Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Always Surprising Carina Press

I usually hesitate to blog about books that are only available in electronic form, but Carina Press is publishing some extraordinarily good books at very reasonable prices. The very first downloaded book I read from Carina about a year ago was Presumed Dead by Shirley Wells, an English author who has several books published in the U.K., but not so widely available in the U.S. I was really impressed by Presumed Dead, first in the Dylan Scott Mysteries, and it is now also available in a print version.

In Presumed Dead, Dylan Scott is having a very bad patch in his life, disgraced, imprisoned on a charge of excessive force and losing his career in the London Police Force as a detective. Not only that, he is nearly penniless, booted out by his wife and living in "the smallest flat in the land". When he is approached by Holly Champion, a young woman in Lancashire obsessed by the disappearance of her mother thirteen years earlier, he really has no choice but to take on the case.

Dylan is generally clueless about personal relationships and his marital situation, but he is nothing if not dogged in the pursuit of answers. Presumed Dead is a very well constructed mystery with a nice balance of procedural and personal life. The characters are memorable and the mystery is solved neatly with a number of surprises.

The second book in the Dylan Scott Mysteries, Dead Silent, is just as enjoyable. Dylan is going on with his life, and after his success in the Champion investigation is once again hired to investigate a missing person case in Dawson's Clough in Lancashire. Sam Hunt, an attractive young woman, has been missing for ten months and Dylan is hired by her father to find her. Before he even arrives in Lancashire, he gets warned off and beaten up by a tough. After meeting Sam's father, Dylan feels that something is definitely "off". His impression grows even stronger after meeting her mother and stepfather.

The case of Sam Hunt has far-reaching consequences, as far away as Romania and the Orkney Islands. I find Dylan's investigative methods extremely realistic- Dylan just keeps on and doesn't give up until he gets the answers. He is a man with a strong sense of right and nothing deters him. in Dead Silent, his personal life is on an upswing, even though the estrangement from his wife is still unresolved and his aging hippie mother is still living with him. 

I highly recommend Presumed Dead and Dead Silent to fans of Peter Robinson's Inspector Alan Banks novels, and anyone who enjoys atmospheric British mysteries with a little edge.

Rating- 4 stars