A picture of Ireland in a place rarely seen, a farmer is cutting turf in a peak bog on a chilly April morning, something catches in his cutting tool,...more A picture of Ireland in a place rarely seen, a farmer is cutting turf in a peak bog on a chilly April morning, something catches in his cutting tool, he scrapes the earth around it and finds the severed head of a young woman. We are taken to the western part of Ireland to Count Gallway.
Cormac Maguire is an archaeologist working at the National Museum, he is asked to examine the head to help date it to see if a crime has been committed. He asks Nora Gavin, an American pathologist to help.
Other young women have been disappearing from this area including the wife and young son of a wealthy landowner, Hugh Osborne.
After finishing the examination of the woman's head, Hugh asks Cormac if he would help in an archaeological survey of some land Hugh was developing. Cormac agrees and asks Nora to join him so they can learn more about the girl whose head they found. Since they're helping Hugh, he asks them to stay at his home with his cousin and her son.
This is a wonderfully descriptive novel full of the emotions of the locals, the music that gives meaning to many lives and the history of the bog which has provided the livelihood to many people for generations.
When Cormac and Nora find a ring in the girls mouth, they are able to give a time to her burial approximately, 1652. They ask a teacher what was going on in this vicinity at that time and he tells them that this was a time of ethnic cleansing in Ireland, similiar to modern Bosnia. The Catholics were removed from western Ireland and had to move elsewhere to make room for the Protestents under Cromwell. People were forced from their homes, many starved, many died.
The characters are memorable, the reader hopes that Cormac and Nora will return in another novel to follow their romance. The story itself was well told and difficult to put down.
Sometimes reading a book for a second time doesn't create as much anticipation and the initial reading but this novel is as fresh and engrossing as e...more Sometimes reading a book for a second time doesn't create as much anticipation and the initial reading but this novel is as fresh and engrossing as ever.
Melissa D'Augustino, age 14 and mentally retarded is murdered. Her body is found in a pond in a cow pasture. Police Chief Nalen Storrow of Flowering Dogwood, Maine is at the scene and leading the investigation.
Nalen is deeply troubled, not only because a crime like this couldn't happen in his quiet town but also because he feels protective for his 9 year old daughter, Rachel and fear that his 18 year old son might be involved. There is stress at home and tremendous stress on the job. This inner pressure takes its toll and the first part of the novel ends with Nalen trying to cope with his fears.
Eighteen years go by and Rachel is now a detective and her brother works as a teacher's aide in the school for the blind and special needs.
Claire Castillo is the teacher under whom Billy works as an aide. They have different approaches to the students but both are well liked by the children under their care. Claire does feel that Billy is becoming too friendly with a sixteen year old girl and has to remind Billy that although she has special needs, she is a young woman and he should be more professional. Off the job Billy and Claire seem to be developing a deeper relationship when Claire disappears. Old memories return, Rachel invesitgates and Billy is again a suspect.
Blanchard has written a compelling story. She deals with the disabled children intelligently and her development of Rachel as a character is supurb. I enjoyed this portion of the story immensly but would have liked more psychological development of the time when Nalen was the police chief.
Toward the end of the novel, when the reason behind the murder's actions are unraveled, this reader would have liked a better resolution. However, I feel that Blanchard was giving a lesson that all things in life do not come to satisfactory endings and justice doesn't always prevail.
Hurricane Katrina smashes into New Orleans with the "...explosive force several times greater than the atom bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945."
The tid...moreHurricane Katrina smashes into New Orleans with the "...explosive force several times greater than the atom bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945."
The tidal surge explodes the levee system and devastates much of New Orleans. Harderst hit of all is the Ninth Ward, an area occupied by many of the poor members of the city.
People filled the roads in their automobiles attempting to escape the storm and authorities were telling those left behing to come to the Convention Center. However, there were no services there. Bodies were left outside, toilets didn't work, there was little food or water and the suffering was extreme.
Looting began and four black men broke into a number of homes that had withstood the storm. One home belonged to one of the more notorious gangsters in the city, Sidney Kovik. The looters took money, a gun, drugs and diamonds that were hidden behind the walls of the home.
Three of these looters were meth dealers and rapists. Other men were organizing into vigilante groups to protect their homes. Outside of Otis Baylor's home, his daughter recognized two of the looters as the men who had raped her.
When one of the looters lights his cigarette lighter, a shot comes from the dark, killing of of the looters and crippling another.
This tremendous novel details the heartakes and demolishing of New Orleans after Katrina. The reader experiences the feeling of the city residents' desolation and frustration as we follow the hunt for the remaining two thieves by people who want to regain what had been stolen.
Dave Robicheaux becomes involved and shares our sorrow about the circumstances. The action includes his daughter, Alfair, and his friend, Clete Purcell.
This is a can't put down book whose story will enthrall and haunt the reader.(less)
This warm, family saga takes place in New York just prior to WWI.
Roger Gale is a 60 year old with three daughters. His wife, Judith, died and he doesn...moreThis warm, family saga takes place in New York just prior to WWI.
Roger Gale is a 60 year old with three daughters. His wife, Judith, died and he doesn't see much meaning to life although he remembers his wife's words. "Out life goes on in the lives of our children."
Roger's eldest, Ethel, is expecting her 5th child, Deborah at age 29 is a school principal, and Laura is the youngest, and his favorite. Her zest for life amazes him. He says, "She even danced in restaurants."
One day, Laura surprises Roger, announcing she's getting married. It saddens him to think that his baby is leaving hime but he also feels that she hasn't given this step much thought.
Poole describes New York at this time of growth from the emergence of new high rises, to Roger's enjoyment of riding his horse through Central Park.
We can consider how the world has changed in the last 90 years when Laura's suitor, Harold, tells Roger that he can make Laura happy. He boasts. "Twenty two thousand this year ... we can live on that..."
Poole's writing is supurb. The story is well told and we follow the progress of the family. It is also enjoyable reading the descriptions of the carefree time prior to the war. The writer's phrases also are intelligent and memorable. When Roger is discussing Laura's wedding with Deborah, "Queer, how a man can neglect his children...when the thing he wants most in life is to see each one happy."
Laura's wedding comes and goes, Ethel and her attorney husband have their child. Roger and Deborah have the house to themselves, each wondering how lonely things will be without Lauran's energetic presence.
Roger wants to learn more of what Deborah does and visits her school. He meets Johnny Geer, an 18 year old with a crippeling ailment. Roger is impressed with Johnny's bravery and ambition and gives him a job and invites him to live at his home. Deborah becomes serious about Dr. Allain Baird and Roger asks Allain if anything can be done for Johnny. No, it's gone too far, Johnny may not have long to live and there is a time coming that people will have to guard their children even before they are born. (This seems like an early indication of the necessity of prenatal care.)
Roger continues to support Johnny, Laura returns from Europe, without revealing an important part of the plot, something happens to a member of the family.
When the war begins, Roger's business is hit hard, his children ask for more financial help but Roger finds that he is poor. Deborah has enough but gives much to support her poor students.
The last quarter of the novel becomes sintimental. Johnny has a business idea that turns things around. The boy with a crippeling disease becoming a successful businessman adds a Dickinsian aspect to the story.
Wonderful ending that leaves the reader fulfilled.
Alice Adams is a twenty two year old woman from a middle class family in the American midwest at the turn of the 20th cnetury.
She wants to shine in so...moreAlice Adams is a twenty two year old woman from a middle class family in the American midwest at the turn of the 20th cnetury.
She wants to shine in society but her family doesn't have the financial means to provide her with the necessary props to compete with the woman she wants to impress. For the dance she is attending, she doesn't have a date so coerces her brother to take her, she doesn't have a dress that's in the latest fashion so her mother sews some lace on an old dress in attempt to modernize it, she also doesn't have the money for flowers from a florist so picks violets and by the time of the dance, they have withered and died.
The central theme of the novel is getting ahead in society, moving up both financially and socially.
Alice is reminiscent of another great heroine, Scarlett O'Hara from "Gone With The Wind." Both women strive to move up in society. They both want to capture the most eligible bachelor, even if that person is promised to another. Both women have father's who are past their time and live in a dream world.
Alice's father, Virgil, is a sympathetic character, seemingly content with his life but pushed to give up his passive existance and follow his wife's dreams of financial and social advancement, even at the betrayal of his former employer, an old and trusting friend.(less)
4 1/2 stars. It is 1921, England is still recovering from WWI and war wounded are seen throughout the land. What cannot be seen are those who are psych...more4 1/2 stars. It is 1921, England is still recovering from WWI and war wounded are seen throughout the land. What cannot be seen are those who are psychologically wounded and in need of care.
To prove the point, in Surrey, Colonel Fletcher, his wife and two of his staff are murdered.
Local police believe that it is a case of violent robbery. However, Inspector John Madden is called in from Scotland Yard. He views the scene and knows that it is something more. He's spent time in the trenches and knows that this is a crime of a phychopath who will probably strike again.
John Madden is a well developed protagonist. He's knowledgeable and determined to find the killer. His personal history is gradually introduced so that the reader gets a chance to know him and sympathise with him as a character. The respect with which he is held by his assiatant, Billy Styles, gives credibility to Madden's keen knowledge of people and of crime.
The setting is rural England with its hedges and gardens. It is nicely described and realistic.
As is the case with many soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan today, the author seems to be telling his readers that post tramatic stress syndrome is not understood and can have a major psychological impact on a person.
Dove Linkhorn, son of a preacher, is an uneducated sixteen year old on the Texas Mexican border. He asis a Mexican waitress, Terasina, to teach him to...moreDove Linkhorn, son of a preacher, is an uneducated sixteen year old on the Texas Mexican border. He asis a Mexican waitress, Terasina, to teach him to read the Sunday papers. He does mechanical work for truckers who stop at the restaurant and is so green that after doing lengthy work for one trucker, when asked his price, Dove gives such a low figure that Terasina corrects him. She tells the trucker a more realistic price and reminds him to give the boy a tip.
The novel describes the hard times that the working people have and how they overcome them. It takes place in the Texas and New Orleans vicinity during the 1930's depression.
We follow Dove as he goes from one encounter to another. He steals rides on railroad cars, meets a seventeen year old girl who is a runaway. The girl tells him that one day she'll marry a pick-pocket and settle down. There are also attempts by a Marine recruiter to sign Dove up and we watch Dove as he gets a non union job on the docks.
There is a scattering of jobs as Dove learns what he must do to survive in this depression time. However, we aren't given insight into Dove's thoughts as in Steinbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath." I felt that the novel was disjointed but does give a picture of a time in history that is important to understand.(less)
Dr. Frigo is the nickname of Dr. Ernesto Castillo. His father either died or was assassinated and was a leading figure in the Democratic Socialist Par...moreDr. Frigo is the nickname of Dr. Ernesto Castillo. His father either died or was assassinated and was a leading figure in the Democratic Socialist Party in St. Paul-les Alizes. With his death, ledership in the party would normally go to Ernest.
With this in mind, Ernesto is summoned to Commissaire Gillon's office to defend himeslf and assure the Commissaire that he had no interest in politics.
Manuel Villegas, who leads the Mexican group from the party and Segura Rojas, a compatriot of Dr. Castillo's father, return to the Island.
Ernesto has a mistress, Elizabeth Martens, who gives him advice. She believes that the French Secret Service needs a victory and wants to control Villegas.
A CIA agent approaches Ernesto and offers him a bribe. Castillo is persuaded that if he wants to know how his father died, he will pretend to go along with Rojas and Villegas.
Villegas had been in Mexico because he was exiled there by the junta that overthrew Catilllo's father. His health isn't good and Gillon and the CIA agent think that if they get inside information about his health from Castillo, they will have an advantage.
The story is told in narrative form and there is little drama or suspense. It's more in a style of learning the facts from newspaper articles, simply put to the readers to let them draw their own conclusions. The style reminded me of Graham Greene in "The Honorary Consul."
For a novel written in 1974, it was interesting to see what was accepted as crime literature or mystery novels at the time.(less)
Jim Dixon is a lecturer in Medieval Studies and a bumbler.
He has one girl that he considers his girlfriend but also likes another lecturer, Margaret,...moreJim Dixon is a lecturer in Medieval Studies and a bumbler.
He has one girl that he considers his girlfriend but also likes another lecturer, Margaret, who is staying at his boss, Professor Welch's home. Professor Welch is the head of the history department and thinks everyone should bow down to him. Margaret is at his house becuase she is recovering from a half-hearted attempt at suicide when her former boyfriend dumped her.
Jim's job is in jepordy and he doesn't know what to do to protect it. However, he knows he has to keep Professor Welch happy. So he spends time with him and accepts an invitation to the Professors home for an evening of singing, music playing and acting. In all these activities, Jim is terrible and ends up at a village pub to drown his sorrow.
Margaret is a fellow lecturer and latches onto Jim. Jim wonders why, when he takes Margaret out, she doesn't offer to pay her own way, at least sometime since she makes as much money as he does.
Jim tells a friend that he only took the job as a lecturer in Medieval Studies to get a position and admits to his friend that this is an area that he hates.
The novel is written with English dry humor as one of the features but the humor escaped me. I found Jim was an unsympathetic character and I didn't care what became of him or the other characters. (less)
Very different book, a man who failed in life, moves into a mausoleum at a cemetery and lives on food that is brought to him by a bird.
He becomes inte...moreVery different book, a man who failed in life, moves into a mausoleum at a cemetery and lives on food that is brought to him by a bird.
He becomes interested in the story of a young professor who died early. The character, Mr. Rebeck is able to communicate with the newly dead and this man tells him that his beautiful wife murdered him.
Then, the man and Mr. Rebeck speak to a woman who died at age 29. She worked at a bookstore clerk and tells her story.
Another character who plays a significant role is Mr. Klapper who was at the cemetery to visit her husband's grave. She meets Mr. Rebeck and takes an interest in him.
The benefit of the story, to me was the unique characters but the gloomy part of living in a cemetery was a bit too much for me-at an old age and dealing with my own health.
Claude Wheeler is a Nebraska farm boy living in the time just before WWI. He is sensitive and isn't sure of what he wants in his life.
As the story beg...moreClaude Wheeler is a Nebraska farm boy living in the time just before WWI. He is sensitive and isn't sure of what he wants in his life.
As the story begins, Claude is living at the family farm. He is attending the college that his parents picked for him after the family was visited by a man his mother calls "Brother Whelan." Temple College in Nebraska is the school and Claude is sent to live with Weldon and Weldon's sister. Claud's rental payments will help the Weldon family maintain their financial stabilit.
Claude doesn't like the school and doesn't care for Weldon's clinging sister. He'd rather be going to the State University. When he finally persuades his parents to permit him to attend the State U. his view of the world widens. He also meets Julius Erlich and becomes friends with Julius' family. They seem to enjoy life and are able to talk of more meaningful things. Julius' mother becomes particularly fond of Claude and includes him in many family gatherings.
His father calls him home to work on the farm where Claude takes control. He's sensitive and shy but spends much time with Enid Royce, the daughter of the grain merchant. One day, Claude is injured and while at home recuperating, Enid visited daily. This eventually led to more feelings and the couple decided to marry.
When the war breaks out, the people around Claude don't know much about European history. As the war expands, Claude's father suggests that Claude call his friend, Ernest, A German immigrant, to see what the Bohemian papers are saying. When the German army invades Lousembourg, Claude wasn't sure where it was and if it was a city or a country.
The story is told in narrative style with a theme of America's innocence in world matters prior to the country's entry into the war. It details how this sensitive farm boy becomes a new army lieutenant, helping his men, as many of them become sick on the voyage to Europe.
The author has done a nice job describing a moment in history and how the mid-America's attitude toward war and worldwide matters changed.
A fine detailing of a turning point in WWII. The narrative descriptions are so well done it's as if Walter Cronkite had returned to TV for another epi...moreA fine detailing of a turning point in WWII. The narrative descriptions are so well done it's as if Walter Cronkite had returned to TV for another episode of You Are There.
The history is told from both the U.S. and Japanese point of view while the author gives meaning to what the struggle means to the people of both countries. It also reveals the heroism of so many young fighter pilots who attacked the Japanese fleet with outdated airoplanes while the surperor Japanese zeros outmanuvered and shot so many down.
It gives a feel of pride to see how the bravery and determination of the U.S. fliers resulted in the final victory.(less)