Bleeding Heart Yard by Elly Griffiths (Mystery)

Writing: 3.5/5 Characters: 4/5 Plot: 4/5

Another fun, twisty mystery by Elly Griffiths of Ruth Galloway fame — number 3 in the Harbinder Kaur series. Harbinder — our 38-year old diminutive Sikh lesbian — has just made Detective Inspector and is now in charge of a London based Murder Investigation Team.

A great first line (in the prolog) appears to be a confession of guilt for a decades old murder. This is rapidly followed by the school reunion of a high achieving group of friends who were all affected by that long ago death. The long awaited “fun” evening ends in the death of one the group — his body found in the school bathroom with cocaine dust around his nostrils.

A nice, convoluted mystery with plenty of interesting characters. What I found particularly fun was Harbinder’s inner monologue regarding her new subordinates, witnesses, potential suspects, and surprising love interests. While always behaving professionally and never losing her cool, we are treated to her irritation regarding arrogant attitudes, bimbo responses, and one particular subordinate’s oft repeated macho stances. I thoroughly enjoyed this insight into an honest and human interior in contrast with a professional and impassive exterior.

Thank you to Mariner Books and NetGalley for providing an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. The book will be published on November 15th, 2022.

The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters by Balli Kaur Jaswal

Writing: 4/5 Plot: 3.5/5 Characters: 4/5

A family drama steeped in a colorful Punjabi travelogue.

The three Shergill sisters reluctantly make a summer pilgrimage to India to fulfill their mother’s dying request. Plodding through an extensive and detailed itinerary, each is simultaneously dealing with a personal crisis she is unwilling to share with the others. Hyper-responsible Rajni is reeling from the discovery that her 18-year old son has vowed to marry a woman twice his age; Wild Jezmeen is suspended from her role as DisasterTube host due to an unfortunate interaction with a highly sensitive Arowana fish (the fish didn’t make it); and Shirina, who arranged her own marriage to a traditional Indian man and his controlling mother, has a particularly distressing secret mission for the trip.

Good writing with some interesting and topical social commentary. I consider it chick-lit — disasters are all successfully avoided and it willingly supplies the mandatory happy ending. The family is Sikh and there was some information on Sikh heritage, practices, and monuments, though not as much as I would have liked. It did spur a quick Wikipedia check which I found useful and interesting.

Many of the story threads address different issues faced by women in this region of India and traditional Sikh communities around the world. These affect the story in multiple ways, though primarily from the outside (our heroines are second generation British immigrants with little identification with their Indian heritage).

Overall an interesting read.