Friday, 28 October 2016

Book Review: Strange Things Done

Strange Things Done is Elle Wild's debut murder mystery novel set in Dawson City, Yukon.  Like
most people who move to Dawson City, Jo Silver is trying to escape her past.  She arrives in Dawson just before freeze up to take over the local newspaper.  When a local MP dies mysteriously the night Jo arrives, she wonders if she's ready to be trapped in her new community all winter long.

My favourite part about the book was certainly the setting.  By spending time researching and living in the Yukon, Wild was able to include brilliant sensory details.  Buildings, rivers and the permeating cold were realistically recreated on the page.  Local characters seemed grown from the harshness of their surroundings.

Jo Silver's background formed an interesting side mystery to the story, although I found it a bit hard to relate to such a hard-boiled, hard-drinking journalist.  Her weaknesses of self-doubt and distrust helped create some empathy.  However, her decisions to break the law, take enormous risks and continuous running outdoors in inappropriate clothing were sometimes difficult to swallow.

The story is filled with action and has a satisfying conclusion.  The reader is left with several questions about Jo Silver which would work nicely into a sequel or series.

Monday, 3 October 2016

Book Review: The Jewel That Was Ours

Being a big fan of the BBC Masterpiece series, Endeavour and more recently, Inspector Lewis, I
became curious about the books that inspired these series.  Colin Dexter's name comes up as the creator behind these excellent detective stories and so I searched for him in my local library.  I hoped to start at the beginning, but the series is a bit old and so I made do with starting at book #9.

Like Endeavour, The Jewel That Was Ours starts with short chapters/scenes of several different characters with no seeming relation to one another.  As the book develops, like the T.V. episodes, the connection between these characters slowly comes into focus.  However, unlike watching the episode, it takes longer and is more difficult to keep track of names and stories.  Perhaps I have a poor memory, but I found this difficult in the book.  However, I understand that confusion is the mystery writer's friend.
The Inspector Morse of The Jewel That Was Ours is entertaining and endearing with his curmudgeonly, hard-drinking, obsessive nature.  I could see some similarities between him and the young Morse in Endeavour.  His head is quickly turned by a pretty woman, which seems to be his blind spot much of the time.  He forgets to eat and sleep and often makes a large error in solving the crime, which he overcomes and then properly unravels.

I enjoyed this look into the book behind the T.V. show, but I'm not in a hurry to read any more.  I can't wait until the next Endeavour season comes out!