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Search tags: mysteries-thrillers
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review 2017-04-25 18:26
Spook Street / Mick Herron
Spook Street (Slough House) - Mick Herron

A shakeup at MI5 and a terrorist attack on British soil set in motion clandestine machinery known to few modern spies. David Cartwright isn't a modern spy, however; he's legend and a bonafide Cold War hero. He's also in his dotage and losing his mind to Alzheimer's. His stories of -stotes- hiding in the bushes, following his every move have been dismissed by friends and family for years. Cartwright may be losing track of reality but he's certain about one thing: Old spooks don't go quietly and neither do the secrets they keep.

 

Mick Herron has really hit his stride with the fourth book in the Slough House series! River Cartwright is an inspired creation, grandson of an admired British “spook” (that’s a spy to you & me) who has been sabotaged during a training exercise by a frenemy and ended up in Slough House, the place where failed spies go to be punished for their sins.

There’s been a bombing of a shopping centre, plus River is starting to worry about his grandfather’s mental state. He has the same concerns that everyone has about relatives with dementia, plus the added concern that his grandfather may indeed shoot someone who comes to the door, believing that they are out to get him. That spy-paranoia doesn’t just go away just because he is losing his grip on every-day life.

As per usual, Herron provides a complex plot, with plenty of twists & turns to keep the reader on their toes. There are interesting revelations from the past, political machinations of the most vicious & devious kinds, and Herron isn’t afraid to sacrifice a person or two along the way. The ending is also skillfull—I was given enough resolution to satisfy, while still left with enough loose threads that I am happily anticipating the next installment. Well played!

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review 2017-04-25 18:09
AB Negative
AB Negative - Kevin P Thornton,Robert Bose,Shona Jayne Barnard,R. Overwater,Al Onia,S.G. Wong,Brent Nichols,Axel Howerton,Axel Howerton,Susan Calder,Therese Greenwood,Randy McCharles,Sharon Wildwind,Dwayne E. Clayden,Janice Macdonald

A solid little collection of short stories in the mystery and noir genres.  I have the pleasure of being familiar with several of the authors because of a writers & readers conference that I attend here in Calgary each August. 

 

With short stories, I often find myself wishing that they were longer and more detailed—several of these stories would, in my opinion, have been better suited to novel-length works, or at least novellas.  As with most short story collections, some appealed to me more than others.

 

It was refreshing to read stories set in my home province and, in some cases, in my own city.  I also give kudos for the very clever title of the volume (AB is the abbreviation for Alberta, dovetailing nicely with the blood group).

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review 2017-04-25 16:46
A Morbid Taste for Bones / Ellis Peters
A Morbid Taste for Bones - Ellis Peters

In the remote Welsh mountain village of Gwytherin lies the grave of Saint Winifred. Now, in 1137, the ambitious head of Shrewsbury Abbey has decided to acquire the sacred remains for his Benedictine order. Native Welshman Brother Cadfael is sent on the expedition to translate and finds the rustic villagers of Gwytherin passionately divided by the Benedictine's offer for the saint's relics. Canny, wise, and all too wordly, he isn't surprised when this taste for bones leads to bloody murder.

The leading opponent to moving the grave has been shot dead with a mysterious arrow, and some say Winifred herself held the bow. Brother Cadfael knows a carnal hand did the killing. But he doesn't know that his plan to unearth a murderer may dig up a case of love and justice...where the wages of sin may be scandal or Cadfael's own ruin.

 

I am quite sure that I used to own a copy of this novel, back in the early 1980s. I finally donated it because I just couldn’t get into the story. Now, I look back at my younger self and shake my head, because this time around I found the story to be very accessible and very easy to engage. Another instance of the right book at the right time—not suitable for me in my 20s, but eminently suitable for me in my 50s.

I think that Brother Cadfael will become an old friend—I will certainly be reading the next book of the series! In my opinion, Peters transplants the murder mystery genre into medieval times extremely well. She gives Brother Cadfael common sense and logic to work with, plus a good dose of human psychology. How he deals with the Church hierarchy and the other Brothers feels very real and is often amusing.

The action begins slowly—the reader must be patient as Peters builds the story towards the murder, but after that, the action is unabated until the final resolution. This story is quite different from the forensic-based murder mysteries that crowd today’s shelves, but that very difference recommends it. Not exactly a cozy mystery, but a gentler one. No gore or psychopaths to deal with here.

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review 2017-04-20 18:13
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd / Agatha Christie
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd - Agatha Christie

In the village of King's Abbot, a widow's sudden suicide sparks rumors that she murdered her first husband, was being blackmailed, and was carrying on a secret affair with the wealthy Roger Ackroyd. The following evening, Ackroyd is murdered in his locked study--but not before receiving a letter identifying the widow's blackmailer. King's Abbot is crawling with suspects, including a nervous butler, Ackroyd's wayward stepson, and his sister-in-law, Mrs. Cecil Ackroyd, who has taken up residence in the victim's home. It's now up to the famous detective Hercule Poirot, who has retired to King's Abbot to garden, to solve the case of who killed Roger Ackroyd--a task in which he is aided by the village doctor and narrator, James Sheppard, and by Sheppard's ingenious sister, Caroline.

 

M. Poirot, what were you thinking? Retiring to a small village to grow vegetable marrows? I too would hurl them in fits of regret! As if marrows could suitably engage those little grey cells!

Excellent depiction of the competitive sport of gossip. Small communities everywhere suffer from it. That is one of the reasons that I came to live in a city—I can actually keep my private life relatively private!

Dame Agatha really did set the patterns for current mystery literature, didn’t she? Very, very enjoyable and as usual, I had no idea who the perpetrator was until M. Poirot did the big reveal.

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review 2017-03-29 20:10
Snowbirds
Snowbirds - Crissa-Jean Chappell

I grew up in Amish country in Northern New York, an area of both strict ordnungs more liberal Mennonites, so the topic of this book intrigued me the moment I read the back.  The story is mainly set in Pinecraft, a community in Florida that consists of both Amish and Mennonite residents.  "Snowbirds" are those Old Order Amish that come south for the winter, temporarily joining the Florida community.

 

The story is told by Lucy Zimmer, a young girl in the Mennonite community.  Unlike the Mennonite communities I am familiar with, her group embraces the long dresses and prayer caps of stricter groups.  But unlike the Amish, her dresses are pastel instead of dark blues and blacks.  Her community is allowed more mainstream living, including electricity, phones, cars, etc.  But unlike the Amish, they do not embrace rumspringa.

 

Lucy's best friend is Alice, a member of the Old Order community.  She is in the middle of her rumspringa and that puts a bit of chasm between the two girls.  Alice is embracing the freedom of rumspringa and Lucy is left trying to keep up.  But after an argument, Lucy finds herself with a boy she should never be with, an Old Order boy who was shunned by his community.  To make matters worse, while Lucy is with Faron, Alice disappears.

 

This is such an interesting story.  On one hand, it is a bit of a coming-of-age story as Lucy struggles with her own ideology and dreams.  She has been struggling for a long time, caught between wanting a life outside of Pinecraft and the beliefs she has grown up with.  Her quest to find Alice teaches her so much about the outside world and about herself.  In the end, it has been an eye-opening experience that Lucy probably needed in order to find her place in the world.  On the other hand, the story is a mystery... what happened to Alice?  No one else seems to care besides Lucy and she is loyal and brave, determined to find answers, even if those answers may change how she looks at the world.

Source: thecaffeinateddivareads.multifacetedmama.com/?p=12855
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