Joanne’s Mystery Picks

51gycwloiml-_sx323_bo1204203200_COLD EARTH by Ann Cleeves

How many secrets does it take to have a reason to commit murder?

The answer: just one.  At least that’s what the murderer in this story believes.

And in the tiny Shetland community of Ravenswick, how many people have secrets?  Pretty much everyone –  even DI Jimmy Perez.  His is about longing and obligation – not necessarily fodder for murder.

The body of a woman is found in the wreckage of a croft house, assumed to be uninhabited, after a torrent of mud and water sweeps it towards the sea. It’s Jimmy’s job to find out who the woman is, and who is harbouring a secret, seemingly so dangerous, that it would lead to her murder.  He is forced to delve into the private lives of some of his closest neighbours, often causing hard feelings and anger and revealing things about them that he wished he didn’t know.

Ann Cleeves is at the top of her game with this Shetland mystery, the seventh in the series.  She gives us a fast-moving story with many twists and turns, believable characters (however flawed they might be), and lots of food for thought.  Sit down with this book and enjoy a really good read.  And by the way – what’s YOUR secret?

51imfzf4wvl-_sx309_bo1204203200_SIDNEY CHAMBERS AND THE SHADOW OF DEATH: The Grantchester Mysteries by James Runcie

This first volume of interconnected stories in this series introduces us to Canon Sidney Chambers.  He’s not your everyday vicar.  He prefers a pint of beer over a glass of sherry; jazz is his preferred choice of music; and he’s very fond of a good game of cricket.  He’s a good listener (certainly a pre-requisite for a vicar) which makes it easy for him to ferret out bits of information that people would not normally reveal.  His foray into crime detection comes completely by chance but since he’s proved to be good at it, he’s called on by all and sundry to help solve a variety of crimes, much to the displeasure of his house-keeper, Mrs. Maguire.

Along with his friend Inspector Geordie Keating, Sidney investigates a suspicious suicide, a jewelry theft, the murder of a jazz-promoter’s daughter, and an art forgery that puts a good friend in serious danger.

This series comprises five books to date, with a sixth in the works.  The books are best read in order as the stories follow Sidney chronologically.  I found them highly enjoyable, with each subsequent story showing us a new aspect of Sidney’s character.  The books stand very well on their own next to the current Grantchester Mystery Series on television.

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