In Yorkshire, a suspect is acquitted of murder following very uncertain testimony by an eyewitness. He is placed under identity protection due to the heated response of the local community, and ten years later Chief Superintendent Simon Serrailler of Lafferton is confronted with first one, then a second brutal murder of elderly women under circumstances similar to the Yorkshire case. In Susan Hill’s A Question of Identity, the reader follows the case development with the police superintendent as well as the views of the suspect and a lonely hermit who wanders and watches. Find previous books in the series on Goodreads, plus check out my recent reviews of The Betrayal of Trust and The Risk of Darkness.
Famous (and fictional) mystery writer Alan Conway’s last novel begins with a burial while seven magpies perched in a tree look on. One for sorrow, one for Joy, one for a girl and one for a boy, one for silver and one for gold, and the last for the strangest tale that ever was told. This mystery within a mystery follows this children’s poem but the reader is challenged to find parallel events in the lives of the author, editor, and publisher to those affecting characters in the author’s last novel. Were the last chapters of the novel stolen, destroyed, or never written? Who can untangle these mysteries? Discover the answer to these questions in Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz.
Author Michael Connelly is often at his best when he brings his two principle characters together. In The Brass Verdict, attorney Mickey Haller and detective Harry Bosch meet for the first time when Haller takes over the lucrative docket of a murdered lawyer and Bosch investigates the crime. At first, they don’t recognize each other, but there are suggestions of family connections. Bosch sets up a scam attack on Haller in an effort to gain information, but Haller figures it out and the two decide to work together and find the real culprit. In The Wrong Side of Goodbye, these half-brothers fully cooperate when private eye Bosch is engaged by an aging billionaire to find an heir. Bosch retains Haller as his attorney when the billionaire dies and Bosch becomes entangled in more legal issues than he can manage. Check out a New York Times review. In these novels, the reader is treated to both investigative and legal strategies as the adventures unfold.
As with all of Susan Hill’s mysteries, Chief Detective Simon Serrailer’s investigation is only one part of the story. In The Betrayal of Trust, we see the detective’s emerging love interest and his sister Doctor Cat in her work at the local hospice for those near death along with a sad tale dealing with assisted suicide. The investigation is of a cold case coming to the surface when two skeletons of young girls are found after a flood. Simon uses much skill and discretion in laying this sadness to rest.
This is the story of a crime, not a mystery in the whodunit style, but a mystery nonetheless as to why and how it happened. In addition, Susan Hill allows new characters to walk onto the scene and the reader wonders who is this person and how do they fit into the story. As the title suggests, this is a dark tale of child abduction and crazed grief with the thought patterns of those involved clearly laid out by the author. As Ruth Rendell said, The Risk of Darkness is “a stunning tale.” Old friends of Detective Simon Serrailler and his triplet sister Doctor Cat will welcome their interplay throughout the story. Book 3 of this series (set in England).
In The Whistler (that is whistleblower), John Grisham introduces us to the Florida Board of Judicial Conduct’s investigation of the most corrupt judge in Florida’s history. An elusive character named Mix or Myers or maybe something else lodges a complaint with the board in hopes of an award for himself and his undisclosed client. Thus Lacy Stoltz and her colleague Hugo become involved in the most dangerous and compelling investigation of their board career. Their adventures cross paths with the coastal mafia and corruption at the casino run by the Tappacola Native American tribe. Lacy persists with the investigation even after Hugo is killed and she is terribly injured in an unlikely accident that suggests murder. With the FBI’s help, Lacy unravels this corrupt maze of hidden wealth, obscure identities and a convict on death row who should not be there. Check out a review from The New York Times.
This story, published in the year of my birth, is still available as an eBook through IPPL. I enjoyed visiting with Nero Wolf and Archie again as they investigate the death of several persons, one by poison in Wolf’s office. This victim first asks Wolf to be his executor and notes the importance of the red box among the items in his estate but dies before he can reveal its whereabouts. The search for the box brings forth adventures for Archie and the police, but in the end, Wolf produces what appears to be the box and solves the mystery. The Red Box by Rex Stout is a good read about the eccentric Wolf in which he actually leaves his office on one unusual occasion.
Herta Muller’s words form images assembled as a collage and story for the reader to follow. The Fox was Ever the Hunter is rich in images and symbols to lead one along the path of fear and frustration caused by the totalitarian regime the author grew up with in Romania. The secret service lurks ever present and for Adina, they threaten with notes and gradual dissection of her fox fur bought years ago with her mother. Clara finds that her special friend with whom she shares the evening rest is not just a lawyer but an agent of that dreaded service. All are suspicious of others and fearful of what may come, but hope for a brighter day. For more about the book and the author, check out The New York Times review.
Retired Chief Inspector Gamache becomes Commander of the Surete Academy in hopes of wiping out the last traces of corruption infecting the Sûreté du Québec. But his choice of professors seems ill advised with two who clearly had been involved in the wrongdoing. Also, the reader is greatly puzzled why Commander Gamache decides to admit a freshman, previously rejected for good reason, just because he recognizes her name. As expected with Louise Penny’s mysteries, the interesting characters of Three Pines come into play, this time in regards to an old map found in the wall of the Bistro and as hosts to the unlikely freshman and three other cadets for whom Gamache has special interest following the violent death that befalls the Academy. A Great Reckoning brings out hope for redemption, forgiveness, and justice in answer to the misdeeds of the past. Check out The New York Times list on the “latest and best in crime fiction,” which includes a nod to A Great Reckoning.
Political writer Christopher Buckley retreats to the 16th century for this hilarious story as he believed the U.S election of 2016 was sufficiently self-satirizing to demand his attention. In 1517, relic hunting was a good business for Dismas until he conspires with the artist Durer to produce a creditable shroud for sale to an affluent but corrupt noble. The noble was greatly displeased when the fraud was uncovered and Dismas escapes with his life only after agreeing to steal the true shroud for the noble. The reader then journeys with Dismas and Durer to Chambery in hopes of substituting a shroud of equal or better quality (according to Durer) for the true shroud. Many misadventures and missteps occur for the reader to enjoy until the pair of travelers are rewarded for their efforts. The reader should then read again the 2017 news report at the beginning of The Relic Master to see what the author is suggesting.