Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Coroner's Pidgin, A Campion Mystery

Margery Allingham is an exceptional Writer. Her plots are sophisticated, as are her characters. The last one I read- I thought this is my favorite and then I felt the same with the next one. She has the ability to describe characters in a pre-war or post-war setting- in an England none of us knew. Charming, intelligent, people who get themselves in a bad situation and among the group- one is a killer.

Albert Campion has come home from doing intelligence work for the Government and is headed home to his wife and son. He stops off at his London flat for a luxurious soak in the tub- representing beauty, luxury and civilization to him. A body has been brought up the stairs and laid in his bedroom. A Woman, he has never seen, reposes there and has been brought by Lugg, his butler, and the Dowager Marchioness of Carados. The situation is ludicrous and he bows out determined to go home. The Taxi Driver has other plans. He wakes up chloroformed with a Policeman standing over him. His clothes, have been strewn over an empty building and himself drugged. Despite his best intentions of catching the train home he has to solve the mystery.

The characters are stunning in this book... consisting of a group of people collected together by Johnny Carados, Marquess and RAF Pilot.  Two of these are Peter Onyer and his wife, Gwenda. Peter, managed his financial affairs and Gwenda, acted as her husband's secretary. Ricky Silva, petulant and artistic, did the flowers. Captain Gold ruled the household servants, and a plump, cheerful Dolly, went about putting everything right. Then there is Eve Snow, Johnny's girlfriend and Susan, who Johnny is to marry despite that fact. Don Evers is in love with Susan.

Allingham is amazing at the way she collects the characters and sews them into a complicated plot but does it in a way in which you stay fascinated. One of the writers from the golden era of mysteries she is equal with Agatha Christie, and Dorothy L. Sayers. I finished this book in one night and it stayed with me for several days. If you like charming and evocative- along with sophisticated people from another Era, then this is for you. I loved it. 

Blurb:
World War II is limping to a close and private detective Albert Campion has just returned from years abroad on a secret mission. Relaxing in his bath before rushing back to the country, and to the arms of his wife, Amanda, Campion is disturbed when his servant, Lugg, and a lady of unmistakably aristocratic bearing appear in his flat carrying the corpse of a woman.

The reluctant Campion is forced to put his powers of detection to work as he is drawn deeper into the case, and into the eccentric Caradocs household, dealing with murder, treason, grand larceny, and the mysterious disappearance of some very valuable art.

 

Saturday, June 16, 2018

The Fairfax Incident by Terrence McCauley

The first Chapter starts slow, but- this book is a roller coaster of a ride. The writing is strong and reminiscent of Dashiell Hammett's, The Maltese Falcon. This one grabs you by the throat and doesn't let go. It has everything a 1930's Detective Story should have...strange deaths, beautiful women, lots of players and a brash Humphrey Bogart type Lead.  I love this type of story set in the thirties and forties, when they are well written. 

Mrs. Eleanor Blythe Fairfax of Park Avenue hires Charlie Doherty to prove her Husband was murdered. But no-one believed that. The Chief of Police had a thick conclusive file on it. Her Brother, Dr. Blythe, thinks Eleanor is trying to prove the impossible. But, if the case is as dead as her husband- why do people keep trying to kill Charlie? Who is being blackmailed to report his movements and why?

Charlie hasn't had time for Women, since his Wife divorced him and went back to Poughkeepsie, New York with his two kids. Now, the Secretary is trying to seduce him on top of everything else. That is only the beginning of Charlie Doherty's trouble. I thought I would read this book over two or three days. But I couldn't quit  until I found out how it ended. It is reminiscent of the great Detective thrillers of that Golden Era of Writing. I really enjoyed the fast pace. I am giving it five stars.


Blurb:

Award-winning author Terrence McCauley takes you back to a time when booze was outlawed, crime ran rampant, and New York City was a powder keg waiting to explode…

Manhattan, 1933. Charlie Doherty may have been kicked off the force after The Grand Central Massacre, but thanks to a wealthy benefactor, his private detective business is booming. Catering to the city’s wealthy elite, Doherty is making a good living chasing down wayward spouses and runaway socialites when the case of a lifetime lands in his lap. Mrs. Fairfax, a wealthy widow, hires Doherty to prove her husband’s suicide wasn’t actually a suicide. It was murder.

At his benefactor's urging, Doherty takes the case. He expects to pocket a nice chunk of change to prove what everyone already knows: Walter Fairfax walked into his office in the Empire State Building one morning, took a phone call, and shot himself. But Charlie took the widow's money, so he begins to dig.

He quickly finds out there is more to the Fairfax incident than a simple suicide. Before long, he discovers that Mr. Fairfax was leading a double life; running with a dangerous crowd that has a sinister agenda that threatens to plunge Charlie’s city – and his country – into another war.
In an investigation that quickly involves global implications, Doherty finds himself against not only some of the most powerful people in New York City, but against the most evil men in the world.

Reviews:

"A total knockout. A slam-bang mystery and a story that just won't quit. You will not put it down.” ―Timothy Hallinan, author of the Poke Rafferty and Junior Bender novels

"McCauley has merged a classic detective story with a full-on actioner, and it works beautifully.” Booklist

"An intriguing standalone from McCauley...readers will hope to see more of the likeable, capable Charlie.” Publishers Weekly

“Readers will be glued to the pages.” ―Suspense Magazine

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Lowcountry Bookshop (A Liz Talbot Mystery Book 7)

Susan Boyer has another hit on her hands with Lowcountry Bookshop. It is like returning to old friends. The books are set in the charming areas of Stella Maris and Charleston, which is a treat with its shops and Restaurants. The Characters are likeable and you can read this book without having read the others.

Poppy Oliver found herself in trouble after reporting a hit and run. Someone decided to hire Liz Talbot and her Partner Nate to prove her innocence. There were two calls made that night to report the incident one from the victims phone and one from a burner phone. Why was Phillip Drayton-the Victim, outside during a storm and why had some kind of pepper spray been used on him? As the Partners investigate it becomes obvious a lot of answers are needed to solve this mystery. Colleen, a ghostly friend, who appears to just a few people might help.

This book flows with a nice juicy mystery.
Prepare to put your  feet up and spend the evening because this one grabs hold and doesn't let go. I really liked it. So I am giving it five stars.


Blurb:

Lowcountry PI Liz Talbot returns to the streets of Charleston in the seventh installment of Susan M. Boyer’s USA TODAY bestselling mystery series.

Between an epic downpour and a King Tide, those historic streets are flooded—and dangerous. A late night tragic accident along the Lower Battery leads Liz Talbot straight to her next case.

Who’s the client? Well, now, therein lies the first puzzle. When the police arrive at the scene of the accident, Poppy Oliver claims she’s only trying to help.

But the dent on the front of her Subaru and the victim’s injuries provoke a certain Charleston police detective’s suspicious nature. A wealthy, anonymous benefactor hires Liz and her partner Nate Andrews to prove Poppy Oliver’s innocence.

What exactly was Poppy Oliver up to? Is she a random good Samaritan who happens upon the accident scene? Or perhaps this tragedy wasn’t an accident. She just might be his abused wife’s accomplice.

Why does everyone involved in this case have a sudden burning urge for reading material, leading them to the same charming bookshop along the waterfront?

From a risqué, exclusive club in an old plantation to an upscale resale shop in the historic King Street shopping district to a downtown graveyard crawling with ghosts, Liz tracks a group of women who band together to help victims of domestic violence.

In her most challenging case yet, Liz fears she may find a killer, but justice may prove elusive.                                                     

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Murder She Wrote: A Date with Murder

Jessica Fletcher is at it again in, A Date with Murder. Her close friends Hal and Babs Wirth have hosted a Labor Day Barbq with games. Hal Wirth dies during the event and everyone takes it for granted it is a heart attack. But something is nagging at Jessica and her instincts will take her into a complicated murder and us a great mystery.

Donald Bain wrote 46 mysteries in the Murder She Wrote Series. Television and these books have made Jessica one of the most beloved characters in mysteries. Jon Land brings a fresh approach to the 47th in the series, more in line with his background writing thrillers. He brings a harder edge but the plot has all the turns and twists that keep you reading late into the night.

I have loved revisiting this Series and Cabot Cove. There was always something so special about the Character and formed our own version of an American Miss Marple. Land has his writing cut out for him, but, he is first class and I look forward to him continuing the series. I gave it five stars.

Blurb:

Jessica Fletcher investigates a friend's murder and a dangerous dating service in the latest entry in this USA Today bestselling series...

Jessica Fletcher takes up the case of her good friend Barbara "Babs" Wirth after Babs' husband Hal suffers a fatal heart attack that Jessica has reason to believe was actually murder. At the heart of her suspicions lies a sinister dating site Hal had used while he and Babs were having marital issues, a site that may be complicit in somehow swindling him out of millions.

Jessica's investigation reveals that Hal was far from the only victim and when his former business partner is also killed, a deadly pattern emerges. Jessica teams up with a brilliant young computer hacker to follow the trail but as she gets closer to the truth, two near misses force her to realize that she may very well be the next victim.

The stakes have never been this high as Jessica finds herself being stalked by the killer she is trying to catch. She must now set the perfect trap to avoid her very own date with murder.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Murder in the Locked Library (A Book Retreat Mystery) by Ellery Adams

Ellery Adams writes a sparkling cozy-  flush with details. I am enthralled with rare books and secrets that have to be kept...well who isn't? This book is loaded with them. The characters will remain favorites once you are introduced to them. Butterworth, the Butler, was one of mine-but he is backed up by a strong recurring cast. I cannot wait to read the other books in this series and I will have my nose buried in Book One to Three next week.

Jane is the Guardian of Storyton Hall along with her two sons. Her Mother and Father live upstairs. Sinclair, who is the Head Librarian, works with clients and is a rare book expert.  Certain aspects that Visitors learn may later be important for clues.  I was fascinated by the details..how to hold a book by cradling it or washed hands versus gloves. In fact, all sorts of technical things are imparted. Are they information or red herrings? Cradling the book is definitely worth knowing for those of us who collect at any rate...  The workers in the soon- to- be- spa area dig up the bones of a man. But how long has he been dead? The book found with him in the grave was unreadable, so, the text might be written with onion juice or some other secret way of writing. But how does this affect Storyton and will there be more deaths?

Secrets, rare books, invisible text, a gutsy heroine and delicious food...how much better can a mystery get? Not much...five stars on this one.


Blurb:


Welcome to Storyton Hall, Virginia, where book lovers travel from near and far to enjoy the singular comforts of the Agatha Christie Tea Room, where they can discuss the merits of their favorite authors no matter how deadly the topic . . .
 

With her twins, Fitzgerald and Hemingway, back in school, Jane Steward can finally focus on her work again—managing Storyton Hall, and breaking ground on the resort’s latest attraction: a luxurious, relaxing spa named in honor of Walt Whitman. But when the earth is dug up to start laying the spa’s foundation, something else comes to the surface—a collection of unusual bones and the ragged remnants of a very old book. The attendees of the Rare Book Conference are eager to assist Jane with this unexpected historical mystery—until a visitor meets an untimely end in the Henry James Library. As the questions—and suspects—start stacking up, Jane will have to uncover a killer before more unhappy endings ensue . . .

“Combines clever clues, a smart and courageous heroine and an interesting setting in a whodunit that will inspire readers to make further visits to Storyton Hall.”

Monday, April 16, 2018

Nun After The Other (A Giulia Driscoll Mystery Book 5) by Alice Loweecey

Alice Loweecey writes a bang-up mystery from the first chapter.  Frank, a police officer and Giulia, who runs a Detective Agency, are on a married, date- night when they hear a scream. They arrive too late to see what happened, but, they are confronted with a dead Nun and a rabid little Chihuahua, who keeps nipping at ankles- while licking the face of Sister Mary Margaret. The Nuns are being terrorized and Eagle Developers is the likely Candidate. But someone is hiring people to paper the windows with smut and calling at all hours. They have had two people break in. Giulia is hired to find out what is going on and stop them being harassed or worse.

Meanwhile, Giulia's brother has an accident at work and is in a coma. Giulia and Frank take his three kids into their small Cape Cod House. Salvatore, who was enough to drive a Saint to leave and did manage to isolate everyone, including his wife and Giulia. Her name is not mentioned in his house.

This book is a combination of fast- paced mystery with lots of humor. The scene in which each Nun quotes a bible verse in order to get the Mother Superior to hire
Giulia is laugh-out loud funny. Although it may help if you went to Catholic School as I did. But there are topics worth exploring in the Book too. One is the commercial greed of the Developers working to redo and make huge sums out of the slums. Or the fact the three kids had to hide the fact they slept in one room and were not with their Father because of Child Protective Services. I couldn't decide if I should say a rosary or enjoy the quips. I can tell you I finished this book in one night and laughed a lot. A very enjoyable quirky Mystery I gave it five stars.

My thanks to Netgalley and Henery Press

Blurb:

Nuns and murder and ghosts, oh my! Here comes Giulia Driscoll again, and boy, is she in for it this time.

It all starts when a frenzied Chihuahua leads Giulia and Frank Driscoll to the body of a nun in the street near a convent. The nuns fear they’re being harassed by the biggest developer in town and quickly embrace Giulia as their savior.

Of course, the former nun who exposed the drug ring run by a priest and nun will save their home and discover the murderer.

And of course, Giulia not only takes this job, but also all the other jobs clamoring for her attention. The result: Driscoll Investigations is pushed to its limit.

Then Giulia’s brother falls into a coma and she brings his kids to her house. Talk about a crash course in parenting for pregnant Giulia!

Did we mention the convent ghost? She loves the house, hates the nuns, and chain-smokes. Why couldn’t Giulia’s first honest-to-goodness ghost be shy and sweet?

More importantly, does the ghost hate the nuns—or the developer—enough to indulge in a bit of murder to liven up the afterlife?

Monday, April 2, 2018

Lost Books and Old Bones by Paige Shelton.

Paige Shelton, has written a charming premise with her character, Delaney, who works for The Cracked Spine. This bookstore specializes in rare books and manuscripts. Set in Edinburgh, I loved the fact that it started out with the moody background of Scotland and lots of artifacts.

Sophie and Rena, came into the shop to sell, "an Atlas of Illustrations of Clinical Medicine, Surgery and Pathology" made up of 25 books which are very rare. I, along with Edwin, Delaney's boss, would have had eyes filled with tears at the hand- drawn illustrations. I just wish I had cataloged them at an Archives. Although graphic, they are an amazing example of medical knowledge at the time of the Industrial Revolution.

Several months later...Sophie, Rena, Delaney and Mallory are four girls on the town enjoying the group, "The Mad Ferret"  until Sophie and Rena see Dr. Eban of their Medical School. He is one of the fascinating Professors they have, but slightly eerie in his thirst for Robert Knox, who bought murdered corpses from Knox and Hare. These two were famous killers during the early 1800's. The Medical Students, have a service for the Corpses they work on, and it is held at Greyfriar's Kirk. Dr. Eban invites all of them to the funeral.

He makes it clear that he is fascinated with Edwin's Secret Room, the place where he keeps all his treasures. In fact, he is interested in the scalpel of Dr Knox- which disconcerts Delaney. She is used to denying that the room exists to protect the valuable holdings. But not everyone believes her.

Delaney has a boyfriend who is the proprietor of Delaney's Wee Pub. The sign and her name- she thought was meant to be. Tom met her at The Cracked Spine that night, so that she can look for the scalpel. Her boyfriend of ten months is the romantic interest in the series. The relationship between them is strained by a Reporter hot on the trail of a story, which adds some tension to the plot because of the prior dating of her and Tom.

A murder is discovered. Has it been brought on by the mystery of "The Dark Side," which is aptly protected by a red door? This, of course, houses Edwin's wonderful finds that he keeps for himself. Odd how a myth has spread and everyone is interested in and determined to see it. Is the killer?

So began a multi-faceted mystery with lots to recommend it. I will certainly be reading more of this series and enjoyed the addition of the Hare and Burke murders. Everyone has secrets and that is how I like my mysteries. 

My thanks to Netgalley the opinion is my own.

Blurb:

A delightful new mystery featuring bookseller and amateur sleuth Delaney Nichols, set in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Delaney Nichols, originally of Kansas but settling happily into her new life as a bookseller in Edinburgh, works at the Cracked Spine in the heart of town. The shop is a place filled with curiosities and surprises tucked into every shelf, and it’s Delaney’s job to research the rare tomes and obscure artifacts that people come to buy and sell. When her new friends, also students at the medical school, come to the shop to sell a collection of antique medical books, Delaney knows she’s stumbled across a rare and important find indeed. Her boss, Edwin MacAlister, agrees to buy the multivolume set, perhaps even to keep for his own collection.

But not long after the sale, one of Delaney’s new friends is found murdered in the alley behind the Cracked Spine, and she wonders if there is some nefarious connection between the origin of these books and the people whose hands they fell into. Delaney takes it upon herself to help bring the murderer to justice. During her investigation, Delaney she finds some old scalpels in the bookshop’s warehouse—she and discovers that they belonged to a long-dead doctor whose story and ties to the past crimes of Burke and Hare might be connected to the present-day murder. It’s all Delaney can do to race to solve this crime before time runs out and she ends up in a victim on the slab herself.