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”

 

Joanne’s Mystery Picks

9781459741218WHEN THE FLOOD FALLS: The Falls Mysteries by J.E. Barnard

Calgary author, J.E. Barnard, won the 2016 Unhanged Arthur Ellis Award for the Best Unpublished First Crime Novel for her mystery When the Flood Falls.  It’s a promising beginning to what appears to be a forthcoming series.

Lacey McCrae, ex-RCMP, has travelled from the Lower Mainland to Calgary with a lot of baggage – both literal and figurative.  She hopes to leave behind a marriage gone sour, and a job that she used to enjoy.  As she hooks up with her old university roommate, Dee Phillips, Lacey finds that the skills learned in her former job are called into play when Dee admits to being threatened on a number of different occasions.

Meanwhile, spring runoff threatens the main bridge crossing in the area and Lacey is particularly anxious about the possibility of being cut-off.  There’s obviously a back-story to Lacey’s anxiety but Barnard only hints at it.

I found there to be too many loose threads in this novel and can only hope that a subsequent book will tie up these loose ends, helping us to understand the cause of Lacey’s fears, the reason she left the force, and why she needed a new start in a new location.

xco2mg4zgjd6hffuiir4rhn6kyA DARKNESS OF THE HEART by Gail Bowen

Bowen’s 18th novel in the Joanne Kilbourn series brings a surprising revelation to the main character and proceeds to examine Joanne’s personal past in great detail.  This revelation affects many of the people in Joanne’s circle but none so much as Joanne herself.  She now has to re-examine her friendship with Sally Love and Sally’s family to understand how she, herself, fits into this new picture that has come into focus.

Roy Brodnitz, a writer of Broadway shows and a good friend of Joanne’s, hopes to examine the family history between Sally and Joanne in a mini-series and approaches Joanne about it while in town working on The Happiest Girl, his Broadway hit.  Soon Taylor has struck up a friendship with the young actress in the starring role and the entire family is thrust into the often seamy side of the movie industry.

This story often got bogged down in the lengthy descriptions and explanations of  past events and people and was slow to move forward where real action was at a minimum.  I found many of the passages to be tedious and was inclined to quickly read over them.  Now that Bowen has provided us with Joanne’s back-story, perhaps she’ll move on to more exciting events in the life of this character.

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

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

1521690EXCEPT THE DYING by Maureen Jennings

If you’re a fan of Murdoch Mysteries on CBC television and haven’t read any of the books that the series is based on, then do!  I was delightfully surprised when I read this first book in the series.  Of course there are differences between the book and the television series, but it’s easy to treat each as a separate entity.

In both the book and the series, Murdoch is a man of integrity and treats the people that he encounters in his investigations with dignity and kindness.  It is 1895 and the unclothed body of a young servant girl is found in a laneway.  She is found to have been greatly liked by the wealthy family that she worked for and its mistress mourns her deeply.

Murdoch’s investigation takes him from the wealthiest families to the downtrodden and poor, who sell their bodies for the few pennies that will buy them a crust of bread.  He must sort through the many lies that he’s told in order to come to the truth of who killed this young woman.

Jennings paints a vivid picture of Toronto in the late 1800s with characters that come to life on the page.