Year of Mysteries

I haven’t posted in about six months, in part due to work commitments and in part because my reading between late January and early June consisted almost entirely of mystery series, and I find it hard to review multiple books in the same series (and frankly didn’t think it would be that interesting). But I’m at least somewhat over this aspect of my pandemic reading–I do have a few left in some of the series I started, and a potential new fun series–and so am getting back to blogging.

I did really enjoy several of the series I read, and I found a lot of comfort in sticking with familiar characters and reading books with a guaranteed resolution. One of the series I read in full (except for the latest, which just came out) was the Ruth Galloway series by Elly Griffiths, which starts with The Stone Circle. Ruth Galloway is an archaeologist in Norfolk–a forensic archaeologist, but not a CSI-style one, one who does archaeological digs and studies ancient remains. But she gets called in by the local police on occasion, mostly to determine whether a body is old or new, and, of course, gets pulled in to the crime-solving. Ruth and the lead police officer, DCI Nelson, are not flashy TV cops; they are both middle-aged, a little grumpy, and flawed, but nonetheless likeable. This series appealed to me because I definitely felt some kinship with Ruth, but also because I enjoyed the archaeological angle, the setting in Norfolk, and a set of interesting but believable characters. I don’t love that almost every book finds Ruth in a life-threatening situation–at some point it became hard to suspend disbelief on that–but the good thing about a series is that as long as there is at least one more book, you can be pretty sure the main character lives. I have already bought the one that just came out (The Night Hawks), and Griffiths has another coming out later this year. Griffiths also has a couple of other book series, none of which I have read yet.

I also read quite a few of Deborah Crombie’s Duncan Kincaid/Gemma Jones series. This one is also set in the UK, but in London, and Kincaid and Jones are more of the younger, dashing types than Galloway and Nelson. The series starts with A Share in Death, which focuses primarily on Kincaid, a Scotland Yard superintendent; his sergeant, Jones, makes a few appearances. I liked the books that followed better, in part because they feature more of the Kincaid/Jones combo, but also because A Share in Death almost feels like a historical mystery–Kincaid goes on a holiday to a small hotel, and one of the guests is murdered–but it is set in the present day. Something about it felt a little off to me. But the books that follow–I read about ten of them–have better plots, and I think the pace is better when both Kincaid and Jones are involved. There are quite a few more books in the series, but while I enjoyed reading these, my interest petered out. I might come back to these in the future, though.

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