mystery


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.

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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.

The first book in a series of murder mysteries set in 15th century Tallinn.

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Publication year of the Finnish translation: 2019

Format: print
Page count: 320

Finnish publisher: Into

Finnish translator: Jouko Vanhanen

Melchior Wakenstede is the Apothecary in Tallinn, Estonia. His father was an apothecary before him. Melchior knows the people and the places of Tallinn. In the 15th century, the town is right on the edge of Christian lands. Indeed, the town and the time period take the center stage. The Dominican monastery, the guilds, and the alehouses are described lovingly, and for me, the mystery came second. The characters are fairly typical for the time and for a detective story, but entertaining enough.

When a Teutonic knight, who was the governor of Gotland, is visiting Tallinn, he gets really drunk and is murdered: his head is cut off with a sword and an old coin is shoved into his mouth. Of course, the town’s notable people are in an uproar. The town’s chief of police is used to petty robberies and so he calls on Melchior to help him. The curious and perceptive Melchior is happy to talk to people and deduce what happened and find the killer.

The book starts with the murder. It has quite a few POV characters and a large cast of characters. The female characters are pretty bland, though, especially Melchior’s wife Keterlyn, who seems to be there just so he can explain things to the reader. The ending is very Agatha Christie -style of gathering people together while Melchior explains what happened.

While Melchior is an educated man, he’s also a product of his times. For example, he thinks that only bloodletting can cure diseases, and he’s also quite religious. Also, he has a mysterious curse that will apparently drive him insane in time. Only his wife can ease the symptoms.

The Finnish translation uses older style words, probably for the atmosphere.

A stand-alone murder mystery set in Oxford.

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Publication year: 2007
Finnish publisher: Gummerus
Format: print
Finnish translator: Raimo Salminen

Page count: 373 (including about ten pages of the historical facts behind the book)

Someone is killing young women, taking an organ, and leaving a strange coin in the place where the organ used to be. The murderer doesn’t leave behind clues except that he or she seems to be very skilled. The police are desperate to catch them but don’t have anything to go on.

Laura Niven is a former New York crime journalist and now a writer who has come to Oxford to research her next book. She’s staying with Philip Bainbridge, her former lover and current friend. About twenty years ago, Laura became pregnant but chose to return to the USA rather than stay in London and marry Philip. Philip maintains contact with Laura and their daughter Jo. In fact, Jo is now in Oxford as a student.

Philip is a police photographer. He has just met Laura when he’s called to a crime scene. Laura is too curious and sees not only the body but the strange coin. Her curiosity is piqued and she researches it. The coin leads her to a historical trail. The murders seem to be related to alchemy and astrology and the famous Sir Isaac Newton who was as much an alchemist as a scientist.

This is an entertaining serial killer story inspired by history. It has multiple POV characters, including Newton himself and a couple of other men during his time. The killer is also a POV character, although they’re not identified in those passages, and the murders are quite gruesome. The ties to the occult were the most interesting part of the book. I also really enjoyed the short chapters set in the 17th century.

Philip and Laura are both pretty successful in their lives. Still, they have regrets about the choices they’ve made. They’re curious and pretty intelligent people. They’re both still attracted to each other but are content to just stay friends. Detective John Monroe is another significant POV character. He’s an experienced detective who has reasons to scoff at anything smelling of supernatural.

Apparently, White has written more than a few non-fiction books and knows the history of the occult pretty well. It shows.

The fifth story in the Argolicus historical cozy mystery series but can be read as a stand-alone. The others are short stories.

Publication year: 2021
Format: ebook

Publisher: Fervent Crux Press

Page count at GoodReads: 320

This historical book is set during the times when the Ostrogoths ruled Rome, specifically during king Theodoric’s rule.

Gaius Vitellus Argolicus was a Roman praefect for seventeen years, but now he has returned to the small town of Squillace and his father’s old house. He’s from a patrician family so he’s automatically one of the town’s leaders. When he first comes to town, he’s invited to join the town council’s meeting. He agrees and finds out that despite a good harvest, the town is starting to suffer from a grain shortage. This has caused unrest and forced the council members to talk about it. Nobody else wants to look into it so Argolicus volunteers. Argolicus thinks that he can just visit the biggest grain merchant, Quintinus, and ask what happened to the grain. Also, Argolicus’ mother is trying to arrange a marriage between him and Quintinus’ daughter.

However, Quintinus is away. Argolicus and the merchant’s daughter Proba get along well and agree to be friends, only. The next day Proba tells Argolicus that her father has been murdered. Argolicus agrees to find the killer.

Now, the scholarly former praefect who dislikes politics has two problems in his hands. If he can’t find out where the grain has gone, the poor townspeople will riot. Finding Quintinus’ killer is a more personal task.

This was a very good mystery. Argolicus doesn’t know the local people and he must talk to them to find out more about Quintinus so he could solve both the murder and the mystery of the missing grain. The setting is very well researched and comes alive in the story. The people are believable. While Argolicus has investigated crimes before in Rome, this is a new town with politics he doesn’t yet understand. The book has many short vignettes which show the life of ordinary people and add wonderful depth to the setting.

Argolicus loves his books. While he owns slaves, as is usual for the time, he’s a gentle master. He even rescues a young girl who has run away from her parents who were going to sell her to slavery. He gives the girl a home – but even that becomes a political gesture. Argolicus’ friendship with Proba also causes people to wonder about their relationship.

The two other significant characters are Nikolaos, Argolicus’ Greek tutor, mentor, and slave. Nikolaos is still gently teaching Argolicus to observe and make deductions. Quintinus’ daughter Proba lives with her parents, but it quite an independent-minded young woman. She is her father’s accountant which was unusual for women at that time. Her father’s death pulls the rug under her life, but she’s determined to help clear her father’s name.

This was a very enjoyable cozy mystery that brought to life the people and the setting of the times.

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