A Darker Domain by Val McDermid. McDermid's Tony Hill books are among the most creepy ever (and I enjoyed the British teevee series based on McDermid's characters, available on Netflix) -- but this one seemed a bit anemic by comparison. Karen Pirie is a Scottish police inspector assigned to the Cold Case team. One day, a woman walks in to report her father missing -- the clincher is that he disappeared twenty years ago. Although not technically her kind of cold case, Pirie decides to look into the man's disappearance. At the same time, new evidence is discovered relating to a twenty-year-old unsolved kidnapping case. I saw where this one was headed pretty early on, and I found the constant shifts between time and point-of-view to be jarring. So I'd rate this one okay but not McDermid's best, not by a long shot.
My Soul to Take: A Novel of Iceland, by Yrsa Sigurdadottir, was the sequel to Last Rituals, which I read earlier this summer. I didn't like this quite as much, but it was overall a good mystery with the interesting backdrop of Icelandic culture. The main character is a lawyer (the same one as in Last Rituals) who is called out to help a new-age client who has just built a spa/hotel in a rural beach area; while the lawyer is there, the hotel's architect is brutally murdered.
Manic: A Memoir by Terry Cheney, was recommended by a blog-reader (Hyphenated Carol, maybe?) and I found it to be a quick and fascinating read. The author is a former entertainment lawyer who is bipolar, and she has written a memoir discussing her life and how being bipolar has affected it. What I found especially compelling were Cheney's vivid descriptions of what it is like to be manic (well, as she experiences it; apparently, different people experience different flavors of mania) and the crippling depressions that followed her manic episodes. She also describes the toll that her disease has taken on her personal life -- her job, relationships, friendships. If you're bipolar or know someone who is, you might want to take a look.
Sun and Shadow: An Erik Winter Novel by Ake Edwardson. This was another (all together now) brooding Scandinavian mystery -- although a new series for me. The protagonist is Erik Winter, Sweden's youngest chief inspector, mulling over the impending birth of his first child. He's called in to solve a creepy double murder in which an extremely violence-laden form of heavy metal music plays a role. The book seemed a bit slow and a bit long to me, although it wasn't a bad read by any means. This was one of those books that may have suffered simply because I read it stretched out over a longer-than-usual period of time (and I went to Rhinebeck in the middle of it, which totally discombobulated me).
From Doon with Death by Ruth Rendell. Rendell's debut novel isn't as complex or as polished as her later ones are, but it's still damn good. A classic English mystery, set in the countryside, in which a limited number of suspects are winnowed down until the climatic scene, in which the clever inspector (in this case, Reg Wexford) reveals how it was done, as the suspect confesses. I suspect the twist in the ending was a bit more unexpected and controversial when this book was first published (1964ish) but still a good read.
Casting Off by Nicole Dickson. I received a review copy of this book which falls into the category I think of as "knit lit" -- works of fiction intended to appeal to knitters, or at least female knitters of a certain age, in which knitting plays a role in plot or character development. I tend not to read these books, partly because I find myself irritated whenever the books get something wrong about knitting but mostly because I tend to look for books that take me out of my daily life rather than remind me of it.
I gave Casting Off a go, but my heart wasn't in it. I suspect that if you liked The Shop on Blossom Street (which I also haven't read), you might find this book enjoyable. The main character is Rebecca Moray (couldn't stop thinking of Rebecca DeMornay on Seinfeld -- "the homeless don't want your muffin stumps"), a textile scholar who goes to an island off the coast of Ireland to study fisherman's sweaters. Rebecca has a six-year-old daughter named Rowan (ha! now there's a knitting detail I like) and is still recovering from the death of Rowan's father shortly after Rowan's birth. It won't spoil the plot to tell you that Rebecca's relationship with the late Dennis was abusive and she still bears the emotional scars of her experiences. So she comes to the island seeking more than just to study sweaters; she's also looking for healing, closure, putting paid to the past.
Alas, I found myself too obsessed with knitting to be able to take the book at face value. This is clearly my problem, being
So while Casting Off seems like a sweet and likeable book in the chick-lit and knit-lit genre, it just wasn't for me. I'd be happy to pass the copy on to someone else -- just leave a comment and I'll give it to the first one who asks.