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July 17th, 2019

Plowing through mystery series

40. A Rule Against Murder by Louise Penny
The fourth book in the Armand Gamache series takes place mostly in a secluded lakeside lodge just over the mountains from the fictional Quebec village of Three Pines. In this installment, someone is murdered in an unusual way during a family reunion. The Inspector and his wife are there to celebrate their wedding anniversary, but of course he ends up pressed into service to help unravel whodunit as well as how and why. This is one messed up family, including a Three Pines resident who has shown up in the earlier books. Once again I liked but didn’t love this book. Gamache is a delight, and I want to head straight to eastern Quebec for a vacation (hopefully without the hordes of flies the lodge guests encountered), but something about the mystery itself is just not quite right. She also philosophizes a bit in this one, and it’s sometimes a little too much. Nevertheless the positive outweighs the negative, and I plan to continue on with the series. Read 9-11 July.
41. Smoke and Mirrors by Elly Griffiths
The second book in the Magic Men series. Two young children disappear on the way home from school and are later found dead in the snow surrounded by a trail of candy. Detective Inspector Stephens once again turns to his friend Max, in town for another theater production, for unofficial help and advice. Interesting characters and a plausible story set in the early 1950s in a seaside English town. Read 22 June-13 July.
42. The Lewis Man by Peter May
Although this is part of the Fin Macleod series, he’s not the true main character in this one. Instead it’s an old man with dementia who doesn’t recognize his own daughter but vividly remembers his (mostly crappy) childhood as an orphan and ward of the state/church. When a body is found buried in a peat bog, his story finally comes full circle… after a fashion. I continue to enjoy this series. Fin is a bit of a jerk, but the other characters are good foils and relatable. This one also has plenty of local color and atmosphere, in this case some of the lower islands of the Hebrides. The structure was a little different, as the old man internally recalls the milestone events of his life, and that served the story well. However, I think the ending was a bit too neat and abrupt. The story overall tends towards bleakness, matching the stark landscape of the islands, so I will probably wait a while before reading the conclusion to the trilogy. Read 15-17 July.

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