This is a little black dress of a crime novel: elegant, clean, smart.
Di Porteous is the twenty-six year old widow of a much older art collector. She lives in his beautiful old house by the sea and roams around the beach, listless and sad. She had really loved Thomas, her almost seventy year old husband. He had, in a Pygmalion sort of way, rescued her from a life of crime and taught her everything he knew about art.
Di’s friends are worried that all she does is mope on the beach, missing Thomas and obsessing about some human bones in the basement. (The bone thing is kind of weird – but it’s neatly sewn in to the plot.) Saul, dapper friend and art agent, arranges for Di to meet his sister Sarah in the hope that Sarah’s eccentric vitality will perk Di up. He’s right, it does. Sarah introduces Di to the joys of shopping for clothes and to a mad old grumpy lady whose son has stolen her paintings. Sarah and Di decide to steal the paintings back. Continue reading
Jimm Juree is a thirty-five year old crime reporter in Chiang Mai, Thailand. She’s wrenched from her comfortable life by her mother to go and live in what she sees as a poky hell-hole of a fishing village in the south. Her mother has had the bright idea that the two of them, along with her monosyllabic grandfather and her extremely shy body-building brother, will start a little hotel business in the hell-hole.
Jimm’s mood improves when some long-buried bodies are dug up in the area (sitting in a VW combie, one of them wearing a hat) and she suspects foul play. Not much later a monk is brutally murdered. A monk-nun love tryst seems to be at the heart of the crime. Jimm sharpens her investigative skills and starts to annoy the local cops. There is one competent officer, stuck in the village because he’s gay. Jimm befriends him immediately. Continue reading