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Constable Fiona Griffiths

British author Harry Bingham has introduced a tough new detective in Constable Fiona “Fi” Griffiths of Cardiff, Wales. The Cambridge-educated, oddball Griffiths is hired despite the two empty years on her resume, presumed to indicate a psychological breakdown of some kind. As a new recruit to the force, her supervisors and co-workers respect her diligence and insight, yet tend to be wary. Reviewers have compared “Fi” to Stieg Larsson’s Lisbeth Salander. Like Lisbeth, Fiona tends to ignore orders and protocol, she seems confident in her self-defense training. Narrated through Fiona’s eyes, we get to see her stubborn individuality, as well as her vulnerabilities. The first book, Talking to the Dead (Delacorte, 2012) concerns the murder of a prostitute and her six-year-old daughter. The new book, Love Story, with Murders , published by Delacorte this month, begins with the discovery of frozen body parts in various freezers.

–posted 2/24/2014

Posted February/24/2014

Blind detectives

Reading Lynn Raimondo’ Dante’s Wood (Seventh Street Books, 2013) made me wonder how many blind detectives have been the stars of their own series of detective novels.  Raimondo’s character Mark Angelotti is a 47-year-old clinical psychiatrist who has been struck with late onset blindness of genetic origin.  His professional understanding of this kind of loss hasn’t seemed to help him personally.  We see him inching toward meaningful rehabilitation only after his boss forces him to return to work.  A mystery involving one of his clients helps brings back his confidence.  A second book, Dante’s Poison is due out in May 2014.

Jane A. Adams’ series about Naomi Blake is probably the most popular current series about a blind investigator. Naomi Blake served in the Midlands police department until an accident left her blind.  She has adapted so successfully that only the presence of her guide dog, Napoleon, betrays her blindness.  Number nine in the series is due out in June 2014.

1. Mourning the Little Dead (Severn, 2002)

2. Touching the Dark (Severn, 2003)

3. Heatwave (Severn, 2005)

4. Killing a Stranger (Severn, 2006)

5. Legacy of Lies (Severn, 2007)

6. Blood Ties (Severn, 2011)

7. Night Vision (Severn, 2012)

8. Secrets (Severn, 2013)

9. Gregory’s Game (Severn, 2014)

There are eleven books in Bruce Alexander series starring Sir John Fielding, founder of London’s first police force.  Sir John is a blind magistrate who relies on teen-aged orphan Jeremy Parker as his eyes, ears and legs.

1. Blind Justice (Putnam, 1994)

2. Murder in Grub Street (Putnam, 1995)

3. Watery Grave (Putnam, 1996)

4. Person or Persons Unknown (Putnam, 1997)

5. Jack, Knave and Fool (Putnam, 1998)

6. Death of a Colonial (Putnam, 1999)

7. Color of Death, The (Putnam, 2000)

8. Smuggler’s Moon (Putnam, 2001)

9. Experiment in Treason, An (Putnam, 2002)

10. Price of Murder, The (Putnam, 2003)

11. Rules of Engagement (Putnam, 2006)

Gerald Elias’ blind and crotchety sleuth is Daniel Jacobus, concert violinist and teacher who lives in rural New Hampshire.  Though all four of his books concern classical music and musicians, his plots will appeal to the general reader.

1. Devil’s Trill (Minotaur, 2009)

2. Danse Macabre (Minotaur, 2010)

3. Death and the Maiden (Minotaur, 2011)

4. Death and Transfiguration (Minotaur, 2012)

Caroline Roe’s detective is Isaac of Girona, a blind 14th century physician whose medical skills give him entree into the highest ranks of society.

1. Remedy for Treason (Berkley, 1998)

2. Cure for a Charlatan (Berkley, 1999)

3. An Antidote for Avarice (Berkley, 1999)

4. Solace for a Sinner (Berkley, 2000)

5. A Potion for a Widow (Berkley, 2001)

6. A Draught for a Dead Man (Berkley, 2002)

7. A Poultice for a Healer (Berkley, 2003)

8. Consolation for an Exile (Berkley, 2004)

–posted 2/18/2014

Posted February/18/2014

New Margery Allingham

Margery Allingham fans rejoice! A new Albert Campion mystery is on its way. Mr Campion’s Farewell (Severn House, March 2014) has been written by British author and critic Mike Ripley.  With the approval of the Margery Allingham Society, he has written the new book based on the briefest of fragments left by Pip Youngman Carter, Allingham’s widowed husband. According to the Severn House website (, Ripley had no plot line, no character synopsis or plan to work with, just insight as a life-long Allingham fan. A must-read for anyone who enjoys classic British mysteries.

–posted 2/16/2014

Posted February/17/2014

The new, improved Regencies

What’s the ton?  No, not a ton, as in a ton of coal. The ton (pronounced tawn) in Regency novels. Well, I finally looked it up. It means “high society.” The phrase comes from the French “Beau Monde” (pronounced bow mawnd) meaning “beautiful world”, understood to be the fashionable world, polite society, people with upper class manners, i.e. high society.

Wikipedia states that a directory entitled The Upper Ten Thousand was published in England in 1875. It included members of the aristocracy, the gentry, officers in the British Army and Navy, members of Parliament, Colonial administrators, and members of the Church of England. Apparently there were lots of such lists, but Debrett’s Peerage (1802) and Burke’s Landed Gentry (1838) gained wide acceptance and are still published today.

Debrett’s has devolved into a Who’s Who and etiquette guide and has published books titled: Debrett’s Guide to Entertaining Etiquette, A to Z of Modern Manners and Debrett’s Guide to Civilised Separation.

Burke’s Landed Gentry is available online to paid subscribers.

Now that you know all this, here is a list of some of the newer Regency authors you might try.  Be careful, however, some of these are genre-benders that lean decidedly into the hot romance category.  Move over Georgette Heyer, Marion Chesney and Patricia Veryan.

1.  Johanna Lindsey has written forty-three novels to date.  Though she has been concentrating on contemporary romance recently, her eleven novel Regency series about the Mallory family is still the popular favorite.

2.  Stephanie Laurens has written fifty-three Regency romances and shows no sign of slowing down.  Her books can be sorted into four different series with some overlap and some stand-alones.

3.  Mary Balogh has written over 60 Regencies.  Her characters tend to move from book to book, defying the structure of a series.  They are included in eSequels because they are “almost” sequels and for authors this popular. we tend stretch the definition a bit.

4.  Liz Carlyle has written over 20 Regency romances which fall into at least four family groupings, though there is some overlap.  Carlyle’s Regencies include a touch of mystery and a Scotland Yard inspector, Max de Rohan appears in some of them.

–posted 2/13/2014

Posted February/14/2014

Sweet Nothings

sweet29-year-old Emma Taylor has decided to leave New York and her high-powered job as a fashion stylist to help her Aunt Arabella liven up “Sweet Nothings” her lingerie boutique in Paris Tennessee. As Emma had expected, both the store and the stock need a major makeover. Arabella is thrilled, especially when her collection of 40’s and 50’s negligees inspires Emma to adopt “vintage” as the trendy new theme of the boutique. Handsome Brian O’Connell sets to work renovating the store while Emma gathers stock, drink gallons of sweet tea and gets reacquainted with old friends. All is going well until the first murder happens, in the boutique, of course, and Emma is the prime suspect. Interesting characters and pleasant southern ambiance top the actual mystery in Meg London’s cozy series. Fascinating details about the history and development of lingerie are sprinkled throughout the books. A Fatal Slip (Berkley, Feb. 2014) is the third book in the series.

–posted 2/10/2014

Posted February/10/2014

German detectives

bad wolfPia Kirchhoff and Oliver von Bodenstein are police investigators in a town somewhere near Frankfurt, Germany.   At forty-one, Pia still looks girlish, especially when she wears her hair in braids. She lives with her long-time boyfriend Christoph. They are in the process of buying and renovating a house with adequate grounds for their dogs and horses. Bodenstein is handsome and charming, the son of a Countess. His wife Cosima resents the long hours he works and is disappointed that he spends so little time with their young daughter Sophia.  These mysteries are dense with characters and plot lines, so be prepared to sink into a complex world of crime.  Author Nele Neuhaus is a best-seller in her native Germany.  She has published at least six Kirchhoff and Bodenstein novels in German, only two of which have appeared in the U.S. so far.  Snow White Must Die (Minotaur, 2013) tells the story of Tobias Sartorius returning to his hometown after serving ten years in prison for the murder of two young girls.  Bad Wolf  (Minotaur, 1/2014) concerns the gruesome murders of three young girls, a psychiatrist, and a reporter.

–posted 2/2/2014

Posted February/2/2014

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