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Featured Mystery Author
I love Kate Atkinson. I would buy her shopping list if that's all I had to read by her. She is a most literary writer, but her novels are always mysteries, though not always overtly so. That is not the case with her series featuring protagonist Jackson Brodie. Superb novels by an extraordinarily accomplished writer.
This was the first book I read by Mark Mills, and I was a fan from that moment on. The setting is Malta in the Second World War. Mills captures the struggle of the Maltese people and pays tribute to the men of Britain's merchant navy - the "Fourth Service" in particular. Excellent read - as are all his books, which I read in quick succession.
Any novel where the true captivating protagonist is a dog - and a female dog at that - has me at first bark. Maggie, the ex-military dog suffering from PTSD following the death of her handler in Afghanistan, makes this story. I love German Shepherds anyway, but this book made me want to go to German Shepherd rescue and come home with a dog immediately. By the way, I always have rescue dogs - as Maggie demonstrates, they come with issues, but there's nothing like them for loyalty and love. I'd love to know where Robert Crais got the name of another K9 in the story - "Maisie Dobkins!"
Purists would say the books in the Starbridge Series are not mysteries, but I would argue that if a mystery is a journey through chaos to resolution, then these are firmly in the camp. I don't know of another author who combines solid research, a depth of understanding of her characters, time, place and situation, with wit, crisp dialogue and stories that just keep you riveted to the page. And the fact that the series is rooted in the church fills me with some awe - what a writer, to pull off that one! Just reminiscing about it makes me want to re-read every single one of them.