The Moth Catcher by Ann Cleeves
Di Vera Stanhope “loves” a good murder. However, when two bodies are found, separated by distance, but connected by their fascination for moths, she’s more than puzzled. What linked these two people that someone would find the need to kill them? While she sends her detectives, Holly and Joe, off to do the routine background checks and questions, Vera focuses on the people in the quiet community of Valley Farm in Northumberland where the murders took place.
For as much as the residents of Valley Farm portray themselves as friends and good neighbors, Vera sees this disparate group of people as sheltering secrets. And one of these people, because of his or her secret, has committed murder – twice.
Cleeves has given us the smallest of clues along the way in this novel so the “reveal” was quite a surprise. I enjoy the rapport that Vera has with her detectives – mentoring them but not letting them get away with any guff.
So when one or the other of them takes the initiative and puts themselves in danger, she’s like a mother doling out “tough love”. They couldn’t be any luckier having her as their DI and are slowly coming to this realization.
Dead in the Water: A Campbell and Carter Mystery by Ann Granger
The unrelenting rain in the Cotswold village of Weston St. Ambrose brings more than floods and destruction as Christmas approaches. What it does bring is a body – that of a young woman who worked at the local pub. For Neil Stewart, the discovery of the body under his own mooring is even more disconcerting when he recognizes her as “Courtney”, the barmaid who served him and his fellow writers at their local Club dinner. Inspector Jess Campbell soon learns that Courtney was the daughter of the town villain, Teddy Higson, currently serving time at her Majesty’s pleasure. As her investigation proceeds, Jess is constantly pulled back to the Fishermans’ Rest, the pub where the Writers’ Club last met. She’s certain that something that happened at that dinner, with that group of writers, led to Courtney’s death. But the clock is ticking to find the killer before Teddy Higson is released on compassionate grounds and decides to solve his daughter’s murder himself.
Granger takes quite a different tone with this series in comparison to that of Mitchell and Markby, the one I’m most familiar with. Teddy Higson and the members of the writer’s group are more like “caricatures” and don’t come across as completely believable to me. This was a “cozy” read but I’m not chomping at the bit for the next installment in this series.