Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Mini-Reviews: Two Fun and not quite cozy Series

I've been reading several heavy books about World War I, a biography and a memoir, so this almost cozy mystery was a good change of pace when I needed a breather.

Author: Charlaine Harris
Publisher-Format:  e-book,  New York : St. Martin's Press, 1997, 170 pages
Subject: solving murder -
Setting: Shakespeare Arkansas
Series: Lily Bard mysteries
Genre: mystery - amateur sleuth, police procedure, private detective
Source: public library download
Recommended? Yes if you like mysteries, strong women and good police stories

I do really like this series by Charlaine Harris.  More adventures of housecleaner, rape victim, super karate, Tae kwan do champion Lily Bard, and her various beaus.  Set in Arkansas it also shows a not so nice side of southern rednecks and their racial prejudices.  Lily's not a person I can warm up to, but then she doesn't want anyone to warm up to her.  She's very much a loner, having been so damaged earlier in life that she's taking things very slowly, and not letting anyone get too close to her.

The immediate dead body in this one is a fellow weight lifter found dead at the gym, but there are other murders from prior times that are drawn into the web of investigation (all of which Lily is somehow connected to.)  Several new characters, several from before, and some fantastic fight scenes.  I'm not into martial arts, but I have no trouble following Harris' excellent description of Lily's interactions with the bad guys.

Good plot, great characters, and a terrific ending.  NO SPOILERS, but I will say this is a series that is entertaining enough for anyone liking a southern setting, a strong woman, and cops who are actually competent.

 The other book in a series I just finished was an audio from a fun Maine writer:

Author: Sarah Graves
Publisher-Format:  audio:  BBC Audiobooks, 9hr, 7min, 2008
Narrator: Lindsay Ellison
Subject: old books, restoring old houses, murder
Setting: Eastport Maine
Series: Home Repair is Homicide
Genre: mystery - amateur sleuths,  
Source: public library
Recommended? Yes if you like mysteries,old houses, and Maine

In this series, Sarah Graves gives her readers a wonderful cast of characters, a totally picturesque setting, and some lessons in home repair many of us hope never to have to use.  I just wish sometimes her plots weren't so unbelievable.  More to the point, I wish her two amateur sleuths weren't so gol-blamed stupid to put themselves into the situations they get into.

This one was a wonderful story about personalities in small Maine towns. Lindsay Ellison's narration captures the variety of DownEast accents perfectly (I actually thought one of the voices belonged to one of my neighbors here in town!) but Grave's manipulations of events to get to her outcome left me shaking my head. 

It's almost impossible to give you even the gist of the story except to say that Jacobia is looking for a book she found behind some crumbling plaster in her old old house.  She sent the book to an "expert" to have it authenticated, the expert turned up dead, and the book turned up missing. So of course, she's not only going to find her missing book, but she's darn well gonna figure out who killed the book dude.  I love good mysteries (and this one was certainly a good mystery) and I love surprise endings - I didn't catch on until the final chapter, but I just couldn't bring myself even to imagine some of the life-threatening escapades Jacobia and Ellie found themselves in JUST TO FIND A BOOK.  I thought Indiana Jones was going to appear at any moment!

It won't stop me from reading one or two more in this series, but these ladies need to wake up and get some good old fashioned Maine horse sense.  Still fun, just be prepared to suspend belief.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. oh my heavens, I stayed in Eastport. Darn, now I have to read that one...darn...lol


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