Peter Pan Must Die – John Verdon
Dave Gurney may be a retired police detective living in the Catskill mountains, but once a cop, always a cop, especially when a debt has been incurred to a former colleague, who shortly comes to collect. The investigation Gurney gets roped into was supposed to be simple: prove police corruption to get a guilty verdict on a prominent homicide case overturned. But the deeper he looks into the case, the less it makes sense, and for Gurney it soon becomes a matter of finding the person responsible for not one murder, but potentially for a number closer to one hundred.
This is the fourth Dave Gurney novel, but there’s no reason why it couldn’t be your first. Verdon establishes who Dave Gurney is on the first page, adding layers of background information smoothly, where it doesn’t break the narrative’s stride, so that you’re able to read on without feeling as though you’re missing key pieces of the puzzle. Despite Gurney’s retired status, Peter Pan Must Die is decidedly a police procedural: slow and methodical, with the case approached from every possible angle. As for the Peter Pan connection, well now, that is a fascinating detail and one I won’t spoil for you. Pick up this book if step-by-step crime solving is your bread and butter.
Firelight – Kristen Callihan
Dressed as a boy to pass unmolested through London’s back streets, fiery Miranda Ellis attracts the attention of Lord Benjamin Archer when she bests a set of thugs before he can step in to offer assistance. Plauged by a condition that requires him to wear a mask, all of London society views Archer as a pariah, but unable to stop thinking of the woman who held her own–and not against just the would-be thieves but also himself–he does the unthinkable and offers Miranda’s father an irresistible sum of money for her hand in marriage. Secrets, his and hers, soon threaten their developing relationship and their lives.
The first book in Callihan’s Darkest London series borrows from the story of Beauty and the Beast, but in the characters’ minds, which is the Beast and which the Beauty is a blurred line. Along with several supernatural elements that propel the plot forward there’s a mystery to be unraveled, and characters, like Miranda’s sisters, to be introduced so they can take up starring roles in future books. Miranda and Archer were enjoyable as individuals and as a couple, eschewing the somewhat typical antagonistic-at-first-sight relationship found in every flavor of romance novel, which made me a particularly happy reader. The atmosphere and 1800s London setting also made Firelight a fantastic start to a series that I’ve since read with devotion.