[Reviews] Going Through the Notions

A good first novel with a fun setting, even though the main character is presented inconsistently at times.

[Reviews] All the Pretty Hearses

Daheim has proven in the past that she can write great mysteries, but this particular one is a bit of a mess.

[Reviews] Whose Body

The first novel from the infamous Dorothy L. Sayers was good, but not good enough to explain her literary notoriety.

Unnatural Causes

"Unnatural Causes" is the third Adam Dalgliesh mystery from author P. D. James, who passed away in 2014 at the age of 94. Until her death, she was regarded as one of the most talented living mystery writers, and it's easy to see why that was the case.

"Unnatural Causes" opens with a strikingly written passage about a man who is found drifting in a boat, dead. Someone has taken the time to remove his hands, so it's a grim scene indeed, in spite of the beautiful descriptions.

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I actually rather like formulaic fiction, especially if the result is a good story. I like a dead body at the start of a mystery, which leads quickly into an investigation with a mild subplot that doesn't produce a slow in forward momentum. I like smart dialogue, clever but credible twists, and a sense of place. Mystery novels work best for me when they're comfortable escapes from a stressful world.

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Death of a Chimney Sweep

"Death of a Chimney Sweep" is the 26th book in a series, and I've read each one that preceded it. For that reason, I feel an attachment to the characters and setting that newer readers won't. Even so, I have to admit that the novel, like the ones that most recently preceded it, are lacking a certain something.

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Death of a Valentine

"Death of a Valentine" is another recent M. C. Beaton novel about Scottish police constable Hamish Macbeth. Sadly, the "recent" part of that description means that it's a bit of a disappointment, as the series seems to have lost its way at this point.

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