A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn

a-curious-beginning-by-deanna-raybournA Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn
Series: Veronica Speedwell Mystery #1
Genre: Historical Mystery
Setting: England, 1887
Published by NAL/Penguin, 2015
e-ARC (Release Date: Sep 1, 2015)
–I received a review copy of this book from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. The opinions stated here are entirely my own.
352 pages
Grade: B
Synopsis: London, 1887. As the city prepares to celebrate Queen Victoria’s golden jubilee, Veronica Speedwell is marking a milestone of her own. After burying her spinster aunt, the orphaned Veronica is free to resume her world travels in pursuit of scientific inquiry—and the occasional romantic dalliance. As familiar with hunting butterflies as she is fending off admirers, Veronica wields her butterfly net and a sharpened hatpin with equal aplomb, and with her last connection to England now gone, she intends to embark upon the journey of a lifetime.

But fate has other plans, as Veronica discovers when she thwarts her own abduction with the help of an enigmatic German baron with ties to her mysterious past. Promising to reveal in time what he knows of the plot against her, the baron offers her temporary sanctuary in the care of his friend Stoker—a reclusive natural historian as intriguing as he is bad-tempered. But before the baron can deliver on his tantalizing vow to reveal the secrets he has concealed for decades, he is found murdered. Suddenly Veronica and Stoker are forced to go on the run from an elusive assailant, wary partners in search of the villainous truth.

Cheers

  • If you like historical mysteries set in the Victorian time period and maybe some romance for future books I think you’ll like this book.
  • I love the cover! Beautiful.
  • Veronica is a wonderful character. She’s outspoken and straightforward as well as intelligent. She reminds me a little of some of Amanda Quick’s heroines.
  • Veronica explains her name–Veronica Speedwell (both are names for the same plant) as her Aunt Lucy loved gardening!
  • Stoker is also a good character. He’s steadfast, honest and loyal, but also bad-tempered, gruff and sarcastic at times. However, Veronica has no problem holding her own.
  • After they learn the Baron was murdered they leave London. Stoker is sure the Baron was murdered because of Veronica or even by Veronica. But Stoker promised the Baron to keep her safe.
  • I love Professor Pygopagus’ Traveling Curiosity Show. Very quirky characters! Supposedly they’re Stoker’s friends, but with friends like these you don’t need enemies! It’s a very unique setting.
  • I like that Veronica is a butterfly enthusiast. And Stoker is a naturalist. They have both been on expeditions. Unfortunately, Stoker hasn’t been very successful.
  • To a certain extent this is a buddy book where Veronica and Stoker spend quite a bit of time traveling to try to get away from whoever might be following them.
  • Some of the book was obvious to me even if it wasn’t obvious to Veronica! However, I was quite surprised at the end.
  • The first mystery is more a personal mystery. Who is Veronica? Why are people after her? Who killed the Baron and why? I’m interested to know what mysteries future books have for Veronica.

Jeers

  • As smart as Veronica is I thought she would be more curious about who she is and why people are following her.
  • Veronica carries a flask of a South American liquor, but it seems to last until near the end of the book. That distracted me!

And a few thoughts . . .

  •  I read several of the Lady Julia Grey books and loved them. I’m excited to read more in this new series.

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

Author info

  • A sixth-generation native Texan, New York Times bestselling author Deanna Raybourn grew up in San Antonio where she met her college sweetheart. She married him on her graduation day and went on to teach high school English and history. Deanna’s debut novel, Silent in the Grave, published in January 2007 featuring Lady Julia Grey.
  • Since that first book she wrote several more about Lady Julia Grey as well as other books and series. A Curious Beginning is the first in the Veronica Speedwell series and this book also takes place in Victorian England.

Reading Challenges

Review: To the Moon and Back by Jill Mansell

to-the-moon-and-backTo the Moon and Back
by Jill Mansell
Series: None
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Published by Sourcebook Landmarks, 2011
E-book, purchased
446 pages
Grade: B
Synopsis: When Ellie Kendall tragically loses her husband she feels her life is over. But eventually she’s ready for a new start – at work, that is. She doesn’t need a new man when she has a certain secret visitor to keep her company…

Zack McLaren seems to have it all, but the girl he can’t stop thinking about won’t give him a second glance. If only she’d pay him the same attention she lavishes on his dog.

Moving to North London, Ellie meets neighbour Roo who has a secret of her own. Can the girls sort out their lives? Guilt is a powerful emotion, but a lot can happen in a year in Primrose Hill…

Over dinner, another businessman’s wife asked Ellie if she could recommend a good Botox doctor in Harley Street.

Ellie said, “Sorry, I’ve never had Botox.”

The wife, whose name was Kara, said, “Oh my God, why not?”

“I’m twenty-nine.”

“Jesus, you’re leaving it late! I started when I was twenty!” Kara, who had a face like a boa constrictor, leaned forward and flared her nostrils with difficulty. “By the time I was your age I’d had six procedures . . . eyes, ears, plus a full face-lift!”

“And you had your knees done,” her husband chimed in. “What is it you always say? Nothing worse than a woman with pudgy knees.”

Cheers

  • I really like the characters in this book. At first I wasn’t too sure about Roo, but she turned out to be a good friend to Ellie. She makes some bad choices, but she’s a colorful character.
  • I thought the author did a good job showing the denial and grief and unhappiness which happens when someone we love dies.
  • I like the humor Ms. Mansell puts in her books. It makes them fun to read even when the book starts with the death of a spouse.
  • I read lots of books which are in a series and I like that, but sometimes it’s nice to read a book with no sequel. We get a slice of the characters’ lives and can imagine them continuing on through the years. This works well for me when the people are happy by the end of the book!
  • This is a great summer read. The first part is sad, but I like the way Ellie is eventually able to start living her life again. And the book is fun to read. I kept reading wanting to know what happens next.
  • I like the way the author shows that life isn’t always tidy. All the people in this book have problems with relationships. They all manage to learn and grow from their experiences.
  • I like the romances in the story.

Jeers

  • Not a genre I want to read all the time.

And a few thoughts . . .

  • This is the second book I’ve read by Ms. Mansell and I enjoyed both. I want to read more of them.
  • A nice change from what I usually read.

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

Author info

  • Jill Mansell lives with her family in Bristol. She used to work in the field of Clinical Neurophysiology but now writes full-time. She’s published 26 books so far.

Reading Challenges

  • 2015 Goodreads Challenge
  • TBR Pile Challenge–hosted by the Bookish blog

Review: No Mark Upon Her by Deborah Crombie

no-mark-upon-her-kindleNo Mark Upon Her
by Deborah Crombie
Series: Duncan Kincaid & Gemma James series #14
Genre: Mystery (police procedural)
Published by Macmillan, 2011
E-book, purchased
480 pages
Grade: A
Synopsis: Olympic rowing hopeful and senior Metropolitan Police officer DCI Rebecca Meredith goes out alone to train on the river in Henley on a dark afternoon in late October – and doesn’t return. When a desperate search by the police and a K9 team reveals the possibility of foul play, Scotland Yard wants one of their own on the case. Detective Superintendent Duncan Kincaid, returning from celebrating his marriage to long-time partner Detective Inspector Gemma James, is called to Henley to investigate. He soon finds that the world of elite rowing can be brutal, and that Rebecca Meredith’s ex-husband was not the only person with good reason for wanting her dead. Then, when a search-and-rescue team member is threatened, Kincaid realizes the case may be even more complex and more dangerous than he believed.

He felt stained by others’ grief, as if it had steeped into his skin, like old tea. He had never, in his more than twenty years of police work, become inured to watching people absorb the shock of death.

and

Surely he had misinterpreted what he’d heard. Because he could have sworn that his guv’nor had just suggested that he fix the outcome of an investigation.

Cheers

  • This is the first book after Gemma and Duncan’s wedding and they are celebrating their marriage as the book opens–for the third time! The first time was in the garden of their London home; the second in a register office and now the third time was with Winnie and Jack and all their families so they could have a formal celebration in Winnie’s church.
  • Gemma and Duncan have become foster parents to Charlotte after their investigation into the disappearance of Charlotte’s parents. As the book opens Gemma is finishing up family leave she and Duncan have both agreed to take until Charlotte is secure enough to attend child care.
  • Gemma admits to herself as much as she loves their children she’s looking forward to getting back to work. Now a new case has come up and Duncan has to work it even though he’s supposed to start his family leave in a few days. Gemma is not happy!
  • I really like the way the author writes about Gemma and Duncan’s children and family. They are very realistic. They have problems and worries, but they love each other and I love seeing that.
  • Charlotte’s “Alice” birthday party was so much fun to read about.
  • Much of the book takes place on the Thames with lots of rowing. I enjoyed learning more about the sport.
  • The mystery was good and as always I like reading about the procedures of finding the criminals.
  • I love the way Ms. Crombie writes about her settings. I always feel like I’ve visited the area.
  • I really like reading about search and rescue dogs. I think they are wonderful!
  • I like the integrity Duncan and Gemma show.

Jeers

  • None

And a few thoughts . . .

  • The books really should be read in order since things which happen in earlier books have far-reaching ramifications.
  • I continue to love this series. It’s my favorite police procedural mystery series at the moment. I like the mysteries and I like the relationship between Gemma and Duncan and their children and how it grows and develops.

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

Author info

  • A trip to Yorkshire inspired Deborah Crombie’s first Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James mystery. She’s a Texas native who still lives in Texas though she spends time in England every year.

Reading Challenges

Review: Necessary as Blood by Deborah Crombie

necessary-as-bloodNecessary as Blood
by Deborah Crombie
Series: Duncan Kincaid & Gemma James series #13
Genre: Contemporary Mystery (police procedural)
Setting: East End, London, England
Published by Harper Collins e-books, 2009
E-book, purchased
388 pages
Grade: A
Synopsis: Once the haunt of Jack the Ripper, London’s East End is a vibrant mix of history and new ideas, but the trendy galleries of Brick Lane disguise a seedy underside where unthinkable crimes bring terror to the innocent. Artist and young mother Sandra Gilles disappears without trace after leaving her three-year-old daughter, Charlotte, with a friend at the Columbia Road Flower Market. Her lawyer husband, Naz Malik, is devastated – but he’s also the prime suspect in a murder investigation.

“…I don’t feel quite right about using our parish church for hatch, match, and dispatch,” she amended. “It just seems a bit callous, somehow.”

and

Whatever her rationale, she was meddling in their case, and he didn’t like it. He disliked even more the fact that he couldn’t complain about it.

But he would just have to bide his time.

Cheers

  • This is such a good series and I especially like the conclusion of this book in the personal life of Gemma and Duncan.

    necessary-as-blood-map
    Laura Hartman Maestro’s map from the hardcover edition endpapers
  • Gemma and Duncan are such fun to read about both in their professional lives and in their personal lives.
  • Duncan and Gemma are engaged in this book, but Duncan is worried that Gemma may not want to get married since she keeps putting off setting a date for the wedding.
  • I also love reading about Kit and Toby. Ms. Crombie does a good job with the children in these books.
  • We get more of a view of Gemma’s family in this book. Gemma’s mother has cancer and is in the hospital. Gemma’s father isn’t the strong one in the relationship and he has trouble holding things together. He lashes out at Gemma who is very hurt by the things he says to her.
  • The mystery in this book is very good. It was hard to figure out exactly what had happened. It’s especially heartbreaking because of three-year-old Charlotte whose mother disappeared.
  • Gemma gets involved in this case, but from a different angle than Duncan and his sergeant.
  • I’ve mentioned before how much I love the maps which are in the hardcover edition endpapers. Laura Hartman Maestro does a wonderful job drawing them. Most of the maps are also available to view on Ms. Crombie’s web page. Though don’t look too closely at a map from a book you haven’t read–it might contain spoilers.

Jeers

  • None

And a few thoughts . . .

  • I love this series. Each book is so good and I love reading about the solving of the mysteries as well as reading more about Gemma and Duncan and their family.
  • My only worry is that there are only 16 books in the series so far and this is number 13. I think she’s writing another book in the series, but there’s no publishing date yet.

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

Author info

  • A trip to Yorkshire inspired Deborah Crombie’s first Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James mystery. She’s a Texas native who still lives in Texas though she spends time in England every year.

Reading Challenges

  • 2015 Goodreads Challenge
  • Cloak & Dagger Mystery Challenge–hosted by Amy @ A Bookish Girl
  • TBR Pile Challenge–hosted by the Bookish blog

Review: Mr. Churchill’s Secretary by Susan Elia MacNeal

mr-churchills-secretaryMr. Churchill’s Secretary
by Susan Elia MacNeal
Series: Maggie Hope Mystery #1
Genre: Historical Mystery (WWII England)
Published by Bantam, 2012
E-book, purchased
354 pages
Grade: B
Synopsis: London, 1940. Winston Churchill has just been sworn in, war rages across the Channel, and the threat of a Blitz looms larger by the day. But none of this deters Maggie Hope. She graduated at the top of her college class and possesses all the skills of the finest minds in British intelligence, but her gender qualifies her only to be the newest typist at No. 10 Downing Street. Her indefatigable spirit and remarkable gifts for codebreaking, though, rival those of even the highest men in government, and Maggie finds that working for the prime minister affords her a level of clearance she could never have imagined—and opportunities she will not let pass. In troubled, deadly times, with air-raid sirens sending multitudes underground, access to the War Rooms also exposes Maggie to the machinations of a menacing faction determined to do whatever it takes to change the course of history.

Ensnared in a web of spies, murder, and intrigue, Maggie must work quickly to balance her duty to King and Country with her chances for survival. And when she unravels a mystery that points toward her own family’s hidden secrets, she’ll discover that her quick wits are all that stand between an assassin’s murderous plan and Churchill himself.

In this daring debut, Susan Elia MacNeal blends meticulous research on the era, psychological insight into Winston Churchill, and the creation of a riveting main character,  Maggie Hope, into a spectacularly crafted novel.

As most of the dogs in London had been sent to the country or chloroformed–the barking of the dogs was considered too great a risk in case of invasion–even the usual walkers weren’t around. The London Zoo’s snakes and reptiles had also been killed, while the elephants and lions had been moved to a safer location, the park felt so open, so exposed.

and

“We will go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be.”

“…We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender!”

…The majesty and grandeur of the English language, in the hands and on the lips of Winston Churchill, had power that even the threat of bombs couldn’t subdue.

Cheers

  • Great description of the bombing of London.
  • More of a thriller and spy novel than a traditional mystery.
  • I really like the history woven into this story. For example, I didn’t realize Ireland was neutral and that some of the IRA met with Nazi’s during WWII.
  • I like Maggie a lot and like seeing historical characters like Winston Churchill from her perspective.
  • I also like the portions of Churchill’s speeches included in this book. So interesting and inspiring to read.
  • Maggie is also interesting since she has a degree from Wellesley College in the United Stated and had planned to get a doctorate in mathematics from MIT. The she went to England to settle an aunt’s estate and stayed in London even after WWII started.
  • The description of Maggie taking dictation and typing the reports directly is so interesting. That’s hard to do. I’ve worked as a secretary before and typed from someone dictating to me. I’m not a fast enough typist to type directly without having the person stop so I can catch up!
  • At the end of the book Ms. MacNeal adds a Historical Note which I really enjoyed. She visited the Cabinet War Rooms in London and that inspired this book. The exhibit has audio accompaniments to the displays and one of these is the remembrances of one of Churchill’s secretaries. She also read accounts of some of the other secretaries. I really enjoy authors who tell us some of the history behind their historical fiction.
  • The book is told from several POV’s. One is from an IRA terrorist who is setting bombs in London. He’s scary, but the author also humanizes him which is also scary.
  • I have never been in a city or country which is being bombed. The day-to-day horrors people live through shown in this book–people digging bomb shelters in their back yards, the stress of living under constant fear, people dying before getting to a bomb shelter, people not agreeing with their country’s war declaration–not believing Hitler would invade Great Britain or if he did that he would hurt people.

Jeers

  • Toward the end of the book I thought Maggie does some things when seem foolhardy.
  • A number of coincidences occur in the book. They’re explained well, but still seem unlikely.

And a few thoughts . . .

  • I definitely want to read more books in this series. I read books about WWII when I was a teenager and my dad was in the South Pacific during the War so most of the books I read took place there. I  haven’t read many about England during WWII though I’ve watched documentaries and Foyle’s War.

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

  • 2015 Goodreads Challenge
  • Cloak & Dagger Mystery Challenge–hosted by Amy @ A Bookish Girl
  • New Author Challenge–hosted by the Literary Escapism blog
  • COYER Winter Reading Challenge–hosted by Berls @ Fantasy is More Fun and Michelle @ Because Reading ($1.99 e-book)

Review: In a Dark House by Deboarah Crombie

in-a-dark-houseIn a Dark House
by Deborah Crombie
Series: Duncan Kincaid & Gemma James #10
Genre: Mystery (police procedural)
Published by Avon, 2005
E-book, purchased
384 pages
Grade: B
Synopsis: In a Dark House puts Gemma and Duncan’s multilayered relationship to the test, as these two gifted investigators find themselves working a brutal and complex case from differing perspectives. It starts simply. Superintendent Kincaid is called in to “help” when a member of Parliament’s venture into real estate goes up in smoke. At first Duncan expects that his role will be limited to keeping the politician’s involvement out of the limelight. But the discovery of the body of a nude young woman at the fire scene guarantees he’ll soon be doing more than damage control.

Gemma comes to the case through unofficial channels, when her offer to help a friend whose lodger has vanished reveals unmistakable signs of a double life. When the M.P.’s wayward daughter disappears, Gemma and Duncan discover disturbing evidence linking that to another missing-persons case — one where an angry father, desperate to remove his daughter from his ex-wife’s care, entrusted his little girl to a virtual stranger, only to have both the woman and child disappear without a trace. Carefully, patiently, Duncan and Gemma tease out the connections between the brutalized corpse, the missing women, the kidnapped girl and a series of suspicious fires that suggest a pattern of accelerating danger. Sue Stone

Whatever the reason, she knew only that she wanted fiercely to hold on to things just the way they were and not take any risks that might bring about change.

and

“How can you, of all people, trust in fate?” Erika, a German Jew, had lost every single member of her family during the war.

“Because the only other option is to live in constant fear, which to me seems hardly worth doing.”

Cheers

  • I continue to love this series.
  • Lots happens in this book . . . missing women, murder, arson, a missing child . . . and how do they fit together? Or do they even fit together?
  • And the book also shows important aspects of Gemma and Duncan’s lives. Their personal lives have happy and sad aspects just as everyone’s lives do.
  • Because so much has happened in her personal life Gemma wants to keep everything the same. That’s impossible to do, of course, but she’s trying very hard.
  • During this book Duncan and Gemma seem distant from each other. She doesn’t want to talk about the miscarriage. They don’t discuss marriage. Their work tends to get in the way of their personal lives. While I read this book I did wonder how they can possibly juggle their very busy professional work and be there for their sons. This is the dilemma countless parents face every day.

Jeers

  • The beautiful maps included with this series are very small and unreadable in the digital copies. They can’t be enlarged.
  • I would like to see more cases where Gemma and Duncan work on cases which aren’t entangled. However, I do understand Ms. Crombie wanting to show them working together.
  • It felt a little like Duncan and Gemma were walking in place in this book. Not a lot happens in their personal lives. Time needs to pass before they can move forward.

And a few thoughts . . .

  • I don’t want to continue reading this series so fast since I only have six books until I catch up! I will space them out a little more!

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

  • 2015 Goodreads Challenge
  • Cloak & Dagger Mystery Challenge–hosted by Amy @ A Bookish Girl
  • The Ultimate Reading Challenge is hosted by Popsugar (a mystery or thriller)

Review: A Finer End by Deborah Crombie

a-finer-end

 

A Finer End
by Deborah Crombie
Series: Duncan Kincaid / Gemma James series, Book 7
Genre: Mystery
Published by Bantam Books, 2001
Library Book
325 pages
Grade: B+
Synopsis: When Duncan Kincaid’s cousin calls from Glastonbury to ask for help on an unusual matter, Duncan welcomes the chance to spend a relaxing weekend away from London with Gemma. But Glastonbury’s ancient past soon reveals a dark and bloody secret which is about to shatter the calm of the present day.

Once outside, she stood her bike upright, then paused. There was a sharpness to the air that matched the clarity of the magenta sky above the Tor, and from somewhere she could have sworn she heard the faint thread of pipes. She felt again the temporal dislocation that Glastonbury sometimes engendered, as if the centuries had eased their boundaries and bled into one another.

and

“You all right?”

“The music . . .”

“Lovely, wasn’t it? Good choir at St. John’s” He whistled under his breath. “I promised the Major we’d buy him a drink. The Freemason’s arm, you think? It’s a nice enough evening to sit outside.”

Gemma gazed at him in consternation. Tall, slender, his unruly chestnut hair falling over his forehead, looking down at her with an expression of interested inquiry–he made a picture of the perfect sensitive man. So why did she suddenly feel they might as well be from different planets?

How could he take such music for granted? Had he not felt that the glory of it was almost beyond bearing? The gap between their perceptions seemed immense.

Cheers

  • Very different mystery than others I’ve read so far in this series. Not the typical police procedural!
  • A-finer-end-map
    Endpaper in A Finer End–Glastonbury map by Laura Hartman Maestro

    I didn’t figure out the mystery in this book. There are many threads and characters. Very entertaining and interesting.

  • We find out more about Duncan and Gemma. They have more problems to overcome and no longer work together. Gemma is promoted at the beginning of this book and given a new assignment. This puts added strain on their relationship. They already have other problems from past books–the murder of Duncan’s ex-wife, Duncan’s son and the fact they both are divorced and Gemma is especially shy about a permanent relationship.
  • Music plays a big part in this book. I really like how Gemma is discovering her innate love of music.
  • Such an interesting book. I love all the history about Glastonbury and the maps which have started showing up in the books. The history in Ms. Crombie’s books have me searching the internet to find out more about the setting and historical aspects.
  • This book is mystical in many places. That fits in the setting of Glastonbury.
  • Jack Montfort, is the reason Gemma and Duncan go to Glastonbury. Jack is an architect with both feet on the ground, but when he starts automatic writing and gathers a group of people around him who hope to figure out the why and what of the authomatic writing other mysteries. secrets and dangers begin to appear.
  • The group around Jack all have their own secrets and some don’t seem very trustworthy.
  • In all the books I’ve read so far in this series history and past actions are very important in the stories. This book continues with that pattern, but even more so.

Jeers

  • I had trouble keeping up with the characters in the first part of the book. A lot of people were introduced in a short period of time. That made the beginning of the book a little slow. I persevered and was soon hooked!

And a few thoughts . . .

  • Another excellent book in this series.

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

  • 2014 Goodreads Challenge (Hoping to read 100 books this year)

Review: Kissed a Sad Goodbye by Deborah Crombie

kissed-a-sad-goodbyeKissed a Sad Goodbye
by Deborah Crombie
Series: Duncan Kincaid & Gemma James series, Book 6
Genre: Mystery, British Police Procedural
Published by Bantam Books, 1999
Library book
322 pages
Grade: B+
Synopsis: Scotland Yard’s Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James face their most haunting case yet when the past devastatingly intersects with the present….

The call from Scotland Yard couldn’t have come at a worse time for Detective Superintendent Duncan Kincaid. He has promised the weekend to Kit, the eleven-year-old son of his ex-wife. The son he never knew he fathered — who doesn’t yet know Kincaid’s true identity.

But Duncan’s best intentions are shattered by an investigation that draws him in and swiftly consumes him. It seems to begin with the discovery of the body of a beautiful young woman in an East London park. But Kincaid and Sergeant Gemma James will discover that this case has long roots that reach far back into the past, and that resentments which should have been decades buried still have the power to hurt — and maybe even the capacity to kill.

“Sit down. I’ve made us some coffee. This morning we’re just going to get acquainted.”

“But I thought . . .” Gemma’s nervousness flooded back. Whatever had possessed her to make this appointment, to give up a free Saturday morning that could have been spent with Toby? It had been a stupid idea, a chance thought followed up when it should have been dismissed, and now she was about to make an utter ass of herself. Thank goodness she’d told no one but her friend Hazel what she meant to do.

Wendy Sheinart sat down beside Gemma and lifted the coffeepot. “Now.” Smiling, she filled Gemma’s cup. “You can tell me why you want to play the piano.”

Cheers

  • I did figure out who had committed the murder, but didn’t figure out the correct reason!
  • I like learning more and more about Duncan and Gemma. I empathize with Duncan and all the changes to his personal life that occurred in the last book.
  • So many things have changed in Duncan and Gemma’s lives. Finding out he has an 11-year-old son came as a shock. He and Gemma are still trying to come to terms with this and how it affects their relationship. And Duncan is trying to figure out how he can be part of Kit’s life when he isn’t Kit’s legal guardian.
  • During this book Gemma must make decisions about her future.
  • One of the things Ms. Crombie does a good job with is showing many sides to her characters. Gemma has gradually discovered a love of music as these books have progressed. As the quote above shows she decides to take piano lessons, but she’s very unsure of herself and doesn’t like to admit her vulnerability. It doesn’t quite fit how she sees herself.
  • I also like the quotes which Deborah Crombie puts at the beginning of each chapter. In this case, the books she quotes from tell about the setting for this book–The Isle of Dogs, a peninsula in the River Thames. The history of the area and especially during WWII is important to the story.
  • The library books (hardcovers) I’ve read in this series have wonderful maps on the end pages. The map from this book, drawn by Laura Hartman Maestro, is great because it really helps to visualize the area in England the book talks about. They also show where certain things happen in the book so I don’t look too closely until I’ve finished a book! I think all the maps are drawn by her, but I’m not sure.

Jeers

  • None

And a few thoughts . . .

  • If you have the opportunity, read from the books from the beginning as Gemma and Duncan’s lives change throughout the books.
  • Such a good mystery series. Deborah Crombie does a great job creating a series which is satisfying both on the personal level as well as the professional level.

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

Reading Challenges

  • 2014 Goodreads Challenge

 

Review: All Shall Be Well by Deborah Crombie

all-shall-be-well

All Shall Be Well
by Deborah Crombie
Series: Duncan Kincaid & Gemma James, Book 2
Genre: Mystery, Police Procedural (British)
Published by Scribner, 1994
E-book, Purchased
268 pages
Grade: B+
Synopsis: Perhaps it is a blessing when Jasmine Dent dies in her sleep. At long last an end has come to the suffering of a body horribly ravaged by disease. It may well have been suicide; she had certainly expressed her willingness to speed the inevitable. But small inconsistencies lead her neighbor, Superintendent Duncan Kincaid of Scotland Yard, to a startling conclusion: Jasmine Dent was murdered. But if not for mercy, why would someone destroy a life already so fragile and doomed? As Kincaid and his capable and appealing assistant Sergeant Gemma James sift through the dead woman’s strange history, a troubling puzzle begins to take shape — a bizarre amalgam of good and evil, of charity and crime . . . and of the blinding passions that can drive the human animal to perform cruel and inhuman acts.

 

It is sooth that sin is cause of all this pain,

But all shall be well and all shall be well and

all manner of things shall be well.

–Juliana of Norwich, 15th century

and

No older woman-younger man scenario possible: dying made one acceptably non-threatening.

Cheers

  • I like this mystery a lot. It deals with the idea of mercy killing, assisted suicide, whether and when to live or die.
  • The characters in this book are so interesting. We find out more about Duncan and Gemma, but I also like that we meet the Major and Jasmine who live in the same building as Duncan.
  • When Jasmine dies Duncan feels guilty he hadn’t visited her in the last day or two so he investigates her death, but doesn’t really think he will find it was murder.
  • Much of the story is told from Jasmine’s POV. A lot of it from her journals. I enjoyed learning more about her even after she died. She has led such an interesting life.
  • There are a number of likely suspects and the plot is well crafted. I didn’t figure out the mystery until near the end.
  • I really like the working relationship between Duncan and Gemma. He doesn’t condescend to her.
  • I also like finding out more about Gemma and her family life…a single mom working as a cop, an ex-husband who stops paying child support.

Jeers

  • None

And a few thoughts . . .

  • Book 2 is quite different from the first book in the series. I like when an author isn’t predictable when writing a mystery series.

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

  • 2014 Goodreads Challenge (Hoping to read 100 books this year)

Review: A Share in Death by Deborah Crombie

a-share-in-death

A Share in Death
by Deborah Crombie
Narrated by Michael Deehy
Series: Duncan Kincaid & Gemma James, Book 1
Genre: Mystery, Police Procedural (British)
Audiobook Published by AudioGO, 2011 (originally published in 1992)
Audiobook, Purchased
288 pages
7 hours, 7 minutes
Grade: B
Narrator Grade: B
Synopsis: A week’s holiday in a luxurious hotel is just what Scotland Yard’s Superintendent Duncan Kincaid needs. But his vacation ends dramatically with the discovery of a dead body in the whirlpool bath. Despite a suspicious lack of cooperation from the local constabulary, Kincaid’s keen sense of duty won’t allow him to ignore the heinous crime, impelling him to send for his enthusiastic young assistant, Sergeant Gemma James. But the stakes are raised significantly when a second murder occurs, and Kincaid and James find themselves locked in a determined hunt for a fiendish felon looking for fresh blood….

There was no hurrying sheep.

Cheers

  • A new mystery series (new to me)!
  • I read this book quickly and immediately picked up the next book. I like a mystery with a good story, but I also like books in a series where we gradually find out more about characters and friendships deepen.
  • I’ve felt in the mood for a mystery–especially a police procedural. I like these if the main characters aren’t corrupt police. And I don’t want to read about children in danger or a story about the blood and gore. I don’t want to get into the mind of murderers–especially serial killers.
  • This is a good beginning to a new series (although it was written 20 years ago!) No cell phones then!
  • I like Duncan Kincaid. He’s on vacation and wants not to attract attention so he doesn’t tell people he’s a policeman. So, of course, a suspicious death occurs and he has to tell everyone he’s a policeman. The other guests feel he lied to them. The local police–especially the officer in charge–feel he’s putting his nose into their business. But he empathizes with people and thus is able to understand them and solve the crime.
  • In this mystery because Duncan is a guest in the hotel he learns more about everyone’s life than he normally might if he was a policeman investigating a murder. He has a personal stake in what is happening. He meets the people staying at the hotel before the murder and he likes some of them. That makes it both harder and easier for him.
  • Gemma is mostly in the background in this book. She does the background interviews for Duncan–tracking down the relatives and associates of the people at the hotel. She’s also a single mom so we see a little about how she juggles home and job.

Jeers

  • We don’t get to know the people in the hotel too well.

And a few thoughts . . .

  • I’m very excited to find a new series! I haven’t read many mysteries lately and I really enjoyed this so I plan to read some more.
  • Lark @ The Bookwyrm’s Hoard first brought Deborah Crombie to my attention and I’m so glad she did. This first book was on sale at Audible a couple months ago and when I decided I wanted a mystery I remembered this book. It’s the first book in the series so it was serendipity to pick it out and listen to it!
  • As soon as I finished this book I went and searched for the second book!

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

  •  The 2014 New Author Reading Challenge hosted at the Literary Escapis
  • 2014 Audiobook Challenge hosted by Hot Listens and The Book Nympho blogs.
  • Goodreads Challenge.