Thursday, 26 April 2018

A couple of crime titles

I'm having a slow reading month, lot going on, plus the non-fiction I'm currently reading, Something Sensational to Read in the Train by Gyles Brandreth (his diaries), is over 700 pages and taking me a while to read. I have managed to read a couple of crime yarns along with it though and these are they.

First up, The Three Evangelists by Fred Vargas:

A small tree has suddenly appeared in the garden of Sophia Siméonidis, a retired opera singer who lives in Paris. Her husband is not interested in listening to her concerns so Sophia turns to her new neighbours, three young men, Marc, Lucien and Mathias who have just moved into the wreck of a house nextdoor. They are all historians, plus there is Marc's godfather, Armand Vandoosler, an ex-policeman who left the police force under some sort of cloud, also living there. All of them are interested in Sophia's story, so they dig the tree up but there's nothing buried under it: it's a mystery but one that seems to be going nowhere. Until Sophia disappears. Has she run off with an ex-boyfriend or has something happened to her?

Fred Vargas is best known for her Commissaire Adamsburg series, set in France. The Three Evangelists is book one of another series of the same name, also set in France. I really enjoyed this quirky story of three historians trying to get to the bottom of this tricky mystery. Three historians... but what I learnt from this book is how much historians of different periods dislike each other. Of course it's probably good-natured dislike, but I wasn't always sure. In this book we had someone who specialised in prehistoric man, someone who specialised in the middle ages and someone who loved WW1. All very different characters and all very well drawn in my opinion. My favourite character though was the ex-policeman and godfather, Vandoosler, steering the investigation, offering advice and so on. The outcome was a real susprise too so that was an added bonus. Very impressed with Fred Vargas and her books and I already have two more on my library pile.

Lastly, Killing Grounds by Dana Stabenow.

Kate Shugak is working as a deckhand on The Freya, a fishing boat belonging to Old Sam, an elderly member of her tribe. It's salmon fishing time and the catch for all of the boats is very heavy this year. Then the fishermen go on strike as the price they're going to be paid drops by a penny a pound. One man continues fishing, Cal Meany, a man Kate had witnessed beating his son a few days before. Meany by name, Meany by nature... it seems the man is universally disliked for a lot of very shady goings on and no one is much surprised when his body is found dead and badly mutilated one morning. Kate has never before come across a murder case with so many suspects.

For my money there was just a bit too much detail about commercial fishing in this one. For anyone interested in the subject there probably wouldn't be, but I personally found myself skipping small sections. It was actually quite a while before the murder occurred too, easily a third of the way in, so I had that thing where I was constantly waiting for the body to turn up. Nevertheless there was, as always, a very strong sense of Alaska in this story. I enjoyed the 'fish camp' setting later on, the four elderly aunts are always inscrutable and thus a fun element. Not the strongest Kate Shugak instalment but the books are never less than readable.



Yvonne @ Fiction Books Reviews said...

I have one Dana Stabenow book on my 'Want To Read' shelf (A Cold Day For Murder) and I must admit that after reading just a few pages, it has been returned to the shelf for future reading, as I just couldn't get into it!

I have never read any Fred Vargas books, but this looks like another series I shall have to check out, thanks for sharing!

Have a great weekend and Happy Reading :)


Cath said...

Hi Yvonne, that first book in the series is not that great. I read through to the end, was unimpressed, wondered what all the fuss was about, and then didn't read another book in the series for 4 or 5 years. So I know exactly what you mean.

Fred Vargas is another matter though, I liked her books from the start, and this other series is a fun one.

Thank you... I did plan to have a quiet reading or jigsawing weekend but we had an unexpected visit from our niece yesterday, which was nice too. Hope you're enjoying your weekend and thank so much commenting, I appreciate it.

BooksPlease said...

I'm so glad you really enjoyed The Three Evangelists and I really must get going with it asap. I've borrowed a copy from the library, but I haven't read much more than the first chapter. My problem is that I want to read so many books - all at once!

And I haven't read another Stabenow book (I read the first one years ago and my reaction was much the same as yours) although I do keep looking at them in the library ...

Cath said...

Thanks, Margaret. The Three Evangelists is a fun read... as you already like Fred Vargas's writing so I suspect you'll enjoy it.

"My problem is that I want to read so many books - all at once!"

Exactly! I have a real problem with this as I stand and peruse my bookshelves. This book jumps out at me and that... so I make a pile of books I plan to read soon. A week later I change them, put one or two back, replace them with something else and so on and so on. This reading business is exhausting!

TracyK said...

Same problem here. I have too much that I want to read. I do want to read the first Dana Stabenow, then try another. I have read some of Vargas's books (the other series) and I do want to read more of them.

Cath said...

Tracy: I think Fred Vargas is my new favourite author... well perhaps my 2018 favourite, there might be another one next year. LOL!

KVS said...

A French friend recently introduced me to Fred Vargas and I read The Three Evangelists in French. It gave my dictionary quite a workout but that's how we learn, isn't it? I enjoyed the twists and turns and as well as the main characters. I have another one on my TBR shelf now.

KVS said...

Cath, a question for you: how best to reach you by email? If I may be so bold, I'd like to propose a book for you to review (mine.) The address on your profile unfortunately doesn't seem to be working. My email is Best regards, Keith.