Joanne’s Mystery Picks

16074348STRANGLEHOLD by Robert Rotenberg

What do you do when you are arrested for first degree murder and the arresting officer is someone who you’ve been mentoring?  That’s what Ari Greene is faced with when he stumbles across a homicide and Daniel Kennicott takes him into custody.  Suddenly all of Greene’s secrets are secrets no more.    And how can he clear his name while he’s confined to house arrest while awaiting his trial?  As Ari fights to prove his innocence, another “fight” is taking place in Toronto – that for the election of the new mayor.

Greene begins to realize that not everyone is as they seem and there are far too many things in their pasts that are coming back to haunt them and those close to them.  The line between politics and his private life is becoming blurred and his situation is becoming more precarious as the days go on.

Rotenberg provides a real page-turner with this fourth book in his Greene/Kennicott series and his clever ending had me almost applauding.

Joanne’s Mystery Picks

51fh9sj6kcl-_sx320_bo1204203200_THE LAST DETECTIVE by Peter Lovesey

Not to be confused with the TV series of the same name (based on the Dangerous Davies’ books by Leslie Thomas), the last detective in Lovesey’s novel is DS Peter Diamond.  He fancies himself a bit like Fabian of the Yard, a true gumshoe.  Diamond can’t be bothered with all the new-fangled science surrounding police work, like “genetic fingerprinting” and computer-generated lists of suspects.  He’d rather be hitting the pavement, knocking on doors, and interviewing potential suspects.

When the nude body of a female is found floating in a reservoir near Bristol, Diamond relies on his investigative skills to identify the woman and find her killer.  Along the way he encounters a university professor whose heroic efforts save a young boy from drowning; the boy’s mother who works as a chauffeur; and a missing letter purported to have been written by Jane Austen.

When he examines these seemingly disconnected pieces of information, a picture begins to form.  Meanwhile, his tactics are not supported by the “powers that be” and Diamond finds himself alone and in pursuit of a murderer.

His name might be Diamond but he isn’t as polished as Morse, or Richard Jury, or Penny’s Inspector Gamache.  He’s gruff and a rough-cut.  But he gets the job done.

Joanne’s Mystery Picks

51fgzw0h0ll-_sx322_bo1204203200_THE DELICATE STORM  by Giles Blunt

Blunt’s second novel in the John Cardinal and Lisa Delorme series, though gruesome in its description of the crimes, is not as soul-destroying as that of his first:  Forty Words for Sorrow.

When an unidentified, dismembered body is found in the woods, it is evident that bears have been at work on it but not before someone made sure that this person would never again hear the wind whistling through the trees.  Thus begins an investigation to find the identity of the victim and his murderer.  Information surfaces concerning cases from the past and the two detectives soon find themselves enmeshed in a political quagmire.

Cardinal is able to focus on the case much more readily now that his homelife has settled down since Catherine’s bipolar disorder is under control.  However, his Dad is having health issues and it’s a fight to get him to see a doctor.

With the introduction of WUDKY (the dumbest criminal in the world), we are given a moment or two of comic relief in this sometimes confusing story.  The ending left me disappointed and questioning Blunt’s motivation in concluding the book in the way that he did.

Joanne’s Mystery Pick

s-l225THE BLACK CAT by Martha Grimes

For the past year, I’ve been reading Grimes’ Richard Jury novels in order and for the most part they’ve provided a good read.  Throughout the series, certain cases have taken their toll on Jury and he reflects upon them in subsequent novels.  I like to think that this makes him appear more “human” and believable as a character.  The Black Cat continues a story arc started two novels previously in The Old Wine Shades and the following novel, Dust, with the character Harry Johnson.  As a villain, Harry’s a pretty likeable guy, until you remember what he’s accused of doing.  Jury knows he’s guilty of horrible crimes but just cannot get the goods on him.  Harry sits at the periphery of the main stories in The Black Cat (a woman is found murdered in the garden of a pub of the same name and only a cat is witness to the crime); and Dust (a wealthy bachelor is murdered in his hotel room).

Some might call Grimes’ novels formulaic with the ever-present young, precocious child and her cat or dog; Melrose Plant’s bumbling about as a gardener, or a scholar (of Henry James, no less, in Dust); and the ubiquitous cups of tea that Wiggins’ partakes of at every stop along the way of whichever case they’re working on.  I like the humour that these things bring to the novels and often find myself laughing out loud.  They help to down-play some of the more gritty bits that we’re exposed to.

Will Jury finally get his man and have enough evidence to arrest Harry Johnson?  I do hope so because he should never get away with what he’s done.  Perhaps that evidence will be produced in Vertigo 42, Grimes’ most recent novel in this series.  I’ll be reading it with baited breath!

Joanne’s Mystery Picks

STRAY BULLETS by Robert Rotenberg

Murder is a heinous crime.  But when a child is murdered what word does one use to describe how horrible it is?  Detective Ari Greene must deal with his feelings about this murder while painstakingly working out who fired the shots on that fatal evening outside a donut shop.

Meanwhile, evidence seems to point to Nancy Parish’s career criminal client Larkin St. Clair who claims his innocence.  But doesn’t he always?  This time, Nancy thinks he’s telling the truth.   While she pieces together the sequence of events, Greene is doing the same and they both realize that some important pieces to this puzzle are missing.

Rotenberg delivers another story that keeps the reader on the edge of his or her proverbial seat.  As the story unfolds, it’s hard to know exactly which side to believe and that’s what makes this such a compelling read.