Sunday, November 23, 2014

Need a mystery series to watch this fall and winter as the current shows go on hiatus?

Midsomer Murders is a British detective series that started in 1997 that I only found out about in the past year through my mystery book club. It is available on Netflix. It is apparently still in production and airs on ITV.

I have watched the first 2 seasons on Netflix. This is my go to show when I want something to watch.

The main character is DCI Tom Barnaby in the village of Causton. His partner in these earlier shows is Gavin Troy. DCI Barnaby is middle aged, very practical, very calm, very experienced and very likeable. He is married to Joyce and they have one daughter, Cully, an aspiring actress. Joyce is active in the community and a very supportive wife and mother.
Sgt. Troy is younger and also very likeable. He seems interested in Cully at this point in the series.
I say likeable because at this point in the series, there is nothing that I see to not like the main characters. You would love to be friends and neighbors with them.

The scenery is great - showing villages in England with the old buildings and wonderful greenery. The stories are great, gradually working through the murder like an Agatha Christie story.

While I watch several of the current day mysteries and detective series, I find this earlier series refreshing. Yes there is usually "a body". But it is not as graphic, gory, violent and fast paced as todays t.v. shows. Each episode is at least 90 minutes, sometimes a bit more. The story unravels gradually and systematically. It isn't slammed in your face like the 45 minute t.v. shows of today.

Each episode usually includes Barnaby's family to some extent, so you see the relationships and his day to day life, which is usually pretty good. 

And maybe that is what I like about it; everything gets tied up neatly at the end and everyone goes about their normal life.

In this earlier series, DCI Barnaby is played by John Nettles. Gavin Troy is played by Daniel Casey. Jane Widmark is Joyce and Laura Howard is Cully.

I can understand why this has been running since 1997.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Sanctus trilogy by Simon Toyne

I got the first book in this trilogy last summer off of the Barnes and Noble Nook offer of the day.
Described as a conspiracy thriller and the reviews said it is similar to a Dan Brown novel. It looked like it had a bit of a mystical component to it and I decided to purchase it for my Nook. Well, I purchased the other two novels before I finished the first one.

Book one: Sanctus

The story begins in the ficticious city of Ruin in Turkey (I looked it up to see if it were a real place). An ancient citadel is here inhabited by an order of monks. Within the group, is a secret order called the Sancti that guard a timeless secret. The Sancti are guarded by the other monks but do not interact with each other. No one but the Sancti know what the secret is.  If the secret were to be found out or something happen to it, would mean the end to the Church and more.

Samuel, a member of the Sancti, throws himself off the top of the cliffs surrounding the Citadel. It is so shocking it is televised and reported in newspapers around the world.  The monks of the Citadel need to get this swept under the carpet before the public gets too curious. They go to retrieve Samuel's body but he is gone.

Liv Admudsen is a reporter in New York. She reads the story and realizes this is her brother who left at some time. She immediately sets off to Ruin to find out what has happened.

Kathryn Mann, her father, Oscar de la Cruz and Kathryn's son, Gabriel live in South America. Oscar has been monitoring (and hiding from the Citadel).

Once word spreads of Samuel's death, Kathryn, Oscar and Gabriel fly to Ruin.

All four of the outsiders are in danger. All four are hunted down to be stopped.

What is the secret of the Citadel that is being so closely guarded?

It is a very fast paced, exciting story. And the ending has quite a cliff hanger.

I am half way through the second book " The Key". It is equally intriguing and hard to put down.

The Tower is the third book.

I recommend this trilogy if you liked The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Death Comes to Pemberley Part II

This was the last Masterpiece MYSTERY series for 2014.  I didn't get to watch it "live" and just finished the recording of Part II.

This is a sequel to Pride and Prejudice written by P.D. James...I shared the first episode earlier.

Wickham is standing trial for the murder of his best friend. He swears he didn't do it.
Elizabeth stumbles across some information that seems to suggest that perhaps Wickham didn't do this. The story continues as Elizabeth unravels the facts.

This story also shows the social mores of the time and the struggles people go through due to those "rules".

I found it very captivating and the scenery is incredible.

I highly recommend it. It is available to watch on PBS online.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Quick t.v. recommendation: Masterpiece Mystery is showing "Death at Pemberley".  3 part series. I believe part 2 was shown 11/2/14. You can usually watch online at the PBS website.

I watched Part 1 yesterday and highly recommend it. It is a sequel to "Pride and Prejudice" BUT (and I had to rewind to find out if I heard correctly) it was written by current day author P.D. James. Many of you are familiar with her books. "Death at Pemberley" was published in 2011.

The story picks up six years after the marriage of Elizabeth and Darcy. They are preparing for a ball at their estate. The uninvited Wickham and Elizabeth's sister, Lydia, are on their way to crash the ball. Wickham has a friend traveling with them. They stop the carriage at the edge of the forest before they arrive, arguing. And a murder takes place.

Very intriguing, beautiful scenery and costumes.

I hope you can catch it.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Just finished "Dog On It" by Spencer Quinn.

This is book 1 of the Chet and Bernie mystery series. Chet and Bernie run the Little Detective Agency in Somewhere, Southwest USA. Chet is Bernie's dog and the narrator of the story.
I would say the two are lovable misfits. Bernie attended Westpoint and was in the army. Bernie's wife, Leda, left him and took their son Charlie with her. Bernie  likes the casual look, bourbon and his old Porsche. Chet apparently flunked out of K9 school and loves ribs, steak, beef jerky, dog biscuits...the list goes on. Chet has a dog friend named Iggy. Oh and Chet does not like cats. Chet and Bernie met in K9 school. We are promised we will hear more about that at another time.

Bernie is hired to find a missing teen age girl named Madison by her mother Cynthia Chambliss.  Madison turns up the same day only to disappear again the next day. Damon Keefer is Madison's father and divorced from Cynthia. He is a real estate developer. He blows off the whole disappearance as just a teenager needing some space and will turn up. Even the police are not too concerned about the girl after she makes a phone call home. 

Suzie Sanchez is a local reporter assigned to do an article on Bernie. She becomes an important character as the story develops. And I think she is going to continue in the other books..

Did you ever wonder what Timmy and Lassie would be like grown up? Well, make Lassie a male dog named Chet and Timmy is Bernie and this is them. Remember how you always yelled at the t.v.; "no Lassie, don't go in that building, hole, truck, cave..."

First, Bernie leaves Chet in the car at the mall while he is asking around about Madison. A man sneaks up to the car and slashes the tires. Chet jumps out of the car after him and gets clobbered by the man. Thankfully he is alright.

Next, Chet takes off one night while Bernie and Charlie are camping in the backyard. Chet in true Lassie story form, gets mixed up with some bad guys. He is dognapped by Boris, one of the bad guys.

The story continues with Chet finding clues about Madison's disappearance and helping Bernie solve the mystery after a few close calls.

Some people may think that a mystery told from a dog's point of view would be too fluffy, or light. Not this book. This is a page turner, full of "oh no's!". It is really quite exciting.  It is also a humorous story with a look into what dog's may be thinking on a daily basis. :)  I know I put human traits on my cats.

There are 7 books in this series. I intend to read more.  Here is a link to this book if you think you may be interested. I would recommend it, especially if you are an animal lover.

One recommendation for Bernie: get the fence fixed!