bedtime reading

I don’t read during the daytime, but I do have a ritual every night: I make myself a mug of hot chocolate and read a few chapters in bed, before turning lights out and falling fast asleep.  Recent reads . . .

On my android tablet, and free to download into my google library, I decided to try the first three books in a series by Susan Kiernan-Lewis (a US author).  These are (what seems all the rage at the moment) a cosy murder type.  Very light reading, and the murder investigation part is all fairly predictable but I actually thought these were quite good.  Book 1 is

“Parlez-vous murder?”  (and I’m copying the author’s summary here)

My name is Jules Hooker.  I have lived through a few crappy moments in my life – and with a name like Hooker, you can just imagine – but nothing, nothing, compares to the two intensely and world-shatteringly crappy things that happened to me last June.

Three, I guess, if you count Gilbert.

After my boyfriend dumped me on the day I thought he was going to propose, I’d have to say two other really bad things happened last June.  The first would have to be the dead body I discovered in the rental house in France where I went to get over being dumped.  The second – and very possibly I should had led with this – was the dirty bomb that exploded over the Riviera throwing me and everyone else in France back to the 1950s.

So now I’m stranded here – trying to make a living by solving murders the old fashioned way – without help from DNA, databases, CSI crime labs or the police.

And I’m doing it in France. Where I do not speak the language. During the apocalyse.  Sound like fun?

Like most cosy mystery/murders, this starts with the main character moving miles away from home after a personal crisis, in the hopes of starting afresh.  I’ve read a few by different authors.  I  enjoyed this one because Jules doesn’t take herself seriously and gets herself into all sorts of scrapes, while spending too much time worrying about what to wear, or whether she has enough euros to be able to breakfast on almond croissants.  Anyway, I enjoyed it enough to go ahead and read the second.

“Crime and Croissants”.

Jules Hooker is doing her best to adjust to the new normal of a world without electricity, electronics, cars or the chance to return home.  Stranded in the charming but provincial village of Chabanel wasn’t terrible until Jules discovers Aix-en-Provence and decides that the big city lights – even when they’ve gone out in the apocalypse – are much preferable to the countryside.

Of course with a big city come big city crimes and when a fellow American is accused of murdering a popular pastry chef in Aix, Jules knows she has to help.

Unfortunately tracking a dangerous killer when you don’t know the language – or the French people themselves – soon has Jules bumbling into one dangerous situation after another.

All the wonderful pastries aside, will this be lights out for Jules too?   

And book three in the series

“Accent on murder”.

Trying to learn a foreign language can be murder – especially when your French tutor is strangled to death hours after your last lesson and your best friend is arrested for the crime.

Normally that wouldn’t be a problem for stranded super sleuth and intrepid expat Jules Hooker, except she just got her ONE chance to go back to the US and sticking around to help a pal means she’s back to being stranded in a foreign country with no lights, no language skills and no real future.

Will she give up her chance to go home? Will she continue to step on the toes of the handsome village police chief in order to help free her friend? And finally, will Jules find out who the murderer is before the killer decides to permanently eliminate one very pesky, very stubborn American sleuth?

Other recent reading.

“The house we grew up in” by Lisa Jewell.  This is the first novel I’ve read by Ms Jewell and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Sometimes hard to believe that one family could be so dysfunctional, but if you go along with it, then it was quite a page-turner.

Here’s the blurb from the back cover.

Imagine a picture-book cottage in a village. A family in a sun-drenched kitchen filled with love and laughter.

Picture an Easter weekend when tragedy strikes – so unexpected, so devastating that no one can talk about it.

The years pass; the children become adults. Gradually they lose touch as the secret between them tears them apart.

And then something happens that calls them back to the house they grew up in – and to what really happened that Easter weekend all those years ago. 

I enjoyed it enough to already have a second novel by Lisa Jewell in my “to read” pile.

And last book, for today.  A second UK author: Jem Lester and “Shtum”.

I happened to buy the French translation, but the title is the same.  This is Mr Lester’s first novel.  Novel largely inspired by personal experience I would assume, since one of the central characters is Jonah an autistic child, and Mr Lester has an autistic son.  “Shtum” (from Yiddish meaning “mute, dumb, voiceless”)  is about the relationship between three generations of the same family: Jonah, Ben (his father) and Georg (his grandfather).  It’s about the every day battle of parents trying to care for an autistic child.  About trying to do what’s right for Jonah.  It’s about a failed marriage, about silence and secrets.  It’s about three generations of the same family: Jonah who can’t communicate.  His father and grandfather who refuse to communicate.  This isn’t a book that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside but I very glad I read it.