by Fred Vargas
That Fred - she's good. In the first two books I grew to rather like her detective Adamsberg. In this book he is still likeable but then he does something SO stupid. So. Stupid. But that is just a side plot. The main plot involves a conspiracy to bring Black Death back to Paris. The story weaves in and out of the refurbishment of the police department and the life of an old sailor discovering a new role for himself. The book is very well written and although you just want to kick Adamsberg I'll definitely be reading the next. In fact I already have a copy and am holding off as I don;t want to finish the series too soon.
#2 Oscar Wilde and the Murders at Reading Gaol
by Gyles Brandreth
Having gone off the boil a bit with these books this one comes right back up to standard. It deals with the period during which Oscar is actually in prison and the way he is treated and lives during that time. It's rather unsettling - even non-history-buffs can take a guess at what the prison system was like back then - but not too weighty and the deaths are approached in an interesting way since Oscar is clearly not at liberty to investigate as he usually would. Some authors want to show off how much research they've done and cram it all in regardless. Not here. The characters of the mainly male cast are well developed and brought to life and the story avoids getting bogged down in historical detail.
#3 The Day Aberystwyth Stood Still
by Malcolm Pryce
I've loved this series all the way through. This is what I was reading when I met up with KnittingontheGreen and we discussed them as she's not partial. I think having read Dashiel Hammet and Raymond Chandler in my formative years I can admire how well Pryce writes the hard-boiled detective genre, set in a town in Wales with a caravan park, philosophical ice cream seller and machiavellian mayor. Not afraid to bring in the surreal and super-natural, this book includes much talk of aliens but Louie is so sceptical and hard-bitten about everything that it doesn't matter whether you believe in such things or not. You become so enthralled that by the time the story reaches the point at which the mayoral elections are decided by human cannonball you barely notice anything odd is going on. I adore these books - of which this is the sixth - but if you can't stomach silly or hard-boiled you may not want to read a second.
On my reading list for the next few weeks is a non-fiction about success, another magical mystery by Clayton Rawson and maybe, just maybe, the next Fred Vargas. Any recommendations?