Still Life By Louise Penny

I actually fell upon this book while doing some research for something I am trying to write. Ms. Penny has a fabulous website with helps for those trying to get published. Thank you for that! Extremely helpful stuff. Anyway thought I’d pick up one of her books to see what and how she writes. I was thrilled that she writes mysteries. Lovely descriptions of the setting as well as the characters without going overboard. I want to get straight into the story, preferably with a death early on, and not pansying around with the way the leaves look on the trees at different angles. You get what I mean, the whole point of the book is the story so let the games begin. Included are some likeable characters and some not so likeable but everyone living together in a small town in Quebec and mostly tolerating each others’ idiosyncrasies. First of all I was stumped. I really thought I had it figured out but she got me. I love that! Oh to be able to write that way a la Agatha Christie. The plot: a lady is killed in the woods and it is made to look like suicide, or is it? A team of detectives is brought in from the Surete in Montreal to ascertain whether or not it is a suspicious death. The Chief Inspector, Gamache, is a wonderful character and I am delighted that Ms. Penny is going to be bringing him back again.

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.

Father Dowling Mysteries by Ralph McIrney

For fun and light reading, McIrney is great.  Not too schmaltzy.  Likeable characters in familiar surroundings.  These are great reads for holidays whether you’re on a beach or taking a break over Thanksgiving weekend.  They are quick reads with mostly satisfactory endings.  I have to admit my first exposure to these tales was on the telly.  The friendly priest chasing around in the snow and ice to help his flock was extremely endearing. Sewing up an entire story in less than an hour, bringing people back to church and solving mysteries to boot. What more can you ask?

Fire and Ice by J.A. Jance

As a huge fan of Jance mysteries I did eat this one up.  Both Beaumont of the S.H.I.T. squad from Washington as well as Brady from Bisbee.  Well as usual this read really quickly and as a result didn’t add too many of the other people in their lives.  She literally goes back and forth between the two main characters so the book moves at a fast pace.  It is not confusing as she writes about Brady but Beaumont speaks for himself.  One assumes they will intersect, hopefully you too come to this conclusion and I’m not ruining anything.  A couple of story lines are revisited from other books but are explained so it doesn’t hinge on reading the previous books (even though they are great and you get to know each of the main people in both sets of mysteries – oh go ahead and read them, but start at the beginning of each series now).  I am trying to decide if I think the book is really good or I just like the author’s work so much and her characters that I liked it.  If I picked it up independently of its predecessors I think it would still hold water, just maybe not as much as her previous stuff.  What the heck, this is a fun book that is a super quick read and I definitely enjoyed it.