I kicked off this year’s Summer Reads with murder mysteries set in Yorkshire, so perhaps it’s fitting to end the series with a darker story set in the same locale.
Grimm Up North by David J. Gatward
Grimm Up North: A Yorkshire Murder Mystery is the first volume in the DCI Harry Grimm crime novels. In addition to the title, each volume has an extra phrase. This title includes Yorkshire Born and Dead — a play-on-words for the common expression Yorkshire Born and Bred.
And the title — Grimm Up North — is another play-on-words. When people in the south of England consider the weather and sometimes bleak terrain of Yorkshire, they often say, “It’s grim up north.”
Now for the story. DCI Harry Grimm is a former member of the British Parachute Regiment with a severely disfigured face caused by an IED [Improvised Explosive Device]. That and Grimm’s large frame make him an intimidating figure.
In this series kick-off, Grimm is transferred from a life undercover in the urban spaces of Bristol to the small village of Hawes, an actual market town in the Wensleydale region of Yorkshire. Today the village is known for the Wensleydale Creamery where artisans follow 12th century recipes to create the famous hand-crafted Wensleydale cheese.
Grimm hates cheese, and the way his new colleagues put cheese on everything. Upon arrival, he’s not too keen on village life either, though, of course, it will grow on him.
The plot begins with a runaway teenager and grows to include a murder with a surprise ending. It’s an interesting read with lots of Yorkshire slang.
House By The Sea by Louise Douglas
House by the Sea has puzzles to unravel, but is really more a novel of personal growth and redemption. When the novel opens, Edie is flying from London to Sicily. Under normal circumstances, this might be the first day of Edie’s holidays. Instead, it marks Edie’s final effort to remove the ghost of her mother-in-law from her life.
The Villa della Madonna del Mare [House by the Sea] was Anna de Luca’s childhood home. Anna bequeathed the house to her son, Edie’s ex-husband, and Edie. Both arrive by separate routes with a shared goal: fix up the house, sell it, and go their separate ways.
But what mysteries does the house hold? Who is sabotaging restoration efforts? What caused this couple to part ways? And, finally, what happened to the Madonna del Mare, a well-known painting that is now missing?
With vivid description, Douglas weaves a story that in many ways could happen to any of us.
The Lighthouse Keeper by Cynthia Ellingsen
The Lighthouse Keeper is a good candidate for a Hallmark movie, which may tell you everything you want to know. Dawn Conner’s parents specialized shipwreck explorations, and gave their daughter a childhood filled with love and relocation. Not surprisingly, Dawn chose a solid career path in Boston and a stable, predictable boyfriend. Both choices implode. On top of that, various people, including investigators from an insurance company, think Dawn’s grandfather absconded with stolen silver. To deal with this cascade of chaos, Dawn goes to her local coffee shop and orders chai.
Later, while perusing a web search, Dawn sees that the lighthouse at Starlight Cove, Lake Michigan is for sale by auction. She submits her sealed bid, and wins. Starlight Cove is the closest Dawn has to a pemanent family home. She expects to renovate the lighthouse, sell it, and return to the big city. Instead, she enters into a search for the missing silver, makes friends, puts down roots, and, of course, meets a handsome man.
The Lighthouse is a good cozy mystery — a nice escape for a stressed-out mind, but not overly absorbing.
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Man Reading Under a Tree, 1826.
Fields Above Hawes by Nilfanion.
Lighthouse on Lake Michigan by Alex Ford.
Sandra Wagner-Wright holds the doctoral degree in history and taught women’s and global history at the University of Hawai`i. Sandra travels for her research, most recently to Salem, Massachusetts, the setting of her new Salem Stories series. She also enjoys traveling for new experiences. Recent trips include Antarctica and a river cruise on the Rhine from Amsterdam to Basel.
Sandra particularly likes writing about strong women who make a difference. She lives in Hilo, Hawai`i with her family and writes a blog relating to history, travel, and the idiosyncrasies of life.