Another solid entry in the Cormoran Strike series. I love Robin, Cormoran's resourceful secretary, who wants to learn about surveillance and become moAnother solid entry in the Cormoran Strike series. I love Robin, Cormoran's resourceful secretary, who wants to learn about surveillance and become more than a mere secretary. J.K. Rowling skewers the publishing industry with this bizarre and macabre story. It's so macabre it's almost funny. Her characters are fully realized and memorable. The plot once again kept me guessing. I definitely look forward to more in this series.
Book description: When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. At first, she just thinks he has gone off by himself for a few days -- as he has done before -- and she wants Strike to find him and bring him home. But as Strike investigates, it becomes clear that there is more to Quine's disappearance than his wife realizes. The novelist has just completed a manuscript featuring poisonous pen-portraits of almost everyone he knows. If the novel is published, it will ruin lives -- so there are a lot of people who might want to silence him. And when Quine is found brutally murdered in bizarre circumstances, it becomes a race against time to understand the motivation of a ruthless killer, a killer unlike any Strike has encountered before.
Series info: #2 in the Cormoran Strike series. See The Cuckoo's Calling....more
I really liked this book. Mystery, suspense, engaging characters, humor, and a satisfying ending. I didn't guess the murderer, although he was one ofI really liked this book. Mystery, suspense, engaging characters, humor, and a satisfying ending. I didn't guess the murderer, although he was one of my "suspects." I had wondered about him, but I was still considering several other possibilities by the time the author revealed it. Comoran is a tough-guy wounded veteran, down-and-out, and somewhat cranky, but he has a good heart. With Robin, his temp secretary, I couldn't help but think of "Batman and Robin". Their relationship is wonderful - Robin turns out to be a very adept and enthusiastic partner. J.K. Rowling, writing as Galbraith, is no stranger to the lives of the rich and famous and the papparazi. She brings all of that to life, and the narrator, Robert Glenister, does the same with the various character's voices.
Book Description: After losing his leg to a land mine in Afghanistan, Cormoran Strike is barely scraping by as a private investigator. Strike is down to one client, and creditors are calling. He has also just broken up with his longtime girlfriend and is living in his office. Then John Bristow walks through his door with an amazing story: His sister, the legendary supermodel Lula Landry, known to her friends as the Cuckoo, famously fell to her death a few months earlier. The police ruled it a suicide, but John refuses to believe that. The case plunges Strike into the world of multimillionaire beauties, rock-star boyfriends, and desperate designers, and it introduces him to every variety of pleasure, enticement, seduction, and delusion known to man.
Series info: 1. The Cuckoo's Calling ------------------------------ 2. The Silkworm
I loved this even more than the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency. Set in the 50s during great political unrest, the Congo is still under Belgian controlI loved this even more than the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency. Set in the 50s during great political unrest, the Congo is still under Belgian control where oppressive overlords are busy stripping the land of its most valuable resource: diamonds. The author draws on her own experiences growing up with her missionary parents among a tribe then still known to practice headhunting. Interesting characters, lots of humor as Amanda and her newly hired housekeeper, Cripple, get to know each other and try to understand their different cultures. Lots of interesting characters, sometimes a little difficult to keep straight, but I will definitely keep reading this series.
Book description: The Congo beckons to young Amanda Brown in 1958, as she follows her missionary calling to the mysterious "dark continent" far from her South Carolina home. But her enthusiasm cannot cushion her from the shock of a very foreign culture—where competing missionaries are as plentiful as flies, and oppressive European overlords are busy stripping the land of its most valuable resource: diamonds. Little by little, Amanda is drawn into the lives of the villagers in tiny Belle Vue—and she is touched by the plight of the local witch doctor, a man known as Their Death, who has been forced to take a second job as a yardman to support his two wives. But when First Wife stumbles upon an impossibly enormous uncut gem, events are set in motion that threaten to devastate the lives of these people Amanda has come to admire and love—events that could lead to nothing less than murder.
Series info: Amanda Brown series #1 The Witch Doctor's Wife --------------------------- #2 The Headhunter's Daughter #3 The Boy Who Stole the Leopard's Spots #4 The Girl Who Married an Eagle...more
This is a period romance wrapped up as an okay country-house-type murder mystery, and the background of Lady Darby is intriguing. The author does workThis is a period romance wrapped up as an okay country-house-type murder mystery, and the background of Lady Darby is intriguing. The author does work in some interesting historical details (Burke and Hare, jigsaw puzzles), but the setting in the Scottish highlands, near Inverness, just doesn't work. I couldn't figure out the social background of these people, and what they were doing in Scotland. There was nothing Scottish about any of it, certainly none of the names given to the characters. Kiera is decidedly a late 20th-century Irish name, Alana and Greer are also 20th-century names. There are other anachronisms (summer squash soup?, raccoons in 19th-century Scotland?, comparisons of eyebrows to cotton blooming?) and the dialog is far too modern. On the whole, I found the characters to be very flat -- even the future love interest, Mr. Gage. The romance angle is very cliche. Maybe it is a notch above the usual Harlequin's judging by the number of 4 and 5-star reviews on Amazon, but I prefer more realistic meat to my historical reading. I read this for my "Wife books" challenge, and I won't be reading any more of the series.
Book Description: Scotland, 1830. Following the death of her husband, Lady Darby has taken refuge at her sister's estate, finding solace in her passion for painting. But when her hosts throw a house party for the cream of London society, Kiera is unable to hide from the ire of those who believe her to be as unnatural as her husband, an anatomist who used her artistic talents to suit his own macabre purposes. Kiera wants to put her past aside, but when one of the house guests is murdered, her brother-in-law asks her to utilize her knowledge of human anatomy to aid the insufferable Sebastian Gage--a fellow guest with some experience as an inquiry agent. While Gage is clearly more competent than she first assumed, Kiera isn't about to let her guard down as accusations and rumors swirl. When Kiera and Gage's search leads them to even more gruesome discoveries, a series of disturbing notes urges Lady Darby to give up the inquiry. But Kiera is determined to both protect her family and prove her innocence, even as she risks becoming the next victim...
Series info: Lady Darby mysteries: 1. The Anatomist's Wife ------------------------------ 2. Mortal Arts 3. A Grave Matter...more
In this third book in the Father Christmas mystery series, we take a break from the village of Thornford Regis. This one takes place at a manor houseIn this third book in the Father Christmas mystery series, we take a break from the village of Thornford Regis. This one takes place at a manor house where Father Tom is participating in a skydiving event to raise money for his church. Unable to leave after he sprains his ankle, he becomes involved with the local aristocracy - a very disfunctional and unlikeable family. The tangle of family relationships seems much more straightforward after getting to know so many local villagers in the first two books. I did not feel the need to keep notes on the various characters this time around. We do see the return of several characters from book one - the brother of his vanished verger (Sebastian John), Lord Kirkbride (Jamie) and his wife, Jane (nee Bee). I have just found out that Jane Bee was the subject of three prior books by C.C. Benison (Death at Buckingham Palace) so I am off to find those...
Father Tom is accompanied by his daughter, Miranda, and his housekeeper, Madrun, who continues to write LOL funny letters to her mother throughout the story. I continue to find this series well-plotted, if a tad on the long side, humorous, thought-provoking, and satisfying. A bit expensive as ebooks, but I will definitely be rereading them, probably at Christmas time even though they really don't have anything to do with Christmas.
Book Description: Although Father Tom Christmas serves his little church in enchanting Thornford Regis with a glad and faithful heart, he never expects to find himself skydiving to raise money for it. Nor, safely back on the ground, to see two of the other divers leap from the plane, then tangle in a midair punch-up and begin falling to the earth. To say that there is tension between the men in question—Oliver, the 7th Marquess of Morborne, and his brother-in-law Hector, the 10th Earl of Fairhaven—would be an understatement. But the trouble among this ancient landed family really began a generation ago, when a marquess divorced his first spouse to marry his brother’s wife, fathering in his two marriages a viper’s nest of arrogant young aristocrats. Now they have all turned up for the show to witness this shocking event in the sky. Thankfully the men land safely, but death will not be slighted. Much to Father Tom’s dismay, he later discovers Lord Morborne lying deceased on castle grounds. Rumors of bigamy, art forgeries, and upstairs/downstairs intrigue fly. So do whispers of unvicarly behavior between Tom and Oliver’s beautiful half-sister, Lady Lucinda. In fact, the vicar may be headed for a very hard landing of his own.
Series info: Book 3 of the Father Christmas mysteries (Twelve Drummers Drumming)...more
Main characters: Princess Elizabeth, Kate Haywood - musician
First paragraph, Prologue: "It was a frozen, graSetting: England, Hatfield House
Main characters: Princess Elizabeth, Kate Haywood - musician
First paragraph, Prologue: "It was a frozen, gray day. The sun hid behind roiling banks of clouds and sent not even a ray of reassuring light to the earth below, which was eerily silent. There were no shouts in the streets, no cries from merchants selling hot cider or roasted almonds, no quarrels or laughter. The river was empty of boats, and the crowds on London Bridge scurried on their business with their muffled heads down."
Description: 1558. Kate Haywood, a simple musician in the employ of a princess, will find herself involved in games of crowns as she sets out to solve the murder of the queen’s envoy. England is in tumult under the rule of Queen Mary and her Spanish husband. Confined to house arrest at Hatfield House, young Princess Elizabeth is the country’s greatest hope. Far from court intrigues, Elizabeth finds solace in simple things: the quiet countryside and peaceful recreation, including the melodies of her chief musician and his daughter, Kate Haywood. But Kate will prove herself most valuable when an envoy of the queen—sent to flush out heretics in the princess’s household—is found dead on the grounds of Hatfield. Acting as Elizabeth’s eyes and ears, Kate is sent out on the trail of a killer whose mission could destroy her family, friends—and the future of England.
About the author:
Series info: #1 Murder at Hatfield House #2 Murder at Westminster Abbey (April 2014)...more
Erin Hart may be a "midwesterner" but she has obviously spent a great deal of time in Ireland and has immersed herself in the history, music, and cultErin Hart may be a "midwesterner" but she has obviously spent a great deal of time in Ireland and has immersed herself in the history, music, and culture of Ireland. Her debut book in the Nora Gavin series is a wonderful blend of science, history and folklore. Nora and Cormac track down local elders and musicians in their search for answers to mysteries old and new. The plot and characters are complex, she does a great job with creating atmosphere, and there are plenty of red herrings to keep the reader guessing. The romance between Nora and Cormac is understated and undeveloped, and presumably will develop in future books. I didn't find it added anything and could have been left out. There is also the (unsolved) background mystery of the murder of Nora's sister. So I'll give it 3 stars with room to grow.
Book description: Read by Jennifer McMahon. When farmers cutting turf in an Irish peat bog make a grisly discovery - the perfectly intact head of a young woman with long red hair - Irish archaeologist Cormac Maguire and American pathologist Nora Gavin are thrown together by their shared scientific interest in human remains. Because of the preservative effect of the bog, it is difficult to tell whether the head has lain there for two decades, two centuries, or two millennia. As they dig into the mystery of the red-haired girl, they are drawn into the two-year-old disappearance of a landowner's wife and young son. The story delves through the many layers of Ireland's turbulent past, tracing the still-visible footprints of fortified tower houses and ancient burial mounds, ever mindful of the eternal, subliminal connections between past and present.
Series info: #1 Haunted Ground --------------------------------- #2 Lake of Sorrows #3 False Mermaid #4 The Book of Killowen...more
A Simon & Elizabeth Mystery : Book One. Setting: Hampstead Castle, London Time: 1546
Main characters: Elizabeth Tudor (daughter of Henry VIII, futureA Simon & Elizabeth Mystery : Book One. Setting: Hampstead Castle, London Time: 1546
Main characters: Elizabeth Tudor (daughter of Henry VIII, future Elizabeth I, Queen of England) - age 13; Simon Malden, son of the court physician at Hampstead Castle, age 14; Hugh Bellows, captain of the Welsh Guard.
First paragraph, Chapter One: Simon heard the cries as they climbed the steep hill to the castle. Screams vibrated with pain and panic, fluctuating between wordless shrieks and "No, don't!" repeated several times. His father, striding ahead with his soft bag over one shoulder, seemed unaware, but Simon cringed. Despite daily encounters with people in pain, the physician's son could not become inured to it.
Favorite line: On the way home Elizabeth ignored Bess' comments on women who waved goodbye by use of a dog's paw. (p. 115)
This isn't marketed as young adult, but with two teen-aged protagonists it certainly could be. The language is simple and direct, somewhat like a cozy mystery. Although the murders are gruesome and a couple of the victims are prostitutes, there is no gratuitous violence or sex. The author has clearly done a lot of historical research and I like the way she works details into the plot about clothing, food, descriptions of places, etc. in such a way that it is easy to visualize being there. She has a subtle sense of humor that I enjoyed very much (see favorite line above). Elizabeth is mature beyond her 13 years, and the author lets us know of the queen she will become through her introspection. As a mystery, I was kept guessing. We follow the clues along with Elizabeth and Simon, and we know what they know when they know it. No sudden twist of plot or resolution that comes out of nowhere. I really look forward to reading more of this series.
Description: When headless corpses begin appearing on the streets of London, Elizabeth Tudor is as shocked as everyone else. When one of her own ladies is murdered, Elizabeth joins with new friend Simon Maldon to find the killer. Henry VIII, also shocked by the murders assigns one of his Welsh guardsmen, Hugh, to investigate, since the women are dressed as nuns and might signal new religious troubles. Suspects include a madman, a courtier, a reformer, a well-known criminal, and others, even Elizabeth's castellan. Simon, discovering that he is good at the art of disguise, plays various parts as he works at narrowing the list. Elizabeth's part in the investigation is kept secret from the king, who would certainly not approve. But it cannot be kept secret from the killer, and in the end, he turns his attention to them. Simon, Elizabeth, and Hugh face a murderer who is beyond caring how many die, as long as he gets what he wants.
About the author: Peg Herring is a writer of plays, mysteries, and romance who once taught high school language arts and history. In her spare time she travels with her husband of many decades, gardens, directs choral groups, and works to keep her hundred-year-old home from crumbling away.
Series info: Simon and Elizabeth series 01. Her Highness' first murder - read ------------------------- 02. Poison, Your Grace 03. The lady flirts with death
Impossible to characterize! Fantasy but not quite. Mystery/suspense but not quite. Romance but not quite. Allegory? Fairy tale? Steampunk? MetaphysicaImpossible to characterize! Fantasy but not quite. Mystery/suspense but not quite. Romance but not quite. Allegory? Fairy tale? Steampunk? Metaphysical? All I know is that without much of a plot, and without much character development (which should be faults), and without even a real magical contest (if that isn't a spoiler), the author has created a magical, riveting world that I won't soon forget. It jumps around in time and place and from one character to another, which should be confusing, but isn't. It just adds to the sense of an elaborate illusion, the peeling of an onion to get to the truth of why all of this has been set in motion. And whose story is it in the end? Reading this book is a bit like reading Tarot cards. What do they mean? How do they relate to each other? Is it about the past or the future? It is about symbolism, and archetypes, and how we might escape from the things that bind us. It asks us to ponder the nature of dualism, black and white, good and evil, power and weakness, truth and illusion, the nature of time and of being. Among the recognizable archetypes are the Hero's Journey, the Wheel of Fortune, Merlin in the tree, Tristan and Isolde, and the Labyrinth. The prose creates vivid images, and I think this will make a splendid movie. My favorite scene: the boat made of books sailing on a sea of ink... I am still there, and I expect to look out the window and see the black and white tents far off in the cornfield.
Description: The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night. But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway: a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them both, this is a game in which only one can be left standing. Despite the high stakes, Celia and Marco soon tumble headfirst into love, setting off a domino effect of dangerous consequences, and leaving the lives of everyone, from the performers to the patrons, hanging in the balance.