Joanne’s Mystery Picks

9780727886958COVER UP by Patricia Hall

It’s been years since I’ve read a mystery by this author so I was pleased to see this new publication. I was a faithful reader of Hall’s Laura Ackroyd/DCI Michael Thackery series so it was interesting to read Cover Up, the sixth mystery in her Kate O’Donnell series.

It’s 1964 and Kate has been given a magazine assignment in Liverpool to showcase the many changes that the city has undergone since the war. Her feature is to coincide with the release of the Beatles’ movie “A Hard Day’s Night”. The city is teeming with reporters and fans, anxious to get a glimpse of this musical foursome.

Meanwhile, Kate’s partner, DS Harry Barnard, has been investigating the murder of a woman whose body was found in Soho days earlier. Finding her identity is proving very difficult and Harry is determined to investigate the death in spite of his DCI’s request that he drop it.

As Harry carries out his investigations in London and Kate digs deeper into the regeneration of Liverpool, they both find evidence of cover-ups and corruption, leading them into dangerous situations.

51wo9pwuvwl-_sx308_bo1204203200_BRYANT & MAY: WILD CHAMBER by Christopher Fowler

The Peculiar Crimes Unit is called in to investigate the murder of a woman whose body was found in a private garden.  She’s been strangled but her body is lovingly positioned.  Before the body is even cold, another murder takes place – another woman, in a park, with her body positioned.

With these two murders, the Unit pulls out all the stops to find the killer.  Fowler takes us on a wild ride around London, with Arthur Bryant in the driver’s seat as we are treated to a delicious history of its green spaces.  Little by little, Arthur puts together the pieces of the puzzle, relying on his great wealth of the arcane and the help of his retinue of strange acquaintances.

This is such a clever, brilliant novel, ripe with British humour that you can’t help but laugh as you turn page after page.  Fowler is a master of wordplay and this novel doesn’t disappoint.  The characters are funny and colorful and as he builds up the suspense, we are almost holding our breath.  Once you start reading this book, you won’t want to put it down until you’ve reached the last page.  That’s what  happened to me!

Joanne’s Mystery Picks

25886638Bryant & May: London’s Glory by Christopher Fowler

If you’ve never read a Bryant and May Peculiar Crimes story then this is the perfect place to begin.  In this volume of 11 short stories, Fowler presents some of the most puzzling and delicious crimes that this unit has yet to solve.

His introduction includes a brief examination of why crime/mystery stories have such a fascination for readers; what Bryant and May have gotten up to in past books; and a run-down of the members of the Peculiar Crimes Unit.  This information is very helpful in giving the new (and “old”) reader background to the work of the unit and the personalities of those who work there.

Each story is prefaced by Fowler’s words explaining what inspired him to write it. Often his inspiration came from personal events and experiences and it’s so interesting to see how he was able to take these events and create such wonderfully clever crimes.

Fowler gives us two final chapters in this volume: one briefly discusses each of Bryant and May’s cases to date; the other is a list of the odd, quirky, and unusual books that make up Arthur Bryant’s library and upon which he relies to solve his cases.  This library includes such titles as: Colonic Exercises for Asthmatics, Codebreaking in Braille, and The Pictorial Guide to Chairman Mao Alarm Clocks!  And he tells us that not all of these titles are imaginary!

Brilliantly written, clever plots, and the oddest of characters!  Fowler’s Bryant & May series is at the top of my list of favorite mysteries.