RogerBW's Blog

The Cold Blue Blood, David Handler 10 June 2018

2001 mystery, first in the Berger and Mitry series. Mitch Berger is a New York film critic mourning his dead wife, who rents a house in a rural (but rich) part of Connecticut; Desiree Mitry is a cop on the Serious Crimes Squad. So when Berger digs up a body in the vegetable patch…

So yeah, she's a cop, he's not a cop (and he has a dead wife for motivation), they solve crimes and fall for each other. So far so clichéd. But both the leads (who get alternating chapters) have a bit more to them than the basics; she does charcoal sketches of crime scene photos, and finds homes for stray cats, while he's a bit too ready to see things in terms of filmic clichés (to the point of endangering his life).

A gated island community provides an effective locked-room problem, but everyone could have done it; working out who actually did is rather tougher, especially when plausible candidates start to turn up dead. Mitry is already fighting her department since she's non-male and non-white, and they're quite happy to take the easy answer of a remorseful suicide… but of course it's not as simple as that.

It's the other people who make this book, though, the suspects and hangers-on: Berger's landlady, living next door; her ex-husband and lawyer, and his new young wife; the handyman with a past… all right, this is a book where people have trauma from Vietnam rather than anything more recent, but they're mostly in their fifties in 2001 so that does hold together. It's these people's interplay (and they're all differently horrible, murderers or not) that retains the reader's interest, more than the case itself and the shadows from the past that may have provoked it.

"Does he stay out on you regularly?" Des pressed her.

The girl shrugged again, although this time her nostrils flared slightly. Evidently, Tuck Weems was not a one-teenager man.

This is lighter than many modern mysteries: nasty things have happened and will continue to happen, but there's never any doubt that justice will prevail. If Berger comes over as a little too self-satisfied and sure of his privilege, well, things don't go quite as well for him as they might; the male-gazey descriptions of attractive Mitry (and glossing over unattractive Berger) are more annoying. But I've read Robert Parker, and this is nothing like as bad as that.

Followed by The Hot Pink Farmhouse.

[Buy this at Amazon] and help support the blog. ["As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases."]

Series: Berger and Mitry | Next in series: The Hot Pink Farmhouse

Comments on this post are now closed. If you have particular grounds for adding a late comment, comment on a more recent post quoting the URL of this one.

Tags 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s 3d printing action advent of code aeronautics aikakirja anecdote animation anime army astronomy audio audio tech aviation base commerce battletech beer boardgaming book of the week bookmonth chain of command children chris chronicle church of no redeeming virtues cold war comedy computing contemporary cornish smuggler cosmic encounter coup covid-19 crime crystal cthulhu eternal cycling dead of winter doctor who documentary drama driving drone ecchi economics en garde espionage essen 2015 essen 2016 essen 2017 essen 2018 essen 2019 essen 2022 essen 2023 existential risk falklands war fandom fanfic fantasy feminism film firefly first world war flash point flight simulation food garmin drive gazebo genesys geocaching geodata gin gkp gurps gurps 101 gus harpoon historical history horror hugo 2014 hugo 2015 hugo 2016 hugo 2017 hugo 2018 hugo 2019 hugo 2020 hugo 2021 hugo 2022 hugo 2023 hugo 2024 hugo-nebula reread in brief avoid instrumented life javascript julian simpson julie enfield kickstarter kotlin learn to play leaving earth linux liquor lovecraftiana lua mecha men with beards mpd museum music mystery naval noir non-fiction one for the brow opera parody paul temple perl perl weekly challenge photography podcast politics postscript powers prediction privacy project woolsack pyracantha python quantum rail raku ranting raspberry pi reading reading boardgames social real life restaurant reviews romance rpg a day rpgs ruby rust scala science fiction scythe second world war security shipwreck simutrans smartphone south atlantic war squaddies stationery steampunk stuarts suburbia superheroes suspense television the resistance the weekly challenge thirsty meeples thriller tin soldier torg toys trailers travel type 26 type 31 type 45 vietnam war war wargaming weather wives and sweethearts writing about writing x-wing young adult
Special All book reviews, All film reviews
Produced by aikakirja v0.1