Joanne’s Mystery Picks

HEART OF THE CITYheart-of-the-city-9781476740577_hr  by Robert Rotenberg

After the events in Stranglehold Ari Greene distances himself from his life as a cop and takes a job on a construction site for a new condo development in Toronto.  His life has been changed dramatically with the discovery of a 21 year old daughter of whom he had no prior knowledge.  When he stumbles across the body of Livingston Fox, condo developer, he is reluctantly thrust back into his former life, in pursuit of a vicious murderer who does not stop at killing only Fox.

After an awkward reconciliation with Daniel Kennicott, his protégé, Greene and he join forces once again as they follow the money in the high-stakes world of downtown development in pursuit of Fox’s murderer.  Like any case, once you crack the secrets you’ve pretty much cracked the case.  In this case, some of those secrets strike very close to home for Greene.

Rotenberg provides us with a first-class mystery as the suspects start adding up.

It’s Greene who works it all out in the end – to a startling and unexpected conclusion.

THE SEAGULL by Ann Cleeves35963210

When Vera is asked to visit her local prison to give a talk on the repercussions of crime on its victims, she’s confronted by former DS John Brace, now an inmate for corruption and his role in a death.  He wants to strike a deal with Vera. He’s prepared to provide her with information about the disappearance of Robbie Marshall, a notorious figure at the time he disappeared almost twenty years ago.  In return, he wants Vera to look out for his daughter and grandchildren.

Vera’s investigation into this cold case plunges her back in time to her years living with her father, Hector, and brings up disturbing memories of his illegal activities.

Marshall was someone she remembers as having visited their house along with Brace and two others, all friends of Hector.

The more Vera digs into this case, the closer it gets to home. With Hector being one of the last people to see Marshall alive, Vera is forced to consider the possibility that Hector was involved in Marshall’s death.  As Vera reflects on this time in her life we’re given a better understanding of how her past and her years of living with Hector in such a dysfunctional household have formed the person she is today.

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.

Summer Reading Game Reviews

We’re in the final stretches of the Adult Summer Reading Game, but there is plenty of time to get a few more books in!

1137151Before Green Gables by Budge Wilson

I really enjoyed this book! It is written in a similar style to Lucy Maud Montgomery’s book and the details of life in rural P.E.I. in the early 1900s really made me feel like I was right there. I recommend this book to all lovers of Anne of Green Gables. it will leave you with a wonderful “feel good” feeling.
Loved it!

massey_murder-size-custom-crop-438x650The Massey Murder: A Maid, Her Master and The Trial that Shocked a Country by Charlotte Gray

I chose this book as a fan of true crime, but I was pleasantly surprised by the engaging look at our country at the turn of the 20th century. Gray uses the trial of Carrie Davis as a frame for a growing Toronto/Canada, a country at war, and the changing role of women. I missed Charlotte Gray when she was at our library, but I will be sure to see this author if she comes back!
It was good. ~Staff review by Michelle

1291577Sisters in the Wilderness by Charlotte Gray

For those who love early Canadian history, Sisters in the wilderness is an illustrated double biography of Susanna Moodie and Catharine Parr Traill, two of Canada’s earliest pioneers. Set in the “backwoods” of Upper Canada in the 19th century, it is a great novel of those early days: the hardships, the struggles, the isolation, loneliness and fear. It is also a story of achievement — two sisters and the birth of Canada’s literary tradition. A great read!
Loved it!  ~Staff review by Iris.

 

Joanne’s Mystery Picks

chasing-the-dead-david-raker-mystery-by-tim-weaver-1101993324CHASING THE DEAD by Tim Weaver

Alex Towne is dead.  Or is he?  His mother, Mary, claims to have seen him walking down the street – 6 years after he mysteriously disappeared and one year since his body was found burned beyond recognition in a car wreck.  Is this simply a case of wishful thinking on her part, or is there some substance to what she claims?  David Raker, a missing persons’ investigator, hopes that in helping Mary (as fruitless as he feels it might be) he’ll be helping himself to come to grips with the loss of his wife.

What David doesn’t realize when he takes on this case is the extremes that people will go to hide the secrets in their past.  As he delves deeper into Alex’s disappearance, he finds that not everyone is whom they say they are and a sinister network whose purpose is yet unclear, is manipulating every single move.

Be prepared for a real roller-coaster ride here – and hang on!  The ending might just derail you!

51s23vyfr3l-_sx333_bo1204203200_MURDER IN AN IRISH VILLAGE by Carlene O’Connor

Since the death of her parents a year earlier due to a drunk driver, Siobhan O’Sullivan has run the family bistro along with her five siblings.   At the age of twenty-two, this is not what she’d envisioned for herself.  She should have been pursuing her studies at the University of Dublin.  Instead, she’s baking brown bread and pouring tea in the tiny village of Kilbane in County Cork, Ireland.

When Niall Murphy, brother of the man responsible for the death of the O’Sullivan parents, turns up dead in the bistro, Siobhan is determined to solve the crime, especially since her brother has been arrested for it.  With each subsequent chapter, Siobhan names a different villager as the murderer until facts and alibis dismiss them as being even remotely involved.

Dotted with Irish slang and colloquialisms, O’Connor does her utmost to make the reader feel that they are there – in County Cork, Ireland.  However, it just doesn’t ring true for me.  The words appear “planted”, impeding the natural flow of the narrative.

In the end, the motive of the murderer seems incompatible with the severity of the crime.  Of course, one never knows what triggers someone to murder…

But in the case of this novel, it really doesn’t work for me.  As a “cosy”, it might work for some, but it leaves me unsettled and unfulfilled.