First up another Daisy Dalrymple book by Carola Dunn - To Davy Jones Below.
This is probably a bit of a spoiler but anyone who's read any of the previous books in this series will not really be surprised to learn that Alec and Daisy are now newly married. Honeymoon over, they're inveigled into a trip to America so that Alec can help an American police force set up a new department. Daisy will take the opportunity to see her American publishers. They go by sea, and hope the voyage will be a nice relaxing time that they can spend together. They're joined by old friend, industrialist, Caleb Arbuckle, his daughter, Gloria and her new husband, Daisy's friend, Phillip Petrie. Also there is a business acquaintence of Arbuckle's, Jethro Gotobed and his new wife, ex-showgirl, Wanda. A storm hits halfway across the Atlantic and Alec has to take to his bed with sea-sickness. A man goes overboard, is saved, but foul-play is suspected. With Alec incapacitated it's left to Daisy to try and investigate. She finds it impossible to find any believable suspects but realises that Wanda is perhaps not what she seems. She's seen two men hanging around the ex-showgirl and when she discovers they might card-sharps her nose for a mystery is alerted. Eventually, Alec recovers enough to help her and together they set about trying to unravel the confusing facts. And then someone really is murdered...
Book nine of Daisy's adventures solving murders. This was not perhaps the best of the series so far - for me that would be Styx and Stones - but it was an enjoyable romp with a good list of quirky characters. Carola Dunn is very good at quirky characters, in my opinion, and it's one of the things that make her books well worth reading. I liked the fact that Daisy and Alec's relationship has moved on, they were very much the newlyweds in this one and for me that was fun and realistic. As always there was plenty of humour and a bit of realism - Daisy's friend, Lucy, insists she go to the new Marie Stopes contraceptive clinic to get sorted as she doesn't want to get 'preggy' (love that term) straight away. I love little details like that. All in all, another fun instalment of Carola Dunn's delightful series - as Daisy would say, 'Spiffing!'
Next, At Sea by Laurie Graham.
Enid and Bernard Finch have been married for over twenty years. He's an academic, an expert in the classics and together the two of them do cruises, Bernard giving talks on all things classical and Enid supporting him. Bernard sounds very English but is in fact an American. Enid, a minor member of the aristocracy and known as 'Lady' Enid, has had quite a loveless upbringing and gradually we learn that her marriage is more or less the same. Bernard is demanding in that he requires his ego to be constantly stroked but is not demanding emotionally or in the bedroom. One night at the beginning of the cruise one of the passengers claims to know Bernard from when he was a child. He claims Bernard is Willy Fink who lived in a small town in New York state: they were neighbours. Bernard denies any such thing but takes to their cabin at mealtimes and then fakes a throat infection. Enid realises Bernard is avoiding contact with this passenger, and also suspects her husband is not the man she thinks he is. What better tool to use to find out more than the world wide web? Having to fend for herself onboard ship, Enid begins her tranformation from 'innocent' to something else entirely...
I read about this book a week or two ago on Elaine's Random Jotting's post. It struck me that it sounded like a really fun read, I checked my local library and there it was, so I grabbed it. 'Fun' is the right way to describe this book. It does have a serious point to make, that of a woman trapped in a loveless marriage and not realising there's another way until circumstances force her into it. But the point is made with such a light touch you don't really realise you're being told about something that's really quite sad. Bernard is a brilliant creation, a self-centred ego-maniac who's been taking advantage of Enid's good nature for years. Her 'revenge' is wonderful as she discovers how caring ordinary people can be, that being a bit brash does not mean 'unkind', that the web can bring you back into contact with old friends, and that it is possible to discover the joys of sex at 55. I laughed my way through this as Enid so subtley puts Bernard in his place, time after time. Joyous. I shall certainly be picking up other books by this author and many thanks to Elaine for the recommendation.
Lastly, Blindsighted by Karin Slaughter.
Sara Linton is a paediatrician and medical examiner in the town of Heartsdale, Georgia. She's divorced from Jeffrey Tolliver, a local detective, he cheated on her but she still loves him and the feeling is mutual. Lunching with her sister, Tess, in the local diner, Sara goes to the ladies and discovers the brutally mutilated, murdered body of Sibyl Adams. Sibyl is the twin sister of a junior detective, Lena Adams, which further complicates the case for Jeffrey. Lena is awkward and prickly in the extreme, really she shouldn't be allowed anywhere near the case but Lena has other ideas. The investigating detectives have no idea why Sibyl has been the victim of this brutal murder - is it because she's a lesbian in a conservative area? Then a student from the local university campus goes missing. Again Sara discovers the body, pinned to the bonnet of her car. A serial killer is on the loose - who will be his next victim?
Well now, I wonder should I be concerned at my taste for these really quite shocking murder mysteries. This one was very gory, shocking, even sexually explicit. Very much in the vein of Tess Gerritsen and John Connolly to be honest... and I'm actually pleased to have discovered yet another author like them to read! The book was a real page-turner, I devoured it in just over a day, really not wanting to put it down at all. I liked the suspense aspect of course - edge of the seat stuff, especially the final few chapters. But also, I really liked Sara. She's independent, intelligent, not always easy to understand. She has something in her past which affects her badly and this is slowly revealed through the book. I also liked Jeffrey a lot, despite his indescretion. It was clear he was really a decent man, how much he regretted his mistake, and how much he wanted Sara back. Stick a bit of angsty romance in any book and I'm lost and gone forever. LOL. This book, as anyone will judge from what I've said, is NOT for everyone. Many will hate the graphic detail, the blood and the explicitness. If you're okay with that it's a 'must read'. If you're not, don't touch it with ten foot bargepole. Looking forward to reading more and have book 2 on reserve at the library.