After last month's embarrassing solo entry, I was happy to finish off three books. All these are mysteries and all are worth your time.
"Suffer the Little Children" -- by Donna Leon
This book in the Guido Brunetti series, set in Venice, finds the commissario called out in the wee hours to investigate an incident that turns out to be connected to a group that arranges for childless couples who want to adopt to "buy" a child, carried by a woman and surrendered at birth. The suspect in this case is a doting father -- a pediatrician -- who, when his home was raided by the Carabiniere, assaulted a police officer in self-defense, as they took his child and arrested him.
While Brunetti isn't certain of his feelings about the adoption part of this situation, he feels the doctor may have been wrongly accused and he seeks more information about the adoption scheme from many, including the doctor's wealthy father-in-law, his strangely disengaged wife, and others in the community.
Meanwhile, Sergeant Vianello and Signorina Eletra are doing their own investigation of pharmacists who are scamming the health syster and may be blackmailing their clients. Could it be that the two cases are related?
As always, Leon weaves a good story with plenty of clues and yet a quite surprising conclusion. This one has many wonderful moments between Brunetti, Vianello and Signorina Elettra, as well as the home segments with his wife, Paola and their children that make the books particularly delightful.
"Post After Post-Mortem" by E.C.R. Lorac
This offering in the British Library Crime Classics is a solid one featuring Lorac's detective, Inspector MacDonald. In the early pages we meet the erudite literary family, the Surrarys. While brother Robert is a doctor and brother Richard a psychiatrist, the other members of the family are deep in the literary world with daughter Ruth being a well known writer and daughter Naomi coming into her own.
When Ruth is found dead in her bedroom after a dinner party -- presumably of a suicide -- Richard is not convinced, having received a letter from her posted the evening of the party in which she sounded quite happy. What could have happened to change things so quickly? Or, could it be murder?
The suspects, of course, are other family members as well as the guests at the party -- the man she had named literary executor in her newly-written will, a young man quite smitten by her, and her publisher. Also under suspicion was a noted explorer that perhaps she might be in love with -- and her sister Naomi, who had started seeing the explorer herself.
MacDonald has a good deal of suspects and many clues to unravel. There is plenty of circumstantial evidence but nothing so definitive as to change the results of the inquest, naming suicide as the cause of death. But the detective is nothing if not thorough and with trusty Sergeant Reeves, he untangles the mystery in a most satisfactory way.
Definitely worth a read for fans of the classic mystery.
"The Twist of a Knife" -- by Anthony Horowitz
In the fourth book of the "Hawthorne" series by Anthony Horowitz (who plays a key fictional character in this series as well) we find that the author has decided not to write another book about the detective, partly due to frustration in his last endeavors and partly because he has a play -- "Mindgame' -- is in rehearsal and soon to open in the West End.
The play has a cast of three and others involved with the production include the director (who has had some serious challenges in the past), the producer (not known for his hits), the producer's assistant, the theatre doorman, and the production's accountant.
When theatre critic Harriet Throsby, known for her ascerbic reviews, writes a devastating piece about the play, blaming author Horowitz in large part for a bad script (but none too nice about the cast or direction), no one is particularly upset that she was found murdered at her home. But since she was killed with a dagger given to Anthony on opening night, it is he who is arrested for the murder. DNA complicates the matter even more.
With Horowitz out on bail for 48 hours until the DNA results come back, he returns to Hawthorne, begging for his help in finding the killer. Thus, the two are off, talking to suspects and Throsby's family, in a frantic search.
I really enjoy Horowitz/s Hawthorne series, which mixes in real-life events (yes, he really DID write the play "Mindgame," as described in the book) with a rollicking romp with an eccentric character in search of answers.
You don't have to read this series in order to appreciate the mystery but it is worth it, simply to watch how the relationship between the two major characters evolves.