Meeting of Mystery, Pt. 2
Posted by: Neil Hollands
Let me finish my report on some of the great books discussed in the Williamsburg Regional Library staff book group’s mystery meeting. The first half of the books were described here.
Connie from Outreach Services began with the debut by Luke McCallin, The Man from Berlin. It’s a murder mystery set during WWII, with a detective who is a military intelligence officer trying to uphold justice during a time when violence and death are everyday occurrences and political and personal vendettas run rampant. Perhaps what makes McCallin’s book unusual, though, is that the detective here is a German officer, Captain Gregor Reinhardt. He’s in occupied Yugoslavia investigating the death of a German officer and a beautiful filmmaker. With a conflicted hero and a puzzle box of competing motives and forces, this is a promising start to a new writer’s career.
Connie’s other choice was a paranormal mystery, the first book by James P. Kimmel. The Trial of Fallen Angels features Brek Cuttler, a successful wife, mother, and lawyer who suddenly finds herself in the afterlife and asked to present the cases of souls awaiting their final judgment. In the process of doing so, she also begins to find clues to what happened to her on the train platform where her own fate changed so drastically. The book is somewhat reminiscent of titles like The Lovely Bones that find a way to make sad events less so by following the victims into life after death.
Ann Marie from Outreach also had two titles. The first was The Crossing Places, the first of the Ruth Galloway mysteries by Elly Griffiths. Ann Marie enjoyed the down-to-earth protagonist, a sarcastic but introverted middle-aged woman of spreading girth who makes her living as a professor and forensic archaeologist. She’s brought into a plot concerning a small body in the Norfolk marshes that may be very old or rather new and some letters about ritual sacrifice. Four more novels have followed in this strong English series to date.
Ann Marie’s other choice, also highly recommended, was Now You See Me, S. J. Bolton’s first Lacey Flint mystery. Bolton writes in a contemporary gothic style and her Flint is a young woman Detective Inspector who works in London and has many personal issues, past and present (these are introduced over the course of the book, so I won’t give them away up front). She discovers the first body from a Jack the Ripper-copycat serial killer and ultimately becomes a target herself. Dead Scared and Lost have followed in the series.
Susan from Youth Services decided to explore the long running and popular Kinsey Millhone series, starting at the beginning with A is for Alibi, which she enjoyed. Sue Grafton’s California PI was one of the forerunners for contemporary female detectives and 22 books later, (but not nearly that many life years for the detective, who has stayed in the 1980s), she’s still going strong, with W is for Wasted, and the most recent publication, a story collection called Kinsey and Me that features the author’s alter ego, Kit Blue as an important character. The end of the alphabet is nearing!
Gail, a recent retiree from Adult Services, chose Persona Non Grata, the third in Ruth Downie’s series about Roman army doctor Gaius Petreius Ruso. This time he’s called from his post in Brittania with his friend, companion, and slave Tilla to his home of Gaul. Gaius wants to introduce the British Tilla to the family (which doesn’t go well) but his pulled into a plot that involves the death of his brother-in-law, the near bankruptcy of his family, the new Christian sect, and gladiators. Downie writes with humor, creates strong characters, makes good use of her historical backdrop. In a series that began with Medicus and so far stretches to five books with Semper Fidelis.
I hope you found as many new authors and series to check out in this collection of mysteries as I did. Now I’m on to our next topic, novels about family dysfunction in time for the holiday season!