Fresh and sparkly
As I sat down to write a review I was torn. I thought about doing the latest mystery by Carola Dunn, The Bloody Tower, but then thought we'd had several British mystery reviews lately. Then I pondered the latest paranormal/kick-ass heroine novel I'd read (Once Bitten, Twice Shy by Jennifer Rardin) but it didn't feel new enough - though I did enjoy it. What to do, what to do. All that ruminating brought to mind two mysteries that have stuck with me for years because of how fresh they were.
The first is Edgar winner, The Last Billable Hour by Susan Wolfe. Think of this as the anti-Grisham. Not in the sense that it's better then Grisham's legal thrillers, but in the way it plays with the young lawyer working in a powerful law firm plot. In this case the young attorney is Howard Rickover who is just beginning his career at Tweedmore and Slyde. Howard spends his days scrambling to figure out how to increase his billable hours when the jobs he's given don't allow him to bill. He's a minnow in a world of sharks. And his angst increases when he realizes there are dark doings in the firm and a murder occurs. As the investigation progresses, Howard is pulled in to help detective Sarah Nelson with the case. Oftentimes confused but always endearing, Howard is a hero to root for.
The other one that has stuck with me is The Mother Shadow by Melodie Johnson Howe. As with Wolfe's book, Howe played with the conventions and created an original sleuthing pair reminiscent of Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin. Claire Conrad is the eccentric detective who pulls the strings of the investigation while Maggie Hill collects the information. The mystery involves suicide, a missing codicil and sharply written dialog.
Talking about the books here has made me realize that I've been missing that sparkly feeling I get when I've made a new literary discovery. Here's hoping the next is just around the corner or in the turn of a page.