What have you read lately?
I've read a couple of mysteries and some romance galleys.
Of the mysteries I read, first was Ann Cleeves' Dead Water: A Shetland Mystery. It is the latest in her Shetland Islands mysteries. This well-written series has engaging characters, local color, well-described settings. After the last book, I wasn't sure the main character, police detective Jimmy Perez, was coming back. Someone close to him died in the last book and he is still reeling. But Ms. Cleeves has not only brought him and his co-workers back she has added a new character, Detective Inspector Willow Reeves, who was born and raised on one of the other Shetland Islands. Together they solve the murder of a local boy turned big time journalist who was back home researching a story on the Islands' energy industry. I like the way they solve the case by following clues, talking to people, and listening. I look forward to their next case together. There is enough background that you can read this without reading the previous ones, but if you like this author, there are four previous ones to read, plus her Vera Stanhope series.
The second mystery was the new Flavia de Luce novel by C. Alan Bradley, The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches. Flavia is my favorite almost twelve, precocious, chemistry-loving, aspiring detective. This is the sixth in the series and perhaps the last. A casket, purportedly carrying Flavia's dead mother arrives at Bishop's Lacey. A mysterious stranger whispers a cryptic message to Flavia and then ends up dead, pushed under a train by someone. Why did he talk to Flavia? What does the message mean? The rest of the book is how Flavia discovers the answers to those questions as well as uncovers a bit more of her family history. I really enjoy these historical cozy mysteries set in the quaint English countryside in the early 1950s. I will miss the pre-adolescent detective named Flavia de Luce, who loves chemistry, knows a lot about poisons, loves her secretive family, and uses her tenacious spirit to solve those murders that happen in her home town. Hopefully, Bradley will write more stories with the adolescent Flavia.
The last one is the second novel in the Bell Elkins series by Julia Keller. Bitter River is set in Acker's Gap, West Virginia, a poverty-stricken mountain town, where Bell Elkins is Raythune County's prosecuting attorney. I like this series because of the strong characters and how they relate to each other in this small economically depressed town. Bell, along with the sheriff, grew up in the town and together they solve crimes and fight to make their county a better place. The latest case rocks the community when pregnant sixteen-year-old Lucinda Trimble's body is found at the bottom of the Bitter River. She was dead before she even hit the water. This case is not all Bell is managing. Her daughter left to live with her dad in DC. The sheriff, her closest friend, is behaving a bit strangely. Her sister who was in prison but is now out, still hasn't contacted her. She is dating a much younger man. Plus a face from her past has shown up for reasons she can't quite figure out. Looking for answers to Lucinda's murder as well as answers to her own complicated relationships may lead Bell down a dangerous path. I look forward to the next one in the series, Summer of the Dead, coming out August 26th.
As for the romances, I will leave those for another review. But I'd love to know what you've been reading lately.