Wednesday, October 3, 2012

New (to me) Authors, July - September

Today I am joining in on the meme on best new-to-me crime fiction authors 2012 at Mysteries in Paradise. The goal is to share authors that are new-to-us this year, especially the ones we liked. This meme runs at the end of each quarter. Check out other posts for this quarter.

This quarter I have read books by five authors that I have never read before. None of them are new authors. Several of them have established continuing series.
  1. Whiskey Sour by J. A. Konrath
  2. The Suspect by L. R. Wright
  3. Lament for the Bride by Helen Reilly 
  4. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
  5. The Tattoo Murder Case by Akimitsu Takagi

Whiskey Sour is the first novel of a mystery series written by J. A. Konrath. Lieutenant Jacqueline 'Jack' Daniels is a detective in the Chicago Police Department. Her partner is Herb, a family man. He is supportive and a calming influence on Jack. The book was a quick read and enjoyable. The story is told in first person, with Jack as the narrator. There are chapters giving the killer's point of view. Those chapters were creepy and graphic, but I do find I enjoy novels that give us more than one point of view. However, the humor in this series did not appeal to me and I probably won't continue the series.

Of all the new authors I read this quarter, The Suspect by L. R. Wright was my favorite. This book won the 1986 Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Novel of the year, and it was the first Canadian novel to do so. This is an inverted mystery; we know from the beginning who committed the murder. Since the reader knows whodunit, the reader is more concerned with how the culprit is caught. And, in the case of this book, why did he do it? The novel is set in Sechelt, which is on the Sunshine Coast in British Columbia, Canada.

Lament for the Bride, published in 1951, is a vintage mystery novel, part of a long series featuring Inspector McKee of the Manhattan Homicide Squad. It is a hybrid, part romantic suspense, part police procedural. This is a story of its time -- the 1950’s. The characters are mostly rich and powerful, or once rich and powerful. People who are used to having money being about to do what they want. The bride is from outside of that world, a woman who worked for a company her husband owns. Only the bride's motivations and character are fully fleshed out. The remaining characters are murky and threatening. This is the first Helen Reilly novel I have read. I would like to read some of the earlier mysteries that focus more on McKee and his police work.

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie was a fun mystery to read. The story, narrated by a precocious 11-year-old as the detective, is set in 1950, and reflects some of the hardships of post-War Britain. Set in an English village, this is the typical cozy with quirky characters and a kindly policeman. Flavia de Luce, our charming protagonist, lives in a decrepit old mansion with her father, her two sisters, and an old friend of her father’s, Dogger, who is now the gardener. Dogger and her father were both soldiers during the war, and Dogger came back with severe psychological problems.

The Tattoo Murder Case is a vintage mystery by a Japanese author, Akimitsu Takagi.  It was published in 1948 and translated into English in 1998 by Deborah Boehm. The story is set in Tokyo and it involves the tattoo culture in Japan. At the time, tattoos were illegal in Japan. I enjoyed the book for the picture of Japan at the time. I found this to be a good and enjoyable mystery, at times, but I did have quibbles with some elements. Nevertheless, I recommend it highly.

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