Candice Fox – Gone by Midnight

In addition to her great characterization, Fox gives us a crocodile-filled picture of the setting in Queensland, Australia, a complex and twisty plot (a locked room mystery), emotions (head, heart, and humor), plus coverage of some themes such as wrongful crime accusations, bad police behavior, parenting, truthfulness (or not), and more.

When I read several books in a series, sometimes the main characters begin to lose their attraction for me. Not so with Candice Fox’s Crystal Lake series. PI partners Ted Conkaffey and Amanda Pharrell, both with dark pasts and quirky personalities (especially Amanda), continue to fascinate. Fox’s coverage of all her characters—villains, suspects, police, extras, etc.—is thorough and entertaining.

Gone by Midnight is my favorite in the series. Looking for #4.

Gytha Lodge — Watching from the Dark

There is something about a good British police procedural that captures my imagination. Lodge gives a step-by-step description of the police unraveling the clues to find the killer of a young woman, Zoe. The crime looks like a suicide, but Zoe’s boyfriend is watching via Skype when someone creeps into her apartment and her bathroom. He anonymously reports it to the police.

The author follows the four policemen on the case and several of the victim’s friends, who are all suspects, giving us insights into all the characters and their relationships with the crime and the victim. She also goes back in time for the story of Zoe’s time leading up to her murder.

The writing style is methodical and detailed but holds your attention from beginning to end. I had a vague idea of who killed Zoe before the reveal at the end.

Good writing, good plot, good characters.

William Kent Krueger — This Tender Land

Krueger transports us to a different time and place in this saga of four orphan children traveling the rivers of the Midwest in 1932, the middle of the Great Depression. They have escaped a cruel Native American training school where Odie and his brother Albert were the only white children. Their river “family” includes Emmy, a young girl whose mother was killed in a tornado, and Mose, a Sioux who speaks only sign language. They meet helpful and dangerous people as they travel the river, trying to stay ahead of the owners of the school and the law.

Excellent writing with interesting characters, good story, and settings that make you feel you are there. Written from the point of view of an old man telling the story of his adventures as a twelve-year-old, young, naïve boy, Odie sometimes seems too wise for his age.