The whisperers, by John Connolly [audiobook]. Read by Jeff Harding. Oxford: Isis, 2011.
A Charlie Parker book. Brought in to investigate the apparent suicide of an Iraq veteran, Parker uncovers a network of smuggling, and an epidemic of deaths, among the former combatants. Another very gripping John Connolly book, with the usual slightly supernatural elements he introduces. Ironically, I listened to the whole of Saturday Live this morning wondering who the lovely avuncular Irish guest was, and only at the end I caught that it was John Connolly. Like Mark Billingham, obviously someone whose books aren't at all like his personality!
Aberystwyth, mon amour, by Malcolm Pryce. London: Bloomsbury, 2010. Kindle edition.
I'd heard good things about these books from people who also enjoy Douglas Adams's Dirk Gently books and Jasper Fforde, but this first one was disappointing. Louie Knight is a private detective in the Chandler mode, but working in an alternative present Aberystwyth run by Druids. His glamorous client, Myfanwy Montez, a nightclub singer, isn't as she first appears. Somehow, though, Pryce just doesn't really follow through on the premise, and the result is mildly funny but not really funny enough.
Identity crisis, by Debbie Mack. Kindle edition. Also available as print-on-demand from lulu.com
Tightly-written first novel . Lawyer Sam McRea is acting for a woman in a domestic abuse case when the woman's boyfriend is found dead. Sam's client has disappeared and she needs to track her down. At the same time, she finds she has become a victim of theft when someone has applied for a large loan in her name. The themes of murder, identity theft and the mafia intertwine. A very likeable and entertaining protagonist and an excellently-written plot.
Mennonite in a little black dress, by Rhoda Janzen. Atlantic Books, 2011. Kindle edition.
Rhoda Janzen's husband left her for a guy he'd met at Gay.com the week she got into a serious car accident. With no alternatives, she leaves hospital to go to her family home, among the Mennonite community she'd fled at the age of 18 and never returned to. Her family and the community welcome her back with strange food and stranger dating advice, and she remembers all the reasons she wanted to leave in the first place, but also the things she didn't realise she'd lost in return. This is a lovely heartwarming book as well as being sharply funny.
An expert in murder, by Nicola Upson. London: Faber and Faber, 2009.
Period thriller with the author and playwright Josephine Tey as the main protagonist. Tey travels to London from the Highlands in the same train compartment as a young milliner who is a fan of the author's work and is coming down to see her play Richard II. Shortly after the train arrives at Kings Cross, the girl is found murdered in the compartment. Tey's friend Archie Penrose, a police inspector, is called in to head the case and Tey finds herself becoming involved in it. A very interesting setting in theatreland of the 1930s with a wide variety of suspects and a few genuinely surprising twists and turns. A nice element is the setting of Scotland Yard where it actually was in the 1930s, in the Norman Shaw buildings in Derby Gate which now house MPs' offices; often the different locations of Scotland Yard, particularly this one, are glossed over.