Tag Archives: Crime fiction

Catch-up Review: Ruth Galloway Series by Elly Griffiths

6 Jun

I’m doing a series of catch-up review posts to try and make up for my year of not blogging. These are quick reviews of books I’ve read over 2012-2013.

Genre: Crime fiction, Forensic Archeology

Series list: https://www.goodreads.com/series/46415-ruth-galloway

Review

This is one of my all-time favourite series that I discovered in 2012. Ruth Galloway is a forensic archaeologist who teaches at Norfolk University. In her forties, single and overweight, she’s a successful woman who manages to overcome what society tells her her life (and weight) should be. And just for this I love her. She is witty, sarcastic and all-too human. Oh and she has two cats and they’re not baby substitutes. And she lives on the desolate Saltmarsh.

In the first book of the series, The Crossing Places, DI Harry Nelson enlists Ruth’s help when the remains of a child are found. Nelson thinks that it might be the bones of Lucy Downey, and little girl who went missing years ago. While these bones turn out to be from the Iron Age, Ruth starts to help Nelson with the missing child case. Although Nelson is (happily) married, the attraction between him and Ruth is evident and while this is not front and centre overall, it is certainly an important part of the character arcs.

The second books of the series moves from the Iron Age to Ancient Rome and the two-headed god, Janus. The third book then moves on to the Second World War. In Room Full of Bones, the fourth book (the most fantastical of the lot) Ruth learns about Aboriginal beliefs and in Dying Fall, Ruth goes to Blackpool to to help with the identification of bones unearthed by an old friend.

Apart from Ruth and Nelson, the other recurring characters are also loveable – at least unforgettable – chief among them the Druid Cathbad. An anti-establishment eccentric who also works in the university, he becomes a sort of protector to both Ruth and Nelson

Summarising five books in one post is too much to ask for, but I’ve  loved each of them and very much look forward to the next installment of the series.

Verdict

Witty, sarcastic forensic archaeologist as the protagonist, gripping storylines – great for history buffs who are not historians.

Rating: 4*

*See my Rating policy

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© Stargazerpuj and Stargazerpuj’s Book Blog, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.
A Room Full of Bones 4 Dying Fall 5 The Crossing Places 1 The House at Seas End 3 untitled

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: The Keeper of Lost Causes by Jussi Adler-Olsen

29 Aug

Genre: Crime fiction

Series: Series Q #1

Publisher: Penguin Group USA (Dutton)

Pub date: 18 Aug 2011

Source: Publisher via NetGalley

Synopsis

Carl Mørck was one of the top homicide detectives in Copenhagen. But when he loses two colleagues and is almost killed on a case, Mørck loses his edge and is guilt ridden at not having been able to protect them. So when he comes back to work, a promotion is the last thing he expects. Mørck is asked to head a new Department Q and solve cold cases. But when he sees his new basemnet office, it becomes clear that all this promotion is supposed to do is keep Mørck out of the way and out of trouble. But when he starts looking into a 5-year old case of a missing politician Merete Lyngaard, Mørck might just have stumbled onto something important.

Review

The Department Q series is another brilliant crime thriller in the Scandinavian thriller genre. When Carl Mørck is relegated to the basement with a bunch of cold cases that no one cares about, he is quite happy to do nothing. But his assistant, Hafez el-Assad, is enthusiastic enough for the both of them. Mørck starts looking into the Merete Lyngaard disappearance case just to keep Assad busy, but soon gets interested in this cold case.

Five years ago Merete Lyngaard was traveling to Germany on holiday with her brother Uffe. She disappeared from the boat and Uffe was later found in Germany. The investigation revealed the Uffe was mentally challenged and was a suspect in her disappearance. When the case was abandoned, questions about her disappearance remained unanswered – did she fall overboard, did she commit suicide, did her brother kill her? Is she still alive?

The page turning and tension in The Keeper of Lost Causes (UK title Mercy) comes from the Lyngaard case and the need to find out what happened/will happen to Merete. But it is the interaction between Mørck and Assad that gives it a brilliantly humorous twist and will keep the reader invested.

Verdict

Highly recommended for all fans of crime fiction. I’m looking forward to the next book in the Department Q series.

Rating: 4*

*See my Rating policy

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© Stargazerpuj and Stargazerpuj’s Book Blog, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Book Review: Long Gone by Alafair Burke

1 Aug

Genre: Crime fiction

Publisher: Harper Collins (Harper)

Pub date: 21 June 2011

Source: Publisher

Synopsis
After months of struggle following a layoff, Alice Humphrey gets an offer that seems too good to be true. She is approached by Drew Campbell who wants to hire her to manage an art gallery for a secretive art connoisseur. Brushing initial doubts aside, Alice takes on the job. The picketing by a religious group the day after the show opens is only the start of her troubles.

Review
This is the first book I’ve read by Alafair Burke and now I wonder how that can be. In this intricately plotted mystery, Burke brings together some very different story-lines.

Alice Humphrey doesn’t know who she works for. She hasn’t even met the artist whose work is being shown in the gallery opening. Her only contact is with the middleman Drew Campbell. In spite of all the red flags, Alice convinces herself that this is a great chance and sets about doing a good job.

But her job and life fall apart when Alice suddenly finds herself in the middle of a murder investigation. Nothing is as it seems and the deck is stacked against her as the police keep finding clues that point towards Alice. She must uncover and 20 year old secret while her life is threatened. Why has she been set up and who is the redhead in the photograph that the police believe is her?

Meanwhile, 15-year-old Becca has gone missing from her mother’s home. FBI Agent Hank Morhart is trying to track her down while at the same time stalking an old nemesis.

Helped by an obsessed FBI agent, Alice Humphrey digs out the truth and finds that as much as she ran away from her family, some old family secrets are still dogging her.

These two plots and some other characters come together in surprising ways in this fast-paced, intricately plotted mystery filled with satisfying twists and turns.

While dealing with social issues like child pornography, the story also brings to light the pitfalls of our digital social media life.

Verdict
Definitely recommended for fans of crime fiction. And I will definitely be reading other works by Alafair Burke – the Ellie Hatcher and Samantha Kincaid series

Rating: 4*

*See my Rating policy

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© Stargazerpuj and Stargazerpuj’s Book Blog, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Book Review: Strong Poison by Dorothy L. Sayers (Audiobook)

8 Jun

Genre: Detective fiction

Series: Lord Peter Wimsey #6

Publisher: BBC WW

Pub date: 26 Feb 2009

Source: Personal copy

Format: Audiobook

Narrator: Ian Carmichael

Length: 7 hrs and 34 mins

Synopsis

Mystery writer Harriet Vane has been accused of murdering her ex-lover Phillip Boyes by poisoning him with arsenic. Harriet does know an awful lot about arsenic since she has been doing research for her next book. All the evidence seems to support the accusation, but Lord Peter Wimsey is convinced of Harriet’s innocence. When the jury is unable to come to a unanimous verdict, Lord Peter gets a chance to put his sleuthing skills to the test.

Review

Set in the 1930s, Strong Poison is a classic murder mystery from the Golden Age.

Dorothy Sayers books are not easily found in book shops here, so I haven’t been able to find the very first of the series (Whose Body?) But this one is a beginning of sorts – with the beginning of the romance storyline between Harriet Vane and Lord Peter Wimsey.

The wit and satire combined with the sleuthing makes think of this series as sort of Wodehouse meets Conan Doyle. But, let’s face it, the mystery in Strong Poison was practically non-existent. In fact, the story starts with a long social commentary on the sins of men and women living together without the sanction of holy matrimony. And anyone who reads crime fiction will figure out the mystery almost right in the beginning.

So if not for the mystery, this book kicks ass because of the female power in it. Harriet Vane is herself strong woman. She is a writer of murder mysteries – an unusual occupation for a woman. She openly lived with her lover and declined his offer of marriage. She is an intriguing character and I completely understand Lord Peter’s attraction to her.

And while Lord Peter’s belief and connections help solve the mystery, it is the other women in this story who really do the heavy lifting by gathering irrefutable evidence.

Miss Climpton and Miss Murchison both go undercover to get information and proof. While Miss Murchison gets a job as a typist for prime suspect, lawyer and cousin of the victim, Miss Climpton has a much more exciting time. She befriends a nurse who takes care of an old actress (Boyes’ great-aunt) to uncover the truth about her will. Interesting because it does lead to a rather improbable situation with a seance, which could have been a lot funnier if it was a lot shorter.

The romance in the story is the sweetest kind. Both Lord Peter and Harriet  are very practical people. And I loved that Wimsey was attracted to Harriet for her intelligence, independence and her love of mysteries.

The audiobook: I listened to this as an audiobook and the drama of the story was great fun in this format. I didn’t especially love the narrator, but overall, the audiobook was fun.

Verdict

Recommended for fans of the Golden Age of mysteries. I can’t suggest the audiobook for this one unfortunately, but the book should be a quick and fun read.

Rating: 4*

*See my Rating policy

Find more audiobook reviews and discussion posts at Devourer of Books where Jen is celebrating Audiobook Week.

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