Joanne’s Mystery Picks

Inspector McLean Mysteries by James Oswald: Part Two!

Inspector-McLean-books-in-a-series

DEAD MEN’S BONES  (4 daggers out of 5)
PRAYER FOR THE DEAD  (5 daggers out of 5)
There’s never just one case at a time that Tony McLean is handed. Nor is it ever a couple of “normal” cases, easily solved, that land in his lap. First he finds himself ankle-deep in snow, peering into the gully of the River North Esk as the SOC officers retrieve the body of a man from the swirling, detritus-filled waters. Easy enough, he thinks, until he bends down to examine the man and discovers that not only is he naked, but his entire body is covered in tattoos with only a few traces of white skin visible. So begins Dead Men’s Bones, Oswald’s fourth book in his Tony McLean series. But before McLean can get back to the station, he’s alerted to a shooting at a farmhouse in north-east Fife. A prominent politician, Andrew Weatherly has shot and killed his wife, two daughters, and then has turned the gun on himself.

When journalist Jo Dalgliesh approaches McLean to ask for his help in finding Ben Stevenson, a fellow journalist who has gone missing, McLean is shocked beyond belief when Ben’s body is found deep in Gilmerton Cove in a sealed chamber, with nary a hair left behind for forensics. Prayer for the Dead takes McLean on a dark and dangerous path, one that he never imagined even existed.

Both of these novels are darker and more disturbing in their content as Oswald brings in more facets of the occult and deviant behaviour. But Tony is never completely on his own tackling the forces of evil. He’s supported by a cast of wonderful characters from Grumpy Bob (DS Laird), Angus Cadwallader, the pathologist, and DS Ritchie, to Madame Rose and Detective Superintendent Duguid (a perfect foil to McLean). These novels are not for the faint of heart!

Joanne’s Mystery Picks

613qnxr1gol._sx316_bo1204203200_THE FRANGIPANI TREE MYSTERY by Ovidia Yu

It is 1936 in the Crown Colony of Singapore and sixteen year old Su Lin would appear to be disadvantaged by some. Childhood polio has left her with a limp and coupled with the loss of her parents to typhoid when she was young, she’s considered “bad luck”. But Su Lin is smart, resilient, and determined to make a life for herself that does not include “domestic captivity” and an arranged marriage.

When the Irish nanny to the daughter of the Acting Governor dies mysteriously, Su Lin is offered the position. Her natural curiosity and perspicacity lead her to probe into the circumstances of the death of Charity Byrne where she forms an alliance with Chief Inspector Thomas LeFroy who is in charge of the case.

The tone of this novel is so reminiscent of Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce series, where Su Lin could easily be an older version of Flavia. Both are refreshingly delightful sleuths. If you enjoyed the tales of Flavia, you’re sure to enjoy Su Lin’s adventures, too. Her next one is The Betel Nut Tree Mystery.

3 Daggers
Joanne gives this “3 daggers out of 5”

Joanne’s Mystery Picks

91qgkgyttslA SCANDAL in SCARLET by Vicki Delany

Are you looking for a brief respite from the cold and snow? Then Delany’s latest Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery can give you just that. It’s a cozy – but not the kind where you snuggle up under a blanket, drinking cups of hot cocoa. It’s more an ice cream cones, sandy beaches, long evening walks in the warm summer breeze type of cozy. After all, it does take place in Cape Cod, and before your ice cream cone starts to melt, a murder takes place.

When the West London Museum suffers extensive damage from a fire (Gemma Doyle, owner of the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop just happened to be walking her dog Violet when she noticed smoke and quickly alerted the fire department), the shop owners along Baker Street decide to hold an auction to raise funds for its re-build. When the museum chair, Kathy Lamb, is found dead in the back room of Mrs. Hudson’s Tea Room just as the auction is about to begin, Gemma is forced to help find the killer when the prime suspect begs her to do so.

There is no shortage of suspects and Gemma must untangle multiple webs created by both the innocent and the guilty in order to bring the culprit to justice.
Delany provides a nice little mystery that will help push away the winter blues – at least for awhile.

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.