I loved this. It has a real sense of the 19th century French novel, with people knowing other people and moving in Certain Artistic Circles, and so on. The authors (a pair of sisters who are both bouquinistes on the banks of the Seine) are obviously allied to those people of the time who were fans of Balzac; and horrified by Zola. You get the sense of the huge development in Paris at the time (people are constantly asking other people for directions) and the sense of pride and progress the Tower produces... The detective plot is almost secondary, but also very satisfying... A truly French novel, beautifully translated.
Burn baby burn by Jake Burns. London: HarperCollins, 2010. Kindle edition.
Marcus Green planned the death of his father when he was 6 years old, and was convicted of burning down a house with his teacher and her two children inside it at the age of 13. Now he's out of prison and back in society again, and young girls are disappearing. Donna O'Prey and her boss Dexter, part of a private security firm, are engaged by the latest girl's father to find her. This book started out well but is ultimately a little bit disappointing. It does have an unexpected twist in the tail though, and some engaging characters.
More twisted by Jeffery Deaver. London: Hodder, 2007.
Another volume of very, very good short stories from Deaver. His tendency to pull the rug out from under the reader works just as well, if not better, in the short form, and there are more twists than a corkscrew. There's also a longer story, almost a novella, featuring Lincoln Rhyme in this volume. This really is a masterclass in how the crime short story ought to be written.
Dying to sin by Stephen Booth [audiobook]. Read by Graham Padden. Rearsby, Leics: Clipper, 2009.
Another extremely good Stephen Booth Diane Fry/Ben Cooper novel, read by a very good reader. Building work at an isolated farm unearths two bodies, seemingly buried several years apart. A combination of local superstition and the hard realities of migrant labour keep this story flying along; Cooper is almost absent from this one other than as an adjunct to his girlfriend, which is a shame, but there are some good Fry moments. The Peak District, as ever, features large in this story.
The language of bees, by Laurie R. King. London: Allison and Busby, 2010.
A Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes mystery - although these really need to be read in chronological order starting with The beekeeper's apprentice. Set in 1924, this one takes us from a mysteriously self-destructive beehive to peril in ancient stones in Orkney, via the intriguing idea that Sherlock Holmes and Irene Adler had a son who is now approaching 30. As ever, the plot rattles along; unlike the previous book, Locked Rooms, there is little psychological analysis, but some fascinating period details regarding new spiritualist religions, and some perspicacious comments on the post-War era. And as ever, I continue to be stunned that the author is from the US and still lives there.