Guest Post: Helen M. DeBlase Reviews Three Mysteries

When I was in Houston visiting my brother, we went to one of my favorite stores Murder By the Book – heaven! …All mysteries, all the time. I asked the proprietor to recommend some lesser-known or first-time published authors. She suggested three different books, which I purchased and brought home. These were not books I would ordinarily have given a second look, and I didn’t have much hope of enjoying them. Much to my surprise, I found each an excellent read and hard to put down. A short review of each follows:

lost&foundLost and Found in Prague, by Kelly Jones

A Vatican priest and an investigative reporter from Boston both travel to Prague on supposedly unrelated matters. They meet on the plane and then again in the city after a nun had died under suspicious circumstances. Then a prominent senator is killed. Clues are discovered going back twenty years to the revolution and more bodies are found along the way. The plot twists and turns; the characters are intriguing and the sense of place very well done.

A Memory of Violets, by Hazel Gaynormemoryofviolets

This story takes place mostly in London in 1876 and 1912. It is more a novel than a mystery, although there is a puzzle to solve. It begins with two orphaned sisters living in abject poverty, who sell flowers at Covent Gardens to earn a bit of money. Flora, the eldest sister, had promised their dying mother to always look after Rosie. When Rosie goes missing, Flora devotes the rest of her life to trying to find her.

Fast forward to 1912, when Tilly arrives in London to be house mother at a Training Home for Watercress and Flower Girls. she finds a notebook written by Flora detailing the heartbreaking search for her sister. Tilly also sets out to finish her search and find out what happened to Rosie. Therein lies the mystery.

The conditions that many young children grew up in were chillingly described, the historic aspects were accurately written and the plot, while not terribly mysterious, was very readable.

booksellerThe Bookseller, by Mark Pryor

This book is the first in a series featuring Hugo Marston, a retired CIA agent and now head of security at the American Embassy in Paris. As the story opens, Hugo witnesses the abduction of an elderly bookseller whom he had befriended. Trying to find his friend and the reason for his abduction leads Hugo deeper and deeper into the darker side of Paris. Before long, political corruption, the drug trade, and even police involvement enter the picture.

The plot is very suspenseful and fast-moving – it’s a hard book to put down.

All three books had well-clarified characters, excellent locale descriptions and good writing. I can highly recommend each one, and while they are in the CLAMS catalog, I have donated my copies to the West Tisbury Library.