The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra by Vaseem Khan

The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra by Vaseem KhanIt’s become clear over the years that there are a number of types of books for which I am a sucker. So let’s add a cozy, humorous mystery set in India to the list. That is what I expected from The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra by Vaseem Khan and that is exactly what i got. Continue reading

Clue #4 for The Last Treasure Hunt by Jane Alexander

The Last Treasure Hunt by Jane Alexander

I am so excited to be taking part in a cyber treasure hunt for the release of Jane Alexander‘s The Last Treasure HuntThe book is a fun take on modern media, and who doesn’t love a treasure hunt? And I’ll be reviewing it later this week.

Clue #4

To unmask the man with glasses

She throws herself from up high

Roaring currents would have killed her

Had he been willing to let her die.

So, here’s how it works:

  • Each clue refers to a landmark or iconic location in a film. The landmark/location is the answer – when you figure it out, make a note of it!
  • (If you need a hand, check out the #treasurehunt hashtag on Twitter or Instagram for a hint to the landmark’s location…)
  • When all the clues are revealed, the first letter of every answer will make an anagram. Solve the anagram and you have your final answer!
  • Email this answer and all the landmarks you figured out to by April 30th to be entered into the prize draw. Two entrants will win a signed copy of The Last Treasure Hunt – and if you’ve guessed the most landmarks and locations, you’ll win a goodie bag and something special from Jane personally! On top of that you’ll get bragging rights on Twitter and we’ll publicly dub you queen/king sleuth.
  • Good luck!

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin

crooked-letterSeveral people have recommended Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin to me over the years. Mindy from Minty Fresh Mysteries even gave me a copy. But it wasn’t until Amy at Read A Latte said it was worth reading if you are a fan of Serial, that i dove in. As an aside, if you’re not listening to Serial already, download the podcast today. Continue reading

A Savage Harvest by Carl Hoffman

savage-harvestI read A Savage Harvest by Carl Hoffman several weeks ago and have waited until now to review it. That is never a good idea. One thing I can say, however, is that I loved this book. It just might be my favorite non-fiction read of the 2014. It scratched so many of my itches – exploration, anthropology, mystery, famous families – the list goes on. Continue reading

A Death in Duck by Mindy Quigley

A-death-in-duckWith a nod to full disclosure, I must tell you, nay – brag to you that Mindy Quigley is a very good friend of mine. She is also smart, hysterically funny and a pretty darn good writer (and she’s now on Twitter – @MintyFreshBooks). A Death in Duck is the second book in her Lindsay Harding mystery series. Continue reading

The Golden Day by Ursula Dubosarsky

the-golden-dayIs it just me, or is Australian literature experiencing somewhat of a renaissance right now? It seems as though every other book I pick up these days is by an Australian. The Golden Day by Ursula Dubosarsky is the latest piece of Aussie lit to grab my attention. The novel is about the day Miss Renshaw goes missing on a class excursion to the park and the legacy it leaves behind on the eleven girls in her class.

Continue reading

Takedown Twenty by Janet Evanovich

takedown20Is it possible that I’ve finally out grown my adolescent love for Stephanie Plum? Oh boy, I didn’t see that coming. But I’m going to have to be honest and say that I did not get my usual thrill out of reading Takedown Twenty. It took me three days to read it. If you’ve read much Janet Evanovich then you’ll know that that is at least 1.5 days too long.

I think that maybe it’s time for Stephanie Plum’s saga to end, and I think she might feel the same way. Steph has grown up and I think she wants to settle down. She is certainly tired of getting thrown down stairs and having her cars blown up. And if she would only show a little backbone I think she knows that there is no potential for a relationship with Ranger and that Morelli is the one. Sigh.

It would be untrue to say that I was bored by Takedown Twenty. It was more that I was bored by Stephanie. Lula and Grandma Mazur held this book together. These characters continue to be great, but this time around even Morelli seemed boring, and for the record I’m Team Morelli.

Who would like this book? Janet Evanovich’s novels are what one could call light, humorous little mysteries. There is very little that is challenging about them. On top of that, they are rather formulaic. Don’t get me wrong though, the formula is good and the characters are mad-capped and the books are entertaining. They are like popcorn. They just are what they are. Last year I reviewed Notorious Nineteen, which I liked better than 20.

Death of the Black-Haired Girl by Robert Stone

Death-of-the-black-haired-girlI have been a fan of Robert Stone for many years now. His new books, however, often float under my radar. Not so with Death of the Black-Haired Girl.

Death of the Black-Haired Girl is a departure from what I think of as typical Robert Stone work. Usually his works are set in far flung locations and are distinctly political. His latest novel, however, is a campus novel. It is set at a small liberal arts college in New England. I don’t think I will ruin anything by saying that a black-haired female student dies during an altercation. Yet, Stone still brings his distinctive voice to what some may call a typical story. He deals with the politics of the situation on various levels by exploring the dead student’s political views on abortion, the role of sex and power in the academy and subtle but every present influence of religion in the lives of various players.

Generally, I love Stone’s books for their locations – Israel, Cuba, South America. The campus setting of Death of the Black-Haired Girl was unexpected, but as with all of his other locations, Stone very convincingly takes you there and makes it real. He also takes a rather typical campus plot line and turns it into something new. There was some nod to the thriller genre that his work can often slide into, but I think this novel remains firmly in the literary fiction genre.

Who would like this book? While fans of Robert Stone’s writing will still find much to appreciate in Death of the Black-Haired Girl, it is not a typical Robert Stone novel. It has not of that international intrigue and adventure. That being said, it is a very compelling read. I think that Stone often writes himself into his novels in some way. In this one I’m convinced he has cast himself as the dead girl’s father. The novel ends with his death from emphysema. Is Stone foreshadowing his own death (he has emphysema)? And will this be his last novel? Only time will tell, but I’d wager that anything else he writes will be similarly domestic.

The Case of the Love Commandos – A Vish Puri Mystery by Tarquin Hall

love-commandosI get very excited every time a new Vish Puri mystery comes out. To me, a mystery does not get better than this. Vish Puri is an amusing character who is set to task with the Delhi’s most probing mysteries. Encounters with his family, friends and operatives add a delicious spice to the already full bodied curries that are his mysteries. That being said, it should be kept in mind that these are not hard core mysteries, but rather tales that are humorous, character driven and give a good sense of place.

In The Case of the Love Commandos, author Tarquin Hall takes Puri a little further a field than Delhi. This time the mystery unravels in Agra, in the shadow of the Taj Mahal and Lucknow. In spite of the fact that I have a soft spot in my heart for Delhi, the change of location does not diminish the tale in the least. As in all the Vish Puri mysteries, Hall has precisely transcribed the food and language of place onto the page, making you feel as though you are there. In particular, Tarquin’s use of Indian English is priceless. He gets the diction and tone dead on for a man of Puri’s age and status.

Who would like this book? I read a lot of book related blogs and one thing that surprises me is that I have not seen more reviews for Love Commandos. It is a great story that would appeal to a wide range of people. It’s got humor, food and love. Certainly, for anyone remotely interested in India, Hall gives descriptions of Delhi and life there that are true to life. The sense of place communicated in these mysteries is akin to what Martin Walker does with his Bruno series (review) and Donna Leon does with her Inspector Brunetti series. And as an aside, check out Vish Puri’s website. It will give you a sense of what the series is all about.

I would like to thank RandomHouse Canada for giving me a copy of this book, but that in no way affected my review.

The Last Word by Lisa Lutz

last-wordI love the Spellmans, I truly do, but The Last Word, the latest installment in the Spellman saga felt tired. The Spellmans are an odd ball family of private investigators created by author Lisa Lutz. Their previous novels are light, funny detective fare, comparable to Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series (review). The Last Word can also fall into that category – it was light and funny, but it was also too long and a little rambling. And for the first couple hundred pages I wasn’t entirely sure if there was even a mystery to solve.

However, Lutz has included all her tried and true hooks that made me love her previous novels. There are ample footnotes (as a former scholar I find footnotes to be enticing), numerous digressions and a spattering of primary documents. The characters she worked so hard to develop over the earlier books in the series are still ridiculous, funny and up to their usual hi jinks.

As I read The Last Word I realized that I missed the previous book in the series. That did not make a huge difference to my appreciation of the story. Lutz’s ample use of footnotes makes it so that any of her books can work as a stand alone. The most significant change in this installment is that Izzy has taken over her parent’s private investigation agency in a hostile takeover. Not surprisingly her parents rebel.

Who would like this book? I stand by my long term commitment to recommending the Spellman books to those who enjoy light, humorous mysteries. BUT as committed as I am to Lutz’s earlier books, I would be hesitant to recommend The Last Word. If you’ve read the other books in the series then you are invested in the characters and it may be worth the read, but on it’s own I would give it a pass. That’s something I don’t often say.