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Monday, October 15, 2018

Catriona McPherson, Alys Clare, and Joy Ellis



I've greatly enjoyed Catriona McPherson's previous books a great deal, but Go to My Grave didn't appeal to me as much.  

Description:  Donna Weaver has put everything into The Breakers, a Bed and Breakfast that she and her mother are opening on a remote stretch of beach. Now it waits - freshly painted, richly furnished, filled with flowers.

But as the guests arrive, they feel like they've been here before. Amid home-baked scones, gorgeous guest rooms, and lavish dinners fit for a king, the feeling of menace grows. 

Someone has broken their vow. Someone is playing games. And then the games turn deadly


This book felt more manipulative than McPherson's previous books.   The characters were stereotypical and not really engaging, not even Donna.   I suspected the big twist and did not find it especially believable.  

Read in September.

NetGalley/St. Martin's Press

Mystery/Suspense.  Oct. 23, 2018.  Print length:  304 pages.


Alys Clare's The Angel in the Glass continues the adventures of  Dr. Gabriel Taverner in his small Devon village.  Characters from the first novel (Taverner's sister Celia, Theophilus Davey, local coroner, and Jonathan Carew, local vicar) begin to take on more personality in this dark mystery. 

Description:  June, 1604. When the emaciated body of a vagrant is found on the edge of the moor, it's the verdict of physician Gabriel Taverner that the man died of natural causes - but is all as it seems? Who was the dead man, and why had he come to the small West Country village of Tavy St Luke's to die cold, sick and alone? With no one claiming to have known him, his identity remains a mystery.

Then a discovery found buried in a nearby field throws a strange new light on the case ... and in attempting to find the answers, Gabriel Taverner and Coroner Theophilus Davey unearth a series of shocking secrets stretching back more than fourteen years.


Members of the Fairlight family are all creepy and twisted.  Fairlight would certainly not have been a Dickensian name choice.  He would have chosen a name more in keeping with the character's personality:  Malafide, Pedark, Blackmere, Blackquill.

read in july

NetGalley/Severen House

Historical Mystery.  Oct. 1, 2018.  Print length: 240 pages.

The Stolen Boys by Joy Ellis is another compelling mystery featuring DI Rowan Jackman and DS Marie Evans.  

Young men are being attacked and their expensive designer clothing items stolen and resold.  Hybird X street designs fetch thousands of pounds and stolen resale items fetch even more.  When one of these attacks results in the unintentional death of a young man wearing Hybird X street clothes,  Jackman's team is all in.  At the same time an influx of illegal steroids has become a problem in the area.

There are many strands woven into this latest Saltern-le-fen installment:  the above two investigations, the Fagin-like use of young people as both spotters and thieves, human trafficking, a resurgence of enthusiasm to locate Alistair Ashcroft, and the addition to the force of an old enemy of Marie Evans.  Somehow it all works.

As usual, Ellis makes the most of her characters.  Members of the Jackman team, no matter how minor, always feel genuine.  Minor characters like Tommy,  Mossy, and Daisy Cotterhill are fleshed-out and engaging, and make you worry about their fates.

Joy Ellis is one of my favorite mystery/detective fiction writers for both this series and her series featuring Nikki Galena.  Both are set in the fens which always becomes a minor character.

NetGalley/Joffe Books

Mystery/Thriller.  Oct.  12, 2018.  Print length:  305 pages.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

From the Ashes and A Bitter Draught


From the Ashes by Sabrina Flynn.  Ravenwood Mysteries #1.

From description:  Atticus Riot took a bullet to his head the day his partner was killed. Three years later, Riot returns to San Francisco to put his ghosts to rest, but the abduction of an heiress snags his attention. Two ransom demands are delivered, and the husband of the abducted Isobel Kingston is hiding the truth.

The clock is ticking. Can Riot find Mrs Kingston in time, or will she become one more regret among many?



The first chapter left me divided about continuing, but then the introduction of Isobel/Bel hooked me completely.  As I read, I found myself wondering if Flynn intended the book to be about Atticus Riot, but fell in love with the socially incorrigible Bel.  For me, the book began with the unpredictable Bel and her kick-ass personality.  

A rollicking Victorian mystery set in San Francisco.  Not perfect, I knit-picked about half a dozen things, but still enjoyed it immensely and went on to the next book.  

Free with Kindle Unlimited.

Historical mystery.  2014.  Print length:  270 pages.


A Bitter Draft continues the adventures of the Ravenwood Detective Agency, Atticus Riot, Bel, Tim, and others.

Bel reinvents herself as a reporter and a member of the Ravenwood Detective Agency and her twin brother Lotario emerges in a larger secondary role.  Oh, the gender-bending--Bel masquerades as a man at times, and Lotario as a woman.  

The plot involves Riot and Bel working together to solve a number of "suicides."

I can't say these books are believable; they are pretty far-fetched.  On the other hand, they both kept me interested in the plots and the characters.  A small cast of secondary characters like Tim, Miss Lily, Tobias, and Grim make a likable group of supporters for the two main characters.  And Lotario?  Well, he's certainly a law unto himself.  Or herself.

The books are like gobbling Halloween candy.  I know a thing or two about that.  :)

Kindle Unlimited.

Historical mystery.   2015.  Print length:  377 pages.

----------- Interesting Articles -----------

Sherry Thomas (author of the Lady Sherlock series) on Crafting the Perfect Sherlock Holmes Pastiche.

What Does Immersing Yourself in a Book Do to Your Brain?  

------------ Halloween ------------

A tipsy goblin drinking Viper Venom


Tuesday, October 09, 2018

The Rain Watcher by Tatiana De Rosnay

The Rain Watcher by Tatiana De Rosnay

From blurb:  The first new novel in four years from the beloved superstar author of Sarah's Key, a heartbreaking and uplifting story of family secrets and devastating disaster, in the tradition of THE NEST.

Beautifully written, I couldn't decide whether I was more interested in Linden Malegarde and his complex family dynamics or the Paris flood.  Perhaps because I read the book so soon after watching the videos of the 2018 flood, the descriptions of the flooding of an ancient city were especially vivid.

A thoughtful book that inches up as the Seine rises--slow and deliberate.   The Rain Watcher was as beautifully rendered as Linden Malegarde's photographs.  

Read in April.  Blog review scheduled for Oct. 9.

NetGalley/St. Martin's Press

Literary fiction.  Oct. 23, 2018.  Print length:  240 pages.  

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

Mystery and Horror



The Dogs in the Street is the third book in the Dark Yorkshire series by J M Dalgliesh.  

DI Nate Caslin's control over his life has improved, and when asked to do a favor for the journalist (with whom he has a connection from earlier books), Caslin looks into the disappearance of  a young woman.

Things get messy in a big way, and a friend from his past makes an appearance.  Fast-paced with an interesting twist, Caslin discovers a scary connection with the intelligence services.

Read in August.  Review scheduled for ?

 British Detectives/Noir.  2018.  Print length:  241 pages.  




In June, I read Belinda Bauer's Snap, which I liked so much I looked for another book and decided on The Shut Eye.

Missing children, a man who claims to have psychic powers, and a DCI who has been working on both cases.  I was surprised to see the character of DCI Marvel, a character I initially disliked in Snap, was also in The Shut Eye, and we get the backstory of why he ended up in Somerset.

Marvel's boorish and curmudgeonly behavior doesn't keep him from being sympathetic--he refuses to give up on the year-old case of the missing Edie Evans whose bike he keeps at the station.

More--I want more of Belinda Bauer.  Her touching ability to write about children and her skillful narrative make this one of those novels that made me hesitate to put it down.
 I knew when I read Snap that I would be reading another book by Bauer, now that I've read two, I have to decide what to read next.

Mystery/Detective Fiction.  2015.  Print length:  318 pages.


Another summer read, but an excellent choice for R.I.P. Challenge--only if you dare.   Mystery, paranormal, and horror in the chilling A Game of Ghosts by John Connolly.

From description:  It is deep winter. The darkness is unending.
The private detective named Jaycob Eklund has vanished, and Charlie Parker is dispatched to track him down. Parker's employer, Edgar Ross, an agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, has his own reasons for wanting Eklund found.
Eklund is no ordinary investigator. He is obsessively tracking a series of homicides and disappearances, each linked to reports of hauntings. Now Parker will be drawn into Eklund's world, a realm in which the monstrous Mother rules a crumbling criminal empire, in which men strike bargains with angels, and in which the innocent and guilty alike are pawns in a game of ghosts . . .

As in all of the  Charlie Parker novels, the battle of good vs evil theme prevails.  Creepy and suspenseful as all of these novels are, A Game of Ghosts makes a spine-chilling read for Halloween.

Mystery/Paranormal/Horror.  2017.  Print length:  464 pages. 

Monday, October 01, 2018

Kerry Wilkinson, Viveca Sten, Sherry Thomas

Another standalone by Kerry Wilkinson:  The Wife's Secret.  

From Description: Charley Willis was thirteen years old when her parents were killed in their family home and she was found hiding in a cupboard upstairs. 

Fifteen years later, Charley is marrying Seth Chambers. It should be the happiest day of their lives, a chance for Charley to put her past behind her, but just hours after the ceremony, she is missing. 

No one saw her leave. No one knows where she is. 

One thing is for certain…Seth is about to discover he doesn’t really know the woman he just married. And his nightmare is only just beginning. 


Seth is stunned and disbelieving, and the story moves back and forth in time--Seth's story in the present and Charlie's story in the past.  To say that Charlie's family was dysfunctional is an understatement, but fortunately, Charlie's older sister Martha was a staunch support after the horrific event.

Although the truth did occur to me at times, I was never completely sure about what happened that night and there were other complications I didn't foresee.

NetGalley/Bookoutre

Mystery/Suspense.  Oct. 10, 2018.  Print length:  338 pages.


The latest translation of Viveca Sten's Sandham novels, In Harm's Way takes place during the Christmas-New Year's season.  

The body of Jeannette Thiels is discovered on the Sandhamn beach, but did she freeze to death or was it murder?  

Jeannette, a journalist with a reputation for courage and relentless investigations of war crimes and corruption, certainly had plenty of enemies.

DI Thomas Andreasson interviews Jeannette's ex-husband, their daughter Alice, and others when the autopsy reveals poison.  I won't go into all of the suspects, but I had a difficult time deciding on the villain--suspecting one person after another. 

Nora Lindstrom, spending Christmas on Sandhamn with her two boys also finds herself in an ethical dilemma.  An attorney for a bank that has recently been taken over, Nora is happy that the new management has kept her on.  When she questions the direction of some practices, however, she finds herself in an ethical dilemma, and the person she counted on for support reveals a side she did not expect.  

Current events are in play for both Thomas and Nora:  an extreme right fringe movement, fear of immigration, and corporate corruption are tangled up in various ways.

Recommended.

NetGalley/Amazon Crossing

Mystery/Crime.  Oct. 16, 2018.  Print length:  416 pages.


I enjoyed the latest in the "Lady Sherlock" series, but would advise readers to begin with the first book.  

As a frequent reader of Sherlock Homes pastiche, I like the originality of the Charlotte Holmes character, who would probably be placed on the autistic/Asperger's spectrum:  brilliant, aloof, focused and persistent, able to recognize patterns, observant of details, etc.

The background of Charlotte Holmes described in the first two books includes her resistance to the expectations of women during the Victorian era.  Gender-flipping both Sherlock and Dr. Watson is part of the fun.  Charlotte's detecting must be done under a male cover and her associate, who takes on the Dr. Watson role, is also a strong woman with a background that doesn't meet society standards.

The Hollow of Fear takes place shortly after the conclusion of the previous novel.  Moriarity has been introduced and plays an off-camera role.  

Lord Ingram, Charlotte's close friend, has said that his wife is in Switzerland, but when Lady Ingram's body is  discovered in the ice house on his estate, the situation looks grim. Charlotte and Mrs. Watson must discover who wants Lord Ingram charged with murder...and why.

Inspector Treadles is placed in a difficult situation, Charlotte's appetite for sweets declines (a serious symptom of fear in Charlotte's case), the relationship between Lord Ingram and Charlotte changes, and the reason for framing Ingram is unexpected.  



Start with A Study in Scarlet Women  (my review of the first two novels) and have fun with this series!

NetGalley/Berkley Publishing

Historical Mystery.  Oct. 2, 2018.  Print version:  336 pages.










Friday, September 28, 2018

Interesting Articles

On banned books.  I've read 6/10.  I tried Ulysses, but gave up, and nothing has made me want to try again. 

On conversation.  I watched the following Ted Talk a year or so ago, but someone referenced it recently, and I watched again.  Everyone is doing more "talking at" than "talking with" these days.  I'm often guilty.



 On Craig Johnson.  As a long time fan of the Longmire series, I'm looking forward to Depth of Winter

On Crime Reads.  Several of these have caught my interest!

Monday, September 24, 2018

The Lies We Told by Camilla Way and If You Ask Me by Eleanor Roosevelt

In 1986, Beth and Doug are so grateful to finally have a child after years of trying, but by the time little Hannah is a toddler, Beth knows that something is not right.    

In 2017, Clara wakes up to the realization that her partner Luke failed to come home.  Unable to get in touch with him because he had forgotten his cell phone, Clara knows he would never willingly abandon the job interview scheduled for that day.  

Although police are initially reluctant to get involved since Luke is a grown man and has not been missing long,  they realize this disappearance may be serious when messages from a stalker are revealed.  Luke had laughed them off,  now, however,  the messaged threats take on an even more menacing aspect.

As it becomes increasingly obvious that Luke is in danger, Clara tries to find out why Luke has been taken.  Some of what she turns up is not to Luke's credit, but Clara is persistent in her attempts to find out who may have been behind Luke's disappearance.

Moving back and forth in time from 1986 to the present, the story unfolds in both expected and unexpected ways.  The prologue gives a convenient prediction, but making things fit together is difficult because the author withholds enough information to keep the reader from fully understanding the overall situation.  The picture is there, but not all of the pieces are available.  

There is resolution, but the conclusion is ambiguous...almost as if leaving an opening for a sequel?  Although "bad seed" characters are interesting, I don't know that I'd follow up on this one.

Read in July; blog post scheduled for Sept. 24.

NetGalley/Berkley Publishing

Psychological/Mystery.  Oct. 9, 2018.  Print length:  385 pages.  


If You Ask Me is a collection of advice articles Eleanor Roosevelt wrote over a period of twenty years.  Interesting for a number of reasons:  human problems and questions are remarkably similar regardless of the era;  Mrs. Roosevelt took each question seriously and responded with insight and kindness no matter the topic; common sense and civility are in each response.  

"Covering a wide variety of topics—everything from war, peace, and politics to love, marriage, religion, and popular culture—these columns reveal Eleanor Roosevelt’s warmth, humanity, and timeless relevance."

NetGalley/Atria Books

History/Advice.  Oct. 9, 2018.  Print length:  272 pages.



Just read this article:  In the Time You Spend on Social Media Each Year, You Could Read 200 Books.


Friday, September 21, 2018

One Thing Leads to Another...Espionage Books

Ben MacIntyre has a new book:  The Spy and the Traitor:  The Greatest Espionage Story of the Cold War, and I want it.

The celebrated author of Double Cross and Rogue Heroes returns with his greatest spy story yet, a thrilling Americans-era tale of Oleg Gordievsky, the Russian whose secret work helped hasten the end of the Cold War.

Another MacIntyre book from the Cold War period is A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal.   This one has on my mind since recently reading Kate Atkinson's Transcription. I want to read both The Spy and the Traitor and A Spy Among Friends because MacIntyre writes nonfiction so well.  


 I've enjoyed a couple of Ben MacIntyre's nonfiction books about WWII.  My favorite was Operation Mincemeat:  How a Dead Man and a Bizarre Plan Fooled the Nazis and Assured an Allied Victory.  What a great film this one would make!

From my review:  Maybe the reason the entire plan reads something like a novel is that so many of the individuals involved in one way or another were already novelists or became novelists.  While truth is often stranger than fiction, it helps if those who conceive and construct such a complicated plan have the imagination of fiction writers.  I lost count of how many writers were involved from start to finish.  The most famous, although his role was small, was Ian Fleming.  No wonder the Bond stories were so popular, Fleming had all the experience one might need with espionage, double-thinking, and dreaming up ways to confuse or mislead the enemy.



Reading about Ian Fleming's role in Operation Mincemeat eventually led me to read The Man with the Golden Typewriter.  What a pleasure to read the correspondence between Fleming and people like Evelyn Waugh, Noel Coward, Somerset Maugham, and Raymond Chandler.  

The letters were all interesting in so many ways.  Reading each one was a pleasure, and my opinion of Ian Fleming rose as I read the book.  He was not just the author of sensational novels, but a former Naval Intelligence officer, a friend of some of the most talented authors of the day, and a charming and witty correspondent.  

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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Catching Up

I've been working on more mail art envelopes and postcards, answering letters, anticipating cooler weather (today's high is supposed to be 98), thinking about Halloween (after finishing Scaredy Cat and Pumpkin Head dolls, I need a new Halloween Eccentric to work on), contemplating a fall garden, and reading.  

I need to catch up on reviews, so I am making a start.  I wish I could do like Lark and make Haiku Reviews, but these are all pretty short.


Something Wicked by Kerry Wilkinson.  This is my first in the Andrew Hunter series, and I liked it.  Not as much as the Jessica Daniel series, but this was Andrew Hunter's first outing, and often a series improves.  The plot involves a creepy cult and isn't terribly realistic, but  I like Kerry Wilkinson and have enjoyed the Jessica Daniel series and several of his stand-alones.  

NetGalley/Bookoutre

Detective Fiction.  2014; 2018.  Print length:  321 pages.



Holy Ghost is the eleventh book in John Sandford's Virgil Flowers series, but my first foray into this series.

A small town in Minnesota is dying--not an unusual plight for small towns anywhere that are off the main highways.  Wardell Holland and teenager John Jacob Skinner come up with an idea to put Pinion, MN back on the map, a sketchy ruse to attract tourists.  They are going to use the Catholic Church, a faked Marian appearance, and turn the town into draw for religious tourists.  ! How's that for a plan?

Unfortunately, a series of shootings, followed by several murders take place.  Virgil Flowers, an investigator for the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is called in.  What began as two serious injuries turns into a series of murders, and Virgil is at a loss to determine motive.  A number of interesting characters, some humorous conversations, and a long struggle to figure out what was really going on kept me involved.  I mean, one theory after another gets shot down, and Virgil gets frustrated (in a calm, laid back kinda way).

I've never read anything by John Sandford before, but I'll certainly be interested in his other series now--and since I liked all of the odd-ball characters in Holy Ghost, I will be checking the library for more Virgil Flowers.   Thanks to James Thane whose review of a Virgil Flowers book made me try this one! 

NetGalley/Penguin Group

Mystery/Crime.  Oct. 9, 2018.  Print length:  400 pages.


Deathly Portent is the second in the Lady Fan series, and I actually abandoned the first one within a chapter or two, but this was kind of fun.  

Description:  THE DEATHLY PORTENT is the second book in the Lady Fan Mystery series: historical romance murder mysteries with a courageous women sleuth embarking on a traditional British, private investigation in eighteenth-century London. 

Deathly Portent takes place in a small village.  Lady Fan and her husband have carriage trouble and when Lady Fan hears that a young woman is being accused of being a witch and murdering the local blacksmith, she is unable to restrain her curiosity and need to investigate.  Although there are murders, the book makes the most of the eccentric village characters, some humor, and a little romance.  

NetGalley/Sapere Books

Historical Mystery.  August 23, 2018.  Print length:  381 pages. 


I read Divided House by J.M. Dalgliesh last month and went straight into the next book in the Dark Yorkshire series.  Blacklight continues the investigations of DI Nathaniel Caslin--in the current case two women are missing.  One is the daughter of the local MP.

Nate Caslin still has problems, but his character rounds out a bit in this second book.  I'm ready for the next one!

Kindle Unlimited/Hamilton Press

Detective Fiction.  June 1, 2018.  Print length:  319 pages.

Whew!  Shorter than normal reviews, but I enjoyed all of these books.  

As always I love the fan mail James Preller receives from his young fans and his wonderful, gracious replies!   



Monday, September 17, 2018

The Sideman by Caro Ramsay

The Sideman follows on The Suffering of Strangers, which I've not read.  Usually, I don't have any trouble beginning in the middle or at the end of a series, but The Sideman gave me fits initially because it was so obviously connected to a previous story, and I was not familiar with the previous books or the plot.  Most authors manage to give enough background to make it easy to follow, but The Sideman was like beginning a book in the middle with no correlations to rely on.  There were so many characters that it seemed the reader was expected to know...and I didn't.

That said, I was intrigued enough to persevere and eventually found myself engrossed.  Caro Ramsay is a new author to me and The Sideman is the 10th in a series of the Anderson and Costello novels set in Glasgow.  

Brief description from blurb:  Detective Inspector Costello has resigned. No notice, no goodbyes. Convinced that George Haggerty murdered his wife and son despite his cast-iron alibi, Costello has gone solo, determined to expose a ruthless killer without being hampered by police protocol. But is she right about Haggerty’s guilt? And where has she disappeared to?

Expecting Costello to have a large role, I was puzzled when she failed to actually show up.  Her partner and friends are concerned about her, but Costello is a notable absence in what was (for me) at first a hugely puzzling plot.  Gradually, I was drawn in and picked up enough of the previous story to have some background with which to work.  About a quarter of the way in, I was completely invested.

In spite of my initial confusion, I think this is a series I'd like to pursue--but beginning with the first book!

Read in June;  blog review scheduled for Sept. 17.

NetGalley/Severn House

Mystery/Thriller.  Oct. 1, 2018.  Print length:  256 pages.  


Thursday, September 13, 2018

Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa

Julie Kagawa is best known for her Iron Fey series, but my introduction to her work was the Blood of Eden trilogy, a dystopian/vampire adventure that I really enjoyed.

The Shadow of the Fox is the first in this fantasy series with creative mythological elements.   

from the description:  Every millennium, one age ends and another age dawns...and whoever holds the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers holds the power to call the great Kami Dragon from the sea and ask for any one wish. The time is near...and the missing pieces of the scroll will be sought throughout the land of Iwagoto. The holder of the first piece is a humble, unknown peasant girl with a dangerous secret.

Yumeko, half-human and half-kitsune, has an important role to play in keeping the forces of evil at bay, but she is half-kitsune and is inclined to pranks.  Raised in a monastery, Yumeko is truly naive about the wider world, but she is good-hearted and aware of what she owes to the monks.  When the temple is destroyed by demons, Yumkeo finds herself charged with a great responsibilty: she must deliver the fragment of the scroll entrusted to her to the Steel Feather Shrine.  Her experiences have been limited to the sanctuary of the monastery, but now she must undertake a journey into a world she knows little about.

The second pov comes from Kage Tatsumi of the Shadow Clan, whose life has been circumscribed by his clan leaders.  His current mission it to dispatch anyone who stands in his way of obtaining the fragment of the scroll that Yumeko carries.  Unaware that she is carrying the fragment, Tatsumi believes Yumeko can help him locate it and aids her in her journey. 

Villains, demons, samurai, ronin, shape-shifters, kami and more.  A little slow at the start, the pacing increases with the destruction of the temple that sets Yumeko in her prophesied role.

Read in May; blog review scheduled for Sept. 13.  

NetGalley/Harlequin Teen

YA/Fantasy/Folkore/Adventure.  Oct. 2, 2018.  Print length:  400 pages.


Sunday, September 09, 2018

Transcription by Kate Atkinson

Kate Atkinson's Transcription is a strange little book.  Although the novel opens in 1950, we are quickly thrust back to 1940, when eighteen-year-old Juliet begins working for a branch of MI5.  She is idealistic, but aware that she doesn't always meet her own standards.  

She has recently lost her mother, and a sense of abandonment is part of her personality.  She is also young and longing for romance and excitement.  

Her job as a transcriptionist, however, is boring, but when she does have the opportunity to become more involved, Juliet realizes there is still plenty of dull mixed in with the tension and danger.

Most of the book is slow and anything but a thriller, and Atkinson probably did this on purpose.  There is sly humor throughout, especially the kind of bitter/sweet/amusing sections with Juliet imagining the possibility of romance with the wrong man.  

When the war is over, Juliet moves on with her life and by 1950 is a radio producer with the BBC.  She discovers that the past is not always past.

An overarching theme of deception, duplicity, and the masks people wear permeates the novel.  Some of the references are obvious, some made me curious about different applications, but I was not expecting one central duplicity.  In the concluding chapters, the suspense mounts (finally), and traitors are revealed.  

I admit that I found a majority of the novel slow and despite the fact that the slow pace is intentional and despite the many amusing and witty comments and scenarios, I felt myself wading through three quarters of the book waiting for...something.  But that something arrived, and the conclusion and the Author's Note which follows made everything worthwhile.  

Transcription is a curious book.  It is not a thriller, as you might expect, but it is book that ambushed me at the end and one I can't quit thinking about.

Read in August.  Blog review scheduled for Sept. 9.

NetGalley/Little, Brown, and Company

Historical Fiction/Espionage.  Sept. 25, 2018.  Print length:  352 pages.

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

The Craftsman by Sharon Bolton

I've been reading Sharon Bolton since Sacrifice, her first book and a chilling tale.  Then came the Lacey Flint series and several stand-alones (my favorite is Little Black Lies).   

The Craftsman is set in Sabden, the village at the foot of Pendle Hill, famous for the Pendle witches and the resulting trials and executions in 1612.  The Craftsman takes some of the best elements from all of the above books  and will keep you riveted from first to last.

The book begins in 1999, but moves back and forth in time.

In 1999, Assistant Commissioner Florence Lovelady returns to Sabden for the funeral of Larry Glassbrook.  Glassbrook died in prison after having been convicted of three murders.  Florence was responsible for his conviction, but her return is not going to offer the resolution she seeks.  

In 1969, WPC Florence Lovelady is new to the force and becomes tangled up in a case involving three missing children.   The anxiety is high in the community, and when a group of children say they hear voices coming from a grave, Florence is sent to resolve the situation.  Although facing prejudice for her gender and education, Florence does have one friend on the force, DC Tom Devins.

In 1999, Florence realizes that perhaps they got things wrong and finds herself and her son in danger.

Witches and folklore add to this harrowing tale.  Although billed as a stand-alone, I'd love to see more from Florence, either in her early career or dating from the chilling conclusion.  I would also be pleased if  Bolton decided to  have a spin-off novel involving Avril and Daphne and the local coven.  

This is one of Bolton's best, a compelling plot and well-drawn characters kept me glued to the pages.  

I read Mist Over Pendle as an R.I.P. read several years ago, and The Craftsman would make an excellent choice for R.I.P.  There are dozens of books about the Pendle witches both fiction and nonfiction.

Read in August.  Blog review scheduled for Sept. 4.

NetGalley/St. Martin's Press

Mystery/Suspense.  (UK) April 15  and (US) Oct. 16, 2018.  Print length:  432 pages.

Sunday, September 02, 2018

The Impossible Girl by Lydia Kang

Cora Lee, the protagonist of The Impossible Girl, is an amalgamation of weird circumstances.    

Cora, the illegitimate child of a wealthy socialite, is born with a physical anomaly that makes her of scientific interest.  Cora's Aunt Charlotte raises her--and Charlotte is only too well of the danger presented by Cora's two hearts.  To keep her hidden from anatomist's who would love to dissect such an interesting specimen, Charlotte initially disguises Cora as "Jacob," in hopes that the legend of the girl with two hearts would eventually dwindle away.

Ironically, Cora becomes the only female resurrectionist in New York, exhuming bodies for the medical establishment for dissection and  allowing Cora to be aware of what physical abnormalities the anatomists are eager to examine.  When the legend of the girl with two hearts is suddenly revived, Cora's safety is at risk.  And someone is killing the people on Cora's list before their time.      

An intriguing mystery that highlights medical advancement and the New York of the mid-1800's, The Impossible Girl had several twists that I wasn't expecting.   Cora proved an interesting character in interesting times!

Read in June; blog review scheduled for 9/2/18.

NetGalley/Lake Union Publishing

Historical Mystery.  Sept. 18, 2018.  Print length:  364 pages.  

Friday, August 31, 2018

Wild Fire by Ann Cleeves

I'm sorry that Ann Cleeves has decided that this will be the last in the Shetland series featuring Jimmy Perez.  Maybe especially sad because I found this one so good. 

As is often true in small communities, "incomers" can find it difficult to fit in.  When Helena and Daniel Fleming move to the island, they were hoping for a quieter, more peaceful life than they had in London.  However, their acceptance in the community is not what they hoped, and after the suicide of the former owner of their home, things quickly become worse.

When a young nanny is found hanging in the same barn in which the previous owner hanged himself, Jimmy Perez and Sandie Wilson are called in.  The young woman was found by the Fleming's autistic eleven-year-old son which puts even more stress on the family.  Emma Shearer, the young woman found murdered in the barn, had been a the nanny for the Moncrief family since she was seventeen.  

When Chief Inspector Willow Reeves arrives on the island, she and Jimmy have some personal business that keeps them from working together as easily as they have in the past.

Ann Cleeves has a way of seeming to let the various characters create themselves.  The Flemings, the Moncriefs, the Riddells all develop in an organic and believable manner. Perez, Willow Reeves, and Sandy Wilson need less introduction, but are all in the process of their personal transitions even as they work the case.

Emma Shearer, the very private nanny, doesn't come fully into view until the conclusion.  Cleeves works hard to keep from revealing who was responsible for Emma's death, and I bounced back and forth between a couple of suspects.  

Troubled families, complex characters, and an excellent procedural!  Recommended.

Read in August.  Blog review scheduled for Sept. 4

NetGalley/St. Martin's Press

Police Procedural.  Sept. 4, 2018.  Print length:  416 pages.  


Wednesday, August 29, 2018

The Exes' Revenge (Sticks and Stones) by Jo Jakeman and Burning Ridge by Margaret Mizushima

The Exes' Revenge by Jo Jakeman is exactly what it says and yet...not at all what I was expecting.

Imogen is in the midst of a divorce, and Phillip, her controlling and abusive husband, has given her an ultimatum:  leave the house in two weeks or he will make sure he gets custody of their son.  Phillip is a policeman and would be able to bring up Imogen's depression following a miscarriage.  Currently, Phillip is living in another property he owns with his current, much younger girlfriend.


Although Imogen's personality is non-confrontational, Phillip's latest demands require her to stand up in order to be able to provide a decent life for their son.  


In a visit to try and persuade Phillip to be reasonable, Imogen realizes that Phillip has been abusing his girlfriend as well.  

When an irate Phillip learns of her visit, he storms into the house full of threats and ego, then goes into the basement to retrieve some belongings.   Pushed beyond rational thought, Imogen does something drastic and completely unexpected.   Now what?  

Moving back and forth in time, Phillip's relationships with Imogen, his current girlfriend, and his ex-wife emerge.  Unlikely allies and perhaps with different agendas, the three women learn more about themselves, each other, and the man with whom they have all been involved.

Expecting a typical revenge mystery, I was delighted to find a more complex and engrossing experience with a brisk pace and some dark humor.

Recommended.  

Update, July 20: this book has recently received a new title and cover:  Sticks and Stones

Read in June.  Review scheduled for Aug. 29.

NetGalley/Berkely Publishing

Mystery.  Sept. 11, 2018.  Print length:  352 pages.






Having never mastered the skill of training any of our dogs to do more than "sit," I tend to be captivated by working dogs, their skills and their training.  Set in the Colorado Rockies, Margaret Mizushima's Timber Creek K-9 Mysteries combine the abilities of Robo, a talented young search and rescue dog with good characterization and suspenseful plots 

Burning Ridge is the 4th book in the series, and I was just as enthralled as usual.  Robo may be my favorite character, but I like all of the regular cast from members of the Sheriff's Dept. to Cole, the local veterinarian, to Mama T, the foster mother who raised Mattie.

Deputy Mattie Cobb is the K-9 officer in the small town of Timber Creek, CO.  Mattie and Robo have a tremendous bond and trust each other implicitly.  He may be a working dog, but he is definitely loved and respected, not only by Mattie, but by all those who have come to appreciate his talents and personality.

When a burned body is discovered high in a mountain valley, all are stunned at the apparent brutality, but the situation is worsened when the identity of the victim is revealed.

Burning Ridge touches close to home for Mattie.

Couldn't turn the pages fast enough--(so to speak, as I read it on my Kindle).  Ready for the next in the series and hate having to wait.

Read in June.  Review scheduled for August 29

NetGalley/Crooked Lane Books

Crime/Suspense.  Sept. 11, 2018.  Print version:  279 pages.