A TIDING OF MAGPIES by Steve Burrows
When DC Desdemona Gill, Empowered Investigator for the Met’s Department of Professional Standards, is brought in to audit the case of the kidnapping of the Home Secretary’s daughter (the case that earned Jejeune his promotion), what has always been assumed to be a straight-forward case, turns out to be anything but. With a new murder to investigate, along with fending off questions about the kidnapping and a resurgence in the threats to Lindy, Jejeune’s partner, Jejeune must count on Sergeant Danny Maik more than ever.
Burrows has written an intense mystery with many twists and turns and occasional “laugh out loud” moments. As the team assembles the final pieces in the puzzles that are these cases, Jejeune makes a decision that will have an dramatic impact on everyone in his circle. Where the story goes from here, I don’t know, but I’ll be waiting with baited breath to find out!
Joanne gives this “4 daggers out of 5”!
Check out Joanne’s other Birdie Murder Mystery reviews: A Shimmer of Hummingbirds, A Siege of Bitterns, and A Pitying of Doves
FICTION CAN BE MURDER by Becky Clark
When Charlee Russo’s literary agent is murdered using the same method that Charlee used to kill off one of her characters, she quickly goes to the top of the suspects list. Determined to clear her name, Charlee begins her own investigation to find the murderer. When her car is struck from behind and then later almost T-boned by the same dark coloured SUV, she begins to think that someone doesn’t want her to continue with her investigations. The novel continues in this pattern until the denoument where, unfortunately, Clark loses all credibility by a glaring misrepresentation of some basic science. I was stunned that this passed the editorial process, and though trying to remember that this is a work of fiction, I just can’t let this fact go. Clark is definitely off my list of authors to read in the future.
THE LIAR IN THE LIBRARY by Simon Brett
“Pompous author is murdered after giving a book talk to an audience of interested readers”. This could be a genre all by itself, though Brett handles the premise a bit better than some of the other books I’ve recently read (i.e. Body on Baker Street by Vicki Delany) which utilize the same theme. Giving a nod to the Golden Age of Detective Fiction, Brett provides some colour to this almost formulaic mystery. With a pinch of humour here and there he moves us towards the “who dunnit” part of the novel where the motivations of the murderer come as quite a surprise. This is the 18th in the Fethering Mystery Series and I’d be quite happy to read another of these cozies by Simon Brett.
PAPER GHOSTS by Julia Heaberlin
It was with a certain amount of trepidation that I started this book. The whole “young girls, serial killer thing” wasn’t something I really wanted to read about, due to its often gruesomeness. However, that was not at all emphasised in Heaberlin’s novel. Not only is this a suspenseful, cleverly-plotted work, but it’s also extremely well-written. Heaberlin definitely has a way with the English language.
Carl Feldman, a documentary photographer, might have dementia (or not), and might be a serial killer of girls across Texas (or not). He’s lured out of his half-way house by a young woman who claims to be his daughter. She’s the sister of a girl who went missing years before, one of his supposed victims. They’re going on a ten-day road trip to re-visit crime scenes linked to photographs that he had taken, with the hope that he’ll confess to his crimes, though he claims that he has not committed any.
This road-trip is like none other anyone’s ever taken. At times hilariously funny, frightening, sad, and poignant, Carl is often the one in “the driver’s seat”. What they find at the end of the road is something that no one could have imagined.
I’ve added Julia Heaberlin to my list of “must reads”. Hopefully her other novels are as good as this one.
THE DEVIL’S DICE by Roz Watkins
It’s always exciting to discover a new author in one’s favourite genre. Roz Watkins was brought to my attention by Stephen Booth (Cooper and Fry series) in his newsletter, and although I’m glad that I’ve read this, her first book in the DI Meg Dalton series, I think she still needs a little polishing. There’s a little too much repetition and she leaves too many assumptions up to the reader to make a smooth transition between discovering the crime and solving it.
Meg comes to her job as a DI in Derbeyshire (the Peak District) with lots of baggage – the death of her sister and its subsequent affect on Meg; a grandmother with a terminal illness who lives with Meg’s Mum; and questions about her ability to do the job. So when the body of a man is found in a cave, amidst rumours of a local curse, Meg crosses her fingers that she’s up to the task of finding out what lead to his murder.
Watkins peoples this novel with many characters, some of whom are very troubled individuals, and at times it’s an effort to remember who’s who. Her colorful descriptions of the area paint a perfect picture of both the ruggedness and the beauty of the Peak District. And if you’re at all claustrophobic, beware of the sections of the book that take place in caves!
A promising first novel which leaves me open to reading her next one in the series: Dead Man’s Daughter.
Isolde Oberreiter (Auntie Poldi), Bavarian born and at the age of sixty years, decides to retire to Sicily where she plans on drinking herself to death! Of course nothing ever turns out as one thinks it will, and thankfully that’s the case with Auntie Poldi. When she realizes that her handyman, Valentino, has gone missing, she begins an investigation into his movements and soon finds his murdered body on the beach. Auntie Poldi decides to investigate further – to find Valentino’s murderer. After all, she comes by her deductive abilities honestly as her father had been a detective chief inspector of homicide in Augsburg.
Theft, corruption, and blackmail can soon be added to murder as Poldi gathers the clues while falling “big time” for detective chief inspector Vito Montana, who is in charge of the case. As she attempts to keep her lust in check and her drinking to a minimum, Poldi forges ahead with her investigation, much to Montana’s annoyance.
What a refreshing new character Poldi is and she’s brought to life beautifully in this excellent translation from the German by John Brownjohn. I anxiously await to read about her further escapades in Auntie Poldi and the Vineyards of Etna – out in Spring 2019.