Given that I was traveling a full fifty percent of September, it was not a month of writing.
It was, however, a month of reading.
Here’s the roundup for the mysteries I read in the last month or so:
The Second Woman, Charlotte Philby
The Bullet that Missed, Richard Osman
Finley Donovan Knocks ‘Em Dead, Elle Cosimano
Fatal Remedies, Donna Leon
Angel with Two Faces, Nicola Upson
The increasingly cold weather and the cats being in snuggle mood has made it better and better to settle in and read straight through.
Reviewing this, the thing that stands out from the list as a whole is that I preferred the books that had strong female characters (surprise surprise). Every one but The Second Woman met that requirement.
The Second Woman is an interesting book, as it’s part of a trilogy that’s not meant to be read in any particular order. This book is technically the third in the series, but Philby (and yes, she is a direct descendant of THAT Philby) said her goal was to explore the same series of events from multiple angles with different characters in the center. I liked the idea, but given that the story included a series of murdered women, I don’t feel pulled to read the others immediately.
The Bullet that Missed, the latest in the Thursday Murder Club series and Finley Donovan Knocks ‘Em Dead are the comedies of the group- I recommend starting with the first book in each series (Thursday Murder Club and Finley Donovan is Killing It, respectively) as the stories do connect in each case, particularly with Thursday Murder.
Each of these series feature strong female friendships, which I particularly love to read about. The Finley books do have a rom-com touch, but it isn’t the primary focus. The Thursday Murder club is about a gang of friends who live in a retirement community in their 70s and 80s who just happen to love solving murders.
If you want a mystery, but need something lighter and less grim and gritty, these two series should be just what you ordered. In addition, I was very lucky to get to interview Richard Osman on the Secret Library podcast this season, so stay tuned for that interview soon.
Finally, the old and new favorite series installments. I have probably read more Donna Leon this year than any other mystery author. Despite it’s being quite different from the series I am working on — Brunetti is a man, he’s a Commissario of the Venice Police and therefore nearly all the books happen in that city, and the murders are often quite gritty — I still love them. Perhaps it’s how philosophical Brunetti is as a character, and the slice of life segments that include his family that make me so engaged. It also helps that she’s written over twenty books in the series so whenever I am unsure what to read next, it’s fairly easy to grab one from the library without too long a wait.
Nicola Upson is a newer find, but already a favorite. This series is much closer to what I’m creating, other than Upson writing historical. The main character is Josephine Tey, which is the pseudonym of another mystery writer, a nesting doll concept that tickles me. Upson has overcome the amateur sleuth objection by pairing Tey with a policeman who’s a longtime friend, with a bit of complex feelings thrown in — let’s hear it for tension, right? We often see Tey struggling with working on a manuscript when someone gets murdered. This series does manage to change location as well- the first book is set in London, where the closing week of play Tey has written gets complicated when a fan is murdered. In this book, second in the series, she attempts to get away to Cornwall on holiday where Arthur, her cop friend, grew up. While visiting his family, death disrupts the peaceful atmosphere.
I’ve got a big stack of mysteries waiting for me this season and will keep sharing them as I read. I’ve just started The Paris Apartment, by Lucy Foley. I read The Hunting Party and found it clever, but in some ways too clever for its own good. The concept seemed to overpower the characters. We shall see how I feel about this one. Does anyone agree?
Please do share any mysteries you’ve read and enjoyed recently in the comments below. However- given that these are mysteries we’re discussing,
** No Spoilers Please!**
More to come soon as I keep working on my own mystery.
image: Charles Burt Fine Arts
The Thursday Murder Club series is great, it's refreshing to see older protagonists and they are such well written characters that you instantly feel connected to them all, each in their own way.
I've just read, and thoroughly enjoyed, The Girls Who Disappeared by Claire Douglas, kept me guessing right to the end.