Tag Archives: detective novels

Does knitting always mean a murder?

Murder Tightly Knit:

Vannetta Chapman

Now any title with knitting in it always attracts me as I knit everyday – physiotherapy for my arthritis but also keeps my hands busy! However, in this book knitting is fairly tangential to the storyline except in 2 aspects:

  1. The owner of the wool shop is involved in what might be considered a conspiracy;
  2. Amish women are frequent knitters; often knitting clothing for themselves and their families or for sale to increase their income. And some of the wool in the shop comes from Amish farmers.

Now in this particular wool shop they sell a very special kind of wool that is also very expensive – that is camel wool. Not I’ve heard of alpaca and so on wool for knitting but this was the first time I’d come across camel wool to knit with. Although thinking about it, camel hair coats have been around for ages and are much prized and expensive!

I therefore looked up camel wool and what could be knitted with it – I’m always curious like that – I knew that it could be woven and thus used for cloth, tents, carpets etc and of course the use of camel hair like this goes back to Biblical times and thus producing such wool would be very appropriate for an Amish farmer.

So we come to knitting with it. If it is baby camel wool then it seems it is possible to knit with the pure wool, but older camels’ wool is usually mixed with something like cashmere. Baby wool is lightweight, extremely soft, durable, heat conducting (ideal for those who have circulation problems), hypoallergenic, and contains lanolin thus reducing static and being dirt repellent! My word, the ultimate wool it would seem… one web site I encountered really believes this and raves about its medical potential for a number of conditions (valenki.biz/en/sprav.htm).

So, digression over, back to the book. One of the characters within it is called ‘Miss Marples’ by some of her friends and the writing style, with lots of red herrings and twists and ‘cosy’ women (of a certain age) undertaking investigations alongside the police in a small enclosed community is very reminiscent indeed of Miss Marples!

It is not a thriller, and not a police procedural, but there is murder and nefarious doings and an understanding of Amish life. It was tagged as ‘Christian’ but to me it seemed more that the main characters had strong religious beliefs rather than it being any type of Christian fundamentalism of preaching. As such, and as a non-believer, I was still happy to read it  as I didn’t feel preached at, but just accepted the beliefs and ways of expressing themselves as being part of the way the man characters lived their lives. I was in fact interested in how the characters operated psychologically.

I was somewhat surprised and concerned about the prevalence of ‘preparedness’ for disasters element that seemed to be around in these locations with the US and the number of guns and ease of acceptance of their use bothered me but then it always does when US life in detective novels especially, is described.

Overall, the book had a slightly cosy villagey feel to the style and writing without stretching the brain too much.

3.5 stars and would recommend to someone who would be interested in the Amish.

I honour : Yoga, Murder and Mirth

Books I have read April/May 2014

I recently went away for a couple of weeks followed by a long weekend so managed to read a significant number of books – I shan’t bother to review them all in depth but give a few details and star rating for most.

In order of reading then:

  1.  Smoulder: 4*
  2. Burn: 3*

These are Shapeshifter ‘romances’ by Penelope Fletcher. I liked the first and thus bought the second which was not quite as good.

3.The Secret Ingredient by Misty Evans: 4*

I do however object to her stereotype characterisation of someone with osteoarthritis – especially as replacement hips are easy to do and work exceptionally well – and very easy indeed to recover from even if you are 80+!

  1. The Immortal Collection by Eva Garcia Saenz: 4*

Interesting to see how she continues the story. However, it was rather too long and needed some editing.

  1. Let us Prey by Jamie Lee Scott: 3.5*

Gotcha Detective Agency. Writing with a sense of humour and a hint of vampires.

  1. The Ex who wouldn’t Die by Misty Evans: 3.5*

Fun light-hearted ghosts and doing better in purgatory through penance.

  1. A Touch of Ice by Sally Berneathy:4*

Psychics are here! Looking forward to future books in the series and happy to read a book where the heroine is not 100% convinced she is involved with the right man.

  1. A Cutthroat Business by Jenna Bennett: 2.5*

Estate agents as we call them in the UK and dead bodies.

  1. The Throwbacks by Stephanie Queen: 3.5*

Scotland Yard Exchange. Bouncy heroine. Quirky and fun. Very unserious.

10.Maggie for Hire by Kate Danley: 4.5*

Must read the next in the series. Love the Elf and Maggie is a good heroine. Self-deprecating and excellent fighter. Also good description of an authentic alternate reality.

11. When Women Were Warriors by Catherine M. Wilson: 3*

I initially gave this 3.5* but as the book dragged on I dropped my ranking and got bored. It is part 1 of a long saga – very long if this is anything to go by – where not a lot happens but the background is filled in to (presumably) the main characters.

Beautifully written as a story – but why do authors always set their heroic sagas/deeds books in the Middle Ages – barely out of the Bronze Age. No technology beyond the wheel. No underwear! And no jumpers or coats and yet they can sew shirts…why is the wearing of boots in the snow such a novel idea (as against leather shoes which get soaked and then dry out hard and useless) and where are the toilets and hot baths?

Come on you writers of heroic tales – be inventive! Read Terry Pratchett and invent technology that may not have existed in our Western Middle Ages – though they had toilets of sorts even then… you are writing fantasy worlds and don’t have to be true to historic facts – or even near historically truths. Culture, technology, way of life, – if you can change one you can change many – just making women warriors with same sex relationships doesn’t really cut it.

12. Legacy of the Witch by Maggie Shayne: 2*

Re-incarnation romance. Doesn’t make me want to read the series.

13. Highland Shift by Laura Harner: 2.5*

Oh you Americans. Fancy not knowing that there is no such language as Scots! Only the Scottish Gaelic and English with a broad accent and some dialect substitute words…

14. The Ghost and the Graveyard by Genevieve Jack: 2.5*
15. Thankless in Death by JD Robb: 3*
I said this about her last book — not as interesting and rather formulaic. Cut down on the number written per year JD!
16. Room by Emma Donahue: 4*
17. Killer Cupcakes by Leighan Dobbs: 3* too short
18. Chameleon by Bentley J. Jackson : 3.5*
19. ickup Styx by Liz Schulte: 3*
20. The Chase by Adriana Giordano: 3.5*
21. The Secret Ingredient by Misty Evans:3*
22. Enchanted Secrets by Kristen Middleton: 2.75*

One of the books and now I can’t quite remember which one – had a lovely ‘Yoga’ prayer in it which I am copying here.

I honour that place in you

Where the entire universe resides

I honour that place in you

Of love, light, and peace.

I honour that place

Where if you are in that place in you

And I am in that place in me

There is only one of us.


Books read and still to read: reviews

Book reviews:

my grading system: 1* to 5*

1* Ok if you must and have nothing better to read

2* well there are better

2.5* readable and you might like this or you might be indifferent

3* this is quite good and probably worth following a series

4* now you should read this

5* rarely given as quite outstanding

‘Passions of the Dead’ by LJ Sellers.

I like these ‘fun’ lightweight crime/detective novels as a contrast to the more complex novels of authors such as Elizabeth George and Patricia Cornwell. There is not as much complexity in either the characterisation or the plot, but then I am paying either nothing a they are free Kindle books, or very little – I have a rule not to pay more than £2 for an author I do not know and respect as having something valuable to contribute to my library – which is quite extensive already…

That said, the series about Detective Jackson by LJ Sellers are quite well written and this particular novel had a good twist in the ending that I didn’t see coming. I do find it very difficult to imagine how life must be for Americans and me if I lived in the USA – due to the medical situation and lack of the NHS. We would have been bankrupted many years ago and  the issues that come from owing medical bills provides good fodder for authors including LJ Sellers in this story. It puts a lot of pressure on characters and gives the authors many twists to play with.

I have also just finished ‘Dying for Justice’ the previous in the series and I particularly like the character Lisa Evans – she shows promise. Clearly other readers thought this too as she has just been given her own novel – she is the main protagonist in ‘The Gauntlet Assassin’. It is a pity that the girlfriend Kera in the Detective Jackson novels seems to be about to be written off, she added a nice element to the characterisation of Jackson. Killing the coma victim was unnecessary I thought and the parents of Jackson needed more detailed exploration as to their reactions to the infidelity and subsequent pregnancy.

2.5 *

A much more serious book was the one I read for Book Club: ‘Address Unknown’ by Kressman Taylor. This has been called the best short story ever written and the ending – if you think through the implications – is horrific. The ending led to quite an intense discussion at book club – was it the right or moral thing to do? Knowing as the perpetrator did, what would happen because of his actions, even though he, himself was across the ocean from these actions.

The story is a set of letters written to each other by two friends. It was set in 1934 and written in 1938. When published in the US in 1938 it caused a storm. Within 10 days of [publication it had sold out and was picked up by Reader’s Digest to distribute. Although it was published in the UK in 1939, the start of the war meant that it was not generally read. It eventually came to Europe and the UK in 1999 and again was a best seller.

You can read this book in less than an hour but the story will live with you for a very long time and the moral question of the ending will make you think and question action and reaction and do the means justify the ends for quite some time.

Highly recommended. 5*


Also read: ‘Fallen’ by Karin Slaughter

This is a great contrast in terms of complexity of plot and characterisation and you can see why she is such a best selling author.  This another in the special agent Faith Mitchell series and she has moved on with a young baby and still working with Will Trent – who is dyslexic with some of the difficulties that this condition brings with it.

The surprise of course is cleverly brought to light and I certainly didn’t suspect it. Whilst a little bllod-thirsty and gun oriented for me, I still enjoyed the style of writing and the plot and found it difficult to put down. 4*


Still to read: new additions to the list!

I am a sucker for good bookshops especially second-hand as I can justify that the books are cheap and it is good recycling. So I bought some new books last week:

‘the Brutal Art’ by Jesse Kellerman – this was on the recommendation of Jackie – now who Jackie was I am not sure, but the book had a cardboard cover with her review on it – which said:

: Why – an investigation into four brutal murders 40 years old is linked to the discovery of some weird artwork. Who for – anyone who enjoyed The Interpretation of Murder.

Now as I like art and really enjoyed The Interpretation of Murder. It sold it to me.

Also Mum’s book: Faye Kellerman’s Hangman.


Finally my new Elizabeth George paperback arrived from Amazon: Believing the Lie.

So lots to read and then there’s the book club book:

‘Bits of Me are Falling Apart: Dark Thoughts from the Middle Years’ by William Leith

Oh well …