As the Crow Flies by Craig Johnson
I came late to the Longmire series – both the Netflix and the written versions. I’ve binged on the Netflix series. Now I’m working my way through the books. In As the Crow Flies, Walt Longmire’s boots return to Wyoming ground following their brief forays into more mystical areas. Walt and Henry are location hunting for Cady’s wedding. While photographing scenes, a body clutching a bundle that turns out to be a baby falls from cliff. The mother is killed, the baby survives. Although Walt is the Absaroka County Sheriff, this death occurs on reservation land in Montana. Walt has no jurisdiction. The Tribal Chief of Police is a greenhorn who appeals to Walt for assistance and the investigation is on. It’s wonderful to have the Sheriff back in full cop mode and for an Easterner like me, to learn a few facts about tribal policing and justice along the way. The book is well written and engaging, although I could do with a bit more of Henry Standing Bear!
The Man Who Came Uptown by George Pelecanos.
It's the encouraging story of a man whose life was turned around by his discovery while incarcerated of the satisfaction that reading books can provide. He uses the new insight to change his life for the better. Upon his release, he struggles to overcome his past and people who think he owes them.
I'm enjoying the story and the setting, although there are a few times when my corrections-security radar blasts. Like the armed guards (shouldn't they be correctional officers?) in the chapel. Under ordinary circumstances, firearms are never permitted within the secure perimeter. Inmates can out-number officers 50 to 1 in some instances. It makes the officer a target; if someone wants that gun, he will get it, no problem, the officer be damned.
I'd suggest this as good reading for anyone who's interested in how difficult it can be to change direction once one has a criminal history under his/her belt.
K. M. Rockwood
The Postscript Murders by Elly Griffiths
Told from multiple points of view in present tense (Griffiths nails it—not an easy task), the story revolves around Peggy Smith, a 90-year-old woman, nicknamed the “Murder Consultant” because she helped mystery authors come up with unique ways of killing people.
When Peggy is found dead one morning, no one is surprised—except her Ukrainian caregiver, Natalka Kolisnyk, a refugee and cryptocurrency genius, who is convinced Peggy was murdered.
DS Kaur is skeptical until Natalka and Peggy’s neighbor, ex-monk-turned-barista Benedict Cole, are held at gunpoint in Peggy’s apartment by an intruder who makes off with an obscure, out-of-print Golden Age mystery entitled Thank Heaven, Fasting.
When another literary murder is discovered, two investigations proceed along different tracks—the official investigation, led by DS Kaur, and the unofficial investigation, with Natalka, Benedict, and suave 80-year-old ex-radio-commentator Edwin Fitzgerald teaming up to follow clues that include a mysterious white Ford Fiesta, a literary festival in Scotland, and Peggy’s son, who seems in a hurry to get rid of his mother’s vast collection of mysteries.
Besides Griffith’s gorgeous writing, I love her wit and her wonderful characters. Fans of Agatha Christie, Anthony Horowitz, and Richard Osmond (The Thursday Murder Club) will love this new series as much as I do.
Big Little Spies by Krista Davis
This book is all about secrets of the past, kept in the past. Main character Holly, who is in her late twenties, co-owns the Sugar Maple Inn with her grandmother, Oma. Guests come to the Inn to vacation with their pets in the Western North Carolina town of Wagtail. The town caters to tourists who want to vacation with their dogs and cats. There are no cars allowed in Wagtail. Residents and tourists park their cars in a lot outside of town and use golf carts to get around. Wagtail is a closed set, much like English mysteries set at country houses.
Wagtail Animal Guardians (WAG), an animal rescue organization, was started by a resident, a recently deceased wife of a local judge. The annual fundraiser/adoption charity ball has been organized by five women from the Raleigh branch of WAG, who are staying at Holly’s Inn for the festivities. When a murder occurs, people Holly cares about are implicated. Holly tracks the killer, but her animal friends help. She can interpret their behavior far better than the human animals.
This series is a fun read with all the creature comforts of a cozy mystery. Self-indulge yourself and pick up this book when the tiresome times we live in get you down.
E. B. Davis
All the Devils Are Here by Louise Penny
In this, the sixteenth and most recent novel in the series, Armand Gamache and his entire family are in Paris. The have just had dinner with Gamache's godfather, Stephen Horowitz, both a wealthy industrialist and whistle blower, when Stephen is struck by a vehicle while they are crossing a street. Gamache believes it was a deliberate hit. His suspicions grow when a man is found murdered in Stephen's apartment. What was Stephen investigating? The issue is complex. It involves many powerful people and impacts the safety of thousands of people. There are touching emotional issues too: Armand's healing relationship with his son; the birth of a granddaughter. It's no wonder that Louise's books win so many awards.
An Extravagant Death by Charles Finch (Minotaur)I have loved Charles Finch's Lenox mysteries since I read the first one years ago. But this newest addition to the series is so different and so beautifully written. An Extravagant Death presents London
Detective Charles Lenox at the top of his game, recognized even across the Atlantic for his amazing crime solving abilities. And the author, Charles Finch, is at the top of his game also. Lenox is at a watershed moment: he is fifty years old with a wife and two daughters. For a man of the Victorian era with much lower life expectancy than now, he is already in a position where he is looking back on his life and sorting through his triumphs and regrets.
Then, Prime Minister Disraeli sends him on a mission to America, a land he has often wanted to see. While there, he finds himself in Newport, Rhode Island among the old and new rich in their “cottages” that dwarf the landscape. It is the time of the Astors and the Vanderbilts, an era so different from the knighted and landed families Lenox knows in England. Then a murder occurs, and Lenox is called in to help solve it. A beautiful girl in the blush of youth has been found dead. As Lenox applies his detective skills in a new and unfamiliar landscape, he begins to question so much that has been important to him.There is a melancholy tone to this book that wasn't apparent in earlier stories. It seemed appropriate for a man looking back at his life. I loved the lyrical style of the author, the ease with which he described the period, the way he inhabited his detective completely, and the familiar characters we have come to love.
Susan Van Kirk