A couple of things I can't include here yet, a beta read and a blog tour read, but here's the rest!
James Andrew, The Body Under the Sands (The Yorkshire Murders, Vol.1): Rather a depressing start, with two young lads, one injured during the war, looking for a bit of fun and female companionship in a seaside town and ending up charged with the murder of a visiting woman. It’s an odd book, with undeveloped, damaged characters who all have their memories of the trenches, or of naval conflict. There’s some perception of society at the time, the pressures on maids and ex-soldiers and landladies. The police have a minimal part to play here, and we finally discover the identity of the killer with a look through their eyes at the end. It was not a quick and easy read: I have the first four in the series and will see what the next one is like.
Louise Penny, The Madness of Crowds: I don’t think I’m reading these in order, but it doesn’t really matter – one can pick up bits of the overarching plot as required. This is set in a post Covid Three Pines and that situation is taken a step further forward – an academic is promoting the idea of helping the stricken healthcare system by mandatory euthanasia, not just of the old and sick, but also of any child with birth defects. As usual, this is a thought-provoking and sensitive book, and the setting is as lovely as ever.
Marsali Taylor, The Shetland Sea Murders: The action, to a great extent, takes place on Foula, a tiny island in the archipelago with a community that is both close-knit and mobile, living, in some cases, half their lives elsewhere. I very much enjoyed the insight into this place and the resultant locked-room mystery, in the company of Cass and Gavin as usual. With this as with the previous book in the series, politics seem to be creeping in – not in a bad way, but more so than before.
J.D. Kirk, Southpaw: The second Hoon book, as raucous as before and very funny but not at all without emotion, carefully handled. I still prefer the camaraderie of the Logan books, as well as the Scottish setting, but these are very entertaining.
Jason Monaghan, Darkness Rises: Apparently I bought this over a year ago and had no recollection of it. That’s the trouble with Kindle – with a real book I could glance at the back and remind myself, but with this I had only the front cover to go on and I don’t think it really conveys the nature of the book, which is a missing girl mystery investigated by an archaeologist and a reporter. These seem to have been written back in the eighties which is amusing in itself, as the reader tries to place the technology and indeed the social mores. I felt it was a slow book in some ways and yet there’s a good deal of action, and I looked forward to coming back to it each time. The lead characters are fairly sympathetic. There is, I should warn people, the violent death of a dog, but it was somewhere between self-defence and a mercy killing – not nice, but it sort of made sense. And though we see some of the villains’ activities, we’re strung along very competently, or I was, anyway.
Nicola Clifford, The Consortium: We’re back in the Welsh mountains with Stacey and Ben, and unfortunately some of the more unconvincing aspects of the first book carry on here – not least the arrival, in seconds, of an ambulance in the back of beyond, and its immediate departure without any attempt to stabilise the patient for a long and bumpy journey. The indiscretions of the police are a bit disheartening, as are the indiscretions of members of the press. The setting is still lovely and the plot is pacy, but a little two-dimensional – or I could just be tired.
Murder by the Book: mysteries for bibliophiles, ed. Martin Edwards: A good selection of mostly golden age fiction here, some very well known writers (Michael Innes, Ngaio Marsh) and some barely remembered. The tenuous connexion is books and writing, but that really doesn’t matter. Edwards has contributed nice little introductions to each story which really do enhance the collection.
Elly Griffiths, The Locked Room: It’s very strange to read this book set just before and into the first lockdown in the U.K. It’s always a little odd to find oneself reading something set in a history with which one is familiar, but this, just like the times we lived through then, is weird, and in some ways touching and in others nostalgic. The quiet streets, the pre-Zoom days, the silent supermarket queues – well, strange. The plot is of course excellent and the continued character development is perfect. What next, though? And more of Whittaker, please!