Tag Archives: crime

*** Things We Have In Common by Tasha Kavanagh

I’m going to say that Thing We Have In Common is a mystery, since it contains a crime, and a serious one, the disappearance of a teenager, but the focus is on one of her classmates, a fat, friendless, and bullied classmate who is fascinated by the popular girl and convinced that a mysterious man is watching her and may bring her harm. The action is mostly in the girl’s mind, with short interactions with her mother and stepfather — and eventually the police. The peculiar logic of teenagers is perfectly captured, all the way to the disturbing, unsettled ending.

Leave a comment

Filed under Mystery

*** The Mistletoe Murders by P.D. James

The Mistletoe Murder is the title story of a set of short mystery stories, all featuring a murderer who gets away with a crime, at least for a while. The stories show an abundance of small details and end up with the apparently least likely actor as the culprit, as in Agatha Christie novels. After reading them, I started wondering if the short story could be the ideal medium for mysteries.

Leave a comment

Filed under Mystery

*** Prisoner in the Kitchen by William Bonham

Prisoner in the Kitchen: The Car Thief, the Murderer, and the Man Hired to Feed Them his an unpretentious, factual memoir of a professional cook who takes a job in a high-security prison in Montana and quickly develops good relationships with many inmates who work in the kitchen. As time passes he learns of the sometimes horrible crimes they committed and finds it very difficult to reconcile their pasts, and their rationalizations of their pasts, with his working relationships. I thought the no-nonsense description of the daily life in prisons very enlightening, as well as the deeper implications on whether we can really know and trust people around us.

Leave a comment

Filed under True story

*** His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet

His Bloody Project describes itself as a historical thriller, but one that is entirely made up — a good thing, since the author wisely avoids exposing dry trial transcripts and instead devotes most of the book to a supposed autobiography of the killer, a teenager who likely could not have written the text. The autobiography is interspersed with testimony from his neighbors, his lawyer, and a criminal psychologist who views the accused as a member of an inferior race and treats him accordingly as subhuman. Along the way we discover the tough life of sharecroppers in Scotland in the late 19th century (no wonder so many Scots emigrated to find better lives elsewhere) and the suffocating nature of village living. We will never know exactly what happened, and that’s a good thing.

Leave a comment

Filed under New fiction

** Nutshell by Ian McEwan

Ian Mc Ewan has written a book with a very clever premise of the narrator being an unborn baby. But beyond that unique perspective, the plot of  Nutshell is entirely expected from the start, and the unique perspective of the baby seems to bring little new to the story, except from an altogether overly precious knowledge of wine (the mom drinks a lot) and very repetitive sex interludes (her lover is assiduous, if mercifully brief). It could be quite fun if the unexpected point of view was fleshed out (haha) in more detail.

Leave a comment

Filed under New fiction

*** The Father by Anton Svensson

Fasten your seatbelt. After a starkly violent first chapter, The Father: Made in Sweden, Part I takes us on an epic story of three brothers, raised by an abusive father and a loving but ultimately powerless mother, design and carry out a string of audacious bank heists. As the story unfolds their past is revealed, as is that of the police detective investigating the crimes, and we understand their strong bonds as brothers that protected them growing up and endanger them now.

Interestingly, “Anton Svensson” is a pseudonym for two authors working together. They sure can concoct a powerful story. And this is only part 1…

Leave a comment

Filed under Mystery

*** Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew’d by Alan Bradley

Flavia de Luce returns to the UK after a disastrous stay in Canada and finds another body on her first day back, the identity and manner of death of which will occupy her for the rest of the book, while her father lies very ill. She is older now so can take the train to London to pursue her investigations, and her sisters barely appear in the story.  There’s less chemistry than in earlier books and more traditional deductive powers. I thoroughly enjoyed the book but I’m not sure it has the same power of surprise that others in the series have had.

Leave a comment

Filed under Mystery