A book with a very strange premise (something perfect for Hollywood): an amnesiac begins to try and remember her life by keeping a journal and writing down her daily thoughts and occurrences.
Posts Tagged: Mystery
In early December, one of my favorite shows aired its last ever episode that undoubtedly left an impression and a small hole in my heart.
Not to get all melodramatic, but there are certain shows no matter how trivial or ridiculous in its premise, will transport you to a whole different world. Which brings me to this five part blog series on shows that are must watch, that you may have missed, and that are sorely underrated (say that with a mouthful). Hopefully by the end, you will hopefully rush to the shelves or place a hold, some of which are available at the Niles Library. So let’s get started starting with the Number 5 show (available as an interlibrary loan): Veronica Mars
Lord Crick has died. While convulsing. And turning yellow. And providing his family with a gruesome corpse. Although young Lord Crick had some health issues (i.e. the pox) and a rather nasty disposition, it really was a ghastly and horrific death. His sister Lady Lydia decides that there must be a further investigation. The gossip against her husband Captain Flynn, who is her brother’s heir, is becoming scandalous. On the advice of her cousin Francis, she travels to London to meet with Dr. Thomas Silkstone, an American physician who is working, studying and teaching with British anatomist Dr. Carruthers. Silkstone, who is quite taken with Lady Lydia, agrees reluctantly to exhume and examine the corpse and answer questions at the inquest.
When he is at the estate, he finds not just a house in mourning, but a household full of secrets. Silkstone uses his primitive forensic and toxicology skills to study the remains, but he finds more questions than answers, and his list of suspects in the household grows. The tension swells, and the plot twists, but will Silkstone (with some help from Carruthers,) find the answers with his scientific methods before there is another body found on the estate? Harris writes a layered tale of forensic mystery using engaging characters who struggle with the conventions of their time. Silkstone is wonderful as the outsider looking into their society. Can’t wait to read the next one in the series!
A strong Chicago-based mystery from Chicago-based writer Walker, who has a knack for capturing both the essence of the city and the suspense that fills its streets. In this novel, Walker, a former Catholic priest, uses his seminary background as the backdrop for this latest, involving a priest who gets caught up in an international quagmire. One day, out of the blue, Father Paul Clark’s friend is killed right in front of him. Barely escaping with own life, Clark soon finds out that his friend was involved in some less than savory dealings with the wrong types of people. Enter a woman who says she is from the government who has a plan to help Clark. Can she be trusted? Clark spends much of the novel trying to answer that question, a search which leads him all the way to South America. In the midst of all of this, a young man enters him life and shakes his beliefs to the core.
As mysteries go, this is quite strong. The character of Paul Clark is a believable, convincing protagonist. All throughout the book, no matter what Clark is going through, we feel his pain and can sympathize with his difficult situations. As a priest, he might appear as unrelatable, but Walker gives Clark such compassion and conscience and even some faith crises that we can understand what Clark is experiencing. And Walker also makes good use out of Chicago. Through the pages, I was able to visualize the gritty and dank streets of Chicago where Clark was desperately trying to run for his life.
This is the second mystery I have read by Walker (Saving Paulo was the other one) and though I liked both, I found myself drawn more this Clark and his set of nerve-wrenching circumstances.
This is another psychological thriller that keeps the reader riveted from Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn. This, Flynn’s debut novel, tells the story of Camille and the uphill battle she faces as she is forced to confront her past and return her her roots. Struggling as a cub reporter, Camille gets a prime assignment that just might get her name on the journalism map. The only problem is the story requires her to head back to her small hometown to cover the murder of two young girls. Her mother still lives there and Camille has had practically no communication with her since Camille left eight years ago. There also is a new half-sister, who Camille does not know at all.
Flynn does a fantastic job of interweaving all of Camille’s troubles with the case she’s supposed to be researching and reporting. And, though Camille is not a perfect character, we do at least begin to like her more and more as the story progresses. She’s very troubled (at the beginning, we find out one of the reasons she is floundering in her newspaper job is that she just finished a stint in a psych hospital) and heading to her hometown only increases these troubles. But, Flynn does not take Camille or any of the characters here and send them over the top, as many authors tend to do, especially in thrillers. The story and the characters here are controlled and methodical. All in all, this is a a wonderful thriller with a dark, gritty edge.
A dark (as the title states), depressing novel with pretty much no sympathetic characters, this is the second novel by Gone Girl author Flynn. The main character here, Libby Day, was witness to her mother and sisters being murdered when she was a small child. In court, she identified her brother as the killer. Over 20 years later, Libby begins to doubt that testimony…did she really see her brother kill three members of her family or did she just believe she had seen it? Libby begins a quest for self-discovery that will take her life into even more dark places than before.
First of all, Libby is not a nice person. She’s a thief, she can be violent, and she only begins to question her brother’s innocence after stumbling on a group of true crime addicts who offer her money for trophies from her past. Aside from Libby, the novel is also told from the point-of-view of the mother and the brother (both of those POVs are set before the murders). But, like Libby, neither the mother nor the brother are characters the reader will want to relate to. The brother, Ben, gets involved with Satanism and a VERY bad crowd of friends. And the mother sits idly by while her family crumbles around her.
See…it’s a VERY dark story. But, if you can get past all of that, it is a well-written, edgy piece of fiction that really does keep you reading. Unlike a lot of contemporary thrillers, this one has a solid foundation, as well as great character development and a pretty decent ending.
By far my favorite book of 2012 (even though I read it in 2013). It is a strong, fierce thriller that combines social commentary and suspense…all in one well-written story. It is no surprise to me that Ruth Rendell is still writing strong, highly literary pieces of fiction. She is one of the leaders of the mystery genre, especially British mysteries. Writing here as Barbara Vine, Rendell writes what I think is one of her best in years…lending truth to the adage that some things improves with age.
The story here starts off in 2011 with a sister and her brother, Grace and Andrew, sharing a home in London. They divide the living space of the house equally, a situation which works fine until the brother’s lover, James, comes to live with them. James sets off a series of events that neither Grace nor Andrew will ever recover from. While coping, Grace begins reading a long-lost manuscript, never published because its storyline includes unwed mothers and homosexual characters in the 1920s. That’s when a completely different part of the story takes over. Or at least we THINK it’s different…because it is set in the post-WWI era. Soon, correlations between Grace’s modern-day dilemmas and the historical plot become evident.
The historical storyline revolves around a sister, Maud, the youngest child in a very conservative Bristol family, who gets herself pregnant. After telling her family, they want to send her away. But, her brother John has a different idea. He is homosexual and aware that he will never be able to lead a respectable life as a gay man, so he and Maud begin living together as husband and wife…in name only…so that the child does not seem illegitimate.
Both storylines are interesting and compelling but the historical one just captivates the reader with twists and turns that the reader never expects (or at least I didn’t). I found both tales together a great commentary on how things regarding sexuality and homosexuality have changed…yet how some things have stayed the same through the centuries.
This is my second Tasha Alexander novel featuring Victorian Lady Emily Ashton and maybe because this one is set in Venice, a city I love, I enjoyed it even more than the the first one I read (A Fatal Waltz). Alexander, like Donna Leon, another author who writes mysteries set in Venice (though featuring a male detective), does a brilliant job of breathing life into Venice. And Lady Emily is a force to be reckoned with…a kin to Deanna Raybourn’s Lady Julia Grey (set in Victorian England). Unlike Raybourn’s heroine, who sometimes is too tough and “un-Victorian” for the times, I felt Alexander and her Lady Emily hit just the right tones of passion and passiveness. Though the ending got a little convoluted (I began to get some of the characters confused because of their titles and their flowery names…not to mention all of the place names), I still highly recommend this series for anyone who likes historical mysteries, female-based mysteries or vivid depictions and/or senses of place.
A fire races though a London private school and a mother rushes to save her daughter’s life. How the fire started provides the backdrop for this suspenseful thriller with paranormal aspects and graced with lyrical writing.
This novel with its realistic portrayal of contemporary families is heartbreaking in its tragic elements but appealing in its devotion to the protective instincts that are the core of the love between mothers and children. The twists and turns in the thriller are so well done that the culprit is revealed deftly in the final pages.
Readers of Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and Broken Harbor by Tana French will devour Afterwards by Rosamund Lupton.
This debut novel from Chicago Tribune journalist (and Pulitzer Prize winner) Julia Keller is gripping from page one…reeling the reader in with clear depictions of small town life, adolescence, and brutal, senseless violence. Starting out shortly before a seemingly random shooting, the story introduces us to a mother and daughter who are both at odds with each other. The mother, Bell, works too much, overly dedicated to her job as prosecuting attorney for a small, impoverished county in West Virginia. And her daughter Carla is knee-deep in full-blown teenage rebellion. Actually, that rebellion sets the stage for the story…while waiting for her mother to pick her up from mandatory “anger management” class, Carla witness one of the most violent acts in Acker’s Gap, WV. After this, Carla becomes even more of a problem…not only is she still a behavior problem but now she also has upsetting, conflicting issues with what she witnessed. Bell, in addition to dealing with Carla and with the hunt for the murderer(s), also has other issues contending for space in her frantic world. Keller, as in her Chicago Tribune articles, truly does have a way with words… bringing characters, places and scenarios to life with true, vivid imagery. This was one of the best written mysteries I’ve read in ages! Hopefully, Acker’s Gap, along with Bell, Carla and the other colorful characters of this small town, will be back soon.