil's Porridge: A complex beginning, where nearly everyone on the train to Carlisle seems connected to everyone else. The setting rings true (apart from a girl called Shannon - it might have happened but it was really only a surname until recently and it sounded too modern to me) and I like to learn things from books, all about the massive construction at Gretna for the munitionettes and their work and entertainment. I found the use of commas a little distracting, but good action, exciting end!
Chris Longmuir, The Death Game: We see more of Kirsty's background here when she is relocated to Dundee to help start the Scottish acceptance of police women. It's hard to know who to trust or who might support her, even amidst her own family, but early 20th century Dundee shines through. There are some places where I would argue about the use of commas, and about a good deal of switching points of view, and as with the first book there are occasions when there's a bit too much research shining through, but it's an exciting conclusion and well-plotted.
Death of a Doxy - not to be confused with the Nero Wolfe book of the same name! Again, the historical background is very well done, as is the portrayl of early 20th. century Dundee. I enjoyed the story and it was very thoroughly wound up at the end. I'm not sure if there are more Kirsty Campbell books or not, but I would probably read them.
Libi Astaire, Tempest in the Tea Room: I enjoyed seeing Regency London from a different perspective in this fairly light historical crime novel. The close-knit Jewish community, taking in every rank in society, clashes with non-Jewish high society when a new young doctor is accused by a lady of trying to poison her. I'd have liked a little more about the family we started with, but I suspect they appear in other books. A very pleasant read, and interesting.
Valerie Keogh, No Simple Death: The first by this author for me, set in Dublin and Cork. From the start I found the characters intriguing and sympathetic, and the plot tantalising. There's a little quiet humour, just enough to keep everything ticking over - I really enjoyed this and hope to come back for more.
And here? Well, as you may know the third in the Orkneyinga Murders series, Dragon in the Snow, is to appear on 31st. August, and I'm currently plot-wrangling the next Murray. It has, at least, a title - 'The Dead Chase'!