deadheading

With over twenty books in print, Catherine Aird is a master of the country village crime. In Dead Heading she brings her detecting duo of Sloan and Crosby in full form as they search for the reason someone ehas broken into Jack Haines greenhouse and destroyed his crop of specially-grown orchids. And what is the importance of the names of these orchids?

At the same time they become aware of a missing person: Miss Enid Maude Osgathorp travels frequently and is assumed away on a trip. But her deserted home shows signs of being ransacked, with traces of blood on the floors, and their antenna twitch away as quickly as the lace curtains at most village windows.

Aird’s dry wit is on view here as the detectives investigate what turns out to be linked cases.

There will be another greenhouse break-in as the suspects mount up and they learn that dear Miss Enid used to be the doctor’s receptionist and was perhaps not above using her local knowledge to fund her travels.

There’s a suicide, a bonfire, and then a dead body shows up … and there’s still the destruction of hundreds of baby orchids to unravel.

entryisland

Peter May is back after the success of the Lewis trilogy with another book that combines the history of a place tangibly linked to the story. Entry Island takes readers to the Gulf of the St. Lawrence and the Magdalen Islands, a rare mix of English and French isles.

His Detective Sime Mackenize, named for a Scottish ancestor, is happy to escape Montreal and his pathetic existence since his marriage fell apart. The insomnia that plagues him represents his loneliness and he’s not in the best frame of mind when he alights on the English-speaking Entry Island, home to less than 130 people, to investigate the murder of its wealthiest inhabitant.

James Cowell had married an islander, the lovely Kirsty, who presence immediately feels too familiar to Sime. It’s a sensation he can’t escape: he knows her. But that’s impossible.

As, it seems, is her story that a masked intruder attacked her in the home with a knife and when James intervened, was stabbed for his efforts. The intruder ran off and Kirsty attempted CPR but was unable to save James from his wounds. Covered in his blood, it’s difficult to establish if there are any other footprints.

With his team and half the island convinced Kirsty killed James over his affair with the Mayor’s wife, she doesn’t stand much of a chance of a fair hearing. Until Sime, convinced he is missing something important, insists on continuing the investigation to almost disastrous consequences.

Chapter of the present are presented with alternates from the past, snatches of memory from Sime’s relatives diary as he remembers stories his grandmother read to him and his sister from it. What connects this past with Sime and Kirsty? The signet ring he wears is the same design as a brooch she’s inherited. Until that brooch is taken and Sime doesn’t know if he can believe Kirsty’s story about her past, her reluctance to leave Entry Island, and her insistence she didn’t kill her husband.

Intricate and compelling, a read that will fill your sense of history. Auntie M always enjoys May’s books because she learns so much from them. And you will, too, while enjoying the intricacies of the plot and Sime’s investigation.

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