Tag Archives: Cassie Maddox

Mondays are murder

I read a number of Joanne Kilbourn mysteries by Canada’s own Gail Bowen a few years ago, and I remember really enjoying them.  Not really standard mysteries because the “sleuth” is a rather unintentional one – Joanne Kilbourn is a political science professor at the university in Regina.  But then again, not really “cozies” because the murders tend to be of the gruesome and violent sort.  The most likely analog I can think of would be Kay Scarpetta, minus all the medical examiner ickiness!

So I was very excited to see The Nesting Dolls show up in the catalogue – the 12th Joanne Kilbourn mystery, thus named even though Joanne Kilbourn is now Joanne Shreve, having married defense attorney Zack Shreve.  And it is her husband and his relationships that are the source of this particular mystery.

Just before a winter storm knocks out Regina’s power, a young woman bearing a striking resemblance to Zack’s law partner Delia Wainberg hands an infant seat (infant included) to Delia’s teenage daughter in a high school gymnasium and escapes into the storm.  Shortly thereafter, this same mysterious stranger is found frozen in her car – strangled and raped.

What follows is a crash course through fresh pain and long-buried secrets.  Joanne Shreve née Kilbourn solves mysteries almost by osmosis.  Part of the appeal in Bowen’s books is that the detecting is tangential to the story, which is always a very human tale of people doing their best to muddle through life.  Because Joanne is neither a lawyer nor a detective, there is no emphasis on procedure or legal trappings.  Disclosure is achieved through interaction and conversation; discovery is based solely on Joanne’s ability to get to know the people around her.  This mystery was quite a departure from most of what I have been reading recently, and a refreshing change of pace.  I also really enjoyed that it is set at Christmas-time – the intensification of emotion and experience wrought by the holidays is a perfect period in which to lay bare the mysteries of the human heart!

book 1 cover imageLikeness cover image

Series update: I put my son on the school bus on Friday, then promptly climbed back into bed in my sweatshirt and PJ pants to finish the last 80 pages of The Likeness  by Tana French.  Cassie Maddox transferred out of Murder after the disastrous end to Operation Vestal (as recounted in In the Woods) and the complete collapse of her relationship with partner Adam Ryan.  She has been working in the Domestic Violence squad when she gets a call down to a murder.  At the dump site, she sees what might have sparked the interest of the detectives – the victim shares her face.  A little more investigation reveals that this young woman is also an identity thief.  The identity she stole is one Cassie used when she was working Undercover.  Now, Cassie will assume the dead woman’s life, re-assuming her former identity, even though it now belongs more to the nameless body in the morgue.  This was a great book.  I found the first part of book, as Cassie is slowly learning as much as she can about the victim and getting ready to go under, so full of tension that I had a hard time reading more than about 5-10 pages at a time!  By the end, I was having a hard time going to bed at a reasonable time.  And I like how Tana French’s mysteries are a series, but sort of obliquely – that the first book was mainly Adam with some Cassie, this second book is mainly Cassie with some Frank.  And from what I understand, the third book – Faithful Place – is mainly Frank and perhaps someone else.  I am in line for that one!

Mondays are murder

I read a review for something somewhere, and it sent me to the library catalogue to place a hold on In the Woods by Tana French.  When it finally showed up for me, it was ratty, the pages were falling out, and it was LONG (like 592 pages long).  And, to top it all off, I couldn’t remember what I had read that made me think so desperately that I needed to read it.

I took it home with me this past weekend, and promptly disappeared completely from family life for a day and a half!  To be fair, I checked on Goodreads, and I am one of many people who felt that once the book got going, it had to be read to the end – the story was those grab-you-and-it-won’t-let-go kinds.  Thankfully for my marriage, I did finish it early on Saturday morning, so I was able to get back to being there for my family!

Tana French’s debut novel is narrated by Rob Ryan.  He and his partner Cassie Maddox are inspectors with the (fictitious) murder squad of the Garda (Ireland’s National Police Service).  Young and talented, the up-and-comers happen to be in the office when a call comes through about a body found in an archaeological dig not far distant in Knocknaree.  Ryan and Maddox score the investigation by being the only ones around, but Ryan knows that he cannot allow anyone else to take this case.

When Ryan was a schoolboy, he went into the woods behind the estate at Knocknaree with his two best friends.  He was later found, back to a tree, shoes filled with blood, catatonic and suffering from amnesia.  Ryan sees this case as a chance to go back to where it all started – where he became the new boy, the one who became the man he is now.  And he knows that if anyone besides Maddox realizes that he is that boy, he will be pulled from the case .

Twelve-year-old Katy Devlin is found, head bashed in and bruising on her neck, on a Bronze Age sacrificial stone at the archaeological site behind her home.  She had been missing for a couple of days.  The age and location are enough to set alarm bells clanging for Ryan.  He sees Katy’s murder as his chance to finally reclaim his past, and perhaps even capture a predator who has been neither seen nor heard from for 20 years.

I cannot say anything more because I don’t want to spoil one iota of this story!  But there are two subsequent titles, both of which we have in the catalogue (I have already placed my holds, so go for it!).

I have also been reading up on some of the series I have written about here before.  Finished The Ottoman Cage by Barbara Nadel – the next book we have featuring Inspector Ikmen.  Perhaps not quite as good as Belshazzar’s Daughter, but certainly good enough to keep me moving on to Deep Waters.  Breezed through Death of a Maid by M.C. Beaton – one of her Hamish Macbeth mysteries.  Still want to move up into the Scottish Highlands and will be taking Death of a Gentle Lady home with me as well.  I am carrying Arctic Chill by Arnaldur Indridason around in my backpack now, where Erlendur is vying for my attention with Harry Hole in Jo Nesbø’s The Devil’s Star.

Is now a good time to mention that I also finished two non-fiction books this weekend?  It was a good weekend for reading!