Review: Jørn Lier Horst – Ordeal

norsk, Norwegian, nordic, crime, police, procedural, mystery, book, review, ordeal, mystereityOrdeal by Jørn Lier Horst

Jørn Lier Horst never fails to impress me, his William Wisting series draws you in with their intense and thrilling plots. A former police detective in Norway, his experience shows with how well crafted and realistic the story’s investigation plays out. In Ordeal, the cold case of a taxi driver missing for over 6 months has Wisting stumped, that is until a close friend tells him about a strange customer at her cafe who makes several comments that could be clues to the case. That starts Wisting on a journey encompassing illicit activities going back decades, the seemingly unconnected murder of a young woman, and daughter Line’s impending motherhood.

One of the things I love about this book (and the series) is how clean it is.  That isn’t to say I don’t enjoy a more complex story in other books, it’s just that I really appreciate how sleek and uncomplicated this series is. There’s no excess filler in the plot; it’s a straightforward police procedural with a minimum of extraneous details. And yet the stories never seem to suffer because of it; the labyrinthine plots just suck you in from the beginning.

I also like how Wisting and daughter Line work together but separately on cases; the unique symbiosis adds so much depth to the story and really highlights how close Wisting is to Line, and yet how distant their relationship is in a lot of ways.

Overall, another stellar book in the incomparable Wisting series, and I definitely recommend this series to any mystery lover.

 

Ordeal is available at book retailers or you can order a copy on Amazon

Review: Divining Murder

30077551Divining Murder by GM Cameron

A woman is found murdered in a ritualistic way, and the police have very information to go on.  The victim, a middle aged woman who left her husband to start a mysterious new life is found in an alley in Glasgow with multiple stab wounds.   Shortly after the murder, Andromeda (Annie to her friends)  spies a man at a Glasgow train station whose aura is clearly evil.  After leaving an anonymous tip for the police, they trace the tip back to her, and with no other information to go on, begin to investigate what she saw.   It soon becomes apparent that Annie is the key to unraveling the mystery and stopping a man bent on evil.

I’m a sucker for paranormal mysteries, and I’m a sucker for Scottish mysteries, so I had pretty high expectations just from reading the blurb.  And it was (for the most part) an excellent mystery, with a taut plot, great characters and lots of magic.

The plot was really well done; a great premise that grew and spiraled as the book went on, wth an action packed ending.  I liked that there were actually 3 teams working on the mystery separately, it was  a great way to integrate new information.  So there was Annie and her friends,  the victim’s ex-husband, friend and her sister (who is a nun) plus the police.  And – you won’t believe this –  every time the amateurs found out new information they – get ready for this – called the police and told them of their findings!  Amazing, right?

I really enjoyed all the characters, from bohemian Annie to angsty punker Doll to soft-hearted thug Mick, they were a likable crew.  I have to say, out of all the characters, the cops were the most confusing to me.  I lost track of who was who, outside of Angela and Donnelly.

What kept me from rating this 5 stars (because it really was a great book) was a couple of things.  For one, it was predictable.  I knew what was going to happen at the end before I was a third of the way through the book.  I kept reading, hoping I was wrong but no, it’s like I’m psychic or something.  Also, this book went on way too long, a little editing would’ve tightened up the story and made it a lean, mean, mystery machine.

Overall, a great mystery and perfect for anyone who loves Tartan Noir or witches or magic.

SPOILER behind the tag: Continue reading “Review: Divining Murder”

Review: Breakdown

25892497Breakdown by Jonathan Kellerman

#31 in the Alex Delaware series, Breakdown is a story of mental health issues, secrets, lies and murder.

Alex is called one day to treat a woman who was put on a mental health hold (5150).  He is told that she asked for him; Alex, however, never treated her, but did treat her son for a short period a few years prior.

Drawn into helping the woman, who later turns up dead from ingesting a poisonous plant, Alex, along with homicide detective Milo, works to solve her murder and find her missing son.

I couldn’t put the book down, it was so good.  Usually, Kellerman novels get bogged down in the middle, but not so with this one.  The plot was steady through the book, and the ending was just right, apprehending the suspects through police work, not a car chase shoot ’em up climax.

For me, the only detraction in this story is that a few of the themes have been used in earlier books in the series.  Which isn’t really much of a criticism; after all, the main character is a psychologist so I’m not terribly surprised that some topics may be recycled.   Still, the plot was riveting and complex and very enjoyable.

Lots of characters in this one, but it’s not difficult to keep them straight.  I loved the Chet Brett character (“You know the little mermaid statue? I made that.”) made me giggle, In fact, the characters are what draws me to this series; always well-drawn, they are easy to relate to and likeable.

This book can be read as a stand-alone; there are a few references to prior books but would not confuse a first time reader.  This is one of my favorite series, though, so I do recommend reading the whole series.

 Breakdown can be purchased at any book retailer, or you can get your copy at Amazon

Review: Holy Island

24273148Holy Island by LJ Ross

In Holy Island, DCI Ryan is on temporary leave from his job as a homicide detective after a traumatic incident and holes up on an island off the north-east coast of England.  A few months into his leave, an islander turns up at Ryan’s cottage; she has found a young woman dead in the ruins of a priory.  Not long after, 2 more people are found dead and Ryan is thrown into a dark world of ritual sacrifice, small town lies and long buried secrets.

 Whew, after reading several cozy mysteries in a row, I was a little unprepared for the long slog getting through a real mystery.

Not that this book was boring in any way; the labyrinthine plot was well paced and bewildering.  This was one of those books where I kinda figured early on that I probably wouldn’t solve this one on my own and that I was just along for the ride.

I loved the island location, it’s almost a classic mystery theme and it worked well with this story.  Yeah, it made some aspects predictable, but it still fit well in the story.

This is one of those books where everyone has a tortuous back story and, if you’re anything like me, you get impatient waiting for the story to stop tiptoeing around everything and spit it out.  Most of the details of Ryan’s past didn’t come out until a good 3/4 of the way through the book.  No, if you’re going to set up such a detailed back story, you should really disclose it a lot sooner than it was.  Ugh.

Overall, Holy Island was a solid story, and one I recommend for any British mystery lover.

Holy Island is available at most book stores, or get the Kindle edition at Amazon