Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A Penny For The Hangman by Tom Savage

Fifty years ago, a crime shook the island of St. Thomas to its core.  Two teenage boys, friends and sons of two of the island's most influential families, were convicted of murder.  Not just any murder.  Both sets of parents were killed at a dinner they were having together as well as the maid working at the house that evening.  The boys were unrepentant and quickly convicted and sent to separate prisons on the mainland for decades. 

Now, a movie has been made to acknowledge the fiftieth anniversary of the crime.  No one knows what happened to the boys once they were released from their separate prisons.  Did they meet up again afterward?  Were they rehabilitated?  Are they living lives of poverty or lives of ease?  No one knows, but Karen Tyler may have the chance to find out.

Karen, a magazine reporter, has what could be the scoop of a lifetime.  She is contacted by a mystery individual who asks her to come to St. Thomas to get the inside story of what really happened fifty years ago.  Karen is eager to make her mark as a journalist, and quickly accepts the offer.  She believes her mystery man is one of the killers and she can't wait for the interview of a lifetime.  The question is:  whose lifetime? 

Tom Savage has written a compelling mystery that brings memories of some of the famous teenage killers of the sixties; those like Leopold and Loeb and the men who were convicted of the crimes written about in Truman Capote's masterpiece, In Cold Blood.  The action is nonstop and the reader is thrown in and towed along in the aftermath of the crime.  This book is recommended for mystery readers.

Friday, September 26, 2014

The Steady Running Of The Hour by Justin Go

Just as Tristan Campbell graduates college, he receives a letter with a phone number that may change his life.  The number is that of an English law firm, and they want to pay his way to London to talk with him about something possibly advantageous.  At loose ends, the decision to go is  not difficult.

When Tristan meets with the lawyers, they tell him a fantastic tale.  He may be the recipient of a large fortune through his maternal grandmother who he remembers slightly.  Although she was presented to the world with one set of parents, it could instead be that she was raised by the sister of the real mother, Imogene Soames-Andersson.  Imogene had a brief affair with Ashley Walsingham, who was later killed in a mountaineering expedition to be the first men to conquer Everest.  Before he left, he left his money to Imogene although she had disappeared and he didn't know where she was.  If she couldn't receive the money, it was to go to her descendants if they came forward to claim in in a specific frame of time.  After that, the money would instead go to various charities.

Tristan is amazed but there is more news.  Although there are suggestions that he is the descendant of Imogene and Ashley, there is no documented proof.  He must discover such proof to claim the fortune.  He has two months to do so before the fortune reverts to the charities.

Tristan sets off to see if he can discover anything.  His college degree was in history and he knows about the time period of the affair; right in the middle of World War I.  It took place immediately before Ashley was shipped to France to the Soammes battlegrounds.  His quest takes him from place to place; English document repositories, the battlegrounds Ashley was stationed at, Germany, and Iceland.  He makes some amazing discoveries, but none seem enough to be definite proof.  Can Tristan find out the truth about Ashley and Imogene?

Justin Go has written an intriguing tale that those interested in puzzles and in family genealogy will find of interest.  Along the way, the reader learns about the trenches of World War I and the expeditions where men attempted to conquer Mount Everest.  Those passages are especially well-researched.  This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

To Dwell In Darkness by Deborah Crombie

Things have changed in the Kincaid household.  Duncan Kincaid has returned to the job as a detective superintendent after a lengthy paternity leave.  He is, without warning, demoted and transferred from his job heading up an investigative team at Scotland Yard to the London Borough of Camden, where he has a totally new murder team and new bosses.  He retains his title, but can't understand why the change has been made and his old boss isn't around to ask.  His wife, Chief Inspector Gemma James, has been promoted and also heads up an investigative team in another station.

But policeman rarely have time to ponder.  Kincaid and his team are called to historic St. Pancras train station.  A music festival there is interrupted when a protest group against modernization sets off a phosphorus grenade, killing the holder.  The group, mostly young university students and the homeless young, insist that they were setting off a smoke bomb only.  If that is true, how did the grenade come into their possession and who would want to kill one of them?  Even more suspicious, one of the group has disappeared and no one has any idea where he might be, or even who he really was.  Did he substitute the deadly device?

Gemma has her own murder to worry about.  A teenage girl has been lured to a deserted spot, kidnapped and killed.  Gemma and her team are sure they know who did it, but have no way to prove it.  Can they discover the evidence they are sure must exist somewhere?

This is the sixteenth novel in Deborah Crombie's series in this interesting mix of murder and the domestic lives of a young professional couple in London.  The Kincaid household consists of a teenager, a young son, and a foster child of three, along with lots of family connections and friends.  The couple must balance the demands of a two career household with those of the children, and it is interesting to see how this common dilemma plays out in the law enforcement area.  This book is recommended for mystery readers.  Although part of a series, it can also be read as a stand alone mystery.  Deborah Crombie is an American, but she always felt she belonged in Britain, and moved there as soon as she could as an adult.  Readers will agree she gets the feel of Britain correct, and will enjoy her unraveling of the mysteries surrounding the couples.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Booksie's Shelves, September 21, 2014

Another great week of reading!  I've been roaming in England with a whimsical private detective, reading the best science fiction stories of 2011, back in England with a police married couple who are investigating a bomb, off to Africa with early filmmakers, looking for a secret ancestor in France, Switzerland and the Alps, and revisiting a fifty-year mystery in St. Thomas.  Some exciting new books have arrived:

1.  Swing State, Michael Fournier, literary fiction, sent by author
2.  Us, David Nicholls, literary fiction, sent for book tour
3.  The Turning Season, Sharon Shinn, fantasy, sent by publisher
4. A World Elsewhere, Sigrid MacRae, memoir, sent by publisher
5.  Olde School, Selah Janel, fantasy, sent for book tour
6.  Last Train To Babylon, Charlee Fam, literary fiction, sent by publisher
7.  The Drop, Dennis Lehane, mystery, sent by publisher
8.  Never Mind Miss Fox, Olivia Glazebrook, mystery, sent by friend
9.  Crooked River, Valerie Geary, mystery, sent by publisher
10.  Murder 101, Faye Kellerman, mystery, sent by publisher
11.  The French Executioner, C.C. Humphreys, historical fiction, sent for book tour

Here's what I'm currently reading:

1.  Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of 2011, various, Kindle
2.  Beautiful Ruins, Jess Walter, paperback
3.  The Steady Running Of The Hour, Justin Go, hardback
4.  The Flamethrowers, Rachel Kushner, Kindle Fire
5.  The Fever, Megan Abbott, hardback
6.  New York, Edward Rutherfurd, paperback
7.  Africa!, Andrew Lewis Conn, hardback
8.  A Penny For The Hangman, Tom Savage, Kindle Fire
9.  The Death Box, J.A. Kerley, paperback
10.  Dwell In Darkness, Deborah Crumbie, hardback

Happy Reading!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson

Jackson Brodie isn't exactly sure where his life is headed.  A former police inspector, he is now a private investigator and works on finding people who are lost.  He seems to find things and people almost by accident, and accidently is how he meanders through life.  Jackson is currently engaged by a woman in New Zealand who wants to find her birth family.  She knows nothing about them, only that she was adopted and brought to New Zealand from England when she was a toddler.

Jackson's search takes him to Leeds where a series of events happens.  He gets a dog when he takes it from an abusive owner.  He helps an elderly woman who is confused and about to be arrested for shoplifting.  He observes Tracy Waterhouse with a little girl, her daughter he assumes. 

But it isn't Tracy's daughter.  She is also a former police inspector and as she starts her retirement, impulsively buys a little girl from her mother, a prostitute who clearly doesn't want her.  Tracy does but realizes that her impulsive act will define the rest of her life.  Her former police acquaintances must be avoided as they all will inquire how Tracy came to have a little girl.  She keeps running into them, and it is soon apparent that an old crime they helped hide has now come back to haunt them all.  Stolen children and old crimes are the linchpins on which this mystery novel is built.

Kate Atkinson has written three novels featuring Jackson Brodie.  He is a likeable character who seems to do the right thing even when he is ignoring the law.  Parts of his past float into his current life and help him solve the mysteries he is pursuing.  The reader is entranced by the coincidences that define his work.  This book is recommended for mystery readers and those of literary fiction. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri

The Mitra family lives in Calcutta, India.  Their home is situated near two large lakes and the lowland that separates them and where the children play.  Next to the lowland are the high walls that separate the English country club from the native people, setting clear notice that the rich deserve the best while the poor are there to serve.  The family has two sons.  Subhash is the older, while Udayan is only fifteen months younger.  The boys grow up almost as twins, never apart, sharing everything.

Both boys excel academically, but their interests diverge.  Subhash, the steady one, concentrates on environmental science and moves to the United States for graduate degrees.  Udayan, who is passionate and impulsive, falls in with the emerging Naxalite political movement, an Indian Communist party.  He also marries without asking his parent's blessing, knowing that the studious Gauri would not be their choice.  The government uses harsh measures to crush the Naxalite movement and Udayan is caught up in that retribution. 

Subhash returns to India when his brother's tragedy occurs and returns to the United States with Gauri in tow.  They live as husband and wife and soon parents until the child is a teenager when Gauri leaves to pursue her own interests.  The book covers the lives of these individuals for the following decades, showing how youthful decisions have impact that last decades.

The Lowland is well regarded.  It was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize of 2013 as well as being a National Book Award Finalist.  It received awards from organizations such as the New York Times Book Review, NPR, Goodreads, Kirkus, Slate and Barnes and Nobles.  Lahiri treads the path she has written about before, that of the Indian immigrant life in America, and how the family and its obligations are central in the Indian life.  This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Dark Digital Sky by Carac Allison

Private investigator Chalk has led a life full of twists and turns.  He could have been a college professor but chose instead to focus on crime and becomes an FBI agent.  That job ends along with his marriage when his wife and he part brutally and he ruins his career along with any future relationship with his ex-wife and son.  So he turns to being a private eye as he can find anything.

Chalk gets a new case when a famous Hollywood producer hires him to find the children he may have sired through artificial insemination and that he has decided he wants to meet now that he is ill.  Chalk finds three sons fairly easily.  But finding these men is just the start of the case.  Before the case is done, Chalk uncovers a vast conspiracy of a new breed of terrorist that plans to create chaos through drone attacks, not overseas, but in the United States.

Carac Allison is a new author and his writing grabs the reader by the throat.  Along with the mystery, the reader is introduced to a plethora of subjects:  Japanese ceremonial swords, cyber-hacking, drone technology, paramilitary mercenaries, dog-fighting, street gangs, and the world of wrestling.  The computer lines are particularly well done, although they leave the reader uneasy at how easily networks can be broken.  The evil genius that becomes Chalk's nemesis, General Ripper, is an interesting character.  The pace is breakneck and the action never stops.  Readers will be reminded of Andrew Vachss and his private eye Burke, and of America's master novel, Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian.  This book is recommended for mystery readers who like hardboiled crime and the noir genre. 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Red 1-2-3 by John Katzenbach

The three woman don't know each other.  They are different ages and don't share an occupation or interests.  Karen is a middle-aged doctor who performs stand-up comedy for release.  Sarah is a school teacher who has suffered an unimaginable loss.  Jordan is a teenager attending a private school.

But they have two things in common.  They all have red hair.  They are also all targets of a stranger who tells them he is coming to kill them. He calls himself The Big Bad Wolf and has selected each of them to play the part of Red Riding Hood.

When the letters arrive informing them of their certain doom, they don't want to believe it.  Why would a stranger want to kill them?  Why them out of all the women in the world?  The letters contain personal information about each of them that convinces them that someone has been trailing them for months, documenting their routines and the people they have relationships with.  None has any doubt that this is serious but the police aren't interested in such an insubstantial threat.  It's obvious that if they are to survive they will have to save themselves.

John Katzenbach is a master of horror.  He spins a tale of three ordinary women and how each reacts to a very unordinary event in their lives.  He delves into their personalities and lets the reader catch a glimpse of what it would be like to be stalked by someone who is determined to kill you.  The novel draws the reader in and moves along quickly, giving the reader reasons to cheer for the women to defeat the killer.  This book is recommended for mystery readers.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Booksie's Shelves, September 10, 2014

September is a busy time in my family's life.  We have four birthdays, an anniversary and this year a new baby to welcome!  When I'm not busy with family occasions, I've been reading my way around the globe.  I've been to Ireland and England with mysteries, to China with political dissidents, and to India to trace out the relationships in an Indian family.  Along with my travels, here's the books that have come in the door:

1.  The Illusionists, Rosie Thomas, historical fiction, Vine review book
2.  The River Of Souls, Robert McCammon, suspense, Vine review book
3.  The Book Of Unknown Americans, Cristina Henriquez, literary fiction, Vine review book
4.  The Biology Of Luck, Jacob Appel, literary fiction, sent by author
5.  The Book Of Strange New Things, Michel Faber, literary fiction, sent by publisher
6.  The Tin Ticket, Deborah Swiss, nonfiction, Paperbackswap
7.  Murder On The Ile Sordou, M.L. Longworth, mystery, sent by publisher
8.  Phantom Limb, Dennis Palumbo, mystery, sent by publisher
9.  The Luminaries, Eleanor Catton, literary fiction, Paperbackswap
10.  How To Be A Good Wife, Emma Chapman, mystery, sent by publisher
11.  One Summer, Bill Bryson, nonfiction, Paperbackswap
12.  The Quest, Daniel Yergin, nonfiction, sent by publisher
13.  The Forgotten Girl, David Bell, mystery, sent by publisher

Here's what I'm currently reading:

1.  Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of 2011, various, Kindle
2.  Beautiful Ruins, Jess Walter, paperback
3.  The Steady Running Of The Hour, Justin Go, hardback
4.  The Flamethrowers, Rachel Kushner, Kindle Fire
5.  The Fever, Megan Abbott, hardback
6.  New York, Edward Rutherfurd, paperback
7.  Red 1-2-3, John Katenback, hardback
8.  A Penny For The Hangman, Tom Savage, mystery, Kindle Fire

Happy Reading!

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Secret Place by Tana French

Detective Stephen Moran has been stuck in the Cold Case department in the Dublin police force for far longer than he'd like.  He wants to work in the Murder Squad, like most other policemen but he doesn't seem to be making any progress in getting noticed there.  That may change the day Holly Mackey brings him a card.

Stephen met Holly years before when she was a child and a witness to a crime.  Now she is sixteen and the card she brings him has the picture of a boy, Chris Harper, and the words, "I know who killed him" on it.  Chris Harper was a student at a boy's exclusive school.  His body was found on the grounds of the neighboring girl's school, St. Kilda, where Holly attends school.

Stephen knows that this case got nowhere last year when the murder occurred.  Maybe this is his chance to make a splash and get the transfer he wants.  He brings the card to the lead detective on the Harper murder, Annette Conway.  Known for her abrasive manner, she agrees to let Stephen accompany her to St. Kilda to see if they can discover who posted the card and who might know something about the murder they didn't tell last year.

Suspicion soon narrows down to two groups of girls, rival cliques in the school.  One is Holly's group of four friends.  Holly is the most grounded in the adult world, with a father who is also a detective.  Julia is the leader of the group, smart, out-going and protective.  Becca is shy and depends on the other girls to make up for her lack of a family life.  Selena is gorgeous and spacey, the kind of girl whom you wonder how they will make it in the real world.  One of them is connected to Chris Harper and now its time for the truth to come out.

This is the fifth novel in the Dublin Murder Squad series.  Tana French writes compelling mysteries that delve deeply into the relationships of those involved in criminal cases, and in the relationships of the police among themselves.  The reader is drawn into the case as it unfolds and back into memories of when your friends were your most important touchstone in life.  This book is recommended for mystery readers.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Advent Of A Mystery by Marilyn Leach

Christmas is closing in on the small village of Aidan Kirkwood in England.  New vicar and parish priest, Hugh Elliott, wants to concentrate on shepherding his flock through the holidays.  His wife, former investigative reporter Berdie, is determined to put aside her former life and concentrate on being the perfect vicar's wife.  Life, however, has another plan for her.

When Berdie and her best friend Ellie, stop in to pick up an older resident for shopping, they are shocked to discover her body with her house ravaged, obviously the result of a furious search.  What could Miss Livingston have that was so important to someone else?  She lived a quiet life, renowned locally for her wonderful lavender and the wreaths she made with it.  But was her quiet life a shield from a troubled past?

Although Berdie doesn't want to upset her husband, she gets pulled into the investigation.  The local policeman is useless and he quickly settles on an outsider and claps him into jail based on some trouble he got into as a youth.  Berdie gets involved when she is let in on the secret love of the man accused and as she talks with him, she is more and more sure that he is innocent. 

Marilyn Leach has created a cozy mystery that will interest readers of English mysteries like those of Agatha Christie.  Berdie sees through the haze to the truth of the matter and doesn't let her gender or occupation stand in the way of revealing the truth.  This book is recommended for mystery readers.

Monday, September 1, 2014

The Weight Of Blood by Laura McHugh

It's the summer before Lucy's senior year and she is at loose ends.  Lucy is now old enough to start to question the things that she's always taken for granted.  Things like why there always seems to be tension between her father, Carl, and her uncle, Crete.  Things like how to attract a boy and what to do if one is attracted.  Things like what happened to the girl down the road who disappeared only to turn up murdered months later.  Things like the biggest mystery of all, what happened to her mother, Lila, who disappeared when Lucy was just a baby.

Along with questions, Lucy is given more freedom.  Her father is often out of town working construction and now Lucy is old enough to stay in the house by herself.  She is allowed to take a summer job working at her uncle's store.  As Lucy gets around more, she becomes more aware of the underlying mysteries that have shaped her life and becomes determined to figure out what has occurred.

But secrets are secrets for a reason.  As Lucy starts to question and dig into the past, she starts to see that everyone in her small Ozark town seems to have secrets.  Some are dark secrets, while other people's secrets are just hiding someone else's deeds.  How can Lucy maneuver between those with evil and good in their hearts to uncover the truths she needs to know?

Laura McHugh has written an engaging, atmospheric mystery that draws the reader in immediately.  The story is told with the device of each chapter being told by one of the characters in the story, most often either Lucy or her mother, Lila.  This allows the story to slowly unfold, bringing new pieces to the forefront in Lucy's battle to fight her way through the opaqueness that has surrounded her mother's life.  This book is recommended for mystery readers. 

Sunday, August 31, 2014

I Am China by Xiaolu Guo

Iona is drifting through the world.  She left Scotland to get an education and then stayed in London after getting her degree in Chinese history.  She makes a living working at home translating Chinese documents, usually long and boring business works.  She sees no friends and her love life consists of momentary assignations with men she meets in bars and has no interest in the next day.

Into this lonely world is dropped an assignment that starts to wake Iona up.  She is given a mishmash of documents and asked to translate them by a publisher.  The documents are all mixed together.  There are journal entries, letters, song fragments.  There are two authors. 

As Iona starts to work her way through the documents she finds that they portray the lives and love of two Chinese young people.  Jian is a young man who was raised in a wealthy, influential family but with little love.  He directs his anger into his music and becomes a famous punk rocker in China, his concerts filled with other disillusioned youth.  Mu is raised in the rural countryside and her focus is her love of Jian and their young son.  She is fearful of Jian's involvement with politics and fears that he will throw away their lives by getting noticed by the government. 

Jian does just that, using his concerts to advance his political visions.  He is taken to prison then forced out of the country.  He is moved from place to place as he attempts to get political asylum.  He tries to write to Mu and keep their relationship but he doesn't know if she gets his letters.  Mu also changes and moves between school, back home, off to America as a poet who is part of a band, and then another reincarnation as a businesswoman in London. 

Iona becomes entranced with the pair's story, even though validating any of it is very difficult due to the Chinese government's attempts to write the pair out of history.  As she documents the couple's attempt to find themselves and make a difference, she starts to find herself also. 

Xiaolu Guo was named one of Granta's  Best Young British Novelists in 2013, after moving to London in 2002.  Her novel, A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary For Lovers, was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and 20 Fragments Of  Ravenous Youth was longlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize.  Her work deals with the alienation and disconnects that modern life can deal its occupants, and their search for love as a way to connect to the world.  This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Booksie's Shelves, August 28, 2014

With the Labor Day weekend approaching, it's time to say goodbye to summer, although here in NC it will be warm for at least another month or so.  Still, summer is waning and fall is approaching with its glorious colors and refreshing weather.  As I evaluate the summer, I've faced a truth that I need to get rid of some of the more than 7000 books currently sharing this house with me. While I've read 94 books so far this year, there is no physical way I'll ever be able to read all the books that are here, weighing down my shelves.   I've started weeding out books, taking them to donation centers, giving them to friends and saying goodbye.  Some are volumes I thought I might reread but realize I'll probably never get to.  Some, unfortunately, are review books I accepted years ago that have languished on my shelves.  Perhaps someone else will find them and love them as they are meant to be loved. 

I'm concentrating on the newer books here waiting on review and the books I've bought because I wanted to read them.  Here's what's come through the door lately:

1.  The Sharp Hook Of Love, Sherry Jones, historical fiction, sent for book tour
2.  The Mathematician's Shiva, Stuart Rojstaczer, literary fiction, sent by publisher
3.  Sister Eve, Private Eye, Lynne Hinton, mystery, sent by publisher
4.  The Flight Of Gemma Hardy, Margot Livesey, literary fiction, Paperbackswap
5.  Poisoned, Steve Shukis, true crime, sent by friend
6.  Bitter Greens, Kate Forsyth, fantasy, sent by friend
7.  We Are Not Ourselves, Matthew Thomas, literary fiction, sent by publisher
8.  Certainty, Victor Bevine, literary fiction, sent for book tour
9.  The Prize, Daniel Yergin, nonfiction, sent by publisher
10.  Jaya Nepal!, Martin David Hughes, literary fiction, sent by publisher
11.  The Secret Place, Tana French, mystery, sent by publisher
12.  The Hidden Ones, Nancy Madore, fantasy, sent by author
13.  Power Of Gods, Nancy Madore, fantasy, sent by author
14.  Masquerade, Nancy Madore, fantasy, sent by author

Here's what I'm reading now:

1.  Advent Of A Mystery, mystery, Kindle
2.  I Am China, Xiaolu Guo, paperback
3.  The Steady Running Of The Hour, Justin Go, hardback
4.  The Flamethrowers, Rachel Kushner, Kindle Fire
5.  The Fever, Megan Abbott, hardback
6.  New York, Edward Rutherfurd, paperback
7.  Red 1-2-3, John Katenback, hardback
8.  The Weight Of Blood, Laura McHugh,  paperback
9.  The Secret Place, Tana French, hardback

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Scrivener's Tale by Fiona McIntosh

Morgravia and it's ruler, Queen Florentyna, are in peril.  A demon, Cyricus, has been entrapped in the Void for many centuries.  But demons are cunning and one fueled by revenge can never be considered defeated while life remains.

Now Cyricus has broken free of the Void and he is planning to destroy all those who sent him there.  That includes all of the kingdom Morgravia, it's ruler, and all its allies.  Who can stand against such a powerful foe?

Those that sent Cyricus into the void have always known he might return and have made their plans.  A Triad of powerful individuals are the only hope the world has.  The Triad is made of three men who have never met each other, yet whose lives are entwined from their first breath.  Each has been created with skills will be necessary in the fight against the demon, although none have heard about the demon who threatens the entire world and their part in the fight.

Gabriel lives in Paris, a psychologist who can build worlds with his mind.  Cassien is a soldier above all else; an assassin raised by a Brotherhood dedicated to saving the land.  Hamelyn, the youngest, is in some ways the strongest.  He sees the connections and provides the links between the individuals who must work together to save the world.  Queen Florenyna and the neighboring monarch, King Tamas, join with the triad to combat the evil that seeks to destroy all it encounters.

Fiona McIntosh has written a stunning fantasy novel.  The world building and characterizations are superb, as is the plotting.  The pacing starts slowly, then rushes to a magnificent climax.  The characters and readers discover the secrets hidden in this world together as the story unfolds.  Those readers who have not encountered McIntosh before will turn the last page and then immediately look for more of her work.  This book is recommended for fantasy lovers.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good by Kathleen Flinn

Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good is Kathleen Flinn's memoir of growing up in a large family in Michigan.  There were five children and not much money but there was always love, fun and family.  And food.  When their parents didn't have money to buy the children presents, they devised a novel treat.  On your birthday, you got to pick the menu for breakfast, lunch and supper.  In a family that revered food as the Flinn family did, this was a big deal.

Family was always present.  In today's society, with families far-flung, many of us don't get to know the solace of having grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins near-by.  These close-knit families provided a support system that insured that a child left out of playgroups at school was always surrounded by someone who treasured them.   There was always room in crowded houses to take in a cousin that was orphaned or needed a place to live for a few months. 

Flinn knows the love stories of all the grandparents and of her parents.  She tells these lovingly, letting the reader see how strong marriages made burdens easier to bear.  There were less than stellar branches on the family tree also, and Flinn tells their stories and how they impacted others in the family such as children. 

Money was often short.  Hand-me-downs and thrift store purchases made up the children's wardrobes and they were teased at school.  There were no fancy toys to play with, but there was always love.  The children grew up knowing how to work and how to get what you wanted in life by working for it.

Above all, there was food.  The family had large gardens, and picked the fruits and berries surrounding them.  The men hunted and the family fished on vacations.  After each chapter, there is a family recipe with the story behind it and cooking tips.  No one went hungry, and the food was cooked from scratch.  One of the funniest stories was about the time the women picked out TV dinners as a treat, and their reaction when the dinners were complete and it was time to eat them.

Kathleen Flinn's writing has been featured in many venues, including Elle, People, Bon Appetit, The Wall Street Journal, PBS, The Christian Monitor and CBS Morning News.  Her book, The Kitchen Counter Cooking School, was a 2012 Book of the Year by the American Society of Journalists and Authors.  In this memoir, she lets the reader into a life enriched by family, fun and food.  This book is recommended for readers who enjoy memoirs and those interested in cooking. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Ghost In The Electric Blue Suit by Graham Joyce

David Barwise is a college student on summer vacation in England in 1976.  He decides rather than going home and spending the summer with his parents, he will go to the small coastal town of Skegness and find a job. Money and independence are prime motivators, but there is also the fact that he has found a picture of his birth father in the town.  The topic of his father was always forbidden so he hopes to find out something about him. 

David manages to get hired as an employee at one of the resorts.  This isn't a resort with glitz and glamour; instead it is the kind of resort Americans used to find in the Catskills; a place where a family could go for a week with activities planned like Most Glamorous Grandmother, bingo and treasure hunts for the kids.  The kind of place with corny shows with second-rate magicians, dancers who aren't quite first-rate and singers who specialize in older songs.

David works hard and seems to be well-liked by the staff.  He enjoys the place at least at first before the strange events start to take place.  Wherever he goes, he occasionally sees two figures that strike a chill in his heart.  The figures are a man and small son, with the man wearing a blue suit.  They look at David with eyes of clear glass and disappear as he blinks.  Is he really seeing something or is he imagining it?

Adding to his stress are the situations he finds himself drawn into.  There are National Front devotees among the employees and they try to draw David into their political agenda of hate for refugees and anyone not 'real English'.  He gets drawn into the middle of an abusive marriage as he is attracted to the wife, Terri, and as the husband, Colin, takes an interest in him, perhaps because he suspects there is something going on between David and Terri.  When Terri disappears and the police arrive, the stress mounts until David realizes he must solve the mysteries that surround him.

Graham Joyce has quietly been making a name for himself for the past few years.  An English writer, his work is gaining fame and popularity elsewhere with authors such as Stephen King, Peter Straub, and Jonathan Lethem counted among his fans. He walks a line between the genres of fantasy and mystery, drawing the reader along on his path. This book is recommended for fantasy and horror readers.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Story Hour by Thrity Umrigar

Maggie has a good life.  She is a psychologist with a thriving practice and a happy marriage to her Indian husband, Sudhir, a mathematics professor at a small college.  She is distant from her birth family but has a wide circle of friends.

Lakshmi is an Indian immigrant, a woman who came to America with her Indian husband in an arranged marriage.  She expected love to slowly grow but six years have passed and they are still basically strangers.  When she can no longer bear the loneliness and solitude of her life, she tries to commit suicide and is hospitalized.  Her case is assigned to Maggie.

Maggie sees a spark in Lakshmi and flashes of intelligence and perseverance and she quickly feels a bond with her.  Both are married to Indian men and both lost their mothers as young women.  Maggie treats her for the short hospital stay and then exerts her medical authority to get Lakshmi into her private practice when her husband would ignore her issues.  Maggie offers to treat Lakshmi for free, which she knows is not standard practice but perhaps necessary to get past the husband's disapproval.

As the weeks and months go by, the women become friends.  Maggie and Sudhir help Lakshmi become independent and start a business on her own.  But each woman is hiding a secret and as they learn each other's most private thoughts and actions, the bond creates the opportunity for betrayal. 

Thrity Umrigar has written a novel that explores the themes of friendship, devotion and betrayal.  What do we need in a marriage or a friendship?  Are there actions that can't be forgiven, that cross the line of allowable mistakes?  Readers will end the novel with much to think about as they review their own lives in the light of Maggie and Lakshmi's relationships.  This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction.

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Bully Of Order by Brian Hart

Brian Hart has written a novel about life in the Pacific Northwest as it is settled by Americans moving ever westward.  But this is not the west of Bonanza.  This is the west of Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian, of the west shown on the popular TV show, Hell On Wheels.  This is a west where life is cheap and death comes at the drop of a hat.

The Ellstrom brothers have come to make their fortune.  The town where they settle is built on lumber and the mill that planes the boards.  They also try farming, logging and even a trip to Alaska.  Each of the two brothers has a son and Jacob has a wife willing to live under the primitive conditions found there.  Life is hard and brutality reigns.  Those who are strongest and willing to take what they want gain the riches to be found.

A sudden act of violence and a dark family secret tears the Ellstrom family apart.  One son falls in love with the daughter of the mill's owner, and he is not about to have his child link up with a poor man.  The struggle over the woman leads to disastrous consequences and fuels the novel's action.

Hart has written a searing indictment of what it really meant to settle uncivilized areas and how the Northwest was really created.  It is a tale of violence and random kindnesses, of men and women fighting against the environment and often failing to connect with each other as the battle wore them out.  It is a stunning work and readers won't soon forget it.  This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Booksie's Shelves, August 17, 2014

It's hard to believe summer vacation is over.  My daughter has started back to school and somehow she is a junior this year, unbelievable.  I was feeling lonely and deserted when a big box of review books showed up on the doorstep and that always makes me feel better.  School time is back to schedules but it also frees up more reading time and that is always a good thing.  Here's the most recent books I've added:

1.  The First Mrs. Rochester And Her Husband, M.C. Smith, literary fiction, sent by author
2.  A Dancer In The Dust, Thomas H. Cook, mystery, sent by Curled Up With A Good Book
3.  Night Film, Marisha Pessl, mystery, sent by Curled Up With a Good Book
4.  That Night, Chevy Stevens, mystery, sent by Curled Up With A Good Book
5.  Seven For A Secret, Lyndsay Faye, mystery, sent by Curled Up With A Good Book
6.  American Woman, Robert Pobi, mystery, sent by Curled Up With A Good Book
7.  Strange Country, Deborah Coates, fantasy, sent by Curled Up With A Good Book
8.  The Girls At The Kingfisher Club, Genevieve Valentine, literary fiction sent by Curled Up
9.  That Summer, Lauren Willig, literary fiction, sent by Curled Up With A Good Book
10.  We Are Called To Rise, Laura McBride, literary fiction, sent by Curled Up With A Good Book
11.  The Color Of Fire, Ann Rinaldi, historical fiction, sent by a friend
12.  This Is The Water, Yannick Murphy, mystery, sent by a friend
13.  The Map Thief, Michael Blanding, nonfiction, sent by a friend
14.  Island Of Wings, Karin Altenberg, literary fiction, Paperbackswap
15.  The Light Between Oceans, M.L. Stedman, literary fiction, Paperbackswap
16.  The Chaperone, Laura Moriarty, literary fiction, picked up at bring one, leave one bookshelf
17.  One Of Us, Tawni O'Dell, literary fiction, sent by publisher

Here's what I'm currently reading:

1.  Advent Of A Mystery, mystery, Kindle
2.  The Story House, Thrity Umigar paperback
3.  Blind Eye, Stuart MacBride, hardback
4.  The Flamethrowers, Rachel Kushner, Kindle Fire
5.  The Fever, Megan Abbott, hardback
6.  New York, Edward Rutherfurd, paperback
7.  The Ghost In The Electric Blue Suit, Graham Joyce, paperback
8.  The Weight Of Blood, Laura McHugh,  paperback
9.  The Scrivner's Tale, Fiona McIntosh, paperback

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Skin Collector by Jeffery Deaver

Another serial killer is targeting New York City.  He kidnaps his victims, takes them underground into sub-basements and tunnels, then kills them by tattooing them not with ink but with various poisons. The tattoos, which are a series of numeric words,  seem to be sending a message to whomever is bright enough to decipher it.   Lincoln Rhyme, the quadriplegic forensic scientist who consults with the New York Police, knows as soon as he hears about the first victim that this is a case only he and his team can solve.

The team consists of Rhyme, Amelia Sachs who is a policewoman and Lincoln's lover, Ron Pulaski who is the newest member of the team, and various other individuals who are at the top of their fields.  One thing the team discovers early on is that the killer has stolen a copy of the chapter in a true crime book that outlines Lincoln's first famous case; that of The Bone Collector.  That was the case that pulled him out of the despair he felt after his accident left him disabled, and that brought him and Amelia together.  Is the killer studying that case in order to understand how Rhyme works and what makes him the best investigator in the city? 

As the incidents mount and the kill total climbs, the team races to stop the killer before he can finish his plan.  They are able to stop some of his attacks by figuring out where he will strike next.  The stakes are raised as the killer starts to target the individuals on the team.  Now they must watch their own backs as they try to move forward in the investigation.  As in most Deaver novels, there are plenty of twists and turns, enough to keep the reader off-balance.  The killer is a chilling individual and a look into his mind makes the most hardy reader shiver.  The book ends with a satisfactory conclusion and everything is explained in a way that makes it all seem obvious.  This book is recommended for mystery readers.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Flesh House by Stuart MacBride

Eight years ago, a serial killer made Aberdeen a terrified city.  He kidnapped couples from their houses, leaving behind copious amounts of blood, then took the couples to another location where he killed them and butchered the bodies.  'The Flesher' was captured and put in jail, only to be released eight years later on a legal technicality.

Now, butchered bodies are showing up again, and the human flesh has made it's way into the human food chain as human remains are found in a butcher shop.  The men who found The Flesher the first time aren't all available; some have retired or been taken off the force for illness.   This time, DS Logan McRae is put on the case along with DI Insch, who was one of the prime investigators last time around.  He is convinced the man they caught and put in jail eight years ago is the same killer this time around, and is determined to catch him and put him back in jail.  As the investigation veers into a personal vendetta against the police, they are given even more of a motive to catch the killer and end the mayhem.

This is the fourth DS Logan McRae novel and fans of Stuart MacBride will rejoice in another case that features him.  As always, the action is non-stop.  It is a great police procedural, showing the ins and outs of the investigation, the hardship of the police career, and the everyday trials and tribulations a policeman has.  McRae has that spark of investigative genius that allows him to see through the routine to the solution, and the ability to do the hard work that breaks crime mysteries.  This book is recommended for mystery lovers.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Truth About The Harry Quebert Affair by Joel Dicker

Marcus Goldman is this year's celeb author.  His first book was a meteor, soaring to the top of the bestseller list and bringing him fame and fortune.  But now it's a year later and the words aren't flowing; in fact, he has a huge case of writer's block and his agent and publisher aren't happy.  He turns, as he as his entire adult life, to his mentor and best friend, the renowned author Harry Quebert.

Harry picked out Marcus in college when Marcus was his favorite author and mentored him through the writing of his novel.  Harry's first novel had propelled him to the heights of literary success where he stayed.  A kind, generous man, Marcus has always wondered why Harry didn't have a family, a lover, or many friends.  He finds out when a body is found buried in Harry's yard and Harry is accused of the murder thirty years before of his lover, Nola Kellergan.  Even worse, Nola was only fifteen years old when she was killed.

Harry admits to the affair but denies having killed her.  Marcus is repulsed, but determined to be there for his mentor, as Harry has always been there for him.  He decides to investigate the murder himself since he feels that the police have stopped looking once they decide that Harry has done it.  As Marcus starts to talk to people in town, it becomes obvious that his is not a popular move.  Everyone is sure that Harry did it, and he is now a pariah.  Marcus starts to find notes telling him to get out of town and they make him even more determined to find out the truth about what happened that night thirty years before.

Joel Dicker has written an engaging mystery that is a real page-turner.  The novel won several prestigious French literary awards and was a runaway best seller.  Readers will have to examine their own thoughts about love and fame, and whether a relationship can exist between two people divided by age.  This book is recommended for mystery readers.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

France On The Brink by Jonathan Fenby

Jonathan Fenby has covered France and its government and economy for fifty years.  When the first edition of this book was released in 2000, it was a New York Times Book Of The Year.  This second edition, written fourteen years later, updates the original book and looks at the current state of France.

Like many countries, France is struggling in the modern world with the globalization of economies.  The number of individuals making their living on farms has decreased dramatically, and with that comes the struggle of villages and small towns.  There are less manufacturing jobs, and one quarter of those employed work in government jobs.  Unemployment is high and seems intractable.  The government has given benefits such as the thirty-five hour workweek and then struggles to deal with the fallout of such policies as money to pay for them becomes scarcer.

The political landscape seems full of politicians who promise change and hope but then cannot deliver.  Power moves from the conservative to the liberal but neither seems able to make a difference that the population can embrace.  Fenby goes into great detail about the power struggles for the last fifteen years and the Presidents such as Chirac, Sarkozy and Hollande.  Each is elected to great fanfare and then within months their approval ratings start to slip until they are defeated by the next politician to promise solutions.

Readers interested in France will find much of interest in this work.  Fenby talks about the rise of ultra-right which bases its platform on anti-immigration policies as well as the food France is known for and the scandals that seem to be everyday fare.  He covers the war years and France's treatment of the Jews in that time period.  He talks about how the national symbols of France seem to be disappearing as it tries to reinvent itself to remain viable in the modern economy.  In his long career covering France, Fenby worked as the bureau chief in France for the Economist and Reuters.  He is married to a Frenchwoman and was made a Chevalier of the French Order Of Merit in 1990.  This book is recommended for history readers and those interested in the world around them.

You can read more about the book and others' reactions here

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Booksie's Shelves, August 5, 2014

How is it August already?  One of my reading goals for the year is to reread the Game Of Thrones series and I haven't even started yet?  Then there was the reread/new read of Stephen Donaldson's epic series with thirteen books, catching up on all those weighty Elizabeth George mysteries, and....

Recently, I've been snowbound in the mountains at a prince's party to pick a bride, growing up in a planned neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York, in Aberdeen, Scotland fighting crime and visiting the art world as an artist who can't get respect.  Currently, I'm reading about the cultural, economic and social aspects of France, in the midst of a literary scandal when a great author is accused of murdering his underage lover, in the forests of a Japanese prison camp in World War II and back in Aberdeen as I continue to devour anything Stuart MacBride has written. 

Here's the new books that have arrived:

1.  The Selection, Kiera Cass, literary fiction, sent from Paperbackswap
2.  Snow And Shadow, Dorothy Tse, anthology, sent by publisher
3.  Black Ice, Susan Krinard, fantasy, sent by publisher
4.  The Other Typist, Suzanne Rindell, literary fiction, sent from Paperbackswap
5.  Death By Hitchcock, Elissa Grodin, mystery, sent by publisher
6.  The Story Hour, Thrity Umirigar literary fiction, sent for book tour
7.  Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good, Kathleen Flinn, memoir, sent for book tour
8.  Solsbury Hill, Susan Wyler, literary fiction, sent by friend
9.  No Man's Nightingale, Ruth Rendell, mystery, sent from Paperbackswap
10.  The Objects Of Her Affection, Sonya Cobb, mystery, sent by publisher
11.  The Devil's Quota, Tom Avitabile, mystery, sent by publisher
12.  The Miniaturist, Jessie Burton, historical fiction, sent by publisher
13.  In The Shadow Of The Banyan, Vaddey Ratner, from bring one, take one shelf at gym
14.  The Darkest Hour, Tony Schumacher, mystery, sent by publisher
15.  The Death Of Santini, Pat Conroy, memoir, Goodwill store

Here's the list of what I'm currently reading:

1.  Advent Of A Mystery, mystery, Kindle
2.  France On The Brink, Jonathan Fenby, paperback
3.  Flesh House, Stuart MacBride, hardback
4.  The Flamethrowers, Rachel Kushner, Kindle Fire
5.  The Fever, Megan Abbott, hardback
6.  New York, Edward Rutherfurd, paperback
7.  The Truth About The Harry Quebert Affair, Joel Dicker, paperback
8.  The Narrow Road To The Deep North, Richard Flanagan, paperback
9.  The Scrivner's Tale, Fiona McIntosh, paperback

Happy Reading!

Friday, August 1, 2014

I Adored A Lord by Katharine Ashe

Ravenna Caulfield has had an unconventional life.  Living in an orphanage as a small child with her two sisters, all three were adopted by a rural pastor.  Although most women in 1800's England lead a structured, restrictive life, Ravenna could not do that.  She spent her time roaming out of doors, accompanied by her best friend, her dog.  Along the way, she learned how to take care of animals and then humans from those around her.  At seventeen, she hires herself out to a nobleman to take care of his dogs.

Things are fine in her life until one of her sisters married a duke.  The lord she worked for said he could not employ the sister of a duchess as a servant, and her sister wants her to start living in the new world she has attained.  When a young prince throws a house party in the mountains in Europe in order to find a wife, Ravenna is invited and accompanied by her employer.  She has no interest in living among royalty and does not fit in.

She escapes to the stables where she feels comfortable but even that refuge is denied her when she is followed by Lord Vitor Courtenay, brother to both the prince and an English Lord.  He gives Ravenna he first kiss; she responds by fighting him off and fleeing.  Thus begins a game of invitation and retreat, of drawing closer and springing apart.

The stakes are increased when one of the house party is found murdered.  Due to the party being snowbound, there is no competent law to investigate and Vitor and Ravenna are determined to solve the mystery.  Can they solve it before more victims are killed?  Will they resist the attraction between them or leap the bounds of class to be together?

Readers of romantic fiction will become fast fans of Katharine Caulfield.  Her characters are well-drawn and the pace is fast enough to draw the reader along.  The romantic scenes are compelling and the reader develops an interest in Ravenna and what will become of her.  This book is recommended for readers of historical romantic fiction.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Marine Park by Mark Chiusano

Marine Park is a neighborhood in Brooklyn, and the location of the largest public park in the borough.  It is the home to middle class families; storeowners, firemen, policemen, and those who just seemed to end up there.

Mark Chiusano has written an anthology of stories about those who live in this neighborhood and what it means to be from there.  The majority of the stories focus on one family, with two sons, Jamison and Lorris, a father who is a driving instructor and a mother who is the school secretary.  The stories weave in and out of their lives, starting when the boys are young and following them as they grow up.  Other families and residents of the area star in other stories in the collection.

'They had lived alone together for many years...'  This is the opening phase from the story Vincent and Aurora.  Those seven words sketch quickly the status of a marriage where there is no true communion.  Many of the stories have this quick shorthand turn of phase that quickly illumines the topic being discussed.

There are stories about relationships, about kids growing up and finding their lives' work, about sports and how they define one, about how our neighborhood can define us and how we relate to others who live nearby.  The author has the ability to bring the reader into his world and give him food for thought.

Mark Chiusano received the Hoopes Prize at Harvard for outstanding undergraduate fiction.  His stories have appeared in the Harvard Review, Narrative, Guernica, Tin House and Paris Review Daily.  He was raised in Brooklyn and now works as an associate editor at Vintage.  This book is recommended for readers who enjoy short stories and those interested in a sense of place and self.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A Song For The Dying by Stuart MacBride

Eight years ago Ash Henderson was caught up in the investigation to find a heinous killer, The Inside Man.  This killer kidnapped women, cut them open and sewed them back up with a doll inside them.  Ash came close to capturing him, but was injured in the chase and the killer escaped. 

Eight years ago Ash had a career, a marriage and a family.  Now all is gone.  His career ended when he was kicked off the police force, his marriage ended when his own daughter was kidnapped and killed.  He is now an inmate, the toy of a psychotic woman high up in the crime organization that runs the city.  She makes sure he never gets parole by sending other inmates to attack Ash days before his hearings; attacks that he has to defend himself in to save himself but that make him look violent and not a candidate for parole.

Now the Inside Man has returned, and the lead investigator pulls strings to have Ash released from prison.  He is hired as a consultant to the investigation and along with a young psychologist, Alice, and his former mate, Shifty, he tries to catch the killer before he can take more victims.  Can they catch the killer this time around?

Stuart MacBride is one of the premier mystery authors working today.  His characters ring true as they make their way through the violent criminal culture, and they manage to get justice out of the horrors they encounter daily.  His pace is breathtaking and the reader is swept up in the investigation.  This book is recommended for mystery readers.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Blazing World by Siri Hustvedt

Harriet Burden is an artist.  Married to one of New York's most famous gallery owners, she feels her own art is neglected by her husband's refusal to show her work.  It also goes unnoticed by other galleries, her name just an add-on to her husband's fame.  After his death, Harriet decides that she will make a name for herself and prove society wrong in its preference for male artists at the same time.  She hatches a plot to display her work under the name of various male artists.  She uses three men at different showings, or does she?

The Blazing World is Siri Hustvedt's exploration of the art world as well as the question of gender differences, the formation of personality and the difficulty of trusting one's perceptions.  Told after Harriet's death, the novel unfolds through a series of documents.  There are Harriet's extensive journals, interviews with her children, lover and the men who she chose for her ploy, articles in art magazines, etc.  A picture emerges of how Harriet's personality was formed and the different ways she was viewed by those she surrounded herself with.  The reader is left to decide if Harriet really created the works she claimed she had done and then masked by using men to front for her in shows.  Was this real and Harriet a true artist not given her due?  Or was this false, a strange plea for recognition by an artist not judged worthy of acclaim?

Readers will be drawn into this world.  Harriet takes her inspiration from the medieval writer, Margaret Cavendish, who wrote the original The Blazing World, and whose work was never given the recognition it deserved.  Questions of whether the world is still male-centric, whether women can ever be given true recognition outside of the roles of mother and wife, and what role perception plays in exposing reality must be decided by each individual reading this material.  The book is a tour-de-force and readers won't be surprised that it is a long-list nomination for the 2014 Mann Booker Prize.  This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Spook Lights Affair by Marcia Muller and Bill Pronzini

In 1895, female detectives were not common in San Francisco.  That's one of the things that made the detective agency of Sabina Carpenter and John Quincannon so notable.  The other was the success that they had solving the troubling cases that come to them.  That successful reputation is put on the line when they take on cases that leave their expertise in doubt.

Sabina has been hired as to watch over the debutante of the season, Virginia St. Clair, during her coming out parties.  She should make a stellar marriage, and her affection for a lowly clerk is putting that goal in doubt.  Sabina is to watch over her and make sure Marcus, the clerk, gets nowhere in his pursuit of the heiress.  During her first debutante ball, however, Virginia leaves the dance.  Sabina follows her through the grounds in the dark, only to arrive at the cliffs on which the mansion is situated in time to see her client jump off to her death.  Even more stunning than the girl's suicide is the disappearance of her body.  For while the trail of her fall is clear to see, her body is nowhere to be found.  Sabina is accused of incompetence.

John, in the meantime, has taken on the task of finding the money stolen in a Wells Fargo bank robbery.  The agency will receive ten percent of the money stolen if he recovers it, a handsome reward.  He discovers the gang most likely to have committed the crime, but the case goes nowhere as the robbers are killed off one by one by somebody.  In frustration, John takes on a case where a new oceanside neighborhood is being disturbed by what seems to be a ghost.  Soon the partners find that all three cases are tied together and that to solve any of them, all of them must be solved.

Marcia Muller and Bill Pronzini are recognized stars in the mystery field.  Married for many years, both have been recognized for their mystery series.  Muller created one of the first female detectives, Sharon McCone.  She received the Mystery Writers of America's Grand Master Award in 2005.  Her husband, Pronzini, creator of the Nameless Detective series, received the Grand Master Award in 2008.  Each has a devoted fan following and readers of this combination mystery will be rewarded with the work of two masters at the top of their game.  This book is recommended for mystery readers, especially those who enjoy historical mysteries.