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Search tags: mysteries-thrillers
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review 2018-08-20 16:58
False Positive / Andrew Grant
False Positive - Andrew Grant

Alabama detective Cooper Devereaux makes no apologies for his luxe lifestyle or the way he does his job. Most cops haven’t lived the kind of life he has—starting out as an orphan, raised by a grizzled cop savior—and most don’t use his kind of high-risk tactics. But he may have met his match in fellow detective Jan Loflin, who’s fresh off a long undercover stint in Vice when they’re partnered on a case that will test them both beyond their direst nightmares.

A seven-year-old boy has disappeared from his home in the Birmingham suburbs. But the more Devereaux digs into the missing child’s background, the more he discovers about his own, eventually shaking loose a series of harrowing truths—about bloodlines, mass murder, obsession, and what two damaged detectives have in common with the innocent victim they’re so desperate to save.

 

Perhaps I have reached the point in my reading life where I have read too many thrillers. I found myself reading this book mostly to analyze the plot twists and the characters, but not really with enthusiasm. Perhaps I’ve become jaded.

I was halfway through this book when I went to a conference at which Andrew Grant was a guest of honor. I went to a session where each of the guests did a reading—and I found Mr. Grant to be a charming guy. All afternoon, it seemed that I kept accidentally catching his eye and he always smiled an amused smile. I became rather paranoid—“Does he know that I don’t love his work? Does he guess that I really prefer his wife’s novels?” Finally I calmed down and realized that he was just a friendly author mingling at a writers’ conference and I relaxed.

I returned to False Positive with greater sympathy and enjoyed the last half more than I had the first half. I was quite satisfied with the ending—until the last two pages. They made me want to pick up the next book in the series against my better judgement! Well played, Mr. Grant, well played.

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review 2018-08-20 16:47
Smiley's People / John le Carré
Smiley's People - John le Carré

In London at dead of night, George Smiley, sometime acting Chief of the Circus (aka the British Secret Service), is summoned from his lonely bed by news of the murder of an ex-agent. Lured back to active service, Smiley skillfully maneuvers his people -- the no-men of no-man's land -- into crisscrossing Paris, London, Germany, and Switzerland as he prepares for his own final, inevitable duel on the Berlin border with his Soviet counterpart and archenemy, Karla.

 

 

***2018 Summer of Spies***

In the spy genre, if James Bond is a boxing match, then George Smiley is a chess game. Lots of planning ahead, knowing your opponent, and biding your time to make the right move. Smiley and Karla match wits again, but George has a new advantage—Karla can no longer manipulate him via his wife.

Fans of fist fights and gun battles may find this boring. People like myself, who have spent many years researching and working within libraries and archives, will find ourselves mesmerized as Smiley reads files and interviews other ex-employees of the intelligence services in order to build the perfect mousetrap.

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review 2018-08-09 17:04
A Fatal Waltz / Tasha Alexander
A Fatal Waltz - Tasha Alexander

At her friend Ivy's behest, Emily reluctantly agrees to attend a party at the sprawling English country estate of Lord Fortescue, a man she finds as odious as he is powerful. But if Emily is expecting Lord Fortescue to be the greatest of her problems, she is wrong. Her host has also invited Kristiana von Lange, an Austrian countess who was once linked romantically with Emily's fiancé, the debonair Colin Hargreaves. What Emily believes will be a tedious evening turns deadly when Fortescue is found murdered, and his protégé, Robert Brandon—Ivy's husband—is arrested for the crime.

Determined to right this terrible wrong and clear Robert's name, Emily begins to dig for answers, a quest that will lead her from London's glittering ballrooms to Vienna's sordid backstreets. Not until she engages a notorious anarchist in a game of wits does the shocking truth begin to emerge: the price of exonerating Robert can be paid only by placing Colin in deadly peril. To save her fiancé, Emily must do the unthinkable: bargain with her nemesis, the Countess von Lange.

 

Lady Emily and Colin Hargreaves are attending a party together, now that they are affianced. And of course, since this is an historical mystery series, there is a murder. It reminds me of Agatha Christie in that way—wherever Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot happen to go, there will be a murder. Christie tended to set her mysteries in a small town, to ensure that everyone knew one another. In this series, Alexander had chosen a certain stratum of society, who all socialize with and gossip about one another.

It seems that this series will also be a bit like Christie’s Tommy & Tuppence series too. This couple will team up to solve murders and diplomatic incidents together, like Tommy & Tuppence and their espionage endeavours. I have no idea whether Tasha Alexander set out to model her characters after Christie spy duo, but I will soon have the chance to hear her talk about her writing experience—the conference that I’ve been waiting all summer for starts tomorrow!

This is an engaging series and I will look for an excuse to read the next book as soon as I can.

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review 2018-08-07 17:00
Her Royal Spyness / Rhys Bowen
Her Royal Spyness - Rhys Bowen

Georgie, aka Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie, cousin of King George V of England, is penniless and trying to survive on her own as an ordinary person in London in 1932.

So far she has managed to light a fire and boil an egg... She's gate-crashed a wedding... She's making money by secretly cleaning houses... And she's been asked to spy for Her Majesty the Queen.

Everything seems to be going swimmingly until she finds a body in her bathtub... and someone is definitely trying to kill her.

 

 

***2018 Summer of Spies***

What an absolutely charming beginning to a series! Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie is a poverty-stricken gentlewoman, 34th in the line of succession to the throne, trying to keep up appearances with little to no income. This author makes the most of the fascination with the Royal family and the deportment of Queen Victoria and her successors. For example:

”The sight of one female person slinking across the forecourt on foot would definitely have my esteemed relative-by-marriage, Her Royal Majesty and Empress of India, Queen Mary, raise an eyebrow. Well, probably not actually raise the eyebrow because personages of royal blood are trained not to react, even to the greatest of improprieties. Were a native in some dark corner of the colonies to strip off his loincloth and dance, waggling his you-know-what with gay abandon, not so much as an eyebrow twitch would be permitted. The only appropriate reaction would be polite clapping when the dance was over.”



A great deal of fun is had with the whole “we are not amused” stereotype, the contrast between Britons and Americans, and the differences between the classes. Don’t be looking for hard-hitting class commentary here, however. Most of the fun derives from the fact that Georgie and her brother are so clueless with regard to the actual running of a household and are so dependent on their servants that they can barely start a fire or boil water for tea.

There is a romantic aspect to the tale as well—Georgie is expected to either find suitable employment for a woman of her rank or find a husband with enough money to keep them in the style that they are accustomed to, money being more important than love in the equation. Georgie, however, has her own ideas on the suitability of husbands and she may have to dodge some of Queen Mary’s ideas on the subject.

Light & fluffy, perfect for summertime reading!

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review 2018-07-23 21:56
A Poisoned Season / Tasha Alexander
A Poisoned Season - Tasha Alexander

London's social season is in full swing, and Victorian aristocracy is atwitter over a certain gentleman who claims to be the direct descendant of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. Adding to their fascination with all things French, an audacious cat burglar is systematically stealing valuable items that once belonged to the ill–fated queen.

But things take a dark turn. The owner of one of the pilfered treasures is found murdered after the theft is reported in the newspapers, and the mysterious thief develops a twisted obsession with Lady Emily Ashton. It takes all of Lady Emily's wit and perseverance to unmask her stalker and ferret out the murderer, while faced with a brewing scandal that threatens both her reputation and her romance with the dashing Colin Hargreaves.

 

 

What a lovely discovery! I’m very impressed with Tasha Alexander on the basis of this book. She will be a key-note guest at a writers’ conference that I’m attending next month and I try to read a little something by each guest before the event to help me know who I want to hear more from. Our public library didn’t have the first volume of her Lady Emily series, but this second book managed to allude to enough of the plot of the first book to get me into the loop and able to appreciate A Poisoned Season.

This is a historical mystery with a good splash of romance. Unlike so many current Victorian lady detective books, there are no paranormal events in this one, although Lady Emily does end up with one rather mysterious admirer. Her mother is still a thorn in her side—Emily thinks that, as a widow, she had the social license to remain single for a while and carve out her own place in society. Her mother could not agree less, and is already determinedly pushing her widowed daughter towards a second marriage. Thankfully, Colin Hargreaves seems like just the man for the job—now he must convince the independent Emily of that.

I will definitely be continuing on with this series—I even hope to read the next book before attending the conference in mid-August. Fingers crossed that the public library delivers it in a timely fashion!

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