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

97569THE CROW TRAP by Ann Cleeves

Secrets and betrayal – so often the stuff of a good mystery.  Cleeves’ first Vera Stanhope novel is steeped in both.  When three women are brought together to work on an environmental study, they each come with their own share of secrets.

And they each wear the cloak of betrayal.  Cleeves fleshes out each character admirably and makes them come alive on the page.  There’s Rachael whose confidence has been shattered by her lover and boss, Peter Kemp; Anne, who isn’t above playing a few unkind games, herself; and Grace, a timid-seeming woman whose past is a dominant presence in her life.  When Rachael arrives at Baikie’s Cottage, the project site, she discovers the body of her friend, Bella Furness.  Bella has hanged herself and Rachael finds this impossible to believe.  One could say that “the clock starts ticking” from this point as Rachael is determined to prove that Bella did not take her own life.

When another death occurs, Detective Inspector Vera Stanhope makes her appearance and Rachael is forced to re-evaluate everything that’s happened.

With her casual and seemingly innocuous comments and questions, Vera is able to form a comprehensive time-line of events that point to the only person who could possibly be responsible for what has happened.

This is a cleverly crafted mystery where no comment or piece of information, however seemingly unimportant, should be dismissed.