July 1868. Following on from the events of The Blue and The Grey, ex-Captain Matthew Grand and ex-journalist James Batchelor have set themselves up as investigators in London. But a summons from Grand’s cousin brings them to Washington DC. Lafayette Baker was one of the most despised men after the Civil War and there are suspicions that his death was far from natural.
As traces of arsenic poisoning are discovered, Grand and Batchelor find there is no shortage of suspects in his death. The newly formed Klu Klux Klan had him in their sights, as did most of the owners of Washington’s less salubrious businesses. How is the former spy Belle Boyd involved? And does the corruption run all the way to the President himself?
“Worst of all, the man’s a mathematician. Pah!”
The Starbeth family lived in a prison, a prison built to surround the gibbet where witches were hanged in days past – the so-called Hag’s Nook. And the family has a legend – that the male heirs will die of a broken neck, after spending the night in the Governor’s chamber. And one night, as determined by tradition, Martin Starbeth spends the night in the chamber.
Gideon Fell, who lives nearby, suspects things aren’t everything they seem to be – and as he and his young American friend Tad Rampole keep watch, the light in the room suddenly goes out. As the watchers race to the prison, Martin Starbeth is found fifty feet below the window of the chamber, on the edge of the well that lies there – and needless to say, his neck is broken (as are quite of lot of his other bones as well.)
It’s up to Gideon Fell, in his very first case, to find a cunning murderer – someone who has killed before and is willing to kill again.
Alex Quick, once one of the youngest Detective Inspectors in the country, now works as the co-creator of a line of books mixing art with text, along with her colleague, Dr Helena Drummond. The partnership was exactly what Alex needed, coming out of a very dark period of her life, but now it seems that the partnership is in jeopardy.
Helena has disappeared, vanished without trace, but it could have been worse. The horribly mutilated corpse found in Helena’s bed might have been her – but it isn’t. Who does the body belong to? Who hated the person so much to do what was done to them – either before or after death? And where is Helena?
With the police convinced (with good reason) of Helena’s guilt, it falls to Alex to try to find her friend and find the real murderer… if indeed, they are different people.
Well, it’s four episodes into Series Five and it’s time for the half-time report for Death In Paradise.
What the casual blog-follower may not realise is that the only reason that Death In Paradise is made by Rob Thorogood and co is to challenge me. OK, so it’s possibly that it also exists for millions of viewers to enjoy a good puzzle and the Caribbean sunshine, in the company of one of the most agreeable casts of any TV show out there. But in my eyes at least, it’s a chance to pit my wits against the only plot-driven mystery show currently out there.
I mean, did you see Midsomer Murders this week? The one with the Midsomer Bike Race. Was there anything indicating the killer before they were unmasked – and it had the default “I’m a loony” motive to add insult to injury as well…
Regardless, I’ve got into the habit of keeping score – last series ended up a 4-4 draw. So who’s got the upper hand so far?
January 2016. It was (deep breath) National Codependency Awareness Month, National Mentoring Month, National Healthy Weight Awareness Month, Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, Stalking Awareness Month, Be Kind To Food Servers Month, California Dried Plum Digestive Health Month, Hot Tea Month, National Soup Month and Oatmeal Month, – if you lived in the USA, that is. For us Brits, it was Dry January – a title meant to imply that following Christmas excesses, we were supposed to avoid the demon liquor for a whole month. And someone up there saw that title and decided to “ironically” drop enough water from the heavens to make some people have to swim to work.
As for me (apart from basically ignoring Dry January), January is back to work month, meaning less time to read than I’d like, but still managed to get through eleven books. But which one is going to walk off with the first Puzzly – my book of the month – for 2016?
Following on from my review of Leo Bruce’s collection of short stories, Murder In Miniature, I thought I’d finish up my reading for January with another such collection, this one from John Dickson Carr, published in 1963 but containing stories from up to two decades earlier. It features two problems for Colonel March of The Department For Queer Complaints to deal with, two for Gideon Fell, two “Secret Service Stories” and a novella detailing the final case for Sir Henry Merrivale.
Disappearing men and women, a ghost hunter scared to death, a man murdered while robbing his own house, a woman strangled surrounded by undisturbed sand, a trip to Napoleonic France and a threat heard when nobody is around to say it. Seven tales from the master of the locked room mystery – but are these classics?
Two years have passed since the events of Taking Pity. The threat from the Headhunters, a ruthless group determined to take control of the Hull underworld, seems to have been dealt with but new problems have arisen. Hannah Kelly, a young woman, has been missing for nine months and her fate is haunting DS Aector McAvoy. Another girl, Ava Delaney, has been found brutally murdered in her flat. Two disparate crimes, but McAvoy is having trouble getting the images of the girls out of his head.
Meanwhile, his boss, Trish Pharaoh, is the scapegoat for an investigation gone terribly wrong and is on the verge of making a very bad mistake. His colleague DC Helen Tremberg has been transferred to the Drug Squad, but has stumbled across evidence of a serial killer, one determined to punish wrongdoers. Disparate strands leading the investigators in different directions – but some of them at least are soon going to converge – and it won’t be pretty when they do…