Blood on the Water by Anne Perry

blood on the waterThis is the 20th, and perhaps the best, book in the Monk series. Here, Monk is witness to the explosion of sinking of a pleasure boat on the Thames and the loss of over 200 people. The investigation should fall to Monk and the River Police, but it is handed over to the Metropolitan Police and the reason given is that it is ‘politically sensitive’. Monk watches as a man is quickly arrested, brought to trial and convicted of the crime, but flashes of memory of what he saw that night leads him to believe the wrong man has been found guilty. When evidence turns up that the convicted man could not have been the guilty party the case is handed back to the River Police.

They find and arrest another man, but it will be impossible to find him guilty in court as long as another person has been convicted of the crime. In order to prosecute, the first case must be overturned. Monk finds there is a lot of political ambition, and other motives at work to prevent this from happening, and they can’t find a motive.

As in the other Monk books, questions must be asked and answered about personal honor and integrity, the purpose of law, and how far can a person bend in order to protect the people they love without losing their moral compass.

The characters from former books in the series are here, as real as ever, but one could fully enjoy the book without having read any of the earlier books. The case has a good sense of reality about it. In our ideal worlds there is no corruption, no cover-ups, but in the actual world we know differently. The way the case evolves seems only too possible and the ending proves that truth, even painful truth, revealed at the beginning could never be as damaging as truth revealed after attempts to cover up the facts and corrupt justice. (A fact that people in power, and those that crave power, never seem to grasp.)

The book was tremendously enjoyable and I look forward to the next in this great series.

The Klondike Era Mysteries

I feel like I have found a gold mine myself!  This historical mystery series by Canadian writer Sharon Rowse shows great development.  While I am eagerly awaiting the third book in the series, I am also wishing I hadn’t found the series so early on – then I could sit down and devour them one after another.

The first book, The Silk Train Murder, came out in 2012 and has the best of all possible lines for a series set in the Klondike ~ “Shut the door!  It’s bleedin’ cold out there.”  This historical mystery is set in the late 1800s in Vancouver, BC, Canada. John Lansdowne Granville undertakes to clear his friend, Scott, of murder; gets a client who will pay for him to do so (making him a private detective even though detectives probably weren’t licensed at that time); gets beaten up as private detectives are prone to do and at the end forms a private detective agency.

This book’s strongest feature is not historical atmosphere, but this is Rowse’s first book and as such it was quite strong.  Strong enough to be a nominee for the Arthur Ellis award.  The book is notable for its interesting characters that make you want to know more about them.

The second book, The Lost Mine Murders (2013), was much stronger.  Granville and Scott formed their detective agency in The Silk Train Murder and are now in need of a client. In walks Cole, with a map to a gold mine and a cache of gold, and hires them to help him get to the mine and bring out the gold. It’s the middle of winter and not a good time to take to the mountains.

Rowse’s characters are still strong, the historical atmosphere and the plot is better than her first.   This is a series to enjoy.  Bring on the third one, Ms. Rowse!

Book Review ~ Murder Your Darlings by J.J. Murphy

I have just finished reading Murder Your Darlings by J. J. Murphy.  What a blast!

Our characters are Dorothy Parker and her fellow members of the Algonquin Round Table otherwise known as ‘The Vicious Circle’.  In this first novel, Parker arrives early for lunch and discovers a body under the table.  At first she thinks he is dead drunk; it turns out he is just dead.  The victim is a critic who has been stabbed in the heart with his fountain pen.  Just about any writer has moments when they would like to do in a critic, especially one as nasty as our dead critic.  The main suspect, however,  is a young man who, the staff claims, just turned up at the Algonquin and was “hanging around”.  The young man was actually waiting to try to meet Parker.  He is an aspiring young author who has come to New York to try to find his “voice”.  He is William “Billy” Faulkner and Parker assures him that his voice will find him.

The character of Dorothy Parker is done with all the acid wit that she was famous for and I found the book a true delight to read.  Many times, when the character of a mystery was a person in real life, the portrayal falls short.  Not so here.  Dorothy and her friends come to life.  Murphy has done an excellent job.  The book captures the aura of New York City in the 1920’s.  I hope there are many more books, in this series, to come.  I can’t wait for the next one.