Crime Fiction

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February 3-Stars

At our February meeting we discussed some books that ranked in the middle or bottom of our approval scale…
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A Christmas Turkey!
You win some, you lose some. Obviously, you’re not likely to enjoy every book you read. And while we probably all wish that every book we try will be 4-Stars or above, at our meetings we often end up discussing some of the stinkers too.

In February there were a few mid-ranking titles (around 3-Stars) and a real turkey!

A Stranger in the House by Shari Lapena (3+ Stars)
The fourth novel by this Canadian author. It’s the story of a recently married couple who seem to be living a wonderful life. But one day the wife has a serious car accident and can’t remember what she was doing or where she was when she crashed. Clover thought the book started well, but then had a very stodgy middle. Then, in the last 4-5 chapters the plot ramped up to double-speed. “There are lots of twists, and you discover all sorts of stuff about the couple. But the ending still leaves you hanging in mid-air.”


Signature Kill by David Levien (3-Stars)
The fourth book in the Frank Behr series by the American screenwriter, novelist, director and producer, David Levien. Set in Indianapolis, the story is about a serial killer. Investigator Behr realises the missing-person case he’s working on may be connected to a police murder investigation. Clover says the book is rather ordinary and unnecessarily gory; and she never did discover anything about the murderer’s motives. “All things considered, it was a disappointing read.”

The Necklace of Pearls by Dorothy L. Sayers [b](2-Stars)
A short story and a typical 1930s locked-room mystery, this is about the theft of a string of priceless pearls at a Christmas house party. Freyja thought the crime itself was ingenious, but highly unlikely. And with only a tiny clue, Lord Peter Wimsey solves the case. As a fan of Sayers, Freyja was sad to have to give this such a poor rating.

Mystery in White by J. Jefferson Farjeon (1-Star)
Farjeon must surely count as one of the most prolific crime authors of the ‘Golden Age’. On checking Fantastic Fiction he’s credited with publishing 84 novels between 1924 and 1955 (the year he died). The man was a veritable writing factory! Mystery in White was published in 1937 and is available under the British Library Crime Classics series. Billed as ‘A Christmas Crime Story’ it’s about a group of train passengers who get stranded because of snow and take shelter in a deserted house, which is ready to receive them with the tea kettle boiling and the fires lit. This is the second book by Farjeon that Freyja has read and we rather think she’ll stop there, because she gave it only 1-Star! “A terribly convoluted plot, with a couple of murders and misdirection at every turn. Typically, the upper-class characters are as white as the Christmas snow, and the killers are from the lower orders.”

Oundle Library’s Crime Fiction Book Group is free to attend and lots of fun! We don’t have a set reading list. Instead, we agree a ‘theme’ for the month and choose the books and authors we want to read within that. We meet at Oundle Library on the third Friday of each month @ 2.30pm. Why not join us? You’ll be very welcome.