What the Dead Leave Behind stars a plucky heiress whose stepmother is plotting against her and who literally fights for her life with the help of loyal servants and various family friends. The story is told with abundant, self-conscious period details (even though the very personality of the heroine is quite anachronistic).
The twists and turns go on just a tad too long, but overall an entertaining plot and set of characters.
Righteous opens with violence and violence continues throughout the PI hero’s adventures in Las Vegas, improbably taking on Chinese gangsters involved in human trafficking and their temporary allies, local Hispanic gangs. Non-stop action and a wonderfully complex main character paper over the improbabilities of the plot and the naivety of the PI’s love life.
The Shadow District takes us to Iceland during WWII, under occupation by the Allies and at a time of great change in Icelandic society. A young woman is murdered, perhaps two, and the police errs in arresting the wrong person. Decades later, one of the police officers reopens the investigation and finds that long-held secrets are bubbling up, but many of the actors have died, or are dying in front of his eyes.
While the investigation is interesting in its own right, the historical perspective makes the book.
Camino Island is a standard Grisham procedural, complete with the requisite labyrinthine international money transfers we’ve come to expect from him. But the focus is on rare books, book dealers, and a very pleasant bookseller and his wife, who deals in antiques. It’s fun and undemanding, and remarkably non violent, expect for one hapless thief.
Need You Dead starts with a dead woman in a bathtub. Her husband is the perfect suspect since he has had several encounters with the police for spouse abuse, but she also has a duplicitous lover and is in a battle with a violent would-be buyer of her car. As the detective investigates, he is himself dealing with the unexpected arrival of a long-lost son into his new marriage, providing an ample back story. If you can see past the repetitive, rapid-fire sentences and the unfortunate psycho-babble around the son’s arrival, you will surely enjoy the twisted plot.
I still love the Grafton series, and I still love Kinsey Millhone stories, and about half of Y is for Yesterday is written from her perspective. The other half is the story of a group of spoiled, idle, and cruel teenagers who will eventually commit murder, the consequences of which she is asked to investigate. And it’s a big ask fo readers to have to wade through extensive dialog between said spoiled, idle, and cruel teenagers — and the sophistication is not much increased when they age by 10 years, either.
So a wonderfully complex intrigue (plus the resolution of the intrigue described in X), the usual blunt style of Ms. Millhone, but too many pages of silly teenage drama.
The Secrets She Keeps portrays two very pregnant women from different social classes, one aspiring to have the other’s life, which seems so perfect. The outcome will be complicated and tragic. The back stories seem needlessly over-full of drama, but the intrigue is captivating and clever and the characters are complex, down to the (wonderful) police psychologist.