I struggled a bit with Magpie Murders at the beginning. Because the beginning was about a murder in a book, there is a detachment that I felt with the story. It is very much a classic golden age of murder mysteries type of story at this point but without the charm that a lot of those writers possessed. Once the mystery was revealed that was happening in the actual world, the book got so much better. Horowitz’s writing style changed for the better and the book just worked. In the end, I ended up enjoying the book. I hate how the pages were numbered though.
First read in 2012
I loved rereading one of my favorite books again and during this reread I learned more about the details of each of the character’s lives. Still one of the strongest closing acts of any book I’ve ever read, the pacing is perfect.
I think that if you are a Veronica Mars fan than this book will appeal to you. I don’t think it has much to offer outside that niche market though. The story picks up a few months after the ending of the Veronica Mars movie but you really don’t need to know much of what happened in that to really understand this mystery. Basically, all you need to know is that Veronica is back in Neptune, and she’s helping run the private investigation business her Dad created. Logan is barely in this book at all and really if it wasn’t for all the background that we know about Veronica from the television show/movies, this would be a very shallow book.
Spring break is in full effect in Neptune and a girl disappears from a party. Veronica, through many channels and connections, ends up being the person hired to find out what happened to the young girl that is missing due to the incompetence of the Neptune police department. The majority of the book has Veronica visiting connected persons of interest to find out what happened. Things start to get even more serious when another girl ends up going missing. Yes, it is a rather simple plot that gets complicated at the end, but it delivers engagement.
This audiobook was probably a lot better than the actual book as the audiobook was narrated by Kristen Bell. Having the actual voice of Veronica telling me the story added a whole dimension to the story that really worked for me. The only thing is, taken as a whole, the story was forgettable; the story made no impact. When I finished, I couldn’t help but ask myself, “is that it?” I think this is a good library grab, deep discount grab, or a good overdrive download, but maybe keep your audible credit for something else.
12/25 Possible Score
3 – Plot
3 – Characters
2 – Setting
2 – Writing Style
2 – Heart & Mind Aspect
If I had to sum up this police detective murder mystery in one word it would be: quality. In the Woods by Tana French is such a high-quality book that I really enjoyed. I almost always gravitate towards either classic mystery or longer mystery books if I read in the genre. The reason I usually like to read longer mystery books is that they usually have more characterization between characters solving the crimes and In the Woods does this spectacularly. The two main detectives, Rob and Cassie, have pasts that influence how they perceive the present, and Tana French, with great skill, makes those past events really matter. When there is a drastic change in the character’s behavior, the reader can pinpoint the reason why they are acting strangely, giving the reader empathy for French’s characters.
Rob disappeared with his friends as a child and was the only one to be found. In the present, a young girl goes murdered in the same area where Rob disappeared many years before. The plot of this book is not complicated whatsoever but French writes the characters with such complexity that it makes the plot that much better. I had a great time reading this book. I wanted to find out more about our two detectives as much as I wanted to know the revelation of the killer. Rob and Cassie’s partnership and friendship is the highlight of the story for me. Both character’s baggage really comes into play with their friendship and it is something that feels very real to life. I love the Irish setting and I hope to read all of Tana French’s books now because she’s an excellent writer.
19/25 Possible Score
4 – Plot
5 – Characters
3 – Setting
4 – Writing Style
3 – Heart & Mind Aspect
The Maltese Falcon firmly sets detective noir hard-boiled fiction as a thing in 1930 and will influence the genre for years to come but the only problem is that with anything that is a first, it is hard to live up to the better books and movies to come. The story starts when a beautiful woman enters a private detective’s office in San Francisco and asks for his assistance in following a man. From there, a mysterious precious falcon statue is the center of every character’s greed and desire. The Maltese Falcon has no good guys, our main character isn’t a good guy, but he does live by a code. Sam Spade is definitely a type of anti-hero that makes these type of books so popular. The story is one about tricking everyone else and getting the falcon all for yourself.
I thought this story was just alright, at no point did I ever really become excited or particularly enjoy reading this book. Hammet’s writing was interesting and I really liked his vernacular that he used in his dialogue but there was a serious lack of description and depth. After reading this, it is no wonder that most of these hard-boiled detective novels end up being first person nowadays. Seeing the mysteries and crimes through the eyes of an individual just makes those novels feel more intense and urgent. This novel just didn’t really give that urgency that other mysteries have. If I didn’t read this for my book club, I would have been more disappointed in the result. As it is, I’m glad I read it, just to say I’ve read it, but I won’t think too highly of it. I do want to try The Thin Man at some point, as I believe that to be a possibly better novel. Overall, I think that sticking with newer writers when it comes to the hard-boiled detective is a better idea.
April ’17 library book club book.
Book 3 of the Cormoran Strike Series mixed up the equation some and gave us a serial-killer mystery with even the point of view of the killer at times. Did this work for me? Not really, but I loved the character growth of Robin and Cormoran. The story starts out with Robin receiving a package of a severed leg addressed to the office. This starts the mystery of who would do such a thing to provoke Cormoran? Cormoran whittles down the list of suspects who could be this new “Jack the Ripper” like serial-killer to three men. The majority of the book is Cormoran investigating these three men, all connected to Cormoran from the past. So right away this is a much different book than the previous Cormoran books.
The big differences between this book and the previous book are that we know that the killer is one of these 3 men, there is no crime scene to investigate, and the murders are personal towards Cormoran, and the actual murders themselves are from a serial killer that is motivated by a serial killer’s desire to kill. The point of view of the serial killer did nothing for me. I thought those parts of the book were written laughably bad and didn’t add much depth to the character. Knowing that the killer is one of three men made me really upset because I like to think of outside the box thinking about who the killer might be when reading murder mysteries. Not having a crime scene made it so that Robin and Cormoran had to go looking for information about the men from past acquaintances. I wasn’t too thrilled with this mystery at all and thought the previous books were much better mysteries.
Where this book really shined, was with the progression of Robin and Cormoran’s friendship and working relationship. More things happen between Robin and Cormoran and their connected people, in their lives, than the previous two books combined. My absolute favorite part was learning about Robin’s past. The surprise factor about Robin’s past was the biggest reveal in this book. Where I mainly read this series for Cormoran, I now have an invested interest in Robin. She has become my favorite character in this series, maybe. I would have to look to television to point out a male/female mystery pair that I like more than these two.
Anyway, sub-par mystery for me, but great character moments.
14/25 Possible Score
2 – Plot
4 – Characters
2 – Setting
3 – Writing Style
3 – Heart & Mind Aspect