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Ruth Galloway mysteries

womaninblueThe Woman in Blue (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/May, 2016) by Elly Griffiths is the eighth novel in the engaging Ruth Galloway mystery series.  The people of Little Walsingham have seen apparitions before, but none that have turned up dead in a blue gown in a ditch.  None that looks exactly like the ghostly woman in a blue cloak seen walking in the town’s cemetery.  Another problem arises when Ruth’s friend, Hilary Smithson, an Anglican priest in town for a conference, comes to Ruth with disturbing anonymous letters.  Ruth’s daughter Kate is now 5-years-old and well on her way to being just as independent as her mother.  DCI Nelson is still in the picture and with Ruth’s help, eventually solves this complicated case.  Even without the mystery element, these books would be good reads for the interesting cast of characters who change and grow with each novel.

–posted 4/28/2016

Posted April/26/2016

Stealing the Countess

stealingcountessDavid Housewright’s new book, Stealing the Countess (Minotaur/May 2015) will please old fans and win new ones.   After famous violinist Paul Duclos gave a concert in his hometown of Bayfield, Wisconsin, his priceless Stradivarius, named Countess Borromeo, was stolen.   Rush “Mac” McKenzie, a PI from the Twin Cities, is the obvious investigator for the job:  he is an ex-policeman with an impressive record for finding lost objects.  McKenzie first interviews the locals who had the opportunity to steal the Countess—the nervous event manager and the rich woman who once had an affair with the violinist, among others.  Then he must go further afield for likely suspects.  Along the way he is helped by a retired insurance investigator, a mob boss and the beautiful but unscrupulous rival, Heavenly Petryk, who also appeared in a previous adventure, The Curse of the Jade Lily (Minotaur, 2012).  Housewright’s prose is a pleasure to read and his likable detective is clever and amusingly droll.


Posted April/26/2016

JIMMY Paterson Books

James Patterson, who holds the Guinness World Record for the most #1 New York Times bestsellers, has been a generous benefactor over the years.  He has donated more than one million books to students and he has funded over four hundred Teacher Education Scholarships.  His popular “Treasure Hunter” series for readers in Grades 4-6 is co-authored by Chris Grabenstein.  Peril at the Top of the World, the fourth book in the series is due out in July, 2016.  For this and future titles he has created a new children’s book imprint, JIMMY Patterson, whose mission is simple: We want every kid who finishes a JIMMY Book to say, “PLEASE GIVE ME ANOTHER BOOK.”  Patterson will be investing his proceeds from the sales of JIMMY Patterson Books in pro-reading initiatives.

–posted 4/19/2016

Posted April/18/2016

Miles Burton re-print

The Secret of High Eldersham by Miles Burton is one of the excellent “classic age” mysteries novels being re-published by Poisoned Pen Press.  Eldersham is a remote English village where strange ways and creepy covens seem implicated in the murder of Samuel Whitehead, owner of the local pub, the Rose and Crown.  Constable Viney has the good sense to call in his friend, Desmond Merrion,  a crack Scotland Yard detective.  Merrion is wealthy, witty and charming—the quintessential Golden Age detective.   Together Viney, Merrion and his sidekick Newport, delve into the matter.  Among the other Eldersham characters are the local nob Sir William Owerton and his beautiful daughter Mavis, Laurence Hollesey, Mavis’ persistent suitor, and the local sawbones, Dr. Padfield.  The story is skillfully told with appropriate twists and chilly midnight scenes.  In the end, coastal tides and Merrion’s near-drowning eventually reveal the guilty.  And as a happy postscript, Merrion wins the hand of Mavis and settles in Eldersham.  Miles Burton is one of the pseudonyms of Cecil John Charles Street, a prolific English writer active from 1930 to 1960, now nearly forgotten.  Street wrote sixty-three mysteries under the name of Myles Burton, seventy-two under the name of John Rhodes and four under the name of Cecil Waye, as well as a slew of non-fiction books.   Thanks are due to Poisoned Pen Press and Martin Edwards, who wrote the fine introduction, for the resurrection of this deviously plotted, timeless mystery.

–posted 4/13/2016

Posted April/11/2016

Bryant and May

Arthur Bryant and John May are elderly detectives in Scotland Yard’s Peculiar Crimes Unit, which was originally formed to deal with politically sensitive crimes, and is now an almost forgotten group of eccentrics.  Arthur Bryant is a rude but erudite slob who wears a hearing aid and false teeth. Fowler’s many descriptions of him are hilarious, for instance, he has “a distinctive silhouette, like a disinterred mole in a raincoat”. By comparison, John May is almost normal, but together they are able to solve the most fiendishly difficult cases.  London’s Glory (Kindle, 3/2016) is a collection fans won’t want to miss and for new readers it would be a good introduction.  All the stories are clever, but one story,  “Bryant and May in the Field,” stands out.  It is a variation on a locked room mystery:  a dead woman is found alone in the middle of  field following a snow storm and there are no footprints in the snow but her own.

–posted 4/8/2016

Posted April/8/2016

Bill James

BillJamesFirst Fix Your Alibi (Creme de la Creme, 4/2016) is the 34th Harpur and Iles mystery by Bill James.  In this installment, Harpur and Iles have their work cut out for them when drug tycoon Mansel Shale enlists another drug dealer, Ralph Ember, to commit a murder the way it was done in the movie “Strangers in a Train.”    Alfred Hitchcock’s famous 1956 movie is about the devious murder plot two men hatch–each will kill the victim of the other man.  When Assistant Chief Constable Desmond Iles hears of this plot, he fears that if things go wrong, the hard-won peace he and Harpur have established in the city will be seriously threatened.  James’ well-written novels are full of black humor and gritty social satire.  As many readers have noted, it is best to read the Harpur and Iles series from the beginning to fully appreciate the characters.

–posted 4/7/2016

Posted April/7/2016

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