Maigret in Holland by Georges Simenon

Maigret in Holland by Georges Simenon

Maigret in Holland was perhaps not my best choice for my first Maigret read, but it was the only one the used bookstore in town had. Maigret is not in France here, he's been called to Holland where a French national is being detained under suspicion of murder. Maigret does not speak any Dutch, which slows his investigation some. He interviews the main characters in the story with varying degrees of success depending on their knowledge of the French language. The small town and characters are described well, wanting to keep their secrets and the status quo. Maigret is intelligent and observant. I'd like to read another when he is on his home turf. ...
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Love in Amsterdam by Nicolas Freeling

Love in Amsterdam by Nicolas Freeling

Love in Amsterdam was not what I expected. I have not watched the tv series, the cover just grabbed my attention when I was browsing at a bookstore a few weeks ago. From the blurb, I expected a typical, maybe dated, police procedural, and we get a little of that, but more about the relationship between the dead woman and the number one suspect. The mystery revolves around a woman named Elsa who is shot one evening in her apartment. The murder occurs about the same time that Martin, a former lover, happens to be walking on the same street where Elsa's apartment is located, seen by a policeman. Van Der Valk, our Dutch detective, decides to bring Martin in and question him. The first section is Van Der Valk's questioning Martin. The second section is the backstory of Martin and Elsa's relationship. The third section is Van Der Valk solving the murder with help from Martin of course. It's a strange...
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A Beautiful Place to Die by Malla Nunn

A Beautiful Place to Die by Malla Nunn

A Beautiful Place To Die is a mystery/thriller set in South Africa in 1952 right after the Boer government came to power and instituted laws that restricted relationships between racial groups. Emmanuel Cooper, an English detective, is sent to Jacob's Nest, a small town near the border of Mozambique where the chief of police, Captain Pretorius, has murdered. Cooper is tasked with investigating the crime but runs up against roadblocks galore. First, Pretorius was not just the police chief, he dominated the town. He was a prominent landowner, he and his family owned or controlled most of the businesses, he felt free to do what he wanted. He was also a model Afrikaaner. Then, the Security Branch arrives, determined to find the killer but to be sure that it's a killer that suits their needs, effectively pushing Cooper out of the official investigation. Of course, like any good detective, Cooper continues his search. The mystery itself is well done, with a...
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Mistletoe, Moussaka, and Murder by Tina Kashian

Mistletoe, Moussaka, and Murder by Tina Kashian

Mistletoe, Moussaka, and Murder is the fifth in the series, but the first I've read. I never felt lost. The author did a good job of introducing the characters and giving me enough background to let me feel like I knew them well. At the same time, I might have cared more about the relationship between Lucy and her boyfriend, Azad, which took up a lot of the book. The mystery itself was well-done. The victim was not a nice person and there were plenty of suspects in town. Lucy had a reasonable reason to be investigating - one of her friends is the prime suspect. The clues were placed well, along with a few red herrings. The story started off well, but the middle was a bit too slow and plodding. I did have a guess who the killer was, so that might have been a bit too obvious since I'm rarely right. I think this is the last of...
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Death In A Strange Country by Donna Leon

Death In A Strange Country by Donna Leon

Death in a Strange Country is the second in the long-running series featuring Guido Brunetti, Commissario of the Venice Police. I’ve read several of them, usually out of order. Brunetti is a good character and I like that he has a lovely, intelligent, supportive wife and kids who are pretty typical. This is an early look into the Brunetti family, which is nice. His father-in-law is more present here than in some others; he has enough power to be a force in the city, but even he has limits. Leon also does a fabulous job of bringing Venice to life, the places, the food, the people. The story begins when a body is discovered in a canal. It looks like a simple mugging, but of course, it leads to a much bigger case. Leon's books often have topics in addition to the murder plot. Here it's toxic dumping, environmental issues, and of course corruption. The plot was well-done and the tension...
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Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson

We play a lot of board games at our house. One that hits the table regularly is Terraforming Mars; it's probably my husband's favorite. The game is based on Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinsons, which I finally got around to reading after having it sit on my shelf for a couple of years. So I may be a bit biased, but I thoroughly enjoyed the book. Red Mars follows the first hundred people on Mars, the ones who begin the colonization/terraforming. The story follows several viewpoints and they are all incredibly strong, tough, smart people who got to Mars on a variety of skills and the ability to more or less hide their nuttiness. None of them are wholly likable, but they each have their own motivations and their own visions of what Mars can/should become. The book touches on a lot of themes. We have religious groups and social groups. We have the realities of living on a different planet,...
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