This is the first book I've read in the Wine Detective novels which were also made into a series for French television. The edition I read was from Le...moreThis is the first book I've read in the Wine Detective novels which were also made into a series for French television. The edition I read was from Le French Book, a publisher which is making current popular French fiction available in English. I received my copy from Net Galley.
When I found out that this particular volume in the Wine Detective series had to do with World War II, I was hooked. Despite the fact that I have read other books taking place in France during World War II, Alaux and Balen had things to teach me about that period of French history through their engaging mystery plot.
From a seemingly conventional crime novel this book evolves into a powerful tale of the consequences of rape, genetic heritage and fatherhood. There a...moreFrom a seemingly conventional crime novel this book evolves into a powerful tale of the consequences of rape, genetic heritage and fatherhood. There are a number of fathers in this novel. The relationship of the protagonist Erlendur with his daughter is one of the memorable ones. It turned out to be more complex than it initially seemed to be. It's an unpredictable relationship and I will want to see how it evolves.(less)
I learned about the suffragist movement in England and the attempts to suppress it. I also found out about a George Bernard Shaw play called Press Cut...moreI learned about the suffragist movement in England and the attempts to suppress it. I also found out about a George Bernard Shaw play called Press Cuttingswhich was banned by the authorities. You can download it for free from Project Gutenberg.
I appreciated Felicity Young writing about a pioneering female autopsy surgeon. I will definitely want to read more of this series. (less)
I was interested in the Samaritan content, but there wasn't enough of it for me. The World Bank and the missing funds that the World Bank was searchin...moreI was interested in the Samaritan content, but there wasn't enough of it for me. The World Bank and the missing funds that the World Bank was searching for was routine sort of content as far as I was concerned. It's all about the money. What saddened me is that I've now read all the Omar Yussuf novels. I wish there were more.(less)
I had stopped reading Faye Kellerman's Decker/Lazarus series because it had become too much like her husband's Alex Delaware series which I can't read...moreI had stopped reading Faye Kellerman's Decker/Lazarus series because it had become too much like her husband's Alex Delaware series which I can't read anymore. As much as I like the protagonists of both series, their cases are too dark for me. I read an interview with Faye Kellerman in which she said that she wanted to write L.A. noir. Well, she's certainly been succeeding. The reason why I started reading her was because of the Jewish content in her work. This book, which deals with a hate crime against a synagogue seemed to be dealing with the kind of themes that had drawn me to Faye Kellerman.
This was actually an interesting book. I learned about the concentration camp Treblinka and why there were so few survivors of that camp.
There were some very moving moments and some excellent characterization as well. I'm glad that I decided to read this one.
I did think that China Bayles was a little slow on the uptake in this one. So was Ruby for that matter, but it's more likely that possibilities involv...moreI did think that China Bayles was a little slow on the uptake in this one. So was Ruby for that matter, but it's more likely that possibilities involving criminal behavior wouldn't occur to Ruby than that China, the former attorney, would be clueless about such an issue.
I also wanted to see more about Mexican art which was supposed to be a focus of this novel. That theme caused me to want to read this particular book, but there wasn't enough of the content that interested me.(less)
Magdalene laundries in Australia? I had thought they were only an Irish phenomenon, but apparently there have been Magdalene laundries in any country...moreMagdalene laundries in Australia? I had thought they were only an Irish phenomenon, but apparently there have been Magdalene laundries in any country where there have been Catholics. Girls from a Magdalene laundry are disappearing. A naive female writer decides to investigate and promptly disappears herself. So it becomes a job for Phryne Fisher. P Another interesting aspect of this novel is that Phryne has an apprentice who is a Tinker. There is some culture conflict between the young Tinker and the rest of Phryne's household.
The resolution was marvelous and involved an actual woman historical personage. I will want to read more about her. She's in the bibliography that Greenwood includes. (less)
Although it was somewhat predictable because it's within the same character and plot dynamics that show up in almost every book in this series, I was...moreAlthough it was somewhat predictable because it's within the same character and plot dynamics that show up in almost every book in this series, I was impressed with all the revelations about Sano's mother, and I ended up respecting her courage. That's the mother of a samurai!(less)
I was reminded of Umberto Eco's mystery The Name of the Rose. Eco's book isn't similar to Fontana's in content, but they are alike in being mysteries...moreI was reminded of Umberto Eco's mystery The Name of the Rose. Eco's book isn't similar to Fontana's in content, but they are alike in being mysteries that are also novels of ideas.
The character that I found most notable is Sara Copio Sullam, an actual historical personage, who was a poet and a thinker who was accused of heresy. For more information see the article about her by Howard Tzvi Adelman on The Jewish Women's Archive.
I admit that I didn't always agree with Fontana's version of Sara. He has her thinking that allegories are a strategy to make men feel more learned than they are. I think that allegories are codes used by people who know a great deal, but are afraid of the consequences of expressing what they know publicly. When the consequences include being denounced to the Inquisition, disguising what you know in elaborate ciphers would definitely seem wiser.
There was a great deal of value in The Aquatic Labyrinth. I found the story very compelling toward the end, and I identified with the character of Sara.
Yet I do have criticisms. As much as I liked the thematic, historical and cultural content, I did think that characterization was a weak point of this book. It seemed to me that the only well-drawn complex character was Sara. Another problem is that some significant events weren't shown. Fontana chose to tell us about them indirectly. There was also a great deal of overt didacticism. In fiction, I prefer a plot that demonstrates the ideas that the author wants to communicate through its events, rather than being told about these ideas in the manner of non-fiction.
I recommend this book to people who are interested in labyrinths, the history and culture of Venice and novels of ideas.
Killing Custer by Margaret Coel is a contemporary mystery that deals with historical re-enactment. I actually know a number of medieval re-enactors an...moreKilling Custer by Margaret Coel is a contemporary mystery that deals with historical re-enactment. I actually know a number of medieval re-enactors and a few Victorian re-enactors , but all these people are hobbyists. There isn't one of them who truly believes that he or she is a historical personage re-born. I will not say that such a thing is impossible. Reincarnation is a cherished belief of Hinduism, Buddhism and a number of other religions. Yet in the context of historical re-enactment, a belief that you really are the role you play can cause some serious difficulties in your relationships with the real people with whom you are currently interacting. This is seen in the lives of several characters in Killing Custer.
I received an advance copy of this novel from the publisher, Berkeley Prime Crime, through the good offices of the author's publicist, Julia Drake.
I've read other books in Margaret Coel's Wind River mystery series that takes place on the Wind River Arapaho reservation. My favorite is The Spirit Woman which deals with Sacajawea, the Shoshone woman who accompanied Lewis and Clark.
What I enjoy most about this series is the friendship between Vicky Holden and co-protagonist Father John O'Malley, who is a priest at the St. Francis Mission on the Wind River Reservation. There are some wonderful moments in this friendship during the events of Killing Custer that will gratify the fans of this series. So I will give my fellow Margaret Coel fans a heads up that this latest installment in the Wind River series will be available very soon. It is slated for release on September 3, 2013.
The Rinaldi Quartet by Paul Adam is a book that I suggested for the mystery F2F group that I attend, and they selected it. I was pleased because it so...moreThe Rinaldi Quartet by Paul Adam is a book that I suggested for the mystery F2F group that I attend, and they selected it. I was pleased because it sounded unusual. The central character who investigates the case is luthier Gianni Castiligione. Luthiers make stringed instruments.
Although the mystery aspect is about the case of the murdered luthier, Tomasso Rinaldi, it also deals with a quest for a legendary violin.
I really liked the perspective. We get to see into Gianni Castilliogne's mind. We get insight into how he experiences music and his love for violins. I was impressed by what he had to say to Rinaldi's granddaughter, a budding violinist.
Other good points of The Rainaldi Quartet were the plotting, the background about luthiers, violin dealers and the history of violins.
I would have read Original Death by Eliot Pattison eventually because I am a fan of his Colonial American mystery series to which this book belongs. I...moreI would have read Original Death by Eliot Pattison eventually because I am a fan of his Colonial American mystery series to which this book belongs. I am glad to have had the opportunity to read it a good deal sooner since I was provided with an advance copy by publicist Julia Drake.
The best reason to like a mystery is a plot with unexpected twists. Original Death definitely delivers plot twists. When the revelation of whodunit finally came, I could honestly say that I didn't expect it.
The characterization was excellent. The anguish of Duncan's Native American companion Conawago over the village massacre that he and Duncan encounter was quite moving as was Duncan's inner conflict precipitated by this mystery. There were also some wonderful side characters such as Hetty the Irish seer, Kassawaya the Oneida warrior woman and the real historical personage, Colonel William Johnson.
I can recommend this novel to fans of historical mysteries and of the Sara Donati novels that take place in the same period and were also inspired by the Leatherstocking Tales.
I was impressed with the thoroughness of Johnstone's research and his ability to incorporate it into the plot without trying to overwhelm us with deta...moreI was impressed with the thoroughness of Johnstone's research and his ability to incorporate it into the plot without trying to overwhelm us with detail. For those who are interested in knowing more, there is a glossary which includes the sectors of the city of Alexandria.
I was surprised that the protagonist's wife, Titania had the right to take his son when she left him in the opening of the novel. According to Wikipedia on Women in Ancient Rome , in a marriage between two free citizens, a wife could take custody of the children if she could prove that her husband was "worthless". Titania probably could have done so because he had lost everything he owned.
From a mystery standpoint, this is a noir novel which is not my genre. Aculeo, the sympathetic central character, made Furies seem less dark with his sense of honor and decency in the midst of all the corruption. Another character that I really liked was Sekhet, the Egyptian healer/medical examiner who assisted Aculeo in solving the case.
I liked it, but...The greatest strength of this book is the excerpts from Madame Daeng's memoirs. I enjoyed learning about the role she played in the...moreI liked it, but...The greatest strength of this book is the excerpts from Madame Daeng's memoirs. I enjoyed learning about the role she played in the history of Laos.
Yet I can’t say that I was completely enamored with The Woman Who Wouldn’t Die. The Dr. Siri series has been a pretty wild ride especially when it comes to the paranormal, but in this book the mystery's solution can be arrived at by employing the rather mundane Occam's Razor. (The simplest explanation is the one that will turn out to be true. ) This is a principle of logical reasoning that I would never have thought had any place in Dr. Siri's world where the improbable is almost to be expected. For me, it's a disappointment that a case that seems so intriguing should be resolved in such an ordinary way. There is also some unbearable cutesiness toward the end. So aside from Madame Daeng's memoirs, this book was disappointing.
I read books with an Amish background if they seem authentic and have plots that raise interesting issues. This is the first book I've read by P. L. G...moreI read books with an Amish background if they seem authentic and have plots that raise interesting issues. This is the first book I've read by P. L. Gaus. It had more German than I normally see in an Amish themed novel written by an Englisher. The only lapse from authenticity that bothered me in this book was an Amish man using Englisher slang regarding sex. I can see him knowing sexual slang from Rumspringer, but not actually using the slang in ordinary conversation. I didn't abandon the book at that point because I'd gotten involved with the plot.
I was interested in the Amish genetic study and other aspects of the novel, though I did lose interest when it turned into a standard serial killer kind of plot.(less)
I received this book from Net Galley. The central character is a lawyer who has been assigned her first homicide case. She is defending a woman of col...moreI received this book from Net Galley. The central character is a lawyer who has been assigned her first homicide case. She is defending a woman of color charged with the murder of her husband. It was an inter-racial marriage in a rural French community where all outsiders tend to be viewed with suspicion, but I anticipated that racism would play a role in the way that the accused woman is viewed. I thought that this book would grapple with some interesting issues.
I will say that Granotier has created multi-layered characters with complexity. Complex characterization doesn't necessarily make for sympathetic characters. There were only two characters in this book that I found sympathetic and neither of them was the protagonist, Catherine Monsigny. She didn't understand her client because of her own racism. It's true that all defense lawyers in France are hampered by France's legal presumption of guilt until proven innocent. Catherine Monsigny also has a tendency to leap to unwarranted conclusions which doesn't serve her well either as a lawyer or as an "investigator". I put this in quotes because she doesn't really investigate. She stumbles on evidence, but never examines it fully or investigates further. I feel that she displays poor judgement in both her professional and personal life. I would normally make allowances for her inexperience, but she doesn't seem to learn from mistakes. The plot strand dealing with a mystery in Catherine's past didn't raise my estimation of her acumen at all.
I don’t recommend this book for mystery fans. Catherine’s shortcomings irritated me. In fact, my opinion of her worsened over the course of the novel.
For my complete review which includes some interesting facts about French lawyers and the history of France, see my May blog entry "The Paris Lawyer: When Inexperience Tries My Patience" at http://www.maskedpersona.blogspot.com (less)