Gang of three: Crime watch

Cover ImageTurn of Mind by Alice La Plante
Cool, clinical orthopedic surgeon Jennifer White has early onset Alzheimer’s.  The story of her marriage, children and successful career is told through her own increasingly untethered memories, notes from her caregivers and most critically from the police investigation that has developed around her since the murder and mutilation of her neighbour and long-term “frenemy” Amanda.

As the murder investigation gathers pace, Jennifer’s mind conversely start its final unraveling, and the dénouement when it comes, while predictable, is both heartbreaking and tragic. Turn of mind is a mystery with a very small m – but is instead a beautifully written expose of a dysfunctional family and a brilliant mind in slow, tortured free fall.

Before I go to sleep by SJ Watson
Cover imageWinner of the 2011 John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger Award, SJ Watson – like La Plante – grapples with dual concepts of memory and identity while simultaneously developing a tense and escalating plot-line.

Christine Lucas has a rare form of amnesia; unable to store new experiences for more than 24 hours, she is also unable to access memories from before her “accident” 20 years previously.  The daily task of re-introducing her to horrible reality falls to her husband Ben but Chrissy suspects he is revealing only part of her story.

The reader needs to suspend some initial disbelief but the central theme and the way it is handled is so dynamic and intriguing that compulsive reading is inevitable. I was also thrilled when a seemingly extraneous character was sent to far-flung NZ – Aotearoa being a place in fiction tradition so unimaginably far away that any characters unfortunate enough to be sent there are lost beyond the horizon for ever.

Watson, formerly an audiologist with the NHS was inspired by the fascinating real life amnesia cases of Henry Gustav Molaison and Clive Wearing.

Outrage by Arnaldur Indridason
Cover ImageIcelandic author Arnaldur Indridason’s atmospheric mystery titles usually star gloomy detective Erlendur, this title instead features female detective Elinborg who takes charge of a tricky murder investigation after a body is discovered in a Reykjavik apartment.

A wife and mother, Elinborg’s domestic life is just as important to her as her career and she juggles domestic worries such as her relationship with her son with the complexities and challenges of solving a murder. As the victim’s complex story is slowly revealed so too are the underlying tensions in what appers to be a liberal and tolerant society.

Elinborg is a clever, sympathetic character with just as strong and satisfying a presence as Inspector Erlendur. Another well-written and absorbing title in this long-running series.


Gang of three brings you short and sharp reviews of criminally good reading. If these aren’t enough, you can: