Reviews: Relatively random, recent

As always, I’ve been reading.  But due to big doings in the land of dentists, I haven’t been doing much reviewing.  So here’s an effort to get caught up, with quickie reviews of several recent reads.

The End of the Wasp Season by Denise Mina:  Mina’s a Scottish crime writer with a psychological bent.  I love her series about journalist Paddy Meehan, which are a thick stew of family ties, misguided loyalty, and criminal undertaking.  The End of the Wasp Season features Detective Inspector Alex Morrow in a twisty tale of crime and family tragedy.  You see it all coming, but are fascinated anyway.   Well worth reading.

Headhunters by Jo Nesbo:  I liked Nesbo’s Harry Hole series and reviewed Nemesis here.  Alas, I cannot say the same for Headhunters.  Meant to be darkly humorous, I found it to be an unpleasant story of a criminal who works as a highly successful executive recruiter by day and rips off his clients by night.  He’s shocked to realize that the latest executive he’s recruiting is his wife’s lover.  I bailed on the book when he’s being chased by even worse bad guys than he is, hides in an outhouse, and is shat upon by his wife’s lover.   Farvel, Jo.

A Death in Summer by Benjamin Black:  This was on Julia Keller’s top books of 2011 , and reading her write-up reminded me how much I enjoyed his previous work featuring Quirke and Hackett, Elegy for April.  Once again, the writing is keen and lovely, the characters well-drawn, and the relationships are interesting.  The only down side for me was the cliche upon which the plot turned – evil, self-centered  rich man has a charity involving small children in orphanages.  How surprising is it that perversity is at the heart of his murder?  Still, it was a quick, engrossing read.

Bone by Bone by Carol O’Connell:  I mentioned in this blog post that I chatted with a fellow reader on the el – she was reading Bone by Bone as we sat side by side, and I had The Chalk Girl in my backpack.   Upon further reflection, I realized that I had missed this standalone mystery and got it from the library.  Bone by Bone has a lot in common with    O’Connell’s series featuring Kathy Mallory, the former feral child cum detective savant:  quirky characters and a mystery rooted in the past.   Despite its somewhat convoluted plot, Bone by Bone is ultimately a more linear book than the Mallory books.  I’d give this one a middling thumbs up.

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