Read Recently — April 2008 — Mysteries

Irish Linen: a Nuala Anne McGrail Novel by Andrew M. Greeley

A few years back Greeley started this series off with a short novel about reluctant suitor Dermot Coyne and his unexpected bride Nuala McGrail: their meeting (in Ireland), and their really odd courtship and stressfull wedding (the wedding may have been in the second book. It’s been a while). Since then he has been chronicling their lives together: Dermot is a failed stock trader (his failure consisted of making a couple million dollars in one afternoon (by luck) and then retiring while he still could) turned poet, and Nuala is an internationally successful singer. Together, they raise Irish Wolfhounds, an ever-growing number of daughters, and, oh yes, they solve mysteries. Nuala is the detective, while Dermot runs the errands, gently mocking himself in the first person and openly worshipping his wife (as always in Greeley’s work, their whole relationship is a sort of Catholic fable).

The mystery this time is the fate of one Desmond Dooley, a young man from their neighbourhood who went off to Iraq to stop the war and hasn’t been heard from since. The government denies knowing anything about his whereabouts. And in a second storyline, our hero reads about some adventures from the second World War. Some Germans are involved, I think. I didn’t read it. And that is the weakness of this series; somewhere in there Greeley started throwing in a second storyline to every book. At first he used them to illuminate matters in the primary story, but lately there is at best a feeble pretense of connection. If you took that one out, this would be a much thinnner, and much better, book.

So, split decision. Half of this book is mildly recommended; half of it is mildly not recommended. I wish he would just stick to Dermot and Nuala.

A Bone to Pick: an Aurora Teagarden mystery by Charlaine Harris

Sequel to Real Murders. This one begins with Roe attending three weddings and a funeral. The funeral is for one of the older surviving members of the Real Murders club, now disbanded. The dead woman, Jane, was not a close friend of Roe; more of an acquaintance, which makes it all the more mystifying that she would she would leave Roe almost half a million dollars, and a house. And inside the house, hidden, as Roe later finds, is a human skull. Whose? How did it get there? Where is the rest of the skeleton? What secret was Jane hiding with it? Did she actually murder someone, or is it someone else’s secret she was keeping? And why?

Roe is once again a charming hero, the background is expanded as we see more of the town, and the mystery leads in some unexpected directions, again without cheating. Again, recommended.

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