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Read this week – Silverview

Silverview by John Le Carré

I’ve read just about all John Le Carré’s books and liked them too. Most of them start a bit slow until the story catches a thread at a time and gets going. This one, his final book, started rather slow too. A small-town bookshop owner meets a slightly over-inebriated gentleman who claims to have known his father. A woman with a baby delivers a letter to a London house. She’s been told to wait for a response. These two incidents then start a whole process of actions in typical Carré manner, to find out if there’s been a leak in security and if so, who the culprit is. The book was completed by Le Carré’s son after the author’s death.

 

My review ⭐⭐⭐⭐

The story is low key, nothing much really happens. Most of it is told as memories by multiple people to explain the behaviour and motivations of different people in the past. How spies get to be spies and how they stop, or can a spy actually stop being a spy? And typically to Carré, everybody has their reasons for doing things, staying in the shadows. The book is short, only 200 pages. I liked it.

Read this week – Riccardino and The Cook of the Halcyon

Review of the last Montalbano books, The Cook of the Halcyon and Riccardino

Admission, I’ve read all Montalbano books by Andrea Camilleri. And watched the TV-series. Most of the books have been excellent and the TV series has made them alive. Those of you who haven’t read them/watched them yet, you really should.

The two last books are a bit different. The Cook of the Halcyon was apparently written for TV and then it became a book instead. Riccardino was written already 2004, as Mr. Camilleri wanted the series to end his way. When he lived longer than he expected to, he updated it later.

The Cook of the Halcyon by Andrea Camilleri

This is the next to last book, #27. The title is a bit odd. Halcyon is actually a huge yacht, a pleasure boat, Montalbano sees in the harbor, and he gets interested in it as they are loading an awful lot of pricy food on it, good wines and other drinks too. Then he sees a beautiful woman, who he had seen earlier boarding the boat and plot thickens. Throw in a murder or two, an American and even FBI in need of help, and things get complicated, very fast.

My review: ⭐⭐⭐

This wasn’t the best of the Montalbano books, I’m sad to say. It’s rather different. As mentioned, it was originally written for TV. It’s still pretty good, plenty of murders and action and the ending was a surprise. But it was lacking the usual Montalbano flair of plotting and character, it read a bit more like an action thriller type which would have likely been great on TV but as a book it lacked nuance and sometimes it goes rather over the top.

 

 

Riccardino by Andrea Camilleri

This is the last book in Montalbano series, the final episode, #28. It was written well before Andrea Camilleri died. He sent it to his publisher saying to keep it in the drawer and publish it after his death.
The book starts with Montalbano receiving a call. Not as usual by Catarella but from someone named Riccardino who asks him when he’s going to show up. Montalbano who doesn’t like being woken up early in the morning, says, 10 minutes and hangs up. Clearly it was someone who had dialed a wrong number. Soon later, Montalbano gets another call, about a murder, someone had been shot right infront of his friends. And off we go, the usual Montalbano style.

My review: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

The book starts the usual Montalbano fashion, he visits the site of the murder, he starts to interview people, but he’s not supposed to handle the case. It’s going to be handled by an upstart from the Flying Squad instead! Montalbano gets a visitor, a fortune teller, who wants to report a strange case of a truck driver leaving packages in an odd place. Montalbano sets out to investigate but then he gets the murder case back because of the bishop insists on it. To complicate matters further, the Author enters in the book complaining that Montalbano isn’t handling things well and may not be up to the job any longer. The “real” Montalbano feels he’s losing to TV Montalbano, that he’s losing the plot and he’s not happy about it.

This book is written a bit differently for sure. Adding the Author in the story makes it rather multilevel in a way. I’m two minds about it whether it’s good or bad. Mostly it works, as Camilleri is a good writer, and the basic story is still classic Montalbano. The ending was very unexpected. It’s an enjoyable read, and a sad read. I’m really sad that the series has come to an end. RIP Mr. Camilleri, RIP Montalbano.

 

Read this week – Atlas Shrunk

Atlas Shrunk by Jon Philip Rosenberg

It’s 2008 and the presidential election is coming up in the USA. It’s going to be historic. The economy is in a tailspin. The candidate who looks like he could win, is not going to, as he’s found dead, in a room, locked from the inside.

An investigation into his murder leads to a deep dive into banks around the world, their records and a murder.

My review: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

It’s a bit a change of pace to read something about another disasterous time, the worldwide financial crisis when we’re currently midst of another worldwide crisis, the Covid pandemic.
Rosenberg’s story about big banks and murder, the crisis and the cover up, assasination and how linked all the systems are worldwide. It’s a good story, it flows nicely. I liked it. The characters are mostly well done, and the story is rather belieavable, I’m sorry to say, as it’s rather scary when you start thinking about it.
It’s a good read, if you’re in KU, as the price even for an ebook is a bit too high to my liking.

 

Read this week – The Nighthawks

“The Nighthawks” by Elly Griffiths

The Night Hawks by Elly Griffiths

This is book 13 in the Ruth Galloway series. Ruth is back at the University of North Norfolk. A group of guys searching buried treasures with metal detectors on the beach in North Norfolk when they find a recently deceased body. Nelson initially thinks the body could belong to an asylum seeker, but it turns out to be a local boy, Jem, instead.  It seems the boy could have accidentally drowned. But when two more dead bodies are found, things get very complicated, suggesting murder.

My review: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I’ve read all ruth Galloway books and I liked them all.  This one, I think, is the best so far. The previous book, The Lantern Men, was perhaps a bit weak, but with the Nighthawks Ruth is back in business. She has been promoted and is now the head of the department, with her own corner office and a coffee machine. She has hired a new lecturer to take over her old job.

But people are not what they seem, and everybody seems to have a lot to hide. There are the Nighthawks, the group of men searching for Viking treasures and Bronze Age coins on the beach, instead they find a body. A dead couple found in an old very creepy house, and the new lecturer Ruth just hired seems to be a bit too friendly.  I couldn’t figure out the killer, nor the motive, and the twists in the end were totally surprising.

 

Read this week – The Death of Mrs Westaway

Do you ever get in a book-rut? I’ve been into one for a while now. I’ve recently read 4 or 5 books, by authors I’ve liked before. These have been books number 15 to 20 in their respective series. And I’ve been rather disappointed by each one of them. The latest disappointment was a mix of a travel brochure and romance except it was supposed to be a mystery. Granted a cozy one but when every other page describes how hunky the husband is, and how hunky the other guys who pop up are, it was wearing me out. And then getting recipes in a book where the main character barely knows how to boil an egg. I mean really! And unfortunately, the plot was very weak too and whodunnit was clear just about a mile away. 🙁
The other equally recent one was more like a travel book as well. While it’s nice to read about a place I haven’t visited for eons, it had just way too many detailed descriptions about the place, it’s history and clothing, and those got repeated multiple times. There was too little of the actual mystery. And even with this one, I figured it out halfway through. So no fun! And no, not naming these books as when it comes to reading and taste, we all have our own. 🙂  I only post reviews of books I like.
But I’m happy to note that I just got out of that rut by a good one. “The Death of Mrs Westaway” is a good mystery, not stellar, but a good one. I’ve read a couple of Ruth Ware’s books before and liked them. Solid mysteries for the most part.

The Death of Mrs Westaway” by Ruth Ware

This story is about a hard-down on her luck young woman who recently had lost her mother. An intriguing letter from a solicitor arrives, telling her that she’s been mentioned in a testament by her grandmother. It’s just that she thinks the letter was not meant for her. But she decides to go to the funeral anyway. The story is set in Brighton, Penzance and Cornwall in general.
My review: ⭐⭐⭐
The start is very good, plenty of suspense. The main character, Hal, is a likeable person, who after reading tarot cards decides to spend the money she doesn’t really have to go to the funeral, just to get away from Brighton. She hops on a train and travels to Penzance.
I liked the characters, most of them came across as real people. The plot was rather good, the flash backs blended in nicely and gave a good idea where the story was going.
The story is a slight take on “Rebecca”, not as gothic or scary.  I figured it out whodunit about halfway through, but it was interesting enough to keep reading to the end to see if I was right as well as find out the motive.
I didn’t like the ending much, it required suspending belief quite a bit, and motives of the title character were left pretty unclear. Not everything was tied together either, a few lose ends left hanging.
But all and all pretty good read which I can recommend.

Read this week – The Sleeping Dictionary

The Sleeping Dictionary” by Sujata Massey

This one is not really my typical read. It’s a history set in India starting in 1930ies and ending with the Independence 1947. A story about a girl who is the only survivor of a flooding which took her entire family in Bengali village. She survives through hardships and finds a new life in Calcutta.
My review: ⭐️⭐️⭐️
The start is good, describing how the girl survived the flood by climbing up on a tree and staying there until rescued. Her luck changes to the better, she gets to school for the Anglos, but of course not as a student but as a servant. She gets lucky again, meeting another Bengali girl, who she gets to help. By then the orphan girl has learned good English. But again, bad luck comes her way, and she has to flee to survive. More bad luck until she manages to get a steady position working in Calcutta and love finally comes her way.
The story is interesting as it’s set in a part of the world of which I have very limited knowledge. The historical aspect made it worth reading too. It slowed a bit in the middle, got a bit repetitive, but it managed to hold my interest to the end. I liked it.  The same author apparently writes mysteries as well. I think I’ll check those out.

Read this week – The Man Who Died

It’s not often I stay up anymore to finish a book. But this one I just had to get to the end.

“The Man Who Died” by Antti Tuomainen.

It’s a funny mystery about a mushroom entrepreneur who finds out that he’s being slowly poisoned. Obviously, that is rather disturbing. And since the doctor can’t tell how long time he has left, he sets about to find out who is doing it. And from there he gets on a journey which has totally unexpected twists and bizarre situations, deadpanned descriptions.
My review: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
The start is a bit low key, a visit to a doctor for stomach pain only to find out you’re being slowly poisoned to death, and that there’s no cure and oh by the way, you may have another week maybe a month to live. That could be shocking to anybody. Jaakko who founded the mushroom firm sets out to find out who is doing this to him and why. He makes lists, gets involved with a new competitor and old customers. People who work for him may be jumping like rats leaving the sinking ship, or not. Not easy thing to deal with keeping the company afloat, figuring out what to do about an upstart competitor ready to steal your business, all the while knowing you’re soon going to give up the ghost. The book is funny, a good mystery, and I didn’t figure out who did it. Liked it a lot.

This week’s read – For Batter or Worse

Past the few weeks or rather months, I’ve been stuck in a total plot hole with my book 3, trying to figure out if the body count needs to be increased or something else needs to happen. So, I needed something somewhat lighter fare to read. Still a mystery but, a cozy type.

For Batter or Worse by Jenn McKinley

in a way it’s rather funny that I’d read about cupcakes as they’re not one of my favorite edibles. Frankly, not fan of them at all, too sweet for my taste.
However, I’ve read all the previous one’s this series. They’re cozy mysteries, but they’ve been pretty solid reads, so I decided to give this one a go. The books are about three friends who run a cupcake bakery in Arizona. And all the books come with recipes too. I’ve never tried them, as I mentioned, cupcakes are not my thing.
My review: ⭐️⭐️️ It was ok.
In this latest one, #13 in Cupcake Bakery Mystery series, the owner and main baker, Melanie, is finally getting married to Joe who is one of the brothers of her best friend. A nasty chef in a resort hotel where Mel and Joe’s wedding is going to take place is found dead, and one of the cupcake bakery’s former employees is now under suspicion for it. I’ve liked the series, but this one was not the author’s best effort. The characters in the hotel were rather one-dimensional. I also figured it out pretty quickly who did it. The murder method though, was very inventive to say the least.

This week’s read – Down Among the Dead Men

Down Among the Dead Men by Peter Lovesey

What’s it about?  – A teacher in a posh girls’ school goes missing but nobody seems to care. Peter Diamond gets dragged to Sussex by his boss, Dallymore, to investigate a fellow police officer for misconduct.
My review: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ The premise of Diamond and Dalllymore tag teaming is interesting due to their personalities. And the story is pretty good too, although it starts rather slow but picks up speed and has enough twists and turns to keep it interesting. BUT the ending is a bit weak, as the real culprits are not followed up. It could have used another chapter to close all the loose ends.
This is the book # 15 in Peter Diamond series. I’ve read all the previous ones and I can recommend them. Mostly solid police procedurals, set in Bath, England. The stories and plots are usually pretty good, some better than others but usually good reads. DCI Diamond and most the males in his team come across as real. Although women play a role in the books, their characters, especially Dallymore, are not well drawn.

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This week’s read – A Will to Kill

As mentioned, I read a lot. Sometimes, I read a book instead of doing what I should, as in doing laundry or dishes or other housework 😁

Today I finished reading RV Raman “Will to Kill”

The New Your Times: “… a modern-day take on the classic locked-room murder mystery, transported to a remote mansion high in the hills of southern India.”
What’s it about:
An old widowed rich man, Bashkar Fernandez, lives in a remote valley in a big house. He has invited a large family to his house for a reunion of sorts. Most of them are looking to get some of his money before, or even more after he’s dead. An attempt had been made on his life, but the culprit escaped. Fernandez also invited an investigator and his lawyer to the party as he’s written two different wills. A road closure locks the access to the house, and a deep fog descends.
My take: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ recommended, if you like Agatha Christie style mysteries
This is a good story. The characters are not entirely three-dimensional but from a story point of view they have enough meat on their bones to be believable. It’s also interesting to read a story set in a different part of the world. The locked-room mystery was well done, I was able to figure out one culprit, but the motives were well hidden until the end.
Scroll down to see more of the books I’ve recently read and can recommend.

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