Joanne’s Mystery Picks

33280952DEAD IN THE DARK BY STEPHEN BOOTH

DI Ben Cooper seems very comfortable in his own skin these days even though his job as a DI means more responsibilities.  He’s settled into his new digs in Foolow and though the pain of losing his fiancé, Liz, still hurts, time is beginning to heal that wound.

When Reece Bower goes missing, Ben resurrects an old case and investigation.  Annette Bower, Reece’s wife, had gone missing ten years previously.  Reece was charged with her murder but when a witness came forward claiming to have seen Annette after her disappearance, the case against Reece was dismissed.  Everyone believed that Reece was guilty, but without a body, it was hard to prove anything.  And now Reece has gone missing and his new wife wants his disappearance investigated.  Ben’s investigation takes him into caves and abandoned mines, territory originally searched during the investigation into Annette Bower’s death.

Falling somewhere between a thriller and a “cosy”, Booth’s latest in the Cooper & Fry series provides us with a satisfactory story.  There aren’t any graphic or grisly scenes of bodies and no real “eureka” moments, but what we do see is the painstaking work that policing often is.

Joanne’s Mystery Picks

28007842BY GASLIGHT by Steven Price

This atmospheric tale of loss, obsession and revenge takes us from the diamond mines of South Africa, to the crowded streets of Victorian London and the battlefields of the American Civil War.   It is 1885 and William Pinkerton takes up the search for a man who eluded his famous late father for so many years – the infamous Edward Shade.  But Shade proves to be as shadowy as his name suggests and there are those who maintain that he doesn’t even exist.

Adam Foole, a gentleman con-man and thief, returns to London in search of a lost love who he learns, has a tenuous connection to this same man, Shade.  Slowly their stories begin to converge and both men are thrust together in an unlikely bond.

Price’s brilliant writing allows our senses to smell the decay and stench of the streets and sewers of London, to see and feel the grit under the fingernails of the poor and downtrodden, and to hear the incessant sounds of war on the battlefields of America.  This is a novel of epic proportions and leaves the reader in awe of the ability of this writer to create such a stunning work of fiction.

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Please join me on Saturday, October 14 at 7:00 p.m. at St. Albert Public Library as we welcome Steven Price to STARFest.

Joanne’s Mystery Picks

51qbswy8oil-_sx329_bo1204203200_THE WINNER’S CIRCLE by Gail Bowen

The law partners at Falconer Shreve Altieri Wainberg and Hynd along with their families knew how fortunate they were as they gathered together to celebrate Thanksgiving at Lawyers’ Bay.  The lakeshore property where they each owned a cottage, provided them with a much-needed escape from the stress of their jobs.  Little did they know as the gathered around the table for their Thanksgiving feast, that their lives would be torn apart by an unbelievable tragedy in just a few short weeks.

Bowen provides a comprehensive review of the years leading up to the events that take place in this, her seventeenth novel in the Joanne Kilbourn series.  In doing so, she shows how the most innocuous of events can grow toxic over the years.

I welcomed this review as it refreshed my memory of the many challenges that each of the characters in this series had faced over the years.  This background information gives us perspective into the motivations of the characters and acts as a driving force in the novel.

 

This was a very satisfying read and I think that Bowen has written one of her best with The Winner’s Circle.  She’s certainly set the bar high for herself for the next book in the series.

Joanne’s Mystery Picks

51o0hzylgrl-_sx329_bo1204203200_I LET YOU GO by Clare Mackintosh

This debut novel by Clare Mackintosh shows how the lives of so many people can change in a split second. A five year old boy, Jacob, is standing on the curb with his mom and a split-second later he’s under the wheels of a car that quickly backs up and drives away. His death rips Jenna Gray’s world to pieces and there will never be any peace for her unless she escapes: unless she runs away.   And run she does – to a small little village in Wales where she can grieve in peace and begin to heal.

This story is told from the point of view of three of the main characters: Jenna, Ray (the detective investigating the hit and run case), and Ian, whose relationship to Jenna is gradually explained to us.

As the painstaking investigation reaches the first year anniversary date and the team is no closer in identifying the driver of the car, they are told to log the case as “unsolved” and turn their attention to more current cases.

And then comes the twist in the story, completely blind-siding me, and the novel takes an abrupt turn and heads off in a completely new direction.

It’s been awhile since I’ve read anything with such a clever plot-twist, and this proceeded to be a “can’t put down until it’s finished” read.

Well-plotted, believable characters, and a memorable setting.  What more could one ask for in a mystery?  Nothing.  This book has it all.

Joanne’s Mystery Picks

13009223-_uy200_EXIT STRATEGY by Kelley Armstrong

Nadia Stafford, ex-cop, divides her time between her nature lodge in Northern Ontario and her off-season job as a hitman for a Mafia family.  She needs this job because the money keeps her lodge going.  She’s smart, resilient, self-sufficient, and instantly likeable.

When one of her contacts recruits her to help track down a serial killer whose victims appear to be randomly selected, she teams up with Jack (her mentor) and his team.  Nadia is quick to pick up on the manipulating character of one of the team members and stands her ground against her.

As the team follows the killer around the U.S., he is always just one step ahead of them.  It doesn’t take long for them to clue-in that this killer is one of them.  And so they need to revise their plan to neutralize him and start thinking like they would if the roles were reversed.

Armstrong has created a strong female protagonist, fully-fleshed and believable.  She still has her vulnerabilities but is pretty adept at keeping them hidden.  With Nadia Stafford, she’s created a character who we want to learn more about.

Join me and many others on Saturday, October 28 at 7 pm at SAPL as we sit and listen to this award-winning STARFest author talk about this series and the many others that she’s brought to the page.

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