Tuesday, July 19, 2022

And then the Pooch Showed up with a Human Leg!!!

FLIGHT RISK ( The Booking Agents #2)
Cherie Priest
Atria Books
November 1, 2022

Seattle's only psychic/travel agent, Leda Foley, has her hands full when she is hired to find Dan Matarese's sister, Robin Reddick, who has gone missing. Not only Robin is missing, but also her vintage orange Volvo and thirty thousand dollars in her employer's money. Robin has worked as a landscaping architect for a large construction company. Her specialty is lessening the environmental impact, and she is completely trusted. When Dan contacts Robin's husband, college professor Paul Reddick, Paul is supremely unconcerned, saying that she is probably just on a get-away. Brother Dan is not convinced. Neither he, his other sister, or Robin's son have heard anything from her in more than a month.

Meanwhile, Detective Grady Merritt  (Leda's sometime collaborator) has his own case to deal with. He and his teenage daughter, Molly, are on an outing with their dog at Mt. Ranier. Cairo, the dog, goes bounding off into the brush and disappears. Molly and Grady are passing out flyers at the visitor's center when Cairo comes back....with a human leg in his mouth. Immediately called "Mr. Leg," DNA testing shows it belongs to Paul Reddick, the missing Robin's philandering husband. So Leda's and Grady's cases intersect once again. Grady has become a true believer after Leda booked him on an ill-fated flight and then canceled the ticket because she had one of her "feelings." The plane crashed on take-off. Leda is not always consistent in her predictions but has honed her skills. She does an occasional karaoke show at a neighborhood bar, The Castaways. Billed as The Psychic Songstress, she has become quite a draw. Finding out what happened to Robin and the whys and hows of "Mr. Leg" landing in a tree is a tall order.

I have been a fan of Cherie Priest since reading her award-winning Steampunk fantasy, Boneshaker, several years ago. She writes in several genres, always with flair and humor. Likable, quirky characters and laugh-out-loud dialogue make Flight Risk and its predecessor, Grave Reservations, winning and most enjoyable reads.


Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Missing Persons, a Mystery Writer, and very Bad Men

G.M. Malliet
Severn House
July 6, 2022

I've read quite a few of G.M.Malliet's books and always appreciated her ability to use humor to such good effect and her deft plotting. Most of her whodunnits are set in the UK, and she created the perfect English village in her Max Tudor mysteries. I've read quite a few of G.M.Malliet's books and always appreciated her ability to use humor to such good effect and her deft plotting. Most of her whodunnits are set in the UK, and she created the perfect English village in her Max Tudor mysteries. Augusta Hawke, however, is set in the Washington DC area in Georgetown. Augusta is a successful mystery writer, with 18 novels to her credit. She is widowed, living in an upscale townhouse community. She is intensely private and organized, knowing little about her neighbors. Like many such developments in America, people come and go, keeping themselves to themselves. She does take some interest in the young couple living directly across from her. Zora and Niko Norman are a handsome pair with an almost-year-old baby. It's not that she watches them purposely, but they have no curtains, and she is home almost all the time. Plus, she is stalled on novel #19. 

When the perfect couple goes missing, the dishy Detective Narducci asks what Augusta knows about them. She realizes that she is probably the only one who knows there is trouble in the Norman marriage. Augusta saw a heated argument through the window and heard a shriek from who she thought must be Zora. Augusta doesn't want to be stereotyped as nosy, so she doesn't tell Narducci at that time. Instead, she contacts Zora's mother at the downtown DC gallery she owns. The baby is safe, and Zora's parents never liked or trusted Niko. Augusta enlists Misaki Nelson, a retired lawyer, in her search for the Normans. The two are off to the races. A sleazy PI (and true crime writer) involves himself in their investigation as well. Detective Narducci is decidedly not happy. There are moments of wry humor, hilarity, and great danger before they find the missing Normans. The only negative is an overly quick wrap-up.

Some people don't enjoy the first-person narrative, but I enjoyed being in Augusta's head. She is unique and fearless. I hope there are more novels to come. I like Augusta, and new opportunities open up in her life, which has been stagnant. Thanks to NetGalley and Severn Books for an advance digital copy. The opinions are my own.

RATING- 4 Stars

Monday, July 4, 2022

And then Covid-19 Comes at You.

 Ruth Galloway #14
 Elly Griffiths
 Mariner Books, Audible
 June 28, 2022

The Dr. Ruth Galloway series has become one of my favorites since I discovered them several years ago. Dr. Ruth Galloway is an archaeologist specializing in bones, a college professor, and a single mother of an 11-year-old daughter, Kate. She lives in a cottage on the wind-swept marshes of Norfolk. Ruth's mother, Jean, died five years ago, and she is going through her belongings at her father's request. She finds an old photograph of her cottage, a place that Jean hated and refused to stay in overnight. On the back is a notation, "Dawn, 1963." Ruth is determined to find out the meaning of the photograph. Upon arriving home, she finds that she has a new neighbor with whom she feels an immediate connection. The woman is a nurse, a bit older than Ruth, named Zoe.

Ruth's plans go out of her head when Covid-19 goes from a rumor to a full-fledged crisis. Everything gets locked down, and the country is brought to a standstill. DCI Harry Nelson, the father of Ruth's child, Kate, finds himself working with a skeleton crew. His right hand, Judy, has to quarantine when her husband, Cathbad, is one of the earliest victims and goes almost immediately into intensive care. Nelson has a series of deaths of middle-aged women. They are all labeled as suicides, but Nelson is sure they are murders. He doesn't have the manpower to investigate as he might but enlists Ruth to nose around. Besides, his wife, Michelle, is stranded in Blackpool with her mother. Nelson ends up on Ruth's doorstep. Again. Another thread of mystery is the story is a woman locked in an underground room, starving and being encouraged to use a handful of pills to end her ordeal.

Reading The Locked Room brought back all the uncertainty and anxiety of the early days of Covid-19. I was fearful for Cathbad, one of my favorite characters. So many died in the earliest days when even medical science was at a loss. When the murderer of the women was exposed, I was also reminded of the evil men can do without even trying very hard. We are left with a bit of a cliffhanger as far as the relationship between Nelson and Ruth goes. Nelson seems to be growing (somewhat) as a human being, but.....

I highly recommend The Ruth Galloway Series for lovers of intricate, atmospheric mysteries, peopled by distinctive characters.

RATING- 5 Stars