Baby's First Felony is the long-awaited seventh book in the Cecil Younger mystery series. It’s fabulous—but I say that about every one of Mr. Straley’s books. Just read the cover quotes and you’ll see that I’m not the only one who loves his writing. The Alaska setting just adds to the reading pleasure. I must say, though, that although Baby’s First Felony can be read as a standalone, you’ll appreciate it much more if you read the other six books first, starting with the The Woman Who Married a Bear. Cecil Younger is a completely screwed-up yet nevertheless adorable character, and reading Baby’s First Felony was like visiting an old, much-loved friend. Great mystery, chilling suspense that was almost unbearable (I had to read ahead), and some wonderful bursts of humor. Highly recommended.
At some point this month I needed an old, familiar read, so I turned to Dorothy Sayers. The Nine Tailors is one of her Lord Peter Wimsey stories. Lord Peter is a delightful character who also feels like an old friend, since I’ve read all the books about him more than once, some of them several times. The secondary characters in The Nine Tailors are fun, too – the absent-minded vicar and his capable wife, the villagers who ring the church bells, and of course Bunter, Lord Peter's valet. The mystery is both intriguing and educational. I love learning something new as I read, in this case about change ringing – a musical art form in which bells are rung in varying sequences according to a prescribed pattern. At least I think that’s more or less right – if you want more, Google it. If you haven’t read Sayers, start with the first in the series and read them all. They will surely become lifelong favorites.
The Devil in the Marshalsea by Antonia Hodgson totally blew me away. I’m so glad I read it – thanks to fellow author Marguerite Kaye, who finds the most amazing dark historicals and reviews them on Goodreads. The story takes place in London in 1727, mostly in a ghastly debtor’s prison. It’s violent and often horrifying, but so realistic and well written that you just have to keep going. The mystery is excellent, and the central character, Thomas Hawkins, is one of those wild, restless, totally endearing characters who make for a great series. I’m already reading book two, The Last Confession of Thomas Hawkins, and looking forward to book three, A Death at Fountains Abbey.