Monday, December 31, 2007

The Weaver and the Factory Maid by Deborah Grabien

Folk musician Ringan Laine is given Lumbe's Cottage in Somerset in lieu of payment for work that he's done for Albert Wychsale. Soon after he moves in, he discovers that both the barn and house are haunted. With the help of girlfriend, Penny, and his fellow musicians in his group, Broomfield Hill, he attempts to uncover who the ghosts are and tries to get rid of them. This mystery is the first in a series that melds together folk ballads, ghosts, haunted houses, and murders that have happened in the past. I wrote about the newest book New-Slain Knight in November.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

An Incomplete Revenge by Jacqueline Winspear

It's 1931 and private detective Maisie Dobbs is hired to look into the life of Alfred Sandermere and the village of Heronsdene. Her client, James Compton, is interested in buying a brickworks and a large piece of land from Sandermere. But mysterious fires and vandalism has been happening with some regularity and Compton wants to make sure that it's a good investment. Maisie sends her assistant, Billy Beale, to do some investigating, since it's hop picking season in Kent and he's already there with his family. What Maisie and Billy find is the locals blaming the crimes on Londoners coming to pick hops and/or the gypsies that are in the area. The villagers also seem so unconcerned about the fires (i.e. not reporting them to the police) that Maisie knows there are secrets to uncover. The townspeople are also tight-lipped about a wartime Zeppelin raid. How are all these events connected? I really enjoy this mystery series and the insight it gives to the aftermath of World War I in England. In this book, there are already foreshadowings of what will be World War II. I hope Winspear writes this series long enough to explore that part of history, too. An Incomplete Revenge will be published in February.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Grave Sight by Charlaine Harris

Harper Connelly and her stepbrother, Tolliver, travel to the Ozarks upon being hired by Sybil Teague to find the body of Teenie Hopkins, her son's girlfriend. Sybil's son was murdered and she thinks that Teenie might be found somewhere near the crime scene (several years ago a lightning strike gave Harper the gift to sense where bodies are buried). Harper does end up finding Teenie. Then a woman who Harper and Tolliver have recently talked to is murdered, so Harper feels obligated to stay in the area. Unfortunately, some in the town are uncomfortable with Harper and her ability, especially the unknown killer. Will he or she be apprehended before Harper comes to harm? Grave Sight is the first book in the Harper Connelly mystery series. I blogged about the third book, An Ice Cold Grave in October.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Hello, You by Rebecca Gregson

When Maggie's favorite sister, Diana, dies, Maggie begins to reflect upon her childhood. Of the five sisters, Maggie was always on the outside looking in. Diana's deathbed murmurings and a box of mementos left behind by their mother might be the key to Maggie putting her upbringing in the past. Maggie's son, Jamie, is a father at nineteen. He, his girlfriend, Jess, and their son, Ben live with Maggie. There are problems in Jamie's and Jess' relationship, stemming from Jess still wanting to live a single's life and from the couple not having a place of their own. Hello, You features a complicated family leading a complicated life and each member trying to find his or her place in it. For readers of Joanna Trollope.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Hand of Evil by J.A. Jance

Ali Reynolds comes home to Sedona, Arizona after losing her newscasting job in Los Angeles. While a teenager, she received a college scholarship from the wealthy Anna Lee Ashcroft. When Ashcroft's daughter, Arabella, asks Ali to tea, she doesn't think much of it. However, she gets a quick lesson on Arabella's family history when Arabella recounts the abuse she suffered at the hands of her stepbrother years ago and her nephew Billy's threats to have her declared incompetent now. Ali is also in the process of helping her friend, Detective Dave Holman, deal with his runaway daughter, Crystal. It's enough that Ali has her hands full with both these domestic dramas. Add the disappearance of Ali's father's friend Kip and you have a world of secrets, lies, and murder. Hand of Evil is the third book in the Ali Reynolds series.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

They Did It with Love by Kate Morgenroth

After her father's death, Sofie and her husband, Dean, decide to move to Greenwich, Connecticut from Manhattan. Dean works long hours while Sofie occupies herself by joining a mystery book club lead by her neighbor, Priscilla. Other members of the group include Susan, Ashley, and Julia who are also childless and careerless. When one of the group members is found dead, Sofie decides to do some investigating of her own. Soon we see all the cracks in everyone's marriages and so-called friendships. Detectives Peters and Ackerman must wade through all the lies to find the truth in this very upscale community. But when they find the person they believe is the murderer, are they correct?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

T is for Trespass by Sue Grafton

Solana Rojas is only her newest alias, but she has reeked havoc in numerous senior citizen's lives. When Solana is hired as a caregiver for a neighbor of private detective Kinsey Millhone, the reader knows no good can come of it. Kinsey has checked out Solana's background, but because she's using a former co-worker's identity, everything checks out clean. The bulk of this mystery involves Kinsey's attempts to stop Solana's abuse of Gus, Kinsey's neighbor. Kinsey is also working on finding a witness to an accident and a few other small cases that usually make up the majority of the business for her detective practice. Fans of Grafton's long-running mystery series will enjoy the latest book.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Chillwater Cove by Thomas Lakeman

Peggy Weaver was ten years old when her best friend Samantha was kidnapped while they were playing together. Although Samantha was returned, there are parts of the ordeal that she could never speak about. Now Peggy is an adult and an FBI agent. When she receives some graphic photos of Samantha related to the crime, she is thrown back into that traumatic childhood event. Peggy has always felt that she didn't do enough for Samantha, since the only thing she could remember was the model of the car. Samantha also gets the photographs, so Peggy travels home to Tennessee to try and figure out what's going on. Soon after she arrives, Samantha disappears. Along with her father, who's the chief of police, Peggy uses all of her efforts to bring Samantha home safely. Unfortunately, a lot of obstacles stand in her way--Samantha's husband and father-in-law, a belief by some that she's too close to the case to be a good investigator, and her own father, whom Peggy starts to believe may be doing something illegal. Chillwater Cove is a thriller with a sense of place of a small Tennessee town. It also features a tenacious female main character who's trying to put the ghosts of the past to rest. The main character in Lakeman's first novel The Shadow Catchers, Mike Yeager, is Peggy's partner and puts in a small appearance in the book.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

An Irish Country Doctor by Patrick Taylor

Barry Laverty has just graduated from medical school in the mid-1960's when he agrees to take a job in the small Northern Irish town of Ballybucklebo. He becomes the assistant to the colorful Doctor Fingal Flahertie O'Reilly. Doctor O'Reilly has been practicing medicine in Ballybucklebo for many years and knows all his patients and their quirks very well. Through Barry, the reader gets to know all the characters in the town--Mrs. Kinky Kincaid, Dr. Reilly's housekeeper, Councillor Bishop, the local bigwig with an evil streak, Maureen Galvin and Seamus, her layabout husband and many more. Perhaps Barry even has time to find love. The novel is the first in a series and has a lot of charm. It would appeal to people who enjoy James Herriot, Maeve Binchy, the Mobile Library mysteries by Ian Sansom and the television series Ballykissangel.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Friend of the Devil by Peter Robinson

A wheelchair-bound woman is found dead by the seaside, while a murdered female college student is discovered in The Maze, an area in Eastvale, Yorkshire that becomes dicey at night. DCI Alan Banks heads the investigation into the case of the student, Hayley Daniels. His colleague, DI Annie Cabbot, on loan to another police force, looks into the other death, the mysterious female with no identification on her. Soon it becomes evident that Annie's case is related to one that she and Banks worked on several years ago. It also appears that the two recent murders might be connected. The detectives share information as they interview witnesses, trying to wrap up their inquiries before there's another death. Since In a Dry Season, Robinson has written books that are beyond the standard British police procedural—multi-layered, with lots of insight into the personal lives of the detectives. Friend of the Devil will be published in February.