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Good Literature for Children & Adults

A Trio of mystery novels

The Black Ascot by Charles Todd begins in 1910. The race at Ascot that year is called the Black Ascot to honour the late King Edward VII. The day ends with a death, and the beginning of a manhunt for the killer. We leap ahead in time to 1921 and find this old case re-opened when the man accused of murder, who disappeared a decade earlier, is sighted in England.

And once again, as always, we have the pleasure of spending time with Inspector Ian Rutledge as he puzzles his way through a complicated investigation. He believes there is enough evidence to prove that this man may be one who was sought in 1910 for the murder of a woman on the day of the Black Ascot. It is important to keep the investigation very low profile, so that it will not come to the attention of the man he seeks, and to avoid the attention of the press.

As always, Ian Rutledge struggles with his own demons, but less so these days. The investigation has our detective driving around the countryside in his lovely old car, staying in pubs and interviewing vicars. All the while building a picture in his mind of what really happened in the past.

Unto Us a Son is Given is Donna Leon’s most recent Commissario Guido Brunetti mystery, the 28th! She once again shares with us life with Guido and his family, and his team of detectives. This time it is Guido’s father-in-law who asks for an investigation into the affairs of his close friend. Count Falier has known Gonzalo for many years, and is considered an honorary family member by the Brunetti and Falier families.

Gonzalo, who has never married, has declared that he is adopting a young man. He wants an heir. The Count has misgivings, as do other friends. Brunetti is asked to look into the young mans past to see if he is worthy of Gonzalo’s trust.

Of course there is always more going on than is obvious at first. Donna Leon is in good form with this one, and gives readers a lovely, if somewhat murderous, time among the calles and canals of Venice.       


The American Agent is the most recent Maisie Dobbs novel by Jacqueline Winspear. Everyone is saying the best yet – and I must agree. It is now the fall of 1941, and London is suffering the Blitz, night after night many many citizens of London are killed, and everyone is on edge. These are dark days. The Americans have still not committed to offering assistance, though there are American broadcasters and journalists in London writing and speaking to the people of the United States, urging that America respond. The hope is that if the American public knows what is happening they will put pressure on their own government to take action.  

Maisie and her friend Priscilla are on nightly duty with the London Auxiliary Ambulance Service and with them, one evening, is an American journalist, Catherine Saxon. A short time later Catherine is murdered, and Maisie is called to take the case. What follows is another complicated investigation, involving many of those who knew the victim, one of whom will be the murderer. Everyone is suspect, including a man from the past who it is clear is attracted to Maisie – and she to him.

These are three of the most recent novels in some of our most popular mystery series – if you have not read any, start with the first and you’ll enjoy spending all summer with Ian, and Guido, and Maisie.  


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