Three crime novels this week - all different and all great fun. Odd that the word 'fun' should be attributed to murder but all the books I read this week had a humorous side.
An author new to me and I freely admit that it was the cover and the tag line 'a dead body shatters the tranquillity of a Cotswold village' that made me want to check this one out. All very Body in the Library'ish only in this case the body is found in the drawing room. When old Monty Bickerstaffe comes home from his daily foray into the village carrying his supply of whisky, he is rather surprised to find the body of a man who he had never seen before stretched out on his sofa. Monty lives all alone in a crumbling ruin of a house and really does not want to be bothered by anybody, friends, relatives and least of all the police. The locals say they know nothing about it, but when Inspector Jess Campbell searches the upper floor of the house which has been in disuse for many years, it is clear that somebody has been using one of the bedrooms on a regular basis, unknown to Monty and whoever these visitors are, they may hold a clue to the identify of the murder victim.
Along with Inspector Jess Campbell we have Superintendent Ian Carter and, as Jess finds it difficult to form relationships because of her job, it is almost inevitable that Ian is getting over a painful divorce. Stock characters as always. I have mentioned it before, and will no doubt mention it again, but surely somewhere there must be a happily married police inspector/detective? No need to mention Roderick Alleyn and Peter Wimsey....
Great fun, well plotted and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I gather that there is one previous Carter and Campbell novel prior to this one so will keep an eye out for it and on checking inside the book it appears that Ann Granger has written about another 20+ detective titles so on my list she goes.
Classic crime setting here. A disparate collection of people all in one place, all with a secret and in amongst them one person who can ruin their lives. Of course, this person is murdered. The setting is Firstone Grange a newly opened rest and recuperation home, very expensive and exclusive. Harriet Quigley a recently retired headmistress goes there to recover from an operation looking forward to some peace and quiet. Into this house comes Christiane Marchant, a Frenchwoman with a malevolent nature who seems to have the dirt on practically every member of the residents. I will admit that her knowledge and the fact that all the residents are linked together in many ways is a tad far fetched and hard to swallow, but Suspension of Disbelief is sometimes essential to enjoyment and so it is in this case.
The book is witty and amusing with a list of characters such as Kieran - 'A lumpen slowcoach'; Ryan - a 'nasty little scrote'; Neil Slater - 'an estate agent who sometimes wears leather shorts' (don't ask) and other assorted personnel who all combine to make this a very enjoyable and lighthearted read. When I tell you that the nasty Christiane is killed by a euphonium falling on her head, then you get the drift.
The latest Inspector Montalbano book and really there is no need to tell you what it is about as the joy of these books, as with the Donna Leon though not to the same extent, is not the story but the characterisation and the sheer delight with which the reader greets them all.
Montalbano wakes up one morning to find the carcass of a horse on the beach in front of his seaside house. But no sooner do his men arrive, than the body has vanished leaving only a track in the sand. Later a glamorous equestrian champion, turns up at polic headquarters tor eport here horse missing. The horse has been stabled at the grounds of Saverio lo Duca one of the richest men in Sicily who has also lost one of his horses.
I love love love these books and cannot understand why I did not like them straight away - it took me three or four titles into the series before they totally beguiled me. Montalbano is my kinda guy and the wonderful Catarella, manning the switchboard who gets everything wrong, who keeps crashing into Montalbano's office, who hero worships him and tells him when somebody has arrived to see him that they are there 'poissonly in poisson' - well, I adore them both.
And, as ever, the food, oh the food! How Montalbano loves to eat "Adeline had made a salad of baby octopus big enough for four and some giant langoustines to be dressed only with olive oil, lemon, salt and black pepper' and that is just one of the simplest dishes.
I wish Andrea Camilleri and long and happy life and good health so that he can continue to write and publish these books and keep me happy.
A most enjoyable crimfic week.