Quick Lit July 2019

Welcome! I love Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Quick Lit, a way to post short reviews of my recent reads. Be sure to check out the link up at her site for more recommendations.

You know I love a good mystery, but it turns out I’m pickier than I thought. Also, the categories publishers use don’t quite match my palate. Categories include:

  • Hard-boiled (eg, Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch mysteries with a professional detective and a lot of graphic details of the crime and the victim)
  • Cozy (think an amateur sleuth, no blood on the page, often a cast of quirky supporting characters or a hobby as a thematic device)
  • Thriller/suspense (eg, Lisa Gardner’s books are a good example. The stakes are always high and personal for the detective)
  • Procedural (eg, Patricia Cornwell’s thrillers in which the forensic details make all the difference)

I read in all four of these categories, but what I’m looking for in them is a good character- driven mystery, whether the sleuth is an amateur or a professional. This month I read a few new-to-me titles and authors.

Kingdom of the Blind: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel

Inspector Gamache (Louise Penny’s Quebeçois Chief of the Sureté) is one of my  favorites characters. Somehow I missed the book right before The Kingdom of the Blind and will have to swing back to pick it up, but I do love Gamache so. These books seem like they would fall into the suspense category, since there are always personal stakes for Gamache, but his compatriots in Three Pines make this read like a cozy series.

Penny’s latest novel did not disappoint, but if you haven’t read Gamache before, I’d stay start much earlier in the series. The Beautiful Mystery is one of my all-time favorite books.

The Jewel That Was Ours

My dad loaned me this Inspector Morse gem, about a tour group traveling through Oxford. The mystery was not obvious, and there was enough complexity in the characters to make this a satisfying read. The development of Morse’s character is very slow- incremental really.  (That might be how one sustains a series of thirteen novels without your detective going crazy from PTSD.) But in the end, it cheated by basing the solution to the mystery on a fact the reader wasn’t privy to until the final denouement.

Every Last Breath (Final Hour)

Juno Rushdan tells a good story. The protagonist of Every Last Breath is a secret agent with a bucket full of secrets and an unhealed wounds that rears its ugly head when she has to save the world from an arms dealer selling bioweapon of mass destruction. I loved that the butt-kicking secret agent with all the smarts and physical skills was a woman with a past.

This book falls into romantic suspense and left the bedroom door open. You can see the difference between traditional suspense and romantic suspense not just in the sex, but in how the characters change from the beginning to the end.  The relationship gets nearly equal time/emphasis as the thriller plot, and we knew what was going on in the two main characters’ heads from start to finish.

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd: A Hercule Poirot Mystery (Hercule Poirot Mysteries)

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie is so masterful. It falls into the category of classic, in which the point is entirely the mystery. Retired detective Hercule Poirot is no different at the beginning and the end. There are no character-development sub-plots, and you wouldn’t imagine another mystery with these characters (with the exception of Poirot).

What I love about this book is how Christie plays on the readers’ assumptions to fool us. I don’t want to spoil it for you, but everything I needed to solve this was laid out for me, play by play, and I still missed it.

Dead On Arrival

Matt Richtel’s Dead on Arrival starts with a great premise. A mid-sized passenger plane in flying into Steamboat Springs. As the pilot and copilot try to connect with the control tower, they realize that everyone at the airport is dead.

I loved the concept of this book, and the fact that the MC is an infectious disease doctor made my ears perk up. But in the end, I had a really hard time actually caring what happened to any of the characters.

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