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, July 17, 2013

Death With an Ocean View by Nora Charles

"Death With an Ocean View" was an easy pick for a number of reasons.  First was the author's name, Nora Charles, which immediately made me think of the series of mysteries starring the wonderful Nick and Nora Charles. Second it was a small book perfect for reading on the beach on Cape Cod.

But it was the story that grabbed my attention, starring a 60-something unlikely heroine and her equally 60-something friends and neighbors. I confess to being a fan of active and imaginative  senior citizens some quite obnoxious and even criminal.  For a setting of Florida, this was just a perfect  book.  The characters were almost stereotypically on target.  The setting with the big-time developers tearing down historical homes and businesses for parking lots and huge condos and complete lack of interest in environmental concerns seemed to ring all too true. The locals fighting back and sometimes giving in led to all types of clues which turned out, in the end, to be false. Friendships come under scrutiny and some actually survive.  An old yearbook, which is something most seniors treasure, helps solve the mystery.

Kate Kennedy, the protagonist in this tale, is portrayed so well that her emotions and reactions ring true in every scene. Her sister-in-law, Marlene, not so graciously portrayed, is also a person who seems quite real, if flawed for sure.

There are six books in this series known as the "Senior Sleuth Mystery Series" and I am going to search out some more as they are perfect summer reading and the mysteries are not easy to figure out. Nora Charles is a pseudonym for Nora Wald who has also scribed the "Ghostwriter Mysteries. Wald lives in Sarasota, Florida.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

New Orleans Mourning

New Orleans Mourning by Julie Smith depends on the setting of New Orleans during Mardi Gras for its mystery as well as its unique characters who fit the time and place perfectly. The protagonist, is a reluctant debutant now finding her way in the New Orleans Police Department. With parents who are stereotypical social climbers, she is seen by the other officers as entitled and relatively useless.

But when one of the scions of New Orleans Society is murdered while riding on a float as King of Carnival, she is recruited to help solve the case. The murder of Chauncay St. Amant brings suspicion on all of this family and one family friend.  His wife is a drunk, his son is an actor and gay, not a banker, this daughter aimless.  The closest family friend has loved Mrs. St. Amant forever although unsuccessfully.  The number of intriguing red herrings never seems to stop.  I did not figure out the villain until the end.  I listened to the book on audio and on more than one occasion took the long way home in order to keep listening.

This is the first in a series about Skip Langdon and her struggle to "find herself" in a city that defines her quite differently.  I am looking forward to reading the other books in the series as the characters are quite interesting Julie Smith has won and Edgar Award for this mystery which along with her other  mysteries are available through libraries and online.