Category Archives: Mystery

** Curtain by Agatha Christie

Curtain is Hercule Poirot’s last case–and indeed he dies at the end. He has returned to the vast English country house where he solved his first murder and has identified a guest as not just a killer, but a serial killer, with cunning powers over others. Since proving the accusations will be nigh impossible, he makes it his mission to prevent the next death, at great risk to himself.

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*** My Husband’s Wife by Jane Corry

My Husband’s Wife stars a female lawyer who is assigned a pro bono case that assigns her to defending a murderer who, rather bizarrely I thought, gets her to steps over the line. The rest of the story shows how a serene life can unravel and good deeds can lead to revenge. A taut and twisted story.

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*** Cold Storage, Alaska by John Straley

Cold Storage, Alaska is, nominally, a crime novel, but the real attraction is the setting, the small and remote town of Cold Storage, Alaska, and especially its denizens, all high in color. Crime arrives with the medic’s brother, a drug dealer freshly liberated from prison, tracked by his crime boss and the local police. A combination bar and church is created, various shenanigans ensue, and lots of unique characters come together, ending in a spectacular explosion. Up until then, it was all highly believable, and charming.

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*** Lullaby Road by James Anderson

In Lullaby Road, Ben Jones drives a truck back and forth on a high desert road in Utah, bringing supplies and provisions to the people along the road, many of whom have chosen to escape a difficult past to live there. And one day, with a snow storm looming, he is asked to look after a child who won’t say a word and a baby, propelling him into a series of murders, threats, and assorted domestic problems. It’s quite dark but the cast of characters is intriguing and the hero inspiring, along with the landscape.

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*** White River Burning by John Verdon

White River Burning stars a retired NY detective who is asked to investigate a fatal shooting of an African American man by a white police officer, and who stumbles on a very complicated case of police corruption. The story is twisted enough to keep the reader’s interest, but what I liked best was the nuanced descriptions of very complicated characters as well as the mix of mundane tasks and police investigation.

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*** The Grave’s a Fine and Private Place by Alan Bradley

The Grave’s a Fine and Private Place is the latest Flavia De Luce mystery, in which she finds a corpse and proceeds to identify both the murderer and a wrongly-convicted one. The usual chemistry high jinks abound, accompanied here by copious literary quotes, maybe a little too precious? But fun, as fun as a book with a murdered young man could pretend to be.

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** Gaudy Night by Dorothy Sayers

Gaudy Night is simply the reunion at the first women’s college in Oxford, and it’s the start of a series of pranks and threatening letters that cause the dean to ask one of the alumnae, a mystery writer, to investigate. The action moves slowly along 523 pages, with minute descriptions of the various professors and students, the quaint customs and schedule of the college, and the 1935 sexism that characterizes the college system, town, and society as a whole. So slowly that I found the main pleasure of the book to lie in its descriptions of a time long past, when female college students were carefully watched after 11pm (not that they did not manage to work around it!) and only a handful would get to have a professional life. That said, the overall intrigue is marred by the fact that our fearless heroine is, in fact, obliged to bring her (male) lover to untangle the mystery. Is her brain too feeble for this?

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