Monday, August 03, 2009

Mystery Monday

I've been in a mystery/detective story kind of mood this summer. I read Wife of the Gods by Kwei Quartey back in June. I received this book through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers Program.

This is the first in what appears to be a new series from Quartey. The promos for it suggested that if you like The Ladies #1 Detective Agency, you may enjoy this one. I had some mixed feelings on this one.

The story of Darko Dawson, a detective in Accra, Ghana's capital, is like his name, a bit dark. A young woman, Gladys is murdered in a small town outside the capital and Darko is sent to help with the investigation. While trying to solve Gladys' murder, memories come flooding back of visits to his aunt's house as a child (she lives in the region) and of his mother's disappearance 20 years earlier. His mother had gone to visit his aunt for a few days and never returned home. His mother's disappearance and Gladys' murder become entwined and in the end both end up getting solved.

The character of Darko is very well-written. We completely understand him from his troubled childhood (dealing with his mother's disappearance and his brother's accident that leaves him in a wheelchair) to his current life with a loving wife and an ailing son who needs a heart operation. Darko has a violent side that he lets loose every now and then. And he's a very smart and dedicated police detective. I can see where he will be a good series character.

I felt the other characters were not nearly as developed which is fine and may come with time as the series progresses, but my chief complaint is that there seemed to be too many of them! I was having a hard time keeping track of everyone. It wasn't until I was about 2/3rds through that I felt like I finally had everyone down.

I really enjoy reading books set in Africa. I like reading about the culture and the enviornment and this one is no exception. Though, I'm not sure I would compare it to Alexander McCall Smith's series very much, except in setting perhaps. It was interesting to read the contrasting cultures of Accra (the big city) to Bedome (the rural community).

I may pick up the next one in the series whenever it comes out, but I'm not sitting on the edge of my seat waiting for it to be published. Wife of the Gods came out July 14th so you can find it at your local bookstore now!

I won Linda Fairstein's Lethal Legacy in a contest back at the beginning of the year.

This is the newest book in the Alexander Cooper mystery series. I had not read any other books in this series, but I deviated from my general "start at the beginning of a series and work forward" rule. Part of this novel is set in the New York Public Library which is what drew me to it.

A young woman is murdered while clutching a valuable rare book. A.D.A. Cooper and her police counterpart Mike Chapman work together to uncover the crime and its connection to the rare book world.

I have to say I give this one 3 stars. There were things I really liked about it. And then things that just plain bugged me. So first the good, I love the Special Collections and rare books aspect of the book. I even found all the details about old maps to be interesting. However, the characters didn't really draw me in (maybe because this is just one book in a series and a later one at that--maybe the character has already been developed in previous books). And the pace of the book was VERY slow. It took me forever to read this book because there was not much gripping me to keep me from putting it down. I really love the cultural aspects of this series. But, it's lacking the excitement and thrill I hope to find in reading a more "serious" mystery.

I was looking for a quick cozy book to read and the second book in Charlaine Harris' Aurora Teagarden series fit the bill nicely. One of Aurora's cohorts from the Real Murders Club--Jane has passed away and inexplicably left her estate (house, jewelry, and savings) to Aurora. This both baffles and excites the librarian as she sorts through what Jane left behind.

Aurora spends time at Jane's house sorting through this and that, meeting the neighbors, pondering what to do with her windfall, all the while trying to figure out A) why the neighbors on the street have all had their houses broken into, and B) why Jane had a skull hidden in her window seat.

Even though the "mystery" of this one was not particularly deep or involved, I really enjoyed it. I like Aurora as a character and enjoyed her exasperation with having her ex-boyfriend (whose newly married and expecting a baby) living across the street from her. I think Harris does a terrific job of writing Aurora's character very real. All of her thoughts, reactions, and emotions are very genuine. I'm looking forward to continuing this series.


Booklogged said...

I sure enjoy reading mysteries a lot, too.

Violet said...

Wife of the Gods is a series book? I didn't know that. I LOVE reading books set in Africa too :)