It’s a Mystery: The Detective’s Daughter, by Lesley Thomson

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My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Detective’s Daughter  does not have a straightforward opening, which is off putting to many readers. It reads as a collection of unrelated short stories, and requires some patience until things start to become clearer. These are backstories, and they’re well worth the wait.

On a sunny day in 1981, young mother Kate Rokesmith is found murdered along the banks of the Thames in Hammersmith. Hours later, her little boy, Jonathan, is found huddled at the foot of sculpture he always enjoyed visiting, and police deduce that he probably witnessed to killing, but the trauma leaves him unwilling/unable to answer their questions.  A single witness, a neighbor,  saw the pair head off for their walk, but otherwise there is a frustrating dearth of information. The police suspect the husband, but lack any semblance of evidence, and the case goes cold. This is one of the cases that has  obsessed former DCS Terry Darnell for thirty years, even into retirement. When he dies suddenly of a heart attack, his semi-estranged daughter, Stella, owner of a professional cleaning business, sets about clearing his house, and a box  of papers she was sorting through indicates that he was actively pursuing the case. When she hires  Jack Harmon to serve a cleaner to her new dentist, Stella finds him decidedly quirky, but surprisingly effective and efficient. It isn’t long before he becomes as interested as she is in the unsolved crime. What ensues is a distinctly cerebral mystery that grows harder and harder to put down. Along the way, Stella learns things about her dad as well as herself that she had never before considered or even recognized. More than a simple police procedural, The Detective’s Daughter is a book about relationships, with vivid, realistic characters, eerie surprises, and several genuinely suspenseful moments.

While reading this novel, I did a web search about the setting, finding many evocative photos that helped bring the story to life. Finished the book this afternoon, and now I’m off to start Ghost Girl, the second book in this series, eager to know more about how Stella and Jack develop as characters. Can’t wait!

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Crime Novels: The Narrows by Michael Connelly

The devil is in the details

Harry Bosch is a likeable guy. Tough without being perfect. Able to table his own emotions while getting a job done. He’s seen it all and still retains his humanity and integrity, although happiness has always eluded him. And most of the time, he has the courage to be genuine. Even with books in series, I like to approach each one individually and judge it on its own merits. And The Narrows is strong enough to stand on its own. One of the factors that makes it an intriguing cop story is that Harry can sometimes – not always – figure out how killers think. Logic, intuition, and experience combine in his mind to allow him to think outside the box. Author Connelly is adept at leading his readers step by step through the fascinating ins and outs of attacking a crime, narrowing down the possibilities, and discovering the whos, whats, and whys of Harry’s cases. The balance between action and intellect is always satisfying, and makes The Narrows a gritty, enthralling winner.