It’s time again for Six Degrees of Separation, a monthly link-up hosted by Kate at Books Are My Favourite and Best. Each month a book is chosen as a starting point and linked to six other books to form a chain. A book doesn’t need to be connected to all the other books on the list, only to the one next to it in the chain.
The chain this month is a wild card – start with the book you’ve ended a previous chain with, and continue from there (for those playing for the first time, start with the last book you finished reading). So my chain begins with The Dogs of Riga by Henning Mankell, the book that ended my chain in May this year. It’s an Inspector Wallander book. A little raft is washed ashore on a beach in Sweden. It contains two men, shot dead. They’re identified as criminals, victims of a gangland hit. Wallander’s investigation takes him to Latvia.
The First Degree – a book I bought on the same day as The Dogs of Riga in August 2018 from Barter Books in Alnwick. It’s another murder mystery:
A Killing of Angels by Kate Rhodes – the second book in her Alice Quentin series. It’s a psychological thriller. At the height of a summer heatwave, a killer stalks the City of London.The avenging angel leaves behind a scattering of feathers with each body – but why these victims? What were their sins?
The Second Degree – another book with ‘angel in the title:
The Dark Angel by Elly Griffiths, a Dr Ruth Galloway Mystery. I like Ruth and enjoy these books, even though they are written in the present tense, which I can find irritating. This one is set in Italy. It’s the 10th Dr Ruth Galloway Mystery and the first one to be set in Italy. I like the mix of archaeology, mystery and crime fiction in Elly Griffiths’s books and also the continuing story of Ruth and the other regular characters.
The Third Degree – another Ruth Galloway mystery:
The first Ruth Galloway mystery I read is The Crossing Places. It’s an interesting mix of investigations into a cold case – the disappearance of Lucy, a five year old girl ten years earlier and a current case of another missing four year old girl. Are they connected and just how does the discovery of a child’s bones from the Iron Age fit in? It’s set in Norfolk in winter with its immense skies and its remoteness, treacherous mud flats, marshlands and driving rain. Parts of the story involving quicksand reminded me of Wilkie Collins’s The Moonstone.
The Fourth Degree – quicksand:
In Wilkie Collins’s The Moonstone Rosanna Spearman drowns in quicksand on the marshes. It’s about the theft of a large diamond, originally stolen from a statue of an Indian God and said to be cursed. Collins uses several narrators to tell the story, one of whom is Sergeant Cluff, the detective who loves roses. He leaves the mystery unsolved, but a year later, the culprit is revealed. Years ago I watched a TV dramatisation and the images of the Indians, the jewel, the shifting sands and Sergeant Cuff have remained in my mind ever since.
The Fifth Degree – a book about a real detective who Wilkie Collins used as the model for Sergeant Cluff:
In The Suspicions of Mr Whicher Kate Summerscale describes how writers like Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins used real life police detectives as models in their novels – for example Bleak House, The Moonstone, and The Woman in White. This is nonfiction about the brutal murder of Saville Kent, aged three, with all the suspects of a classic murder mystery – the original country house murder.
The Sixth Degree – another country house murder mystery:
One of my favourite Agatha Christie novels The Mysterious Affair at Styles, her first novel. In it she created Hercule Poirot, the famous Belgian detective and introduced Captain Hastings and Inspector Japp. Old Mrs Inglethorp is found dying in her bedroom and although by the end of the book I guessed who had murdered her, I was completely bamboozled most of the way through the book by all the clues and false trails.
The links in my chain are all murder mysteries of one type or another, taking me from Sweden and Latvia to a country house somewhere in England.
Next month (December 5, 2020), we’ll begin with a book that is celebrating its 50th birthday this year – Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret by Judy Blume. I’ve not read this book, but the title, with my name in it, intrigues me. I may have to read it!