S.J. Bennett: All the Queen’s Men

I am a devotee of this charming new series, where the detective is the most famous woman on the planet – Queen Elizabeth II.  She shares detecting duties (she’s quite busy of course) with Rozie Oshodi, one of her private secretaries, a London born Nigerian.  She and Rozie formed a bond in the first novel as they investigated the mysterious death of a young Russian pianist at Buckingham Palace.

There are many things to love about these books.  One is the meticulous backstage look at how an enormous household like Buckingham Palace functions. One is the author’s loving portrayal of the queen – a woman who is busy, organized, intelligent and curious.  One is the character of Rozie herself, who is almost, but not quite, a superwoman.  She’s respected by her colleagues, but Buckingham Palace appears to be very much an old boy’s club in many ways.  It’s something the author turns her observant eye on in this novel. read more

Best of 2021

There are two authors whose work is so consistently excellent I don’t add them to my best of lists anymore, but I can tell you that William Kent Krueger’s prequel to his Cork O’Connor series, Lightning Strike, is beautifully written, felt and told; and Louise Penny’s The Madness of Crowds, a sly look at devotees of a flawed charismatic leader, is a beautiful read.  Both writers have a quality of heart and spirit that give their books an extra something, and their main characters, Cork O’Connor and Armand Gamache, are beloved by readers. Soon to join these two are Elly Griffiths and Ann Cleeves, both of whom turned in stellar reads this year (see below).  I invite readers to cast their reading nets a bit wider and consider some of these other fine titles.  These are all books that stayed with me and left me thinking after I finished them. read more