4 Detective Novels To Check Out

I have read several mystery/detective novels in the last couple of months. They are definitely a pleasant diversion, so I wanted to share them with you.

The Big Over Easy by Jasper Fforde – Having enjoyed several of Fforde’s Thursday Next books, I was eager to get into this new series about Inspector Jack Spratt, head detective in the Nursery Crimes Division.  This book centers on the investigation into the death of Humpty Dumpty, who has fallen off his favorite place to sit and reflect, the wall in his garden.  But was it an accident, or were more nefarious forces at work?

I will leave that question unanswered so you can discover it on your own.  Suffice it to say, I appreciated the writing style and all of the nursery rhyme references.  However, I’m not sure I will be reading any of the others because, as my friend Melissa and I agreed, once you’ve gotten the joke, you’ve pretty much gotten it.  3 stars.

X by Sue Grafton – This is book #24 in the Kinsey Millhone/Alphabet series; the first one is A is for Alibi, so you can start there if you’re like me and want to read things in order.  Kinsey Millhone is a private investigator in Santa Teresa, California, and a no-nonsense, independent woman who values her few friends highly.  The books, which started coming out in 1982, continue one after the other without any jumps in time between them, so this story takes place in 1989.

I like Kinsey, so I liked this book, although it would have been nice to have something new happen in her personal life.  I won’t get into the plot other than to say it wasn’t the most exciting of her novels.  I’m still looking forward to the final two in the series, though.  3 stars.

Rough Country by John Sandford – This is #3 in the Virgil Flowers series – there are actually 9 out so far, so I still have some catching up to do.  The first book was Dark of the Moon, although Virgil Flowers was actually introduced in Sandford’s Prey series, featuring the character of Lucas Davenport.

In this story, Virgil is called away from his vacation by Lucas to investigate the murder of a woman at a women-only resort in northern Minnesota.  As he delves into the various angles of the case, he uncovers another murder that may be related and begins to think this is a much bigger case than it started out to be.  It was a good story, and I enjoyed the characters as well.  4 stars.

Devoted in Death by J.D. Robb –  This is #41 in one of my favorite series in any genre, the In Death series.  I love Lieutenant Eve Dallas and her charming, good-looking husband Roarke, along with the rest of their friends and associates, and I really enjoy the futuristic setting of mid 21st century New York as well.  Again, if you want to start from the beginning, the first book is Naked in Death.

Devoted begins with the introduction of the villains, who have come from Alabama, and flips between the investigation and their activities as the book continues.  By the time they hit New York, they have left a string of bodies behind them, and it’s only getting worse now that they have settled in to the big city.  But no matter how good they are at concealing themselves and not leaving a trail, they are still no match for Lieutenant Dallas and her gang.  5 stars.

Gabrielle Zevin (3 Great YA Reads)

I have been reading up a storm in the last couple of months, including trying to catch up on some series that I had started previously but lost track of.  One of those was the Birthright series by Gabrielle Zevin, about the daughter of a crime boss dealing in illegal chocolate in the year 2083.

I had read the first two books quite a while ago but still wanted to find out what happened in the third book, In the Age of Love and Chocolate.  It wasn’t on the library shelf the first time I went, but I picked up two other books by the same author that looked interesting: Elsewhere and Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac.

I practically inhaled Elsewhere, starting and finishing it in the same afternoon that I checked it out of the library.  It was a charming and thought-provoking tale set in a world where, when you die, you go to Elsewhere and live your life again – backwards. Not so much fun when you die at age 15, like our main character Liz Hall, but at least she gets to meet her grandmother and learn how to drive, along with discovering a whole lot about the meaning of life…and death.  It’s a fun and clever book that also draws you in and makes you care about the characters.  I definitely give it 5 stars for its all-ages appeal.

Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac is the perfect example of a book I would have loved when I was 16 and still enjoyed at 46.  It centers on Naomi, who has lost her memories from the last several years as the result of a fall, following her as she slowly regains them.  Along the way, she has to figure out how she feels about the boys in her life – her boyfriend, her best friend, and the new guy in town – and deal with their reactions when her current feelings don’t always match up with the past they remember. A solid 4 stars.

Imagine a world where chocolate is illegal?  That’s the case in the Birthright series, and the main character Anya Balanchine is the daughter of a powerful crime boss, i.e. illegal importer and distributor of chocolate.  To me, In the Age of Love and Chocolate is like the third season of a nighttime drama, when the characters’ stories have crossed and re-crossed each other until they resemble a spider’s web.  I didn’t enjoy it as much as the first two books, although it did provide a satisfying wrap-up at the end.  3 stars.

Although I don’t read much Young Adult these days, it is nice to occasionally dip my toe in the water and see what is out there.  I’m always open to suggestions, so feel free to leave a comment with your recommendations!