Murder & Mayhem

The last couple of days I’ve had to put my powers of detection to use as I work my way through some mysteries and try to figure out whodunit.

Sarah Steweart Taylor makes her debut on the mystery scene with O’Artful Death. Her protagonist, Sweeney St. George, is a 28-year-old art professor who is passionate about her research of cemetery art. When her friend Toby shows her a picture of a gravestone near his family’s home in the village of Byzantium, Vermont, Sweeney is immediately intrigued by the gravestone and accepts Toby’s invitation to spend the Christmas holidays in the art colony. Sweeney hopes to find out more the gravestone but before she makes it to Vermont, one of the locals is murdered. Soon tensions among the townspeople are on the rise as she delves deeper into the past.

The premise of this book caught my attention and for a first novel I thought it was very well written. I really liked Sweeney and am curious to see what her next adventure will be.

Next up was The Pearl Diver by award-winning author Sujata Massey. This is the seventh in the Rei Shimura series. Barred from traveling back to Japan for a previous misadventure, Rei is now living in D.C. with her fiancé. Throughout the series Rei has explored her identity of being a daughter of a Japanese and American marriage. The sometime sleuth and antiques dealer is now busy preparing for her wedding and decorating a trendy restaurant but soon she is trying to figure out who kidnapped her cousin and what connection there is with a war bride who went missing 30 years earlier.

The characters have gotten more complex as have the mysteries but all I have to say is please Ms. Massey send Rei back to Japan. The novels where the action takes place in Japan are much more interesting. I like to read Rei’s observations about the different foods, the nightlife and the customs.

And, the last one I read was Cover Her Face by P.D. James. Oh why was I so late to the P.D. James bandwagon. Sally Jupp is the willful and pertinent maid of the Maxie family. No sooner does she announce that the son has asked her to marry him when she’s found strangled in her bed. Whodunit? Enter Adam Dalgliesh from Scotland Yard to solve the mystery.

While I would have enjoyed more fully-developed characters, this is a finely nuanced book which put me in the mood for more British mysteries and yearning for a cup of tea.