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Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Never Came Home by Gretta Mulrooney


I've read several books by Mulrooney and have enjoyed them.  Never Came Home is the second book in her new series featuring DI Siv Drummond.  I read the first one about this time last year and  liked the focus on the investigation while Mulrooney continues building the character studies of Siv, Ali, and Patrick.  

Before moving from London to Berminster, Siv lost her husband in an accident.  He left and never came home, and Siv continues to grieve.

Siv's new case involves a mother who left the house intending to be back quickly, but who never came  home.  Now, six years later, Lyn Dimas' body has been found, and a case that was written off as a possible suicide becomes a murder investigation.

Depending on her small team of Ali and Patrick, Siv attempts to untangle all the lies and misdirection that led to Lyn's murder.  And there are plenty of lies and secrets to be uncovered.

Since it will be another year or so before the next Siv Drummond installment, I may have to go back and check on more of the Tyrone Swift series which I also liked.

NetGalley/Joffe Books 

Police Procedural.  Oct. 6, 2020.                                                                                                       ----------          

Tomorrow is World Postcard Day, and I've got some postcards almost ready to send.  Mine are Halloween themed, but they are postcards, so I'm counting them.

The spider lilies are up and making me happy, the cosmos and lantana are still blooming like mad, the milkweed has little left after the Monarch caterpillar feasts.  The second bloom of the daylilies is over, but everything else is going strong.

How is your reading, gardening, crafting going?

Friday, September 25, 2020

On to the Weekend

Yesterday I spent better than an hour trying to get my Kindle working again (not counting the times when frustrated, I took breaks).  I have no idea what happened, but my blood pressure and anxiety were increasing by the minute.  

When e-readers first came out, I didn't want one.  However, before a lengthy trip, I knew I would need more books than I would want to pack and lug around. The Kindle was a perfect solution, and I was hooked--as many books as I could possibly want in one slim bit of tech.

I've taken it for granted.  Expecting it to be available with books ready to read any time I picked it up, I was frantic, considering an alcoholic binge.  I finally got it working again, and I'm so relieved.

World Postcard Day is Oct. 1, so I've been making Halloween postcards that will double-duty for WPD and Halloween.  It has been fun and messy.  

Comedy Wildlife Awards
"Social Distance, Please"
Petr Sochman

Saturday, September 19, 2020

The Silent Quarry by Cheryl Rees-Price

I was interested in this one because of the Welsh setting and because it is the first in the DI Winter Meadows series.  

DI Winter Meadows has returned to the village where thirty years earlier the murder of one girl and the serious injuries of a second girl proved a devastating event for a small village.  

Winters went to school with both girls and had a crush on Gwen, the girl who survived.  Gwen had no memories of what happened that day, and the person responsible was never found.

Gwen, now married with two adolescent children, has begun having flashbacks to the day of the murder.  Nothing consistent, a brief image at best, but the possibility of further memories may put her life at risk.

Winter Meadows re-opens the case, hoping to discover who killed Bethan and attacked Gwen.  A number of suspects are unhappy about further investigation into the case and may not want Gwen to remember.

The conclusion was not what I expected.  I liked the characters and the setting--this may be a new series for me.  As a first book in a series, the introduction of characters is almost as important as the mystery.

Kindle Unlimited.                                                                                                                                                

Police Procedural/Mystery.  2014.  Print length:  259 pages.  


 Attica Locke has become one of my favorite writers, and this article gives so much information about her family and her books.  Why Did My Black Ancestors Never Leave Texas.  

 Bibliotherapists and Ann Cleeves

Thursday, September 17, 2020

The Theft of Sunlight by Intisar Khanani

In 2014, I read Intisar Khanani's Thorn and loved it. A retelling of the famous Goose Girl fairy tale in which Alyrra is the endangered princess. I've enjoyed everything I've read by Intisar Kahanani, and The Theft of Sunlight was another example of how easily I fall into the worlds she creates.

Set in the same world as Thorn, Theft of Sunlight features Rae, daughter of a horse rancher.  Alyrra, the betrayed princess turned goose girl, is now about to marry the prince.  But although Alyrra plays an important role, she is not the protagonist this time.  

Rae, who limps as a result of a club foot, has come to the palace to visit her cousin and been drafted into becoming an attendant to Alyrra.  Rae agrees because she has a purpose of her own--finding out who is behind the stealing of children and selling them into slavery.

Despite the handicap of a club foot, Rae pursues the dangerous task of discovering the how and the who behind the thefts of children.  Another one of Khanani's wonderful female protagonists, Rae is defined by courage and persistence.

Danger and suspense keep the pace quick.  Who to trust?  How deep is the conspiracy?

My only problem--waiting for the next book.  Recommended!

I'm reviewing this early since the publication date is so far away, but will mention it again in March, 2021.

NetGalley/Harper Teen
YA/Fantasy.  March 23, 2020.  Print length:  528 pages that absolutely flew by!

Monday, September 14, 2020

Murder on Cold Street by Sherry Thomas

Murder on Cold Street (Lady Sherlock #5)

Inspector Treadles accused of murder?  Two dead bodies and Treadles in a locked room.   The two men are connected to his wife's business, and the inspector won't defend himself.  Things aren't looking good.  

Treadles, a traditional man, has had problems with his wife's inheritance of a large manufacturing concern.  Not only is she now the chief source of income, but she has insisted in actually managing the company.  The Victorian mindset of the man being the breadwinner and protector has caused some strife between husband and wife.

The Victorian tradition of patriarchy and male authority is the reason Charlotte has to operate as a factotum of Sherlock Holmes.  It is only as a personal assistant to the fictitious Sherlock that Charlotte and Mrs. Watson are able to succeed in their investigations.   Never doubt, however, that these two women are as capable as any man.  

There is such fun in Charlotte's odd (and autistic?) personality, her love of cake, and her rather fantastic taste in clothing (her Christmas dress almost puts Lord Ingram's eye out).  The truly feminine combined with Charlotte's ability to defy tradition and succeed in a paternalistic society by subterfuge lends even more whimsy to the books.

Each book builds on the other, so start with the first one, A Study in Scarlet Women, to get the full pleasure of how Charlotte becomes Lady Sherlock.

Read in June; blog review scheduled for Sept. 14.

Historical Mystery.  Oct. 6.  Print length:  362 pages.  
I love these stamps, but imagine Charlotte and Mrs. Watson in feminine attire, although Charlotte does, on occasion, assume a male disguise. :)

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Life Sentence by Judith Cutler and Cold as Ice by Allison Brennan

Another series by Judith Cutler--this one features Fran Harmon, a Chief Superintendent, respected, overwhelmed, and months from retirement.

Fran's elderly parents demand her presence every weekend and in addition to the long drive, she is expected to cook, clean, take care of the garden, and answer each request from crotchety parents who belittle her and depend on her.

At work, after driving back after a long, debilitating weekend, she is trying to cover her job and that of someone else as well.  Exhausted and barely able to keep things together, Fran is struggling.

Mark Turner, colleague and friend, gets Fran a two-year-old case that will allow her some relief from trying to do too much.  Mark has long been a friend, and it is clear that they care for each other...and that the caring could develop into something deeper.

The case Fran is working concerns a woman brutally attacked and left for dead.  She remains in a vegetative state which has been pronounced permanent.  Will Fran be able to determine who assaulted the woman?  

I liked the plot and Fran's developing relationship with Mark Turner.  As their friendship deepens into something more, each is able to offer support to the other, even as they are unsure about whether the other feels the same way.  

While I liked the Kate Powers books, I like these characters better.  Thanks, Cathy, for comment that gave me the heads up on this series. :)  Oh, and for New Tricks, which I am enjoying.

Read in August.

Kindle Unlimited
Police Procedural.  2006.  Print length:  396 pages.  

I've read a couple of books by Allison Brennan, and each one has been fast-paced and suspenseful.  On the minus side, the books are full of characters from previous books in the Lucy Kincaid series.   Nevertheless, the books can be read as stand-alones.   

from description:  Two years ago, FBI Agent Lucy Kincaid put psychopath Elise Hansen Hunt in juvenile detention for her role in an organized crime syndicate. Now eighteen, Elise has been released with a clean slate, and plans to take her revenge by making Lucy’s life hell. The plot begins with Lucy’s husband Sean Rogan, who has been arrested for a murder he most certainly did not commit.

Cold as Ice is certainly as suspenseful as the other books I've read.   

Strange how worried I can be for characters--when I know that in the end, things will work out.  Nevertheless, I worried about Sean, feared Elise, and cheered all efforts to make sure the characters I cared about turned out OK.  :)  Brennan knows how to ratchet up the tension and keep her readers on edge.  

Read in August; blog review scheduled for September 10.

NetGalley/St. Martin's Press
Suspense/Thriller.  Oct. 27, 2020.  Print length:  480 pages.

The Dirty South by John Connolly

I've been reading Connolly's Charlie Parker series for years and was a little surprised to see this latest entry is a (sort of) prequel to the series.

After the vicious murder of his wife and daughter, Charlie Parker is pursuing the killer.  He ends up in Arkansas where young black girls have been brutally murdered, wondering if the same killer was at work.  Even after deciding the murders were not by the same man who killed his wife and daughter, Charlie decides to help when the Police Chief asks.  

This is a more straight forward murder investigation without some of the supernatural elements in most of the novels, but the book is every bit as engrossing as Charlie reveals the depth of corruption of a powerful family.

Connolly's writing is always haunting and suspenseful, and I enjoyed this glimpse into the way Charlie Parker moves from the hunt for the man who killed his family to using his skills as a former NYPD detective to solve other murders.

Recently, I found this:  

Should you read John Connolly’s Charlie Parker novels?  For me, the answer is an unqualified “yes”.  They are intriguing, entertaining and sometimes laugh-out-loud funny.  A complete list is here.  My only tip would be that although the first book, Every Dead Thing, was a big hit, I found it hard to get into, with an immense amount going on and multiple plot lines.  The second book, Dark Hollow, worked better for me; and the third, The Killing Kind, kept me up late to find out what happened next.  So if you are a Charlie Parker novice, you may want to consider not starting with the first book in the series.  Indeed, if you read Every Dead Thing later, once you’ve become familiar with the protagonist, it will give you the dubious pleasure of learning exactly what ghastly fate befell Parker’s wife and child in the opening chapters of the series. (Source)

The prologue of the first novel almost made me put the book down.  I think the idea of beginning with any of the other novels in the series would be better.  The evil in the Charlie Parker novels is papable, and it is the supernatural that makes them bearable, giving the reader and out, the evil isn't real.  (The Dirty South is a departure in the lack of the supernatural.) 

In 2014, I read The Wolf in Winter, for the R.I.P. Challenge and then went back and picked up all that I'd missed.  Now, I'm always on the lookout for more.  

If you are planning on Carl's R.I.P. Challenge this year, try Dark Hollow or any of the later novels in the series, but buckle your seat belt--good vs evil is a frightening experience.  

Read in June.  Blog review scheduled for Sept. 10.

NetGalley/Atria Books
Police Procedural/Thriller.  Oct. 20, 2020.  print length: 448 pages.

Tuesday, September 08, 2020

Sanctuary by V.V. James and Well-behaveed Indian Women by Saumya Dave

Sanctuary by V.V. James (She also writes as Vic James) was certainly engrossing.  In a modern world that conforms in most ways to our own, the exception is that witches are an accepted part of the population--with laws and internal rules that guide their use of magic.   

Sanctuary is the perfect town . . . to hide a secret.

When young Daniel Whitman is killed at a high-school party, the community is ripped apart. The death of Sanctuary's star quarterback seems to be a tragic accident, but everyone knows his ex-girlfriend Harper Fenn is the daughter of a witch--and she was there when he died.

VV James weaves a spellbinding tale of a town cracking into pieces and the devastating power of a mother's love. Was Daniel's death an accident, revenge--or something even more sinister?

As accusations fly, paranoia grips the town, culminating in a witch-hunt...and the town becomes no sanctuary at all.

I couldn't put it down, but now I'm having trouble deciding what I think about it.  It was tense and alternating POVs gave different levels of suspense.  There are several topics that  are always current in the news.  I liked Maggie, the detective whose role is to investigate Daniel's death.  

I hated one character and as the plot moved on discovered another reason to hate her.  Maybe it was all too reminiscent of people who are so vindictive, even when they secretly know something despicable about the person they "love."  Which makes me question whether it is mother's love or love of a reputation, love of a self-idealization.  

Maybe my problem is that although I liked the book, now--with the connections to paranoia and hatred in the news each day--I simply don't want to face it.  It makes me sad and fearful and sometimes fiction makes it so much more personal.

Read in August; blog review scheduled for Sept. 8.

Mystery/Thriller.  Sept. 8, 2020.  Print length:  464 pages.

I thought I'd reviewed this one, but then realized I'd given a short mention on my other blog.  I liked it: it was well-written and the three generations of women, all of whom had their own strengths, were interesting and likable.                                                                                                                                                                                                             I copied and pasted this from my other blog:  Saumya Dave provides a look at Indian culture (from India) in America.  Well-Behaved Indian Women examines the cultural differences between those born in India and their children born in America.  The main plot premise focuses on arranged marriages.  I found it interesting as our American culture is so different.  My daughter went to high school at the Louisiana School of Math, Sciences, and the Arts, and many of her friends were from different cultures--Korean, Thai, Filipina (another Jen),and Indian students.   And yes, some of the Indian girls had arranged marriages.

 America is a melting pot, but tradition remains an influence on all of us regardless of our origins.    Some traditions and cultural influences are positive, and some are difficult to adapt to a new country.  I loved the characters and their efforts to do the best they could for themselves and for those they love--and as we all know, it isn't always easy.  From generation to generation, regardless of our points of ancestral origin,   ideas and beliefs have to be adjusted.  

Well-behaved Indian Women excelled at showing the choices necessary for both mothers and daughters as they struggle to make the best of their lives.  

Read in August.  

NetGalley/Berkeley Publ.
Women/Culture.  July 14, 2020.  Print length:  385 pages.


Sunday, September 06, 2020

Still Life by Val McDermid

Still Life was written during the Covid lock down (because what else is a writer going to do when quarantined?).  Val McDermid remains high on my list of authors I never want to miss, and in addition to her settings (I love Scotland), her engrossing characters and plots keep me coming back.  The Tony Hill/Carol Jordan and the Karen Pirie series are favorites, but she also has plenty of standalones, and a couple of nonfiction books, including Forensics:  The Anatomy of Crime that I intend to read some day.

Still Life has cold case DCI Karen Pirie involved in two cases.  A traffic accident ends up revealing a skeleton in a van in a garage that has been there for at least ten years. As Karen and Jason investigate, they believe the body belongs to one of two women.  However, in the midst of this investigation, Karen is sent to the Firth of Forth where a body has been discovered--connected to another cold case.   

Juggling two cases, Karen must also deal with the release from prison of the man who killed her lover.  

As usual, McDermid writes an absorbing tale with characters who have decided personalities of their own.  Jason Murray, Karen's DC, is gaining confidence and is a  loyal subordinate, and a new and interesting character is Daisy, who shows promise for future books.

In the last chapter, after both cases have been wrapped up, comes the change that has affected us all:  the virus "that had been a whisper on the wind" as Karen, Jason, and Daisy investigated "had taken firm root in Scotland."  All three "were warned of the lockdown that was to begin in the morning.  They'd be working from home, whatever that meant in practice."  What a conclusion.  The case wrapped up, but their lives on hold.

I'm hoping McDermid will write a book dealing with Karen's team and crime during lockdown.

Read in June; blog review scheduled for Sept. 6.

Police Procedural/Cold Case.  Oct. 6, 2020.  Print length:  448 pages.  

Wednesday, September 02, 2020

The Girls in the Snow by Stacy Green

FBI Profiler Nikki Hunt  is back in Stillwater, Minnesota where two fifteen-year-old girls have been found frozen in the snow.  The main reason for her involvement is a possible connection to a serial killer Nikki and her team have been chasing.  

She knows immediately that the killer is local and not the man they've been chasing, but she still feels some responsibility to aid in the investigation.

This is Nikki's first return to Stillwater in 20 years.  After her parents were murdered, Nikki couldn't wait to finish high school and leave town, which is one personal complication for Nikki.  Another is that the man convicted of her parents' murders has drawn the attention of the Innocence Project and a number of townspeople have joined in support and want his conviction overturned.  Nikki still believes he is guilty, but the situation adds complications.

Nikki has to confront the past and the present even as she tries to discover who killed Madison and Kayleigh--and in a surprising development, whether the murder of the two girls is in any way connected to the murders of her parents.

The Girls in the Snow has a lot of potential as a new series.  I look forward to Nikki Hunt's next case.

Read in August; blog review scheduled for Sept. 2, 2020.

Police Procedural. Oct. 19, 2020.  Print length:  347 pages.