Tag: cosy crime

Cocaine Blues by Kerry Greenwood

Posted May 24, 2014 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Crime / 2 Comments

Cocaine Blues by Kerry GreenwoodTitle: Cocaine Blues (Goodreads)
Author: Kerry Greenwood
Series: Phryne Fisher Mystery #1
Narrator: Stephanie Daniel
Published: Poisoned Pen Press, 1989
Pages: 175
Genres: Crime
My Copy: Audiobook

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Miss Phryne Fisher is a fantastic character; I first encountered her in the TV show Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. I prefer my mystery novels to be dark and hard-boiled but in the effort to be a literary explorer, I decided to pick up the first in the Phryne Fisher novels. What I love about the TV show plays a small part in this cosy crime novel.

Set in 1920’s Melbourne, Cocaine Blues follows Miss Fisher as she tries to hunt down an illegal abortionist who is leaving so much damage that the women are lucky to make it out alive. While cocaine is fast rising as the drug of choice in high society, Phryne Fisher finds herself caught up in web of smuggling, corruption and Turkish baths. Cocaine Blues’ mystery may be basic and the resolution far too convenient but this book sets up Phryne Fisher as a private detective that will solve a mystery with style and grace.

This novel is evidently focusing on the lifestyle of a 1920s socialite; take out the mystery and you are still left with a trendy Jazz age story with a strong heroine. The demographic for this novel is clearly focused towards woman; Kerry Greenwood often takes time to describe every inch of Phryne’s outfit and style. Almost to a point where I got a little angry by it, but this translates well to television as visual element is one of the reasons that make the show so great.

Phryne Fisher is a wealthy flapper with plenty of spare time; she is a strong willed feminist and a sensual being that shocks high society in 1920s Melbourne. She seems to have a wealth of knowledge but I can’t seem to pick her age, I gather she must be middle aged with all her life skills but Kerry Greenwood never mentions her age. She takes the time to go into great detail about everything she is wearing, why not give us an idea of her age.

I might be biased towards the TV show Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries but I think that captured Phyrne’s personality and the essence of what Greenwood was trying to write far better than this novel. It was fun to read and I enjoyed experiencing Phryne Fisher’s personality on the page. However I think the TV adaptation does a far better job with all the other characters, including Dot, Bert and Cec. Unfortunately Jack Robinson only got a look in and I’m finding it hard to remember if Hugh Collins even appeared.

If you are looking for a cosy crime novel with a strong kick-ass female detective then Cocaine Blues might be worth checking out. There are currently twenty books in the Phryne Fisher series. Also, as I mentioned a few times, the TV series is excellent. I don’t know if I will read any more in the series, it really depends if I need any light fillers to read and if I have access to the next book. I doubt I’ll ever run out of books to read but who knows maybe another dip into the world of Miss Fisher might be calling me and I can read the next book in the series, Flying Too High.

Guest Review: The Flavours of Love by Dorothy Koomson

Posted January 27, 2014 by jus_de_fruit in Crime, Guest Posts, Thriller / 0 Comments

Guest Review: The Flavours of Love by Dorothy KoomsonTitle: The Flavours of Love (Goodreads)
Author: Dorothy Koomson
Published: Quercus, 2013
Pages: 429
Genres: Crime, Thriller
My Copy: Paperback

Buy: AmazonBook Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

I came across this book at the bookshop while looking for Christmas presents for my husband. He was with me at the time and saw my reaction when I read the synopsis on the back. Cooking and murder and secrets! So much that interested me. The Flavours of Love tells the story of Saffron Mackleroy and her family after the murder of her husband 18 months earlier. The killer of her husband has started sending letters to Saffron to make her aware that she is being watched. And on top of all that, she has all the usual family drama to deal with. Her teenage daughter has some very confronting issues to deal with, the younger son is withdrawing from life, her husband’s aunt has been asked to leave her nursing home. This story is more than just about trying to solve a murder; it’s about how to survive life.

Dorothy Koomson’s writing was very compelling. I was mesmerized from the first chapter and at the end of the night, I had to force myself to put the book down to get some sleep, as I knew I wouldn’t ever find a place I would willingly stop. It was so great to get to Friday night and know I could stay up as late as I wanted and power through the last half of the book. It was after 4am when I got to bed, knowing the family was safe again after Joel’s killer had been caught.

This book could have easily just focused on the murder aspect, but it incorporated so many other things. It gave me so much to reflect upon about my own relationships and how I might cope in a similar circumstance but I hope I never have to find out. Losing the love of your life would be devastating, but then you have to send the kids back to school, return to work, keep paying bills. Life goes on and doesn’t slow down when tragedy strikes. And there are all those little things, the little neuroses that your spouse would be able to talk you through, and to suddenly lose that voice of reason and do things you might not have done in the past. So many little things that we take for granted in the normality of our lives.

I loved learning about the love that Saffron and Joel shared with little flashback scenes to their life together, while they were dating and married. There is so much magic in this book amongst all the tragedy and drama that is revealed between the pages. I wasn’t really sure of the genre to class this book as when I started it, but wanted to include it in my Literary Exploration Challenge. I eventually settled on Thriller, because I certainly felt thrilled all the way through it as all the secrets were unraveled.

I don’t think I’d ever heard of Dorothy Koomson before, but she is now firmly planted on my radar and I will be hunting down her other books to read.

This is a guest post by Mary; not only is she my wonderful wife, she is also my editor and helps moderate the Literary Exploration group on Goodreads. Big thanks to her for this post and everything she does to help me with this blog.

The Toe Tag Quintet by Matthew Condon

Posted February 2, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Crime, Short Stories / 0 Comments

The Toe Tag Quintet by Matthew CondonTitle: The Toe Tag Quintet (Goodreads)
Author: Matthew Condon
Published: Random House, Vintage, 2012
Pages: 341
Genres: Crime, Short Stories
My Copy: ARC from Netgalley

Buy: Book Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Retirement can be murder! Former Sydney detective recognises someone from his workdays in his retirement home in the Gold Coast. In his hey days, this unnamed detective had to deal with some of the most murderous criminals in Australian history. But in retirement things are so much more deadly in this collection of five novellas originally published in The Courier Mail.

This is a real joy to read but there is something that just doesn’t sit right with me. There is nothing wrong with Matthew Condon’s writing; I think he is great.  I’ve just come to the burning realisation that I’m not a fan of cosy crime. I don’t know why but I can’t seem to find what is cosy about crime.

The characters within this book are great; this old school detective is witty, strong and could have had the making of a hard-boiled character if this wasn’t a cosy crime novel. He was smart and a skilled detective but this was too cosy, I mean who says “Up yours” nowadays and then there is the censored language, it just seems weird.

There are some great elements in these novellas, the humour, the wit and the well-crafted plots. But for me I never could get past the cosiness of these crime stories. They didn’t feel realistic enough and as much as I tried I couldn’t get past this fact. I’m interested to read some more Matthew Condon, he’s skilled writer and maybe he will do better at true crime or non-fiction or the contemporary novels he wrote in the past.

The Dark Winter by David Mark

Posted January 11, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Crime / 0 Comments

The Dark Winter by David MarkTitle: The Dark Winter (Goodreads)
Author: David Mark
Series: DS Aector McAvoy #1
Published: Blue Rider Press, 2012
Pages: 304
Genres: Crime
My Copy: ARC from Netgalley

Buy: AmazonBook Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Three bodies are in the morgue in Hull, East Yorkshire; each of them a sole survivor of a past tragedy. Someone is playing God, targeting the people who have once cheated death. It is up to Detective Sergeant Aector McAvoy to try and stop them. In the depths of The Dark Winter, driven by need for justice will he find himself on the wrong side of the killer’s blade?

Aector McAvoy is an unlikely hero; he is more of an office worker than an investigator and you get the feeling he would more comfortable on a computer working than pushing his weight around as lead detective of this case. He is also appears very compassionate which makes for an interesting situation. The dark gruesome nature of this crime mixed with the ‘niceness’ of the protagonist never really worked for me; it felt like cosy crime trying to break into a noir novel.

There are secrets and complexity to this case that really didn’t translate well in the writing. I can see what the author was trying to do but I never felt like it came across well. There are the twists in the case and I was glad for them because I was often close to abandoning this book as it wasn’t working for me.

While Aector was too compassionate and nice to be a decent protagonist solving these horrific murders, the rest of the characters in the book were too one dimensional that I couldn’t really get a sense of their personalities.

When it came to the plot I think David Mark has some great ideas and with his journalism background he did know how to make these macabre crimes feel realistic, but I felt there were too many hole in the story. Mark has the potential to be a good crime writer, with better character development and more practice in weaving a complex plot together. But in the end this book didn’t work for me, I struggled off and on with the book and in the end had to really force myself to finish it.