Category Archives: Mystery

What I’ve Been Reading, Midnight In Peking by Paul French and Full Body Burden by Kristen Iversen

Midnight in Peking, the year is 1937 Pamela Werner’s body is found near The Fox Tower on a piece of no mans land.  This is a time when Peking is being closed in upon by the Japanese, many Westerners are leaving if they can, many can’t as they are the flotsam and jetsam who have left Europe over the last decades, many being white Russians, add this to fortune hunters, diplomats and a very free life style, an underworld of opium and you have a true mystery.

Two detectives investigate the crime, a British detective Dennis and a Chinese detective Han.  It has shocked the elite enclaved mostly European community.  Who could do such a shocking thing a madman?  Must be a Chinese person or could it be one of their own?

These are the questions that haunt the detectives, but as time goes on one can see there is a lot of politics and payoffs involved.  This true story is revisited by Paul French and he does a great job, unearthing and reading through all the correspondence that Pamela’s father sent to the foreign office in London after he did his own investigation.  You can come to some very compelling conclusions as to who did it, and why.

It’s a great insight into Peking on the cuspid of WWII, but so sad that a teenage girls life should end like that.

Full Body Burden.  Growing up in the Nuclear Shadow of Rocky Flats.  This is also a true story of Kristen Iversen, who lived in a wonderful new housing development built yes withing a hairs breath of Rocky Flats.

Just the name itself Rocky Flat is something you think now where have I heard that?  I can’t say I read the whole book because it became very detailed in statistics, but I found the beginning very compelling and read quite a bit.

Did you know that the third worst nuclear disaster happened back in the fifties at Rocky Flats and was not equaled until more recently by Chernobyl and the Fukushima nuclear disaster that just happened in Japan.  That was kept under wraps and only providence of the wind blowing in the other direction stopped the whole of Denver, Colorado from being contaminated.  Of course one could ask who was contaminated then?

A compelling book to read and probably if I had more time I would read the entire book.  The perfect suburbia of the 1950s gone awry.  People becoming ill and not knowing why, it’s all so new and what do they actually do at that plant, the government would never let us live here or build here if it wasn’t safe!

Yes the people of 2012 are less trusting or are we?

I may come back and finish this book at some point, it makes you think.



Sarah’s Key by Tatiana De Rosnay

I ran across this paperback at my local library it was a .25c give away and I had always wanted to read it.

In keeping with Paris in July I read Sarah’s Key and then watched the film.  The book is a must read. Read the book before you watch the movie, so many more shades to the characters than can be brought out in the film.

Set in Paris, July 1942 there is a great Jewish round up known as the Velodrome d’hiver Round-up.  Sarah a ten year old girl is caught up in this and taken with her family to the Velodrome.

Fast forward sixty years to a journalist Julia Jarmond and see how their two lives become twined to one.

I will post a book review of this on my Lil Bit Brit Lit Blog later.


Heartstone By C. J. Sansom

Heartstone is the 5th Mathew Shardlake mystery by Sansom.  Set in the summer of 1545, when Henry VIII is building up his maritime navy.  Queen Catherine Parr has an old lady servant who’s son dies mysteriously and who divulged to his mother a concern for a brother and sister who he used to tutor.  They have been made Wards of Court and are now living with their father’s business partner and family.
Shardlake is summoned by Queen Catherine to investigate the well being of the orphans. He travels with his man servant Barak to the Portsmouth area to investigate this legal case.  Many are travelling the same road as the King is building up forces in case of a French invasion.  Some of the travellers are the famous long bowmen archers and are very skilled.
Eventually they arrive at Hoyland Priory to investigate the welfare of the children.  The girl has died and there is only the boy to check on his welfare.  What has happened to his inheritance?
Great detail is gone into as to how the Wards of Court arose, how it was administered and what a money making racket it was.  Quite fascinating because it touches on the whole Bleak House, Charles Dickens characters who were Wards of Court.  An institution which went on for hundreds of years once it was established. 
The whole mystery ends with the sinking of the famous Mary Rose.
I enjoyed the history I learned about the Wards of Court.
I’ve only read two Mathew Sharlake mysteries, but enjoyed Dissolution more.

Dissolution, By C. J. Sansom

I read this book back in March, it was on my Inaugural World Book List from the UK.
Dissolution is a mystery set in the time of Henry VIII and the Dissolution of the Catholic monasteries (1536 – 1540) The main character is Mathew Shardlake, a lawyer and hunchback, who is commissioned by Cromwell to investigate the murder of one of his agents sent to St. Donatus of Scarsea, to make an assessment of the monastery with a view to closing it down.
Mathew Shardlake with his young assistant travel the long arduous route, to be received with coldness and surrounded by suspicion.  Why is there a young girl working in the apothecary?  Who will be the next victim?
The setting of the south-east marshlands of England both lonely, isolated with creeping mists is an ideal setting for intrigue and murder at a Benedictine Cloister.
Dissolution is wonderfully rich in historical detail, also architectural detail of how a monastery would be laid out and the everyday routine of the monks.  The Latin terminology of the different rooms, their clothing and life all add to the richness of text.
I enjoyed this historical mystery and will read more of C. J. Sansom’s books.

The Dead of Winter, by Rennie Airth

This is an Inspector John Madden mystery. Set around WWII. Starting in the days just prior to the invasion of Paris by the Germans, people are trying to leave. Especially many Jews, who have already fled from Eastern Europe. A Jewish furrier wants to liquidate his assets and turns them into diamonds. He is asked to take along with him in his car a young couple also fleeing. The young couple find him murdered.

Fast forward to 1944. Rosa Novak is found murdered during the blackout, not far from the British Museum. Madden feels that he owes it to her to find out why she was murdered. To escape the holocaust only to be murdered.

This leads to a continental manhunt, that can only now begin as the Germans have left Paris.

This is a very exciting high speed mystery, action packed and holds you to the end.


Tell No One, by Harlen Coben

A scene from the movie.

I read through the first few pages of this book and thought this seems familiar. At first I couldn’t put my finger on it and then I remembered French movie. ‘Ne Le dis a Personne.’ So I read about half of the book and then looked up the movie on Netflix and watched it again. Yes the French movie was based on this book.

Tell No One opens at a lakeside cabin in Pennsylvania. Dr David Beck and his wife Elizabeth are going there for their anniversary. They have known each other since they were children and have grown up going to the lakeside camp with their families.

Eight years have passed but David cannot move on. That was the night he heard his wife screaming, the last night he saw her alive and was unable to prevent what happened. He was knocked out and in hospital when his father-in-law and uncle identify the body. She was the victim of a serial murderer.

But their life, friendship and love was so deep, he cannot move on. A message has appeared on his computer, something only Elizabeth would have known. Is it remotely possible that Elizabeth is alive. The instructions with this are ‘Tell no one.’ He must follow this through. This leads him into a labyrinth of powerful family men.

You know how you always enjoy the book more than the movie and the movie is not a patch on the book. Well I don’t know if I’m memorized by France, or I just love that French accent. But here was a case where I liked the movie more. Paris rather then New York, the French countryside rather than Pennsylvania countryside. Not to knock Pennsylvania because I live here and it’s a beautiful State.

The script writers changed a few things from the book. And to be quite honest it hung together better than the book. It tied in loose ends. They gave it a more European flare, by having Dr Beck called Alexander and his wife being named Margot. His sister operating a horse farm; which was their father’s and being sponsored by a very rich man in a charitable horse jumping foundation in memory of his dead son. In the book it’s just a charitable foundation in memory of his son in New York City and other details; which I will not go into.

I did like the book, it’s a good mystery. Read the book, but if you can’t I say watch the French movie, or do both.