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

33245502INTO THE WATER by Paula Hawkins

I’m not sure what those people who’ve put Hawkins’ latest book to the top of the bestsellers list for upwards of 7 weeks see in it.  I found it to be confusing, convoluted, and at times even misleading.  The story revolves around the drowning deaths of a number of women in a British town.  It’s believed by the people of the town that the river has some power that draws women to it – magic, or witchcraft – but this point is never fully discussed or explained.

The novel is peopled with so many characters that it’s difficult to keep them straight and I found that I was constantly flipping back and forth in the book to figure out “whose sister was whose” and where “so and so” fit in the family.  Sometimes a character is mentioned briefly and then never appears in the novel again, leaving the reader to wonder what purpose they even had in the telling of the story.

Hawkins sends us off on tangents that leave us shaking our heads and red herrings that take us nowhere.  I’m still trying to figure out what her reference to “Adam and Eve and dinosaurs” is all about!

This novel left me disappointed and unsatisfied, which are the opposite feelings that I had after reading her first novel, “The Girl on the Train”. Give “Into the Water” a miss – there are many well-written stories out there that will be much more rewarding to read than this one.

29910780THE CHALK PIT by Elly Griffiths

Ruth is in a good place in her life right now.  Work is going well; her daughter, Kate, is four years old and in school; and Nelson has been able to take a small roll (picking Kate up from school on occasion) in both their lives.  Nelson, on the other hand, is dealing with a new Superintendent – Jo Archer – whose main ambition, it would appear, is to put Nelson out to pasture.

When Ruth is called to investigate some bones found in one of the many chalk-mining tunnels in King’s Lynn, both she and Nelson are thrust into a murder investigation.  Meanwhile DS Judy Johnson is investigating the disappearance of a number of “rough sleepers” (homeless people).

When one of them is found murdered and a woman in the community goes missing under circumstances similar to those of the rough sleepers, the investigation is ramped up.

Then, as so often happens, Ruth’s good luck runs out, leaving her bereft.  Her family has been rocked by sadness and Nelson has given her some upsetting news.  Griffiths provides us with an unexpected twist to the story and I can only wonder where the next book in this series will take us.

If you’re new to this series (Ruth Galloway Mysteries), DO read them in order.  You need the background of each of the characters in order to truly appreciate their relationship to one another.  Between the archeological discussions and the great character development, Griffiths provides us with a cracker-jack read!

Joanne’s Mystery Picks

25897794The Woman in Blue by Elly Griffiths

Little Walsingham, a medieval town in England, is known to be very spiritual.

While Ruth’s friend, Cathbad, is cat-sitting for a friend there, he sees what  he believes to be an apparition of a woman standing at a graveside in the cemetery.  When the body of a woman matching her description is found in a ditch the following day, it’s apparent that what Cathbad saw was real flesh and blood.

Meanwhile, Ruth is contacted by Hilary, a former classmate, and now an Anglican priest.  She’s been receiving threatening, misogynistic letters and asks for Ruth’s advice.  Is there a connection between the woman that Cathbad saw and the letters that Hilary has received or is it simply a coincidence that the two things have presented themselves at the same time?

Meanwhile, Nelson is having problems on the homefront and one of his team has requested a transfer.

When another murder is committed everyone bands together to find the guilty party before more people are harmed.

Griffiths always adds a bit of humour in the midst of the corpses in her novels.  I love her Ruth character because she’s so real – down to earth and ordinary and someone that the reader can easily identify with.  She’s just so human and she makes me laugh!

9781510009806London Rain by Nicola Upson

It’s 1937 and the coronation day of King George VI.  BBC Radio will be broadcasting an adaptation of Josephine Tey’s play, Queen of Scots, and Josephine is sitting in on rehearsals.  In the course of the rehearsal a real-life love triangle is revealed when it’s learned that the play’s leading actress is sleeping with Anthony Beresford, THE newsman of the day while his wife, Vivienne, shocked and humiliated, works at the BBC.  Later, at the height of the festivities of the day, Beresford is shot dead in the broadcasting booth.

DCI Archie Penrose, Josephine’s friend, heads the case but it proves to be much more complicated than he originally thinks.  Two more people are murdered and it takes Josephine’s wit to unravel a history of lies and secrets going back years, to get to the truth of the deaths.

Upson captures the atmosphere and excitement of the time with such accuracy that one can almost imagine being there.

The real Josephine Tey is one of my favorite authors and from my perspective, her book The Daughter of Time is one of the best mysteries of its day and a must-read for all mystery lovers.  So it’s very interesting to see how Upson takes this real person and re-creates her as a character in her series of novels.  Since I jumped into this series with this book, there’s lots of back-story that I’m not aware of so I’ll be going back to read her series from the beginning, starting with An Expert in Murder.