The Calendar Mysteries #1
AzureSky Press, January 2015
Arminta (Misty) Wilcox watches a soldier fall off a landing near the train depot in Kansas City, and a man claiming to be a sheriff from a nearby Kansas town accuses her of pushing the man. This is in 1899. The West Bottoms is a dirty, dusty area filled with railroad tracks, shanties, and manufacturing plants. Nineteen-year-old Minty lives some blocks away on Quality Hill and is out seeking employment after attending business college.
We follow Minty through hilarious misadventures as the spunky young lady goes to great lengths to clear her name and find out what happened to the soldier. In the process, she experiences a budding romance with a young private investigator. At the same time, we learn what Kansas City was like at the turn of the century, its layout and people. The author did extensive research in order to authentically portray the dress, manners, occupations, and mores of the various social strata as well as descriptions of the buildings and businesses.
In the first book of this new cozy mystery series, bullheaded Minty’s humorous escapades keep us engaged. The characters and setting jump off the pages and pull us into Kansas City as it was in 1900.
Reviewed by Joyce Ann Brown, November 2015.
Author of cozy mysteries: Catastrophic Connections and Furtive Investigation, the first two Psycho Cat and the Landlady Mysteries.
The Beige Man
An Irene Huss Investigation Set in Sweden #7
Translated from the Swedish by Marlaine Delargy
Soho, February 2015
This is the 7th and newest in the series featuring Inspector Irene Huss, head of the Violent Crimes Unit of the Goteborg police in the west of Sweden and former jujitsu champion more than 20 years ago (now past 40). It is February, and they have been enduring a very harsh winter (not unexpectedly). As the story opens, the police are in hot pursuit of a BMW automobile which had been reported stolen. As the policemen are chasing the car, they witness that same car as it hits a pedestrian, sending him crashing into the ground before it continues to speed along the roadway, leaving its victim lying where he landed. Ultimately, the ensuing investigation reveals that the dead man was a retired police officer known to most of the cops looking for the killers. And things only get worse from there: Shortly after this episode, the body of a young girl, perhaps twelve or thirteen years old, is discovered in a root cellar a short distance away, the body apparently having been there for several months.
Her colleagues are still Superintendent Sven Andersson [62 and seriously overweight, with high blood pressure and asthma, now something of a lame duck, as he was about to move to the Cold Case Squad], and Tommy Persson, and Hanna Rauhala, with whom she was frequently partnered.
The story lines alternate between the crime-solving and Irene’s personal life, itself very interesting. Her home life centers around her gourmet chef husband and her twin daughters, now 19 years old and about to begin independent lives (always a challenge for the about-to-be empty-nest parents), and her mother, Gerd (77 years old and becoming more frail) and her 82-year-old significant other, Sture.
As the investigation proceeds, there are indications that sex slavery is involved, and the Human Trafficking Unit joins the hunt. The head of that unit offers “The fact is that human trafficking today turns over more money than the narcotics trade.” The investigation takes Irene to Tenerife, where the body count rises precipitously. She is told “the demand from the clients rules the market. . . If they’re ready to pay, then everything is for sale, and I mean everything.”
I loved the tip-of-the-hat given to the late Ed McBain and his 87th Precinct tales. The plot is somewhat complex, but no less interesting for that, and the writing is very good.
Reviewed by Gloria Feit, October 2015.