#1 "Pay Dirt" by Rita Mae Brown
This is one of a series that I am reading out of order as I get hold of them. It's a small town in Viginia and (stay with me) the Post Mistress is a divorcee with a cat and dog (a corgi - in case that swings it for you) and a farm which contains 2 horses, a possum, a snake and a barn owl. Also various mice and foxes and so on. There's also another cat that belongs to the owner of the town shop which is next to the post office. Why am I going on about the animals so much? Well they talk. But not to the humans (that would be silly). They talk to each other. So while the humans are solving the murders (for there is always a good handful of them) the animals are also solving them in their own way and simultaneously trying to keep Harry (the Post Mistress) from coming to harm as she is frequently almost killed by the unknown assassin. I'm guessing at this point my readers are divided into two - those of you who are surprised I read books where cats solve crime and those of you who are not surprised in the slightest. The latter group are those that have met me.
In this book (which is the fourth in this long series) a Hell's Angel arrives looking for his lady friend and very quickly turns up dead. Harry is meanwhile being wooed by her ex-husband (who is truly sorry and repentant for being such a dick) and a male model who has taken up residence to get away from the fakery of New York. It sounds dreadful right? It's not! These books are utterly sweet. There are few extremes and no one could take offence at the content. There are twists and turns and intrigues and puzzles and CATS! If you like things like Agatha Raison, Miss Marple, Miss Silver and CATS then this is for you. Here is a cat.
#2 "Death at Rottingdean" by Robin Paige
It's victorian times and an american woman who was brought up to be quite unrestrained marries an english lord and they go about solving crime together. The series is a typical example of its kind and is written well with an emphasis on the personalities and characters of the piece. There is evidence of quite a bit of research and there are a few pages of 'historical notes' at the end to show you how this could really have happened. In this one there are smugglers all over the place but things are not what they seem and people start dying. Rudyard Kipling is also there as a local resident. The books are a good read but there is a hint of morality that makes my lip curl slightly. Overall I wouldn't recommend going out and buying this but if you see it in a library it is a good rainy afternoon read.
#3 "Gunpowder Plot" by Carola Dunn
Oh god, I can see a pattern clearly developing. But really - I do read things other than historical mystery lites. This is one of the Daisy Dalrymple series. She is an 'honourable' and her husband (she meets him in the first book of the series) is a Chief Inspector of Scotland Yard. Stories are set in the twenties when it's a rarity for the classes to mix, especially as Daisy is very unusually earning her own living as a writer. I have read quite a few of these now and really liked this one. The characters are very believable and well written. The murders tend to be singular in these books and the one in this saga had me genuinely confused. It makes no sense! But sure enough Daisy teases it out. Here are some fireworks.
Right - I've just noticed Liz has posted her first reviews of 2012 so I am heading over there to have a look.