Joanne’s Mystery Picks

We All Fall DownWe All Fall Down by Daniel Kalla

The killer in this novel by Canadian author Daniel Kalla is not a person.  The killer is the bubonic plague. Alana Vaughan is an infectious disease specialist with NATO and is called to Genoa, Italy, to attend a patient suffering from the disease.  Could it be bioterrorism or is there another explanation?

Alternating between the modern story with Alana Vaughan and the story contained in an eight-hundred-year-old medieval journal, Kalla pulls no punches when describing the horrible progression of this usually fatal disease and the suffering of its victims.

The clock is ticking as Vaughan and her team hunt for patient zero.  As the disease spreads, it’s a race to stop it from reaching epidemic proportions.

A great thriller that’s hard to put down once you read the first page.

4 Daggers
Joanne gives this “4 daggers out of 5”

A high mortality dovesA High Mortality of Doves by Kate Ellis

The one word that comes to mind when I describe this book is “bland”.  Everything about it is bland – the characters, the atmosphere (or lack thereof), the language, and the story.  It just doesn’t live up to the intriguing title and I found it to be a real disappointment.

It is 1919, just after WWI, though it could be any time as the author does nothing concrete to make the reader aware of when the events are taking place. In the Derbyshire village of Wenfield, young women are being murdered and found with a dead dove stuffed into their mouths.  When the local constabulary is unable to make any headway in finding the killer, Inspector Albert Lincoln of Scotland Yard is called in to handle the case. However, Lincoln’s personal problems and his general inertia leave the reader with little confidence in his abilities to do his job properly.

The story unfolds sluggishly, and even the surprise ending cannot redeem it. 

One Dagger
Joanne gives this “1 dagger out of 5”

Joanne’s Mystery Picks

911ocyq2szlTHE DARKNESS (HIDDEN ICELAND #1) by Ragnar Jonasson

DI Hulda Hermannsdottir of the Reykajavik Police is months away from retirement when her boss approaches her to say that a replacement has been hired for her position and it would be best if she packed up her belongings and left as soon as possible. Blindsided by this announcement, Hulda begs to remain for a few weeks while she works a cold case.

Hulda does not come across as a particularly nice person and we learn more about her character as the story progresses, reinforcing this feeling about her. Magnus, her boss, is an odious man, and is ambivalent towards Hulda: at the same time that he is praising her for her years of service he’s berating her for her actions in the case she’s currently working.

It’s never certain with a translation whether or not the problems with a story are a result of the translation or if they exist in the original. This novel “reads” well, but the story is so flawed that it’s inconceivable. It’s hard to fathom that a DI would act as Hulda does in this tale, leading up to an ending that is anything but satisfying.

One Dagger
Joanne gives this “1 dagger out of 5”