Monday, January 20, 2020

The Long Farewell by Michael Innes


Blurb:

Lewis Packford, the great Shakespearean scholar, was thought to have discovered a book annotated by the Bard - but there is no trace of this valuable object when Packford apparently commits suicide. Sir John Appleby finds a mixed bag of suspects at the dead man's house, who might all have a good motive for murder. The scholars and bibliophiles who were present might have been tempted by the precious document in Packford's possession. And Appleby discovers that Packford had two secret marriages, and that both of these women were at the house at the time of his death.

Review:

I loved this book. The literary illusions were fun, the characters were eccentric, intellectual and lived in a very elite environment of  rare books and mysteries. It is loaded with twists and turns with moments of wry humor interspersed. This book may not be everyone's cup of tea but for those of us that love elegant mysteries you will really enjoy it... Five Stars

Friday, January 10, 2020

Spitfire (A Livy Nash Mystery) by M.L. Huie

M. L. Huie writes a tense, gritty, knuckle- biting adventure with moments of WWII that will stay in your memory. The men and women that trained for the SOE and were parachuted into Paris while occupied...so very many of them died. It is a fascinating period of History with Women as well as Men bearing deep scars because of things they have seen. They were trained to kill in hand- to- hand combat and worked with the French Resistance.

Olivia drinks too much and works for the Paper writing a Woman's Column. She has been through what only hardened combat soldiers go through during the War and her job bores her. Mr. Fleming approaches her about joining Intelligence and from that point on this book takes off and doesn't let go. There are twists and turns and heart-break and sheer determination and you feel every emotion with her. Her flaws do not make her less likeable and the Characters twist and turns with double- cross as a main feature and trust very limited.

If you like WWII thrillers then this is the book for you. I do.This book is highly recommended. It has a proper bite and doesn't stop surprising you until the last page. Five Stars...

Blurb:

How far would you go for vengeance?

It's V-E Day 1946 in London. World War II is long over, and former spy Livy Nash is celebrating with her third drink before noon. She went to war to kill Nazis. Dropped behind enemy lines as a courier, she quickly became one of the toughest agents in France. But her war ended with betrayal and the execution of the man she loved. Now, Livy spends her days proofreading a demeaning advice column for little ladies at home, and her nights alone with black market vodka.

But everything changes when she meets the infamous Ian Fleming. The man who will create the world's most sophisticated secret agent has an agenda of his own and sends Livy back to France with one task: track down the traitor who killed the only man she ever loved. Livy jumps at the chance, heading back to Paris undercover as a journalist. But the City of Lights is teeming with spies, and Livy quickly learns just how much the game has changed. With enemies on every corner and ever-shifting alliances, she'll have to learn to fight a new war if she wants to conquer the past once and for all.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Facets of Death by Michael Stanley

Michael Stanley is the writing team of  retired Professors Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip. They clearly have a love of Botswana which is in every page of these mysteries. The fear of a Witch Doctor and his gruesome packages adds an eerie touch to the book. Their writing style is an odd mix of gentle pacing, with the unusual mix of dogged police work. All in all this adds up to a very winning combination for a mystery. 

The main Character Sgt. Kabu is working very hard to make a name for himself in this preliminary book, that provides us with his background. He has a lot to learn, but has to overcome prejudice mixed with resentment. He came straight from the University and some of his co-workers resent him for entering the Police Force that way. Kabu has some heart- warming incidents... with a girl he gets a crush on and some hard taxing from an Asst. Supervisor but he is learning and working hard.

The background of this book has a wide-scoped Afrikaan frame- with murders intertwined with Witch Doctors and the Diamond Industry. The Book's pace is very easy-going but consistent. The Police Character is named after a Hippo, which after the first snicker, I settled down with very comfortably and rooted him on. The Background is magnificent and the Character is humble and the style is easy to read. This is a prequel to the award winning series and a great addition.

Blurb:


David Bengu has always stood out from the crowd. His personality and his physique match his nickname, Kubu—Setswana for "hippopotamus"—a seemingly docile creature, but one of the deadliest in Africa. His keen mind and famous persistence have seen him rise in the Botswana CID. But how did he get his start?

His resentful new colleagues are suspicious of a detective who has entered the CID straight from university, skipping the usual beat cop phase.


Shortly after he joins the CID, the richest diamond mine in the world is robbed of 100,000 carats of diamonds in transit. The robbery is well-executed and brutal. Police immediately suspect an inside job, but there is no evidence of who it could be.
When the robbers are killed execution-style in South Africa and the diamonds are still missing, the game changes, and suspicion focuses on a witch doctor and his son. Does "Kubu" have the skill and the integrity to engineer an international trap and catch those responsible, or will the biggest risk of his life end in disaster?

e match his nickname, Kubu—Setswana for "hippopotamus"—a seemingly docile creature, but one of the deadliest in Africa. His keen mind and famous persistence have seen him rise in the Botswana CID. But how did he get his start?Inauspiciously. His resentful new colleagues are suspicious of a detective who has entered the CID straight from university, skipping the usual beat cop phase. Nearly broke, with no car or wife, Kubu has the support of his parents, but success will depend on self-reliance. He is immediately plunged into investigations at two airports.

One takes him to the airport near Gaborone where something criminal is going on in baggage claim.
The other begins at Jwaneng Airport, where a plane bursts into flames. It's the opening move in a brutal heist of stones from the world's richest diamond mine. The robbers die in a shoot-out, but the diamonds remain missing. So who masterminded the crime? Rumors of a witch doctor's involvement send the detectives down a dark path. Ultimately, new recruit Kubu finds himself engineering a risky trap. Will his first major case prove his worth—or kill his career?

Friday, January 3, 2020

Fell Murder (British Library Crime Clasics) by E.C. Lorac

Edith Caroline Rivett ,who wrote under the pseudonym E.C.R. Lorac, had a long running series with Inspector McDonald. The Author penned this during the War Years in 1944, and it has strong touches of all the hardships Britain went through. The story is set among the fells and downs of rural England, centered around a Family named Garth. They are Farmers now, but in times past- they had great wealth. They still live in the Manor House, with part of the rooms shut up, and large portions of land. The 82 year old Father is a harsh man- some say fair, but he is hot-tempered and at times cruel. The eldest son, Richard, married Mary, the Daughter of Ashthwaite, and fought with his Father over it. Twenty five years later and Richard is back hiking the countryside he loved. His wife Mary, died due to a lack of funds when something went wrong with the baby. Richard has never forgiven his Father, but, is it just coincidence that his Father is murdered after he reaches England?

He is not the only one back. Charles, who hates farming, is back from Malaya ,with no funds and bitterly resentful. Malcolm, the child of the second wife has a bad heart and is a poet and hated his Father for making fun of it. The only one who really loves farming is the only daughter and she cannot inherit the entailed land. Elizabeth is also staying there to help on the farm as a Land Girl.

E.C.R. Lorac writes a tightly- woven, mystery.The Garth's are an old family in rural England with many ties to the farming people around them. The Author has a way of making them come alive. Some are likeable- others not as much, but their lives revolve around the weather, bringing in the crops,  and helping their neighbors. The land is as much a character as the people and Lorac does not hesitate to use its beauty for both opportunity to develop characters and for murder. The story progressed in a slow- pace...building...  and I had no idea where all the red herrings would lead. But as the tension simmered I began to wonder... would this be the only murder? I am giving it five stars because I love this type of English Mystery.

Blurb:

A classic Golden Age mystery from acclaimed author E.C.R. Lorac
'...this crime is conditioned by the place. To understand the one you've got to study the other.'
The Garths had farmed their fertile acres for generations, and fine land it was with the towering hills of the Lake Country on the far horizon. Here hot-tempered Robert Garth, still hale and hearty at eighty-two, ruled Garthmere Hall with a rod of iron. Until, that is, old Garth was found dead—'dead as mutton'—in the trampled mud of the ancient outhouse.

Glowering clouds gather over the dramatic dales and fells as seasoned investigator Chief Inspector Macdonald arrives in the north country. Awaiting him are the reticent Garths and their guarded neighbors of the Lune Valley; and a battle of wits to unearth their murderous secrets.
First published in 1944, Fell Murder is a tightly-paced mystery with authentic depictions of its breathtaking locales and Second World War setting.

This edition also includes the rare E.C.R. Lorac short story 'The Live Wire'.

Monday, December 30, 2019

Sealed Off (A Maine Clambake Mystery Book 8) by Barbara Ross

This is an intriguing little mystery by Barbara Ross.The characters are a tight- knit family, running a business, called Snowden Family Clambake which caters to Tourists. They are provided a day away which includes a clambake and a tour on the Jacquie II. The clambake this year has a lot of tension due to Emmy, a worker, who is attractive to two men or so it seems.  Julia Snowden, is the main voice and through her we meet a lot of the locals and her family. The food sounds first rate too... lobsters, soft-shelled clams...some of Maine's finest.  But murder has its own way of settling a score and when a body is found near the wood pile of Windsholme, the family mansion on Morrow Island... a lot of things from the past are stirred up.

Part of the heart of this mystery is a Journal by Lilly Smythe, a Governess sent to the Island in 1898, to tutor two brothers. Her sealed room, unknown and hidden is discovered by the family during a remodel. Spooky- though because her clothes are still there and her wire-framed spectacles. The family shows Margarete, who is in her 90's, around the Mansion. Finally, we are treated to remnants of the Journal pages and the last remaining days of Lilly. What happened to her?

I enjoy books set in Maine. The scenery is on the coast and set with long days of sailing and lots of historical settings. The extra ingredient is a good "whodunit" set among these families and neighbors. The hard work the fishermen endure and the descriptions of local haunts and people are vivid. The pace picks up in the last chapters, when we discover that all is not as it seems. But will the murders stop at one and who is doing them?

Barbara Ross has given us another well- paced mystery with a cast of characters you want to know. I am giving it five stars.


Blurb:

Early October is “winding down” time in Busman’s Harbor, Maine, but there’s nothing relaxing about it for Julia Snowden. Between busloads of weekend leaf peepers at the Snowden Family Clambake and a gut renovation of the old mansion on Morrow Island, she’s keeping it all together with a potentially volatile skeleton crew—until one of them turns up dead under the firewood.

When the Russian demo team clearing out the mansion discovers a room that’s been sealed off for decades, Julia’s baffled as to its purpose and what secrets it might have held. Tensions are already simmering with the crew, but when one of the workers is found murdered, things come to a boil. With the discovery of another body—and a mysterious diary with Cyrillic text in the hidden room—the pressure’s on Julia to dig up a real killer fast. But she’ll have to sort through a pile of suspects, including ex-spouses, a spurned lover, and a recently released prisoner, to fish out one clammed-up killer.

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Left-Handed Death by Richard Hull

I hadn't read anything by Richard Hull, so this was a first try. This is a compressed story, compared to the other titles by the Author, and built around a psychology, that I found confusing at times and interesting at others. I spent the first part of the book trying to figure out where the Author was going with the plot. Although, most Readers will see Guy as the star of the book, the time spent with Mr. Pennington, and with Cynthia Trent is much more interesting. She would normally be the love interest and it would have added more in my opinion, if it had gone that way.

I think this book would have worked better for me, if it had been longer. It would still have relied on much of the back and forth and irascible characters, but at times it felt a little flat. Hull is still worth reading and 1946 was a great Era for British Authors. I love the Golden Age Authors and their writing, so, I am going to read another Hull to compare.


Blurb:

His pen scratched the paper slowly, “I murd – I say, how do you spell ‘murdered’?”

Shergold Engineering Company has come into a bit of financial trouble. And it seems the Ministry-sent Barry Foster might just have something to do with it.

The company directors, Arthur Shergold and Guy Reeves, decide Foster must be stopped, and when Reeves confesses to the murder, it’s surely an open-and-shut case.

But as Detective Hardwick looks closer at the confession, he’s not so sure Reeves is their man.

Filled with comic wit and an ingenious plot, Left-Handed Death is a classic Richard Hull crime not to be missed.





Thursday, November 14, 2019

Death in Room Five by George Bellairs

George Bellairs writes a tense mystery set in France with twists and turns back to the War Years. An Englishman named Alderman Dawson was stabbed, while Inspector Little John is on vacation with his wife. That leaves a group of English Tourists stranded and clamoring for Scotland Yard. Inspector Littlejohn is assigned to work with the French Police and unravel the facts.

Each of the characters have a background with things to hide and do a good job of it, until- the Inspector decides to visit their hometown in England on a day trip. Within the course of the investigation the murder becomes increasingly confusing but worse...will more murders occur? Littlejohn must race the clock to try and prevent more happening.

One of the best parts of the Littlejohn Series by Bellairs are the characters after the War years.  Blustery, desperate and coy Women, mixed with unhappily, browbeaten, or bullying men. I think the Author excels in a temperamental mix of old and young English. At times I can almost feel I know these people. The Landscape is rich in detail and has a voluminous appeal with vacationing French and the middle-class English. The English are touring in a scenery that has turned into a nightmare for them. Bellairs never disappoints me...although I favor some of his more English background works, this is a good mystery. I recommend this one for its description of the inner working of the police force in 1955 and for those of us who love this age of Mysteries.

Blurb:

The British bulldog does not let go until the murderer is brought to justice. But this is not Scotland Yard, Inspector. This is France…

This trip to the French Riviera isn’t what anyone signed up for: while Littlejohn loses his vacation, another man loses his life.
When Alderman Dawson, the victim of a deathly stabbing, calls Littlejohn to his deathbed, the inspector is left with no choice but to investigate.

With twelve suspects in play and motives dating back to WWII, this might be one of his toughest cases yet.

More bodies are turning up and the French police are unwilling to investigate… could this be the case that even Littlejohn can’t solve?