Category Archives: Mystery

Madness of Crowds: You Can’t Read This in a Covid Wave

So the opening pages of Louise Penny’s Madness of Crowds features the relief of our beloved Inspector Gamache at the end of Covid. The vaccines have saved the day and Covid is eradicated. Onwards to hugs and shared food and no masks and no complicated decisions about coughs. I started the book in January 2022 and immediately threw it across the room.

I tried again while on holiday and was able to suspend my heartbreak on the state of Covid in the world and to instead play speculative fiction of What If and then go with Penny on that journey.

What follows then is a regular Inspector Gamache book where I should probably stop reviewing them because they are all sort of the same: great descriptions of food, long meditations on Gamache’s kindness/deep scars from making hard decisions, cameos from the Three Pines villagers etc. It’s good and fine and exactly the sort of book I wanted to read on the beach, but besides the post-Covid-not-actually-post-Covid part nothing stand out. So sure, read it, don’t read it, but probably you should read Cloud Cuckoo Land instead.

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Filed under Canadian Literature, Fiction, Mystery

State of Terror: Such Fun and Why Not Now

Guys you need something fun. You need something that makes fun of Trump and has little dashes of totally unreasonable and ill founded hope and goodness. Louise Penny can be counted on for these qualities, and when the novel is co-authored with Hillary Clinton… well, it’s just fun.

State of Terror follows the barely fictionalized Secretary of State for the President just following President Dunn (the Trump stand in) as she tries to thwart a nuclear attack on the United States. It attempts to Seriously Grapple with the ethics of preemptive strikes, of torture, of the relative moral standing of the US in the world, and while it does dabble in those themes, it does it in the most gentle of ways. With mere seconds on the bomb left to tick down the anxiety never ratchets far: we know we are in safe hands.

And with a cameo from Inspector Gamache and plenty of descriptions of delicious food, we know that the primary pen here must be Penny, but with plot credit going to the presidential nominee.

I paid so many dollars in late fines for this one (it was a ‘quick read’ and while it *is* a quick read, my life is a hellish landscape of email and toddler snacks) and it was worth it. Even more so because Guelph is doing away with late fines in 2022 and so I may as well give them all my $ now.

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Filed under American literature, Bestseller, Canadian Literature, Fiction, Mystery

40 Words for Sorrow: 🙁

After enjoying No Such Creature so much I got the first in the Cardinal detective series by Canadian crime writer (as the internet calls him) Giles Blunt. Four or five pages in I got worried: the murder victim is a young indigenous woman in a remote northern community. Okay, I think, so much crime fiction is about murdering young women and splashing their bodies about, let’s see where this goes. No where good. The detectives talk about how the “Indian” community is “different” and “not like us” and drops in Windigo stories and haunting spirits. Granted the novel pivots to killing other non-indigenous characters (men, too!), but the initial dive into the detective and the community is one of stereotypes and racist tropes. And then also that ugly women are destined to be unloved, unloveable and consequently MURDERERS. Sooooo… pass.

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Filed under Canadian Literature, Fiction, Mystery

No Such Creature: Win #Win Win

Guys. Folks. Folx. PEOPLE. Giles Blunt’s No Such Creature is so good!

[What if I stopped writing in sentences and paragraphs and just did the whole post in hashtags because no one reads anymore (which I get is an ironic complaint when you’re reading a blog post about reading a book and so clearly you are someone who reads and I’d argue reads too much if you’re reading This? I DIGRESS). So here’s my attempt: #suspense #mystery #literary #fiction #men #actors]

Oh I already want to weep. Like how do the people tolerate themselves with all the ###.

Right, so here we go in round two:

I came to Giles Blunt by accident. Camping with all the family mum realized she’d already read her book and so we swapped. She ended up with something too on the nose about the 1918 pandemic (#why) and I found myself with Giles Blunt’s No Such Creature. And I thought, okay, camping book, fine fine. And then! What fun! What a romp! What great writing! More exclamations!

Following Max and his great-nephew Owen as they traipse around the country pulling off elaborate heists, the novel is as much about familial belonging and love as it is about the tense moments of robbery. No, it’s more about that. It’s about what we do out of guilt, out of commitment and out of love. It asks readers to imagine new constellations of family all while packing a steady pace of drama and intrigue. There are scenes of toes being cut off layered next to poignant scenes of childhood loss and grief. It’s a marvel!

There’s nothing provocative or political about the book – except maybe some out-of-wedlock-sex? #hahaha – and depending on where you’re at right now that may be a #win or a #loss. It’s really just two white men getting away with crimes so #theworld #shrug

Honestly. Closing weeks of summer this one is just #fun. We’re headed to the cottage next week and I just ordered the first in Blunt’s more popular and well feted Cardinal series. So stay tuned for more #enthusiasm from me if the series proves as delightful as this standalone contribution.

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Filed under Fiction, Mystery