The Crow Trap
By Ann Cleeves
Published by Pan Macmillan
This is an ingenious psychological suspense novel. At the isolated Baikie's Cottage on the North Pennines, three very different women come together. Three women who each know the meaning of betrayal ...For team leader Rachael the project is the perfect opportunity to rebuild her confidence after a double-betrayal by her lover and boss, Peter Kemp. Botanist Anne, on the other hand, sees it as a chance to indulge in a little deception of her own. And then there is Grace, a strange, uncommunicative young woman with plenty of her own secrets to
hide ...When Rachael arrives at the cottage, however, she is horrified to discover the body of her friend Bella Furness. Bella, it appears, has committed suicide - a verdict Rachael finds impossible to accept.
Only when the next death occurs does a fourth woman enter the picture - the unconventional Detective Inspector Vera Stanhope...
I ordered this book from the library after watching the TV adaptation. Lots of minor details got explained that were missing in the TV version, and most of the characters came across as somewhat grimmer as well. On the other hand, the series didn't grab me, and I'm not sure I'll be ordering the next one just yet.
The Kraken's Mirror
by Maureen O. Betita
Published by Decadent Publishing Company, LLC
Captain Alan Silvestri is a man haunted by a strange curse. Good luck is his to command, but it comes at the cost of any place to call home or people to reckon as family. Resigned to die and shunned by all, he is forced to sail every three days, until he begins to dream of a special woman.
Treated by our youth-oriented society as invisible and sexless, Emily Pawes is ready to move on with life. She attends a pirate festival, hoping to recapture the make-believe magic she knew as a young woman. Lucky to win an interesting bit of booty at a brick-a-brac stand, she finds herself transported by the Kraken’s mirror through a magical portal to a land of Hollywood piratitude, where swashbuckling heroes own iPods. With little choice, Emily embraces the madness. Playing pirate has to be safer than falling into the arms of handsome Captain Silvestri, right?
When they meet, sparks fly, passion flares. He needs her to be free, but more than that, he needs her to be whole. Setting sail and uncertain of who actually controls the wheel, they seek ways to defeat his curse of good luck and discover the Kraken’s mirror has plans for them. Will Emily stay in this pirate haven to fight alongside him or will he lose her because of his curse?
This Pirates of Mature Years (she's in her fifties, he's in his sixties) romance was a fun story all the way through. The pirates' world is delightful and revels in its total disconnection from reality (the heroine is a reenactment geek and various of the other characters are also totally aware that they exist in a weird alternate dimension that anachronisms occasionally fall into through holes in reality). It probably helps that the author seems to know her stuff and has thought through what she wants to keep and what she wants to throw away.
In between highly improbably adventures, the two main characters keep meeting up for highly acrobatic sex interspersed with discussions as to whether such behaviour is appropriate and/or sensible for persons of their years.
My only very minor gripe was that for once I'd have liked a longer final chapter (mainly because there was space for more geographical/landscape descriptions that would probably be far less exciting for US readers than I would have found them). But I'll definitely be snapping up the other two promised books in the series as soon as they're published and looking out for more books by the same author.
Damsel in Distress
by Carola Dunn
Published by Robinson Publishing
Simply mad about the girl...In spring a young man's fancy will turn to love and the Honourable Phillip Petrie is no exception. Daisy's chum is totally smitten with Miss Gloria Arbuckle, daughter of a millionaire Yank. But before the enthusiastic suitor can pop the question, his beloved is abducted by kidnappers. As a distraught Mr Arbuckle begins assembling the ransom, Phillip enlists Daisy to help him recover his missing sweetheart. Strictly forbidden to contact Scotland Yard, Daisy must resist the temptation to bring dashing
Detective Inspector Alec Fletcher onto the case. But as she closes in on the abductors' rural hideway, she begins to suspect that Gloria isn't the only fair damsel whose life hangs in the balance.
In a slight break from previous stories, Daisy spends most of this one investigating without Alec, and without Alec even being aware that a crime has been committed. On the other hand this gives us a chance to meet more of Daisy's friends as they all pile in to help her former suitor, Phillip, rescue his missing girlfriend. It all gets a bit Famous Five, but in a good way, and the ending leaves plenty of scope for further developments in the next books...
A Hawk in the Hand
by Phillip Glasier
Published by Constable and Robinson
No blurb anywhere, sadly.
I ordered this one from the library for story research purposes, although it's very well worth reading in its own right. Lots of adventures with hawks and other wildlife in the UK and elsewhere and with a lot of background to the formation of the first British Falconry Centre in Glouscestershire. Also many interesting anecdotes about Harris Hawks (my main interest for story purposes), including the fact that they're not really hawks.
At some point soon I need to read up on the history of the Centre since Glasier's retirement.
More write-ups to follow after the UK Meet this weekend.
In the meantime, I may have a quiz to keep you all occupied while I'm away.