The Sunday Salon – Mystery Upon Mystery

It’s been a mysterious week – at least in my reading life.

I’ve completed two mysteries this week, one that took me to England in the early part of the 20th century, the other set in modern day in a small village outside of Montreal.

A Duty to the Dead is the first in a series of historical mysteries by Charles Todd, a mother-son writing team who also pen another series featuring detective Ian Rankin. In Duty, we meet Elizabeth (Bess) Crawford, an educated gentlewoman from England who has become a nurse in WWI (rather like Lady Sybil, from my beloved Downton Abby television series.) One of Bess’ young patients made a mysterious deathbed request, one she felt duty-bound to fulfill particularly because her feelings for him were deeper than those for most of her other patients. In carrying out this request, Bess becomes embroiled in a series of mysterious deaths related to this young solider and his family.

Watching Downton Abby fueled my interest in this time period, when the British aristocracy was facing great changes in their way of life as the demarcation among social classes begins to blur and women seek employment and fulfillment outside the normal parameters of home and marriage. Bess Crawford is such a woman, and I’m eager to see where life takes her next. The second installment of this series, An Impartial Witness, is waiting for me atop my bookstack. (Note: Join others in reading this series in a in the Book Time With Bess readalong hosted by Book Club Girl.)

Fast forward to the 21st century and the village of Three Pines, the small hamlet in Quebec where Louise Penny sets her mysteries featuring Chief Surété Inspector, Armand Gamache, his colleagues, and a quirky cast of villagers. I love these books, mostly because I’m a little in love with Gamache, a sensitive soul who so often speaks the feelings of my own heart. Like this paragraph on page 5 of A Trick of the Light

From far off Armand Gamache could hear the sound of children playing. He knew where it was coming from. The park across the way, thought he couldn’t see the children through the maple trees in late spring leaf. He sometimes liked to sit there and pretend the shouts and laughter came from his young grandchildren, Florence and Zora. He imagined his son Daniel and wife Rosalyn were in the park, watching their children. And that soon they’d walk hand in hand across the quiet street for dinner. Or he and Reine-Marie would join them. And play catch or conkers.

He liked to pretend they weren’t thousands of kilometers away in Paris.

And here I thought I was the only grandparent with fantasies like that. Silly me.

Once again, I thoroughly enjoyed this installment in the series, one that dealt with the murder of an art critic and delved into the world of modern art and all that goes on behind the scenes. Penny’s characters are all wonderfully fleshed out, and her research is impeccable. She also has a lovely website and blog where she shares tales of her life in the Canadian town where she lives with her husband and their dogs.

 As of today, I’ve moved away from mysteries and into the world of music. I’m now reading Marrying Mozart, a historical novel by Stephanie Cowell about the young Mozart and his early relationship with the daughters of the Weber family.

This one simply begs to be read with pastry and a cup of Viennese coffee at hand while a Mozart piano sonata plays softly in the background. Which sounds like a perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon, doesn’t it?

So tell me, what are you reading this Sunday?

The Sunday


4 thoughts on “The Sunday Salon – Mystery Upon Mystery

  1. I have Bury the Dead to read by Penny while I wait for A Trick of the Light to come out in softcover. Lovely review of it! I enjoy this series very much.

    I have just picked up A Duty To the Dead, so I enjoyed your review very much. Thanks for both of these!

    • Bury the Dead is really dramatic. And the effects continue into A Trick of the Light.

      Hope you enjoy a Duty to the Dead. Have you read the Maisie Dobbs series, also set in England, WWI era? It’s very good too – Maisie is a detective, and a very independent young woman.

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