Joanne’s Mystery Picks

9780751559989Secrets of Death by Stephen Booth

Booth’s sixteenth novel in the Cooper and Fry series takes us throughout the Peak District as Ben and his team try to come to grips with a series of suicides.  Each death has taken place in an open, picturesque area, not at all secluded or hidden from the tourists who frequent this beautiful part of the country.  But are these deaths related?   Or are they a cover for one of the deaths which is not a suicide?

While Ben and his team in Edendale tackle this puzzle, DS Diane Fry in Nottingham has lost a key witness in her current case.  When a connection between the two cases seems apparent, Cooper and Fry have to set aside their differences and work together to bring both cases to a satisfactory conclusion.

At times, Booth’s lengthy descriptions of the area his detectives cover read like a travelogue and I just want him to get on with the story.  He leaves us with questions about some of the characters, perhaps foreshadowing what’s to come in future novels.  It’s enough to pique one’s interest to look forward to book number seventeen.

9781459732148A Cast of Falcons by Steve Burrows

This book opens with a man’s death-fall from a cliff face, witnessed by another man through his binoculars some distance away.  It’s a deeply disturbing scene as the victim realizes his fate and begs forgiveness for his sins.  The watcher approaches the body, takes out a battered book from his own backpack, writes something in it, and places it in the pocket of the dead man.

Meanwhile Danny Maik is investigating the murder of Philip Wayland, a researcher involved in a local climate change project, whose decapitated body is found by a jogger on a public access path.  When DCI Dominic Jejeune is called away to Scotland because a book with his name in it is found on the body of a rock climber, Maik and Chief Superintendent Colleen Shepherd expect him to be back the next day and to continue with the investigation into Wayland’s murder.  After all, what can be so important about a book with Jejeune’s name in it when the victim died by accident?  However, he doesn’t return for a number of days and when he does, he’s distracted, irritable, and more secretive than ever.

When another murder takes place, the evidence increasingly points to a falconry on the research facility’s property.  But Maik struggles to make any headway as Jejeune’s bizarre behaviour continues to drive a wedge between them.

Joanne’s Mystery Picks

no-cure-for-love1NO CURE FOR LOVE by Peter Robinson

The setting in this novel is Los Angeles and the reader could easily believe that Robinson had grown up in the City of Angels because he has every nuance, every aspect of life there, down pat.

No, Banks hasn’t been transplanted from his beloved Britain, though the main character is British born.  This novel is a “stand-alone” but it’s still about crime and detectives and criminals.

Sarah Broughton, a British actress with a tainted past, plays homicide detective Anita O’Rourke in the hit TV show Good Cop, Bad Cop.  When she begins to receive anonymous fan letters of an obsessive nature, she dismisses them as something that’s just “part of the job”.   When the tone of the letters escalates to something more threatening, Stuart Kleigman, head of the casting studio and Sarah’s friend, calls in Arvo Hughes and Maria Hernandez from the LAPD Threat Management Unit to investigate.

Finding the culprit proves much more difficult than they imagined.  It’s apparent from his knowledge of Sarah that he is someone from her past.  But asking Sarah to remember details from a foggy past of drugs and sex was like looking through a film-coated mirror.  When “M” (as he signs his letters) “turns it up a notch” and commits murder, Hughes and Hernandez pull out all the stops to save Sarah before he completes his obsession.

when-the-musics-overWhen the Music’s Over by Peter Robinson

Banks’ first case as a new Detective Superintendent is the alleged assault by the beloved celebrity, Danny Caxton, on a then fourteen year old girl, fifty years before.  He knows the difficulty in investigating such a case with the lack of forensic evidence and the unreliability of memories after so many years.  And there’s always the question of the motive of the alleged victim – why did she wait so long to come forward?  He’s more than well aware that he’ll have to proceed carefully as the media will have a heyday with this, just waiting for him to put a step wrong.

While Banks is dealing with the media storm that has arisen from the investigation into Caxton, Annie Cabbot is looking into the particularly disturbing murder of a young woman, found in a ditch, along a quiet country road.  As she reconstructs the victim’s last few days, the case begins to take on racial overtones and Annie is well aware of the powder keg it could become if she isn’t careful.

Both Annie and Banks must step gingerly as they investigate their respective cases and this only adds to the tension and suspense that this novel generates so well.

Robinson has created a top-notch story which should satisfy the most loyal of his fans.

Robinson, Peter_cr_Pal HansenPeter Robinson will be joining the Library as part of STARFest 2016. He will be in conversation with Writer in Residence Wayne Arthurson on Friday, Oct. 21 at the Arden Theatre.

Tickets are $10, and available from the St. Albert Public Library or through Eventbrite.

Joanne’s Mystery Picks

51s0bkwuuol-_sx334_bo1204203200_The Calling by Inger Ash Wolfe

I can’t think of a more grisly series of murders in a novel as those that take place in The Calling, Wolfe’s first Hazel Micallef mystery.  For all the times I wanted to put it down, I just couldn’t – the story was far too compelling.

Inspector Hazel Micallef, acting chief of the Port Dundas police is in pain – both physically and emotionally.  Her back is giving her grief, her team of officers is unhappy, and her home situation is anything but agreeable.  When someone begins murdering the terminally ill in increasingly macabre ways, she pulls out all the stops to discover the motive and in turn, find the murderer.  When she finally pieces everything together, Micallef is stunned beyond belief at what has motivated this killer.  As a reader, I was too.

6095969The Taken by Inger Ash Wolfe

DC James Wingate is at the helm while DI Hazel Micallef is recovering from back surgery.  She’s still in pain, and her home situation is bizarre, but at least her team seems to be working well together.   Micallef is called back to work when a body is found in a nearby lake, the scenario mimicking a recent chapter in a fictional serial currently being published in a local newspaper.  It’s apparent that the perpetrator is playing with the police when the body is brought to the surface.

As further chapters in the serial are published, they foreshadow, exactly, what the police find as they continue their investigation.

Obsessive grief and love steer this novel into deep and murky waters and the solution to the mystery of the body and the events surrounding it caught me completely by surprise.

RedhillBWMichael Redhill, aka Inger Ash Wolfe joins the library on October 22 as part of STARFest St. Albert Readers Festival!

Tickets are $5, and available at the St. Albert Public Library or through Eventbrite.

Joanne’s Mystery Picks

missing, presumed coverMissing, Presumed by Susie Steiner

“You can choose your friends but you sure can’t choose your family”.  What is that saying about families?  This phrase certainly resonates with Manon Bradshaw, an officer with the Cambridgeshire police force.  She’s estranged from her immediate family and complete bollocks at relationships, yet has a fast and true friendship with Bryony, another member of the force.

When she attends the scene of a suspected missing person case after hearing the call-out on her police radio, she knows that this case will need every bit of her attention.  Edith Hind, a Cambridge graduate student and daughter of the surgeon to the Royal Family, has disappeared and as the team begins the tedious investigation into her personal life, secrets are revealed that will reverberate through her entire family.

Steiner takes us on a roller-coaster ride with quick stops, frequent accelerations, and many twists and turns. Laced with humour and many “yes!” moments, the end comes as a complete surprise and leaves the reader contemplating “families” in all their forms

Luise’s Summer Reading Reviews

Our Fiction Librarian, Luise, has been reading up a storm for the Summer Reading Game! Here are her reviews.

y648And After the Fire: a Novel by Lauren Belfer

Weaves an engaging story around a fictional long-lost Bach cantata with anti-Semitic lyrics. Incorporates facts about many interesting historical figures (Bach, Mendelsohn, Luther, etc.). Shows the progression of anti-semitism over the centuries. Touches on many interesting subjects, from musicology to philanthropy and includes a love story – lots to like!   (Historical Fiction)


man-s-search-for-meaningMan’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl

Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl’s memoir about his years in Nazi death camps and the lessons he learned for spiritual survival. His theory (logotherapy) is that it is not the pursuit of pleasure and happiness that gives us meaning, but the ability to find meaning and purpose in unavoidable suffering. Amazing insights by an exceptional individual who lived through unspeakable trials; a timeless classic.   (Memoir)


adams_invinciblesummer_1_12Invincible Summer by Alice Adams

“Four close friends who graduate college together in 1998 venture off to pursue their fortunes in the new millennium, but find themselves drawn back together twenty years later amidst broken dreams, lost jobs, and shattered relationships.” (publisher summary)
A great summer read, well written, entertaining without being shallow.   (Romance/Love story)


thetroublewithgoatsandsheepThe Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon

I expected an amusing, light summer read, but this debut novel is simply brilliant on so many levels! Yes, it was charming and quirky with plenty of eccentric characters (including the wittiest and smartest and most lovable two 10-year-old girl “sleuths” I’ve ever encountered), but it was also dark and tragic and full of depth and nuances and complex characterizations evoking the reader’s empathy for both victims and perpetrators. On the surface this is a very British book with countless cultural and food references (vast amounts of very unappetizing sounding sweets are being consumed throughout this book), but the message is universal and timeless (and very timely in the age of Trump). Best of all, the writing is exquisite! Don’t miss this one!

Plot-loving mystery fans beware, though – this is a different kind of “mystery”.   (Mystery)