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

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

"A Child's garden of death" by Richard Forrest

This book by author Richard Forrest caught my eye on many levels. The main character is Lyon Wentworth a children’s book author who lives near the eastern Connecticut shore and his wife Bea Wentworth who is a CT state senator. These two features alone were enough for me to give the well-worn book another glance. The story begins with the excavation of some farmland that is due to become condos. Three bodies are unearthed, including the body of a child holding a Sonya Henie doll. The investigation begins from there. The characters look back in time to a crime that took place in the 1940’s. This book was written in 1975 and has none of the crime solving bells and whistles that you see in a mystery or crime novel set today. The other main character is Rocco a police officer and friend of Wentworth who work together to solve this mystery. I thoroughly enjoyed the old-fashioned crime solving style which included Wentworth’s use of his hot air balloon to survey the crime scene. Wentworth and Rocco investigate the 'old days' of union activities and explore how Jewish immigrants were exploited during war years. The characters travel throughout areas of CT that I know well and that enhanced the story for me. Of the books I have read so far, this is the first book that I read in almost one sitting. This is the first in a series by this author that ran from the mid 1970’s through 2006 just after his death. I can’t wait to read the remaining books of this series and feel that I have truly found a gem. I took this book out of the Worcester Public Library and the care worn condition of this book lead me to believe at one time this was a popular novel and series. Check out Richard Forrest’s mysteries and you may find a new favorite.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Full Dark House introduces Bryant and May

"Full Dark House" by Christopher Fowler introduced me to Arthur Bryant and John

May, 80ish detectives and members of the Peculiar Crimes Unit in London. The detectives move back and forth between their first crime investigation during the London Blitz to present day when as elderly men, they revisit that crime. It can be somewhat confusing as many of the characters are present in both time frames. Sometimes the clues to past or present are a simple as a backpack in use or the mention of Sony. In any case, both men are interesting although to me Bryant is the more intriguing with his use of witches, psychics and other paranormal resources. May, while dubious of Bryant's methods, is loyal and more of a by-the-book guy. The setting is blitz torn London and a palatial theater, with hints some quite broad of a "phantom," all kinds of references to Greek gods, and the various whimsies of the artistic world. This book was a 2003 Barry Award Nominee and CWA Dagger Nominee,and a 2004 BFS August Derleth Novel of the Year Award Winner. There are six more Bryant and May novels available to readers and I plan to check them all out. I particularly loved the descriptions of the inside of the theater and the workings of the props and sets. One of the characters actually suffered from agoraphobia which I wouldn't have thought was well known in the 1940s. I was drawn to this book by the age of the detectives and the recommendation of the Pomfret, CT librarian who is never wrong on mysteries. It is available in libraries in both Connecticut and Massachusetts.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Fellowship of Fear by Aaron Elkins

My choice of this book is a recurring theme of reading a 'first' by an author. I was browsing at a book store and found Aaron Elkins' Gideon Oliver series. This is his first published in 1982. Gideon Oliver is a forensic anthropologist who finds himself in Europe as a visiting scholar. Who knew before the CSI and other forensics shows and books that are popular today, that Elkins would be a trendsetter. Gideon while traveling around Europe becomes embroiled in the murders of other visiting scholars and himself a perpelxing case of mistaken identity and for a while only you the reader know. Gideon has a special talent for linguistics and has an uncany ability to tell where some is from not just by accent or dialect but by the sequence of their sentence structure. It was a fascinating glimpse into that world. This is a mystery that is a bit of an international thriller and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Gideon is a widower and the author has him begin to thaw in the romance department with an intelligent love interest and the promise of more with later novels. His characters all well crafted and if this had been a stand-alone novel it still would have satisfied the reader. Elkins has a personal website and writes also in colaboration with his wife Charlotte. I look forward to continuing with this series and see where the author takes Gideon to his next case. This series is available at area libraries and bookstores.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Speak Daggers to Her Contains Vivid Detail

"Speak Daggers to Her" A Bast Mystery, by Rosemary Edghill has title straight from Shakespeare "I will speak daggers to her, but use none." (Hamlet). And, like Shakespeare many of her terms were similar to reading a different language and more importantly the characters often had secret personalities.
On the surface, the question is: who killed Miriam? And more importantly, why? But other questions quickly arise just some of which include: what exactly is Wiccan, can you belong to more than one coven, trust and loyalty, and more.
Set in modern day New York City, in the hot summer, with characters holding a variety of jobs including a number of independent bookstores, the terms sometimes interfered with the story for me. I got so involved with the New Age Wiccan philosophy and the ethical questions involved in it that I lost track of trying to figure out the murder. However, the characters were all interesting, different and impossible not to have feelings about. There are several more stories in this series and more to learn about the protagonist, graphic artist and sleuth, Karen Hightower aka Bast.
Rosemary Edghill, pen name for eluki bas shakar, has written in many genres including mystery, urban fantasy, Regency Romance, X-Men tie-in and short stories. Her research is copious and detailed. The books are available in local libraries and on-line.