Mysteries--desperate for recommendations--Part 2

ginny12

Two of my favorite authors have released new titles recently--Elizabeth George and Ruth Rendell in her Inspector Wexford series. I read the EG book and it is terrific, tho controversial. Her best in years. Have started the RR title and it's great so far. Looks like a good summer.

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phyllis__mn

Thanks for the thumbs up.....two of my favorites.

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ginny12

Just found a new--to me--author whose first two books I have really enjoyed. Sheila Pim wrote mysteries, novels and garden books set in Ireland during and after WW2. She was an interesting woman and drew on a long lifetime of experiences for her books.

Her mysteries are light but very enjoyable, with a well-drawn view of Irish village life near Dublin and the various characters encountered there. Her books were long out of print but reprinted by the Rue Morgue Press who evidently specialize in rescuing deserving authors.

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iris_gal

I just read a new-to-me mystery author. Frederick Ramsay. He has a doctorate in medicine + became an Episcopal priest. Enjoyable read & checked out another today to see if I really like him.

Sheila Pim - good, I'll check for her.

An author seldom mentioned is Robert van Gulik.
"............Robert Van Gulik was in fact an historian and an expert on Chinese culture."

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wolf_seeker

Try 'Think of a Number' by John Verdon. It's his debut novel, and unlike many 'firsts', the writing is good, as is the story. Don't find that combination too often in debuts. I read it in two days...couldn't put it down!

I also recommended it to a lot of customers at the B&N where I work. It seems like every time I mention it to a mystery lover, they snap it right up! And as far as I know, not one person has said they didn't care for it.

Hope you like it as much as I did. Since I don't usually read what others do, I rarely recommend anything, unless specifically asked.

Helen

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iris_gal

I copied all the new-to-me-mystery authors from the 1st mystery thread and just finished Bill Pronzini. Excellent.

One I've really enjoyed and didn't see is Georges Simenon (Inspector Maigret series). "He wrote more than 200 books under his own name and a further 200 under a series of pseudonyms - each one completed in under seven days, often on the back of envelopes." They're a fast read.

Read 3 more Frederick Ramsay's and eager for another. I think they'd be classified as cozy. His sheriff (anonymously ex CIA) dates the dean of the town's womens' college much to the disapproval of town and gown alike.

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grelobe

I couldnâÂÂt help noticing no one has mentioned Eric Ambler so far. He is considered one of the inventors of spy novels. Usually his characters are ordinary people who are caught in situations which are bigger than they can handle. One of my favourite novels by him is Epitaph for a Spy , set in a seaside resort hotel , the character is a teacher who is also a dabbler photographer, but when he goes to collect his pictures from the developer he finds that this one has mixed up a few piece of footage, so the police step in and he has to unravel a complicate situation

grelobe

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grelobe

I'm not an usual thriller or mystery reader, but from time to time I enjoy reading one and at the moment I'm just in the mood , what I'm looking for is a mystery story in which the emphasis is focused on the research aspect, for instance in The Girl Who Played With Fire the journalist had to go through a lot of old police reports or paper clippings and the like. Lately through the site www.stopyuâÂÂrekillingme.com , where you can look up books by quizzing jobs or other aspect, I came across mysteries with genealogists involved. I selected one Death on the Family Tree by Patricia Sprinkle, but I âÂÂm not finding it particularly engaging, too cozy.
If you got what I meant , have you some titles to suggest?
IâÂÂd rather them with not professional figures as leading characters, I mean , no policemen or detectives
Thanks in advance , both whether you willl find time to answer or not

grelobe

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timallan

Though not strictly a mystery, I would recommend Peter Ackroyd's The House of Doctor Dee. On one level it is the story of the Elizabeth astrologer and "wizard", and on another it concerns a researcher in present-day England sifting through records to unravel the somewhat eerie history of his late father's house.

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junek-2009

You could try "Rose" by Martin Cruz Smith, I do not think that you will be disappointed.

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iris_gal

Pour a cuppa & read the first mystery by Tarquin Hall.
Vish Puri, India's Most Private Investigator, with his helpers (Tubelight, Flush, Facecream, Handbreak) correct wrongs & circumnavigate inflated bureaucracy.

The Case of the Missing Servant - Tarquin Hall, 2009

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iris_gal

I'm still hooked on mysteries. Reading a new-to-me prolific author --- Donna Leon. Her series is set in Venice and Comissario Brunetti (sp?) is delightful. Light read.

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veronicae

Still Missing is not completely a mystery, but does involve a crime and is very suspenseful.

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jaxnsmom

Have you tried www.readersadvice.com? You can search by author, title, genre...
If you search by genre and choose mystery, then you'll have a list of categories to choose from - musical, women slueth, cozy, different jobs or geographic locations. A great place to get some ideas.

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ginny12

Guess this is a good time to repeat the truly great website for lovers of mysteries. You can search for mysteries by title, author, main character, geographical location and more.

I first learned about stopyourekillingme dot com here and have used it endlessly ever since.

Here is a link that might be useful: Mysteries--great website

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jaxnsmom

Thanks for reminding me of stopyourekillingme ginny12. I haven't been there in years, and it was a lot more limited then, it may have been getting started.

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irisgal_z9

Resurrecting part II of a wonderful post. I've been working my way thru the authors and here are the new-to-me reads with my opinions for any mystery lovers.

Coben, Harlan - knee ruined basketball super star Myron Bolitar, violence but great plot & good characters.
Daly, Elizabeth - 'Somewhere In The House' (Henry Gamadge series, very low key, no opinion yet.)
Heyer, Geogette - 'Why Shoot A Butler' (enjoyable).
Pim, Sheila - closest protagonist to my favorite Agatha Christie's Miss Marple. Plot not as tricky :-(
Upfield, Arthur W. - 'Bony and the White Savage' (I'm hooked, love this character, have read 5 more!).
Wentworth, Patricia - have read 3 and an unappetizing meaness is present; endings are anti-climatic, too bad because there is such potential.
a Miss Seeton (don't remember which author as there are several, repetitive but acceptable).
Not in parts I and II:
Delany, Vicki - 'Negative Image', the 4th of the series set in Tralfagar B.C. Good plot & sub-plots. Personalities within the police keep it from being dry. Violence minimal.

Elkins, Aaron - professor Gideon Oliver, the skeleton detective.

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dandyrandylou

Please define your use of the word "cozy" as applies to a mystery. Thank you.

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yoyobon_gw

I don't like blood and guts mysteries .

I really enjoyed reading the Flavia de Luce mysteries.........the first one is The Sweetness At The Bottom Of The Pie .

They are unusual because the heroine is a very clever, witty 11-year old girl who has some very complicated capers in her little village in England.

And more surprising to me was that this series was written by a 70 year old man !!

They are delightful.

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vee_new

pink, I had always wondered at the term cozy/cosy being applied to murder mysteries.

If I was at the receiving end of a sharp implement or a gun, being held over a vat of boiling oil or just about to be thrown over a 200 hundred foot cliff with a pack of starving wolves waiting to tear my shattered remains asunder I would feel anything but cosy.

I also notice in whodunnits both in books and on TV that the crime solvers go back to everyday life with just a gentle murmur to the 'help' "Oh, Ethel, remember to buy another bottle of stain-remover please". The Miss Marple types, well on into their eighties, who just pick up their knitting or organise the next vicarage whist-drive come to mind.

If I had lived in St Mary Mead or Cabot Cove I would be perpetually looking over my shoulder or, more likely, on the next train/bus out of town.

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carolyn_ky

Ha, Vee. You should see the set of Cabot Cove at Universal Studios. The "sea" is a little pond. It quite ruined the program for me.

I think cozies are those books where the murder happens off-page and the reader doesn't have to deal with any blood or gore. Of course, they preclude torture, boiling oil, and packs of starving wolves. Think Jeanne M. Dams and her beautiful cathedral close or Hazel Holt with her beloved son and her best friend.


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vee_new

Carolyn, isn't Cabot Cove meant to be set somewhere on the New England coast? I was always impressed with the amazingly blue blue skies that apparently cover that area . . . and the same with scenes set in 'Old' England, with the same blue skies and an obviously 'modern' Tudor Mansion (probably the property of some movie mogul) standing in for an ancient pile in the old country.

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carolyn_ky

Yes, the setting was New England (Maine?). Everyone should see the leaves in N.E. in the fall.

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irisgal_z9

A wanna-be mystery is a cozy.

Flavia is the most fun since Amelia Peabody..


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dandyrandylou

ginny12 - what is the title of the new Elizabeth George mystery please.

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gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)

The most recent Elizabeth George is 'A Banquet of Consequences', published in 2015. The previous is 'Just One Evil Act', 2013.

Most popular living mystery/thriller writers have websites that list their books in chronological order and always offer previews or 'blurbs' on what's the latest publication. I check them all regularly so I can put my request in at the library ASAP (great library system where I live so I no longer spend money on purchasing new books from favorite authors). I am currently on the wait list for the newest C.J. Box, Lee Child and John Sanford - the last two won't even be published until fall!!

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carolyn_ky

Lucky you. My library won't take requests until the books are in, or at least I don't know how to request them.

Gardengal, do you know about the stopyourekillingme.com website? You can look up books either by author or main character. They list everything they wrote, with series in order of publication as well as stand alone books.


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yoyobon_gw

Of course,,,,,,,the Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear.

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ginny12

Nice to see the thread I started all those years ago alive and doing so well thanks to all your contributions.

Re Elizabeth George--I stopped reading her after being a major fan for years. There were at least four duds in a row and I wasn't willing to give her another chance.

And re libraries--I too am lucky enough to live in a town with a great public library so I get all my mysteries there, even if I have to wait. I regularly check my favorite authors to get in line.

Re Cabot Cove--it's supposed to be in Maine, not far from where I live in New England. But the light gives it away--it's not Maine light. The coast of Maine is beautiful in the summer with lots to see and do. Many authors live/d there and you could do a literary tour, if you like. Almost anywhere in New England is spectacular in the fall. I never go anywhere else in October. Standing at my own kitchen window is very heaven.

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Maisie (6b)

I'm new here but the topic caught my eye. I'm a mystery fan. Has someone mentioned Louise Penny? Wondeful writing, intriguing stories.

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dandyrandylou

irisgal - what?

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dandyrandylou

Maisie - Louise Penny is an new-to-me author. Have just gotten her Bury Your Dead from our library. Have you read that one?

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irisgal_z9

Pink Warm Mama, did you mean my definition of a cozy? Or Flavia and Amelia being entertaining characters?

Louise Penny was mentioned in Part 1. My all time favorite.

I'm not sure I would classify these as mysteries but worth a mention. More blood and guts than what I normally enjoy, but readable. "Runoff" scored higher at goodreads than "Head Wounds". I would do it the opposite.

Mark Coggins, "Runoff". Even loving San Francisco as I do, I'm not running to the library for another in the series. Poor but honest, hard-boiled PI August Riordan gets the short end of the stick but manages in the end to bust apart a malevolent plan to rig the mayoral election. The characters range from his female impersonator buddy Chris, the beautiful Miss Chinatown, her mother the Dragon Lady, Wu and his cleavers - it's like reading a violent comic book.

Chris Knopf, "Head Wounds". The improbable Sam Acquillo, ex-corporate manager of 5000 employees, ex-boxer, has returned to the family cottage in the Hamptons to do fine carpentery on newly erected mansions and drink himself to death. Meanwhile he needs to clear himself of murder. I really wanted to love this but there was too much ............ extraneous detracting stuff?



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cindy130

I have been rereading some Agatha Christies and I have to say they do stand the test of time. An Agatha Christie, I don't remember which one now 53 years later, was the first book I took out from the "adult section" of our library when I was 14. I was thrilled to be finally able to borrow from there.

My current read is A Most Curious Murder BY Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli, a cosy and promising so far ,just a few pages in.

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ginny12

I'm glad to see someone bring up Agatha Christie. She was a master, certainly one of the all-time greats. The word 'cozy' does her an injustice in my opinion. She had an unsentimental eye for human behavior and was brilliant in her plotting.

I read her autobiography some years back and while she left a lot out, like most who write in that genre, it was most illuminating. It seems she was good at math as a girl and I have wondered if that particular type of intellectual talent played a role in her gift for puzzle-setting and puzzle-solving.

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dandyrandylou

Maisie - Tried really hard to get into Louise Penny's Bury Your Dead but simply could not make it. Is there a particular book of hers you might recommend instead? Many thanks.

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Maisie (6b)

Hi pink,

Sorry I don't seem to be getting emails about this one but happened to see it pop up. I am mildly compulsive about reading books in chronological order when I find an author I like. But you ask a good question because I didn't love Penny's first one as much as some of the others. Maybe try The Beautiful Mystery?

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cindy130

Ginny,

I agree and don't think of Agatha Christie as a cozy writer, although she might fit some of the traits of cozy she always, to me anyway, gave her characters a bit of an edge ,and her plots some treachery.

Cindy

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dandyrandylou

Thanks Maisie. I'll begin a search.

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ginny12

I'm bumping this up in hopes of further suggestions. Since I last posted, I discovered Ann Cleeves via PBS on tv. She is terrific, both the mysteries, the characters and the settings. I have read all of her 'Vera', 'Shetland', and 'Inspector Ramsay' series--very, very good, with lots of local atmosphere.

Not sure if Fred Vargas has been mentioned in the first 'Mysteries--desperate...' thread. That's the pen name for a French archeologist who writes the Commissaire Adamsberg series, centered in Paris tho also elsewhere in France. Truly excellent but years between each book. Hard to wait.

Not so good, imho, is the Mrs Polifax series. I'm reading the first one now--cute but very improbable. Won't read another.

So, any ideas out there?

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carolyn_ky

Have you read The Lewis Trilogy by Peter May? It is set on the Scottish island of Lewis, and the books are very good.

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vee_new

Ginny do you get the Shetland series (based on Ann Cleeves) on US TV? Haven't read the book but find the shows interesting as we know those far Northern islands well. Even now my brother is up there 'messing about in boats' as Ratty said. And these local craft are still based on the Viking design with 'pointy bits' fore and aft. The series uses many island locations.

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ginny12

Thanks for the replies. Carolyn, I'm off to the library today and will look for the Peter May books. Great location. Vee, yes, PBS has shown the Shetland series tho not all yet. I have seen all shown and that's how I discovered Ann Cleeves. She is really good--all her mystery books--tho each book series is fairly short.

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woodnymph2_gw

I've not taken the time to read through this entire long thread. My two favorite mystery writers at the moment are Susan Hill and Louise Penny. The books I like by Hill are the Simon Serailler series. I have recently discovered Penny and have now read 3 mysteries by her--- the Inspector Gamache series, mostly set in a quaint village in French Canada. Years ago, I had liked Rennie Aird's work.

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vee_new

A couple more Scottish writers. Val McDermid, tough no nonsense (probably also in real life) Wire in the Blood and countless others.

Ian Rankin with his Detective Rebus series which have been on the go since the mid '80's.

An excellent author is Kate Atkinson who writes clever intelligent fiction and has also done well with her Jackson Brodey character. I think the first one is "When Will There be Good News?" Of course, as is my wont, I read a later one first. I think they come better 'in order'.

Just thought of Lindsey Davies and her series set in ancient Rome based around her 'detective' Marcus Didius Falco. She seems to have done her homework well. The first one is The Silver Pigs They have been adapted by BBC radio.

I would second woodnymph's recommendation of Susan Hill set in a small English cathedral city; best read in order.

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donnamira

Try Ruth Ware, if you already haven’t. I was lucky enough to snag The Death of Mrs. Westaway from the ‘new book’ shelf at the library even though there are over 500 holds on it, and read it through in one day. Although I didn’t see the similarity in style myself, she is being called the new Agatha Christie, and I surely enjoyed the one I read.

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astrokath

I am currently reading the Sir Robert Carey mysteries by P F Chisholm. Carey was a real-life person in Elizabethan England, and the books are great. If you like C J Sansom, I think you will like these.

I have to agree with Vee about Kate Atkinson's crime books too.

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ginny12

After I last posted, I remembered that I had read part of a Peter May book several years ago and found it too gruesome and full of bad language so I returned it. Too bad--the Scottish Isles are such a great setting. I ended up with one of the British Crime Classics from the Poisoned Pen Press, recommended on RP a few years ago. I've bought some of these but this is from the library. Will report when done. And I will try some of the good recommendations here.

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woodnymph2_gw

I'm not" desperate", but wanted to resurrect this thread. Mainly I want to ask about P.D. James, as a mystery writer. I seem to be expanding my mystery reading. I watched a filmed version of James' "Death in Holy Orders" and liked it very much. So far, my fave mystery writers are Dona Leon, Louise Penny, Ruth Rendall and R. Aird. Do you think I would like the work of P.D. James?

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vee_new

Mary, I think you might enjoy P D James. she writes with intelligence. The only way to find out is to try one of her books!

Below an obituary. I always want to know what makes a writer 'tick'.


P D James

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ginny12

PD James is considered one of the top mystery writers of all time, some say the very top. Give her a try but do read her main series with cerebral detective Adam Dalgliesh in order. PBS also filmed these years ago and they are great--maybe that was one you saw. Hope you enjoy them.

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erasmus_gw

I love P.D. James. Someone considered one of the earliest mystery writers is Wilkie Collins. He was a prolific writer and I've enjoyed most of his books very much. Most were free on Kindle. He was a friend of Charles Dickens. I enjoyed Edinburgh Twilight lately by Carole Lawrence. She has three books in the Edinburgh series. She received an award for her poetry.

I am not sure what makes a mystery cozy. Is it that there is no explicit violence, or maybe the characters are somewhat sheltered and innocent? No bad language?

I liked An Instance of the Fingerpost by Iain Pears, and his Dream of Scipio and Stone's Fall. They have mystery in them but guess they're not who-done-its. He writes art history mysteries but I haven't read any of them.

I like Rex Stout, Ruth Rendell, Agatha Christie, Josephine Tey, Elmore Leonard. It's hard to beat Sherlock Holmes.

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gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)

What is a cozy mystery?

"Cozy mysteries, also referred to as "cozies", are a subgenre of crime fiction in which sex and violence are downplayed or treated humorously, and the crime and detection take place in a small, socially intimate community."

Wikipedia has a good detailed explanation......the 'detectives' are usually amateurs and most often women. Sex, profanity and violence are kept to a minimum. The focus is on the characters and the plot. The actual murder or crime is almost incidental.

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erasmus_gw

Kind of figured. I've read a few and enjoyed them. Explicit sex and violence aren't my thing. Seems to me that writers from the distant past could include violence in a story without detailing it so much.

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ginny12

I found a new-to-me mystery author I have really enjoyed and thought I'd share it here. His pen name is Jean-Luc Bannalec and his mysteries are all set in Brittany in northwest France. His main character is Commissaire Dupin who was exiled from Paris for not following rules. He still doesn't follow rules, of course.

There are five books so far, set in our own time with a host of supporting characters. Definitely books to be read in order. The books feature lots of scenery description and fabulous food description, especially seafood as Brittany juts out into the Atlantic. There is also Celtic lore as this was a Celtic stronghold.

Jean-Luc Bannalec is actually German and writes in German but the books have all been translated and are very popular. I'm always looking for new mystery writers I will like and this discovery was a home run for me. Has anyone else read any of these? I recommend them if you haven't.

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kathy_t

Ginny - Sounds interesting! Thanks for the recommendation. I see my library has them. I'll have to give them a try.

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friedag

Yes, Ginny, I've read all five of the Brittany mysteries by Bannalec published so far in English. They were recommended to me when I mentioned I had reached the end of Simenon's Maigret series and I was undergoing withdrawal pangs. I can see that Bannalec was probably inspired by the Maigret stories -- he even tells how Maigret visited Concarneau (pronounced Konk-kern by the Bretons) during one of Maigret's own cases.

The settings and plots are a bit different, I think, and I enjoyed learning about Gauguin and his contemporaries in Pont-Aven (the first book), the tourism industry of the Glenan archipelago (second book), salt 'farming ' in the Fleur de Sel Murders, and oyster farming in The Missing Corpse. The fifth book, The Killing Tide, gets deeper into Celtic lore as Monsieur le Commissaire Dupin increases his knowledge of the Finistere (The End of the World which the Bretons also call 'The Beginning of Land' of the Eurasian continent).

Ginny, I really enjoy Nolwenn, Dupin's indispensable assistant and his tutor in all things Breton. She will make Dupin a 'true' Breton yet. She's already convinced him to follow his doctor's orders to eat a few oysters every day.

The stories do get a bit convoluted, but I've found this forgivable. I second your recommendation.





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msmeow

I’ve read The Missing Corpse and I enjoyed it a lot. I will have to read the other four. Thanks, Frieda!

Donna

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ginny12

Glad some others have read some/all of the Commissaire Dupin books. Great summary, Friedag! One of the things I like is that Jean-Luc Bannalec mentions a lot of real places--scenic or restaurants etc--and I have googled some to see them. It's fun as I'm reading the books, especially as I don't think a trip to Brittany is in my future, much as I'd love it.

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msmeow

I agree, Ginny! I could almost smell the salt and hear the waves from his descriptions of Brittany.

Donna

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Carolyn Newlen

To each his own--I'm glad so many of you liked these books, but I found them too long on description and too short on mystery. I stopped reading after the second one.

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annpanagain

I have requested the first one to see if it suits me. If there is a lot of description I shall skip that anyway.

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annpanagain

I have also requested the new Simon Brett mystery in a new series "The Clutter Corpse" set in the English city where I went to Grammar School.

The library has just notified me that I can borrow the Bannalec book. The first new book I shall be reading for ages! I have a few on the TBR pile but preferred my comfort books instead!

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annpanagain

No, the Bannalec style isn't for me! I am not really interested in police procedural books and Dupin is such a grump from the beginning, disliking so many of his work colleagues also the murder was gory!

The print size is good though! That helps me these days for reading in bed. I might read a bit more than the first few pages as I have started it!

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