Quote of the Week

"The key is to commit crimes so confusing that police feel too stupid to even write a crime report about them."
Randy K. Milholland, Something Positive Comic
10-30-03. Web Comic Pioneer

Sunday, February 28, 2010

"Yellow Room Conspiracy" by Peter Dickenson

"The Yellow Room Conspiracy" by Peter Dickenson, is my choice for a "D" mystery and it turned out to be a great choice. Not only was I searching for an author whose last name started with "D" but I was hoping to find a British author. You might wonder why the quest for a specific nationality of author. It is quite simple. I have a good friend and reading buddy who is a huge fan of that genre. PD James, Agatha Christie, she loves them all so I set off on a quest to find another author for her to try. Set in time between 1930 and 1960, the narrators tell the tale from a 1990s perspective. The Verekers, a well-to-do family and their various mates, lovers, and friends make up the cast who naturally reside in the English countryside. We follow their exploits before, during, and after World War II. One of those friends, husbands, and lovers, one gentleman with all those roles is murdered and the perpetrator turns out to be quite a surprise. The two lead characters who are at the end of their lives take turns telling the story. I'm not a huge fan of this style but it worked in this book. The characters were all interesting and some quite interesting, especially Lucy. References to the game of cricket, types of plays and general jargon were rampant and, I am sure, metaphors for many things but since I do not know anything about the game, it was all lost on me. The book was different and a definite page turner. Dickenson is the author of over 20 mystery and suspense books, as well as at least a dozen children's books. This book is available through Connecticut libraries as well others. Numerous of Dickenson's books are currently available through Amazon as well.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

James D. Doss - The Shaman Sings

This is the first book in the Charlie Moon mystery series which was published in 1994. I admit I randomly picked this author from "Stop you're killing me" for my "D" pick and thought this sounded like an engaging series. I tend to be a mystery purist and like to read the first novel of a series to see how the author sets the stage for future novels. What is interesting is that in this novel Charlie Moon is really a minor character. The mystery is set in Colorado and at the site of a fictional Polytechnical University where a female physics student who is studying the theories behind superconductors is killed. The plot twists nicely with the characters of Police Chief Scott Parris and the local shaman Daisy Perika whose visions clearly stir the plot. The Ute Indian culture and traditions create a fertile environment for future stories. The author James D. Doss has been likened to Tony Hillerman. The author has an obvious red herring the in the character of Julio, the Mexican handy man who is set up to be the main suspect. I enjoyed the story line with the interweaving of a Native American spirit life. I look forward to reading the next book in the series The Shaman Laughs to see how Charlie becomes a main character. Check out this series at the CWMARS libraries and I plan to donate my copy to the Thompson Library because they do not own this series.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Max Allan Collins - "The Hindenburg Murders

I became aquainted with the work of Max Allan Collins when the popular spin off book series of the CBS CSI series came out. I was addicted to CSI and liked that there were books based on the series. Then at book sales and other places I began to see other mystery works with his name on them and I began to gather them in my stash. I found out he has a large body of work including a series of mysteries based on historical events. I chose to read The Hindenburg Murders because of a clever twist. The person who is key to solving the murders is the famous mystery author Leslie Charteris who wrote "The Saint" books. Often a mystery author will put famous or infamous people in ficticious historical situations, but Charteris really was at one point a guest on the Hindenburg. I found myself feeling a little Christie-esque in the closed ship murders and who was the killer. Plot sound a little familiar? However, I found Collins an effective writer. After looking online for information about the Hindenburg, I found the plot was engaging, thoughtful and far from predictible. I love a historical twist in which you want to explore the places and circumstances to learn more. I have The Titanic Murders to read next and look forward to reading more of Collins work!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Coroner's Lunch quite appetizing

"The Coroner's Lunch" by Colin Cotterill serves up a combination of quirky characters, recent Southeast Asian history, intriquing deaths in a manner that only serves to build an appetite for more stories about Dr. Siri, his assistants and friends (or are they enemies). Set in 1975 as Laos begins its struggles with independence, poverty and the need to mix Buddhism, Communism, and its largely poor and untrained population into a viable country. Dr. Siri is the appointed coroner who faces discovering the murderers of three men dumped in a river and one woman, dead of mysterious causes. It all sounds very heavy and dark but it isn't. The story is full of hope and optimism. Is Auntie Lah who sells sandwiches a love interest for 71-year-old Siri or a criminal in the making? That is the cliffhanger we are left with at the end. Lab assistant, newly promoted from secretary in this book, Dtui, represents the younger women in the country striving for better lives. Mr. Geung, who copes quite, makes a livelihood in the morgue that is suited to his Downs Syndrome issues. Cotterill has traveled widely in Southeast Asia and lived in Laos. His knowledge of the people and issues is obvious. He currently works for UNICEF and others to prevent child tracking. This book is one in a series and I can't wait for the next book. My fellow knitter and friend, Sue, from the Pomfret, CT Library suggested this and I thank her.