After a banner reading month in July, I slowed down a little for August, with seven books on the list. This month they were all mysteries.
"A Sea of Troubles" by Donna Leon
Fans of Leon's Commisario Brunetti will find that Signorina Elettra, the highly capable secretary of his boss, gets her chance to shine when she goes undercover on the trail of a murderer in a small Italian fishing village. What first seemed a pleasant diversion from the office turns into a harrowing adventure for the secretary as Brunetti and his sergeant, Vianello, begin to close in on the murderer. The further I got into it, the harder it was to put down!
"Murder at the Masque" by Amy Myers
I was very lucky to win Buttercup's drawing on her book blog in July. (She also has the delightful "Buttercup....) One of the two books I received from Carol was "Murder at the Masque." This mystery is set in the late Victorian era and finds a Scotland Yard detective and a chef joining forces to discover who stole some Faberge "Easter Eggs," given by an amorous count to the seven women with who he had previously had liaisons. Now the eggs are stolen and all are gathered in the South of France for a gala holiday. When the husband of one ofthe count's paramours is killed, the quest for the missing eggs also adds a search for a murderer. (The dishes the chef prepares and the menus highlighted here are enough to make your mouth water!)
"The Chalk Pit," "The Dark Angel" and "The Stone Circle" by Elly Griffiths
These three entries in the "Ruth Galloway" series find the archaeologist again wrapped up in several murder cases. In "The Chalk Pit," Ruth is called in when bones are found in abandoned mining tunnels under the city of Norwich. Meanwhile, DI Harry Nelson is on the hunt for a missing homeless woman, following the murder of two homeless men. The cases collide in another fine episode of this series.
Ruth steps out of her comfort zone when she, her friend Shona and their children, travel to Italy to help a fellow archaeologist friend identify some bones. As they work and enjoy the countryside, they learn about the region's WWII Resistance history and become embroiled in the past. Meanwhile, Nelson, worried about his and Ruth's daughter, Kate, shows up and the murder plots intensify.
"The Stone Circle" finds Nelson receiving an anonymous letter relating to a case from book one of the series. Ruth, too, receives a letter connected to their first murder case, along with a visit from her old friend Eric's son. Past and present collide in the search for a missing girl. Meanwhile, Nelson realizes it is time to tell his daughters that they have a half-sister.
I love this series because it deals not only with the cases, which are well written but with the lives of the characters, well drawn and filled with the contradictions and concerns to which we might all relate. It is definitely one to read in order. (In fact, sometimes the sequencing in the books is so tight that the next one begins on the same days as the last page of the previous book.
The Dead of Winter by Rennie Airth
When the body of a Polish refugee is found during a London WWII blackout, it is discovered that she was a land girl, working for former Scotland Yard inspector John Madden at his countryside farm. When Madden discovers the death of Rosa, he asks he friend, Chief Inspector Sinclair, to look into things. The investigation reveals not only the death of Rosa but of several others and links back to a case of missing diamonds and a ruthless killer.
This is another series with excellent plots and well drawn characters. They are sequential in nature but the mystery is self-contained. It will be a richer experience to read these in order, but not completely necessary.
Holy Terror in the Hebrides by Jeanne M. Dams
Ex-pat Dorothy Martin is back, this time taking a holiday while her home in England is being renovated. Scheduled to spend time on the Scottish island of Iona with her friends Lynn and Tom, Dorothy realizes she is on her own when illness cancels her friends' trip. Having left the key to their rental behind, she temporarily lodges at a small hotel with a group of Americans from various church denominations, most of whom don't particularly like one another -- or Dorothy. But when she sees a member of the group fall to his death, she suspects foul play and is drawn into another mystery.
This is a fun series -- nothing too serious but completely enjoyable and a nice break after reading a heavier book!
Now, I'd better get going on that September pile!
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