Friday, July 16, 2010

BOOK: Death in the Truffle Wood, Birds of a Feather, August Heat

A little collection of mysteries that I've been speeding through this summer.

Birds of a Feather by Jacqueline Winspear, 309 pages

1930s Mini-Challenge; Thrillers and Suspense Challenge; 2nds Challenge

Continuing mystery series review:
Give a brief summary of the book:
Maisie is asked to locate the missing daughter (34 years old!) of a business tycoon. While searching for her, she discovers another crime that may be related to the daughter.Maisie's assistant, Billy Beale, is having some problem still from his wounded leg.
The time period, 1930s between the war, and the setting of London are rich. For the reader, knowing that WW2 is looming, makes the effects still left from WW1 so  poignant. I like watching Maisie analyze others when her life is a mess now as well.
She's no Poirot, with her reliance on psychology, and empathy and trying to 'feel' the dead person's presence and state of mind, but Maisie gets the job done, in an unorthodox manner.
Additional Thoughts on the Series:
There is lots of room for Maisie's growth. She is worried about people around her, and spends time trying to understand their motives - the next few books should begin to focus a bit more on Maisie. Bring them on.

also reviewed: lesley at lesley's book nook,  kailana at the written world, joy at thoughts of joy, booklogged at a reader's journal, wordlily,

 Death in the Truffle Wood by Pierre Magnan, 200 pages

Thriller and Suspense Challenge; Summer in Paris

Hippies are disappearing in the truffle woods of Provence, and Commissaire Laviolette is sent in to quietly investigate.This is the first in the Laviolette series to be translated (written in 1978, number 2 of 9 in the series, translated in 2005.)

It took me a while to get into this mystery. I think it is supposed to be funny or farcical, but it didn't tickle my funny bone for quite a while. Maybe I'm not familiar enough with the French sensibility? I think some of my problems with the book may have been the translation - too many pronouns so that I had no idea which 'he' was being referred to although maybe that was part of the mystery in French as well. So, the first half of the book was perhaps purposely oblique and confusing. However, I enjoyed the second half, once I met Laviolette and he started working and living in the small village. The characters started to stand out a bit more, and I ended up enjoying my stay in Provence. The first book read in a series can be an adjustment, getting to know how the detective works.The mystery moved quickly and resolved itself with a few twists, but was explained logically.
also reviewed: lost in booksboston bibliophile,

August Heat by Andrea Camilleri, 277 pages

Thrillers and Suspense Challenge;
continuing mystery series book #10

Give a brief summary of the book:
Salvo finds a house for friends of Livia who want to vacation on Sicily. They arrive with their young son, a bit of a handful. Searching for him one day as he has disappeared, Salvo comes across a murdered body. The family, and Livia leave the house, with Salvo left to deal with the crime and the heat. It's a scorcher on Sicily.

Salvo is particularly cranky in the heat, and deals with it his own way, often stripping naked and going for a swim, or finding relief in his office beside a fan. The food, the interactions with colleagues, especially Catarella who butchers the language, the footnotes by translator Sartarelli, and Sicily - another great outing with Camilleri.

Again, Salvo is distracted if Livia is not beside him, and blames her for all their fights, well, eventually he realizes his part in them.  He is too easily attracted to women, and his midlife crisis makes him susceptible. So, still, Salvo's treatment of women is bothering me. But that's about it.

Additional Thoughts on the Series:
The Wings of the Sphinx is the only other translated book available right now; The Track of Sand will be released in October 2010. Keep up the excellent translation, Sartarelli!