Category Archives: Mystery

*** Big Sky by Kate Atkinson

The hero of Big Sky, a retired police detective turned private investigator, is struggling with his teenage son, his son’s mother, and a mysterious contract with a woman whose past is coming back to destroy the apparently perfect life and family she has acquired. There’s a very dark child trafficking ring that needs dismantling, and he will do it.

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*** The Golden Tresses of the Dead by Alan Bradley

 

Flavia de Luce returns with The Golden Tresses of the Dead, which starts with a macabre discovery in her sister’s wedding cake and ends with suspicious evangelizing nuns. Dogger, the shell-shocked gardener, has become her partner in her official private investigation venture and serves as a wonderful foil and mentor.

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*** The Lost Man by Jane Harper

The Lost Man is a family saga located in the middle of Australia, on cattle ranches where temperatures soar above 110 degrees and each drive requires lugging water and other survival gear, just in case. The death of one of three brothers eventually resolves into a tale of family violence, with the landscape a haunting character. (Jane Harper also wrote The Dry, a mystery located in a small town and with many more actors, and just as remarkable.)

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*** Under the Midnight Sun by Keigo Higashino

Under the Midnight Sun is a very dark, long story of murder (many murders!), rapes, child abuse, interspersed with lighter, almost amusing viewed from today, crimes of software piracy and ATM scamming. As is always the case with Higashino, we also have the dedicated detective who never gives up, and a female psychopath or two.

 

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** Enter Pale Death by Barbara Cleverly

Barbara Cleverly is the queen of mysteries in which death is caused remotely, with the perpetuator actually convinces the victim to essentially kill herself, and Enter Pale Death fits the mold. It also features the usual pomp of old-style British aristocracy and its grand houses. Both the plot and the way it is uncovered seemed just too precious to me but the vast cast of characters was certainly well observed.

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** A Midsummer’s Equation by Keigo Higashimo

I need to take a break from Higashino and his favorite plot of long-ago hatreds culminating into murder. This is not to say that A Midsummer’s Equation is not clever, just that the particular motive seems downright improbable. But the scenery, a struggling beach resort in Japan, is stunning and I particularly enjoyed the relationship between the egg-headed scientist and the vacationing child, who does not want to do his summer homework until he is shown what science really looks like.

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** The Big Both Ways by John Straley

I have loved other John Straley mysteries (here and here). The Big Both Ways fell short.

It stars a man who saved enough money from a brutal logging job and an anarchist with a dead man in the trunk of her car who escape Seattle for Alaska — with the woman’s young niece and her cockatiel– in a tiny boat. Various adventures ensue, some self-inflicted and others caused by the police and unions who are after them.

As much as I was rooting for the trio, it became less and less likely that they would escape their foes or the ocean. Glad they made it, but just could not believe enough.

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