Tuesday, February 17, 2015

A Mystery You Can't Put Down



I love a good mystery. So when Catriona McPherson -- current President of Sisters-in-Crime at the national level -- was speaker at the local chapter (Capitol Crimes), I was delighted. I was already hooked on her Dandy Gilver series, featuring an aristocratic sleuth in 1920s Scotland.  

But it’s one of McPherson’s stand alone contemporary mysteries, that recently grabbed me: As  She Left It is a layered mystery that keeps unfolding in new surprises, just when you think you’ve figured it out.

In As She Left It, Opal Jones left her alcoholic mother when she was twelve to live with her father and step-family in Whitby. After her mother’s death, Opal finds the old home --  one half of a cottage on Mote Street in Leeds -- is now hers, and she moves back.

At first it seems the old neighborhood really is “as she left it” thirteen years ago. The Mote Street Boys in the corner house still play their gigs. Opal used to take trumpet lessons from one of them, Fishbo, who is so happy she's come back.

But Margaret Reid’s three-year-old grandson, Craig, disappeared ten years ago, on a Saturday, and the neighborhood has never recovered. And in the crooked foot posts of a bed delivered from an antique store, Opal finds secret messages that hint of a little girl's  abuse many years ago.

When Opal sets herself to solve these two mysteries, she uncovers only more: Someone was paying the house bills after Opal’s mother died. Who? And why? Mrs. Pickess, the neighborhood gossip, provided brandy in large quantities to Opal’s alcoholic mother through the years. Why? On some nights, Opal hears a man crying in the other, rented half of the house. Who is he? What secret is Fishbo, her beloved old music teacher, hiding? And why does it start looking like little Craig disappeared on a Friday instead of a Saturday?

I was mesmerized by both the brilliant plot and the lovely writing. The characters, some of the most endearing you’ll meet in a mystery, are three dimensional. Opal is unforgettable, by turns brave and nervous, gullible and cynical, bitter and hopeful, and thoroughly believable. 

And a picture in her head, the little lost boy and the little girl -- who sounded pretty lost to Opal -- had joined hands and were walking away into darkness, maybe going to be lost forever, unless Opal followed them and brought them home.

As She Left It -- winner of the 2014 Anthony Award for best paperback original -- is the kind of mystery you read more than once.

To learn more about McPherson's books, see her Amazon page HERE 
or visit her website HERE
You can also contact her on Facebook HERE
And on Twitter HERE

What kind of mysteries do you prefer? Series or stand alone? Cozies or psychological? 

27 comments:

Ramla Zareen said...

Hi,

I was checking out the Cozy Mystery Books Releases of February in Goodreads when I noticed your comment. Realizing that you are an author I checked out your profile ...as it's always a great pleasure to discover 'new-to-me' authors and to add their books to my TBR list...! :-)

Anyway, the line "I love a good mystery" caught my eye and I ended up on your blog :-)

Well, this author is also new to me, but now I have included her books to my TBR list as well, and will hopefully read them soon.

To answer your questions, I like most kind of mysteries, though avoid those that contain too much violence etc ...Hence I would have to say that I prefer 'Golden Age Detective' and 'Cozy' Mysteries best. Plus I usually prefer 'series' instead of 'stand-alone', as I enjoy it when I can become familiar and comfortable with the main characters.

In any case, I am glad to have found this blog ...and best of luck with your soon to be released book :-)

By the way, I also have a blog named "A COZY MURDER IS ANNOUNCED" where I recommend wonderful authors of cozy mysteries...! If you like then you can visit and mention your books by answering one of the questions in the "QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS" section: " Have you written any mystery books/series that you would like to recommend?"

Thanks...!

Regards,
Ramla Zareen

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Wow, Thanks for stopping by, Ramia. I definitely will visit your blog, and I'm glad you've added McPherson's books to your TBR list. You won't be disappointed.

I hope you'll visit often, although I don't always blog about mysteries.

Crystal Collier said...

It sounds wonderful!

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Crystal. It's a great read for sure.

Rosi said...

I do love a good mystery. Who doesn't? This one sounds great. I will definitely check it out. Thanks for an intriguing review.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Rosi, I agree! Who doesn't love a good mystery. This one is a zinger. Really liked it so much. The characters really resonated with me.

Sharon Marie Himsl said...

I'd like to read this as well. Your review pulled me right in. Lots of twists and angles...I like that.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Sharon, I'm glad the review wakened your interest. Like you, I enjoy a mystery with lots of twists and angles, and these were all handled so nicely.

Nick Wilford said...

Sounds like there's a lot going on in the book! I don't read too many mysteries in the traditional sense, I like a good thriller but they can be mysteries too. This sounds really good though.

Natalie Aguirre said...

I don't read much adult books, but this sounds like a great mystery.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Natalie. The thing about mysteries is that you can get really hooked on them! I have to remind myself there are other kinds of stories gistorical novels, and, of course, MG novels and YAs, which I love. But As She Left It is a good read, independent of genre. Great characters. Lyrical storytelling.

Tanya Lynne Reimer said...

Oh my! It sounds great. I am sharing this with a few others who I know will enjoy it as well. Thanks.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Tanya, thanks for passing this on. It's really a good read.

Janet Johnson said...

This sounds like a great book! I'll have to check it out. And I definitely prefer stand-alone. Though I don't mind if it's the same person solving different mysteries. But I want the story solved in one book, not three. :)

Great review!

Rachna Chhabria said...

Wow, this sounds like a book I definitely want to read. I love mysteries and this with its multiple layers sounds intriguing.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

HI, Janet, I actually like both stand-alone and series (by a favorite author). In her case, I think you would like her series as well. Each mystery could stand alone, and is quite complex and satisfying.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Thanks for stopping by, Rachna. Her book is out in Kindle, too, so it would be easy for you to get it.

David P. King said...

This sounds mightily intriguing. Thanks for the highlight, Elizabeth. :)

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

David, intriguing is the word! It's intriguing all the way through. I got so involved in trying to piece together the puzzle, and then when it all came together, I was amazed, no other word. And yet . . . it made sense. You know, there were enough breadcrumbs . . .

T. Drecker said...

This sounds good. I've been hitting so many 'bad' books lately, that this sounds like a nice change. Thanks for pointing it out!

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, "T", thanks for stopping by. I know what you mean. I've picked up a few books I thought looked good and then wasn't motivated to finish them. This one kept me turning pages.

Sandra Cox said...

Thanks for sharing, Elizabeth. I wasn't familiar with this writer, but I'll keep a look out now.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Sandra, I wasn't familiar with her either. But then last spring I attended a panel of four mystery authors (as audience, not panelist) and discovered her. I've read five of her books now, and really like her style and turn of phrase. (Not to mention complex plots.)

Carol Riggs said...

I read Nancy Drew mysteries as a young girl--loved them! Nowadays, I seem to prefer standalone novels because there are so many books to read to keep up with the market and what's out there, I can't focus just on one series. As She Left It sounds like a great mystery!

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Carol, I was a Nancy Drew addict as a young girl. I usually got her books from the library, and I so wanted to track down a mystery and solve it! Now I content myself with living vicariously as other sleuths solve mysteries. As She Left It really was a great read. I loved the main character. Actually, I liked all the characters, they were so well drawn.

Julia Hones said...

I love complex characters and this story sounds interesting.
Elizabeth, you mentioned that you like to read Pablo Neruda. Have you seen the Italian movie "Il Postino"? It is related to Neruda's life.
Happy Women's Day and thank you for leaving a comment on my blog yesterday.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Julia, As She Left It is certainly a complex tale, and so engrossing. Meanwhile, yes, my husband and I did see Il Postino and loved it. Happy Women's Day back at you. Have a great day.