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

7 1.2 deaths of Evelyn HardcastleTHE SEVEN DEATHS OF EVELYN HARDCASTLE by Stuart Turton

Aiden Bishop has been invited to a Masquerade by the Hardcastle Family, taking place at their estate – Blackheath House.  But Aiden isn’t himself.  No – really! He isn’t himself.  At any given time, he’s one of eight other people – hosts whose bodies he will inhabit for twenty-four hours each, until he solves the mystery of who killed Evelyn Hardcastle, the daughter of the family.

Each morning Aiden awakes in a new body, struggling to remember the events of the previous day, trying to put together the puzzle that will lead him to Evelyn’s murderer and his eventual release from his torment.  His life is on a loop as he struggles to “keep down” the person whose body he inhabits while trying to remember who he really is.

Author A. J. Finn describes this novel as “Agatha Christie meets Groundhog Day” and I can’t think of a better description for it.  It’s edge-of-your-seat fiction and completely unpredictable, with characters who run the gamut from odious to demure.  Truly a page-turner if I’ve ever read one.

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

md22450752995DREADFULWATER SHOWS UP by Hartley GoodWeather

You might know the author of this hilarious mystery by his real name: Thomas King.  King brings the same kind of humour to this novel as he did to his radio show The Dead Dog Café Comedy Hour, which aired on CBC Radio from 1997-2000.

The characters in this novel are as colorful as the names they’ve been given.  Thumps DreadfulWater is a Cherokee ex-cop who has settled in the little town of Chinook, somewhere in the northwestern U.S.  He’s given up his badge for a camera and bit by bit we begin to learn why.  When he’s asked to take pictures of a dead body found in a condo, he defaults to police-mode and is soon investigating the death, against the advice of the local sheriff.  The prime-suspect is the son of Thumps’ sometimes lover, and Thumps is positive that he’s innocent.  But you cannot prove someone innocent if you cannot find them.  So in addition to trying to find the murderer, he must also find the person who didn’t do it.

There’s a chuckle on every page and I found myself laughing out loud consistently throughout the book.  Thumps DreadfulWater is such a great character – I look forward to reading more of his adventures in The Red Power Murders and Cold Skies: A DreadfulWater Mystery, released in May of this year.

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

Joanne’s Mystery Picks

LETHAL WHITE51vbz607nll-_sx322_bo1204203200_ by Robert Galbraith

If there was ever any doubt that J.K. Rowling was just a flash in the pan with her Harry Potter series, then that doubt is quickly shattered with the latest installment in her Cormoran Strike series (written under the pseudonym of Robert Galbraith).  Coming in at 647 pages, this complex story takes us from the supposed psychotic ramblings of “Billy”, who pleads for Strike’s help in investigating a crime that he thinks he witnessed as a child, to the Houses of Parliament.

As Strike pursues Billy’s story, made difficult by his sudden disappearance, Robin goes undercover in The House where “back-stabbing” is a daily occurrence amongst the Ministers and their cronies.  Both investigations are complicated further by the events taking place in the private lives of Cormoran and Robin, respectively, as their personal relationship grows.

Due to their previous successes, Cormoran and Robin’s services are in great demand – to the point that they’ve had to hire more investigators.  This results in Cormoran taking on the bulk of the surveillance.  The toll that this takes on his body is evident in ever painful step that he takes.  The pair will soon have to make some important decisions about the future of the agency and their personal relationship.

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

Joanne’s Mystery Picks

15888AN INSTANCE OF THE FINGERPOST by Iain Pears

Pears’ 1998 novel has been described as “Dickensian in breadth and darkness” along with many accolades asserting to its excellence.  I can only add that I found it an astoundingly clever piece – a mix of fact and fiction – that left me guessing right to the very last page.

As well as being a brilliant murder mystery, the novel shows us the scientific community of 1663 – from the practise of alchemy to the beginnings of modern chemistry and medicine in all its blood and gore.

When an Oxford don is murdered, the evidence points to a servant girl.  Four narrators remember the events surrounding the murder – and each remembers them differently.  Which version is the correct one, for we know that memory is a very unreliable witness?  The journey to that last page was enthralling and the ending a touch of brilliance.

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