Saturday, October 03, 2020


Recently, I've been reading sequels from a variety of mystery authors. Writing a full review post of every sequel seems a bit redundant, but here's a quick report on some recent ones. As I often do, I'm notably interested in the way these authors use food to tell their stories.

Sujata Massey's Rei Shimura

The second in the Rei Shimura series is titled Zen Attitude (published in 1997). I enjoyed it very much, for its many Japanese scenes set in several Japanese cities. Rei Shimura, the amateur detective who just happens to be around when murderers are busy, has become an antique dealer, with customers whom she must handle with Japanese tact despite her American upbringing. There's plenty of suspenseful detecting and escapes from dangers, as one would expect.

I particularly enjoyed references to special Japanese food and drink; for example, a woman customer asked:
"You drink mugi-cha, don’t you?” My hostess poured cool barley tea for me into a dark earthen-ware cup. (p. 41). 

Or another occasion when she slept at a friend's house:

"She showed me a thermos of green tea and a tiered basket filled with pickled vegetables and onigiri, fresh rice balls stuffed with pickled plums that I loved. I must have smelled them when she walked in and woke me up." (p. 166). 

If anything, I liked the second in the series better than the first one. I'm surely expecting to read more! 

Cara Black's Aimee Leduc

Black's Murder in Belleville is the second detective tale in the Aimee Leduc series (published in 2000). It's every bit as over-the-top violent and exciting as the first in the series, maybe more so. By the end of the first chapter, Aimee has been a witness to a fatal car bombing, has picked up the survivor (a friend who had phoned her for help), stolen a moped, dragged her injured friend onto the moped, and avoided an unknown but clearly evil-intending pursuer. She rides the moped down the steps of a Metro station, with her friend somehow on her back, avoids the enemy, and gets away. That's just the first chapter. Oh, yes, she also is always dressed perfectly for every scene. 

Not much more about this that I would want to say. Lots of bad guys! Really bad ones! Will I read another? Probably. Will I read all 20 of them? Probably not.

Tana French's Dublin Murder Detectives

The Secret Place (published 2014) is very readable despite its substantial length. It's well-crafted: the major action in the book, from the start of a new clue in a cold case until full explanation, takes place in less than 24 hours. Alternate chapters describe the events leading up to the murder that's under investigation. The scene is in a girls' school in Dublin, which is very well portrayed, although I think some of the teenage slang dialog may be a little forced and too much like TV.

I enjoyed the way that food is used to show emotional states, especially the food in the school dining room and the snacks the girls buy at a mall near the school. For example:
"Becca digs her heels into the ground, stares at her beef casserole and refuses to get pulled in. If they want to act like idiots, that’s their problem; they can fix it themselves."(p. 427). 

"A heavy girl with her back to me looked like she was lashing into her food, but over her shoulder I caught a full plate of chicken pie chopped into tiny perfect squares, getting tinier with each vicious cut." (pp. 232-233).  

Each of French's novels introduces a new detective in the Dublin police, except for The Witch Elm, which has an amateur detective. I have liked them all.

More Sequels

Quite a few other series that I've read in the past have new books available, such as the Armand Gamache series by Louise Penny and the Inspector Brunetti series by Donna Leon. I think I've missed several Inspector Montalbano novels in the series by Andrea Camilleri, who died last year but I think left some unpublished work. And I did recently write a full post on the recent sequel in the Cormoran Strike/Robin Ellacot series by J.K.Rowling. As there are several authors that I intend to try for the first time as well, I guess I'll have plenty to do!

Review © 2020 mae sander for mae food dot blog spot dot com.


My name is Erika. said...

You seem to like the same type of books as me. Or at least many of them. These mysteries sound fantastic. Happy Saturday.

Divers and Sundry said...

I need to look for Sujata Massey and Cara Black. They sound like series I would enjoy.

Bill said...

Those books do sound interesting. I've read Dana French's The Secret Place and enjoyed it.

Bleubeard and Elizabeth said...

I always love a good mystery, so these all sound like ones I might enjoy. You always give great reviews. I hope you find a few sequels as we continue our lockdown that speak to you.

Tandy | Lavender and Lime ( said...

You read an amazing number of books, and all so diverse. I wish I had time to write more reviews. Yours are always so good.

A Day in the Life on the Farm said...

When someone likes a book well enough to read the sequel I take notice.

A Day in the Life on the Farm said...

When someone likes a book well enough to read the sequel I take notice.

Claudia said...

The Rei Shimura series sounds like one I'd enjoy. I'll start with the first, just because I'm obsessive compulsive in that way. Also the food angle sounds good. Maybe a possibility for CTB Club?