#13 Year-end wrap-up: Read Something Good in 2019
So the dark, cold days of December being a reason to drink apple cider and bourbon, eggnog with bourbon and pretty much anything else with bourbon is also a reason to Read, Read , Read.So what's been in front of my eyes since late summer? Several new books from a favorite author William Shaw are worthy of your reading time. "Sympathy for the Devil" is the fourth Breen & Tozer police procedural in a series that places these two police officers in Swingin'London of the mid-1960s, the times of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. It's 1969 and Brian Jones body is mysteriously found in his swimming pool and a prostitute, Julie Teenager, is found horribly murdered in her apartment elevator shaft. Cathal "Paddy" Breen is working the second case while his girlfriend, Helen Tozer, is in her ninth month of pregnancy and very frustrated that she can't be out doing police investigation, especially in the first case.The story captures the times most vividly as drugs, rock 'n roll lead to fame, money and sordid living.
A second book in a second series that Shaw has going is also a winner. "Salt Lane" is the first in series that presents Detective Sergeant Alex Cupidi transferred for cause from the Metropolitan Police in London to the southern coast near Kent. She was introduced in "The Birdwatcher" which is excellent but really comes into her own in this book. Her teen daughter is still not in love with rural England and Alex's strong-willed mother has moved down to help out. A drowning of a foreign man in a slurry tank is deemed a murder that sends Cupidi and her rookie constable Jill Ferriter into illegal, migrant laborers working in orchards and farms. A second murder resurrects some of Cupidi's past mistakes and liaisons to offer her help.
Another series that I enjoyed these past months are the three books by LA author Joe Ide that introduce and develop Isaiah Quintabe, a 26 year old black man living and working in East Long Beach. The three books--IQ, Righteous and Wrecked- are a unit as IQ works as a private detective in his community accepting ugly sweaters, live chickens, whatever his neighbors can pay to solve petty and big crimes and losses. IQ works by observing what others miss and by logically thinking through the facts and conjecture. He lost his older brother in a traffic accident and as the three novels develop, he investigates this as a murder while he gains a partner, Dodson, and a female friend. This is a series not to be missed by lovers of Sherlock Holmes and Watson..
Two standalone novels that I enjoyed are "The Dark Lake" by Sarah Bailey and "The Bomb Maker" by Thomas Perry. Bailey's debut is set in the Australian Outback about 4 hours from Sydney in a well-established agricultural community, Smithson. A body is discovered in a lake near the high school where a popular drama teacher debuted a play based on Romeo & Juliet.The body is the teacher, Rosalind Ryan, who was a very glamorous and successful student at the high school 10 years before.And investigating the murder is Detective Sergeant Gemma Woodstock, who was a classmate and admirer of Ryans back in the day. Suspects are plentiful both from the past and the present as DS Woodstock works through a very uncomfortable case.
Perry's "The Bomb Maker" is a stunner as an un-named man creates incredibly complicated mixes of chemicals to build huge bombs and plants them around Los Angeles. His first effort kills 7 of 14 members of the police bomb squad and he has many other locations, ways to hide, control and detonate bombs in the valley. Complicating his work is his unexplained alliance with an un-named terrorist cell that wants to attack LA. Combatting this is a free-lance investigator who is brought back by the LAPD to manage the bomb squad and forms more than a working alliance with a young woman who is on the squad. Characterization may suffer somewhat but if one wants very high octane adventure and massive information on making and dismantling bombs that can take down square miles, this is the book. Happy New Year! and Happy Reading.