Joanne’s Mystery Picks

613qnxr1gol._sx316_bo1204203200_THE FRANGIPANI TREE MYSTERY by Ovidia Yu

It is 1936 in the Crown Colony of Singapore and sixteen year old Su Lin would appear to be disadvantaged by some. Childhood polio has left her with a limp and coupled with the loss of her parents to typhoid when she was young, she’s considered “bad luck”. But Su Lin is smart, resilient, and determined to make a life for herself that does not include “domestic captivity” and an arranged marriage.

When the Irish nanny to the daughter of the Acting Governor dies mysteriously, Su Lin is offered the position. Her natural curiosity and perspicacity lead her to probe into the circumstances of the death of Charity Byrne where she forms an alliance with Chief Inspector Thomas LeFroy who is in charge of the case.

The tone of this novel is so reminiscent of Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce series, where Su Lin could easily be an older version of Flavia. Both are refreshingly delightful sleuths. If you enjoyed the tales of Flavia, you’re sure to enjoy Su Lin’s adventures, too. Her next one is The Betel Nut Tree Mystery.

3 Daggers
Joanne gives this “3 daggers out of 5”

Joanne’s Mystery Picks

y450-274A MATTER OF MALICE by Thomas King

Things haven’t been going well for Thumps lately. You could call it a bad case of the three Cs: Claire, car, and his cat, Freeway. Of course it only gets worse when the crew of a true crime reality TV show, Malice Aforethought arrives in town to reopen an old case and they want Thumps to help. Trudy Samuels was from a wealthy family and everyone called her death a suicide. Nina Maslow, one of the producers of the show, wants to prove that Samuels’ death was murder. It’s all about ratings, of course.

When Maslow is found dead at the exact spot that Trudy died, and in circumstances eerily similar, Thumps has to determine if there are two killers at large or if Maslow’s death is just a coincidence. While going through Maslow’s files on the show, hoping to shed some light on her murder, Thumps finds that the producer was preparing a future show on the Obsidian Murders – the case that made Thumps throw in his badge. Has Maslow found the final clue to the puzzle that has haunted Thumps for years?

Thumps is a great character and King gives him lots of scope, leading us to believe that we might, some day, see Thumps at peace with his past.

3 Daggers
Joanne gives this “3 daggers out of 5”

Read Joanne’s review for Dreadfulwater Shows Up.

 

MYCROFT and SHERLOCK by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Anna Waterhouse

This sequel to Mycroft Holmes sees the Holmes’ brothers teaming up, though at times reluctantly. Mycroft’s good friend, Cyrus Douglas, runs an orphanage as a charity. When one of h91wq5evr1ulis cargo ships runs aground, he is forced to attend to the situation, while requiring someone to act as a tutor to the children in the orphanage. This is where Sherlock comes in. Sherlock’s attentions are often focused on the series of grisly murders that have recently been taking place in London and we see the beginnings of the inquisitive nature of the detective.

Nothing goes smoothly with Sherlock in charge and when one of the boys in his charge dies of a suspected drug overdose, Sherlock’s subsequent investigation takes him to the opium dens that litter the docks. It’s here we also see the beginnings of Sherlock’s addictive behavior.

I caught myself often saying “Sherlock wouldn’t say/do that; this is out of character for Mycroft…” Then I’d stop short, remembering that these are fictional characters based on the fictional characters of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and that these authors can take whatever literary license they wish to in their portrayal of the Holmes’ brothers. How easy it is to forget that Sherlock and Mycroft never existed other than on the written page! Of course, I’d much rather read Doyle’s accounts of their adventures.

3 Daggers
Joanne gives this “3 daggers out of 5”

Joanne’s Mystery Picks

916wb7vjlhlKINGDOM OF THE BLIND by Louise Penny

The repercussions of the events that took place in the previous novel in this series (Glass Houses) are still being felt as we return to Three Pines, six months later.  Armand Gamache remains suspended from his job as head of the Sûreté du Québec while the investigation continues.

Like the other novels in this series, Kingdom of the Blind is a multi-layered story.  While Armand awaits his fate concerning his actions involving the drug cartels, he is presented with a new and puzzling situation.  He’s been chosen as one of three executors of the will of an elderly woman whom he has never met.  The provisions of the will are so bizarre that the woman’s competence at the time it was written is called into question.  Before much progress can be made, a body is found which throws a more ominous light on the whole situation.

While Gamache investigates the background of this woman he is informed that a major influx of opioids is about to hit the streets of the inner city of Montreal – those same drugs that were involved in the case that got him suspended.

Armand must use all of his guile to thwart the drug dealers from saturating the city with deadly narcotics while putting his life, and those of other officers, on the line.

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

51qbfmncfolCARELESS LOVE by Peter Robinson

The body of a young woman is found in a car recently involved in an accident.  The car had been tagged with a POLICE AWARE sign indicating that the accident had been investigated and that the car was waiting to be towed.  There was no body in the vehicle at the time of the investigation so the presence of this young woman’s body is a mystery.  Not far away from this incident, the body of a well-dressed man is found in a gully.  Are the two incidents connected?

Banks and his team are tasked with finding everything they can about each of these people and determining whether or not they were victims of foul play.

I’m usually chomping at the bit to read a new Inspector Banks novel and began this one with great anticipation.  However, it quickly became stale and flat.  It seems that Banks has undergone a personality change – he’s become flippant, at times vulgar, and easily distracted from the task at hand.   His occasional references to this or that musician has segued into paragraphs about the artist and his/her music, becoming tedious and irritating.  Even Annie Cabbot seems to treat her job as a lark.

With a weak plot and characters who don’t live up to their reputation, Robinson’s latest mystery left me completely unsatisfied.

3 Daggers
Joanne gives this “3 daggers out of 5”

Joanne’s Mystery Picks

51kt-ec3rql-_sx324_bo1204203200_KNOTS AND CROSSES by Ian Rankin

Ian Rankin has a huge following of fans for his Rebus series but so far I’m not one of them.  I read a couple of his novels some years back but just couldn’t get into them so decided to give it another try with this, his first in the Rebus series.

John Rebus is haunted by a past that he has very little recollection of.  What recollection he does have has invaded his sleep with nightmares and his waking hours with flashbacks of horror and pain.

At the Great London Road police station in Edinburgh where he is a DS the team is investigating the abduction and deaths of young girls.  Meanwhile, Rebus is the recipient of a series of anonymous letters containing pieces of knotted string – letters which he quickly dismisses as practical jokes.

As the investigation shifts into high gear due to more abductions and deaths, a member of the public alerts the team to the possible motivation of the murderer.  Suddenly everything falls into place and Rebus knows exactly who is responsible.

3 Daggers
Joanne gives this “3 daggers out of 5”