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Two crime books

Two crime books to review today. First up, To Helvetica and Back by Paige Shelton.




Clare Henry lives and works in Star City which is a winter ski resort in the mountains in Utah. Along with her grandfather, Chester, she run a business mending typewriters and restoring old books. A friend and neighbour, Mirabelle, brings her antique typewriter into the shop for Clare to mend the L, which doesn't work. A man they later refer to as 'leather-man', because of his clothes, comes into the shop and demands to be given said typewriter. He gets very angry when Clare refuses point blank to hand it over. Next day the man's dead body is discovered in the alley behind her shop. Because Clare had worked late that night and fallen asleep in the shop she finds she's a suspect... not good when your best friend, Jodie, is a police woman. It's up to Clare to try to establish her innocence by discovering what secrets an old typewriter holds that are worth killing for.

Paige Shelton is a new author to me, I don't think I'd even noticed the author on Goodreads. Then nakeisha, whose whose opinion I trust, recommended To Helvetica and Back and I'm so glad she did because I really enjoyed it. It was quirky and fun and the Utah setting attracted me as it's not generally a place where books are set. (Well, there must be a few but they're not so noticeable here in the UK.) There's a bit of history about the mining in the area, a bit of geology, a little bit of romance, and a good mystery, the background to which kept my interest well. I also liked the restoring of rare books angle and details about how it's all done. There's one more book in this series, Bookman Dead Style, which I'll read but I also downloaded to my Kindle, The Cracked Spine: A Scottish Bookshop Mystery by the same author. Books and Scotland... what's not to love about that?

Lastly, The Brutal Telling by Louise Penny, book five in the Armand Gamache series.




Chief Inspector Gamache and his team are called in when a body is discovered in the bistro in the village of Three Pines in rural Quebec. The dead man has been bludgeoned to death but no one has any idea who he is or how he came to be there. Gabri and Olivier, the gay couple who run the bistro, certainly have no idea. Gamache has no clue where to start with solving this murder but slowly he begins to realise that several of the villagers are holding something back, keeping secrets. People he thought he knew, considered friends, are perhaps not what he thought they were. But could they be murderers?

This is my favourite Gamache book so far, and that's not to denigrate the first four books either. This one was just a bit special. The cast is the usual one of Gamache's team, Beauvoir, Lacoste and a new young chap, Morin, and the various villagers we've come to know, husband and wife artists Peter and Clara, Gabri and Olivier who own the bistro, book shop owner, Myrna, eccentric Ruth and her duck, Rosa, and so on. A couple of new families have moved into the village so they add to the mix... and suspects. What's interesting about this book is the complicated plot. Who was the dead man? What's his story? Gamache really struggles to find answers. There are literary connections, cold war connections, Gamache even ends up on Queen Charlotte Island off the coast of British Colombia at one point. I felt Louise Pennty created a wierdness about the story that was almost supernatural, the creepy atmosphere quite got to me but I loved it. It's full of secrets and hidden histories and motives... so many layers. I hadn't a clue who the culprit was until the end. And the writing, well that was just sublime. I wish I could have given it more than five out of five on Goodreads. LOL

Both these books qualify for the Where are you Reading? challenge that's being hosted by Book Dragon's Lair. To Helvetica and Back under 'U' for Utah and The Brutal Telling under 'Q' for Quebec. Two quite difficult letters covered there. I'm still eyeing up that X though...

Comments

I'm really glad you did enjoy 'To Helvetica & Back'.

What you say about it sums it up perfectly. I have now read the second book in the series and enjoyed that too - a nice easy, comfortable, enjoyable read.

I'll be interested to hear what you think of the Scottish bookshop one.
I did and thanks for the rec. :-) I'll grab that second book at some stage. Really looking forward to the Scottish bookshop one too... got a feeling it will be quite good.
You are welcome. I hope they'll be a third.

Do let me know what you think of the Scottish one when you get to it.

I'm on the third of the 'Sam Clair' (Murder of Magpies) books and really enjoying it. I enjoyed the first book but for me the second and third are even better.
I will certainly let you know about the Scottish one. :-)

Oh, that's excellent. I picked Murder of Magpies up from the library the other day. Looking forward to reading it... and probably the rest. *ggg*
Thank you.

Oh, good. I shall be very interested to hear what you think about it.
Two names spring to mind: Xibalba and Xanadu. There are loads of Chinese place names beginning with X but you might have to dig around a bit to find novels set in them. The Xibalba Murders is nothing special but it would do in a pinch.
I haven't heard of The Xibalba Murders... thanks very much for the suggestion, I'll go and look it up on Goodreads in a minute. One that would have been perfect is Terry Pratchett's The Last Continent suggested by nakeisha's husband. It's set in a thinly disguised Australia named as Xxxx. Unfortunately, I've already read it.

Edited at 2017-03-12 11:09 pm (UTC)
That would have been great. I've been trying to think of imaginary places beginning with an X but there are surprisingly few. Xanth is the only other that springs to mind.