Joanne’s Mystery Picks

9781782062080EXTRAORDINARY PEOPLE: ENZO FILES #1 by Peter May

 It all starts with a wager to prove that a cold case can be solved with new scientific methods. Enzo Macleod, forensic scientist, jumps at the chance to solve the disappearance of Jacques Gaillard, former advisor to the Prime Minister, who went missing ten years previously.  Using the information that Roger Raffin, journalist and author of a book on the seven highest profile unsolved murders has compiled, Enzo follows a trail that begins with doodles on a pad of paper. As each clue takes him to a cache of other clues, his search takes on the feel of a scavenger hunt, leading him to the countryside around Paris.

Hovering in the background is Enzo’s constant worry about his two daughters.  He’s estranged from his eldest and worried that his youngest is throwing her life away on a guy with no future.  His worry is intensified when he realizes that his search might be putting his own family in danger.

May has written a good puzzler with interesting descriptions of Paris and its environs.  It’s only when the last piece of the puzzle is put in place that the true picture comes into focus.

jar-cityJar City by Arnaldur Indridason

When Inspector Erlendur of the Reykjavik police is called to the apartment of Holberg, an old man, he finds him dead, the apparent victim of a murder.

As he begins his investigation, Erlendur discovers that the reasons for Holberg’s murder date back many years and may include the twenty five year old disappearance of a co-worker, and the non-criminal death of a seven year old girl.

Arnaldur Indridason’s novel (translated from the Icelandic) has been critically acclaimed and has garnered him a Gold Dagger Award.  Based on these criteria, one could assume that he is a “good” writer.  This certainly doesn’t come across in my reading of this mystery.

I found the writing to be stilted and choppy, with no fluidity between sentences.  There were no gentle segues between scene changes and I noticed a number of inconsistencies in the details as the story unfolded.  Missing were those nuances that flesh out a character –humour, compassion, and kindness.  The characters didn’t have conversations with each other, but shouting matches instead. Erlendur’s daughter, a drug-addict, was particularly unlikeable and the way that she talked to her father was beyond disrespectful.  The comments that the coroner made during the autopsy of a seven year old girl were more than insensitive: they were absolutely despicable, and I found this scene to be very disturbing.  (Bernard Scudder, Translator)

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