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Friday, September 22, 2017

Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke

The opening of Bluebird, Bluebird grabbed my attention and my imagination immediately. 

We first meet Geneva Sweet as she snakes an orange extension cord through a cemetery, past the grave markers that read "Mayva Greenwood, Beloved Wife and Mother, May She Rest With Her Heavenly Father" and "Leland, Father and Brother in Christ" until she reaches her goal, the final resting place of her husband, Joe "Petey Pie" Sweet, whose monument reads "Husband and Father, and Forgive Him Lord, A Devil on the Guitar."

The extension cord and the transistor radio allow Geneva to play Joe some Muddy Waters.  

Geneva Sweet, almost seventy, is in many ways the heart of the novel.  She is not the protagonist; she is the core, the center that anchors a tiny community with deep roots in the past.

Darren Mathews is a black Texas Ranger, and he is justifiably proud of the fact.  He loves Texas and the Rangers, but his pride in both doesn't mean Darren isn't aware of flaws in the justice system.

Raised by his twin uncles (Clay, a celebrated law professor and William, the first black Texas Ranger), Darren's background is privileged.  At the other end of the spectrum, Darren's mother is a poor alcoholic who is always cadging money. Darren's connections run the gamut of the socioeconomic spectrum. 

After a degree from Princeton and two years of law school, Darren's career path derails after the horrific event in 1998 in Jasper, Texas.  He drops out of law school, much to the disappointment of his wife and his Uncle Clay, and joins the Texas Rangers.  

While it is easy to love Darren, despite his ideals, he is as imperfect as any other human being, and in the midst of some serious problems at work and at home, he finds himself in the tiny town of Lark, Texas at the request of a friend in the FBI.  A black man has been found dead and the death receives only a cursory examination.  Then a few days later, a white woman is murdered.  

When he walks into Geneva Sweet's tiny establishment, Darren has no idea of how his perspective will undergo change.

Bluebird resonates on so many levels--from the piney woods setting in East Texas, to the strengths and frailties of the human condition, to the historic and current effects of race relations.

The novel is a love song to Texas in many ways, despite the acknowledged racism and the impact prejudice and discrimination have on the lives of both blacks and whites.  That, I think, is what makes this different from many novels that attempt to cover racism.  Attica Locke's roots (like those of her protagonist) are deep in the red soil of East Texas and despite all of the injustices, historic and contemporary, she loves the state and her own heritage.

The novel presents a thoughtful and humane look at the characters while still making the situations perfectly clear, never excusing and never despairing.  Locke examines the complexity of the events of a small town and leaves her protagonist uncomfortably aware of a script that diverges from his expectations. 

The prose and the images from this novel will remain with me.  Highly recommended.

From a Literary Hub interview with the author:
Attica Locke: I’m from an area that kisses the border of Louisiana. It’s infinitely more Southern than it is Southwestern. Is there still that Lonestar spirit? Yes, but it’s not big sky country, it’s the piney woods. They call a portion of it Big Thicket. It’s lumber country, woods and trees everywhere, creeks and bayous.
To me one of the great contradictions about East Texas is the sense of familiarity among black and white folks. Folks have been living up under each other for hundreds of years. There’s a familial quality to it. That doesn’t mean we’re all holding hands and singing cumbaya. But the people there are fundamentally intermixed—culturally and genetically. So there really is a sense of family.

(The piney woods and the names of some of the small towns along the Texas/Louisiana border are as familiar to me as the music that runs like a melody through the novel.)

NetGalley/Mulholland Books

Mystery/Crime.  Sept. 12, 2017.  Print length:  320 pages. 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Hollywood Hang Ten and Penance of the Damned

Hollywood Hang Ten by Eve Goldberg.  I requested this one because of the connection to the years of Hollywood Blacklisting.  This disgraceful period of blacklisting writers and actors who refused to name names was instituted by HUAC in 1947 and lasted until 1960. 

In 1963, young Ryan Zorn, who has been working with his uncle for a number of years, finds himself alone at the detective agency during his uncle's hospitalization. Twenty-three-year-old Ryan has never been in charge of an investigation and has not always paid strict attention to his uncle's techniques and advice.  On his first solo case, Ryan has to learn from his mistakes.  

The case of a missing boy leads to stolen photographs, blackmail, and murder--with tentacles reaching back to the 1950's.

Hollywood Hang Ten adeptly places the reader in time and place.  I liked the way Ryan's character is forced into growth by the circumstances he encounters.  It is particularly interesting to see the cultural differences that have occurred since 1963.  

Eve Goldberg is a writer and award-winning documentary filmmaker.  Her screen credits include the Emmy-nominated "Legacy of the Hollywood Blacklist" (co-writer), "Cover Up: Behind the Iran-Contra Affair" (writer) and "Maestra" (writer).Her writing has been published in American Popular Culture, The Reading Room, The Gay & Lesbian Review, Hippocampus, and Censored: The News that Didn¹t Make the News. Hollywood Hang Ten is her first novel.

NetGalley/Thistle Publishing

Mystery/Historical Fiction.  Oct. 5, 2017.  Print length:  247 pages.  

I've only read one other Sister Fidelma mystery and feel much the same way about Penance of the Damned as I did about the earlier book--good mystery, excellent history.  

Set in Ireland in 671 AD, Fidelma is sent to find out more about the murder of a bishop.  What she finds is a friend accused, religious disagreements, disquisitions on Irish law vs the laws of the New Faith, and a locked room mystery. 

The first of the novel is a little slow and deals with the recent history between Irish principalities that will effect Fidelma's mission to discover the truth about the bishop's murder. When Fidelma and Eadulf arrive in Prince Donnenach's fortress, however, the story begin to get interesting.

These books are as much (or more) for those interested in ancient Irish history as they are for lovers of historical mysteries.  I find the historical elements fascinating, especially conflicts between the New and the Old Faith and the information concerning ancient Irish law.

Peter Berresford Ellis (born 10 March 1943) is a historian, literary biographer, and novelist who has published over 90 books to date either under his own name or his pseudonyms Peter Tremayne and Peter MacAlan. He has also published 95 short stories. His non-fiction books, articles and academic papers have made him acknowledged as an authority on Celtic history and culture. As Peter Tremayne, he is the author of the international bestselling Sister Fidelma mystery series. His work has appeared in 25 languages.

NetGalley/St. Martin's Press

Historical Mystery.  July 25, 2017.  Print length:  352 pages.

Monday, September 18, 2017

The Devil's Wedding Ring by Vidar Sundstol

The Devil's Wedding Ring is a stand-alone novel that takes place in the Telemark region of Norway.  From the author of the Minnesota Trilogy, The Devil's Wedding Ring  is Nordic Noir --combining the present and the legendary past and revealing an intricate darker side to a beautiful region.

Max Fjelllanger left Norway almost thirty years ago after an unsettling incident in his early career with the police.  When he hears about the death of his former partner, Max feels compelled to return for the funeral.  Knut Abrahamsen supposedly filled his pockets with rocks and walked into the water, but Max is uneasy about the verdict of suicide, partly because of where Knut drowned.  

In 1985, both Max and Knut had been involved in the search for Peter Schram, a folklore researcher who disappeared on Midsummer Eve, and Max's own burden concerning that investigation revives his questions and guilt--especially about the corrupt sheriff who threatened him at the time.  The case was never solved; the young man was never found. Max feels he bears some responsibility...and wonders if Knut, too, found the case haunting.

When Max discovers that Cecilie Weiborg, who had also been researching pagan traditions and the Stave Church in Eidsborg, disappeared on the previous Midsummer Eve, he finds the coincidence too close for comfort. Instinct tells him that the disappearances of the two folklorists and Knut's death might be connected.

In the meantime, Tirill Vesterli, a librarian who loves mystery novels and wants to be a detective, is concerned when a man who has been stalking her returns after an absence.  She has her own theories about what happened to Cecilie Wieborg--she believes Cecilie's research into pagan folklore associated with the Stave Church in Eidsborg put the young woman in danger. 

Tirill is the highlight in this novel that is full of dark and atmospheric landscapes.  She is whip-smart, intuitive, and an intriguing mixture of quirky and practical.  Max eventually (reluctantly) teams up with Tirill, and the two make an excellent duo, playing to each other's strengths.

Tales of the ghostly monk and pagan rites may be more than embellished folklore, and Max and Tirill find that secrets of the past are still being protected, regardless of the human cost.
 Eidsborg Stave Church; source
More images of Stave Churches.

NetGalley/University of Minnesota Press

Mystery/Suspense.  Sept. 26, 2017.  Print length:  280 pages. 

Thursday, September 14, 2017

The Dark Lake by Sarah Bailey

A debut novel by Sarah Bailey, The Dark Lake provides a compelling psychological drama.

DS Gemma Woodstock is a complex and not always entirely likable character.  Her mother's death when she was thirteen and her boyfriend's suicide a few years later cast a pall on several aspects of her life.  Her job is extremely important to her; she likes the details of investigation and is respected and valued by her boss.  On the other hand, Gemma often seems insensitive, callous, or needy, and the decisions in her private life are often questionable.

The discovery of the body of Roselind Ryan, an enigmatic young teacher, shocks the community.  Rose and Gemma were high school classmates, but not friends.  Rose was the kind of person who charmed and intrigued others: beautiful, elusive, very private.

 Gemma and her partner Felix are beset with a litany of questions, but few answers.  Who would want to hurt Rose Ryan? What brought Rose back to her hometown?  Is there anyone at all who had a close relationship, a more than superficial knowledge of Rose?  Certainly not her family or her colleagues. 

Rose's murder and the subsequent investigation have an emotional effect on Gemma, reviving memories of the past.  The puzzle of Rose Ryan consumes her, but Gemma has some secrets of her own, past and present, that she is keeping.

An impressive first novel--a gripping psychological police procedural.  Well-written and deftly plotted.  Recommended.  :)

Read in June; blog post scheduled for Sept.   14

NetGalley/Grand Central Press

Psychological/Police Procedural.  Oct. 3, 2017.  Print length:  400 pages.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Five Books Due in 2018

Often the books I get from NetGalley are 6 months or more in advance of publication; this can be frustrating because I don't want to publish reviews that far in advance, but I can't hold off reading the books.

Here are some brief descriptions of books I read in July and August that won't be published until 2018.  Reviews will follow closer to publication dates.

*The Night Market by Jonathan Moore (Jan.)   "..a near-future thriller that makes your most paranoid fantasies seem like child’s play."
Intense and uncomfortable speculative fiction. Engrossing, disquieting, conspiracy, manipulation, ambiguous conclusion.  I haven't read The Poison Artist by Moore, but now I want to--I think.  Maybe because I am now so distrustful of any rich and/or powerful institution (business, industry, church, state) right now, The Night Market had a chilling effect.

A Cold Day in Hell by Lissa Marie Redmond (Feb.)  (Cold Case Investigation #1) The major story line involves a current case in which detective Lauren Riley agrees to help a defense lawyer whose godson is on trial for murder.  OK, but not a series I will pursue.

The English Wife by Lauren Willig (Jan.)  Kind of spooky Gothic Lite.  If you are looking for Wilkie Collins or Du Maurier, this isn't going to satisfy, but The English Wife can provide an entertaining few hours and will be appreciated by fans of the author.

*The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor (Jan.) Had my complete attention from beginning to end!  Suspenseful, twisty psychological--an impressive first novel.  

**The Broken Girls by Simone St. James (Mar.)   Yes! A great ghost story!  I love a good ghost story, but I'm fussy and critical--and frequently disappointed when most ghost stories turn out to be less than I hoped for.  The Broken Girls was more than I expected or hoped for. Two time frames, a boarding school, a murder mystery, and plenty of suspense.  

I'm surprised the publication wasn't scheduled for October or November--prime reading time for eerie, mysterious, and supernatural stories.  Of course, I thoroughly enjoyed it in the heat of summer, but would have been the perfect book for an autumn evening with a fire in the fireplace and a cold wind moaning outside.

Saturday, September 09, 2017

Clever and On Target

Tom Gault on saving time online

And More...

Can't help but laugh 
at Tom Gault's incisive humor.

How many of us recognize that library?

Thursday, September 07, 2017

The Scarred Woman by Jussi Adler-Olsen

Each of Adler-Olsen's previous Dept. Q books have been engrossing, and I looked forward to The Scarred Woman.  However, I found myself starting and stopping a half dozen times before getting into the novel enough to finish it.

Even after I finally got engaged enough to finish the book, the novel never invoked the same fondness for the characters that I've had in all of the previous books, nor did I find the plot(s) as compelling. 

All of the women were disturbed, shallow,self-indulgent, and violent.  Rose isn't shallow, but deeply disturbed, and I felt strangely distant from her character.  

Why didn't this one satisfy me?  For many reasons, but mostly because it felt so different in character and plot development  from earlier books.  Obviously, this is my own opinion and others may not have the same perception. 

Read in July;  blog review scheduled for 9/7/17

NetGalley/Penguin Group
Police Procedural.  Sept. 19, 2017.  Print version:  480 pages.   

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Reading, Books, and Fearless Librarians

What is the point of reading, if you forget most of what you read?  It's OK to "Forget" Most of What You Read  says that "forgetting is not forgetting."       

I may not be able to recall most of what I read when asked on the spur of the moment, but much of what I read resurfaces when the occasion arises--in a conversation or when reading another book that references information I've read previously.  My subconscious background has been broadened--and maybe my understanding is more complete when an esoteric subject arises.

Even in fiction (especially if a book sends me to research an actual person or event) the information can be relevant in many other instances.  Novels that I can't even remember have led me to explore historical events, to reconsider social problems, to question my previous beliefs, to become more empathetic and understanding of certain situations.

I read a lot, and much of what I read is purely for entertainment. But even bad fiction can provide insight.  When I read nonfiction, I find myself more critically aware of what I read in fiction.  As a result, a novel I've all but forgotten may have influenced my reading in ways beyond conscious awareness, and nonfiction reading can help me appreciate the characters and events in various novels and to judge the accuracy of the history or setting.

I love this article about librarians on horseback.  

"The Pack Horse Library initiative was part of President Franklin Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration (WPA), created to help lift America out of the Great Depression, during which, by 1933, unemployment had risen to 40 percent in Appalachia. Roving horseback libraries weren’t entirely new to Kentucky, but this initiative was an opportunity to boost both employment and literacy at the same time." (source)
There are more photos and information in the article.  Librarians are, indeed, amazing!  This was not an easy job, but these women could certainly be proud of the work they were doing.

Monday, September 04, 2017

An Echo of Murder by Anne Perry and The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia A. Mckillip

These two books have little in common other than their publication dates, but both are novels that can leave you pondering.

The William and Hester Monk series by Anne Perry is one of my favorite historical mystery series.  Each new release piques my interest, and I downloaded An Echo of Murder as soon as it was offered.

William Monk is an enigma.  In the The Face of a Stranger, the first novel in the series, he awakes in a hospital bed with amnesia.  He learns his own name only by a visit from someone who knows him, but hides his complete loss of memory of his past.  What he does learn fairly quickly is that he was a policeman; however, what he learns about the sort of man he was--doesn't present a flattering picture.

Over the many novels since then, Monk has continued to learn more about himself, has met and married Hester Latterly, and has had some career changes, all involved with investigating murder; he is currently the Commander of the Thames River Police.

Hester Latterly Monk served in the Crimea under Florence Nightengale.  She, too, has had several changes in her career, but she is dedicated to medicine and to serving those who can least afford care.  Intelligent, outspoken, and courageous, Hester is the kind of woman who precipitated change in the roles of women during the Victorian Era, and along with Nightengale, Hester was outraged and critical of those in charge of the disastrous Crimean War.

Both characters have an innate sense of justice, and Perry uses each of them to explore social and political issues of the time.  One of my favorites in the series was a mystery involving some of the first experiments with blood transfusions.

An Echo of Murder deals with a horrific series of murders against members of the Hungarian immigrant population in London;  the "echo" is relevant to present opinions and treatment of immigrants, a problem that has always existed.  Those who are different have difficulties in their attempts to maintain their own histories and culture and to assimilate into a new society.  

Aside from Monk and Hester, there are a number of recurring characters that make their appearance.  Perry does a fine job with characterization, plot, and addressing the kind of social issues that never go away. 

Read in June; blog review scheduled for Sept. 4

NetGalley/Random House/ Ballentine

Historical Mystery.  Sept. 19, 2017.  Print length:  320 pages.  

The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia A. McKillup is one of those books that has had an enduring effect on its readers over the years.  First published in 1974, the next year it won the Young Adult World Fantasy Award. It has influenced authors such as Susan Fletcher, Peter S. Beagle, Bruce Colville, Ben Lory, Gail Carriger, and Max Gladstone.  

Both a poetically rendered fairy tale and a morally complex narrative that illustrates large and small corruptions that result from destructive decisions, the novel turns a fairy tale into a kind of parable.

The villains can't be absolved for their decisions, but their reasoning and histories are understandable in the realm of human flaws and motivations.  The heroine is justified in her fury, but is also forced to confront her own destructive need for revenge.

A beautiful wizard; magical, sentient animals,; lovely prose; and complex attachments and relationships have made The Forgotten Beasts of Eld a classic adored and re-read by those who first discovered it decades ago.  Does it appeal to today's youth?  I don't know, but it seems that its influence remains in the works of many current authors who fell in love with it when they first read it.

I've read other books by McKillip, but it was Lark's review that encouraged me to read this one.  Fortunately, it was still available on NetGalley. 

Read in June; blog review scheduled for Sept. 4

NetGalley/Tachyon Publications

Fantasy/Fairy Tale.  Sept. 19, 2017.  (has been re-published numerous times, but I love this new cover!)  Print length:  248 pages.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Sharon McCrumb and Catriona McPherson

The Unquiet Grave by Sharyn McCrumb is historical fiction giving a remarkably researched account of the Greenbrier Ghost.  I had read about the trial in which the testimony of a ghost helped convict the murderer some time back, so I was already invested in discovering more about the murder of Zona Shue back in 1897.  

The case is still on record and you can read some of the newspaper accounts here.

The book is listed as historical fiction, but as a result of McCrumb's intensive research, there is little fiction other than the imagined conversations the author gives the characters.  All of the characters are real, as are the important events.  

Fascinating account of a historical incident.  (Teresa, this is from your neck of the woods!  Are you familiar with the story?)

Read in April.  Blog post scheduled for Aug. 30.

NetGalley/Atria Books

Historical Fiction.  Sept. 12, 2017.  Print length:  368 pages.

I've enjoyed each of Catriona McPherson books, and this was no exception.  House. Tree. Person. is the story of Ali McPherson, whose dreams have recently crashed.  Both she and her husband have lost their businesses and have had to sell their dream home and move into a tiny cottage.  Their teenage son Marco is also having difficulty adjusting to the move from friends and to the reduced circumstances.

Then Ali gets a job at Howell Hall, a nearby private psychiatric facility.  (play on How Well or Howl?)  Ali gets the job with a false resume and is pretty certain that the psychiatrist who hires her knows it, and her salary is more than it should be.  Ali is a little suspicious, but in desperate need of income.

As she gets to know the others who work at Howell Hall, she realizes that they are all misfits in some way.  Ali isn't the only one whose qualifications might be in question, and she has her own secrets to hide.

A body is discovered, and although the corpse is at least a decade old, Ali's son is questioned by the police. Dealing with problems at home, Ali also has reservations about the treatments of some of the patients at Howell Hall.   Ali begins to question everything, including her own stability.  

Ali is sometimes annoying, but with the patients at the facility, she shows great warmth and empathy.  Her concerns about her own life and mental health make her behavior erratic at times.

Tension and uncertainty abound in this latest by McPherson, who is quickly building a reputation for psychological suspense.  

I thought the title quite unusual, but it is explained in the novel.  House Tree Person is a technique used by some mental health professionals.

Read in April.  Blog post scheduled for Aug. 30

NetGalley/Midnight Ink.

Psychological Suspense.  Sept. 8, 2017.  Print length:  360 pages.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Smoke and Mirrors and A Season to Lie

:) It is always interesting to see what attracts a person to a book.  Author?  Topic?  Genre? Setting? Cover?  

I requested Smoke and Mirrors because the main character is the sister of P.T. Barnum (at least in fiction), and Evie Barnum works at her brother's museum.  Of course, I couldn't refuse even a fictional look at the workings of the museum with all of its exhibits and oddities. One of Evie's friends is the bearded lady, the most popular exhibit is the Fiji mermaid.  

A murder, a secret past, and an arrogant and annoying sister-in-law all woven in this first book in a new series.  Was it all that I hoped for?  Not quite.  Too much takes place outside of the museum.  Nevertheless, I look forward to more of Evie Barnum's adventures, and I expect that a character who was introduced and then dropped will make a return in the next book.

Light and entertaining.  
Read in August; blog review scheduled for 8/27/17.

NetGalley/Severn House

Historical Mystery.  Nov. 1, 2017.  Print length:  224 pages.

OK, I requested A Season to Lie because of the cover.  The splash of the red scarf on the white snow proved irresistible, especially in a hot and humid Louisiana summer.

As Colorado police officer Gemma Monroe complained about the freezing temperatures, I thought about giving her an earful about the kind of July weather that fogs your glasses when you open the door.  Not really, but the cold that hampered Gemma's investigation was a pleasant imaginative escape for me.

Just back from maternity leave, Gemma and her partner Finn are called out in blizzard conditions after an anonymous caller phones in a report of a prowler at an expensive private school.  Expecting a student graffiti prank, instead they discover a murdered man with a message stuffed in his mouth.

Worse yet, the man is a famous author who, under an assumed name, was functioning as a writing coach for the school as a favor to a childhood friend.  

There are other unpleasant undercurrents at the school, but how are they connected to the death of the author?  Or are they?  

I enjoyed the mystery and the setting of A Season to Lie.  I haven't read the first book in this new series, but I will be checking the library for Inherit the Bones.  

Read in July; blog review scheduled for 8/27/17

NetGalley/St. Martin's Press

Mystery/Police Procedural.  Nov. 13, 2017.  Print length:  336 pages.

Cormorant Strike Series and the Society of Women Geographers

I've enjoyed Robert Galbriath's (J.K. Rowling's pseudonym) Cormorant Strike series and have been waiting for the fourth book to appear.  Then I saw this article in The Guardian!  
"Strike, as the TV series is called, has been made by Brontë Film and TV, a production company set up by Rowling. Brontë turned The Casual Vacancy into a 2015 BBC mini-series that was efficient enough, but Strike is a superior effort."

Sounds good to me!  

Have you read any of the Cormorant Strike books?  What did you think?  
On a totally different subject, I love reading about adventurous women, especially those who challenged the norm that women were unsuited for exploration.  When excluded from the all-male Explorers Club, four women (Marguerite Harrison, Blair Niles, Gertrude Shelby, and Gertrude Emerson) formed the Society of Women Geographers in 1925.  

Roy Chapman Andrews, president of the Explorers Club, was invited to the Society of Women Geographer's first dinner in 1932.  Chapman had recently addressed the women of Barnard College:
 “Women are not adapted to exploration,” he told the students."
In response to the SWG's invitation, he sent a letter: 
" He had compliments for the women of the Society—“I have in mind many cases where women have done splendid work in the field and I have great admiration for the accomplishments”—but he made it clear why women explorers needed the support of the Society of Woman Geographers. “I think, however, that you will agree with me that one or two women would not fit to the advantage in a large [expedition] of men.”  (source)

Ha!  The women of the SWG wanted to take him to task for his remarks that "Women are not adapted to exploration," but the intrepid male explorer chose not to attend the dinner.  He may have admired the accomplishments of some of the women, but didn't believe women would be an asset to male expeditions (or suitable for membership to his Explorers Club?).  

But even before the early 20th c., there were women who defied society's expectations.  Jean Baret, dressed as a man, joined de Bougainville's  1766-1769 expedition and became the first woman to have circumnavigated the world.  Gertrude Bell, Isabelle Bird, Nelly Bly, Fanny Bullock Workman, Hester Stanhope, Annie Londonderry, and many other women from around the world dared adventures that would be daunting today--long before the formation of the WSG.  I'm sure those early courageous women would have loved to have had the support and camaraderie the SWG eventually provided women who preferred hardship, exploration, and adventure to housekeeping.

I think I need to add some biographies to my list! 

Friday, August 25, 2017

The Fourth Friend by Joy Ellis and A Shadowed Livery by Charlie Garratt

After surviving the air crash 18 months earlier that killed his four best friends, DS Carter McLean is finally certified to be back at work, but is currently being kept to his desk and away from the field.   The problem is that in addition to suffering the expected survivor guilt, Carter sees his best friends.  Talks to them.  

DS Marie Evans is deeply concerned about Carter, and his psychiatrist worries that perhaps she has missed something.  

Carter feels that all he has left is his job, but he is excluded from the case that involves the disappearance of the wife of one of his dead friends.  Each of his ghostly friends has disappeared after Carter has done something for them.  Only the last friend remains, and the only thing Carter has to go on is "Suzanne."

The Fourth Friend is another great procedural from Joy Ellis!

NetGalley/Joffre Books

Police Procedural.  Aug. 30, 2017.  Print length:   

Antisemitism in the 1930's was not confined to Germany. England had its share of fascists (Oswald Mosley and his British Union of Fascists) and other far right prejudices.  The increasing number of refugees from Germany only exacerbated the feelings of resentment from certain elements of the population.

The book begins with Inspector James Givens witnessing the execution of a man who murdered a Jewish shopkeeper. 

Although Givens had been investigating the increasing number of attacks on Jews, his superior pulls him off that investigation when a murder and two suicides involving a wealthy and influential family takes precedence.  The notoriety of the case has the police scrambling, especially as the initial investigation was a bit precipitous.

Inspired by an actual case, A Shadowed Livery by Charlie Garratt appears to be a possible new series featuring Inspector Givens.

NetGalley/Holland House

Historical Mystery.  2015.  Print length:  262 pages.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Rituals by Kelley Armstrong

Kelley Armstrong's Rituals sums up the Cainsville series.  I'm including a photo to show the difference between the huge floppy manuscript I received and a normal book.  I had to lug the big sucker around for a couple of days because I read inside and outside. Awkward, but worth it because I was able to finish this five book series!

The blue tint given to the final cover is better, I think, than the cover on my copy.  Like everyone else, I am glad to have a conclusion to this series and know for sure the final romantic pairing.  Readers will find a lot of answers to questions that have hovered over the books, and yet one story-line is not completely resolved--leaving a door open for the Cainsville characters  to reappear at some point in the future.  

Although it isn't my favorite Armstrong series (I have a thing about the Fae; I can get along with vampires, zombies, shape-shifters, and other supernaturals, but not the Fae--weird, huh?), I was glad to have several story-lines resolved.

A prolific writer, Armstrong will probably have another book out before long, and I'm looking forward to another Casey Duncan novel set in the spooky little town of Rockton in the Northern wilderness. I also love her  YA novels--especially the Darkest Powers and Darkness Rising trilogies.

Read in July.  Review scheduled for

Supernatural/Suspense.  Aug. 15, 2017.  Print version:  496 pages.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

The Seagull by Ann Cleeves

OK, I like Vera Stanhope, the overweight, middle-aged, opinionated, bossy, disheveled, irascible, and frequently insensitive protagonist in Ann Cleeves' Vera Stanhope series. There is also a softer side to Vera, however, that reveals her attachment to her team and that allows her to sit down with witnesses for a cuppa and persuade them to open up.  A softer side that Vera, herself, doesn't really acknowledge.  She isn't one for introspection.

Although I like Vera's character, Cleeves' treatment of secondary characters, meticulous plotting, and love of the Northumberland coast all combine to make this series one of my favorites.

The Seagull continues developing the characters, but also adds some backtracking as the plot involves characters and situations reaching into the past.  Vera finds herself enmeshed with memories of a younger Vera, her late father Hector, and three of his friends.  She isn't certain what the investigation will turn up regarding Hector, but it doesn't stop her from pursuing the truth and untangling the secrets that have had two decades to cloud the picture.  With so many shady characters, it isn't easy to determine the villain responsible for crimes that occurred twenty years ago.

Joe, Holly, and Charlie always take a backseat to the boss, but each one is intriguing in his or her own right and all three show further development in  The Seagull.  

Cleeves also writes the Shetland Island series featuring Jimmy Perez.  I've enjoyed several books from that series as well.

NetGalley/St. Martin's Press/Minotaur Books

Mystery/Police Procedural.  Sept. 5, 2017.  Print length:  416 pages.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Looking Through Forgotten Drafts

I recently found this draft that I'd never posted, and I like it as much or more than I did originally:  

On Myth & Moor by Terri Windling, I found the following : 
Some time ago I stumbled across these words by children's book writer Cornelia Funke (author of The Thief Lord, Inkheart,  etc.), and they've been pinned to the wall above my desk ever since:
"I pledge to use books as doors to other minds, old and young, girl and boy, man and animal.
"I pledge to use books to open windows to a thousand different worlds and to the thousand different faces of my own world.
"I pledge to use books to make my universe spread much wider than the world I live in every day.
"I pledge to treat my books like friends, visiting them all from time to time and keeping them close."
Looking through other drafts that were never completed, I found this:

Found on Martine's blog 

The witchery of living
is my whole conversation
with you my darlings.
All I can tell you is what I know.
Look, and look again.
This world is not just a little thrill for the eyes.
It's more than bones.
It's more than the delicate wrist with its personal pulse.
It's more than the beating of the single heart.
It's praising.
It's giving until the giving feels like receiving.
You have a life - just imagine that!
You have this day, and maybe another, and maybe still another.
- Mary Oliver

 I have 23 drafts that have been sitting there.  Books I never reviewed, things I liked, links to stuff, etc.  Looking over the the list was interesting, and maybe I'll look at some of the others more closely later, but I loved these two and wanted to share.

This article is recent, but interesting--Silent Book Clubs, reading in solidarity.