books you may love: March 2024

March was a month of reading amazing murder mysteries.

books you may love: March 2024
Photo by Julien Paoletti on Unsplash

March has been yet another month of amazing reading. I've returned to old favourites, sometimes without realizing it, at other times deliberately seeking them to soothe and comfort myself.

hardback copy of The Mysterious Case of The Alperton Angels by Janice Hallett featuring a pair of disembodied angel wings against a dark blue background

For some reason, before starting to read The Mysterious Case of The Alperton Angels, I turned to the back of the book to read about the author, Janice Hallett. Her face looked familiar, and among her list of published works was a familiar sounding title. The Twyford Code.

And sure enough, I had raved about The Twyford Code in last May's newsletter!

This is what I had written:

The Twyford Code by Janice Hallett is written in the form of audio transcripts of iPhone recordings made by Little Smithy, who served time in prison and is looking to re-establish a relationship with a son he didn't know at first he had.
He's also solving the mystery of the disappearance of a teacher he knew in high school as well as trying to decode messages left by an author of children's books; these messages are rumoured to lead to a hidden treasure!
This delightful mystery is full of codes and puzzles. It's hilarious in some places and heart-warming in many others. It's also about great friendship and loyalty, and that seems to be the biggest draw for me these days. Not to mention the completely unexpected twist after twist after twist that Hallett delights us with in the last several pages!

Similar to The Twyford Code, The Alperton Angels is told through the medium of emails, text messages, WhatsApp chats, police records, newspaper clippings, and so on.

In this story, Amanda Bailey is a true crime author who's investigating an 18-year-old crime involving a cult called The Alperton Angels who had brainwashed a teenage girl into believing that her newborn was the Anti-Christ. On the night they were to sacrifice the baby, members of the cult die in what appears to be a suicide pact, and the baby and the mother disappear.

Now that the baby is turning 18, Bailey sets out to find out where they are and to solve the mystery of that evening 18 years ago.

I loved this book. It was crazy, dark, twisted, hilarious in places. At the end of the book, Hallett talks about the real-life true crime author who inspired her to write this story. I won't reveal more details because it may spoil the ending of the book. It was such a great read. I've got more of Hallett's books on hand to devour in the coming weeks!

hardback copy of Mary and the Birth of Frankenstein by Anne Eekhout featuring a portrait of Mary Shelly

Mary and the Birth of Frankenstein by Anne Eekhout. I have no words to describe this haunting, atmospheric tale that kept me on edge at all times. I fell in love with this book, but I managed to read it very slowly, a few pages a day.

Partly because I just wanted to be with each passage a little longer and I didn't want the book to end too soon. Also, partly because Mary's emotions rang too true for me to bear them all at once.

Dutch novelist, Anne Eekhout, has reimagined what Mary Shelley's youth might have been like and what may have fed her imagination, propelling her to write Frankenstein.

Set in a dual timeline, we see Mary as a 15-year-old motherless girl sent to live with her father's acquaintance in Scotland in order to heal from a skin condition. There she meets the daughter of the family, Isabella Baxter, with whom she falls in love.

Both share a mutual love for Scottish lore, myths and monsters. One day they come across a real monster, which causes the lines between reality and imagination to blur for them.

We also see Mary in her early twenties as the wife of Percy Shelley. She has lost her daughter in infancy and now has a son. The Shelleys often socialize with Lord Byron and his companion, John Polidori, in Switzerland, where they spend evenings drinking and planning to write ghost stories.

I loved this book. The prose and the depth of Mary's feelings as a young girl, as a mother, as a motherless girl, as a parent who has lost a little one, as a woman whose husband has a lover, were very moving. This book is full of love and loss and longing. It touched me deeply.

hardback copy of A Cruel Deception by Charles Todd featuring a bridge over water at twilight
hardback copy of The Shattered Tree by Charles Todd featuring a nurse walking into the misty woods

After reading a particularly moving book, I find myself returning to familiar comforts. I've often raved about Charles Todd and his Inspector Rutledge series of mysteries set in the WWI era. Todd also has another series set in the same time period, featuring Sister Bess Crawford. She gets into a lot of mysteries entailing missing soldiers and soldiers with dark secrets in their past.

In A Cruel Deception, the war is almost at an end. Bess is sent on a personal mission to France to locate the missing soldier-son of a Matron at the London headquarters of the Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service. She does locate Lt. Lawrence Minton, only to find him bitter and addicted to laudanum. In an attempt to unearth the incident that drove him to addiction, Bess has several escapades of her own.

The Shattered Tree was another exciting book. In this one, Bess herself is injured and is convalescing in Paris, where she runs into a soldier she had briefly encountered in her line of duty. She had heard the soldier cry out in German, which leads her to believe he may have been a spy for the enemy. She's determined to find out who he is and what his past entails, which makes for a riveting murder mystery.

I love all of Charles Todd books. They are truly comfort reading for me. The mysteries are entertaining and exciting, and the characters are realistic. I miss them after I finish reading their story.

hardback copy of A Bitter Feast by Deborah Crombie featuring a country road in an English village

After reading the two Bess Crawford books, I was looking up Charles Todd on the Internet. Charles Todd is a mother-son duo, and the mother (Caroline Todd, which itself is a pseudonym) passed away a few years ago.

I came across a post that another author, Deborah Crombie, had written when she learnt of Caroline Todd's passing away.

The name, Deborah Crombie, sounded so familiar. When I looked up her works, I was so delighted to find she's the author of the Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James series of novels, a pair of detectives based in London. They start out as partners and quickly fall in love and get married and have a huge family and friends as the series progresses.

I had come across Crombie's books back in 2018 and had torn through all 17 of them on my Kindle, one right after the other, during May—December 2018, as my Kindle account faithfully shows me.

Imagine my delight when I found out that she had penned two more books in the interim! I immediately got my hands on A Bitter Feast, book #18, which involves a charity luncheon at the lavish home of Melody Talbot, Gemma's colleague, in the English countryside, and of course a murder to boot.

I'm currently reading book #19, A Killing of Innocents, and there's something else special about this book that I will tell you next month.

So that's my book loot for this month, dear Dreamers! Books are seriously amazing things!

I feel so lucky that I get to live in Burlington; we have the most amazing library here.

It's where I go to write.

It's where I go to calm down on especially unhappy days. It's where I go on days when life feels futile.

I go there to see the endless rows of books and remind myself how we all love stories, and even if it is impossible for me to read every book in the world, I'm still moved and shaped by the countless books that I do read.

“A library is a good place to go when you feel unhappy, for there, in a book, you may find encouragement and comfort. A library is a good place to go when you feel bewildered or undecided, for there, in a book, you may have your question answered. Books are good company, in sad times and happy times, for books are people—people who have managed to stay alive by hiding between the covers of a book.”
-E.B. White