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Book Check

October 3, 2012

Since I’m headed for the library later today, I figured it was time for an update on what I’ve been reading.  As usual, it’s been kind of a mixed bag.

The Red Door by Charles Todd, the pseudonym of a mother and son writing team, is the 12th in a series following Inspector Ian Rutledge, a Scotland Yard detective in the years following World War I.  Rutledge goes through his paces while dealing with the aftereffects of his experiences in the war, including hearing the voice of a soldier killed under his command.  There’s a spoiler there that I won’t reveal – you’ll just have to read the books to find out!  In this book, Rutledge is drawn into investigating the disappearance of a famed author and finds it linked to the murder of a woman in a small town who had been waiting for her own husband to return from the war several years before.  It’s an interesting look into the culture of post-war England in a time when appearances and manners still mattered very much in the world.

Linda Fairstein’s Night Watch returns us to the world of New York District Attorney Sex Crimes chief Alexandra Cooper, this time involving her restauranteur boyfriend, a murder in the small town in France in which he lives and works, and a corresponding murder back in New York.  The sex crime in this book is somewhat of an afterthought, not really essential to the larger mystery of the murders, drug deals and Alex’s romantic troubles.  We see the usual cast of characters including Alex’s police pals and her rivals at the DA’s office.  This one was kind of a lag in the broad scheme of the series and tended to feel more like an adventure-romance than a real mystery.

I’m still finishing up The Skeleton Box by Bryan Gruley, set in small northern Michigan town of Starvation Lake.  The lake is a real place in Kalkaska County, but of course the people and events are fictionalized by the author.  The main character is Gus Carpenter, a newspaper reporter who has returned to town after a stint in the Detroit area working for the “Detroit Times”, supposedly the rival newspaper to the actual Detroit Free Press.  In this third book in the series, Gus becomes involved in investigating a series of break-ins around town, the latest of which has ended in the death of one of his mother’s long-time friends.  Ultimately, Gus discovers ties to the long-ago disappearance of a local nun and possible wrongful conviction of the man accused of her murder.  His mother is forced to give up secrets she has held since she was a young girl and the local newspaper Gus runs is being shut down by its parent company.  Everything is topsy-turvy as usual, but Gus muddles through, despite the obstacles thrown in his path and the ones he builds for himself.

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