The Only Witness by Pamela Beason
An ingenious & charming mystery, starring improbably sympathetic characters: Brittany, a feckless teenage mother who leaves her baby in the car to dash into a store. Finn, a grumpy detective who’s saddled with his ex-wife’s menagerie & out of the loop in this grapevine-infested small town. And Neema, the only witness to the baby’s abduction: a gorilla who’s learned sign language, in a program that’s just been de-funded. Pamela Beason deftly weaves local prejudices, personal quirks, & challenging circumstances into a believable net that traps each protagonist. Each plot strand is compelling, & they converge in a satisfying resolution.
The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz
As the creator & writer of Foyle’s War, Anthony Horowitz is up there in my firmament with Jane Austen, Aaron Sorkin, Hilary Mantel, & Tom Stoppard. I really wanted to read & love The House of Silk, even though most pastiches of storytellers from another era hurt my ears & sink my spirits. OK, Horowitz’s stab at James Bond (the cleverly titled Trigger Mortis) lost me in the first 2 pages; but his excellent TV recreation of World War II boded well for stepping back another half-century into the role of Dr. Watson narrating a Sherlock Holmes adventure.
House of Silk starts out familiar & promising — Baker Street ambience, unnerved client, deductive legerdemain, bristly camaraderie (Holmes-Watson) & sibling rivalry (Sherlock-Mycroft) — & expands fluidly into a web of business, art, society, & politics. There were a few jarring anachronisms, but the voice wasn’t cringe-worthy, & the plot kept me on board for 128 pages.
“…Holmes had no idea of the type of people with whom he was dealing nor the lengths to which they would go to protect themselves. He had entered a veritable miasma of evil, and harm, in the worst possible way, was to come to us all too soon.”
Translation: “As a 21st-century reader you’re probably bored with this 19th-century pace, or about to be, so here’s a violent jab to keep you hooked.”
At that point I closed the book, & I haven’t reopened it until now.