#35 Death at Epsom Downs
Another in this easy reading cosy mystery series. This is book 7 and looks into doping in horse racing and the start of the movement to stop it. Lillie Langtry brings the Prince Regent into it. Various bits of intrigue. Overall a bit stilted but still a relaxing read when all about you is losing it.
#36 An Uncertain Place
Ah lovely, lovely Ms Vargas, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. Hot damn this is another great one. I did find myself wondering whether the make up of the police team wasn't getting a bit silly, including as it does a man who is usually drunk by lunch, another who naps in the basement, a woman who stashes food in secret places, a man who talks in verse and so on. But then my work environment is made up of a hackney hipster, a ufologist, a stoner, a guy living with a partner with a terminal illness, an immigrant obsessed with the theatre, a man who loves harsichords, a closet mysogenist and a chronic relationship serialist, plus the mental me who's in a committed relationship with her ex-husband. I cannot recommend these books enough. So well written - which must in this case owe something to the translator from the original french.
#37 A Letter of Mary
Laurie R King
An archeologist has made a discovery which she is sure is genuine. She gives it to Mary Russell. Then she dies. It's all a bit odd. In fact that sums up the whole book. And the series. Good grief, I cannot contain it any longer. Sherlock Holmes marrying? Sherlock Holmes marrying someone 25+ years younger than him? I don;t think I can read anymore of these. Well, maybe one more.
#38 A Blink of the Screen
Terry PratchettThis was very interesting. Collected short stories he has written throughout his life including at least one from when he was a teenager. And that was considerably better than anything I could ever write and indeed better than a number of adult authors I have read. This man was born to write and has given me so much pleasure along the way. The first half are non-discworld stories all fantasy/sci-fi. One about enhanced living chimed suprisingly with the introduction of google glasses. The second half were all discworld and the one about Granny Weatherwax was the piece de resistance for me. A great read for anyone who admires his writing.
#39 The Cuckoo's Calling
Robert Galbraith (JK Rowling)
I had initially discounted this because it was by JK Rowling and I find Harry Potter annoying. But then I wised up and thought that it's a mystery and I am a mystery buff and if that lawyer's wife hadn't blown her cover I would have read it.
(I've had a postcard of this on my wall since I was 13 - love it.)
So there I was, reading this book, and I was pleasantly surprised. There is no hint of schmaltzy Potter, it's well edited (something I felt Potter always lacked), the characters were believable and the story was great! A model with a druggy boyfriend (Kate and Pete anyone?) falls to her death from her flat balcony - or was she pushed? Her brother thinks so, so he hires a detective called Cormoran Strike. I found the story compelling and interesting and was always keen to pick it up again when work interrupted my reading. If, like me, you are not a Potter fan (unlikely as it seems since most of the reading world seems to love them) I wouldn't let that put you off. I'd definitely recommend this and actually feel sorry that her cover was broken by that dappy woman. I'll definitely read the next one.
#40 Operation Pax
One of the Sir John Appleby mysteries which I 'read' as an audiobook. It starts pretty badly with this loathesome young man trying to cash a fraudulant cheque. He gets the wind up and does a runner only to get into more trouble. His journey culminates with him trying to attack a woman (one assumes this is with rape in mind but this being a vintage tale it is not spelt out) but the lady proceeds to thoroughly beat him up at which point things start getting thoroughly weird for him. The story picks up after this and turns into a proper Innes romp with Sir John's sister intricately involved. As with the previous book (and with the following one) I was keen to get back to listening to this each time I had to stop and a 10 hour trip to the Eden Project and back helped with that. The audiobook is nearly 13 hours long so excellent value if you do decide to go for it - although I got it as one of my 2 a month deal from Audible.
#41 Bruno Chief of Police
This is the one Liz recommended and I can see why she said it was a bit Hamish Macbeth to start with - local policeman helping local people with local things. Yep - it could all have been a bit mawkish. Fortunately (although not for the victim) an arab immigrant who moved to the village to join his son and grandson is very savagely murdered in what looks like a race crime and things really start to kick off. I was hoping this could be a new Fred Vargas series and it isn't, but that isn't to say it's not well worth a read. The characters are very believable and I intend to ask my cousin (who lives in a small town part of France) about how realistic the town's mayor etc are as they come across as well rounded. The story also deals with a part of French history during WWII which I didn't know about which was also very interesting. I am very grateful to Liz for pointing this one out to me!