Wednesday, May 21, 2008


I've been on a mystery kick again!

Through the Grinder by Cleo Coyle: This is the second Coffeehouse Mystery featuring Clare Cosi. The Village Blend has started offering a singles night with speed-dating, and one after another, women who frequent the blend are committing suicide. Or are they? I thought this was a weaker mystery than the first in the series, but we get a lot more development of Clare as she dates Bruce, dodges her ex-husband, and flirts with her cop friend. Coyle persists in thinking that passages from the deranged killer's point-of-view heighten the drama and tension, when in fact, they reek of cheesiness and drive me to distraction. At any rate, I thought this entry was a decent one in the series, although the brutal ending was sort of shocking. I picked up the third, Latte Trouble, but the first paragraphs were in deranged-killer-speak, and I wasn't in the mood, so I went on to some historical mysteries.

A Late Phoenix by Catherine Aird: Three words: Fun. British. Mystery. I discovered these when visiting my high school English teacher a couple of weeks ago. He had Catherine Aird novels strewn about, and I had never heard of her. A Late Phoenix was published in 1971, so they're not new. I think they're mostly out-of-print, but are easily found either used on amazon or in lots on eBay. Developers start a project at a WWII bomb site, only to uncover a skeleton, a woman not killed in the bombing. C.D. Sloane is assigned the case (along with Crosby, an idiot partner). Sloane is wry, witty, and astute, and he teases apart the threads of the mystery with interviews and even trips to the library. This is a good, old-fashioned detective novel with tight plotting and a bit of humor to lighten it up. I loved it!

A Bicycle Built for Murder by Kate Kingsbury: Along the historical mystery front, I found a used copy of this, Kingsbury's first Manor House novel. She has another series, Pennyfoot Hotel, that is devilishly hard to find (at least at a reasonable price). Anyway, Lady Elizabeth is Lady of the Manor, so when her tenant begs her to help solve the mystery of her teenaged daughter's disappearance, Lady Elizabeth agrees. At the same time, her house has been chosen to house some American troops (did I mention this takes place during WWII? Oops, I forgot, and it's kind of important). And the Major who liaises with her on this matter is really attractive. (Why do mystery novels written in the last 20 years or so HAVE to have a romance angle if the sleuth is a woman?) Kingsbury does a nice job of evoking the time period and Lady Elizabeth is a sympathetic heroine. The mystery is nicely done and the supporting cast enjoyable. I thought it was a good start to the series, and I'll be looking for more. I've read that the Pennyfoot series is actually better, so I'll have to try to find some of them.

Edited to add: I knew I was forgetting something! I also read Withering Heights by Dorothy Cannell, a recent Ellie Haskell mystery. Her first, The Thin Woman, is one of my all-time favorite mysteries. This entry was really quite good! It takes place in a huge old house and gently spoofs gothic mysteries. Ellie, Ben, and Mrs. Malloy head to Yorkshire to return Ben's cousin's teenaged daughter home and manage to solve murder, mayhem, and ghostly happenings while there. If you enjoy cozies and haven't read Cannell yet, order a copy of The Thin Woman used on amazon for pretty much the cost of shipping right now!

I think that's it for now. I'm reading Strangled Prose by Joan Hess, the first Claire Malloy mystery. I read a couple of these a while ago and then kind of forgot about Joan Hess. She also writes the Maggody series.

1 comment:

Cindy B said...

Thanks for the reviews! I love Catherine Aird. I wish her books were easier to get in the US.