Evans Above by Rhys Bowen

Publication Info: Published November 15th by St. Martin’s Press. I read the Kindle edition courtesy of my local library. Other editions and publishers available. This is the first book in the Evan Evans series.

Summary: The town of Llanfair is nestled between the peaks of Glyder Fawr and Yy Wyddfa in Wales. The mountains are popular hiking spots for tourists and locals. The Everest Inn, run by Major Anderson, rents rooms to the tourists. Evans Above

One day, Major Anderson alerts Constable Evan Evans that a hiker staying at his inn has gone missing. A few hours later, a body is found at the base of a cliff, obviously dead from a fall. But then another body is found nearby, also the victim of a fall. The detectives called in to investigate declare the two deaths as unfortunate, coincidental accidents, but Constable Evans suspects they were murdered. After a third hiker is found a few days later with his throat slit, it is obvious there is a killer wandering the hills above Llanfair.

Comments: Despite the number of murders in this book, it falls on the edges of the cozy mystery category. I’d call it a gentle police procedural. The book is peopled with quirky characters. Between investigating the murders, Constable Evans has do deal with such crimes as trampled vegetable beds and a missing apple pie.

I found Evans Above to be a completely charming story. I’ve reviewed other Rhys Bowen books and am a fan of her writing. When I could finally get my hands on her first book, I was delighted. While it is obviously less polished than her later work, I was not disappointed and plan to read more in the series. (Rhys Bowen did publish a few things before Evans Above under a different name. A list of her works and her bio can be found on her website https://rhysbowen.com).

Recommended for readers of cozy mysteries and mystery fans looking for something a bit lighter. And, of course, for anyone who loves Rhys Bowen’s books!

Off the Grid by C.J. Box

Publication Info: Published March 2016 by G. P. Putnam’s Sons.  Kindle edition, checked out of my local library. Off the Grid is #16 in the Joe Pickett series.Off the Grid

I’m almost caught up with this series. Actually, I’ll be sad when I get to # 19, Wolf Pack, which is Box’s latest entry in the series, because then I’ll have to wait until he writes and publishes the next one!

Governor Rulon’s time in office is about to end, but he sends Joe out on one more mission — to find out what’s going on out in the Red Desert area of Wyoming. Much to Joe’s surprise, the Governor wants him to find his old friend, Nate, to help with this mission.  Meanwhile, Sheridan, the usually predictably good daughter, gets herself into a bit of a mess right smack in the middle of the problems in the Red Desert, requiring Nate to come to her rescue. Without giving too much away, it was good to see  Nate finally get a bit of a break in this book. The poor guy has been on the run since book 3, Winterkill.

C.J. Box was in Denver at The Tattered Cover autographing books, which I unfortunately just missed in the midst of my move here. He does come here now and then, so I hope to catch him next time!

Highly recommended for mystery fans and those who like stories set in the west.

How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny

Chief Inspector Gamache series, #9. Publication Date: August 2013 by MacMillan Audio (Audible.com). Other editions available.

Brief Summary: There are two story lines in this novel. One follows the murder of Myrna’s friend, Constance; the other works to shine a light on the reasons behind the warehouse incident (from a previous book) and the apparent downfall of Inspector Gamache. While the stories don’t really intertwine, they do provide interest that neither alone could quite make work. How the Light Gets In

Comments: I love the lyrical, descriptive writing in this series as well as the incredibly deep, perceptive insights into the characters. Sometimes I find the plotting a bit muddy, but the writing is what keeps me coming back. I thoroughly enjoy listening to the narration by Ralph Cosham.

I was prepared to give How the Light Gets In a 4-star review until I got toward the end and edged my rating upwards. There were things that happened that made me sit up and take notice – some incidents I found incredibly poignant. I don’t think someone unfamiliar with the series would react the way I did, but for those who have come to know and love the residents of Three Pines, I think you won’t come away untouched.

Highly recommended for readers of the Inspector Gamache series. Those looking to read this mystery series full of depth and insight should start with the first book, Still Life.


Stone Cold by C.J. Box

Publication Date: March 11th 2014 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons. Stone Cold is the 14th in the Joe Pickett series.

Summary: Joe is back working for Governor Rulon again. This time the governor wants him to check out some hinky goings on in Medicine Wheel County in north central Wyoming. In particular, the Governor wanted to know what a man named Wolfgang Templeton was up to. Templeton has been buying up huge tracts of land, creating a small fiefdom for himself. He is also suspected of being involved in organized crime, specifically murder-for-hire. The governor asks Joe to go up there, nose around a bit and see if he can get some information. Joe is also supposed to not get directly involved.Stone Cold

Of course, Joe, being Joe, is going to get himself right into the middle of the mess in Medicine Wheel County. When he gets up there, he finds rampant corruption. He also discovers his old friend, Nate Romanowski, has gotten himself involved with Templeton.

Meanwhile, Joe is also dealing long-distance with family issues, as he worries about two of his three daughters.

Comments: Stone Cold was one of my favorite titles in this series. The plot, characters and action are spot on without anything feeling overly contrived. The novel zipped along and kept me reading at a rapid pace, wondering what was going to happen next.

Highly recommended for C.J. Box fans. For those unfamiliar with his work, I suggest starting at the beginning of the series, with Open Season.


The Dream Stalker by Margaret Coel

Publication Date: October 1997 by The Berkley Publishing Group

Summary: The people on the Wind River Reservation struggle financially. Most of the Northern Arapahoe and Eastern Shoshone barely eke out a living. Father John O’Malley, who runs the St. Francis Mission, struggles right along with them. When the United Power Company comes along and promises an influx of much needed cash in exchange for storing some nuclear waste in “safe containers” on the reservation, most of the people jump at the glib promises.Dream Stalker

But there are enough dissenting voices to concern the UPC. Their representatives approach Father O’Malley and ask him to support their cause. They know he has a lot of influence in the community. One of the most vocal protestors is a woman named Vicky Holden. Vicky grew up on the reservation, but is now an attorney living in the nearby town. More educated about the hazards than most, she is fiercely and vocally against the UPC’s plan. This puts her at odds not only with UPC, but also with many in the Native community who want to have a better standard of living for themselves and the generations to come.

After Father O’Malley finds a murdered man and Vicky receives death threats, it is obvious that someone will stop to nothing to get the UPC plan approved.

Comments: After I got about a third of the way through this book, I realized this is the one in the series I’d read before, back when it was first published. At the time, I wasn’t very impressed and didn’t read any more of the series. Then, while browsing in my local library several months ago, I came across the second in the series, Ghost Walker, and picked it up. I really liked that book, so picked up the third. I still can’t say I love this one, and I didn’t like it as much as Ghost Walker, but I think that’s partly because it lacked some subtlety in the “evil corporation” lesson.

However, the book did get me to do some research online on the Wind River Reservation. And I’m looking forward to reading more in the series to learn about Coel’s characters as well as the realities of reservation life.

Recommended for mystery readers and anyone interested in learning more about present-day Native American life.

The Family Way by Rhys Bowen

Publication Date March, 2013 by Minotaur Books.

The Family Way promo art

The Family Way is the 12th book in the Molly Murphy series. There are currently 17 titles, so I’m almost caught up. A friend told me about Rhys Bowen a couple of years ago and I’m glad she did.

Molly is an Irish immigrant who must make her way in New York City in the early 1900’s. After trying and failing at more traditional jobs for a woman, she decides to become a private detective.

Some of the escapades Molly gets into are preposterous, but I love these books for relaxing, escapist reading. If you like mysteries with historical settings and spunky female protagonists, I highly recommend this series.