Joanne’s Mystery Picks

51pevt0wznlI AM WATCHING YOU by Teresa Driscoll

While on her way to attend a conference, Ella Longfield overhears two young men, recently released from prison, chatting-up two girls on the train.  Should she alert someone?  Try to contact their parents?  Does she have an obligation to do something?  These questions will stay with her for a very long time as the next day the news is full of the story of one of the girls having gone missing.

As the one-year anniversary of the disappearance of Anna Ballard approaches, Ella is still wracked with guilt and is now getting ugly and threatening letters.  And then those secrets that everyone tries to hide start to be revealed, as the police concentrate on Anna’s family.

As a thriller, this was a good page-turner.  However, I could have done without the occasional commentary by the creepy “watcher”.  The story could have unfolded on its own without these episodes and would have been a better novel for it.

2 daggers
Joanne gives this “2 daggers out of 5”

Joanne’s Mystery Picks

morse562THE REMORSEFUL DAY by Colin Dexter

If you’re like me and count the days (which are actually months or years), until the next book in the particular series that you’re reading, there’s something to be said for going back and re-reading that series, chronologically, from the very beginning.  This works particularly well if the series is complete, finished, with no further episodes to be written.  This is what I recently did with Dexter’s Inspector Morse series.  With only 13 books in the series, it certainly wasn’t an onerous undertaking.

What I gained by reading these books back-to-back, was a new appreciation for Dexter’s cunning and brilliance at creating this much-loved character (characters if you count Lewis – and one should!).  With each successive book Morse moves from a one-dimensional character to someone full-formed.  The reader begins to understand how his mind works and how his history has shaped him into the person he has become.

In The Remorseful Day, Morse is both at his finest and at his worst.  His mind is still so very sharp as his body begins to fail him.  But Morse certainly doesn’t fail those with whom he’s worked so closely with over all the years of his career.  In fact, he does the opposite – he saves them.

In reference to this final Morse novel, Beryl Bainbridge says: “What construction!  What skill!  Why isn’t this author ever on the Booker shortlist?”  Yes – he should have been, for this is truly a brilliant piece of writing.

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

Check out Joanne’s other Inspector Morse reviews: Last Bus to Woodstock, The Dead of Jericho

Joanne’s Mystery Picks

ZARA’S DEAD91b2phikril by Sharon Butala

Sharon Butala’s novel is based on a murder that happened in Saskatoon.  She has fictionalized the case with her own interpretation of the events in this novel, which left me confused and unsatisfied.  Fiona, a former journalist and author of a book about the murder of Zara Stanley, is compelled to take up the case once again when someone shoves an envelope with some cryptic numbers written on a page, along with a name that is unfamiliar to her, under her door.  Fiona immediately begins to make suppositions and draw conclusions based on few, if any, facts, and only her personal feelings about the case.  She jumps in her car and begins a random journey to discover the truth.  As random as her journey is, her thought processes are even more so.  One would think that they were those of a delusional person.

Fiona is off on so many different tangents, none of which are backed-up by any facts.  She seemingly pulls them out the air as if they were arrows pointing to the truth.  However, nothing could be further from that!  This was a disappointing and confusing book, and I’d surely recommend giving it a miss.

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

Joanne’s Mystery Picks

5155x-x-jfl-_sx329_bo1204203200_THE DARK ANGEL by Elly Griffiths

The past few months have been pretty rough for Ruth since learning about Michelle’s pregnancy.  So she jumps at the chance to get away when a former colleague with whom she had a brief fling, asks for her help in identifying some Roman remains found in Castello degli Angeli in Italy.  She, Shona and the kids take up temporary residence in this picture-postcard town while back home, Nelson is oblivious to the fact that Ruth and Kate have left the country.  After all, Ruth hadn’t consulted with Nelson about her decision.  But then, why should she have to?  Nelson, meanwhile, is pre-occupied with a recently released prisoner and his own domestic situation.

Nothing runs smoothly for Ruth.  First there’s an earthquake, and then a murder, which brings back horrible memories for many of the residents of the town.  When Nelson hears of the earthquake, and learning that Ruth and Kate are there, he’s automatically on a plane to Castello degli Angeli, with Cathbad at his side.  His decision might very well be a case of “act in haste, repent at leisure”.

This novel chugs along like a well-oiled machine.  There are moments of levity, tension, surprise and tenderness.  All contribute to an enjoyable and satisfying read.

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

Check out Joanne’s other Elly Griffiths book reviews: The Ghost Fields, The Zig Zag Girl, The Woman in Blue, Smoke and Mirrors, The Chalk Pit


Joanne’s Mystery Picks

51teg1zuy7l-_sx331_bo1204203200_THE 8 MANSION MURDERS by Takemaru Abiko

As a locked-room mystery, this one ticks all the right boxes.  Inspector Kyozo and his hilarious assistant Kinoshita, are called to investigate two murders-by-crossbow at the 8 Mansion (so called because it was built in the shape of an 8).

The reader is entertained by the antics of these two while also being given a look back at many of the locked-room mysteries that were so prevalent during the Golden Age of Mysteries.

1 dagger
Joanne gives this “1 dagger out of 5”.

stella-coverSTELLA RYMAN and the FAIRMOUNT MANOR MYSTERIES by Mel Anastasiou

Eighty-two year old Stella Ryman is contemplating her death.  After only three months in the Fairmount Care Home, she has made it upstairs – to Palliative Care.

Having neither home nor many possessions (having sold them all prior to taking up residence here), she seems resigned to the fact that she’s at her end.  That is until a slap to her face changes her mind.  What follows is Stella’s determination to join the land of the living once again and to find something useful to do with her time in Fairmount.  When her favorite caregiver is accused of theft, Stella decides that she will prove her to be innocent, and thus embarks on her new career – that of sleuth!

Further adventures follow when poison pen letters are delivered to staff and residents and, later, when a resident goes missing.  Bent on solving these mysteries, Stella ignores the rules set down by management and relies solely on her determination to find the guilty and protect the innocent.  She’s an eighty-two year old breath of fresh air: feisty, funny, and a little bit cranky.  But she’ll make you laugh and maybe think about how you’ll spend your “golden years”.

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