Review: As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust

Title: As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust. Flavia De Luce #7

Author: Alan Bradley

Spoilers for the previous books in the series, so if you’re planning on reading them but haven’t yet, don’t read this review! You’ve been warned.

At the end of the previous book, Flavia’s beloved mother Harriet has been located and brought home to Bishop’s Lacey at last for a burial. But while Flavia has inherited everything, she’s being packed off to Canada to Miss Bodycote’s Female Academy to be trained up in all the things a gentlewoman (and a spy?) might need to know. Flavia is homesick, but full of pluck as per usual, so when a body falls out of her chimney, she takes it in her customary stride. Something is clearly a foot.

I enjoyed this one, but it wasn’t as much fun without the usual Buckshaw crowd. Still, it did Flavia good to let her stretch her wings a bit and see what she was made of. Looking forward to the next one.

Review: The Treasure at Poldarrow Point

Title: The Treasure at Poldarrow Point (Angela Marchmont, #3)

Author: Clara Benson

After solving two cases in close succession, Angela Marchmont is struck with a nasty case of pneumonia. Her doctor has ordered a rest cure at the sea side, so she’s headed to Cornwall. She’s barely unpacked when her impulsive goddaughter has shown up and discovered a local story of buried treasure.

Naturally, young Barbara has decided that would be the perfect project for their summer holiday. Angela is reluctant at first, but she gets caught up in the lives of the local residents. There’s a sweet old lady and her nephew, a quarrelsome married couple, an odd scientist, and an attractive Scotland Yard detective all involved in the events nearby.

The lighthearted treasure hunt takes a deadly turn when someone takes a shot at Angela and Barbara goes missing.

This one was my favorite in the series so far. The others were rather predictable, but not in a terrible way. This one I was actually caught off guard more than once. I thought I had it figured it out, but there were several surprises in there. I have already downloaded the next one in this series. If you like the British mysteries, this series is so much fun.

Reread: Murder Over Easy

Title: Murder Over Easy, Trailer Park #2

Author: Jimmie Ruth Evans

I don’t know if you ever reread books, but I am happy to revisit one I enjoyed before. And when I saw this one at the library, I decided to pick it up for a second helping.

Wanda Sue is a hardworking single mom, trying to make ends meet. She works two jobs, one at the local diner and one overnight stocking shelves at the discount store. On her way home early one morning, she gets a call from her boss at the diner that he’s been arrested for the murder of another waitress. Wanda Sue believes her boss is innocent, so she starts out to find the real killer.

So what was it about this book that make me pick it up again? Well, it wasn’t the genre. I got a little bit into the book and then remembered that I don’t really like cozy mysteries. They rely so much on quirky characters and coincidence that the “mystery” is virtually nonexistent. I generally spot the victim and the murderer before anyone is dead, and that drives me nuts. No, it was the character.

Most fiction is written about the middle class. People who live in moderately nice houses, have a couple of cars, a couple of kids in school, and a decent job. Books about single people generally don’t mention roommates and their apartments are nice. Then there are plenty of book about the rich, too. But books about the working poor are not so common. The ones you do find focus on drugs or violence or despair, not on how many of the working poor are functioning just fine, thank you. Sure, money is really tight, but that’s just the way it is and there’s no point in worrying about it. Meanwhile, it’s time to get to work, and if that means working two jobs, then it does, and that’s that.

My family has fluctuated between lower middle income and upper middle income, but some of my best friends were a distinct income bracket below mine. I was in their homes often enough to know that they are not well represented in what’s being published today. Their lives are different from those with more money, but they aren’t as bleak as you might imagine. I loved this series because you see that. Wanda Sue doesn’t complain. Sure, she’s tired, but she’s happy to have her jobs, she loves her kids, and she helps her friends when she can. I would recommend this series just because of her, but start with the first book, Flamingo Fatale.

Gentler Downton Abbey Mysteries

Murder at Ashgrove House by Margaret Addison

I’m a big fan of the Golden Age mysteries – the ones featuring a private detective, a locked room or closed mystery set among the English upper classes, a set of clues, and a tidy ending. Hercule Poirot is the classic sleuth you think of with these, but I’m always on the lookout for more books in this sort of genre. There are several other series that were popular at the time – Inspector Alleyn by Ngaio Marsh, Albert Campion by Margery Allingham, Lord Peter Wimsey by Dorothy L. Sayers, Inspector Appleby by Michael Innes, Miss Silver by Patricia Wentworth. These were mostly written by women featuring a gentleman sleuth or an nice old lady.

These type of mysteries have never really gone out of style. They’ve been redone, satired, spoofed, reimagined and so on. With the popularity of Downton Abbey, these books are hot again. I found this series through Kindle Unlimited and decided to give it a try. I’m not crazy about them, but they were pretty good.

Rose Simpson works at a dress shop. A friendly coworker invites her to a country weekend at her aunt’s estate. Lady Lavinia took the job on a bet but now she’s finding it too much like actual work. Rose is happy to get out of the city. She’s hoping for a nice relaxing weekend. Instead, a snobby woman gets murdered and Rose is caught right in the middle of things.

I liked Rose, mostly, although she is a little too quick to scream and fuss when things go wrong. She seriously  needs to toughen up. She’s a bit too much of a Mary Sue right now – everyone who likes her is a good guy, and everyone who doesn’t is clearly a bad guy. But my main complaint about the book is that there is way too many recaps. The cops have to review the investigation, review the evidence, review the interview they just conducted. Then the suspect has to have some interior monologue for a few paragraphs as well. The POV skips from character to character with no way of marking the text so that the reader can tell when it changes. The second book at least had a line break in between, but this one has nothing.

The plot wasn’t anything complicated, but I did like the setting. I’m hoping that it will improve. I’m only giving it 3 stars, and I would cautiously recommend it for readers who like this type of book.