Goodness, I'm hard to please at the moment; I keep starting books and not finishing them. Failures first. Several people have recommended the Lakeland series by Martin Edwards and they sound so promising: lovely setting and lots about gardening. So I started The Cipher Garden and after one chapter was so confused by the number of characters and the difficulty of working out who was speaking to whom that I gave up. Worth another try, perhaps. Completely different is Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn. This has a nineteenth century setting and I can see that in a different mood I might find it fun but for now it just doesn't grip. I've enjoyed Simon Brett's Fethering mysteries and read Death on the Downs in bed, only to find that I didn't like it as much as the others.
The Fethering novels are set in Sussex, in an area I know well. The female sleuths are neighbours in their fifties: divorced, buttoned-up Carol, prematurely retired from her Very Important Job in the Home Office and Jude, outgoing and sexy. Gossip and nosiness lead them on the right trail, though it's highly unlikely any police force would tolerate their goings-on.
Hurrah for something completely reliable: Lilies That Fester by Hazel Holt. This is the earliest title I’ve read, with son Michael still living at home. It’s full of literary references (to the Mapp & Lucia Books, for instance) and I particularly enjoyed Sheila Malory’s visit to a second hand bookshop in search of The Three Brides and Beechcroft at Rockstone (I've got them!) and her explanation as to why she enjoys C M Yonge’s novels so much. I'm rather disappointed that as the series goes on, there's less about Sheila's literary life.
The library has supplied me with another Simon Brett novel, The Torso in the Town and the latest Camilleri, The Paper Moon, both of which I expect to enjoy. It has also yielded up two more 10p books: State of Happiness by Stella Duffy (like new) and a well read paperback copy of Agatha Raisin and the Murderous Marriage. Bad luck on anyone wanting to read either of these books once I've bought them. People worried about the state of our libraries might be interested in this article in the Guardian. If you're a regular reader of Private Eye don't bother, as you know it all already.
On my library trip I trawled the charity shops for books and came home with Green Grass by Raffaella Barker, which I'm enjoying. Are other people finding that charity shops just don't have children's books any more? It's certainly true here.