Ann Cleeves: The Raging Storm

Two Rivers #3

Ann Cleeves goes from strength to strength.  The third novel in her Matthew Venn series finds Matthew investigating a crime in a village he’d visited as a child. The book opens with the raging storm of the title, and no one is better than Ann Cleeves at setting the stage using nature as a backdrop.  The coastal town where the story takes place gets a “callout” – the volunteer coast guard heads out to see what’s up with an abandoned boat in the middle of a storm.  They find the boat, and inside, the body of a man. read more

Victoria Gilbert: A Cryptic Clue

Hunter & Clewe #1

This novel has a very meta set up.  Jane Hunt, a retired librarian, has found a job cataloguing the library of Cam Clewe, a wealthy young man with a huge collection of books, many of them mystery novels.  Jane is 60, and she’s downsizing because her daughter has left home (and her house was too expensive).  She’s found an apartment, one that sounds like something Kinsey Milhone would feel comfortable living in, a tiny but charming space over the carriage house/garage of a retired reporter. read more

Dana Stabenow: Not the Ones Dead

Kate Shugak #23

Kate Shugak has been around for awhile now, and she’s made a space for herself on the planet.  She’s a fully realized, fully detailed character.  As I was reading this book, number 23 in a beloved series, I couldn’t help but think about the spectacular very first book, A Cold Day for Murder.  Dana Stabenow has always had a love for the traditional mystery in terms of plotting, and that hasn’t changed, though Kate’s universe has gotten more expansive.

At the moment, I’m re-reading (as time permits) Margaret Maron’s wonderful Deborah Knott series, and it struck me as I was reading that there were few series that actually resemble each other more.  Sure, Maron’s books are set in North Carolina, not Alaska, but the surrounding sense of community and family are very, very similar.  At this point I very much enjoy an outing with the “Aunties” or a look at the way Kate, Mutt and Trooper Jim spend their evenings.  But it’s a different type of read from the first couple of tightly plotted novels.  It’s more of a meander than a rocket. read more

Elly Griffiths: The Locked Room

I have devoured every word of the Ruth Galloway series, and each time I pick one up, I am reminded again what wonderful, pure reads these books are.  From the second you crack open the first page to the moment you close the cover at the end, Griffiths as a storyteller holds her reader completely in her grasp.  Under her spell.  Bewitched. This book is no different, though it was, to me, a bit more intense and a bit more grim as she confronts covid front and center.

It is historically significant to have lived through a pandemic – and we seem to be emerging from it at last – but as you live through something historically significant, you have no actual perspective.  A start to gaining some perspective is to read a thoughtful examination of just what happened, which Griffiths provides her reader. As the book opens, Ruth is teaching an archeology class and she gets a call that there’s body on a construction site.  She takes the class along as a learning experience, event letting the students bag up the bones for transportation at the end.  The students are curious to discover if the body comes from a plague pit, a foreshadowing of what’s to come. read more

Erica Ruth Neubauer: Danger on the Atlantic

Danger on the Atlantic is the third novel in Erica Ruth Neubauer’s series set in the 1920s, featuring American war widow Jane Wunderly and the handsome, enigmatic Englishman Redvers, the only man who might change Jane’s mind about remarriage.  As readers of the previous two books, Murder at the Mena House and Murder at Wedgefield Manor, will know, Jane was traumatized by her abusive first marriage and still has scars on her back.  She was relieved when her husband was killed in World War I.  For years she has refused to consider the thought of another marriage.  Then she met Redvers while working on a case in Egypt in the first book of the series, and their relationship has developed steadily through the next two books.  She cannot deny her attraction to Redvers, but she is still fearful about marriage, even though she knows he is nothing like her first husband. read more