A new London crime detective takes to the big city streets with a vengeance. There is a little political intrigue mixed up with the murders John Carlyle is investigating…the case involves a former Cambridge University club filled with future politicos who are being killed off one by one years later. Carlyle is a believable London inspector who fights crime with a passion, though the writing could be a little better and the book does have its fair share of cliches. Not the best British mystery (by a long shot) but far from the worst. Definitely something for British mystery lovers to try.
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Set in 1920 London, this mystery intertwines the horrors of World War I in a web of war survivors, murders, romance, social customs and history. Recovering from the trauma of both serving in the war and losing a wife and child, Laurence Bartram receives news of the suicide death of a classmate, Captain John Emmett. Feeling compassion for the family, Laurence comes to the aid of his sister to discover the why of the suicide and bequests to unknown individuals in his will. Laurence falls hopelessly in love with the sister, Mary. The investigation becomes one of can’t stop reading intrigue when it is discovered that Captain Emmett was a member of a firing squad for the execution of a British sergeant for desertion during the war.
Aiding Laurence in this investigation is good friend Charles. Charles knows everything and everyone and he steals every scene where he is placed and provides many light moments amid the darkness. The author does not spare the reader from the sad awfulness of World War I. This war destroyed a generation with over 1.6 million British men wounded, 662,000 men killed and 140,000 men reported missing in action. The novel’s core focuses on the psychological trauma of the survivors, shell shock, and vividly awakens the reader to current copings with the post traumatic stress disorder of contemporary military veterans.
This mystery has a lot to offer. While discovering the history of post World War I Britain, the reader can savor the puzzle of who, what and why.
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Written in lush and lyrical language complimenting the North Carolina forest setting, the novel is a thriller, romance, and character study. Luce is a spunky loner who has abandoned social interactions and lives as a caretaker for an abandoned summer lodge miles from town. Her solitary existence is drastically interrupted as a social worker delivers the children of her murdered sister. The children are mute and unresponsive. Without any experience in the care of children, she must be their protector and savior. Meanwhile the father is lurking in the background freed from the murder of his wife and trying to find hidden sums of money. If Luce is the heroine, Bud the father, is the villain of the narrative. In capturing the mind, motivations and self-pitying justifications of this psychopath, Frazier’s words glow. Luce cares for the children, a stranger visits and a romance begins. As the action advances, Bud, the children, and Luce become entwined in fearful suspense. Providing the welcome escape that readers crave, Frazier journeys to another time and place. Lovers of Cold Mountain will not be disappointed with Nightwoods.
Following the overwhelming success of The Millennium Trilogy (The Girl….series) by Stieg Larsson and the recent success of The Snowman by Jo Nesbo, it’s no wonder American publishers are clamoring to get new Scandinavian authors out on the crime fiction shelves. Sometimes, this leads to less than stellar works…published just for the sake of being published. That is NOT the case with this book by Kepler, a Swedish husband and wife writing team. The Hypnotist is one of the strongest thrillers I’ve read in ages…since The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo…and even gives that first book of Larsson’s trilogy a run for its money. Most of the way through (up until the very end — maybe the last 50 pages) was some of the best suspense ever! Kepler knows just how to reel the audience in and how much or how little to give away…letting the chills mount until they just HAVE to be released. The ending was a bit of a disappointment, which is why it was not able to surpass The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo as my favorite crime story in a decade. Unlike Girl, which has a very strong ending, The Hypnotist’s story and writing seems to drag on unnecessarily at the end, which is a shame since most of the book was so taut and fine-tuned. But, the ending should not keep you from reading this one. The first 450 pages are superb and need to be savored and remembered as you read to the end. I’m sure you will not be disappointed with this one! A MUST for all crime readers!