Tag Archives: crime

** The Good Girl by Mary Rubika

The Good Girl unwisely goes home with a stranger who has a contract to kidnap her — and indeed takes her to a remote cabin where they nearly freeze to death, and almost starve. It turns out that there is a big twist to the story, which should make readers happy but it seemed to me to make the whole story wholly unbelievable. Still, the stifling atmosphere of the cabin and the relationship between gaoler and captive make for a gripping story.

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** Final Demand by Deborah Moggach

The heroine of Final Demand is enjoyably wicked (again!) and spends the first half of the book embezzling away and deceiving her naively sweet husband, all wonderful comedy for the reader. When her shenanigans create real tragedy for real people, the author switches to a moralizing tale that is much less entertaining and not entirely believable. I loved the first half, though…

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** Modern Gods by Nick Laird

Modern Gods is a split-personality book, attempting to tell the parallel stories of two sisters, one filming a bizarre cargo cult in Papua New Guinea and the other attempting to make peace with the discovery that her new husband was once a terrorist. The two stories could perhaps come together with some logical tie, except that they do not — and the cargo-cult film does not seem to really get anywhere except, as cults are likely to go, to a bad end.

That said, what happens to terrorists after they get out of prison is a very interesting theme, and the author shows nuanced perspectives from the perpetrator himself, his new wife (who surely asked too few questions ahead of time), and the community as a whole. I love that part.

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** Love Like Blood by Mark Billingham

Love Like Blood tackles, a bit awkwardly, the topic of honor killings. The plot is satisfyingly convoluted, with a nice (horrible!) twist at the end; the characters are all complex and interesting; and the action moves steadily. It all makes for a satisfying, if not unforgettable  mystery

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*** 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.

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*** 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.

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*** 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.

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Filed under True story