Joanne’s Mystery Picks

LETHAL WHITE51vbz607nll-_sx322_bo1204203200_ by Robert Galbraith

If there was ever any doubt that J.K. Rowling was just a flash in the pan with her Harry Potter series, then that doubt is quickly shattered with the latest installment in her Cormoran Strike series (written under the pseudonym of Robert Galbraith).  Coming in at 647 pages, this complex story takes us from the supposed psychotic ramblings of “Billy”, who pleads for Strike’s help in investigating a crime that he thinks he witnessed as a child, to the Houses of Parliament.

As Strike pursues Billy’s story, made difficult by his sudden disappearance, Robin goes undercover in The House where “back-stabbing” is a daily occurrence amongst the Ministers and their cronies.  Both investigations are complicated further by the events taking place in the private lives of Cormoran and Robin, respectively, as their personal relationship grows.

Due to their previous successes, Cormoran and Robin’s services are in great demand – to the point that they’ve had to hire more investigators.  This results in Cormoran taking on the bulk of the surveillance.  The toll that this takes on his body is evident in ever painful step that he takes.  The pair will soon have to make some important decisions about the future of the agency and their personal relationship.

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

Joanne’s Mystery Picks

15888AN INSTANCE OF THE FINGERPOST by Iain Pears

Pears’ 1998 novel has been described as “Dickensian in breadth and darkness” along with many accolades asserting to its excellence.  I can only add that I found it an astoundingly clever piece – a mix of fact and fiction – that left me guessing right to the very last page.

As well as being a brilliant murder mystery, the novel shows us the scientific community of 1663 – from the practise of alchemy to the beginnings of modern chemistry and medicine in all its blood and gore.

When an Oxford don is murdered, the evidence points to a servant girl.  Four narrators remember the events surrounding the murder – and each remembers them differently.  Which version is the correct one, for we know that memory is a very unreliable witness?  The journey to that last page was enthralling and the ending a touch of brilliance.

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

Joanne’s Mystery Picks

9781472234681INCORRUPTIBLE by Barbara Nadel

The body of a young woman is found in the backstreets of Istanbul.  She’s been brutally murdered and the description of her injuries is horrific, indeed.  Maryam de Mango was well known by many who claimed her to be a messenger from the Virgin Mary after she was miraculously cured of cancer.  But this claim incensed those of other religions, causing a rift amongst Christians of the city.

As Cetin Ikmen and his team investigate Maryam’s background, they find a family divided by hatred, fear and many secrets.  The brutality of her father, Silvio, is measured both by his words and his fists.  At times it is difficult to carry on reading, as he spews his venom with such abhorrent obscenities.  Many will find these passages offensive and at times I felt that they were “over the top”.  Even Ikmen shows his disgust at Silvio’s words and actions.

As the story draws to its conclusion, the landscape around our characters changes dramatically, leaving us wondering where Nadel will take us next.

Joanne’s Mystery Picks

51kt-ec3rql-_sx324_bo1204203200_KNOTS AND CROSSES by Ian Rankin

Ian Rankin has a huge following of fans for his Rebus series but so far I’m not one of them.  I read a couple of his novels some years back but just couldn’t get into them so decided to give it another try with this, his first in the Rebus series.

John Rebus is haunted by a past that he has very little recollection of.  What recollection he does have has invaded his sleep with nightmares and his waking hours with flashbacks of horror and pain.

At the Great London Road police station in Edinburgh where he is a DS the team is investigating the abduction and deaths of young girls.  Meanwhile, Rebus is the recipient of a series of anonymous letters containing pieces of knotted string – letters which he quickly dismisses as practical jokes.

As the investigation shifts into high gear due to more abductions and deaths, a member of the public alerts the team to the possible motivation of the murderer.  Suddenly everything falls into place and Rebus knows exactly who is responsible.

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

 

Joanne’s Mystery Picks

9781459741218WHEN THE FLOOD FALLS: The Falls Mysteries by J.E. Barnard

Calgary author, J.E. Barnard, won the 2016 Unhanged Arthur Ellis Award for the Best Unpublished First Crime Novel for her mystery When the Flood Falls.  It’s a promising beginning to what appears to be a forthcoming series.

Lacey McCrae, ex-RCMP, has travelled from the Lower Mainland to Calgary with a lot of baggage – both literal and figurative.  She hopes to leave behind a marriage gone sour, and a job that she used to enjoy.  As she hooks up with her old university roommate, Dee Phillips, Lacey finds that the skills learned in her former job are called into play when Dee admits to being threatened on a number of different occasions.

Meanwhile, spring runoff threatens the main bridge crossing in the area and Lacey is particularly anxious about the possibility of being cut-off.  There’s obviously a back-story to Lacey’s anxiety but Barnard only hints at it.

I found there to be too many loose threads in this novel and can only hope that a subsequent book will tie up these loose ends, helping us to understand the cause of Lacey’s fears, the reason she left the force, and why she needed a new start in a new location.

xco2mg4zgjd6hffuiir4rhn6kyA DARKNESS OF THE HEART by Gail Bowen

Bowen’s 18th novel in the Joanne Kilbourn series brings a surprising revelation to the main character and proceeds to examine Joanne’s personal past in great detail.  This revelation affects many of the people in Joanne’s circle but none so much as Joanne herself.  She now has to re-examine her friendship with Sally Love and Sally’s family to understand how she, herself, fits into this new picture that has come into focus.

Roy Brodnitz, a writer of Broadway shows and a good friend of Joanne’s, hopes to examine the family history between Sally and Joanne in a mini-series and approaches Joanne about it while in town working on The Happiest Girl, his Broadway hit.  Soon Taylor has struck up a friendship with the young actress in the starring role and the entire family is thrust into the often seamy side of the movie industry.

This story often got bogged down in the lengthy descriptions and explanations of  past events and people and was slow to move forward where real action was at a minimum.  I found many of the passages to be tedious and was inclined to quickly read over them.  Now that Bowen has provided us with Joanne’s back-story, perhaps she’ll move on to more exciting events in the life of this character.

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