The next installment (#5) in the Armand Gamache series. It’s Labo[u]r Day weekend in Three Pines, and the village is buzzing with activity. The discovery of dead body in the town bistro brings an end to the festive mood, and the mystery deepens when nobody seems to know who he is. Investigating the crime also means digging into the residents and their secrets, exploring the nearby Czech community, researching stolen antiquities, and meeting the latest newcomers who unintentionally(?) shake up some of the village’s complacency. Also, one of the residents faces a professional ethical dilemma that I think will reverberate in later installments. I’m still not completely sold on the way she writes all the characters, but the mystery is a little more solid in this one. Read 29 September-5 October.
57. Goldie Vance, Vol. 1 by Hope Larson & Brittney Williams
Nancy Drew meets Veronica Mars in this cute graphic novel about a teenager who helps find a necklace that was stolen from a room in the hotel where her father works. Fulfills Booked2019 prompt to read a graphic novel. (However, as I learned at the National Book Festival, graphic novels are not a genre but a medium.) Read 6 October.
58. Dog on It by Spencer Quinn
Chet is a dog of indeterminate breed who helps his human friend Bernie work cases and solve crimes. Usually they’re divorce cases, but the pair get embroiled in a missing persons case in which both partners face alarming peril from some obvious bad guys. The story is told entirely from Chet’s point of view, which is alternately charming and ridiculous. I like the dog, but not enough to continue with the series. Read 9-11 October.
59. Gaudy Night by Dorothy Sayers
I came across this title a few years ago when it was included on Amazon’s list of 100 mysteries and thrillers to read in a lifetime. Having read it, though, I’m a little surprised that it was included, mostly because it’s the 12th book of a long series, and I think I definitely missed something by not knowing the backstory of the two main characters, Harriett Vane and Lord Peter Wimsey. She attends her college’s “gaudy night” which is a kind of homecoming/reunion, and shenanigans ensue. It starts with nasty notes to Harriett and some of her fellow alumnae, and over the following months the mischief escalates to destruction of property and attacks on some of the students and faculty. She eventually asks for Peter’s help, and along the way their relationship evolves. Here’s where a deeper understanding of the backstory might have led to a more satisfying payoff, because overall I found the whole thing a little stuffy and stilted. So much talking! So many characters! Nevertheless I’m glad I read it, and it fulfills two reading challenge prompts: night-oriented and published before I was born. Read 7 September-16 October.