Kingdom of the Blind: Louise Penny

Armand Gamache “IS” Penny’s detective series. He is what makes it, his uncompromising character, decency and actions.

In that sense, this book stays on track. Gamache still carries the series.

Penny reliably provides us with delicious writing, full of symbolism, metaphor and foreshadowing.

Unfortunately, the rest is slipping. It’s too full of easy plot twists, relying on sketchy MacGufffins, and loose editing. You could see the plot twist over who would discover the Carfentil right from the early chapters. There is really little reason for minor characters from Three Pines to even be mentioned, and some new characters are unrealistic.

Not her best, but by very definition not every book can be.

The Disappeared: CJ Box

I ended up reading this one when I was looking for the Joe Pike series on my e-reader and wound up with Joe Pickett instead. Some thoughts:

— it’s quicker to read than a Wyoming spring snowstorm
— it has more loose ends than a well-used, hand-made, Elk Hair Caddis trout fly made by an eleven-year-old boy with ADD
— there are so many plot holes that you’d be hard pressed to use it to net a twelve-inch Cut Throat trout without it falling through
— I’d suggest waiting for the movie, but I suspect this one would go straight to audio (not even HBO).

I should have been patient and found the Joe Pike.

Glass Houses: Louise Penny

Long time readers of these book reviews will know that Penny and I have long enjoyed an intensely deep romance, starting with delight at finding someone interesting and new, progressing through growing interest, moving to infatuation, and climaxing in her best work so far, THE BEAUTIFUL MYSTERY. Since then, our relationship has moved on, grown, less passionate, only making it stronger, more like understanding and cuddling now, spooning, accepting when she forgets to shave her legs or steals the blankets in the middle of the night. By Book #20, we’ll be checking each other’s backs for suspicious moles.

It’s because of this, that I know too much about her, that I feel comfortable giving Penny some advice, because of how much she’s exposed to me. Exposition. Explaining. There’s too much of it here. Show. Stop telling.That’ll re-kindle the romance, then.

Don’t Let Go: Harlan Coben

SPOILER ALERTS

In many ways, Napoleon Dumas, French-born New Jersey cop, is the mirror image of my favourite Coben character, Myron Bolitar (who actually makes a two-line cameo in the book; cool). Mirrored because in some ways they are so alike, but in others so different. Both are loyal to a fault to their friends and family, and have an internal moral compass that isn’t going to change for anyone. Nap’s moral compass runs a little less true than Bolitar’s, however. And that makes all the difference.

Coben is the master of describing average, ordinary people’s lives thrown awry from one small minor incident and DON’T LET GO is no different. As usual, the characters and story are mostly solid. I did roll my eyes over the vastly over-used trope of high school lives ruined from casual recreational drug use.

SPOILER ALERT: it was refreshing to finally see a story where former high school sweethearts actually have a happy ending.

In a House of Lies: Ian Rankin

Unlike many top-quality police/mystery writers whose amazing early work gets tired and self-derivative at some point, Rankin’s Rebus series never does. John Rebus may be superannuated, but Rankin’s writing never is.

Go back to his first (non-Rebus) novel and the growth and progression ever since is amazing to see.

Rebus’ Scottish mafia crime boss Big Ger Cafferty isn’t quite as good as the crazed New York Irish mafia butcher in Lawrence Block’s Matthew Scudder series, but it’s not for want of trying.