Joanne’s Mystery Picks

peters-11excellentmystery-ebooksAN EXCELLENT MYSTERY by Ellis Peters

If you’re someone who doesn’t want to start at the beginning of a series and read each book in order, then this is the perfect book for you.  It’s XI in The Cadfael Chronicles and stands very well on its own.  There’s little in the past books that affects this story so you’re able to enjoy seeing how Brother Cadfael unravels this “excellent mystery” without feeling that pieces to the puzzle are missing.

In just a few short paragraphs Peters is able to transport us to a time long ago – to the summer of 1141.   The tranquility of the Abbey at Shrewsbury has not yet been affected by the civil unrest between King Stephen and the Empress Maud. When the Abbey of Hyde Meade is totally destroyed by the warring forces, Brother Humilis, badly injured in the Crusades, and his attendant, the mute Fidelis, seek refuge in Shrewsbury. This pair is soon joined by Nicholas, once squire to Humilis, who seeks the Brother’s blessing to woo the lady who was once Humilis’ intended bride.  And there begins the mystery – for the lady has vanished.

Brother Cadfael begins to slowly unravel the truth from the fiction but not before tragedy strikes.  With the compassion that seems to come so naturally to him, Cadfael assuages the grief of the victims and shows them a way forward, while still maintaining their deepest secrets.

Joanne’s Mystery Picks

9780727886958COVER UP by Patricia Hall

It’s been years since I’ve read a mystery by this author so I was pleased to see this new publication. I was a faithful reader of Hall’s Laura Ackroyd/DCI Michael Thackery series so it was interesting to read Cover Up, the sixth mystery in her Kate O’Donnell series.

It’s 1964 and Kate has been given a magazine assignment in Liverpool to showcase the many changes that the city has undergone since the war. Her feature is to coincide with the release of the Beatles’ movie “A Hard Day’s Night”. The city is teeming with reporters and fans, anxious to get a glimpse of this musical foursome.

Meanwhile, Kate’s partner, DS Harry Barnard, has been investigating the murder of a woman whose body was found in Soho days earlier. Finding her identity is proving very difficult and Harry is determined to investigate the death in spite of his DCI’s request that he drop it.

As Harry carries out his investigations in London and Kate digs deeper into the regeneration of Liverpool, they both find evidence of cover-ups and corruption, leading them into dangerous situations.

51wo9pwuvwl-_sx308_bo1204203200_BRYANT & MAY: WILD CHAMBER by Christopher Fowler

The Peculiar Crimes Unit is called in to investigate the murder of a woman whose body was found in a private garden.  She’s been strangled but her body is lovingly positioned.  Before the body is even cold, another murder takes place – another woman, in a park, with her body positioned.

With these two murders, the Unit pulls out all the stops to find the killer.  Fowler takes us on a wild ride around London, with Arthur Bryant in the driver’s seat as we are treated to a delicious history of its green spaces.  Little by little, Arthur puts together the pieces of the puzzle, relying on his great wealth of the arcane and the help of his retinue of strange acquaintances.

This is such a clever, brilliant novel, ripe with British humour that you can’t help but laugh as you turn page after page.  Fowler is a master of wordplay and this novel doesn’t disappoint.  The characters are funny and colorful and as he builds up the suspense, we are almost holding our breath.  Once you start reading this book, you won’t want to put it down until you’ve reached the last page.  That’s what  happened to me!

Joanne’s Mystery Picks

51pmq1opo0l-_sx331_bo1204203200_THE USUAL SANTAS, foreword by Peter Lovesy

This “collection of Soho crime Christmas capers” runs the gamut from a tale of nine mall Santas to that of a Korean War POW camp.  Not all the stories are “sugar-plum laden” and some contain familiar personages such as Jane Austen, Machiavelli, and Sherlock Holmes’ nemesis Irene Adler.  Many are by authors totally unfamiliar to me and I’ve quickly added them to my “must read” list.

Each story is just the right length to read when you need to take a break in your day.  They’ll certainly keep you thinking long after you’ve turned the last page.

Joanne’s Mystery Picks

SLEEP NO MORE by P. D. James

61dm8s9u1ql-_sx318_bo1204203200_Since her death in 2014, fans of P.D. James have eagerly awaited any previously unpublished works by this undisputed “Queen of Crime”.  In 2016 we were presented with The Mistletoe Murder and Other Stories, a tome containing four clever and often-times delightful short stories.  With Sleep No More six more stories are on offer to James’ eager followers.  As the subtitle (Six Murderous Tales) suggests, these six are about murder.  But these are not “cozy” murders and Commander Dalgliesh is nowhere to be found to sort the wheat from the chaff and to bring the guilty to justice. Each of these stories is about revenge and retribution and the diabolical nature of human justice.  They are dark and at times disturbing, and devoid of any humour.  But there’s always that clever little twist at the end, something that James does better than anyone else.


Joanne’s Mystery Picks

32075854MAGPIE MURDERS by Anthony Horowitz

Horowitz, perhaps best known for being the creator of two of the most popular TV series – Midsommer Murders and Foyle’s War– brings his talent to the page with this mystery, so reminiscent of Agatha Christie and her contemporaries.  Cleverly written as a book within a book, Magpie Murders introduces us to the fictional detective, Atticus Pund, and his author, Alan Conway.

Conway’s editor, Sue Ryland, is in the process of editing his latest manuscript, and finds the usual aftermath from the violent death of one of the characters.  But she senses an undertone that she cannot quite put her finger on.  Could it be a case of life imitating art or vice versa?

We are treated to puzzles and delicious word-play, all the while being encouraged to tally up the clues to solve the mysteries that have been so cleverly depicted.

What a delightfully clever read this was!