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Saturday, December 29, 2018

Heading to 2019 and Four Reviews

Hope everyone had a Merry Christmas!   

Catching up on all the blogs I usually keep track of proved a bit too much after nearly a full week away from home while we were all gathered down at the camp.  I gave up trying because there is still stuff to do and finish up at the end of the year.  

After the hectic Christmas activities, everyone needs a little time to recover and reflect as one year ends and another is quickly coming around.  I'm considering taking another break from FB, and from constantly checking the news as a New Year's Resolution.  It wasn't too difficult down in the country because there was no WiFi, but now that I'm home, it is proving difficult.  

December reading:

Betty Church and the Suffolk Vampire  by M.R.C. Kasasian features Betty Church as one of the first women Detective Inspectors in 1939.  After losing part of her arm, Betty leaves the Metropolitan Police for her home village in Suffolk.  Expecting little activity in the sleepy backwater village, she becomes entangled with a number of strange murders.

I found the characters all a bit too eccentric for my taste.  Betty is the only one who has any common sense--all the others are caricatures.  Her constables are annoying in their idiocy, her boss has PTSD, her parents are clueless and irritating, and Dodo Chivers is exasperatingly tiresome.  

Had it been shorter and not trying so hard, I might have liked it better.   

NetGalley/Head of Zeus
Historical Mystery.  Feb. 7, 2019.  Print length:  432 pages!

Silent Suspect by Kerry Wilkinson is the 13th installment in Wilkinson's Jessica Daniel series.  Jessica's friend Bex has been missing for three months when she gets a phone call and the only word spoken is "Jessica" before the call ends.  But it is Bex's voice.  

The call is from a public phone booth in Blackpool, and as soon as Jessica traces the call, she is off to the seaside town in search of Bex.  Things get strange as soon as Jessica locates the phone booth and sees a poster of a missing young woman who is similar in appearance to Bex.

She calls the number on the poster and agrees to meet a man who says the missing girl is his sister.  On meeting the man, Jessica feels a little uncomfortable and no further in her attempt to locate her friend.  The next morning, she is awakened by police.  The man she met with has been found dead on the beach.

Now Jessica is not only still searching for Bex, but is a suspect in the man's death.

An interesting side story includes Jessica seeking help from Andrew Hunter, the PI in another series by Wilkinson.  Other than the help from Hunter, Jessica is cut off from her home base of Manchester and her friends on the force.  Her search for Bex has led her into complex criminal activity and an attempt to frame her for murder.

Another winner from Kerry Wilkinson.  :)

Detective fiction/Suspense.  Jan. 14, 2019.  Print length:  316 pages.

Victoria Jenkins is an Australian crime writer and this is the fourth in her series with Detectives Alex King and Chloe Lane.   I haven't read any of the previous books, but A Promise to the Dead functions as a stand-alone. 

A young couple run out of gas in an isolated area.  Matthew leaves his girlfriend in the car as he searches for help.  Unfortunately, he winds up seeing something he wasn't supposed to and the next morning he is missing and his girlfriend is dead.

Alex and Chloe have another case of a missing young man, and then the discovery of a body that proves to be that of a young man who went missing thirty years ago.  Are the three cases connected?  Two recent disappearances and the remains of a young man from decades past keep the team trying to unravel the puzzle.

Police Procedural.  Jan. 21, 2019.  
Code Name: Lise by Larry Loftis.  Odette Sansom Hallowes is also known as Odette Churchill and was recruited by the SOE in 1942.

My problem with this biography are the "conversations."  While some of these can be documented in general, using this as dialogue feels too much like fiction.  I prefer a third person account unless conversations can be documented verbatim with appropriate footnotes.

Odette Sansom was a French woman married to an Englishman and joined the SOE in 1942.

I did like the references to the SOE, Leo Marks, Colonel Buckmaster, and a few others because I was familiar with them from other books about the SOE.  It was  a bit disconcerting to get to the end and read the criticism of some historians in regard to Odette's service.  While I admire the author for including the controversy, it left me a little unsettled about the roles of Odette and Peter Churchill.  

An intriguing look at the lives of some of the agents in occupied France, Code Name: Lise 
examines the service of one of the most famous of the SOE agents and one who survived Ravensbruck concentration camp.

If you are interested in the SOE and the intelligence operations in Europe I can recommend Leo Marks' Between Silk and Cyanide.

  The purpose of the SOE was "to conduct espionagesabotage and reconnaissance in occupied Europe (and later, also in occupied Southeast Asia) against the Axis powers, and to aid local resistance movements."

 Leo Marks, a cryptographer, headed the code department " supporting resistance agents in occupied Europe for the secret Special Operations Executive organisation" while Maurice Buckmaster was the head of "F" section.  

Also another book about an SOE agent in France is Nancy Wake by Russel Braddon.

Read in October.

NetGalley/Gallery Books
History/WWII/Espionage.  Jan. 15, 2019.  Print length:  384 pages.


  1. I LOVED the book Between Silk and Cyanide! Talk about a fascinating read. And I'm definitely going to have to start reading Kerry Wilkinson next year. (Another author to add to the list.) :D

    1. I'm so glad you loved Between Silk and Cyanide, too! It really was fascinating and informative! The Jessica Daniel series is great, and I've liked most of his standalone novels as well. :)

  2. Silent Suspect and A Promise to the Dead sounds good to me. It's always good to know that series book works as a standalone too. :)

    1. Both Silent Suspect and A Promise to the Dead work as standalones. Most series do this well, even if it is fun to begin with the first book--but occasionally, a series is almost impossible to appreciate without having read the previous books.

  3. I also think that Silent Suspect and A Promise to the Dead sound like books I'd like. I've not yet read any books by those authors, but I've definitely meant to try Wilkinson. Perhaps this next year. I'm planning to not plan for 2019. We'll see how that goes. Ha!

    1. I have certainly enjoyed Kerry Wilkinson's books and would read another one by Victoria Jenkins, but starting with the first in the series. :)

      Here's to less planning our reading!

  4. The Wilkinson and Jenkins book sound really good to me! Oh yes, watching the news and trying to stay up to date with everything is exhausting and just too hard to do. I need to do a detox from the news at least once a week. It's just too much for me sometimes.

    1. Detox is the right word. To keep coming back to things that disturb or anger me is not healthy. Not that I want to stick my head in the ground and ignore everything that makes me unhappy, but I do want to limit exposure. :\

  5. I know Betty Church wasn't the best in the end, but I have to admit, the title and the premise really does sound interesting... and Victoria Jenkins! She's an Australian crime writer I didn't know!!

    1. There is some genuine cleverness, and I didn't abandon it, but I was ready to be finished and done with it. :O Taken in smaller doses, it might have been OK.

  6. Happy New Year jenclaire! I am always wary when a non-fiction book "imagines" what the subjects might have thought or spoken. Best to stick to known facts, IMO.

    1. If the subject is interesting, the writer doesn't need to imagine dialogue. Although Code Name: Lise had many interesting elements in the book and was well documented, it is not my favorite nonfiction.

  7. I have been considering a FB break too. I have fallen way behind visiting blogs too. I think I am just going to have to start fresh and not worry about what I've missed.

    I hope the New Year has welcomed you with open arms, Jenclair.

    All four of these sound good to me. Especially Silent Suspect and A Promise to the Dead.