Manon Bradshaw returns in Persons Unknown, in theory confined to cold cases but caught in a murder mystery because her adopted son is a prime suspect, and she must get him out of the youth home where he is utterly miserable. The murder ends up being an incredibly complicated international intrigue, but the family connections to it are complicated and dark. A wonderful portrait of a working mom.
Tag Archives: United Kingdom
Freya is a luxuriously long story, starting immediately after WWII in England, of an interesting woman who forges a career and lives an inspiringly independent life. But if you look a little deeper you may find, as I did, that it often feels like a careful recitation of historical research rather than a free-flowing novel, and that the resolute independence of the heroine is a little forced, anachronistic even. Fun, but not more.
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.
The Summer Before The War is packaged as a vintage novel, with the local gentry in a small town controlling much of the institutions and everyone else barely getting by. But it is, in fact, a modern novel with a feminist twist, embodied in a brainy Latin teacher and her protector, an influential older woman who is working behind the scenes to open opportunities to women. Despite the sometimes awkward juxtaposition of the traditional style of the novel and the dogged feminist themes, it’s an engrossing story with some wonderful scenes, most starring the mayor and especially his ambitious and terminally conventional wife. Enjoy!
(Also read Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, by the same author.)
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.
Original Sin takes us inside a family owned book publisher where lots of people are dying, some suspicisouly enough to demand an investigation from Adam Dalgliesh and team. The setting, an incongruous Venetian palace on the banks of the Thames, lends mystery and gloominess to the mounting corpse count and in the end it will be a very complex personal revenge story that will tie together the murders. Prepare to be deliciously afraid.
Alert to you packrats: it may be a good idea to dispose of old correspondence before leaving this earth. Otherwise, your bereaved widow may plow through it to write the story of your life before you met her. (Of course, this presumes that (1) you wrote and received actual letters, you know, the kind with stamps on it, which few people do these days and (2) your widow writes biographies for a living.) The Life-Writer delves into her husband’s lost first love in exquisite, painful, and obsessive detail, culminating in a meeting with the French woman he loved and lost. A perfect book for ruminators. For me, not so much but I was carried through the first half, and maybe farther, by the beautiful examination of the woman’s grief.