Friday, November 28, 2014

The French Executioner by C. C. Humphreys

Jean Rombaud is renowned for his skill as an executioner.  His services are called in when the person to be executed is shown some mercy, for his stroke is sure and strong and there is no suffering as in the many botched executions.  He is called to England to serve as the executioner for the English queen, Anne Boleyn.

Jean goes to visit Anne the night before the execution to reassure her.  He finds her stoic and ready for her death, but she has one request.  She asks that he take her hand with its famous six fingers at the same time he takes her head.  She wants him to take it to Europe and bury it at a sacred crossroads in France.  Jean agrees and with his oath, starts a journey that will take months and more from him than he ever imagined.

For this is no easy mission.  There are other forces who want the hand for themselves and the magical powers they believe it contains.  Jean assembles a group of friends who bind to each other and fight together to reach the goal.  There is Fuggar, the son of a famous German banking family, exiled from them in disgrace.  Haakon is a Norse mercenary who has fought with Jean on other battlegrounds.  Januc is a Muslim fighter who has survived many battles.  Beck is a Jewish youth who is determined to rescue her father from the courts of the evil religious Cardinal, Cibo.  Cibo wants the hand for its magical powers and is determined to do anything to capture it.

C. C. Humphreys never disappoints.  His tales are always full of great characters and tons of action.  He is a storyteller who sweeps the reader up and takes them on a magical ride.  The reader visits debauched religious courts, a town under the curse of Saint Anthony's fire, a siege, the galley on a pirate ship and many other adventures.  The action is underwritten by the love between the group that Jean assembles.  This is absolutely one of my favorite books of 2014.  This book is recommended for readers of fantasy and those who enjoy historical action literature.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Rule Of Nine by Steve Martini

San Diego lawyer Paul Madriani seems to draw trouble.  Months ago, he was drawn into the hunt for a near-miss nuclear device at a naval base.  The authorities weren't convinced Madriani wasn't involved and the time afterwards put him and his law practice into limbo as he was interviewed over and over again.  He was finally exonerated, but not before the media got his name and his life became media hell with reporters staked out at his home and work.  He was forced to suspend his law practice and live in a safe house provided by the federal authorities.  He also drew the attention of a hitman known as Liquidia, who knows Madriani saw him and could identify him.

Finally, things are settling down.  Madriani is able to return home and reopen his practice.  His daughter is living with him rather than out on her own as many girls her age do.  Then things start up again.  An intern in Washington is killed and his father comes to see Madriani as his name turned up in the investigation.  As Madriani puts the pieces together with the help of his investigator, he starts to hear the name Thorn.  Thorn is a weapons dealer, willing and able to sell his goods to the highest bidder regardless of what they plan to do with them.  He is connected with Liquidia and it becomes clear that Madriani is again a target.

The lawyer sends his daughter away to a safe place and then hits the road with Herman, his investigator.  They join forces with Jocelyn, a weapons control expert, who has the political connections to get information the lawyer can't get on his own.  The three uncover a plot that will rattle the entire country if successful.  It's a race against time to thwart the plot, while trying to evade the sure death that Liquidia is determined to mete out.

This is the eleventh novel in the Paul Madriani series, and thriller readers will be glad to read it and anxious for the twelfth.  Martini's legal background makes the action and research realistic.  He has practiced law in both state and federal courts as well as serving as an administrative law judge.  The plot is readily followed yet sophisticated and connected to recent events to add another level of suspense.  This book is recommended for readers of thrillers. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Mortom by Erik Therme

Andy Crowl hasn't been to Mortom for years.  His aunt Mary and cousin Craig live there, but the small town doesn't have anything to attract a young man, and he isn't really close with his relatives.  Craig used to spend time in the summers with Andy's family, but about the only thing they had in common was their attraction to puzzles and their skill in unraveling them. 

It's a shock when Craig is found drowned in the lake surrounding Mortom.  It's even more of a shock when Andy finds out that Craig left everything he owned, his house, his belongings, his bank accounts to Andy.  Why would he do that?  Why cut his mother out of his will?

Andy and his sister Kate come to town to settle the estate and sign all the necessary papers.  When he does, Andy discovers that his cousin Craig has left one more thing, a puzzle for Andy that seems to promise a treasure at the end of the hunt.  A puzzle that has a timeline; four days, and a suggestion that bad things will occur if the puzzle isn't solved in time.  Has Craig left a blessing or a curse?

Mortom is Erik Therme's debut novel and readers will be interested to follow his career and see what he does next.  He has created a chilling atmosphere that delves beneath the secrets a small town harbors; recreating a place where everyone knows everyone's business and no one tells an outsider anything.  The story has the timeline of the puzzle to propel the action and the reader can't help but wonder if Andy and his sister will solve the mystery in time.  This book is recommended for mystery readers.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Booksie's Shelves, November 16, 2014

The calendar may say fall, but cold weather has arrived in North Carolina.  Our temps yesterday morning were in the mid-20's and that's very cold for us.  It felt even colder as my husband was running his first 5K and we were outside for about three hours.  He did great and I'm so proud of him?  Now we're home and with nothing but cold weather it's time for reading.  Here's what's come through the door lately:

1.  Flesh And Blood, Patricia Cornwell, mystery, sent by publisher
2,  One Step Too Far, Tina Seskis, mystery, sent by publisher
3.  The Pocket Wife, Susan Crawford, mystery, sent by publisher
4.  Wildalone, Krassi Zourkova, mystery, sent by publisher
5.  Those Who Remain, Ruth Crocker, historical fiction, sent by publisher
6.  A Tree Born Crooked, Steph Post, mystery, sent by author
7.  A Certain Justice, P.D. James, mystery, from bring-one, take-one shelves at Sports Center
8.  Blue Labyrinth, Preston & Child, mystery, sent by publisher
9.  The Maruaders, Tom Cooper, suspense, Shelf Awareness win
10.  Murder At The Book Group, Maggie King, mystery, sent by publisher
11.  The Shadow Of His Wings, Bruce Fergusson, fantasy, bought
12.  The Mace Of Souls, Bruce Fergusson, fantasy, sent by author
13.  Custer's Gold, John Lubetkin, historical fiction, sent by author
14.  Neurotic November, Barbara Levenson, mystery, sent by publisher
15.  Palm Beach Nasty, Tom Turner, mystery, sent by publisher

Here's what I'm currently reading:

1.  The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of The Year, Volume 6, various, Kindle
2.  Beautiful Ruins, Jess Walter, paperback
3.  The Rule Of Nine, Steve Martini, hardback
4.  The Flamethrowers, Rachel Kushner, Kindle Fire
5.  Sold For Endless Rue, Madeleine Robins, hardback
6.  New York, Edward Rutherfurd, paperback
7.  The Rise And Fall Of Great Powers, Tom Rachman, paperback
8.  The Paying Guests, Sarah Waters, Kindle Fire
9.  Bittersweet, Miranda Beverly-Whitemore, paperback
10.  The Hidden Ones, Nancy Madore, paperback
11.  The Queen's Executioner, C.C. Humphries, paperback

Happy Reading!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Perfidia by James Ellroy

The time is December 1941.  Specifically, December 6th, the day before the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor to December 29th.  The place is Los Angeles, a city built on diverse populations, Tinseltown, law enforcement and criminal schemes. 

A Japanese family has been murdered.  Husband, wife, son and daughter, all killed and made to appear as a ritual Japanese suicide.  The police investigate but much more than a murder is involved.  There are land grabs, Japanese internments, patriotism, Fifth Column traitors, the world of boxing, fascists and criminals, tong wars, opium, movie stars, religion and eugenic manipulation.

The main characters are these:  William Parker and Dudley Smith are both policemen.  They are rivals to replace the chief when he retires in a few years.  Hideo Ashida is a Japanese policeman who has insights into the crime and switches allegiances between the two men depending on who can protect him and his family from arrest and internment.  Ashida is Dr. Ashida and is one of the first forensic policeman who can solve crimes from the evidence left.  Kay Lake is a twenty-one year old Midwestern girl who came to Los Angeles to act but found herself acting roles in men's fantasies instead. 

James Ellroy has written a compelling novel that outlines the city right after the start of World War II.  This is not a city and a police force to be glorified.  It is a city and police force mired in crime and double-dealing and betrayal.  Nothing is too sacred to be sacrificed on the alter of greed and self-aggrandizement.  The book seems to spin out of control but Ellroy keeps a master's hand on the narrative, bringing it to a conclusion that few readers will see coming.  This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction and those who enjoy noir literature. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Us by David Nicholls

Douglas Petersen is doing fine for a man in his early fifties.  He is married to his beautiful Connie, the woman he never thought he would be able to even date, much less marry and have children with.  He loves her as much as the day they married.  He has one son, Albie, who is about to go off to college.  He has a job he likes in his field of biochemistry.

Of course, nothing is perfect.  His job isn't as much fun now that he is in management rather than down in the trenches.  He loves Albie immeasurably, but can't seem to get along with him.  They seem to argue a lot about Albie's choices, or nonchoices, as Douglas sees them.  Connie seems a bit distant but he knows she is worried about the empty nest next year.

So Douglas is blindsided when Connie wakes him up one night to tell him she is thinking of leaving him.  She's not sure yet and it won't happen tomorrow, but she might leave him once Albie takes off to college.  In the meantime, they should use their last summer as a family to go on a Grand Tour, to take Albie to all the spots in Europe everyone should see.  Reeling, Douglas agrees.  Secretly, he thinks this can be his last chance, to make a connection with Albie and to win Connie back.

Off the family goes to explore and find themselves.  They are the typical tourists.  Douglas has planned everything down to the last detail and has the guidebooks memorized.  Connie is insistent on having fun and being spontaneous.  Albie is the sullen teenager accompanying parents that is a common sight on family vacations.  Will it go well?  Can Douglas prove that his family should stay together and that their love is more important than life circumstances?

David Nicholls has written a charming novel that will strike home with readers.  His attempts to deal with changing life circumstances is a journey that each of us will make.  His is the story of the one in the relationship who loves more.  In every partnership, there is one who was the pursued and one who did the chasing.  Most marriages are built on the hidden premise that one is loved more and the other spends time spoiling and catering to them.  The reader can't help but feel along with Douglas and his dogged determination to do whatever it takes to keep his family intact.  His steady love and reserved humor makes an impact that will not be soon forgotten.  This book is longlisted for the Mann Booker prize this year and it is easy to see why.  Nicholls has gotten the mix just right as he delves into relationships with characters that everyone will recognize.  I loved this book and it is definitely in my personal top ten for the year.  This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction and those interested in changing relationships and the nature of love.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Night Film by Marisha Pessl

Stanislas Cordova is an enigmatic, celebrated movie director.  His films reach into the minds and psyches of those who watch them, leaving them forever changed.  In fact, his movies have such unsettling aftereffects that they are banned from general release.  The films are shown at secret screenings, with only a select few fans as their audience. But the talk of what is seen is always present and always leaves those hearing about it uneasy.

Scott McGrath is a respected investigative reporter.  When he becomes obsessed with Cordova and makes a public accusation about him that he cannot prove, his career is tarnished and he sees that he was caught in a trap where the rumor was fed to him. There were always rumors of dark deeds that were the basis for the Cordova movie success.   Unfortunately, McGrath took the bait of a rumor he had no proof about and now has no job and his marriage is over.

Then the news hits.  Cordova's daughter, Ashley, is found dead, an apparent suicide at age 24.  Ashley grew up with her reclusive father, tucked away on his upstate New York estate where he spends all his time, even making his films there.  Ashley is a child prodigy, making a piano debut at twelve that stunned the musical world.  She gave it all up at sixteen as she was poised for a world tour and became as reclusive as her father.  Now she is dead.

Scott McGrath feels the same tug as he did before.  He feels the need to discover what would make Ashley do this deed.  Can the fault be laid at her father's door?  As he starts to investigate, he encounters two unlikely helpers.  Hopper met Ashley at sixteen and fell in love with her, although he hasn't seen her for years.  Nora came to New York to be an actress, and moves in with Scott to help him in his research.  Together, they start to uncover layer after layer of secrecy and intrigue.  Can they solve the mystery of what went wrong and if it is related to Cordova's career?

Marisha Pessl has written a heart stopping thriller that compels the reader to enter the mysterious world of Stanislas Cordova.  As each layer of intrigue is uncovered, what the reader believes has happened is twisted and when seen in a new light, leaves them reeling at the realization of how wrong their earlier interpretation was.  This book will be remembered long after the last page is read.  It is recommended for readers of literary fiction and mystery readers.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Glimpsing Heaven by Judy Bachrach

Several years ago, if one asked Judy Bachrach what her greatest fear was, the answer would be swift and sure.  Death, not being, the end of existence.  Her mother had just been diagnosed with Alzheimer's and she knew her time was short.  Bachrach volunteered in a hospice center, but it didn't give her the answers she sought.  As an investigative reporter, she decided to research the subject of death and went to the prime source, those who had clinically died and returned.

These individuals don't use the term 'near-death experiences'.  Instead, they call themselves Experiencers.  They weren't near death, they had died.  Some were in hospitals and declared clinically dead.  Some drowned or were hit by lighting and stopped breathing.  Some were old, some young.  Some were religious, others were atheists.  There was a common experience among them.

The overwhelming experience each experienced was bliss; the realization that everything in the universe is connected, that we continue as ourselves after this life, and that everything has a purpose.  Some reported seeing a wonderful light; others reported meeting those they loved who had died before them or meeting someone wise and full of all knowledge.  Some underwent a life review.  All were glad to be in this new place, and hesitant when they were told they must return.  When they returned to their bodies and life, many could recite details of things they could not have seen or heard but somehow had. 

The Experiencers were changed by their journey.  Many left jobs they had loved and strived in before, as what was important to them changed.  Many divorced as their mates could not accept their new reality or the changes they underwent.  A significant percentage returned with unexplained powers such as healing or the ability to see things or know things without being told.  The one commonality was that none returned with any fear of death.  They don't want to die before their time but are sure that they will be ready and that it will be a new experience when their time comes.

Judy Bachrach is an investigative reporter on international affairs, and a contributing editor at Vanity Fair.  She spent several years interviewing the Experiencers and those in the medical field who are working on this field of study.  There are respected doctors and tenured professors who study this common experience and the feeling is that humanity is about to peel back the layers of death to find what really occurs.  For example, brain cells are alive for hours after death has been declared.  Glimpsing Heaven is a fascinating overview of the subject, and those searching or grieving will find comfort in its page.  This book is recommended for anyone interested in the human experience and what it means to be human.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Swing State by Michael Fournier

Armbrister, New Hampshire, isn't doing well in this economy.  Most of the men in town worked in the mills, but the mill work went overseas and the mills closed down one by one.  There wasn't much else in the way of work; not much construction when no one could afford to buy, not many restaurants when eating at home was cheaper.  Stores closed down and the people of the town struggled to make it from month to month.

Three young residents typify the population.  Royal finished high school but with bad grades that meant no college for him.  He joined the military, went to Afghanistan and is back in town when an injury sent him home.  He's willing to work but can't find a job.  He's getting by playing pool for money and spending days in the library to keep warm.

Dixon's brother is the town's star athlete, the one everyone says has a chance to make it to the pros.  The college recruiters are visiting.  Dixon's family just wants to be sure she doesn't mess up his chances with her juvenile delinquency and her reputation for getting high and maybe being too friendly with the guys.

Zachariah is the fat kid.  He used to be one of the guys, on the soccer team and part of the gang, but after he had an embarrassing incident, everyone dropped him and now he's the kid no one wants to talk with.  No one except those who want to torment him, like Dixon.  Even his father, who lives for Armbrister football, beats him.  Zach knows he needs to find a way to escape.  He spends his days baking and working on game shows that he hopes will take him to another life.

Michael Fournier has written two novels.  He is founder and co-editor of Cabildo Quarterly, a literary journal.  His writing has appeared in the Oxford American, Vice, Pitchfork and the Boston Globe.  He lives in western Massachusetts.

Swing State explores what happens to a town and those who live there when the jobs dry up and everyone is struggling to get by.  The characters try different strategies, but only the rare individual manages to carve out a life that is satisfying.  But these are strong individuals and they keep trying, refusing to give up and accept that their lives will never be better.  This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction and those interested in other's lives and how they handle the obstacles life gives them. 

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Booksie's Shelves, October 25, 2014

October is almost over and the mornings are getting cooler.  It's about time for my annual drive alone for a day in the mountains, where I can watch the colors and stop whenever and wherever I choose.  All of us need some solitude in our lives along with the hustle and bustle of others.  I think readers value solitude more than others as most of us are never happier than sitting somewhere reading by ourselves.  Here's what came through the door lately:

1.  Singing To A Bulldog, Anson Williams, memoir, sent by publisher
2.  Heart Of Stone, Debra Mullins, fantasy, sent by publisher
3.  Apache Courage, Cynthia Darling, mystery, sent by publisher
4.  Power And Passion, Kay Tejani, women's fiction, sent by publisher
5.  Glimpsing Heaven, Judy Bachrach, nonfiction, sent for book tour
6.  Risky Undertaking, Mark De Castrique, mystery, sent by publisher
7.  Mr. Samuel's Penny, Treva Melvin, mystery, sent by publisher
8.  The Paris Winter, Imogen Robertson, historical fiction, sent by publisher
9.  Lizzie And Jane, Katherine Reay, women's fiction, sent by publisher
10.  Barracuda, Christos Tsiolkas, literary fiction, sent by publisher
11.  Umbrella, Will Self, literary fiction, sent from Paperbackswap
12.  Pass On The Cup Of Dreams, Bruce Fergusson, fantasy, sent by author
13.  More Awesome Than Money, Jim Dwyer, nonfiction, sent by publisher

Here's what I'm currently reading:

1.  The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of The Year, Volume 6, various, Kindle
2.  Beautiful Ruins, Jess Walter, paperback
3.  The Rule Of Nine, Steve Martini, hardback
4.  The Flamethrowers, Rachel Kushner, Kindle Fire
5.  Sold For Endless Rue, Madeleine Robins, hardback
6.  New York, Edward Rutherfurd, paperback
7.  The Rise And Fall Of Great Powers, Tom Rachman, paperback
8.  The Paying Guests, Sarah Waters, Kindle Fire
9.  Perfidia, James Ellroy, hardback
10.  Night Film, Marisha Pessl, paperback
11. Swing State, Michael Fournier, paperback
12.  Bittersweet, Miranda Beverly-Whitemore, paperback
13.  The Hidden Ones, Nancy Madore, paperback
14.  Glimpsing Heaven, Judy Bachrach, hardback

Happy Reading!

Friday, October 24, 2014

The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith

This is definitely not the high point of Detective Cormoran Strike's life.  A former military investigator who lost his leg in Afghanistan, Strike has returned to London and opened a detective agency.  Things have not been going that well, and money is tight.  Make that more than tight; Strike is broke.  To top everything off, he and his long-term girlfriend have just broken up, so add having no home to the mix. 

Things appear to be looking up when John Bristow shows up looking for an investigator.  John is wealthy and wants someone to look into his adopted sister's death.  That sister was supermodel Lula Landry and three months ago she fell to her death from the balcony of her apartment in an expensive, high security building.  The verdict was suicide and Bristow just doesn't believe it.  He wants Strike to check everything and see if the verdict is correct.  Strike was a schoolboy friend of Bristow's brother so he thought of him first.

Strike is pessimistic that anything was missed in the first investigation as it was of such a high profile individual, but he is willing to try.  His temporary secretary, Robin, is fascinated with the entire detection field of work and helps where she can.  Strike's investigation takes him into the worlds of rock, movie making, high-end legal firms, peerages and also into drug-addicted individuals, freeloaders and paparazzi.  Can he separate the flash from the truth and find out what sent Lula to her death?

The worst kept secret in publishing is that Robert Galbraith is in fact J.K. Rowling of Harry Potter fame.  Her ability to tell a tale is evident here, along with a facility for quickly painting the personalities of her characters.  The novel has an interesting investigation with an ending many won't see coming.  This book is recommended for mystery readers.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Certainty by Victor Bevine

Newport, Rhode Island, transformed during World War I.  Always a training center for the Navy, the sailor population exploded topping twenty-five thousand men, up from the normal five thousand.  As the war came to a close, those men who had escaped death in the war had to face the pandemic Spanish flu and many died.  Then there was the boredom of demobilization, waiting to be discharged and trying to find ways to occupy the time.

With so many unattached men, crime exploded.  Prostitution and drinking were common.  The crime the Navy found the most disturbing was gay sex, although it wasn't called gay at the time, but depraved, unnatural and an indication that a man had no moral fiber.  Determined to stop the crime, the Navy set up an investigative team to discover those engaged in it.  The team were sailors who were tricked or agreed for the perks to entice other men to engage in sex, and then to turn them in to military justice.

Caught up in this witch hunt was a local clergyman, Samuel Kent.  Reverend Kent was beloved for his work ministering to those sick and dying of the flu, and for his unending kindness to all he met.  But when he was lured into the trap, the government was quick to try to make an example of him.  A local attorney, William Bartlett, agreed to represent the reverend and his faith in  the man's innocence made him willing to take on what was considered an unsavory case.

Victor Bevine has written a compelling novel that outlines the true events that became known as the Newport Navy Vice Scandal of 1919.  Franklin Roosevelt was an Assistant Secretary of the Navy, and many regard the court cases as his darkest decision and hour.  It is difficult to realize that it was less than a hundred years ago that gay sex was considered so wrong and those who were different were ostracized and penalized for who they chose to love.  Many readers will only have experienced the more tolerant atmosphere found today, and reading about these cases will seem unbelievable.  This book is recommended for readers of historical fiction and those interested in a dark side of the American experience. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Olde School by Selah Janel

Paddlelump Stonemonger is not your average troll.  Sure, he is eight feet tall, built like a tree and fearsome to look upon.  He does have a bridge where he charges tolls.  But Paddlelump is a modern troll.  He uses his laptop to keep his accounts, and hires a goblin lawyer to watch his business interests. 

Paddlelump is mild-mannered.  In fact, he is so laid back that people tend to take advantage of him.  He is one of the wealthiest beings in Kingdom City and everyone wants some of his money. Even his maid is taking advantage of him, taking his money, refusing to clean the house and leaving early and coming late.  His watchbird, Clyde, is sarcastic about Padd's strength and character.   His friends, more traditional trolls, worry about him and want him to just 'troll up'.

Things are changing in Kingdom City.  Under the rule of High King Thadd, all creatures, trolls, ogres, humans, elves, brownies, fairies and anything else, have learned to live and work together.  Now, suddenly, all seemed to be scheming against each other, willing to do anything for an advantage.  Paddlelump seems to be a target, with low-level princes suddenly appearing and trying to kill him, willing to do that to win a princess' love; a princess they have only met online.

Then people start going missing, and the signs point to the Forest on the other side of Padd's bridge, the forest he owns.  When Paddlelump goes to investigate, he finds something so vile and horrendous that he can't believe it.  He also finds King Thadd who gives Paddlelump a quest to fulfill.  Can Padd fulfill the quest and save the kingdom?

Selah Janel has written a charming modern fantasy that turns the tradition on its head.  Paddlelump is a hero everyone can relate to, a troll with a heart of gold who isn't sure he is up to the demands life places on him.  Readers will be charmed by him and cheer him on as he attempts to follow his quest and save his town and friends. The mix of modern technology and attitudes with traditional magical creatures is well done.  This book is recommended for fantasy readers and can be read by young readers as well.

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Lost Tribe Of Coney Island by Claire Prentice

At the St. Louis Exposition of 1904, the runaway favorite exhibit was one dedicated to the native tribesmen of the Philippines, the Igorrotes.  People flocked to see another culture, one markedly different from their own.  When the exposition was over and the tribesmen returned to their own country, they had marvelous tales to tell of the wonders they had seen in America, things and luxuries unimaginable to those who had stayed behind.

Spurred by the success of the exhibit, Dr. Truman Hunt proposed to put together a commercial exhibit of the tribesmen at an amusement park, Luna Park at Coney Island.  There were many Igorrote volunteers, eager for a chance at adventure and financial gain.  Forty-nine men, women and children 'signed' contracts agreeing to be in the exhibit for one year.  They were to be paid ten dollars a month each (a princely sum at the time) and also get money from the sale of items they made. 

Hunt had a history in the Philippines.  Originally brought there by the army, he stayed on after the war and soon had a reputation for his medical care of the tribes.  He established a hospital for cholera, and worked tirelessly to improve the health of the native people.  He was highly regarded by the tribe and those he met in the government and easily obtained the permits he needed to start his grand commercial adventure.

His plan worked marvelously.  The Igorrotes were the hit of the season.  Hordes of people flocked to see them and their recreation of their native villages and culture.  Hunt took in hundreds of thousands of dollars, a fortune indeed at that time. 

But as time went on, things turned bad for the Igorrotes.  They were confined to their exhibit area, and the shows they put on was a poor substitute for people used to roaming their habitat, being busy all day.  The sensationalist aspects of their culture, such as head-hunting and eating dogs was emphasized.  Their native dress, very minimal coverage of their bodies, was titillating and drew in crowds.  Worse, they were split up into groups, sent all over to different parks and fairs, often living in squalid conditions.  The pay they were promised never materialized, and the year they agreed to came and went. 

The government learned of the scandal and were determined to help the tribe, but Dr. Hunt was a wily character, moving the tribesmen around and using his network of spies and well-wishers to evade the police.  Could the government return dignity to this tribe treated so shabbily?

Claire Prentice has written an engaging book about a time almost unimaginable in today's modern world, when gaping at those different was considered acceptable and the native was stripped of their native dignity and their ignorance of the modern world used to betray and control them.  Readers interested in history will enjoy this story and the look at America at the turn of the 19th century. 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Sharp Hook Of Love by Sherry Jones

The Sharp Hook Of Love tells the famous story of Heloise and Abelard in Paris in 1115, and the scandalous love that made them famous and brought them ruin.  Abelard was a canon, a famous teacher and philosopher who gave up his claim to nobility to pursue a life of the mind.  He was renowned throughout France for his writing and much beloved in Paris for his wit and looks.

Heloise was also a scholar, a rare thing in that day and age for a woman.  She was raised in Argenteuil Convent, left there by her mother who had her as an unmarried woman.  She left in her late teens to live with her uncle, Canon Fulbert, in Paris.  He wanted to use Heloise's beauty and scholarship to advance his own career. 

The stage for tragedy was set when Abelard agreed to become Heloise's tutor.  He moved into Canon Fulbert's house to facilitate her learning and a love affair ensued.  When they were discovered, Fulbert was enraged.  By then, Heloise was pregnant and Abelard arranged to send her to Brittany to his family for her confinement. 

When she returned to Paris, the pair had a secret wedding to appease Fulbert.  When rumors of their marriage leaked out, Abelard had Heloise return to the convent.  He was not allowed to marry as a canon and put his career ahead of his love.  The affair ended in tragedy for all.

Sherry Jones (pictured at right) has written a novel that explores the role that women had in medieval Europe.  They had little if any freedom and their choices were always made by the men in their lives.  Men were free to corrupt and then put aside women, which substantiated the idea that women had to make men commit to marriage to remain safe.  Women had no role in intellectual affairs, except for some women who had risen to head religious orders. 

For more information and additional reviews of this book, you can go to  This book is recommended for readers of historical fiction.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Death Box by J.A. Kerley

Detective Carson Ryder is at the top of his profession, a detective whose specialty is the detection and capture of serial killers.  When he decides to leave his home in Mobile, Alabama, he is quickly offered a job in Miami.  He barely gets into town when his services are needed as a horrific discovery has been made.  An old cistern on deserted land has been found.  In it is a solid column of concrete.  Concrete mixed with bodies, their final resting place a frieze of torture and death.

Ryder starts the investigation.  His new teammates want nothing to do with him, as they are less than impressed with this new guy in town.  Ryder teams up with a new junior detective, Ziggy Gershwin.  As the bodies are chipped from the concrete column, it appears that they are all Latin Americans.  Is this gang warfare? 

As the investigation continues, Ryder and Gershwin discover that this is not gang warfare.  Instead it is human trafficking, and the women brought here are then forced into prostitution.  They are horrified to discover the extent of this sordid practice, and determined to break up the ring and solve the murders.  Their only chance is a woman who has managed to run away from the traffickers, Leala.  But Leala has been trained to be as frightened of the police as the men who stole her and it is difficult to persuade her that the police are there to help.  Even worse, there is a price on her head and every lowlife in the city is scouring the streets to find her.  Can Carson and Ziggy find her first?

This is the tenth novel in the Carson Ryder series.  Fans of the series will welcome another Ryder adventure with a new locale and supporting characters.  Those who are new to the series will be able to quickly pick up the pace and become fans.  The action is fast paced and the reader finds themselves quickly turning the pages to see how everything turns out.  This box is recommended for mystery lovers.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Booksie's Shelves, October 3, 2014

October is here and fall can't be denied!  It's time for pumpkins, blazing fall colors and cooler weather.  Perfect reading weather and I've been busy getting books to read.  Here's what's come through the door:

1.  First Impressions, Charlie Lovett, mystery, sent by publisher
2.  Blond Cargo, John Lansing, mystery, sent by publisher
3.  The Monogram Murders, Sophie Hannah, sent by publisher
4.  Hieroglyph, Neal Stephenson, anthology, sent by publisher
5.  Hanging Hill, Mo Hayder, mystery, take-one shelf at Sports Center
6.  Rooms, Lauren Oliver, literary fiction, sent by publisher
7.  Down Solo, Earl Javorsky, mystery, sent by publisher
8.  The Killer Next Door, Alex Marwood, mystery, sent by publisher
9.  Moriarty, Anthony Horowitz, mystery, sent for book tour
10.  The Vineyard, Michael Hurley, literary fiction, sent by author

Here's what I'm currently reading:

1.  The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of The Year, Volume 6, various, Kindle
2.  Beautiful Ruins, Jess Walter, paperback
3.  The Rule Of Nine, Steve Martini, hardback
4.  The Flamethrowers, Rachel Kushner, Kindle Fire
5.  Sold For Endless Rue, Madeleine Robins, hardback
6.  New York, Edward Rutherfurd, paperback
7.  The Rise And Fall Of Great Powers, Tom Rachman, paperback
8.  The Paying Guests, Sarah Waters, Kindle Fire
9.  The Death Box, J.A. Kerley, paperback
10.  Night Film, Marisha Pessl, paperback
11.  The Sharp Hook Of Love, Sherry Jones, paperback
12.  Bittersweet, Miranda Beverly-Whitemore, paperback
13.  The Hidden Ones, Nancy Madore, paperback
14.  The Lost Tribe Of Coney Island, Claire Prentice, paperback

 Happy Reading!

Friday, October 3, 2014

The Silent Wife by A.S.A Harrison

Jodi and Todd have what looks like a dream life.  They live in a lakefront condo in Chicago.  He is an entreprenuer, a real estate developer and contractor.  She works from their home part-time as a psychologist, her patients limited to those who are stuck in their lives and need help moving forward.  Their lives are measured and routine, restful and full of peace.

Except.  Except that Todd is a serial adulterer.  Except that Jodi denies that there is an issue.  Except that Todd is bored with the peaceful routine.  Except that Jodi doesn't know what to do except continue to do what she has always done even though it isn't working anymore. 

Then the routine changes.  Todd's latest girlfriend is more serious than the others; he credits her with pulling him out of a midlife crisis.  Soon she is pushing him to leave Jodi and move in with her.  As usual, Todd says nothing at home, letting Jodi spoil him and enjoying the creature comforts she provides in their home.  Finally, when he can balance no longer, he makes his choice and sets a disaster in motion.

A.S.A. Harrison has written a chilling narrative of what goes on below the surface in a marriage.  It's common knowledge that you can never understand a relationship from the outside; Harrison delves deeply inside.  She shows how denial can be as great a relationship issue as more overt ones are.  The reader is swept along, step by step, to tragedy.  This book is recommended to mystery and women literature readers.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

O, Africa! by Andrew Lewis Conn

The year is 1928, and the Grand brothers are at the peak of their movie-making careers in silent films, although there is trouble on the horizon with the ever-increasing number of talkies being made.  Micah is the idea man; extroverted, full of vision, always looking to cut a deal.  He serves as the movies' director.  His twin, Izzy, is his opposite.  He works behind the scenes, cutting and splicing the scenes together to use film to create a story.  He is shy, socially awkward and gay, none of which encourages him to move into the limelight.

Their producer, outside of insisting talkies are just a fad, has other business failings and soon the company is on the verge of collapse.  The producer, Marblestone, has an idea.  He'll send the Grand brothers to Africa to film their latest silent comedy and while they are there, they can shoot film stock he can sell to other companies to avoid bankruptcy.  The brothers aren't interested, but when Micah gets himself into trouble trying to bamboozle a set of Harlem gambling crime lords, they decide maybe Africa is the place to be.

The brothers discover many things about themselves in Africa.  In addition to the silent comedy, they shoot footage of a script given to them by the gamblers that shows the capture and migration of Africans to be slaves in America.  Micah is drawn to the king of the village they go to, and spends his time learning from him.  Izzy falls in love and is loved back, a stupendous discovery that is life-altering.  Their idyll is ended with a tragedy, and the brothers are left to return to America and attempt to pick back up the pieces of their lives.

Andrew Lewis Conn has written a sprawling novel that explores the worlds of silent film-making, the heady, early days of Hollywood, the issues of racial prejudice, the validity of marriage and love relationships, gender inequality, the lives of Africans in the time period and how they differed from African Americans as well as the messages we learn about ourselves while viewing films.  The characters are interesting and unique and the reader turns the last page with much to ponder.  This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction.

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.