Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Mistresses of Mystery

Last year, I was introduced to the most amazing British mystery writer, Ariana Franklin. Her first novel in the Mistress of the Art of Death series was called, not surprisingly, 'Mistress of the Art of Death'. These books are historical detective stories, much in the way of the wonderful Murdoch Mysteries by Maureen Jennings. The writing is flawless, the historical research impeccable and the plots skilfully woven. The author's speculation about what might have been possible in the way of forensics, gives a very satisfying dimension to the works.

Sadly, Ariana Franklin died last year, so this addiction needed to be replaced.

My next find - quite by chance, in the book shop at Heathrow, was another Brit, Scottish crime writer Denise Mina. I read 'The End of the Wasp Season'. Mina's detective novels are set in Glasgow and are as gritty as you would expect. But her characters are nonetheless sympathetic. Her detective, Alex Morrow has baggage, is flawed, but she is good at her job, dogged, determined. And all of this makes for compelling reading.

My most recent addiction is Canadian Author Louise Penny. And good gracious am I addicted. I was strangely drawn to the first of her Three Pines series 'Still Life', whilst standing at the checkout in Save-on Foods supermarket. I didn't read it straight away, but when I did, I was almost instantly drawn in. Her characters and imaginary village are so well portrayed that I felt as though I'd been there and knew the people. Her plots are also page-turningly intricate, like a carefully stitched appliqué.

In many ways, Louise Penny has replaced two well-loved authors for me. Her work also has the 'snuggle under the duvet with a bar of chocolate and a damned good read' factor that Maeve Binchy's writing had for me. Sadly, Maeve died in the past few days.

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