First up, Postcard Killers By James Patterson and Liza Marklund.
Two psychotic killers are on a tour of Europe, killing attractive young couples, often newly-weds. Jacob Kanon is the father of one of the victims, Kimmy, killed in Rome. He is also an NYPD police detective and has been following their trail around various cities, but never quite catching them. They arrive in Stockholm and journalist, Dessie Larsson, becomes involved in the latest murder case having been sent a postcard by the killers. She and Kanon make an uneasy alliance as they investigate the murders and a game of cat and mouse ensues as they try to outwit these brutal killers.
I think this may be the first book I've read by James Patterson. Thus, it's hard for me to say whether I like him as an author because of course I don't know how much influence his Swedish co-author, Liza Marklund, had on the writing. I did find the style a little simplistic for my taste, I will say that. Having said that the plot sucked me right in, and the simple writing style doesn't half make the book a real roller-coaster of a read. I don't think this is the sort of book you read for good characterisation or deep thinking but as a quick, fun read it's fine and to be honest, I really quite enjoyed it, especially the Swedish element. I've always wanted to visit Stockholm and this book made me want to go even more.
Next, Gunpowder Plot by Carola Dunn.
Daisy is once again on one of her forays to a big country house. This time it's to Edge Manor in the Cotswolds and heavily pregnant Daisy is there to write an article on the impressive firework display they hold every year. As always there is tension in the family, the Tyndalls, and she soon finds herself embroiled in their problems... Daisy being the sort of person people talk to. It's not long before a dead body is discovered, two in fact... the owner of the house and head of the family, Sir Harold Tyndall, and one other. The circumstances are very odd and no-one can make head or tale of how this has happened and why. Enter Daisy's husband, DCI Alec Fletcher of Scotland Yard. Between the two of them, and Alec's junior officers, the wonderul Sergeant Tom Tring and DC Ernie Piper, he of the ever sharpened pencils, they eventually manage to sort the mess out.
I don't think there's been a bad instalment of these terrific Daisy Dalrymple books. They're always a fun read but never all that easy to guess whodunnit. I had it down to two and it was one of them but you can never be quite sure. This is book 15 as a matter of fact and Daisy is 6 months pregnant which is a nice development. Interesting to read a realistic account of what it feels like, and how pregnant women were perceived back then. These books are always a treat and I'm glad to still have 5 left to read with a new one out in November.
Lastly, my 7th. book for Carl's Once Upon a Time VII fantasy reading challenge and it's The Various by Steve Augarde.
Twelve year old Midge has been sent to Somerset to spend several weeks with her Uncle Brian. Her mother, a violinist with an orchestra, is off on tour and can't take Midge with her. Midge is resentful that she often comes second to her mother's job, but in actual fact has no problem with spending the summer holidays in such a beautiful area. Uncle Brian is an easy guardian and Midge finds she has the freedom to explore the countryside. On one expedition, to her shock and surprise, she finds an injured creature in an old barn, a creature that shouldn't exist - a miniature white horse, with wings. Midge nurses the magical creature, known as Pegs, back to health and returns him to the Royal Wood from whence he came. Here Midge is in for further shocks. Pegs is just one magical being amongst many. There are tribes of tiny fairy people here, wisps, dangerous flying hunters, farmers, and one tribe that lives underground. Midge has something to tell them. Her uncle is going to sell the land the wood is part of and it will probably be developed. The fairies will lose their home and must move. The tribes don't wish to hear this and most don't believe her anyway. They send her away but reality must be faced and Midge is the one human they know who might be able to help them. Midge knows this too, but there is a mystery to be solved here as well. Who is the mysterious Victorian girl whose photo is on the wall in the farmhouse? Did she also know about the fairies in the wood? Is *she* the key to solving the serious problem of where the tribes will go?
Well, this story is set in an area I know fairly well - that of the Somerset levels and the hills around about - because it's very close to where I live. The author has the area down to a tee; it's beautifully described and the atmosphere of a hot summer is almost tangible. It's worth reading for that alone, in my opinion. Aside from that though this is a story very well told indeed. The fairies in this book are not your cutesie Disney type fairies. They're real people with all kinds of normal traits, nastiness, jealousy, blood-lust, but also kindness and imagination. The children (Midge has two cousins who appear later in the book) are also your average 21st. century kids, not saints but not bad kids either. Although this *is* a fairy story it actually felt like something that could easily happen. I liked it an awful lot. It's book one in a trilogy in fact, the next book being called Celandine, and I've already reserved it from the library.