Category Archives: Mystery

* Give Me Your Hand by Megan Abbott

A cheesy title does not mean a cheesy story, but in the case of Give Me Your Hand, it’s truth in advertising. Despite the enticing research lab setting, headed by a woman no less, and the always-welcome main character of a female psychopath, the very dark story of murders and coverups had too many bated-breath chapter endings, not to mention a wholly improbable succession of events. If you want to try reading it anyway, prepare to relish a wonderful secondary character: the mouse house caretaker, who reigns on his domain and judges everyone. He is the best part of this forgettable story.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Mystery

** The Perfume of the Lady in Black by Gaston Leroux

Continuing from The Mystery of the Yellow Room, The Perfume of the Lady in Black follows the main protagonists to the aborted honeymoon of the couple in the first book — and to a most beautiful castle on a Mediterranean island not far from the French-Italian border. The gorgeous setting is only a foil for the darkest intrigue, amusingly ornamented by a crazy uncle who hunts prehistoric remains, just one more reminder of the vintage setting.

The story unfolds much like the previous book, with a locked room mystery, an evil character, and much intellectual reasoning about who is pretending to be someone else. The narrative relies heavily on the map of the castle, but the Kindle edition I was reading contains no such map, so it was quite confusing! And also a bit passe in the style of the detective inquiry, even if the plot is very twisted indeed.

Leave a comment

Filed under Mystery

*** A Double Life by Flynn Berry

A Double Life is a mystery based on a true story, of the mysterious near-murder of his ex-wife by a rich British aristocrat how then vanished. The story is that of their daughter, hunting for her father and ready to infiltrate her own family (incognito, since she and her brother changed identities after the attack) to do so. Thrilling and twisted.

Leave a comment

Filed under Mystery

** Stay Hidden by Paul Doiron

Stay Hidden takes us to an island in Maine where a young woman has been shot, maybe by accident and maybe on purpose, and we are not even very sure of who she is. The investigator, a youngish game warden, is marooned on the island as fog descends and tries to untangle the story of his outsider, and plenty of stories of the inhabitants of the island, who seem to be very successful at hating each other. I loved the description of the island and life on the island. The story seemed rather unexciting, somehow.

Leave a comment

Filed under Mystery

*** The Mystery of the Yellow Room by Gaston Leroux

Gaston Leroux, of Phantom of the Opera fame, wrote many other books including a series about a detective called Rouletabille, the first installment of which is The Mystery of the Yellow Room, in which a young woman scientist  is savagely attacked in the yellow room of the title, a room that’s locked and at the door of which her father sat. Rouletabille, a young journalist, sets out to uncover the truth and finds that many actors in the French castle where the attack took place had secrets, some related to the crime and most not, and has to travel all the way to America to untangle the complicated motives and the shadowy author of the attack.

The book is over a century old, and moves at a very leisurely pace compared to modern mysteries — and most of the action takes place through deduction rather than direct investigation. It also appears that the next book in the series (which I will read soon!) is so heavily foreshadowed in this one that we already know its outcome. Still, a very enjoyable historical tromp.

1 Comment

Filed under Mystery

*** Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman

In the opening scene of Something in the Water, the heroine is burying her new husband in a shallow grave, so clearly something went wrong — and that’s the story that will unspool over the course of the book, from the unexpected discovery of a fortune to the grave. Without giving away the plot, there are several spots where you need to just believe in the unbelievable, but the pace is swift and the pithy observations of the narrator as the sometimes compliant, sometimes fearless wife are right on point. Fun!

Leave a comment

Filed under Mystery

** How It Happened by Michael Koryta

What happens when a drug-addicted loser confesses to her part to a heinous crime and fingers a small-town successful businessman as the main actor?  How It Happened tries to untangle how true confessions can sink their author and the FBI agent that elicited them. It all gets darker and darker until an unlikely dramatic ending. The figure of the embattled FBI agent is the best part of the story.

Leave a comment

Filed under Mystery