Sunday, December 12, 2010

Three Very Good Mysteries

69. A Cotswold Killing - first in the Thea Osborne series
by Rebecca Tope
mystery, 2004
Kindle book - 14
finished, 11/28/10

70. Leave the Grave Green - third in the Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James series
by Deborah Crombie
mystery, 1995
Kindle book - 15
finished, 12/2/10

71. Dive Deep and Deadly - first in the Luanne Fogarty series
by Glynn Marsh Alam
mystery, 2000
Kindle book - 16
finished, 12/6/10

One sunny Sunday November morning, I got an email from my dear internet friend, Carole telling me she was reading a book that I might like. I looked it up and bought the Kindle version for $5.44.

I've never read a mystery like A Cotswold Killing. It isn't a police procedural. There is an amateur who works on solving the mystery, but this isn't a light-hearted cozy sort of romp by any means. First off, the woman, Thea is a new widow. Her husband died suddenly in a car accident. She hurts herself to cope with the emotional pain. I had heard of young girls cutting themselves, but this is the first time I'd heard of adults doing such things. Thea meets another woman who puts stones in her shoes as she tries to cope with a lost, drug-addicted daughter. This wasn't a huge part of the book, but it is definitely a part of the main character. I wonder if she is able to let this go in later books.

Thea has accepted a house-sitting job. She hopes it will break her routine, and give her some new activities and perhaps new acquaintances. Well, I'll tell you, this woman is the house-sitter from you-know-where. I would hate to have her taking care of my house and animals. She chooses to not bother with many of the items the homeowner has listed for her to do.

A man comes to her door in a neighborly manner, and soon is found murdered near the house Thea is staying in. She feels a need to help find out what happened because of these two things. The reader learns that all the beauty of the Cotswolds comes with a price. The very rich are buying up the houses, and their jobs involve commuting. Hence, there is no village center, no gathering place for people to get to know one another.

This is a very good start to a series, and I hope to read more of Thea's house-sitting adventures, which I am sure will include local murders.

I am utterly enchanted with Deborah Crombie's books. As soon as I finish one, I order the next. My Kindle will be a DC library. Leave the Grave Green begins with the horror of a twelve-year old boy's drowning. That event has, as you would imagine, tainted and altered a whole family's life, and may connect to a present-day crime. The sister of the dead boy, who was with him when he drowned, has lost her estranged husband in the same manner. Is this an accident and a horrible coincidence, or is there foul play involved? One of the themes is a bit the same as in an Arnaldur Indridason book, Voices; that of parents giving more attention to a talented child, while the sibling takes a back seat. This is a situation that has repercussions that stretch far into the future. Excellent story and as in the first two books, Crombie's characters are so well-drawn.

Dive Deep and Deadly was a completely new subject and locale for me; that of diving into underwater caves in the swamp area of Florida. Not a place I could ever live with water mocassins and alligators galore, but it certainly makes for fun armchair traveling! Some boys discover a body, and Luanne Fogarty is asked by the police to go down and investigate. There are more deaths, of course. Her nearest neighbor on the swamp is an older man who was quite close to Luanne's mother in the past. I really, really enjoyed this book even while I winced at the swamp creatures. Luanne is a strong, independent woman who doesn't mind living all alone. She has come back to her childhood home and is doing it over. She'd like to just dive, but knows she must go back to her profession as a linguistics teacher to earn a living. The author's life is much like Luanne's which gives the book such a strong sense of place. Really excellent first book, and I want to read more. I don't think, however that I will buy another for the Kindle. This was really terribly done with words running together as one, poor punctuation, big spaces. I almost thought of writing to the author to let her know. As much as I enjoy my Kindle for the ease of bedtime reading, it will never, ever replace print books for me.


  1. They all sound good, but if I had to pick just one, my choice would be the Deborah Crombie one.
    As for the main character in the first book - I don't think I'd like her, if she is such a bad house-sitter and does not do the things she has agreed to do. And not liking the main character makes it difficult to like the whole book, doesn't it!
    The Florida one has - to me - an unfamiliar setting and therefore it would make for an interesting read, I think.
    Some more titles for me to look up at the online catalogue of my local library! Thank you!

  2. It's great to have such positive recommendations, Nan - thank you. I've added them all to my Kindle wishlist.

  3. These sound like fun ones to consider for the next year!

  4. I read a second Rebecca Tope, out of sequence which was a mistake, however our heroine, the sleuth, does change somewhat but is a bit of an anti-heroine in my opinion. I still enjoy the books though for some light reading, and they are all situated on my doorstep which is fun.

  5. Nan, sounds like a wonderful group of books! Enjoy!

  6. Me, too, Librarian. This is a great series, and though not imperative, I think it flows better if you begin at the beginning. The main characters grow and change as the books go on.
    Thea did drive me crazy sometimes, but I still liked the book. Maybe she will become a more attentive house-sitter in the next book. If not, I think I'll give up reading the series. I like to always give a series the two book test. :<)
    Dive Deep is like reading about another world- it is so foreign to me. Honestly, I feel more at home in the books I've read about Iceland and Sweden. :<)

    Geranium Cat, the only caveat is the edition of Dive Deep. It really wasn't done well for the Kindle.

    Staci, they were each good in their own particular way.

    Carole, I do want to read the next one and see what I think. I liked reading about this setting though I felt sad about what is happening there.

    Sherri, they were all so good.

  7. I feel as you do about the Kindle -- delighted to have it (looking forward to using it later this week when we fly to Florida), but I will never give up the printed/bound page!

    I think I'd like the housesitter series -- am a sucker for books set in England!

    Interesting about the poor Kindle version on that other book. I can't even imagine how the books get from the printed form to the Kindle anyway. (My husband tried to explain the process, but I think I fell asleep ;>)

  8. I do see the benefits of a Kindle, and it would solve a lot of my housekeeping problems - less piles of books - but for now I am concentrating on the library when I use your excellent suggestions.

  9. I am currently reading the same Deborah Crombie - I enjoyed the first Kincaid novel and am now reading and enjoying this. I should also like to recommend to you the amateur sleuth novels (set in 1805/1806) by Anna Dean: A Moment of Silence and A Gentleman of Fortune. Also the crime novels of Gillian Galbraith, starting with Blood in the Water (heroine is Edinburth detective Alice Rice.) All good stuff to keep away the winter blues!
    Margaret P

  10. Lovely blog, and it's reassuring to meet fellow readers. Found you through your read # 53 A Graceful Death, which is a "fun find." Your recommendations are helpful, and I've added your blog to my faves. I look forward to your reading adventures in 2011. Regards Joanne
    reader & writer)

  11. These sound good...I really like a mystery. Currently reading an enjoyable novel that I assumed was a mystery because of the author, A. McCall Smith. The Right Attitude To Rain (he has such great titles). I am more than halfway through and I finally realized, there is no mystery! Apparently because it isn't one. Can I blame this on my cold? Or the Sudafed? I chose it because of the Edinburgh descriptions - which are satisfying as are the somewhat anxious musings of the charming central character...

  12. Commonweeder, I really just use my Kindle at bedtime for the ease of holding the book. I never even bring it downstairs. :<)

    Margaret, that's amazing you are reading the same book! I own the Galbraith and hope to read it this coming year. I'm not so big on the 1800s setting.

    Welcome, and thank you, Joanne!!

    Susan, I used to love this series, but was disappointed with the second to the last one. :<( I do want to read the latest, though. Have you seen this site?

  13. Sallie, I don't get it either. :<) All I know is that some are better than others. I'm still so happy to have such a small 'book' at bedtime. By the way, the Deborah Crombie books are also set in England. She is a great writer.

  14. I "found" Deborah Crombie this year too. She is from my area in Texas and travels to England frequently to write her mysteries. I think she does an excellent job at capturing the English cozy.

  15. Ann, I so agree. I'm really enjoying her work.


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