The Woman in Black: A Ghost Story is a classic Gothic horror story set in the early 1900s. As a young solicitor, Arthur Kipps was sent to Crythin GiffThe Woman in Black: A Ghost Story is a classic Gothic horror story set in the early 1900s. As a young solicitor, Arthur Kipps was sent to Crythin Gifford, a small fictional town on England's marshy, northeast coast. He has to settle the estate of a woman who lived in the isolated Eel Marsh House. The secluded old home is accessible only during low tide, and visible only when the fog breaks. The story builds psychologically into terror using atmospheric descriptions, isolation, a bog with areas of quicksand, and an angry paranormal presence set on revenge.
A few words of advice: Don't read this book right before you're planning to sleep, or the Woman in Black might haunt your dreams....more
Leaving Time tells about coping with loss and grieving in the human and animal worlds. Jenna Metcalf is a precocious teenager searching for her motherLeaving Time tells about coping with loss and grieving in the human and animal worlds. Jenna Metcalf is a precocious teenager searching for her mother who disappeared ten years ago after a coworker was trampled to death at an elephant refuge. Her father cannot help her since he has been residing at a psychiatric hospital since that day. Jenna lives with her grandmother who does not want to talk about her mother. Jenna felt that her mother had loved her, so she can't understand why she left Jenna behind. She enlists the help of Serenity, a psychic, and Virgil, an ex-cop turned private detective with a taste for alcohol.
Jenna's mother was Alice, an elephant researcher in Botswana, who was studying grief in elephants. Alice married Thomas Metcalf who managed the New England Elephant Sanctuary in New Hampshire which cared for older, abused elephants from zoos and circuses. After Jenna was born, Thomas began to show signs of mental illness and Alice feared for her safety.
The information about elephants is based on actual research done in Africa, and at an elephant refuge in Tennessee. The elephants treat their deceased with reverence, keeping a vigil for days and covering them with leaves and branches. There is truth to the phrase, "an elephant never forgets", and they undergo a long grieving process. There is a lifelong strong maternal bond between the mother and her calf. In Alice's voice, information is also related about elephant poachers who kill them for their valuable ivory tusks.
The story is told through multiple points of view with many flashbacks. The themes of the maternal bond and grief run through the book. The investigation of Alice's disappearance by Jenna, Serenity, and Virgil has a paranormal element, and a bit of comedy between the wisecracking psychic and the sarcastic detective. The author blends all these elements together fairly well, and tops it off with a good twist at the end. ...more
"You're no angel, you know how this stuff comes to happen: Friday is payday and it's been a gray day sogged by a slow ugly rain and you seek company i"You're no angel, you know how this stuff comes to happen: Friday is payday and it's been a gray day sogged by a slow ugly rain and you seek company in your gloom, and since you're fresh to West Table, Mo., and a new hand at the dog-food factory, your choices for company are narrow but you find some finally in a trailer court on East Main...." Sammy Barlach, a loser ex-con who had a hard start in life, is hoping to find a place where he belongs when he moves to the rural Missouri town. He gets talked into breaking into a vacant mansion by the trailer court crowd that soon abandons him. In the mansion he meets a brother and sister who have also broken in. Jamalee Merridew, a 19-year-old with tomato red hair, has ambitions to rise out of poverty and live like the high class people who own the home. She's hoping her gorgeous 17-year-old brother Jason will be her ticket out of the poor Venus Holler section of West Table. Jason's got all the rich women lusting after him, but he does not return their feelings. Jamalee and Jason have been marked as white trash since their mother is a prostitute.
Sammy, the narrator of the story, gets taken in by the Merridews, and gets entangled in their lives. There are class conflicts between the rich and the poor, and we know who has the power and the resources. Sammy seems to have low expectations, looking at life with a bit of humor, but with a hint of violence and danger under the surface. Jamalee is very angry about how people treat her, and reads etiquette books, hoping for a better life.
Both the descriptions and the dialogue are offbeat, sometimes dark and sometimes humorous, with a Ozark country flavor. Although this is a short book, Daniel Woodrell's characters will be hard to forget....more
The Norwegian ambassador, a friend of the Prime Minister, has been found in a Bangkok motel/brothel with a knife in his back. The Norwegian governmentThe Norwegian ambassador, a friend of the Prime Minister, has been found in a Bangkok motel/brothel with a knife in his back. The Norwegian government has requested that detective Harry Hole fly to Thailand to work on the case with the Thai police. Why was the depressed alcoholic Hole chosen? There are politicians that want to cover up the sordid details, and they feel the self-destructive Hole will be too busy drowning his sorrows to do a thorough investigation. But Harry sobers up, and looks deeply into the dealings of a group of corrupt Norwegian expats. The fast-paced plot has lots of twists and turns as Hole ferrets out the murderer.
The story shows lots of local color in the seedy streets of Bangkok--the world of prostitutes, drug dealers, opium dens, and pornographers. Traffic is out of control as drivers muscle their way through congested roads like a swarm of insects.
Harry found cockroaches in his room. He had "read that they hide when they hear the vibrations of someone approaching and that for every cockroach you can see there are at least ten hiding. That meant they were everywhere." It seemed that society's "cockroaches" were also everywhere in the corrupt underworld.
Cockroaches is the second Harry Hole novel. The series of books by Jo Nesbo was translated into English starting with the third book, The Redbreast. His first two books, The Bat and Cockroaches, were translated later, and give the reader some of the back story of the damaged detective.
3.5 stars rounded up to 4 Henbane is a small impoverished rural town in the Ozarks where people seem to take justice in their own hands, and crime is o3.5 stars rounded up to 4 Henbane is a small impoverished rural town in the Ozarks where people seem to take justice in their own hands, and crime is overlooked. The ineffectual members of the police force are probably related to almost everyone in town. Lila, an orphan from Iowa who had just aged out of Social Services, was hired by Crete Dane to work at his farm and store. Fascinated by the exotically beautiful outsider, townspeople were soon spreading rumors that Lila was a witch. With no one to turn to for help, Lila finds herself in great danger as her "job description" changes. Fortunately, she soon is married with a baby daughter, Lucy. But Lila still lives with the fear of violence so she risks her life:
"I had something more to fight for now, something bigger than my own life. My daughter. Lucy. I could go...and put an end to the one thing that threatened to destroy my family."
Lucy's story as a seventeen-year-old girl living with her father is intertwined with the chapters about her mother, Lila. Henbane was no safer for young women of Lucy's generation than it was during her mother's life. People went missing, bodies disappeared, crimes were hidden, and silence reigned. When Lucy finds a piece of jewelry belonging to her friend Cherie who disappeared, she tries to uncover information about Cherie's last days. She finds that the beautiful Missouri forests are hiding many secrets. Her father, her new boyfriend, and her honorary grandmother Birdie try to keep her safe, but Lucy steps straight into danger. Throughout the story, family ties--the weight of blood--influence decisions people make, both right and wrong. Birdie told her:
"You grow up feeling the weight of blood, of family. There's no forsaking kin. But you can't help when kin forsakes you or when strangers come to be family....Now, it ain't my place to tell you what to think of your own family, but you've got to look past what you've always been taught and listen to what you know in your bones to be true."
This book was a real page-turner that was hard to put down. The story transports the reader to the Ozarks with its atmospheric descriptions, and depictions of people living in poverty. Although Lila's story seemed very real, occasionally Lucy's actions seemed too incredibly reckless. (If she had seen other pretty girls disappear, wouldn't she think she would be in the same danger?) But the story certainly kept me in suspense....more