All posts tagged: Mystery

The Insanity of Murder – Felicity Young

Two passionate suffragettes plant a bomb on the Necropolis Railway, leading to greater damage than planned, and one of the two is Dody McCleland’s sister. Dody is in a pickle, balancing her quest for justice and cooperation with the police on one side and her loyalty to her sister on the other side. The investigation leads to other murders, stemming back to the Elysium Rest Home for Gentlewomen. The historical ride in The Insanity of Murder is intricate, well researched, and immensely entertaining. Beginning with the Necropolis Railway, the suffrage movement, Bedlam asylum, hunger strikes, medical practices, and Edwardian society in general. I could easily continue this list. Felicity Young excels in using historical detail to color the story instead of drowning it. That said, the period with it revolutions and evolutions in many fields is a popular backdrop for stories and I cannot help immediately drawing parallels to some of them. This is also emphasized with the centennial for women’s rights in these years – depending on which country you focus on, as evidenced …

Mystery – Jonathan Kellerman

”Like a con man on the run, LA buries its past. Maybe that’s why no one argued when the sentence came down: The Fauborg had to die. I live in a company town where the product is illusion. In the alternate universe ruled by sociopaths who make movies, communication mean snappy dialogue, the scalpel trumps genetics, and permanence is mortal sin because it slows down the shoot. LA used to have more Victorian mansions than San Francisco but LA called in the wrecking ball and all that handwork gave way to thirties bungalows that yielded to fifties dingbats, which were vanquished, in turn, by big-box adult dormitories with walls a toddler can put a fist through. Preservationists try to stem the erosion but end up fighting for the likes of gas stations and ticky-tack motels. Money changes hands, zoning laws are finessed, and masterpieces like the Ambassador Hotel dissolve like wrinkles shot with Botox.” Mystery, Jonathan Kellerman, p. 1 When I read the first page of “Mystery” I thought: “WOW!” And read it again. If …

The Executioner – Chris Carter

  Chris Carter has done it again: another exquisite, horrific thriller that left me up all night. I was unable to go to sleep in fear of nightmares and I wanted to read a few more chapters. Chris Carter deserves to be mentioned in the line-up of the great thriller writers. The plot of “The Executioner” is excellent! The killer knows what his victims fear most: decapitation, fire, needles and uses that knowledge to torture and murder them in the most unimaginable gruesome ways. That unimaginable gruesomeness is a main feature in “The Executioner”. Hardened by reading thrillers, and studying criminal case law, the gruesomeness still chilled me to the bone due to its originality. I am in awe of Carter’s imagination and pretty scared of it. The twists and turns of the novel are finely woven into the plot, so there are no obvious red herrings here. An informant with ESP plays an important part, without making the plot unrealistic, as does a second killer with his own agenda and bullying. These facets give …

Dissolution – C. J. Sansom

Dissolution is one of those immaculate novels where the reader is immersed in history, not that history is a heavy cloak, but where the author brings a period in time to life and the pages are saturated in historical details which makes the time period in question even more vivid. C. J. Sansom works magic in Dissolution. I could actually feel the stigma of being a hunchback, as the main character is, feel the mud of a cold November road cling to my shoes, and feel the warmth of a well-stoked fire in an otherwise stone cold room. The relevant time-period is 1537 and for once, the plot line is not Henry VIII and his capricious love affairs, leaving many a wife dead. Henry has proclaimed himself Supreme Head of the Church, and Thomas Cromwell implements new laws and the following terrorizing regime of trails both swiftly and without compromise. One order of business is ensuring the obedience of the monasteries and the building of wealth through the monasteries’ concession to the crown. A commissioner …

The Shining Girls – Lauren Beukes

I half expected “The Shining Girls” to be one of those entertaining, if somewhat shallow, stories with a supernatural twist that resembles a piece of chocolate: wonderful while it lasts, but without staying power. I was in for a pleasant – well actually unpleasant – surprise. “The Shining Girls” is a grim story centered around Harper (male) and Kirby (female), who are both stalking someone – each other. As a child, Kirby was visited by a stranger, who walked up to her and gave her a plastic horse and a promise that he will be back. He comes back – to kill her in a gruesome, particular scene that left me unable to sleep afterwards. As an adult, Kirby attaches herself to a former crime journalist in order to find her killer and she is propelled down a road that does not make sense. Harper is a drifter through time in search of his shining girls. He visits them when they are most innocent and then comes back to kill them. He is connected to …

Instruments of Darkness – Imogen Robertson

“Instruments of Darkness” depicts an interesting historical time around the 1770s. Although the main plot plays out in England, there are shapshots of the American war of independence and life at sea around the world. Old noble families with old money are crumbling morally and financially in comparison to new industrial gentiles, who buy into manor houses. Secrets are hidden under the surface and while some wish to let them lie, others search to uncover the truth especially when an unknown man and a nurse are murdered. These others are Harriet Westerman, nouveau riche, who runs the Caveley estate while her husband is at sea and Crowther, natural scientist, who only partakes on Harriet’s insistency and carries secrets of his own. They fight a tough battle against suppressed truths and general contentions that inquisitiveness is not in the interest of society. “Instruments of Darkness” was a great read – excellent story, good characters, and both enough details to make it interesting and enough pace to keep the pages turning, but I doubt the book will …

66° North – Michael Ridpath

Iceland, the volcanic island in the North Atlantic is the main feature of “66 ° North” with its lava fields, fells, mountains, and barren landscape. In addition to the exotic landscape, Iceland’s political and societal landscape serves as a new and highly interesting foundation for a crime novel. Iceland is an exciting place, and it is really what sets this novel apart from the many, many others in the same genre. In 2009, Iceland almost literally went kerplunk. The historical economic boom came to an end with devestating results for the Icelandic individual and the nation as a whole. Huge loans in international currencies were defaulted and Iceland now has an almost insurmountable debt. That is the starting point for a meeting of 5 individuals at a demonstration ending in the death of a banker. The main character is Boston PD detective Magnus, who has come to his ancestral Iceland to work with the police there. With his American, big city/violent crime background, he seems almost over-dimensional in comparison to the more muted Icelandic police …

The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club – Dorothy L. Sayers

Refined, quirky, and intelligent are the first words that come to mind when describing this Peter Wimsey mystery, followed by undeniably English with that dry humor that can be delivered with a stiff upper lip, but left me giggling aloud. For example from page 15: ‘Acid man you are,’ said Wimsey. ‘No reverence, no simple faith or anything of that kind. Do lawyers ever go to heaven?’ ‘I have no information on that point,’ said Mr. Murbles dryly. What’s not to love? The center of the story is the death of two elderly siblings and the question of which one of them died first. This has importance regarding the wills. However, the story is anything but simple and spirals outward from there in an all together organic way. The story takes place in the 1920s and the exquisite storyline is coupled with an intricate portrait of the era. The result is a murder mystery of the highest order. This is one of those few books that I enjoy so much that I want to read …