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Mystery Reviews

Looking for some Mystery Fiction? Check below for reviews of items that are available in our collections to borrow.

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'The Angel's Mark'
by S.W. Perry

"I can't resist a good Tudor mystery, but this one comes with another element exploring the ways that religion, superstition, and medicine combined. The arrogance of the medical profession at a time when most of what they knew about the body and its inner workings was no more than flawed guesswork is pricked, but it's also a fascinating twist on the forensic crime genre of modern times. This book poses the question, when the underlying medical and cultural assumptions about science are wrong, how can one doctor turn those assumptions to his advantage when investigating the murders of people who the establishment doesn't feel are worth protecting?"

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'The Mitford Murders'
by Jessica Fellows

"Deceptively titled, this is not for those interested in the ideologically eclectic Mitford sisters. Our sleuth here is instead their newest nursery maid, with all of the sisters but Nancy still in childhood. When a war nurse is murdered, our heroine finds herself increasingly wrapped up in the mystery while trying to dissuade a passionate teenage Nancy, who has read altogether too many novels, from becoming involved. A perfect 30s amateur detective novel for curling up with on the couch, this novel's ratings have been the victim of dashed expectations that it would be more Mitfordy. You have been forewarned, take it for what it is, and enjoy."

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'Dandy Gilver and a Most Misleading Habit'
by Catriona McPherson

"Another deliciously good page turner of a cozy mystery served up by Catriona McPherson. Set in a convent on a freezing moor, the writing was evocative enough to make me shiver at the cold winds howling across lonely expanses of Scottish countryside while curled up next to a log fire of my own. A little bit of misdirection artfully thrown in as things were picking up pace toward a conclusion made me very smugly presume to have guessed whodunnit before the end. I admit, I was fooled and the author suddenly changing gears on me made for a very satisfying ending."

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'Dandy Gilver and a Bothersome Number of Corpses'
by Catriona McPherson

"Dandy Gilver is always a delight to read. As improper lady detectives go she is a favourite, and 'A Bothersome Number of Corpses' is no exception to the rule. Called to check on a childhood friend, Dandy discovers that the girl she knew has undergone a complete personality change and the startling declaration that she may have killed five people. In a reversal of fortune Dandy must now prove that the confessed murderer did not kill anybody. Or did she? Dandy's rather half-hearted attempts at impersonating a schoolmistress while she strives to get to the bottom of the matter form the basis of a good old-fashioned murder mystery."

Title no longer available. See more by Catriona McPherson.

'Come Hell or Highball'
by Maia Chance

"This book sits in the genre of 'a 1920s lady finds herself without funds and becomes a lady detective to make ends meet', but it is unlike any I've read before. While it begins with a familiar trope, Lola, our heroine is not perfect. She does not have the lithe figure, perfect bob, and complete composure that accompany swanning around in chic French dropped waist gowns, gaining admittance at all doors with her poise and smooth confidence. Lola is instead hot headed, unfashionably voluptuous, and a regular comic foil to her cook and former butler whenever she tries to stand on even an ounce of dignity. Lola is at times exasperating - you may end up wanting to yell at her "NO! Don't confront the dangerous criminal with everything you know about their plot you fool!" and "Why are you driving to a desolated spot alone, at midnight to meet someone you just accused of murder?" but there is satisfaction in that every other character in the book will be yelling it at her too.

"This book feels light but has a surprising amount going on, and unlike some other lady detective series that rely almost wholly on sleuths who float through cases by being perfect at all things, Chance's creation is not only gently satirical and funny, but also well plotted and nicely paced making it a more rounded offering than expected."

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'Wimmera'
by Mark Brandi

"Wimmera is the story of two 11-year-old boys, Ben and Fab, best friends in a small country town in 1989. They watch Hey Hey It's Saturday, try and dodge the school bullies and save for a pair of Nikes. They sometimes sneak away to drink beer and wonder about sex. A local girl, 14, commits suicide for unknown reasons and then a Statesman-driving stranger arrives in town. Twenty years later a sealed-up wheelie bin is dragged up from the river and the past, as it has an unpleasant habit of doing, rears its ugly head.

"This book got me in from the start. It is a pitch-perfect evocation of boyhood. Brandi's description of games of backyard cricket on hot summer days, a friend's mum, teachers and the back-to-school TV commercials that Ben hated are spot on. This reader was able to relive (perhaps re-endure may be a better word) some of his more innocent thinking and experiences from previous decades. The crime at the heart of the story is not revealed immediately, but your worst fears for what may have happened unfold with what becomes a hideous inevitability. Brandi tells the story slowly but it is never boring, the pace makes the book stronger. These two ordinary boys have to deal with a malignancy that traumatises them leading to revenge and tragedy.

"Brandi is the son of Italian immigrants who owned a country pub and has said that, being something of an outsider, he watched people closely to find common ground. He learnt that what was unsaid helped him to write and he communicates exceptionally well. The book has won several awards and I give it five stars."

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'Strange Magic'
by Syd Moore

"Rosie Strange is unapologetically brash and no nonsense. When she inherits her grandfather's museum of witchcraft she intends simply to wind it up and move on with her life. Once there, however, she finds that she has something to prove to the museum's curator and quickly becomes involved in a mysterious case of otherworldly proportions.

"While the heroine can be grating at times with her 'plain speaking' (rudeness) she'll grow on you as the damsel who can save herself thank you very much. Funny and well-paced, the road from benefit fraud to witchcraft is full of twists and bumps but makes for a fun ride."

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'The Secrets of Wishtide'
by Kate Saunders

"If there's anything that detective fiction has taught us, it's that impoverished female relations make the best private investigators. So it is with Mrs Laetitia Rodd. Respectable, discrete, and possessed of that particular invisibility that comes with being a middle aged woman of good family but no means other than her own sharp wits. The crime is a particularly grisly one with a genteel young man accused of murdering a woman that refused his hand in marriage and only by teasing out the histories and long forgotten scandals of those around her will Mrs Rodd be able to reveal the shocking truth of the whole affair."

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'Jane and the Waterloo Map'
by Stephanie Barron

"Jane and the Waterloo Map is the 13th book in the 'Being Jane Austen' series in which Jane Austen solves murders. Unfortunately other than a peppering of details from Austen's life this book does not capture the voice of the great authoress, with only the occasional waspish comment to satisfy any claim on Austen's sharp eye for absurdity in those around her. At the same time the book doesn't go quite far enough the other way. It could have been quite entertaining by putting the eminently respectable Austen into a ridiculous chain of events in a silly pastiche of the style of regency novel that relies on a series of unlikely coincidences, but alas it was a rather straight mystery. There is murder and intrigue aplenty, a good plot twist and even a dash of romance. Its only fault, as with all but a very select catalogue of books, is not enough Jane Austen!"

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'Murder at Whitehall'
by Amanda Carmack

"I picked this up as a light trashy read expecting not much at all. Proving the old maxim that you should never judge a book by its cover, it turned out to be a well written and well-paced historical mystery combining descriptions of traditional Tudor Christmases in all their brilliance with a nicely interwoven murderous plot. Villainy and treachery abound and the young Queen must dispatch her best agents to preserve her. This is a perfect weekend read."

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'The Fatal Fashione'
by Karen Harper

"You know how there are some foods that you know are basically just sugar, but you love them anyway? I think Karen Harper's Elizabeth I mysteries are my book equivalent of that. Not for devotees of historical accuracy (disbelief must be suspended to breaking point to buy that the austere Elizabeth Tudor would be running around solving mysteries and asking people to call her Bess), but they do have an undeniable charm. If you like a good royal intrigue… OK fine, a bad royal intrigue, but entertaining nonetheless, then The Fatal Fashione has a mad poisoner for you."

Title no longer available. See more by Karen Harper.

'The Butchers of Berlin'
by Chris Petit

"This book is a bit like twentieth century German history - not an easy read at times. It has a cast that includes some very unsavoury characters and some extremely gory and even sadistic passages. It is set in 1942 Berlin when the cracks in the Third Reich are beginning to show.

"The story begins when an elderly Jewish soldier grooms himself, steps out of his room and shoots dead his block warden. He then turns the gun on himself. August Schlegel, much to his puzzlement as he is in the financial crimes department of the police, is assigned to investigate. He is soon joined in his detective work, to his alarm, by Eiko Morgen, an officer in the dreaded SS.

"A number of historically real events are incorporated in the story such as a street demonstration by non-Jewish women against the internment of their Jewish husbands and the Gestapo's employment of "Catchers," Jews who were promised their lives if they would wrinkle out fellow Jews who had submerged themselves into the general population. The book's narrative, however, can be challenging, I had to re-read several sections to ensure I grasped them and the number of characters can be bewildering at times. The English author obviously loves the city and he writes a very interesting afterward that reveals his extensive research and his motivations which have paid off so well."

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'Death of an Avid Reader'
by Frances Brody

"I really wanted to love this book. A 1920's lady detective solving mysteries in the library! A missing heiress! A mathematical organ grinder's monkey! Tawdry library love affairs! What librarian could resist? Honestly though, as little as it needed to do for me to be charmed by it with a premise like that I just could not seem to finish it. Only the looming due date and a supreme effort of will made me get through it and I can't quite put my finger on why. It wasn't that the writing was bad exactly and it had plot elements that should have worked, but together they ended up leaving me groaning internally every time I looked at it on my bedside table. In the end I finished it with relief. The 1920s were bristling with lady detectives and being spoilt for choice I can safely say that I will not be returning to the exploits of Kate Shakelton."

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'Crowned and Dangerous'
by Rhys Bowen

"The new Royal Spyness mystery has arrived!

"Lady Georgiana mysteries are simply fun, candy floss reads relying on a cast of slightly batty, extravagant or cartoonishly priggish characters they address one of the great gaps in the literature of our time - the problems of poor royals forced to make ends meet before the days of Instagram product endorsements. The Royal Spyness mysteries are not great and important literature by any measure but when you're in the mood for a good holiday read they most definitely hit the spot. Crowned and Dangerous is no exception to this - if you ever wanted know how a capable young Lady deals with trying to keep a low profile around reporters with a chatty lady's maid and flamboyant foreign princess in tow all while solving murders then this is the book for you."

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'Mycroft Holmes'
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Anna Waterhouse

"This mystery features Mycroft Holmes, older brother of Sherlock who the great detective acknowledged to be his superior in powers of observation. It is set very early on when Sherlock is, rather hilariously, just a whiny teen and Mycroft is a young man confident that he has the world worked out and an easy, if predictable future before him. Drawn across the sea to Trinidad by a mystery involving his intended bride he discovers that people are more complex and motivated by things far out of anything his comfortable existence has ever encountered.

"This tale could be quite dark in its twists and turns, but it doesn't feel dark thanks to Mycroft's airy confidence and naivety. It feels more like a boy's own adventure than a traditional Holmesian detective story and could have done with showing off Mycroft's powers of observation a little more, but hopefully this will be developed further in later books. Entertaining and fun, not to be taken too seriously - diehard Conan Doyle fans take note: this may not be the book for you."

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'Jane Steele'
by Lyndsay Faye

"'...the most idiotic thing Jane Eyre ever did, other than to leave in the first place, was to depart without her pearl necklace and half Mr Rochester's fortune which he would have gladly given her. If she had been eaten by a bear on fleeing penniless into the wilderness I should have shaken that bear's paw.'

"This book took me a chapter or so to get into, but it turned into a rollicking tale with a cast of menacingly colourful characters, with treasure and mysterious inheritances and a Jane who could manage quite well on her own. An entertaining read with plot twists aplenty, but none of them so outrageous to the laws of coincidence in fiction as to be confused with anything from the pen of Charlotte Brontë. Jane Steele is a thoroughly enjoyable book, the kind that has you racing to the end only to feel put out that there's no more of it left."

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'The Face of a Stranger'
by Anne Perry

"At the moment of solving an important case, Detective Monk is knocked down in a carriage accident and left with no memory of who he is. As he begins to unravel the threads of his life it becomes clear that he is a brilliant detective, despised by his fellow officers for his social climbing ways. Surrounded by those who would delight in his downfall he must recover his memory without letting on that he has no idea who he is and solve the case that caused his predicament all over again.

"In this Victorian mystery we are confronted by the baffling question, 'How do you piece your identity back together from nothing when you have no friends and live in a time before social media updates?'"

Title no longer available. See more by Anne Perry.

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