Wednesday, August 09, 2006

A mixed bag

A mixed bag of mysteries lately:

A Season for the Dead by David Hewson. An author with many fans, but I wasn't one. While this book was set in Rome and had a likable detective, I couldn't help but see it as a DaVinci Code clone. Not very gripping, with a love story that was unbelievable and unlikely. Rating: C

Cold Granite by Stuart MacBride. A well-written book. Again, a detective I really liked. A setting that draws me (Scotland). But the book was hard to read -- it was about the kidnappings, killings and mutilations of young children. That's a subject that turns me off automatically, but I finished the book for my discussion group. I would read another MacBride, though, because I thought his writing was great. Rating: B-

Flesh and Blood by John Harvey. Thirteen years ago, a teenaged girl disappeared. British Det. Elder, now retired, works with police in reopening the case. Then another teen is killed and Elder's own teenage daughter is kidnapped. Is this being done by the original suspects, or a copycat? Interesting, complex story. Very well-written, with strong characterization. My only complaint has to do with the ending. Rating: A-

Lost by Michael Robotham. It reminded me quite a bit of Flesh and Blood. Missing girl, cold case. The book opens with Det. Insp. Vincent Ruiz being pulled out of the Thames, a bullet in his leg and no memories of what happened. All he knows is that it has something to do with Mickey Carlyle, a 7-year-old who disappeared three years ago. With help from psychologist Joe O'Loughlin, he begins to piece together his memories, and comes to believe Mickey is still alive. A great detective thriller with a wry sense of humor. Rating: A

The Dead Hour by Denise Mina. Second in the Paddy Meehan series. This has become one of my favorite characters, a young journalist working in 1980s Scotland. Paddy takes a bribe to walk away from what seems a domestic abuse case, and the next day the woman is found brutally murdered. Now Paddy can't let it rest until she finds the killer. In the meantime, Paddy's life takes an interesting twist. Rating: A+

Mad Hatter's Holiday by Peter Lovesey. One of the early books by this great English writer. Cross between an old-fashioned murder mystery and a police procedural. Rating: B

The Fractal Murders by Mark Cohen. First in a series. Wise-cracking private eye with a past -- pretty formulaic, but OK for a first novel. At times, the character reminded me of Spenser or Kinsey Milhone. I wouldn't necessarily read his next book, though. Rating: C+

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