**spoiler alert** This is my first venture into the world of lawyer and former college athlete Josie Baylor-Bates, and I did it in downloaded e-book f**spoiler alert** This is my first venture into the world of lawyer and former college athlete Josie Baylor-Bates, and I did it in downloaded e-book form, which means my expectations were not high. They were, however, exceeded - the book was well-written and well-plotted, and held my interest with its difficult characters. I had the actual villain of the piece tagged fairly early on, but that didn't spoil my enjoyment of the unrolling.
The theme running through this book is the failure of the mother-daughter relationship. Though the victim is male and there is a somewhat likely male suspect, at the end of the day Forster's men are not quite as complex as her women. The men are various degrees of abusive, or else warm, professional and supportive, like Bates' colleagues and her ex-policeman lover who does a lot of her investigative legwork (very convenient!)
Hannah, the protagonist whose interests Josie defends vehemently, has a difficult past and a very difficult present - she is the very definition of unreliable, since she suffers from mental illness. I found that aspect of her well depicted.
Bates is tied into the theme of the story through two separate emotional wounds in her past - her own unhappy relationship with her mother, and a case where she won with her defence of a killer who then went on to murder her (the killer's) own children. This was perhaps one too many angsts, but I forgave the author for the sake of the emotional focus it gave to the story. I will keep an eye open for more of these....more
I don't follow this series as a series (I'm not keen enough on pathology stories), but after some thought I can tell you what I liked about this one -I don't follow this series as a series (I'm not keen enough on pathology stories), but after some thought I can tell you what I liked about this one - it was the picture of grownups cooperating on a professional level, internationally, interdepartmentally, interorganizationally, in the name of public service. Much as it is probably in the real world. And that's why the central plot, which turned on the treachery of an interloper, someone who doesn't place the demands of truth and accuracy above the demands of money, speaks so strongly to me. In order to give the story its requisite shiver rating, Reichs also introduces a corresponding physical hazard for her protagonist, Tempe, who ends up gothically entombed in the underground cave system of Montreal. But really in some ways it was the metaphorical back-stabbing in the office setting that gave me more chills....more
I won't lie - I missed Banks. It's so comfortable having him at the centre of Robinson's mysteries that you almost resent the effort of figuring out tI won't lie - I missed Banks. It's so comfortable having him at the centre of Robinson's mysteries that you almost resent the effort of figuring out the stranger (especially since this is a first-person novel, so there are the added complexities of whether the narrator is reliable or not). Nonetheless I enjoyed following along with this tale, and found it pleasantly unpredictable. At first it almost looked like a "cozy", with a self-contained mystery buried in the past of a house with a nasty secret. The landscape broadened out considerably though, as the narrator (recovering from grief) also found his way back to a broader life. Amidst the horrors of past, irremediable intolerances, then, the apparently irrelevant romance for the central character signifies hope for the future. On to the "keeper" shelf it goes....more
This novel, where more and more people keep showing up at a closed-for-winter inn, each with his or her own agenda, is great fun and full of humorousThis novel, where more and more people keep showing up at a closed-for-winter inn, each with his or her own agenda, is great fun and full of humorous characters. Very much in the key of farce, with twists and turns all the way to the end - enjoyed it quite a bit....more
This is the story of a serial killer who believes himself descended from Jack the Ripper; it has a high ick factor from the gruesome murder methods anThis is the story of a serial killer who believes himself descended from Jack the Ripper; it has a high ick factor from the gruesome murder methods and gruesome descriptions thereof. That notwithstanding, I enjoyed the read by getting interested in the interpersonal relations of Smoky Barrett and her team, which were really quite well done.
The story is told in the present tense and in the first person. Don't mind the first person, but I occasionally found the present tense tripping me up - guess I associate it too much with bad fanfiction! ...more
Well, I personally enjoy cats who supply insights into a case, so Virginia West's companion didn't raise my hackles at all - but I can see how, if youWell, I personally enjoy cats who supply insights into a case, so Virginia West's companion didn't raise my hackles at all - but I can see how, if you're looking for realism and Psychological Depth in your police procedural, this first of the Andy Brazil novels would make you whine. Like the second one, this is a blithe romp, a cheerful piece of nonsense. I enjoyed it, and then forgot it to the point that I had to flip through it again to remind me how it went....more
**spoiler alert** A one-day read, for distraction from life's more intractable problems: as such, it served its purpose, but once again I found I had**spoiler alert** A one-day read, for distraction from life's more intractable problems: as such, it served its purpose, but once again I found I had picked up a book that was half-way into a genre I dislike, the romance. The puzzle itself - resolving questions of identity (a double-thumbed child of murdered parents, and a similarly double-thumbed murdered baby, found as a bricked-in skeleton 25 years later), was well enough handled. Characters were clearly, though not terribly deeply, defined. But the overheated sex scene and the machinations approaching it - bah! Well, I suppose there's a large market for that, or it wouldn't sell in drugstores...
The solution was sensationalist and implausible, but that's fair game for a story with such gothic elements; didn't mind that. On the other hand, I wonder where on earth DNA results come back so fast?...more
**spoiler alert** This novel features a colourful sidekick for Ashton-Kirk: Bat Scanlon, fighter and gym owner. Scanlon is pretty obviously the brawn**spoiler alert** This novel features a colourful sidekick for Ashton-Kirk: Bat Scanlon, fighter and gym owner. Scanlon is pretty obviously the brawn to A-K's brain.
A "well-known clubman", Thomas Burton, estranged from his family, is found murdered at the home shared by his son and daughter. There is a glamorous actress, Nora Cavanaugh, beloved of Bat, who just so happens to be separated (not divorced) from Burton. He had been pestering her for money.
Ashton-Kirk's investigations give the author opportunity for word pictures of various contemporary urban scenes outside the usual haunts of a middle-class reader: an illegal gambling establishment, a Chinese restaurant, and fisticuffs between professional fighters, for instance. However, detailed description isn't McIntyre's forte - instead he advances his characters through his red herrings with lots of dialogue.
The main red herring is Nora the actress, the theft of whose diamonds is contemporary with the murder. To Bat Scanlon's dismay, she seems to develop into the primary suspect. To further complicate matters, Frank Burton, the son, confesses to the murder while held in custody, but it is unclear whom he is protecting.
It turns out to be a double red herring: two near unknowns, introduced near the end of the book, turn out to be the evildoers, eliminating both the obvious female (Nora) and the less obvious (Mary, Frank's sister, whom he was protecting).
I found myself thrown out of the narrative a number of times by racial/national stereotypes (mostly conveyed through "accents"). One of the main villains is characterized as Swiss, but is referred to as Dutch on one page, making me think McIntyre wasn't too worried about phonological accuracy so long as he could suggest "foreign villain"! The use of casual racist terms like "chinks" is of its time, and appropriate in the mouths of the characters, such as a burglar, who say them, but still a bit bumpy for a modern reader. Some passages, by contrast, are disconcertingly modern, such as the discussion Bat has with his criminal friend about trading in "snow" and "dope".
Despite the merciless prolonging of the two female red herring stories, which I found made the ending seem both abrupt and unsatisfactory, I did enjoy this mystery quite a bit....more
**spoiler alert** In this volume, Ashton-Kirk's Watson is a man of his own class named Pendleton, an unadventurous soul drawn unwillingly into adventu**spoiler alert** In this volume, Ashton-Kirk's Watson is a man of his own class named Pendleton, an unadventurous soul drawn unwillingly into adventure, rather like Poirot's Hastings.
I find McIntyre's amateur detective curiously colourless. And yet I quite enjoyed the unfolding of this mystery, mostly for its bizarre elements. The case opens conventionally with a woman in distress, Edyth Vale. Her beloved, Allan Morris, is somehow at the mercy of a "mocking monster", an antiquarian named Hume. Hume is murdered & Morris comes under suspicion. The murder weapon is the first bizarre element - a bayonet. Then there's a plethora of pictures of the same general, a shorthand message left in candle-wax upon the stairs, and a mysterious deaf mute scientist (who devises an explosive end for himself).
The murder is committed, it turns out, over plans for a heavier-than-air flying machine, concealed behind a portrait (the plans, not the machine!) And more than that I will not say, including any discussion of the actual murderer....more
Take four modern American teenage girls, ca. 1910, one of whom drives a car! and a fussy spinster chaperone with a heart of gold. Mix with a not veryTake four modern American teenage girls, ca. 1910, one of whom drives a car! and a fussy spinster chaperone with a heart of gold. Mix with a not very wild rural area still wild enough to harbour a last-of-her-tribe Indian woman and her teenage granddaughter, who appears only partly Indian and who owns the unlikely name of Eunice. Add in an uncle-nephew combination who are experimenting with airships and balloons in the neighbourhood, and who are mysteriously connected with said reclusive Indian females (a gold locket bearing initials provides the clue, of course!). An aristocratic charity event with egg-and-spoon races and the chasing/racing of domestic animals provides a brief diversion, and Babs gets her own horse due to the superiority of her riding (thus run the fantasies of young female readers, no doubt!) What do you get? Well, a bit of a muddle when trying to recollect the story, I have to say. And of course the treatment of the native element of the story is uncomfortable, a century on. But it's fun and interesting to see what elements would appeal to young female readers at that time, both modern and quasi-mythological (the young Indian girl is treated as a possible ghost at the beginning of the story).
This is the second of the "Automobile Girls" stories, and the first of the two presented in the e-version of the Greatest Mystery Collection....more