Continuing on with my newfound mystery addiction I picked up the first of Bolton’s Lacey Flint series. Now You See Me starts off as a recreation of thContinuing on with my newfound mystery addiction I picked up the first of Bolton’s Lacey Flint series. Now You See Me starts off as a recreation of the Ripper murders. It’s dark and graphic. Then, this mystery evolves into something so much bigger, which can all be traced back to the rape of two young women eleven years ago. In the present, someone is murdering woman in the style of the Ripper murders all the while sending a message to DC Lacey Flint.
After the first victim dies in Lacey’s arms Lacey is brought onto the investigative team, mostly so that the investigators can keep an eye on her as the killer seems to have fixated on Lacey. The DI in charge, Dana Tulloch, wants to protect Lacey from the killer as well as use her knowledge of the original Ripper murders. DI Mark Joesbury, on the other hand, is much more suspicious of Lacey, taking the approach that Lacey herself might have something to do with the murders. Readers are quickly made aware that, yes, Lacey is involved – there is a reason that she’s been targeted by the killer, and it’s figuring out exactly what those reasons are that make this a compelling and suspenseful read.
Generally, I would have to admit that I tend to shy away from overly violent or graphic crime fiction. There is no question that Now You See Me was a violent and disturbing read. Had I not been invested in the character of Lacey and her mysterious past I doubt I would have been compelled to finish reading this one. Lacey Flint was a complicated character. She’s keeping a lot of secrets and figuring those secrets out is what made me keep reading. Why is her flat spartan? Why is she so adamant about disguising her appearance at work? By the end I don’t think readers really know who Lacey Flint is, but it’s that unknowable quality that makes Lacey an interesting and compelling character.
Another facet of Lacey that I find intriguing is that you can’t really label her “good” or “bad”. Lacey has a complicated past and her actions are, on occasion, morally questionable. She willfully withholds information (and no really seems to mind, which I find hard to believe) and charges into situations without really considering all the variable. Despite the fact that Lacey isn't necessarily "likeable", she's too complicated for that, but I really liked this characterization and I think it made Lacey a much stronger character, one that a series can be based around. Lacey's not "good" but she is interesting and I would argue that that is much more important. Considering what is revealed at the end of Now You See Me I will most definitely be back for book two; I need to know what happens to Lacey next.
Bolton is also a master are developing suspense in Now You See Me. So often I found myself thinking that I had figured something out only to question my way of thinking with new tidbits that Bolton later drops. I was completely invested in the mystery and with the high level of suspense I didn’t want to put the book down.
Now You SeeMe is an excellent introduction to a character and a great series opener. This is not a mystery series for the faint of heart; it’s dark and graphic and doesn’t shy away from giving readers the full details at the murder scene. That said, if you are untroubled by the graphic descriptions, readers of character-driven mysteries will be hooked on Lacey Flint.
I've been in desperate need of a new audiobook series to get me through my long, boring morning commute. After a few false starts - why is it so diffiI've been in desperate need of a new audiobook series to get me through my long, boring morning commute. After a few false starts - why is it so difficult to get some books on audio? - I finally found a winner.
Sworn to Silence is Castillo's first mystery in her Kate Burkholder series, featuring an ex-Amish woman who is the Chief of Police in her hometown of Painter's Mill.
Kate Burkholder may have grown up Amish but she's been out of that life since she turned eighteen and she's no stranger to violence. At fourteen, Kate was raped and subsequently killed her attacker. Because Kate's rape and her crime of murder was considered an Amish matter, the body was hidden and Kate has never revealed what happened all those years ago. At the time of Kate's attack there was a serial murderer hunting in the surrounding area and Kate has always thought that by killing her attacker, she stopped the murderer from hurting more women. Now sixteen years late it seems that the serial killer is back. Is the man that she thought she killed still alive? And if he is, is Kate going to have to reveal her past actions? While the mystery is suspenseful and well-executed, what really stands out is the introduction of Kate. I will admit that it is the fact that Kate is an formerly Amish woman and also Chief of Police that caught my eye. This was a great way to hook readers. What's even better is that Castillo does an excellent job in showing how Kate's upbringing has informed her present. Kate is always respectful of the Amish community and displays an inherent understanding of their way of life, even when others would not. As someone that's not Amish, it was, at times, really difficult to understand and even sympathize with a patriarchal and insular community. In particular, there is a moment when Kate speaks frankly with her brother about her rape and the cover up of the murder of her attacker, and her brother's response was infuriating. While Kate is angry at her brother's response, she displays an empathy and respect for the Amish way of life despite the fact that she does not always agree with the tenets she was brought up with. Kate's respect for her roots was a fascinating aspect of her character and the author handles the tension between the Amish way of life and contemporary issues very well.
The mystery element to this story was very graphic. There's a serial rapist hunting women in the community and the author does not shy away from the details. The crime scenes are descriptive and disturbing, perhaps even more so because of the fact that I listened to this. The descriptive nature of Sworn to Silence will likely bother some, but I think those who enjoy character-driven mystery series will very much appreciate this one from Castillo. The mystery is at the heart of Sworn to Silence but it is the character's reactions to the crimes that provided the real meat to the story.
For those that want to be invested in a series, there's also a lot fodder for future installments, most notably with regards to Kate's budding relationship with state cop, John Tomasetti. While the relationship hops from bare acquaintances to something more quite quickly, it's nowhere near resolved in Sworn to Silence. Tomasetti has his own tragic past; his wife and two daughters were murdered because of his job. He's popping a lot of pills, drinking way too much, and is basically sent by his bosses to investigate the serial murderer in Painter's Mill so that they can justify firing him. John's not exactly a catch in Sworn to Silence, but Kate is drawn to him. It's not at all clear whether Kate and John can actually have a stable relationship, and readers are just treated to the possibility of one in book one.
Ultimately, Sworn to Silence was a great audiobook to break my listening slump. The narrator was appealing and created a fantastic sense of suspense when appropriate. This is a mystery series that I think I'll be sticking with - on to book two, Pray for Silence.
A Study in Death is the fourth installment in Huber's Lady Darby historical mystery series and just so happens to be one of my most anticipated readsA Study in Death is the fourth installment in Huber's Lady Darby historical mystery series and just so happens to be one of my most anticipated reads of the summer. I've really enjoyed the series to date and was ready to dive into this one and while I certainly enjoyed this one, I have to admit to being a tiny bit disappointed.
Having read the previous three books I was well aware of Kiera's progress from insular artist to a confident investigator and I really appreciated the character growth that was conveyed in the previous three novels. Unfortunately for me, A Study in Death seemed a tad repetitive, covering much of the internal conflict that Kiera experienced in the previous book. Don't get me wrong, I still really like the character of Kiera, but I don't think there was much change in her in this book and I think that could have been better compensated by a stronger mystery.
In A Study in Death Lady Darby is investigating the probable murder of Lady Drummond, who's portrait Kiera was commissioned to paint. Naturally, Kiera enlists the help of her new fiance and seasoned investigator, Sebastian Gage. Kiera is quick to turn her attention to Lady Drummond's husband, who is by all accounts a brute, forcing Kiera to revisit her own past and her relationship with her own abusive late husband. No one is convinced that Lady Drummond was murdered, but Kiera is relentless and refuses to back down even when she is forced to consider a less obvious suspect for the murder.
In addition to murder, Kiera is also dealing with her sister Alana's complicated and dangerous pregnancy as well as signs of stress in Alana's solid marriage. Then there's Kiera's introduction to her future father-in-law, who is less than pleased with his son's engagement and has no problem sharing that fact with Kiera. And on top of that, Gage still has not told Kiera the events that scarred him in Greece, something that Kiera was insistent on knowing in the previous book.
So while the mystery was certainly central to A Study in Death, there was a lot of other stuff going on as well. I, of course, enjoyed the character-focused plot that has been so central to this series, but as I mentioned, I did feel that it was repetitive in this book. In the previous book, Kiera struggled with her feelings for Gage. She wasn't sure she could trust him and she was deeply affected by her relationship with her late husband. While I didn't anticipate that Kiera would (or should) be unaffected by her past relationship, I was disappointed that she continued to bring up the same issues. Kiera continued to leery of marriage in general and took it out on Gage most of the time, all the while demanding he tell her the secrets of his "past". For me, this repetitiveness makes me see A Study in Death as more of a "filler" book in the series and I feel that the pace will pick up once readers are treated to Kiera and Gage's married life and seeing how these two interact with each other on a daily basis.
Overall, A Study in Death was a good read, but I didn't think it was the best in the series. The unique Lady Darby continues to impress and I will be back for the next book, I can only hope that Kiera and Gage's marriage will bring a much-needed change in pace and tone to the series.