Friday 13 January 2017

A couple of crime titles

My first book reviews for 2017 are two crime stories from series that I started last year or have been reading for a couple of years. Nice to start the year with two reliable authors.

Monastére in the Provence region of southern France is an exclusive hotel converted, as the name suggests, from an old monastry. A large selection of guests has descended including an art dealer, a businessman accompanied by a young woman who is not his wife, a film maker with an American actress in tow and a six strong painting group made up of sundry American, English and French amateur artists. Part of the hotel is home to a famous eccentric artist, Vilotte, known as The Master and practically all of these people plan to see him and talk to him at some stage. After a few days DCI Daniel Jacquot is called in to investigate the disappearance of the woman who accompanied the businessman. There is blood all over her bed but no sign of her anywhere. Jacquot is told not to assume a murder and to quietly look into the situation... in other words to not put out the noses of the important guests. This of course is much easier said than done, especially as Jacquot is not particularly inclined to follow these orders...

Excellent that my second book of 2017 is one I didn't want to put down. This is my second Daniel Jacquot book and both of them have been like this. I can't decide whether it's the quality of the writing, the glorious setting or the fact that the mystery was so good... a bit of all three I think. I had no idea until close to the end who had done what and to whom. And as with the first book there was a nice little twist at the end. There's a bit of romance which works well as it doesn't overpower the story at all and feels 'real' in that there are misunderstandings and difficulties and so on. There are nine books in this series and I'd like to read them all this year. I think the timeline meanders a bit and it's not clear which order the first three or four should be read in but as long as it's not crucial I don't mind that too much. Good series.

Next, Blood Will Tell by Dana Stabenow

It's October in Alaska, Kate Shugak's favourite time of year. She's looking forward to stocking up for the winter and her plan is helped when a moose appears on her land... she shoots it for her larder. The unexpected arrivel of her grandmother, Ekaterina Shugak, is a blessing as she then has help to butcher and store the animal. It takes three days to do this and it's only then that 'emaa' tells Kate why she's there. She's head of the Niniltna Native Association and two of their members have just died... both of them likely to vote with her on a new development project that will affect the local native population. The last thing Kate wants to is leave her cabin to spend weeks in Anchorage. But it's tne annual convention of the Alaska Federation of Natives and her grandmother is sure that Kate could use it to investigate and discover whether the deaths were accidental or something else. Despite her unwillingness, Kate, naturally, has no real choice in the matter... emaa always gets her way.

This is another instalment where we learn more about Kate's Indian roots. The series seems to be split into plots that are either mainly crime based like A Cold Blooded Business where Kate is out on an oilfield or, like this one, Blood Will Tell, where we learn an awful lot about how things actually are for subsistence level natives just trying to hang onto their own land. Plus, how all the various factions in Alaska really work and whose interests they have at heart (their own). To be honest it's a bit disheartening although this book was written 20 years ago so maybe things are better now. Faint hope I suppose. Anyway, as always I enjoyed this, book 6, of the series. There's always such a fabulous sense of place, unsurprisingly as Dana Stabenow lives in the state so knows of what she speaks. The two deaths are almost in the background of this story as we learn about politics in Alaska and watch as Kate deals with her boyfriend, Jack's, fight to hang on to full custody of his son. Not my favourite in the series so far but a jolly good read nevertheless.

Blood Will Tell is my 1st. book for Bev's Mount TBR 2017 challenge.



Kay said...

Glad to hear you enjoyed these reads, Cath. I'm not familiar with the first series, but will have to see if I can get it. Sounds promising. I know I've read the Shugak book you mentioned - years ago likely. Remember nothing about it at all. I do like that series, but it's been a long time since I read any of the books. I need to see where I left off. I so enjoyed meeting Dana Stabenow last spring. Felt very fangirl-ish. LOL

BooksPlease said...

It's good to start the year with books you enjoy! I must have missed your post about Daniel Jacquot's first book, as I don't know of his books. I sounds as though I would enjoythem.

I read Kate Shugak's first book four years ago and have been meaning to read more of her books since then, ha! Too many books, too little time :)

TracyK said...

Two very interesting reviews. I have been meaning to read that series by Dana Stabenow for years now. That is the problem with having too many books. I haven't heard much about the Martin O'Brien series but it does sound good. I will keep an eye out for those books.

Cath said...

Kay: I hadn't heard of the Jacquot series either until Elaine at Random Jottings recommended them. Really glad I gave them a try. I'm still so jealous that you met Dana Stabenow. I follow her on Facebook and she posts some amazing photos of Alaska.

Margaret: I didn't know the Jacquot books either, just never heard of them until Elaine mentioned them. Yes, I do actually think you might like them... they're so well written and a nice sense of place.

I did the same with the Kate Shugak books, read book 1 and then no more for years. Then my son-in-law started reading them and I was curious as to why he liked them so much. I see now.

Tracy: Oh yes, I know the problem of having too many books... if I could stop buying new ones the pile might go down a bit. LOL... like that's going to happen.

Yvonne @ Fiction Books Reviews said...

Hi Cath,

I have the first book in the Kate Shugak series 'A Cold Day For Murder'.

However, although I have published a couple of promotional posts, I haven't been able to get into the story enough to get past the first few pages.

I am not a quitter on a book though, so I shall revisit this author in the future and work my way into the character's psyche, especially as so many of my blogging circle seem to rate it quite highly.

Thanks for sharing this great start to your challenge, a good 'A' entry :)


Cath said...

Hi Yvonne. The trouble with A Cold Day For Murder is that it's not as good as subsequent books. I read it four or five years ago and was not inspired to read any more after that. It was my son-in-law enjoying them so much which made me wonder if I was missing something, so I went back to them and found book 2, 3, 4 etc. much more interesting. Luckily A Cold Day For Murder is not a long book so you may be able to whip through it quickly if you do decide to give it another go.