mystery


The ninth Commissario Brunetti mystery.

68093

Publishing year: 2000

Format: Print

Finnish publisher: Otava

Page count: 272

Finnish translator: Kristiina Rikman

Commissario Guido Brunetti from Venetian police is enjoying his free Saturday when a young official from Officio Castato, the registrar of buildings in Venice, comes to tell him that they haven’t found any building plans for his apartment on the top floor of one of the oldest buildings in San Polo. Since the apartment doesn’t exist officially, it’s possible that it will be torn down. At least Bruentti most likely must pay high fines. Brunetti, of course, isn’t happy.

In real Venetian style, Brunetti thinks about any contacts he has who can help. But months go by and he doesn’t hear about the registrar’s office. Then he sees an article in the newspaper that the official fell and is in a hospital, in critical condition. He goes to the hospital but the man has died. The man’s death feels off to Bruentti so he starts to investigate.

The case leads him to money laundering and drug dealing and also the high level of corruption in Venice.

The pace of the story is leisurely but the threat feels very real when Brunetti digs into the dealings of powerful people in the corrupt Venice. Brunetti himself isn’t above corruption, no matter how much he loathes the rich and powerful using the unofficial system: “At no time did it occur to him, as it did not occur to Paola [his wife], to approach the matter legally, to find out the names of the proper offices and officials and the proper steps to follow. Nor did it occur to either one of them that there might be a clearly defined bureaucratic procedure by which they could resolve the problem.

Leon manages to capture the beauty of the city while also bringing to light the many problems. I love the interplay between Brunetti and his wife Paola.

A stand-alone murder mystery set in 1636 France.

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Publication year: 2022

Publisher: Palmetto Publishing

Format: ebook

Charles de la Forêt is the third son of a Baron. A couple of months ago, his father sent him to Paris to be a musketeer. Charles has no choice but to obey. However, he enjoyed the camaraderie of the musketeer cadets and has even made a couple of friends.

Dueling is illegal in France but when a group of the Cardinal’s guards interrupt rudely the cadet’s play, Charles has to defend the Musketeers’ honor and fight one of them. They’re both wounded. The next day, Charles is sent to his first mission; not because he’s the most qualified but because the Cardinal might charge him if he remains in Paris.

Charles is sent to a small town, Pontcourt, to bring a murderer and proof of his guilt to Paris for trial. A family was brutally murdered but the people caught the villain. When Charles and his servant Michel arrive in the town, they encounter a mystery. The suspected murderer has been tortured so much that he can’t travel. Still, he insists that he’s innocent. He’s also a tax collector, so the local people want him to be the culprit. Charles starts to investigate even though the people are against it.

Charles lives in the shadow of his two elder brothers who are more successful than him. His father is constantly disappointed in him. So, he’s eager to prove his worth but he also wants justice to be done. He was born and raised in a small town and thinks that Paris is a smelly and dangerous place. He’s short and men often underestimate him. The Musketeers assign him the servant Michel. Michel was born and raised in Paris and thinks it’s the best place in the world. They don’t know each other but must quickly learn to rely on each other because the people just want to see the murderer punish with torture and death.

This was an entertaining read. It has surprisingly many action scenes for a murder investigation. Wray has clearly researched the time and the place; his descriptions are vivid. The mystery has enough twists to keep you guessing. This is a stand-alone story but it can be easily expanded to a series.

The first book in the First Edition Library cozy mystery series.

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Publication year: 2019

Format: Audio

Running time: 9 hours, 23 minutes
Narrator: Fiona Hardingham

Hayley Burke has a new job as the curator of Lady Georgiana Fowling’s First Edition Society’s library in Bath. She also lives in the Middlebank House, a Georgian manor, where the library is kept. The late Lady Fowling’s former secretary, Glynis Woolgar also lives in the house. The women don’t get along because Hayley wants to modernize the Society so that it could be profitable. Lady Fowling wrote murder mysteries and the library is dedicated to first editions from the Golden Age of Mysteries. Hayley’s other problem is that she’s never even read a mystery: she’s an English Lit major. She’s planning to read one whenever she doesn’t have to fight with Mrs. Woolgar, advise her adult daughter, or travel to London to see her inventor boyfriend. Meanwhile, she avoids talking about mystery books as much as she can.

She’s arranged for a group of mystery fanfiction writers to meet weekly at the Middlebank House and pay for the privilege. Mrs. Woolgar doesn’t like it, of course, and complains about them all the time. But then one of the writers is found dead in the library. Initially, Hayley has no intention of investigating the crime but she needs to preserve the Society, not to mention her job, so soon she becomes an amateur sleuth.

This was a fun mystery set in a very bookish environment. The story has lots of twists but the ending didn’t really work for me. In addition to the mystery, Hayley juggles a long-distance relationship with her absent-minded boyfriend, giving motherly advice to her daughter, and she meets an annoying literature professor. The fanfiction writers are a very colorful lot. The story is a bit too long and sometimes focuses a bit too much on Hayley’s life than the mystery. Otherwise, it was quite entertaining.

The third short book in the Cherringham cozy mystery series.

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Publishing year: 2017

Format: Print

Finnish translator: Taina Wallin

Page count: 106

Finnish publisher: Tammi

Kirsty owns a small gift shop in Cherringham and also sings in the village’s choir. She has a deathly allergy to peanuts and everyone makes sure not to bring anything with peanuts to the choir practice. Buy one night she’s walking home from choir practice and gets an allergy attack. She uses her EpiPen – but it doesn’t work, it’s empty.

The police think that her death is an accident. But when Jack Brennan, the former NYPD detective, joins the choir, he finds out that Kirsty was very diligent and carried two EpiPens at all times. She would never put a used one back in her purse. One person in the choir thinks that she was murdered and asks Jack to look into it. Jack and Sarah investigate.

But everyone who behaves suspiciously, such as the town bank manager who seems to want more than just money from his female clients, turns out not to really have a motive.

This was another quick and fun murder mystery in the little Cherringham village.

The second book in the Bernie Rhodenbarr humorous mystery series.

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Publishing year: 1987 (originally 1978)

Format: Print

Finnish translator: Pasi Junna

Page count: 223

Finnish publisher: Viihdeviikarit

Bernie Rhodenbarr is a burglar. He enjoys breaking into other people’s homes and taking their stuff. However, burglars usually work alone, just as Bernie does. So when his dentist, Dr. Sheldrake, talks about how his ex-wife has lots of expensive jewelry and doesn’t really deserve them, Bernie gets nervous. But in the end, Bernie agrees to break into Crystal Sheldrake’s apartment and steal the goods.

Bernie plans carefully and takes his time in the apartment. A bit too much, even. Because when he has gathered the jewels up neatly, Crystal returns. Desperately, Bernie hides in a closet and Crystal locks him in. Before Bernie can get out, someone else comes in and murders her. Bernie doesn’t hear or see the murderer who leaves, taking the case with the jewels with them.

This was a fun, quick read written in a humorous style. Bernie is in a lot of trouble: the dentist is arrested right away and he quickly points a finger at Bernie. Bernie and the dentist’s nurse try to figure out the murderer. One corrupt cop also tries to blackmail Bernie for half the jewels.

The murdered woman has several boyfriends and her ex-husband hates her, so there are several suspects.

The book is written in Bernie’s first-person POV. While he has no problem stealing, he’s very careful. He’s already been in prison and doesn’t want to return there. He has his own code of honor. The other characters are quite entertaining, too.

The second short book in the Cherringham cozy mystery series.

20616617

Publishing year: 2017

Format: Print

Finnish translator: Taina Wallin

Page count: 106

Finnish publisher: Tammi

Victor Hamblyn is 91 and still in relatively good health. He lives alone in a run-down manor on the edge of the Cherringham village. He’s not an easy person to be around but his home care helper Hope likes him. One night, the manor is caught on fire. Against all reason, Victor painfully climbs to the attic and dies from the smoke. The police think it’s an accident, but Hope knows that Victor was still sharp. Something drew him to the attic, to a room where nobody else was ever allowed to go. Hope confides to her friend Sarah who believes her.

Jack agrees that this probably wasn’t an accident. He and Sarah interview the old man’s three children who all live in Cherringham and could be behind the fire. All three are middle-aged and impatient to inherit the mansion’s large lands, as the sole heir.

This was another quick and easy read. Sarah and Jack are already working comfortably with each other and are clearly heading for a romance. All of the three heirs are suspects until the end.

The first in a cozy mystery series.

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Publishing year: 2017

Format: Print

Finnish translator: Taina Wallin

Page count: 142

Finnish publisher: Tammi

Sarah Edwards has recently moved back to the small town of Cherringham where she grew up and where her parents live. She’s a web designer. She’s also a divorced mother of two teens. When she was younger, her best friend was Sammi Jackson, before Sammi moved to London and they lost touch. But now, Sammi’s body is found in the river. The police think it’s a suicide or an accident, but Sarah doesn’t believe that. She meets Jack Brennan who lives in a houseboat on the river. Jack is a former NYPD detective who moved to Cherringham after his wife’s death. Together they start to figure out just what happened to Sammi.

This was a nice, quick read. It’s a cozy mystery where Sarah and Jack talk to people and get to know each other, too. The characters are entertaining small-town English people, and the mystery isn’t too complex. Jack is reluctant to interfere at first, thinking that the local police and the local people aren’t too happy to see him meddle. He’s right, but he still can’t resist a mystery. Sarah is determined to find out what happened to her friend and she finds that she enjoys the detective work.

Apparently, the series first came out as ebooks in English and in Finnish, too. I have the omnibus version of the first three books.

The first book in the mystery series Cold Poker Gang.

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Publication year: 2014

Publisher: WMG Publishing

Format: ebook

Page count from Amazon: 182

In this series, a group of retired Las Vegas Police detectives gathers together once a week to play poker. They also have permission to look into cold cases and try to solve them.

Bayard Lott hosts the game. He’s a widow, living alone. He has an adult daughter Annie who is a very good poker player and rich. She also solves mysteries together with her boyfriend Doc Hill. Lott’s former partner and best friend Andor Williams is also a player in the weekly game. The newest player is Julia Rogers who retired from detective work because of a leg injury. In fact, Julia wants the gang to try to solve her husband’s murder.

Julia’s husband was murdered 22 years ago in Las Vegas. The case was never solved. Lott and Williams were the detectives on the case back then and it has always bothered them. This time, they’re far more experienced and can look at the case from a slightly different angle. Julia lived in Reno back then so Lott and Williams didn’t even interview her.

This is a complex case with a lot of surprises. That partly explains why Lott and Williams didn’t get anywhere with it the first time. Unfortunately, their work also seems sloppy. Julia gives the case a very personal angle, especially when they find disturbing things about her former husband and she’s thinking about how she can tell her daughter about it.

Lott and Julia are the two POV characters. They also quickly find each other attractive and start liking each other’s company more and more. Lott’s wife died three years ago and he’s still not over it while Julia never had a real relationship after her husband’s murder. The romance is a gentle one without the toxic romance tropes, so I liked it a lot. The mystery is also more like a cozy mystery, without blood.

This was an interesting case with very likable POV characters.

WMG Publishing has another very interesting Kickstarter: Crimes collide.

For over four decades, New York Times and USA Today bestselling writers Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith have been writing professional mystery short stories that have won awards and sold millions of copies, plus they have been acclaimed and enjoyed by fans over the entire world.

Now, for the first time, Kris and Dean are collecting 100 of their mystery short stories together into a five-volume set called CRIMES COLLIDE. 50 stories from each author, ten stories from each author in every volume.

It’s already funded and hit the second stretch goal! 14 days to go.

The first book in the historical mystery series about Holmes’ daughter.

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Finnish publisher: Bazar

Publishing year: 2017

Format: Print

Finnish translator: Marja Helonen

Page count: 329

London 1914. John Watson Jr. is the first-person narrator. He’s the son of John Watson and also a doctor, although a pathologist. His dad helps investigate the murder. The elder Watson still lives at 221 B Baker Street and that’s where the story starts. Mary Harrelston comes to see him, looking for help because her brother has just died, and everyone thinks it’s a suicide. But Mary doesn’t think so. Watson and his son agree to look into it. Apparently, two people witnessed Mr. Harrelston’s plunge to death and their statements disagree. One is a gardner and one is a ten-year-old boy. The boy is the son of Joanna Blalock, a young widow.

Watson knows that Joanne is the daughter of Holmes and Irene Adler. He tells about her to his son but swears him to secrecy. They meet with Joanna, and the younger Watson is immediately smitten with her. She has incredible deductive powers and insists on helping with the case. The case turns out to be, as usual, far more than what you see at the first glance.

This book felt like fan fiction. The trio meets Scotland Yard’s Inspector Lestrade who is the son of the original Lestrade. He needs a little persuasion in letting Joanne join the investigation. They also need the help of Toby Two, descended from Holmes’ Toby and young Ms. Hudson is Dr. Watson’s housekeeper.

The plot is nicely twisted, but not too complicated. The mystery isn’t who murdered the man, but how and why and how can our heroes prove it. Joanne explains her deductions thoroughly, partly to convince the men around her. She reads a lot and has a very good memory. As a woman, she has a very limited choice of professions so she’s a nurse. Her ten-year-old son is the spitting image of young Holmes and is also very perceptive and makes excellent deductions. The younger Watson also praises Joanne’s looks all the time, in his thoughts, which can be a bit tiresome. There’s a romance between them.

It’s a light and easy mystery read if you don’t mind (or especially if you like) the many connections to the Holmes stories.

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