August was a busy month for me, the newly crowned 69th best official puzzler in the world – probably a bit late to write the promised post on the World Puzzle Championships, but maybe I will next week sometime. Anyway, that took a fair chunk of my reading time, but, as it was the school holidays, I still managed to get through eight books – not bad.
But it’s the end of the month, so it’s time for me to pick the best of them – and provide one lucky author with a free advert via my wallpaper for the next month. Who will gain this literally priceless opportunity?
New York City. In the basement of the shop where she works, Chloe Moore is drugged and taken underground. There, at the mercy of her abductor, she is tattooed with a message – simply the phrase “the second”. But Chloe knows little about this, as the tattooist – a man whose plans reach far beyond one woman – hasn’t used ink. He’s used concentrated poison…
Lincoln Rhyme, the quadraplegic consulting detective and his partner Amelia Sachs are called in to investigate, but find the crime scene purged of almost all trace evidence, Rhyme’s speciality. The only item of interest is a section from a book detailing Rhyme’s involvement in the most important case of his career – the serial killer known as the Bone Collector. But is the so-called Skin Collector out for revenge, or something much more dangerous?
Introducing Cormoran Strike, the only detective named after a badly spelled seabird attack (this joke is copyright Mrs Puzzle Doctor, btw), a down-on-his-luck London-based private detective. Newly dumped by his fiancée, heavily in debt, his luck seems to be changing. A new temporary receptionist shows some talent and interest in detective work and, more importantly, he’s actually got a case.
An old school friend hires him to investigate the death of his sister, the model Lula Landry, a death that everyone had considered suicide. After all, she threw herself from her balcony and the witnesses confirm that there could have been no one in the flat. But his friend insists that there was no way that Lula would have killed herself – and Cormoran does need the money. But as he investigates, he starts to piece together what could be the perfect murder. But is the murderer’s work finished?
Rome, AD 314, is beset by problems. The children of the city’s richest families are being kidnapped for ransom from places previously believed to be safe, the kidnappers disappearing without trace. Meanwhile, veterans from a Roman campaign against the Picts are being picked off one by one – their bodies being discovered with… a certain male body part removed and placed in their hands – an ancient Pict method of execution.
Claudia, secret agent for the Empress Helena, is charged with resolving both issues but she is distracted both by keeping Murannus, her lover, from returning to the gladiatorial arena, and the discovery of a perfectly preserved body of a young woman, buried in the orchard of her uncle’s tavern. Exactly how many killers are stalking the streets of Rome?
You may have encountered Adrian Monk before. As played by Tony Shaloub on television for eight years, he’s the world’s greatest detective – a former San Francisco police detective who had a nervous breakdown after the murder of his wife, he now consults with the SFPD. Oh, and he has… some issues. He suffers from OCD and 312 phobias (which he has ranked in order). But he is an amazing detective.
This novel is set after the series has finished. Adrian and his assistant, Natalie Teeger, are summoned to Summit, New Jersey, by an old friend who is now chief of police there, to help solve a crime spree. Needless to say, it isn’t long before there’s a dead body alongside the numerous burglaries to get to the bottom of. Of course, Adrian can only solve the mystery if he has time while he deals with the most dreadful crime he has ever encountered – a shop called “Poop”, where every item sold is made out of excrement…
Christmas 1321 and Sir Baldwin Furnshill, Keeper of the King’s Peace, his wife Jeanne and his friend, Bailiff Simon Puttock have been invited to Exeter to be honoured by receiving a reward – a pair of valuable gloves, presented by the Boy-Bishop, a specially elected member of the cathedral’s young members.
The cathedral is a hotbed of politics, from the youngest Chorister to the Dean himself. But something darker is coming. It seems someone is robbing glovemakers. Nick Karvinel is ambushed and robbed by outlaws and Ralph Glover, glovemaker to the cathedral, is robbed and murdered in his own home.
While Ralph’s apprentice is arrested for his murder, things seem to be open and shut, but another death, this time by poison, occurs at the cathedral. As Sir Baldwin starts to find links between the crimes, it seems that more people than just the killer have something to hide…
Farber, Arkansas, a college town, where Claire Malloy supports her fourteen year-old daughter by running an academic bookstore. Professor of Passion is hardly the sort of material that she normally stocks, but her friend Mildred, the real identity of author Azalea Twilight, insists on holding the book launch at the shop. What could go wrong?
When passages from the book are read aloud to the gathered masses at the launch, it becomes apparent that Azalea Twilight has an axe to grind. The book is full of thinly veiled references to genuine scandals among the university faculty, including Claire’s late husband. It leaves a lot of people very angry – and one person angry enough to follow Mildred home to kill her…