I really enjoyed reading this book. I loved the setting, I loved the characters, I loved how the storyline pulled me in and didn’t let me go until theI really enjoyed reading this book. I loved the setting, I loved the characters, I loved how the storyline pulled me in and didn’t let me go until the last page was turned. It had unique characters, well researched back story, and of course a killer on the loose to help spice things up as the death toll keeps climbing. Between the mystery and suspense surrounding this small baby abandoned on a church door step, to the believable relationship and build up between Reverend Clare and Chief Alystyne (will they? won’t they?) it ended up being quite a page turner and I was up late into the night on several occasions because I could not put this book down.
My own mother-in-law is a pastor and so I have some up close and personal experience with the special problems and situations a female member of the clergy can experience in relations to her church and the community. I loved how well researched that aspect was. Everything from how church meetings can be, to how it is visiting shut ins, from marriage counseling to community outreach to last rites was all done realistically and believably. I found myself laughing out loud at the members of the council complaining when Clare runs roughshod over their meeting with her agenda saying things like: we always do this on Wednesdays not today, we always do things in this order, we never do outreach like this, etc. That is very, very like most churches. They never have a good reason (efficiency, sanctity, fiscal responsibility) for why they do things, the reason is almost always just that this is how it's always been done. My favorite line is when she complains to herself that hiring a female pastor was probably going to be the most risque thing they were going to do for the next ten years. Again, that is spot on with a lot of churches.
I also loved the description and the setting of this small town in New York. There were times when I was literally shivering in cold along with the characters. The way everything from the snow, to the wind, to the temperature was very well described and painted a backdrop that made you want to reach for a blanket every time. The characters also were very well done and each had their own individuality, I loved how with just a few lines everyone from an old shut in who is more than meets the eye, to a dirty child playing in a trashy yard was brought to vivid life. And, all of the characters were shown as the deeply complex people that we are, deep secrets, conflicting motives, desires, fears and all.
Some things bothered me though. Like how a pastor in any church was going to be able to have so much free time right around Christmas time, one of the busiest times of years for members of the clergy. Despite all of the planning and sermon writing and decorating and getting ready for the holiday she still had lots of time to spend with the Police Chief and getting into all sorts of trouble with this baby that was abandoned on her church doorstep and the mystery and murders that follow it. Granted she was ex-military so perhaps that explains some of her actions. She doesn't just feel obligated as a member of the clergy in the community but also feels impelled by her training in the military as well. I know that at least shines through in some parts.
The other thing worrying me a little was the budding understanding and almost romance between Clare and Russ, especially considering he is a married man. I will say this though, after reading so much YA romance, with poor relationship building, the very real relationship that is depicted between Clare and Russ based on actual experiences, trust and mutual understanding was very nice to read about. I won't say much more on this subject but will say that it will be interesting seeing how things develop and unfold throughout the rest of this series as, yes, this is the first in a series of mysteries that centers around Clare and Russ.
In spite of and through all of that I really enjoyed reading In The Bleak Midwinter and am looking forward to the next book in the series. I really enjoyed this mystery, and all of the wonderful twists and turns the story took. I ended up being totally surprised by the ending, though that was in some small part because I wasn't paying nearly enough attention to certain characters in the beginning to realize their importance by the end, though now that I look back it was being hinted at all along! I love mysteries that do that!...more
The book A Play of Knaves is one of a series of historical mysteries that follow the player Joliffe as he ends up in a variety of situations that requThe book A Play of Knaves is one of a series of historical mysteries that follow the player Joliffe as he ends up in a variety of situations that require some serious sleuthing to stay out of trouble.
While it is not difficult to follow and enjoy the mystery of A Play of Knaves without having read the rest of the series, some of the introspection of the main character seemed misplaced because I had not read earlier works and had not yet formed a connection of any sort with Joliffe. I still felt like I hadn't by the end of the book either. It is very apparent that there is an arc through the series following Joliffe and this was just one small part of it, but since I was reading a book somewhere in the middle it ended up being just confusing to have those themes thrown in.
The historical mystery on its own was a fun read. I don't know much about the period so I'm not sure what of it is accurate and what not, but the characters were lively and fun and the mystery was definitely interesting, though I wouldn't call it gripping by any means. The dialogue was definitely not accurate for the times, but that was probably a blessing considering the year. A lot of the circumstance and background for a band of traveling players in the 1400's ended up being pretty interesting. And, the humor of the book was at times laugh out loud funny as their performances were described, plus they often had license to poke fun at figures in society that the average person could not.
A Play of Knaves was a light and fun read but might I suggest starting with A Play of Issac? That might make things make a lot more sense and you can follow Joliffe the player from the very beginning....more
These mysteries turned out to be tough! You read the beginning of the mystery and then had to guess the end yourself. To check to see if you were righThese mysteries turned out to be tough! You read the beginning of the mystery and then had to guess the end yourself. To check to see if you were right you had to flip to the back of the book to read the solution. We got to be pretty good towards the middle and end of the novel at really reading the short stories and trying to pick up on all of the clues. There were a few things working against us though.
The first was that the book was written in 2002, so there were a few things that have changed in those years that made a mystery's clues obsolete. This was particularly true of the ones that involved computers. Also, as far as the computer based ones went, we ended up thinking WAY TOO HARD about the clues and it was always something obvious and safe that someone totally computer illiterate would have been able to get. Which was probably the safest way to go back then. Though, again, technology has changed and advanced since then and in some ways, even for 2002, there were things that just weren't taken into consideration because the technology wasn't main stream enough for the audience (though it would have been perfect for the crooks involved).
There was an excellent cross section of mysteries involved, some dating from the Victorian period on up to our techy modern day, some involving detectives, some insurance officers, some police, some the military. There is something for everyone in this short book, but it's definitely a brain stretcher that should be done with friends. It is particularly fun to read one and figure it out in advance and then sit back and be smug while you watch someone else go through the same leaps (and missteps) in logic that you did to solve it.
Rated three stars because it's not as much fun to read and figure it out on your own, and because of the dated references that the writer couldn't help but that did make one or two of the mysteries impossible to solve.
Of course, it happened again. I know, I know... it was my own fault. What's so irritating is that, even as it was coming out of my mouth, I clued in that whoever shot the eland, it wasn't Hank Lipsett. But that didn't stop Domie from shaking his head like I'm some kind of idiot, or stop him either from saying, "Missed some elementary stuff, my dear Watson, didn't you?"...more
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is a series of short stories written by Arthur Conan Doyle to be published in serial format in The Strand Magazine.The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is a series of short stories written by Arthur Conan Doyle to be published in serial format in The Strand Magazine. They are each complete unto themself, so if you missed one you could still go out and get the next one without much of a bother. The character Sherlock Holmes became much beloved in England over this and people even wrote into the magazine asking if he was a real man (to which the editor gave a suitably vague response). Sherlock Holmes solves mysteries through logic and observation, and oftentimes just had to hear about a case to piece together what happened, he is famous for his large magnifying glass, his tall lanky figure, and of course his pipe. His is still the figure people think of when they think of a detective even today.
The plots are sometimes weak, but often intricate and they leave you guessing until the final plot twist at the end as to who did what and how. Occasionally you can guess early just what is going on but you still want to read on because you find you care about what happens to Holmes and Watson and whatever other innocents become involved in the case and you need to see what happens next! If you love mysteries you need to give this classic an honest try. It's highly readable, and well worth a go. You won't be disappointed....more