I came across and claimed an Audible code for a copy of Burned to a Crisp (Gingerbread Hag Mystery #1), K.A. Miltimore. I don’t honestly recall where though.
Hedy Leckenmaul runs a strange little bakery in the sleepy town of Enumclaw, Washington. Her bakery may be bizarre but it is the non-human guests who stay at her home, along with her resident ghost, and her menagerie of talking animals that truly is strange. Hedy hosts a waystation for supernatural travelers and while hosting two such travelers, the town is rocked by an arsonist who is kidnapping women, and pitting the residents of Enumclaw against each other. Hedy and her friends must solve the mystery when one of their own vanishes, leaving them racing to find out who is behind it all before it is too late.
This was pretty good, if not quite to my tastes. It does depend heavily on being quirky and cute, with the main character just being the sweetest lil thing you could imagine. *Insert eye roll.* Maybe it was the way she was voiced, but for all the world she reminded me of Ms. Frizzle, from The Magic School Bus. I’m not so much into the nice-nice protagonists, with their utter lack of grey, which the heroine and all the good guys here are. Despite that I do appreciate that the book is well-structured (though the pace sags in the middle a little), there’s a pleasant little FF side romance, the mystery isn’t blatantly obvious (though not too hard to figure out either), I liked the characters themselves, and the narrator did a fine job. All in all, I might read another Gingerbread Hag Mystery, but I’m in no rush about it.
I borrowed a copy of Arnaldur Indriðason‘s Arctic Chill from the Little Free Library. I was completely thrilled to see a book by an author whose name started with the letter I. I do an alphabet challenge every year and an ‘I’ author is one of the hardest to come up with.
Description from Goodreads:
The Reykjavik police are called on an icy January day to a garden where a body has been found: a young, dark-skinned boy is frozen to the ground in a pool of his own blood. Erlendur and his team embark on their investigation and soon unearth tensions simmering beneath the surface of Iceland’s outwardly liberal, multicultural society.
In this new extraordinary thriller from Gold Dagger Award winner Arnaldur Indridason, the Reykjavik police are called on an icy January day to a garden where a body has been found: a young, dark-skinned boy is frozen to the ground in a pool of his own blood. Erlendur and his team embark on their investigation and soon unearth tensions simmering beneath the surface of Iceland’s outwardly liberal, multicultural society. Meanwhile, the boy’s murder forces Erlendur to confront the tragedy in his own past. Soon, facts are emerging from the snow-filled darkness that are more chilling even than the Arctic night.
I thought this was interesting in some respects and a little dull in others. Being a book translated from Icelandic, reading the culture from an insider perspective was a treat. So was the atmosphere of the book, all bleak and cold like the environment. Similarly, I felt like (as an American reading an Icelandic book) this isn’t a book an American could write. Certainly we, as a people, struggle with some of the same issues brought up in the book. The immigration arguments could have shown up on any right-wing media outlet here, for example. But the fact that the investigation so quickly and strongly focused on the child’s race would never have passed muster in American fiction, I think. It addresses racism too starkly. Again, interesting.
But at the same time, the vast majority of this book is the detectives going around and asking various people the same questions and getting largely the same answers. It was slow going until a sudden break led to solving the case at the end. All in all, I’d read another Inspector Erlendur book, but I’m not rushing out to do it.
I borrowed a copy of The Death of the Necromancer (by Martha Wells) from the library.
Description from Goodreads:
Nicholas Valiarde is a passionate, embittered nobleman with an enigmatic past. Consumed by thoughts of vengeance, he is consoled only by thoughts of the beautiful, dangerous Madeline. He is also the greatest thief in all of Ile-Rien. Under cover of darkness on the streets of the gaslit city, he assumes the guise of a master criminal, stealing jewels from wealthy nobles to finance his quest for vengeance: the murder of Count Montesq. Montesq orchestrated the wrongful execution of Nicholas’s beloved godfather Edouard on false charges of necromancy, the art of divination through communion with spirits of the dead, a practice long outlawed in the kingdom of Ile-Rien.
But now Nicholas’s murderous mission is being interrupted by a series of eerie, unexplainable, fatal events. Someone with tremendous magical powers is opposing him, and traces of a necromantic power that hasn’t been used for centuries appear. And when a spiritualist unwittingly leads Nicholas to a decrepit old house, the truly monstrous nature of his peril finally emerges.
What if The Count of Monte Cristo merged with The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes in a magical pseudo-victorian city? It would be great, right? Right. It honestly was. I will admit that the was slow, being almost 550 pages long. But I so enjoyed the characters and the unhurried development of the mystery that I totally overlooked it in the reading.
I appreciated Wells’ willingness to allow side characters diversity and autonomy, even the female ones. (Though I have to admit Crack was my favorite. I always love the loyal, rough-hand, bodyguard types.) There was humor and both the characters and the reader had to accept that not everyone (even the good guys) always get what they want.
When I picked this book up from the library I didn’t realize that it is part of a series. But being set 100 years after the first book, I didn’t feel the lack of reading book one at all. But I’ll be happy to go hunt up book three. Wells is simply becoming one of my favorite go-to authors.