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

512bzcnpdhtl-_sx334_bo1204203200_SLEEPING IN THE GROUND by Peter Robinson

When DS Alan Banks and his team are called to the scene of a mass murder it’s as if we’re witnessing an event ripped from the headlines of a newspaper.  Someone has targeted a wedding party outside a church and there are many casualties. When their investigations lead them to a suspect, Banks and his team are left with more questions than answers and begin to second-guess their findings.

At the same time he’s working this case, Banks is dealing with the death of a former girlfriend and the return of profiler Jenny Fuller, with whom he almost committed adultery years before.  Rather than providing a leadership role as befitting his rank, Banks seems to spend a lot of his time mooning about – like a love-sick schoolboy.

Even with these three storylines working back and forth, the novel becomes clichéd and predicable.  Conclusions are reached after minimal investigation and his team make decisions without consulting Banks or each other.  The plotting is shoddy and the characters are mere shadows on the page.  Even the regular characters appear lifeless.  What used to be interesting (i.e. Banks’ music choices) becomes boring and repetitive as Robinson launches into an often lengthy description about the songs and artists he’s chosen to play,  every time he’s within range of a sound system.

Needless to say, this novel was a disappointment.  I can only hope that it’s a one-off and that Robinson’s next book will redeem him in the hearts of his readers.

 

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.