|Purry Mason helps to unpack|
While Sister MM might correct me here, most of the history in these books seems accurate to my rather sketchy knowledge of the period. Neither Roosevelt nor Churchill come off too well in this book, which seems to have offended some early reviewers. There were several war-related subplots in this one and the series is getting progressively darker, but it retains enough of the Nancy-Drew-goes-to-war flavor to keep me engaged.
In 1979, the Hochstetler house was burned down. The bodies of the father and his children were found. Willis had been shot, and all but one of his four children burned to death. His wife had apparently been kidnapped, and no trace of her was ever found. No one was ever brought to trial for the crimes. Now, brutal murders are being committed in Painter's Grove, with an Amish doll left in the mouth of each victim, apparently as retribution for the earlier unsolved murders. Kate's Amish upbringing provides some access (even though she is shunned for leaving) to the closed community. Castillo's well-written books feature violent and passionate crimes set against the backdrop of the placid and productive Amish farm country, where nothing is ever forgotten or wasted.
The setting here is a suburban slum of Stockholm, where a pair of teenage boys who began by selling drugs, successfully build a drug empire notorious for its viciousness. When one of the boys is imprisoned, they plan a jail break and crime that will put them in the pantheon of master criminals. Many reviewers have mentioned that the book is depressing––most of this series' books are, but the authors are passionate and honest about the underbelly of the situations they expose. I find their books readable and compelling, if somewhat horrifying.
This joint effort has led to often bewilderingly-timed releases of the books. The False Virgin, released June 5, is set in 848 A.D., while The Deadliest Sin (The Medieval Murderers, No. 10) (Simon & Schuster UK, July 3, 2014) is set during the spread of the Black Plague in 1348. It seems to be loosely based on Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, with a group of penitent pilgrims at an inn each telling his story of crime and murder. I have been unable to find a single early review of this book, so can only pick out bits from the publisher's blurb. The only other collaborative series I have read was the popular science fiction/fantasy Sanctuary series many years ago. I enjoyed most of them, so will look forward to trying this approach in period mysteries.
World of Trouble: The Last Policeman Book III by Ben H. Winters (Quirk Books, July 15, 2014). I was quite anxious to get my hands on this last tale in the trilogy that began with the author's Edgar-winning The Last Policeman. We are now less than a month away from the inevitable collision with the asteroid Maia, expected to wipe all life from the earth. Detective Hank Palace has traveled to an Amish (really?) community in Ohio in search of his only living relative, his sister Nico. Civilization has mostly fallen apart, but Nico had left to join a group that had a plan to divert the asteroid. What the author will do has been a source of speculation for followers of the series; will he wimp out with some miraculous or scientific solution, or bravely ride this thing into the ground? I have an advance copy in hand that I haven't had time to open yet. (Aaargh!) Guess I'd better hurry.
Note: I received an advance review copy of Susan Elia MacNeal's The Prime Minister's Secret Agent.