The Dead of Winter – A John Madden Mystery By Rennie Airth

An interesting foundation of a story is laid at the beginning of this book which occurs in Paris at the beginning of WWII. Fast forward to 1944 and what seem like unconnected cases converge in and around London. A young Polish girl is found dead in the streets during a blackout. This case would have been long forgotten had it not been for her employer, former policeman John Madden, who feels it is his duty to follow up and find out why she was the victim of a seemingly random act. The book took a little time to get into but once the action started was well worth reading. Apparently this is the third mystery with Madden featured; his first was nominated for an Edgar so will have to try that out too.

Royal Flush – A Royal Spyness Mystery By Rhys Bowen

I love Rhys Bowen’s books. I will endeavour to get a bunch more on here. She writes fun, fast reads that have wonderful characters. This series features Lady Georgiana, who is 34th in line for the throne of England. She has title but no money and no castle. Always looking for ways to make money, Georgie embarks upon another hair-brained scheme which gets her into way more trouble than she ever expected. Every year she is invited to Balmoral in Scotland for the annual shooting party but this year she finds herself up North weeks earlier than the hunt. Scotland Yard has recruited her to snoop around on a top secret mission to help keep the Prince of Wales safe. Her brother lives in their ancestral home near to Balmoral and he is hosting many individuals including the infamous Wallis Simpson. I do enjoy how Ms. Bowen has entwined real events and people into this book. The Simpsons, obviously, are real as are other side stories about those trying to break the speed record on water as well as the first sightings of the Loch Ness monster. There is a lot going on but not too much to keep track of.

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie By Alan Bradley

Charming mystery set in England around the 1940s. Very descriptive tale from the eyes of an 11 year old girl, Flavia. She is enveloped in her chemistry laboratory set-up in her home and yearns for adventure especially away from her narcissistic older and bookworm middle sisters. The way little Flavia describes her detective work is enchanting. Even though she is still a juvenile, her view of the world is a little jaded and at times humourous. I did enjoy this book but find that others really loved it. I am partial to mysteries that have a lot of character development which Bradley has certainly done. As far as the mystery is concerned I did not think it was as enthralling as others, but that’s just me. I have to say the idea of a mystery landing on my doorstep when I was a kid would have been the ultimate. We used to imagine all sorts of wrongdoing in our neighbourhood and I can only guess how it would have felt if something real had happened – and a murder to boot! The author does a really good job communicating her feelings throughout this tale and that is half the fun.