I recently read and reviewed a mystery novel I enjoyed called “Murder at the Brightwell”,(Ashley Weaver,Minotaur 2014) featuring a spirited socialite named Amory Ames. It was set primarily in an upscale seaside resort hotel in 1930’s England and the dialogue was cracking …sort of Nick and Nora Charles–witty. The reason I am writing this post is because I am actually quite confused with a review I read in Publishers Weekly–“….the affable Amory could carry a series, though plausibly involving her in future murder cases will require some imagination.” Wait–huh? Somebody should have spoken to Madame Christie before she wrote twelve novels featuring a elderly spinster with a hankering for solving murders…and knitting. This has sent me pondering on the nature of the amateur sleuth ( not including the P.I. or police consultant ) The book stores are full of them; bakers, knitters, cake makers, Jane Eyre, librarians, cat lovers, cats, basket weavers (okay, not really sure about that one) decorators,dog lovers, dogs , etc.—all solving murders! I am not saying I am a fan of all these books but I am saying that the idea of any amateur sleuth is probably a stretch. I sincerely hope I never come across a single murder in my life, to say nothing of double digits. I am thinking now of Alan Bradley’s brilliant series featuring eleven-year-old Flavia de Luce; a child who has solved at least six murders (did I mention she’s eleven-years-old). Bradley writes so well she is almost believable.
So what is my point? How about this….Amateur sleuth series…you like them or you don’t, they’re good or they’re not, but plausible, credible, believable—-probably not most of the time.
And don’t have dinner with Jessica Fletcher.
A MURDER MYSTERY
This is a delightful murder mystery reminiscent of the work of Agatha Christie and primarily set in an upscale British seaside resort during the 1930’s. Lots of fun characters (suspects?) and a dead body or two, along with some complicated relationships, amateur sleuthing and a few interesting subplots — what more could a fan of the British cozy mystery want? The witty banter between husband and wife, Amory and Milo, is more Nick and Nora Charles than Christie but their relationship is a little more complicated. Five years earlier Amory chose to marry the cad over the gentleman– and wouldn’t you know it–both are at the Brightwell (one by design and one by surprise) I sincerely hope that this is the first in a series because I just want MORE. I am already casting the characters, in my head, for the film version. Wonderful book.
Mystery——First in a series, the fourth book is set to be released in February 2012
I have loved this series since I read the first book (THE CROSSING PLACES) and I believe the series has improved with each book. Ruth Galloway is a university lecturer and a forensic archeologist. She is almost forty, a wee bit overweight, and she lives at the edge of a salt marsh in Norfolk U.K.–a lonely existence that she believes suits her just fine. She is called in by the police to investigate when the bones of a child are uncovered. The police are sure that they will belong to a young girl who went missing almost ten years earlier. But no; Ruth determines that the bones belong to a child from the iron age, 2000 years earlier.
I love historical mysteries but this is a contemporary mystery that still gives me some historical enlightenment. And the characters are great. DCI Harry Nelson is more complex than he seems at first and there is also a Pagan priest and Ruth’s Nordic mentor.The characters develop with each installment. This novel is the perfect cross between a thriller and a who-done-it.
The other books presently available are THE JANUS STONE—-(2009) and THE HOUSE AT SEA’S END (2010)
This is a mystery series that I highly recommend!