Chanukah is more a home-centered holiday than a synagogue-centered one, but Aviva, the rabbi who is the protagonist of Chanukah Guilt, is having a busChanukah is more a home-centered holiday than a synagogue-centered one, but Aviva, the rabbi who is the protagonist of Chanukah Guilt, is having a busy one even though she lives alone. The book starts with Aviva being called to do a funeral for a local tycoon who hated all the other rabbis in their New Jersey town - a tycoon with two ex-wives, a current wife, a mistress, and several children. When the college-age daughter asks for some counsel and says she believes her father was murdered, things start to get really complicated. Add some personal family troubles, the arrival (as interim police chief) of Aviva's ex-husband, and a crippling snowstorm, and you can see that Aviva's Chanukah is not going to be peaceful. But it's always entertaining! As I attended a Jewish-sponsored university and have a daughter who is a (Christian) clergyperson, I can attest to the believability of Ilene Schneider's portrayal of her characters. I found Aviva to be an engaging and intelligent amateur sleuth, and I'm planning to read her Passover adventure a little later this year. But don't wait for Chanukah to read Chanukah Guilt -- it's a great read any time of year....more
I have to confess that I've never before read any of Laurie R. King's Mary Ryssell/Sherlock Holmes series. It's a fit of pique on my part since i likeI have to confess that I've never before read any of Laurie R. King's Mary Ryssell/Sherlock Holmes series. It's a fit of pique on my part since i liked A Darker Place so much -- it appears that perhaps it was intended as the start of a series and didn't get continued. At any7 rate, I may have to change my behavior, since this short story (it was free, I think, for Kindle at Christmas time) was well-plotted, gave new depth to the character of Mrs. Hudson, and introduced me to Mary Russell, who seems an interesting character....more
I'm not generally a huge fan of "craft cozies," which are so popular with publishers these days. I probably wouldn't have picked this book up had I seI'm not generally a huge fan of "craft cozies," which are so popular with publishers these days. I probably wouldn't have picked this book up had I seen it in a library or bookstore. But when it was made available at a very low price for Kindle, and I read a sample page or two, I thought it was worth spending a few hours with. So if any authors out there are wondering whether this marketing device works -- it works on me!
The character of Piper Donovan, a struggling actress who moves back in with her safety-conscious father and bakery-owner mother, is engaging and fun to spend time with. The plot is plenty convoluted and there are a plethora of suspects and red herrings to keep the reader guessing. If you like Diane Mott Davidson and Joanne Fluke, you'll probably like this book too....more
These short stories about Sheriff Walt Longmire, each set at Christmastime in Absaroka County, Wyoming, are perfect Christmas reading for mystery loveThese short stories about Sheriff Walt Longmire, each set at Christmastime in Absaroka County, Wyoming, are perfect Christmas reading for mystery lovers. There is just enough crime to keep things interesting, but the focus is on the essential goodness of Walt Longmire as Craig Johnson has created him. These stories leave you feeling hope for humanity -- which is just what a Christmas story should do. Highly recommended....more
Although I've been hearing praise of Rhys Bowen's Molly Murphy series for years, somehow I had yet to read one until this short story appeared for a nAlthough I've been hearing praise of Rhys Bowen's Molly Murphy series for years, somehow I had yet to read one until this short story appeared for a nominal fee on my Kindle. Since I like to read series from the beginning, it's nice that The Amersham Rubies is listed as "Molly Murphy 0.5." While most of the stories take place in turn-of-the-century New York, this one takes us back to Molly's beginnings in Ireland. We get a little of her backstory and an inkling of the keen observer and detective she will become. The basic plot is not an unfamiliar one to readers of Golden Age mysteries -- it's the character of Molly that really makes this story worth reading. I'll definitely be coming back for more Molly Murphy....more
I stayed up far too late finishing this book! It's the fifth in a series featuring veterinarian Rachel Goddard and Sheriff's Deputy Tom Bridger. It miI stayed up far too late finishing this book! It's the fifth in a series featuring veterinarian Rachel Goddard and Sheriff's Deputy Tom Bridger. It might be best to begin with The Heat of the Moon, the first in the series; Bleeding Through wraps up some previous storylines, and it would be a shame to spoil the suspense in the earlier books by having read this one first. In Rachel and Tom, Sandra Parshall has created a sleuthing pair, each with his/her own difficult history, whose relationship is believable and whose detective skills are generally excellent. Now, in this particular book, I guessed whodunit before the sleuths, but the thriller aspect of the book made up for that. (And who doesn't like to feel smart once in a while?) Recommended....more
Normally I prefer to read series in order, but Elly Griffiths book The House at Sea's End caught my eye on the New Books shelf a while ago. After readNormally I prefer to read series in order, but Elly Griffiths book The House at Sea's End caught my eye on the New Books shelf a while ago. After reading it, I went back to find the first in the series, The Crossing Places. The series deals with the life and detections of Ruth Galloway, a university professor and forensic archaelogist. Forensic archaelogy, the study of bones, is familiar to many readers from the work of Aaron Elkins and Kathy Reichs. Griffiths' work is a worthy addition to the group. Note: several plot points in the first book are resolved later in the series, particularly those dealing with Ruth's personal life. If this bothers you, definitely start with The Crossing Places.
The setting is Norfolk, on England's East Coast: flat, rather treeless, and, where Ruth lives, marshy -- her cottage is one of three at the edge of a saltmarsh. Because of her profession, Ruth is called in to help date a child's skeleton found in the saltmarsh. DCI Nelson of the local police fears the skeleton may be connected to the disappearances, several years apart, of two local children. When the bones prove to be Iron Age, one would think Ruth's involvement would be at an end, but she becomes interested in the cases and is also drawn to Nelson. Meanwhile, two men from her past show up -- Erik, her mentor in archaeology, and Peter, her former live-in lover, now separated from his wife. The three had all been together at a dig on the saltmarsh at about the time of the first disappearance.
The tale grows more complicated as Ruth learns that Nelson has been receiving taunting letters, apparently from the perpetrator, writing about the disappearances in language that shows a familiarity with archaeology and ancient ritual. Could the criminal be someone Ruth knows?
This is a fine story of an amateur sleuth, a professional in her own field, working with a policeman; it also has some thriller elements. The characters are believable in their flawed humanity, the description of the setting makes you see the marsh grasses waving and hear the wind, and the plot comes to a satisfying conclusion. Recommended.
Maisie Dobbs, psychologist turned private detective,returns in this 9th book in the series. While many of the earlier books dealt with the obvious aftMaisie Dobbs, psychologist turned private detective,returns in this 9th book in the series. While many of the earlier books dealt with the obvious aftereffects of the Great War, Elegy for Eddie finds England preparing -- or not preparing -- for World War II, though most of the country doesn't know it yet. It's 1933, and Adolf Hitler has just come to power in Germany.
I was not as impressed with this book as I have been with the past ones. While some reviewers liked the continuing development of Maisie's character, I find myself wishing she'd just get over herself and also stop wondering "What would Maurice do?" at every turn. The plot, particularly the ending, was unsatisfying too.
And yet -- I'll read the next book in the series, out soon, and probably as many more as Jacqueline Winspear cares to write. My dissatisfaction with Maisie is also an indication of how real she has become for me. And, of course, Winspear has cleverly set her books in my favorite time period, and it will only get better as England lurches toward her finest hour....more
A reader can divide historical fiction into two kinds: the kind where you know the general outline of what happens historically, and the kind where yoA reader can divide historical fiction into two kinds: the kind where you know the general outline of what happens historically, and the kind where you don't. The Janissary Tree was the second kind for me. I know almost nothing about the Ottoman Empire -- a few names, a smattering about the Crimean War and the empire's part in WWI, and the phrase "The Sick Man of Europe." That's about it. In addition, 1836, when the book is set, is a time even in European history about which I knew little. Well, I know a little more now. I enjoyed Goodwin's book possibly more for the characters and setting than for the plot. Goodwin had already written a history of the Ottoman Empire (as well as four other non-fiction books) before this, his first novel. (It appears he's British, thus not eligible for the Best First Novel Edgar, which is limited to American authors.)
Yashim, the protagonist, is a eunuch, but although he is a trusted adviser to the Sultan and the Sultan's mother, he does not live in the Palace, but moves freely around Istanbul. He is called in on two separate investigations, or perhaps three: the death of one of the Sultan's harem; the theft of some of the Valide Sultan's (Queen Mother's) jewels, once owned by Napoleon; and the disappearance of four young officers in the New Guard. Soon the officers' bodies begin turning up, each killed in a peculiarly horrible way. With the help of his two best friends, Panewski, the Polish Ambassador (at a time when Poland as a country had ceased to exist) and Preen, a eunuch who works as a transvestite dancer and prostitute, Yashim eventually solves all the crimes, undergoing some fairly terrifying experiences along the way.
At just under 300 pages, The Janissary Tree was not exceptionally long, but it took me quite a while to read, partly because of other commitments, but also because the plot was not that engaging to me. What kept me reading (besides my vow to read every Edgar Best Novel winner)was the immersion in another world that Goodwin provided. Istanbul in the 1830s was a cosmopolitan city at the heart of a vast and diverse empire, yet it could hardly have been more different from London, Vienna or St. Petersburg. Goodwin brings Istanbul to life; the mystery seems just a device, the plot merely a framework on which to display the characters and setting. Had I been on that Edgar jury, I think it unlikely I would have voted for this work (I'll have to read the other nominees to be sure, and that's another challenge!) But it was certainly good enough to deserve some kind of recognition, and I'll be interested to read the later books in the series. If you like to learn something with your mystery reading and can bear with a rather slow pace, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend The Janissary Tree....more
Frequently, Edgar Best Novel winners are a bit more literary that the usual run of mysteries and thrillers. This doesn't necessarily mean they're bettFrequently, Edgar Best Novel winners are a bit more literary that the usual run of mysteries and thrillers. This doesn't necessarily mean they're better books in terms of writing or entertainment, but that they examine a deeper issue than "whodunit" or "will the good guy escape the bad guy." Such a book is Citizen Vince.
When this book came into the house, my husband read it first. He warned me not to read the jacket copy before beginning it, just to plunge into the story, which was good advice. Therefore, I won't talk about the plot. Citizen Vince takes place mostly in Spokane, Washington in the fall of 1980. There are plenty of suspenseful moments and snappy dialogues, but the book also delves into questions of identity, both external and internal, in the main plot and the subplot. It's also quite well-written and for both the locations used, there's a strong sense of place. It's the character studies, though, that really make this such a good book. Even though there are eleven months left in the year, I'm sure this will be on my Ten Best list for 2013. Very highly recommended....more
I bought this book over a year ago for my project to read a mystery set in every state. David Wiltse appeared to be (according to www.stopyourekillingI bought this book over a year ago for my project to read a mystery set in every state. David Wiltse appeared to be (according to www.stopyourekillingme.com) one of only two authors who had used Nebraska as a backdrop for mysteries; I've since learned of a couple of others. Perhaps because the selection was small, I feared the book might not be very good, and kept putting off reading it. But as part of my New Year's Resolutions I pulled it off the shelf and was hooked from the beginning.
Heartland is the story of Billy Tree, a Secret Service agent who resigns (you'll find out why in the first chapter) and returns to his tiny hometown of Falls City, Nebraska. At first it seems that little has changed since he left twenty years earlier. His alcoholic father and saintly mother are dead; he moves in with his sister Kath, whose husband rarely shows up and who seems to be taking on his mother's role as the long-suffering one who keeps the family together. When Billy has spent what she considers enough time brooding in his bedroom, she enlists the sheriff, a longtime family friend, to pull him out by asking for his help. Billy begins to learn that, although some things in Falls City never change, there are other things going on under the surface that he never imagined would touch his hometown. Then, what at first appears to be a Columbine-style school shooting turns out to be something quite different and Billy's investigations lead to a shocking denouement.
Although the plot was sufficiently compelling on its own to make this a decent book, it was the characters (particularly Billy) and setting that really set it apart. Billy has decided that he's a coward -- and yet he keeps putting himself in situations where a kind of bravery is called for, all the while berating himself for his failings. It's fascinating to see his recovery happening during the course of the book.
The Nebraska setting is almost a character in itself. Heartland takes place mostly in summer; having lived in southern Minnesota I've experienced some of the oppressive heat and humidity which is even worse in Nebraska (fewer trees, no lakes, very shallow rivers). Wiltse evokes the weather so vividly that I could feel it here in a Maine winter. His descriptions of the beauty of the land and the ugliness of some of the man-made features are masterful. Falls City is mostly peopled with German and Irish folk, but I still kept thinking of Fitzgerald's "lost Swede towns" as I read the book. It's not just the weather and the landscape that Wiltse gets right; it's the whole small town atmosphere, where everyone knows you and your family and everything you do, and the judgments and expectations follow you relentlessly even when they are completely mistaken. This kind of writing (and it's good writing, too, in an aesthetic sense) is why I started this project -- not just to visit different parts of the country but to inhabit them for a while.
Heartland was not easy to get hold of, but it was worth it. I would urge you to get a copy through a used book place or interlibrary loan, and you will not be disappointed....more
According to my Goodreads history, I read this book in paper format several years ago. I now wonder whether I just guessed that I had read it, since wAccording to my Goodreads history, I read this book in paper format several years ago. I now wonder whether I just guessed that I had read it, since when I listened to the audiobook, I didn't recall any of the plot points, and they were quite memorable.
Phryne Fisher, the rich and beautiful young woman who is the heroine of this series set in 1920s Melbourne, Australia, is driving her Hispano-Suiza near Victoria Dock when her windscreen is shot out and she observes two men fleeing. Alighting to assess the damage, she discovers a third man lying on the pavement, who dies in her arms. The next morning, after she has cleaned up from her night's ordeal, she is hired to find a runaway teenage girl, for Phryne is a private investigator. Of course, she also wants very much to find the perpetrators of the dockside crime.
With the help of her friends, cabbies Bert and Cec, and her maid Dot, Phryne is eventually able to solve both cases. Need I mention that a bit of a love affair comes into the story as well?
The Phryne Fisher stories are a wonderful amalgam of daydream fantasy (Phryne is beautiful, rich, accomplished, daring, and all that a heroine should be) and gritty reality -- some really awful things happen to the victims in these stories, although Phryne manages to save quite a few. Stephanie Daniels does a great job of reading the audiobook versions. I've recently begun watching "The Miss Fisher Mysteries" from Australian TV (via www.acorntv.com) and I can now attest that these books are so nice, you can enjoy them thrice!...more
I've been reading the Sookie Stackhouse books since the series started, but this is the first I've listened to in audio. I've also been watching TrueI've been reading the Sookie Stackhouse books since the series started, but this is the first I've listened to in audio. I've also been watching True Blood, the television series based loosely on the books, a season or two behind as they come out on DVD -- quite a different experience!
Deadlocked does give one the feeling that Harris is struggling a bit to come up with new problems for Sookie. Harris's other series, most of which I've read and enjoyed, only lasted for 5 or 6 books -- Sookie is now at Book #12, plus some short stories, and I wonder if Harris would just as soon move on. I was enjoying her Harper Connelly books, but that series seems to have faded away. The public wants Sookie, and Sookie it shall have.
As Deadlocked begins, Sookie is unsure about her relationship with Erik Northman, sharing her home with fairy relatives Claude and Dermot, taking a bigger part in managing Merlotte's Bar, and also concerned with more mundane things like her brother's pending engagement and her friend Tara's soon-to-be-born twins. (Anyone who has only watched True Blood should go back and read all the books, otherwise there will be a lot of confusion; Tara, for instance, is a completely different character in the books). It's not possible to say much more without risking spoilers -- let's just say there's the usual amount of drama and a conclusion that just may lead to a plot development I've been wishing for for a long time.
I've seen some other reviews that were disappointed in this book, and I can see their point, but I'm not ready to give up on Sookie just yet. The audiobook reader did a fine job, using a slightly different voice for Sookie's first-person narration than for her dialogue, which was very helpful. ...more
Although I've always been fascinated by World War I, the closest relatives I had who served in it (two great-uncles by marriage)both were prevented byAlthough I've always been fascinated by World War I, the closest relatives I had who served in it (two great-uncles by marriage)both were prevented by illness from ever going to France. One survived his bout with TB and became a much-loved family member; the other died of influenza at Camp Devens, leaving my great-aunt a widow after a brief marriage. Since she died when I was 4, all I have of that early relationship is Uncle Charles's photo in his Army uniform.
I've enjoyed all Charles Todd's World War I mysteries, both the Ian Rutledge and Bess Crawford series, but I think I especially liked this one (if "like" is the word for such harrowing reading) because of its setting in the first months of the influenza pandemic.
Nurse Bess Crawford is herself struck down with flu just after she's presented with a mystery, and after her recovery, she tries to follow the cold trail of a ruthless killer. Moving back and forth across the Channel, and with the help of family friend Simon Brandon and a new possible beau who's an American serving in the Canadian forces, she has many adventures before the end.
I actually found the ending a bit deus ex machina for my taste, but I think this is one of those series I read for character and setting more than for plot, so I didn't mind too much. Recommended, if this applies to you as well....more
Like Parker’s earlier Edgar winner, Silent Joe, California Girl is set in Orange County and brought home even more than the earlier book that Orange CLike Parker’s earlier Edgar winner, Silent Joe, California Girl is set in Orange County and brought home even more than the earlier book that Orange County is not Los Angeles.
There are a lot of ways one could describe California Girl. It’s a story about two families, the Beckers and the Vonns, and how they intersect and affect each other’s lives. It’s definitely a story of the changes in America, and specifically Orange County, from the 50s through the 60s and onward. Richard Nixon and Charles Manson make brief appearances, as does Timothy Leary. It’s also the story of three brothers – a clergyman, a journalist, and a cop – trying to love and support each other and be honest men in spite of their own human frailties and the compromises they sometimes have to make.
I have a hard time reading Parker’s books. They evoke corruption so well I almost have to hold my nose – even this book, which was not really about corruption, has a character who makes a fortune from a cleaner made of rotten oranges. Parker’s world is not a world I want to visit often. Although his characters enjoy the beauty and good weather of Southern California, they are also surrounded by urban sprawl and commercial ugliness (not to mention some extremely right-wing characters and others who are just generally unpleasant.) In some ways Parker’s books remind me of Donna Leon’s Guido Brunetti novels. But although Brunetti goes on beating his head against the wall of bureaucracy and corruption that confronts him at the end of nearly every book, he has the many compensations of Venice to console him. Parker’s Orange County doesn’t seem like a good place to live, but it’s a place we need to know about, and the stories he tells about it are worth hearing. So even though in many ways I didn’t “like” this book, I would highly recommend it. ...more
Hank Philippi Ryan is a television investigative reporter in Boston and knows the journalism and political worlds there very well. In The Other WomanHank Philippi Ryan is a television investigative reporter in Boston and knows the journalism and political worlds there very well. In The Other Woman she has used her knowledge and a fertile imagination to keep the reader guessing almost to the last page. Set during a Massachusetts Senatorial campaign, The Other Woman follows reporter Jane Ryland – once a television star, now disgraced as a result of protecting her source through a libel suit – as, grateful for a chance at a newspaper job, she follows a hunch about a beautiful woman she keeps seeing in campaign rally photos. Meanwhile, her friend and would-be lover Detective Jake Brogan, Boston PD, is investigating a series of murders that may or may not be the work of a serial killer. The amateur sleuth-cop boyfriend duo is a common one in mystery fiction, but seldom do such a pair consider the ethical and career consequences of their actions as carefully as Jake and Jane do, which I find quite refreshing.
I’d recommend this book very highly in any format. I listened to it as an audiobook, and thought it was read quite well, but for one thing. The Other Woman has a lot of chapters, but even within each chapter, points of view and locations change frequently. I would have liked a little more aural “white space” between segments to avoid confusion about who’s saying or doing what. I’m happy to hear that Ms. Ryan is working on a second book in this series and if she continues to use this technique, perhaps the audiobook producers might be induced to add those few beats of silence as a buffer between characters. Other than that one quibble, a stellar job by both author and reader. ...more
I've listed this as "set in California," but I think part of it is set in Nevada. Chet and Bernie are hired to provide escort service (not THAT kind!I've listed this as "set in California," but I think part of it is set in Nevada. Chet and Bernie are hired to provide escort service (not THAT kind! more like moral support)for a divorced woman who will be going to Parents' Weekend at her son's wilderness camp and expects to see her ex there. Not only is the ex not there, her son is missing. Before the happy ending, there will be some tough times for Bernie and still more for Chet, his canine partner. I continue to enjoy this series; the dog thinks and acts like a dog, and Bernie is a pretty engaging character too. Recommended quite highly....more
Sheriff Walt Longmire and his Basque deputy Saizarbitoria have escorted three very bad men to turn them over to another jurisdiction when things beginSheriff Walt Longmire and his Basque deputy Saizarbitoria have escorted three very bad men to turn them over to another jurisdiction when things begin to go horribly wrong. The adventure that follows as Longmire tracks the worst of the bad guys is almost indescribable. Virgil White Buffalo, a larger-than-life character whom we've encountered before, is involved, and Longmire once again finds himself risking his life and possibly his sanity in the mountains. The only reason this book didn't keep me on the edge of my seat is that I listened to the audio version while walking my dog. Highly recommended....more
These three novels have only murder in common. The Shrouded Walls is a "woman in front of the house" book -- in my youth (and perhaps still), the bookThese three novels have only murder in common. The Shrouded Walls is a "woman in front of the house" book -- in my youth (and perhaps still), the book jackets of such books were prone to feature a young woman in a flowing gown standing in front of a large, menacing dwelling. Plotwise, it has features in common with Georgette Heyer's Regency romances, with the addition of a sense of menace that becomes all too real. But Howatch, at least at that point in her career, did not write historical characters well. Although the protagonists make a marriage of convenience, they seem to talk and think not very differently from their 1960s counterparts in the other two books bound with this one.
In April's Grave, a woman who believes her twin sister maliciously broke up her marriage realizes three years later that the sister (April) hasn't been seen or heard from since. On a trip back to England, she and her (not-yet-divorced) husband decide to try for a reconciliation -- but can she get past her suspicions about whether April is still alive? Well-plotted, and without the anachronisms that plague The Shrouded Walls.
The Devil on Lammas Night is something else again -- a romantic suspense thriller with more than a touch of the supernatural. Susan Howatch had been known to me for a good many years as someone who wrote books my mother liked to read for relaxation, until I happened on her Starbridge series and the three related books that followed it (they deal with factions in the Church of England and the personalities of various adherents, and if you think this sounds dull, all I can say is they kept me reading feverishly till the end.) In The Devil on Lammas Night, I saw inklings of Howatch's interest in the problem of evil and her belief in its supernatural existence. All three books kept me interested, but none held a candle to the later works....more
Often, when I'm very fond of an author's series characters, I'm a bit resistant when that author surprises me with a standalone. But Peter Robinson'sOften, when I'm very fond of an author's series characters, I'm a bit resistant when that author surprises me with a standalone. But Peter Robinson's BEFORE THE POISON hooked me from the first page. As in several of his Alan Banks stories, a long-past case is involved. When a recently widowed Hollywood film score composer decides to return to his native England, he discovers that the house he has bought was the site of a famous murder that took place during his childhood -- one about which he begins to have doubts. The story of his investigation into, not only what happened, but why, kept me fascinated to the end. Highly recommended....more
Some months ago I won a copy of Paul Doiron's second novel, Trespasser in a drawing. I put it on the shelf, though, because I like to start a series aSome months ago I won a copy of Paul Doiron's second novel, Trespasser in a drawing. I put it on the shelf, though, because I like to start a series at the beginning. Now I'm looking forward to reading it, since I received Doiron's first novel, The Poacher's Son for Christmas.
The thought immediately struck me as I began reading that the title paralleled that of Margaret Maron's first Judge Knott novel, The Bootlegger's Daughter, in which a North Carolina bootlegger's daughter becomes a judge. Mike Bowditch, "The Poacher's Son," has chosen to be a game warden but the parallels end there. Doiron's book is much darker and the only similarities between his book and Maron's are the strong feel for place, the excellent writing, and the Edgar nominations (she won, he didn't.)
Doiron introduces us to Maine Game Warden Mike Bowditch and a couple of higher-ups, along with a retired warden and pilot, Charley Stevens. We meet Bowditch at a time when he has no close relationships; his girlfriend of several years has left him, he hasn't spoken with his father in two years and rarely sees his mother and stepfather. He's hoping to persuade himself that this lonely life is what he really wanted all along. Then he becomes embroiled in a double homicide where the main suspect is his father. Doiron takes the reader through many twists and turns of plot before the emotional and surprising conclusion. Along the way, readers will see a different Maine than the lighthouse and lobster coastal stereotype -- and it will be presented warts and all. As Doiron edits Down East: The Magazine of Maine (where everything is lovely), I have to admire even more the honesty with which he portrays the Maine woods and its people.
The character of Mike Bowditch is still being formed -- he's only 24 in this first book, and it's easy to forget how very young a 24-year-old man can be. There was one episode where I at first thought, "This guy is too stupid to live," but as I considered it further, I realized it was just the sort of thing this character would do. I look forward to watching Bowditch's character and career develop over many more books to come. Highly recommended....more
Hannah Vogel, crime reporter turned anti-Nazi spy, has been living fairly peacefully in Switzerland for most of the time since we last encountered herHannah Vogel, crime reporter turned anti-Nazi spy, has been living fairly peacefully in Switzerland for most of the time since we last encountered her in Night of the Long Knives. That is, when she wasn't couriering film out of Nazi Germany, where her contact is a Gestapo officer. In A Game of Lies, Hannah, in her Swiss identity as Adelheid Zinsli, is in Berlin to report on the fencing in the 1936 Olympics. She's also spending a fortnight with her Gestapo contact, Lars Lang, and their cover story is that she's his fiancee -- a story complicated by Lars's obvious attraction to Hannah and her recent breakup with long-time lover Boris. At the opening ceremonies, Hannah has arranged to meet her old friend and mentor Peter Weill. She has barely said hello and learned that Peter has a "package" he wants her to smuggle out when he drinks from his pocket flask and promptly dies. This tragedy begins a chain of events which will put Hannah once again in great danger and cause her to question many things in her life.
Cantrell's books are always well-researched but never smell of the lamp. The changes in Hannah's old friends,both Jews and "Aryans," as the Nazi regime grows ever more powerful and intrusive, are disturbing both to Hannah and the reader, and seem to give a true flavor of what life was like in 1936.
With the London Olympics coming up soon, there will probably be people wanting to read Olympics-themed mysteries. This would be a good one to add to the list. Recommended....more
Readers looking for a fast-paced, thrill-a-minute story will not find it here. This is a book to get lost in -- lost in another time, another place, another world. It's been clear throughout the series that Miss Birdie is something more than a kindly old country neighbor, and through this book we find just how much more she is.