After the traditional turkey coma, there’s nothing like a comfortable chair and a good book. For me, this week has been mainly about mysteries, all of very different kinds: a 1920s ghost story (or, rather, “ghost” story), a modern Scottish police procedural, and a Victorian with the suggestion of a paranormal element.

— Georgette Heyer’s Footsteps in the Dark, in which three siblings inherit a “haunted” house, and, in the company of their eccentric aunt, attempt to move in, despite the ghostly– or just ghastly?– phantom monk determined to roust them out. I wanted to love this book. An old abbey! Ghosts! Heyer! While it wasn’t bad, it felt like it fell uncomfortably between drawing room comedy, mystery, and ghost story, and never quite made up its mind which it wanted to be. I think, had I gone in thinking of it as a mystery rather than as a ghost story, I would have liked it much better.

— Peter May’s The Blackhouse, in which a policeman returns to his home island to solve the gruesome murder of a man who bullied him as a child and is forced to confront the suppressed remnants of his own past. If you like the darker sort of police procedural, this is for you. It’s brilliantly done, unraveling the pieces bit by bit as you get deeper into the hero’s tangled past, which turns out to be the key to the murder in the present. It’s also an evocative picture of island life in one of the more remote parts of Scotland.

— Barbara Michael’s The Wizard’s Daughter, in which an orphaned girl adrift in 1880s London is swept up by an eccentric duchess on the theory that the girl is the daughter of a missing medium and the inheritor of his psychic powers. This was never one of my favorite Barbara Michaels novels (it’s a bit too self-mocking), but re-reading it brought home to be me that there are times when even a lesser Barbara Michaels can be better than the best of anything else. There are so few people who write with such entirely engaging prose.

What have you been reading this week?

8 Comments

  1. Amy on November 27, 2015 at 3:41 pm

    I enjoyed Heyer’s Footsteps in the Dark. Three siblings, their aunt and one of the sibling’s spouses move into a haunted house, Charles was one of my favorite characters and I felt in general I wanted to hang with these people. It was in the mystery section of my library.

    I read Riveted by Meljean Brook, which was good, but much darker than I suspected.
    I also read How to Say Good-Bye in Robot, which is young adult. It was sad and charming.

    • Amy on November 27, 2015 at 3:44 pm

      I did expect a bit more romance in the book given that it was Heyer. Charles and Celia were lovely married couple. I also can see how it didn’t exactly fit neatly into one category.

      Natalie Standiford wrote How to Say Good-Bye in Robot.

    • SuzanneH on December 1, 2015 at 11:00 pm

      I loved the eccentric old aunt with her ouji board. She was hysterical.

  2. Miss Eliza on November 27, 2015 at 5:02 pm

    I finally finished David Pirie’s The Dark Water, which is basically a continuation of the Sherlock Holmes inspired TV series, Murder Rooms. Took awhile to get into, but once I did, SUCH a great mystery with wonderful atmosphere.

    I then read some comics I had out from the library which are due tomorrow, most were forgettable, but I’d suggest everyone to check out Nimona, so much fun, medieval and science and shapeshifters!

    Now I’m reading Anthony ‘Foyle’s War’ Horowitz’s The House of Silk… yes, still on Sherlock Holmes!

  3. Christine on November 27, 2015 at 7:07 pm

    Along the Infinite Sea by Beatriz Williams. I couldn’t put it down.

  4. Sheila on November 27, 2015 at 8:29 pm

    Selden Edwards’ The Little Book, odd, challenging, glad I didn’t give up on it, but hard to define why.
    The next to newest Lenox book, An Old Betrayal, liked it.

    The Storied Life of AJ Fikry, by Zevin was WONderful!

    Preston& Childs Crimson Shore, not my fav, but still Pendergast.

  5. DJL on November 28, 2015 at 12:48 am

    Finally started (and finished!) And Only to Deceive by Tasha Alexander, now looking forward to catching up on all the Lady Emily novels–maternity leave is great for working on one’s TBR pile!
    Also discovered some new (to me) authors, Grace Draven (fantasy romance) and Fae Mallory (contemporary romance) whose works have been very helpful in keeping me awake during the 2AM feedings:)
    Next up is Antonia Fraser’s My History, which comes highly recommended by my favorite source for reading material: my mother.

  6. SuzanneH on December 1, 2015 at 11:04 pm

    I read Charles Finch’s Home By Nightfall, which was really creepy and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Then back to Rhys Bowen’s Royal Spyness series, Heirs And Graces, Queen Of Hearts and I am now about 1/3rd into Malice At The Palace. I will be really sorry to get to the end of these and have to wait till August for the next one. They are so funny!

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