Archive for the ‘Boston’ Category

Millie Jacobson is in the middle of the Botswana bush trying to salvage what’s left of her relationship with her boyfriend, noted mystery author Richard Renwick. This trek through the bush is his dream vacation, sleeping in a tent, cooking over an open fire, watching the wildlife while Millie would rather be in a hotel, sleeping in a soft bed, lounging in a warm bath, sipping drinks on the veranda. And for a while it was tolerable…until the killing started. Millie was lucky to get away with her life.DieAgain

In Boston, Detective Jane Rizzoli is called to a murder scene in which noted hunter and taxidermist Leon Gott has been hung upside down and gutted, as a hunter would do with his prey. Later she is called to a second murder scene in which Jodi Underwood, Leon’s estranged son’s girlfriend, is struck down.

Can these incidents in Boston and Botswana, separated by oceans and six years apart, be linked? That’s the conclusion that Rizzoli and Medical Examiner Maura Isles come to, after much back and forth and changing of theories. But up to the very end, both the reader and the detectives aren’t 100% certain.

While I’ve read Tess Gerritsen before (Playing with Fire which I really liked but which was also a dramatically different type of book) I’ve never read a Rizzoli and Isles book, nor have I seen the TV show. I enjoyed Die Again but didn’t think it was the best mystery I’ve read. There’s action. There are twists and turns. There’s back and forth between detectives. There’s the disliked thorn in their sides, Detective Crowe. There’s a bit of history. You learn a bit about predator cats.

Yet, it just wasn’t a gripping book. I guess I’d say, Die Again is a good book if you’re in a pinch to read something and can’t get to the library and it’s lying around on your coffee table. While I wouldn’t avoid reading another book in the series, I certainly wouldn’t go out of my way to read it.

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There’s something about Boston P.I.s. They’re so ethical. When they make a Rescuepromise, they keep it, whether it be Parker’s Spenser, Lehane’s Patrick Kenzie or Healy’s John Cuddy. In Rescue, Cuddy is on Route 93 heading home when he sees a young girl (Melinda) and younger boy (Eddie) by the side of the road, their car with a flat tire. He pulls over and changes the tire.

Melinda and Eddie go off to the woods by the road side for a bit and a man in a blue pickup truck stops to see whether he can help. However, he seems more interested in the car and its occupants than helping. Having already finished changing the tire, Cuddy declines the offer and the man speeds on his way.

The next day, when Melinda’s body is found washed up on a river bank in Boston with her car nearby, Cuddy has his suspicions. Eddie, however, is nowhere to be found. Cuddy must honor his promise to Eddie, who asked “If I ever get lost or anything, would you come help me?” It reminds Cuddy, a Vietnam vet, of an unkept promise he made to one of his fellow soldiers three decades earlier.

Cuddy’s search takes him from the woods of New Hampshire to the Florida Keys and involves an evangelist, Royel Wyeth and his Church of the Lord Vigilant. It seems that Royel is ‘studying’ the Mark of Cain, a birthmark that makes Eddie a good subject.

While I enjoyed Rescue, I did have to suspend belief as I neared the end of the book. Actually, any mystery I read that has an evangelical bent to it forces me to suspend belief. Maybe that’s just me.

However, I really like John Cuddy as a character and Healy as a writer. There’s enough rough stuff, but it’s not overdone. There’s also the ‘typical girl comes on to P.I.’ stuff, but also not overdone. While Cuddy may not be as smart-mouthed as Spenser, he’s no dope and is not easily intimidated.

Rescue is the ninth book in the Cuddy series. I had probably read all the books in the series previously, but since Healy committed suicide earlier this year, I’ve re-read two of the books, the other one being the first in the series, Blunt Darts. If you’re looking for a good, entertaining mystery read, you really can’t go wrong with a Jeremiah Healy/John Cuddy mystery.

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John Francis Cuddy was an investigator for the Empire Insurance Company healy-bluntdartsuntil they decided his services were no longer needed. So, he figured he’d go it alone as a private detective. Luckily for him, shortly after being fired, he was contacted by Valerie Jacobs, the ex-girlfriend of a claims adjuster at Empire. She’s a teacher and it seems one of her students, Stephen Kinnington, had gone missing two weeks earlier, assumed a runaway. The police and private detectives hired by Stephen’s father, Judge Kinnington, have gotten nowhere. His grandmother thinks a fresh pair of eyes will help. However, the Judge must never find out about it.

Cuddy knows a lot of people in the Boston area and as he makes contact with them, he realizes that no one made much of an effort to find Stephen. The backstory is that four years earlier, when Stephen was eleven, his mother drove her car off a bridge. Although the car was recovered, no body was found. It affected Stephen so much that he was institutionalized for about a year.

Cuddy isn’t sure what caused Stephen to run after having been ‘normal’ for years. And being thwarted along the way, isn’t helping.

Blunt Darts by Jeremiah Healy is the first of 13 John Francis Cuddy mysteries plus one short story anthology. I love Boston as a setting for mysteries. I don’t know why, but I do. Cuddy is not over the recent death of his wife, his first and only true love. But while he’s grappling with the disappearance, he’s also got to deal with Valerie’s affection.

Blunt Darts is an easy going kind of mystery. It’s not hard-boiled. It’s not cozy. It’s comfortable. Is that a reasonable thing to say about a mystery? You have fun reading it and when you get to the end, you want more.

I previously blogged about Healy’s suicide. It’s sad that there will be no more Cuddy mysteries and even sadder that Healy found no other way out of his pain. I’d definitely call this a winner.


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healy-bluntdartsI sadly read that one of my favorite mystery writers, HealyJeremiah Healy, took his own life earlier this month. Healy who created the conflicted private investigator John Francis Cuddy series (first book-Blunt Darts) based in Boston won the Shamus Award, given by the Private Eye Writers of America, for The Staked Goat (1986). Many of his other books were nominated for the award.
What I didn’t know was that he also wrote under the pen name Terry Devane and created a legal drama featuring Mairead O’Clare and Sheldon Gold. I liked that series as well and wish there were more than the three books in it. Healy-AStainUponTheRobe
While I’m not sure I’ll re-read the entire Cuddy series, I’ve already reserved a copy of Blunt Darts.
Lastly I read and enjoyed Off Season and Other Stories Healy-OffSeasonwhich combines mysteries and the super-natural. So, if you’re looking for a great detective series (incidentally based in Boston) try John Francis Cuddy.

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