When you read a Traci Hunter Abramson mystery, you have to know going into it that the main guy in the story and the main girl in the story will fall in love. I’m not sure that romantic mystery is a genre, but if it were, Abramson would be one of its foremost practitioners. In Failsafe, Charlotte Martin and her father are working on their farm in rural Virginia. They may seem to be simple farmers, but in reality they are NSA computer specialists, and one night, someone comes in and murders Charlotte’s father and his assistant, but not before the initiate the failsafe lockdown on the program. Charlotte barely escapes with her life, takes on an assumed name, and runs (literally) across the Virginia countryside, ending up at the home of Jake Bradford, a New York hotshot writer who is wrapping up loose ends at his family farm after the untimely death of his parents. Jake takes Charlotte in, then hires her to watch his grandmother, and she uses the time to try to figure out how she’s going to get away from the bad guys who are pursuing her, since she’s the only one who can access the computer system. Failsafe is suspenseful, and a nice break from Abramson’s Saint Squad series. The romance feels a little forced, and Abramson’s attempt to give Jake a second identity doesn’t really work, but if you’re just interested in a quick read that sucks you in, this one does the trick.
Ordinarily, I am a huge fan of Anne Perry’s mysteries. She’s one of the few authors in the category who is consistently published by a mainstream publishing house (Ballantine), and her books (all historical mysteries) tend to have a darker, more violent feel to them than other books in the category. Because of this, they generally don’t win Whitney Awards, but I usually end up voting for them. Not so this year. The Angel Court Affair is the 30th of 30 books (so far) in the Charlotte and Thomas Pitt mysteries, set in the Victorian Era. In this particular book, a charismatic religious speaker, Sofia Delacruz, goes missing after giving a speech in London, and Pitt, his team of detectives, and assorted relatives have to find her. Delacruz herself is fascinating as a character– LDS readers will recognize someone akin to Joseph Smith giving the King Follett Sermon in her speech, but the book as a whole didn’t come together for me. For one thing, Perry seems to be taking liberties with the timeline– some characters (the daughter) are aging faster than they should be while others (like Charlotte’s aunt, who should be in her nineties) seem to have Benjamin Button disease. One thing I noticed about the book is that while Pitt’s role seems to be only to find Delacruz alive, the collateral damage (and high body count) doesn’t seem to matter otherwise. There are some pretty violent scenes in The Angel Court Affair, and I pegged the bad guy pretty early on.