So, catching up on Stuff I've Read. Finished a few more of my Poisoned Pen Press 99 cent introductory purchases over the past week or so. Brief comments since others might be interested in picking them up while still on sale:
Artifacts, 1st in the Faye Longchamp archaeological mystery series by Mary Anna Evans was the one I enjoyed most out of the current lot.
This was a rather ambitious story involving a murder in the past, a murder in the present, and an overarching mystery involving the amateur sleuth's heritage. Overall it was fairly well done, although in some places it did seem to overreach itself with some of the plot twists and melodrama and things did get tied up in a moderately pat fashion.
But I think it ended up establishing a decent springboard for the sequels and it did have some rather interesting academic-oriented archaeology/history bits which I liked.
Another academia-involving mystery/thriller, Artscape by Frederick Ramsay, 1st in the Ike Schwartz series about a retired CIA guy turned college town sheriff, was another one I wasn't sure I would like, since the premise and sample made it look like it might be a launch for some Islamophobic far right-wing diatribes.
But although there is some political discussion, it's a lot more balanced and thoughtful than I was expecting (still a bit knee-jerk reactionary in places and likes to trump the leftist college professor supporting character by showing the sheriff as being in the right, so to speak).
And it was mostly glossed over in favour of presenting a nice enough art heist caper with viewpoints not only from the sheriff who's tracking the thieves who intend to hold the college's prestigious on-loan art collection for ransom or destruction, but also the down-on-his-luck guy who's gotten too deeply involved and wants to get out.
Overall, not bad. The rest of the series would have to be dirt-cheap sale if not library reads, but I am now sufficiently interested to go check out Ramsay's historical mysteries set in Jerusalem at some point.
A bit like a mashup of the other two, the academic-turned-deputy-sheriff David Mapstone mystery Concrete Desert by John Talton rapidly turned into one of those "things are not what they seem, the real mystery is what's really going on here" stories.
Again, this involves a murder in the past possibly infringing on some murders (and a disappearance) in the present. This was done well enough, and the whodunnits for both were a bit of a surprise, but thriller-ish police procedurals are generally not my sort of thing.
However, it seems good enough that I wouldn't hesitate to recommend that someone who did like that kind of thing might want to check it out, especially at the currently offered price.
This looks long enough, so I'll comment on the two Canadian-written and set mysteries later after lunch.