Category Archives: Mystery

** Killing Orders by Sara Paretsky

Killing Orders untangles a complicated story where the Catholic Church and the mob unite to circulate counterfeit stock certificates (I did not know such paper records still existed!). The detective’s aunt is involved and won’t help. It’s fast-paced and violent and enjoyable.

Leave a comment

Filed under Mystery

*** The Bird Boys by Lisa Sandlin

The Bird Boys is a delightful. slow-moving mystery that unfolds leisurely, in the 1970s so minus all the high-tech paraphernalia of today, when a PI and his assistant are asked to locate a missing brother (and a husband who’s up to no good, and a store thief, to liven things up). The story is just as much about the PI and the assistant as it is about the missing brother, with plenty of flashbacks and memories from all directions.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Mystery

***A Bitter Feast by Deborah Crombie

A Bitter Feast opens in a dreamy Cotswolds mansion for a comfortable weekend featuring a gourmet lunch prepared by the local pub owner, whose Michelin-starred pedigree makes for much more ambitious fare that can be expected in a standard pub. But deaths accumulate in the small village and soon it’s clear that the chef’s past has literally come back to haunt her, and the guests have to shift to their usual detective work. I particularly enjoyed two delightful portraits of a teenager and a chid that find a bond.

Leave a comment

Filed under Mystery

*** The Legal Limit by Martin Clark

The Legal Limit stars two brothers raised by a brutal father. One has lapsed into drug dealing and the occasional killing; the other is a judge, vaulted into middle-class respectability but with a streak of wildness, well hidden. The drug-dealer brother’s eagerness to escape a long prison sentence he mostly brought on himself leads him to threaten his brother in ways that place his whole life in danger. The story takes us over the course of many years, and the reader may have been better served by an abrupt switch from the distant, secret past to the present, but it’s an engrossing story with complex characters and plenty of gray areas.

Leave a comment

Filed under Mystery

** A Better Man by Louise Penny

A Better Man takes us to Montreal, Quebec, where spring flooding may overwhelm the province, political intrigue swirls in the homicide department, and a man seems to have killed his pregnant wife, although no body has been recovered. The hero needs to solve the murder, get used to work for his son-in-law, and, as a side project, dynamite some ice dams so the province does not go entirely under water. It’s a bit too much, even if the intrigue is very twisted and the interactions between characters finely observed and rendered. It’s exciting but I found it best not to think too hard about the plot.

Leave a comment

Filed under Mystery

** Lady in the Lake by Laura Lippman

The Lady in the Lake is a dead woman, but the story is not about her, but rather about the journalist who, recently separated from her husband and the life of a wealthy Jewish matron, is trying to make a name for herself while pursuing a secret affair with an African-American police officer and taking some liberties with the truth.

The story progresses through chapters written from different characters’ perspectives, including a waitress, a murderous pet-store owner, and a baseball player. Good idea, although a little tiresome over the long run. The story does seem a little over-designed to meet today’s tastes for liberated women (it’s set in the late sixties), and the ending felt entirely too contrived for my taste, but it is enjoyable most of the way through.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Mystery

*** The Substitution Order by Martin Clark

The Substitution Order is an enjoyable romp around the law and lawyers, centered around a hapless once-successful lawyer who did a little too much cocaine and finds himself working in a sub-par sandwich shop and threatened by big money. His vengeance is worthy of the early Grisham novels.

Leave a comment

Filed under Mystery