Summer Reads Part One: Mystery

I haven’t been posting many reviews on here lately although I am still actively reviewing Netgalleys on Goodreads. Right now is a time for change in my life and I think it’s a great time to change up the way I review books on my blog! So, in that spirit I’m going to post brief reviews/insights from the books I’m reading and listening to this summer.

I’m starting off with the Mystery genre. I love to read all sorts of mysteries ranging for gritty noir to heady thrillers to cozy mysteries that are “fun” despite the heavy fact that they center on murder. Lately I’ve been listening to mysteries rather than reading them because they lend themselves well to the audiobook format and then I can read while I work on art projects. These four mysteries vary in darkness but all four center around female lead characters.

My reviews will go from most cozy to least cozy rather than in star order.

Scones and Scoundrels (Highland Bookshop Mystery #2)Scones and Scoundrels by Molly MacRae
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I enjoyed the atmosphere of the book set in Inversgail following the lives of Janet Marsh and her business partners at Yon Bonnie Books during Daphne Wood’s artist in residence tenure at the Inversgail schools. The characters have all the charm typical of a cozy mystery in that they’re a bit cartoony and nosy. The mystery and murder of the book is, of course, a fun vehicle to sip tea and delve into this fictional scenario in the Scottish Highlands. It was fun for what it was and I would probably try another book in the series.

Black Ship (Daisy Dalrymple, #17)Black Ship by Carola Dunn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the first of the series I have tried but as with any good mystery series it was easy to start here without feeling lost in side plots I haven’t encountered yet. Daisy Dalrymple is similar but entirely different from Phryne Fisher but readers of Phryne will probably enjoy the historical fiction aspect of Daisy’s world. Daisy is a proper lady who is modern in some ways–she’s a working writer, she wants to spend time with her children and she’s married to a detective from Scotland Yard (who is not of her class)–but she’s also very proper in ways that Phryne isn’t. I though this added a welcome layer to the plot as she meddles in her husband’s case but tries to stay on the sidelines, it added an interesting tension that I welcomed after burning out on the Phryne Fisher mysteries.

What I really enjoyed was the plot which centered around the subject of American Prohibition trespassing onto British soil because of bootleggers sourcing premium liquor overseas. The characters involved in this plot line were everything I hope for from historical fiction mysteries with a cozy element.

C is for Corpse (Kinsey Millhone, #3)C is for Corpse by Sue Grafton
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Oh Kinsey. I’ll get this out of the way, I have a love/hate relationship with Kinsey because I had a love/hate relationship with Santa Barbara for the decade+ that I lived there. Now that I’ve moved away I find great pleasure in Sue Grafton’s series because it captures so much about Santa Barbara on the whole spectrum including the way I am so annoyed by Kinsey’s general tone in the books but love how well it captures something that’s hard to describe about the place.
C is for Corpse was compelling because Kinsey seemed to really connect to her client Bobby. There was something about the relationship between the two of them that made me really invested in the story which was why I wasn’t as crazy about the conclusion. What I liked is what I’ve enjoyed about previous books in the series, there’s a lot of California and Santa Barbara culture in the scenes and in the characters.

Necessary as Blood (Duncan Kincaid & Gemma James #13)Necessary as Blood by Deborah Crombie
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is the first in the series I’ve read and I loved it. Though not a truly gritty or noir book it had elements veering in that direction. Incredibly character driven, atmospheric in a modern sense and the female leads are truly enjoyable to follow. The plot is high stakes and the pacing has an urgency without rushing you to the story’s conclusion. What I liked the most was that Sandra and her husband are developed as characters beyond their status as victims/potential victims whose tragedy moves the plot forward. Especially in the darker, noir genre I appreciate the opportunity to get to know characters and suspects on a deeper level because I think it lends a depth that can be lacking when noir is too urgent and action focused.

I also enjoyed reading about the East End and wandering around beyond the scope of the investigation while following the lives of the investigators. I am definitely reading more from the Duncan Kincaid & Gemma James series!

View all my reviews

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