The Queen Of The Night by Paul Doherty

The Queen Of The NightRome, 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?

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Mr Monk On Patrol by Lee Goldberg

Mr Monk On PatrolYou 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…

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The Boy-Bishop’s Glovemaker by Michael Jecks

boy bshopChristmas 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…

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Strangled Prose by Joan Hess

strangled-prose-978144727687601Farber, 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…

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Sleeping With The Crawfish by D J Donaldson

SWCF_cvrAndy Broussard, New Orleans  medical examiner, has a puzzle. Not the mysterious lesions in the brain of the body on his examining table, but the fact that his fingerprints are a perfect match for someone who is currently in jail at the Louisiana state prison. He persuades his former colleague, Kit Franklyn, to check out the prisoner, only she finds that not only has the prisoner died but the prison hasn’t wasted any time in cremating the body.

Things start turning nasty even before Franklyn makes it back to New Orleans, and soon both she and Andy are investigating what seems to be a deep conspiracy stretching across the state. As she goes undercover at a research laboratory and Andy investigates a second death, they both find themselves next in the firing line.

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Some Lie And Some Die by Ruth Rendell

Some Lie and Some Die1973 and a pop festival has come to Kingsmarkham. While DS Burden sees it as an opportunity for the further degeneration of society as a whole, DI Wexford has a slightly more positive view on matters. Everyone – apart from some of the people who live near the festival – seems to be enjoying themselves. Except for the two festivalgoers who slip off to the nearby quarry for a romantic tryst (must be a nice quarry) only to find the body of Dawn Stonor, a once-local girl, who has had her face smashed in with a bottle.

Some people had seen Dawn on the day that she died – but where did she get the red dress that adorned her corpse? What is her connection to the star of the festival? And why did this book seem to take an age to read when it’s less than 200 pages long?

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Posted in Chief Inspector Wexford, Ruth Rendell | 4 Comments

The Puzzly – The ISOTCMN Book Of The Month – July 2014

Another month, another pile of mysteries reviewed. As with last month, a number of new releases, a couple of classic authors, and, for the first time in ages, not a single historical mystery – how strange. As I’ve frequently mentioned, it’s been a busy time with a house move that’s taken up a fair bit of my time – so I only managed to read and review ten books. Hang on, that can’t be right…

So, with ten books to rate, surely that’s going to make the Puzzly – my book of the month – difficult to pick? Actually, it’s never been easier…

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Posted in Ben H Winters, Book Of The Month | 2 Comments