Read Recently — January 2016 — Mysteries

All Sales Fatal: a Mall Cop mystery by Laura DiSilverio

I quite liked the first volume of this series (here) so I figured I’d give the next one a try. I was pleasantly surprised.

Emma-Joy “EJ” Ferris arrives at work to find a young man apparently sleeping near the mall entrance. Turns out he isn’t sleeping; he’s dead. And he didn’t die of natural causes, unless you consider a bullet through the heart to be a natural cause. It’s also apparent that he didn’t die where he was lying, because there is almost no blood.

The body gets taken away, but EJ knows the guy, or at least has seen him before. She saw him in the mall the day before, with a couple of other kids. The area has been concerned about gang troubles; could the killing be gang-related? And what about the fact that the body was dumped in an area where the security cameras have been malfunctioning for a while? The “Captain” of the guard force said that he had called it in for repair, but when EJ contacts the company responsible they say they haven’t heard about it. Then the Captain himself disappears, and Mall Management puts EJ in charge temporarily, a promotion which she enjoys and finds herself hoping will be made permanent when the Captain turns up again, dead.

All the elements that made the first one work: the juxtaposition between the calm, capitalist oasis of the mall and the violence of the murders; EJ as a likable first-person narrator; the hint of heat with hunky cop Anders Helland and more than a hint with mystery-man/cookie baker Jay Callahan, who may himself be an undercover cop. EJ’s Grandfather, the ex-CIA agent, is back and as charmingly kookie as he was before. He is the series’ potential weak link, I think: as long as DiSilverio takes him seriously (Grandpa is a dangerous man) he won’t go over the edge to comic relief (and potentially drag the rest of the story with him) but as long as he’s still goofy he keeps things from getting too grim.

All in all, still a lot of fun. Highly recommended (and, as with most good mystery series’, you can start reading here if you want to, but you should really start with Die Buying).

Hickory Dickory Dock: a Hercule Poirot mystery by Agatha Christie

Poirot gets worried when his normally perfect secretary starts making mistakes; it seems that she is worried about her sister, who is managing a rooming house for students in London. It seems that a number of strange things have recently gone missing, and not always things that make sense: a ring, for example, makes sense, but not a rucksack or a bunch of lightbulbs. Still, hardly the stuff of murder, right? Right?

This one’s a middle-weight entry to the series; it works but not as brilliantly as some. On the other hand, it avoids the lows of, say, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, about which the less said the better. Mildly recommended.

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