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Harry Bingham, TALKING TO THE DEAD

Welsh Detective Constable Fiona Griffiths is the protagonist in this highly entertaining start to this series by Bingham. Fiona is a complex character with a troubled and mysterious past who knows how to tell a wonderful story while dealing with her personal demons. In this book she is investigating the death of a prostitute and her young daughter. The dogged, Cambridge-educated, Griffiths senses that there is more to this than the usual violence that surrounds prostitution. Her investigation leads to a millionaire who might or might not be dead, and to a host of sinister activities.

I have read all six titles in this series and found each to be very good, but I would recommend starting with this novel and working you way through the rest. That way you can most fully appreciate the development of Fiona’s character. I look forward to reading the seventh in the series as soon as it comes out.

Tana French, THE TRESPASSER

Tana French has a distinctive writing style that you will either love or hate. Many love it, and I am one of them. Every gesture, every expression, and every slight alteration in tone of voice has significance, and her protagonists live in a world where deciphering these signals is essential for solving the case, and sometimes even surviving.

In this novel Detective Antoinette Conway is part of the Murder Squad in Ireland, or rather she is a barely tolerated, soon-to-be-gone member who feels she is one small slip away from being dismissed. When she and her partner, Stephen Moran, get the case of a woman murdered in what appears to be a lovers’ quarrel gone bad, it seems to be another those simple domestic cases always thrown their way. However, as they dig into the case, they find levels of complexity which lead back to Antoinette’s past and her paranoia concerning the Murder Squad.

This is an excellent book the repays the careful reading needed to absorb all the twists and turns of the plot, and the psychological dramas of those involved.

William Kent Krueger, MANITOU CANYON

This is the latest in Krueger’s series featuring Cork O’Connor. When an old friend disappears while on a hiking trip in Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Cork is prevailed upon by the man’s grandchildren to look for him even though an official search has revealed nothing. As Cork goes on his journey evidence slowly becomes available showing that this is only the tip of a larger issue involving the environment and native Americans.

Krueger is particularly good at bringing alive native American belief systems and ways of life. He is also skilled at connecting his mystery plot with a moral dilemma. One point that bothered me is that O’Connor goes into the wilderness seeking a missing man, accompanied by the man’s granddaughter, and doesn’t bother to bring a firearm. To me this strains credulity. Otherwise, however, it was a good read.

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