Book: Raining Cats and Dogs

I’ve been missing in action for a couple of weeks, as I was finishing a manuscript (non-fiction, When People Speak for God), but I haven’t quit reading.

I just completed Laurien Berenson’s Raining Cats and Dogs, a Melanie Travis Mystery. I picked up the book because it has to do with animals though I didn’t look all that carefully at the details. I do like to pick up books I have never heard of and just check them out.

What I got was some good relaxing evening reading. The dogs in this mystery don’t solve crimes or do anything other than just be dogs. Now I’m not much of a dog person. I’d prefer if it was cats hanging around being cats. There are a certain number (large to no-cat-people) of cats involved, causing a certain amount of feline trouble, but the dogs are stars.

The mystery seems to me to play out a bit in the background which is also not my preference. Melanie Travis is a detective more by accident than intent, which changes the way she operates. Nonetheless, the story line itself is interesting. The suspense is light. We are not made to feel that another crime is around the corner or that great evil is lurking. In fact, such evil as there is seems very human.

I rate this a 3 of 5. (I remind readers of the explanation for my ratings. One or two people seem to have felt that 3 was a negative rating, when in fact the bulk of my reading is works that I rate as a 3.)

Book: A Ruinous Wind

I looked back at previous notes and found a brief note in this general post in which I am not too excited about Pilkington after reading a previous work, The Maiden Bell. I did indicate that I would probably read something else by the same author, but wasn’t in a hurry. Now I have, and I enjoyed it a great deal. I would call it a four, rather than the three I gave the previous book, and I can’t actually see the difference. I just must have been in a different mood when I read this one.

Thomas the Falconer is an interesting character, a very intelligent person stuck in a hierarchical society as a commoner. He manages to do well under those circumstances and he has a good, honest employer/lord who provides him with the freedom to do what he needs. He would prefer just taking care of the hawks, but he ends up spending a good deal of time solving mysteries.

In this story, he is thrust into a situation in which both he and his lord are in great danger. A very violent murderer is on the loose, and it is almost impossible to discover his motives or where he will strike next. I was surprised by the finish, which is one criteria I have for enjoying a novel. I don’t mind figuring out who the guilty party is early provided I feel clever when I do it. If it’s obvious and just falls into my lap it tends to annoy me.

In any case, the solution doesn’t come till the end and there are plenty of moments of action and suspense between. Reading A Ruinous Wind makes me more anxious to find more John Pilkington mysteries.

Book: Born in Death

J. D. Robb continues the saga of Eve Dallas and Roark with this delightful action story with some mystery. I found myself guessing ahead correctly a bit too often, but the story moves well in any case.

Eve finds herself handling two complex cases simultaneously. With the department insinuating that she might not be trustworthy because she’s dealing with substantial amounts of financial data that might get to Roark, who might use it for his own benefit, she and Roark decide to tackle the issue head on and challenge the department, the criminals, and some very powerful people.

All of this is entwined with the preparations for Mavis to give birth with Roark and Eve serving as coaches. At some times, one wonders which will be more challenging, the criminal element or the baby element. Eve survives the attacks of criminals, but a baby shower seems more challenging.

I confess that J. D. Robb grows on me as time goes on. She’s one of the rare contemporary authors that I truly enjoy.

DVD: The Lord Peter Wimsey-Harriet Vane Collection – Strong Poison / Have His Carcass / Gaudy Night)

Dorothy Sayers’s Lord Peter mysteries are among my favorite mystery books, so I was happy to find this collection of videos. I have to confess that I really didn’t like Ian Carmichael as Lord Peter Wimsey, but Edward Petheridge is much more convincing in the part. Harriet Walter is a convincing Harriet Vane.

The story follows the books fairly closely. I truly have no major complaints about the videos. Of course the Harriet Vane stories have the fairly odd set of echanges between Wimsey and Vane as Wimsey is determined to marry her, while she is determined not to marry.

I recommend these DVDs to fans of Dorothy Sayers without reservations.