The second of Kelli Stanley's noir series featuring private investigator Miranda Corbie begins on May 25, 1940, the opening day of the second season o...moreThe second of Kelli Stanley's noir series featuring private investigator Miranda Corbie begins on May 25, 1940, the opening day of the second season of the Golden Gate International Exposition in San Francisco.
Miranda is called to the discovery of a murdered performer, a young model by the name of Pandora Blake, who was stabbed and then had an anti-Semitic insult written on her chest with her own blood. Even though Miranda is an employee of Sally Rand Enterprises, fair management tell her she's a "security risk" (because of the incidents in City of Dragons) and ask her not to return to the site.
Out of work, Miranda calls the paper to run her usual ads, but when her own lawyer, Meyer Bialik, asks her to investigate on behalf of his new client who has been arrested for Pandora Blakes's murder, she agrees.
Pleased that she can officially continue to delve into the case, Miranda begins immediately. In her usual style, Miranda approaches her investigation obliquely, and digs up a lot more corruption than she expected.
Kelli Stanley is such a master of noir one could swear that she's Raymond Chandler reincarnated, and Miranda Corbie is the epitome of hardboiled. Unusual for a female character perhaps, but completely believable nonetheless.
And Ms. Stanley makes of San Francisco during the early years of World War II come alive as though the she had actually been there. The amount of research this would have required is mind-boggling, and it's no surprise that she has a scholarly background.
FTC Full Disclosure: Kelli Stanley was kind enough to send me an ARC of City of Secrets. I've done my best to write an impartial review.(less)
For the first time, Sophie's family is celebrating Christmas at the home of her brother George, his wife Laci, and their daughter Jen. But when Sophie...moreFor the first time, Sophie's family is celebrating Christmas at the home of her brother George, his wife Laci, and their daughter Jen. But when Sophie, Wolf and Hannah arrive at the suburban home on Christmas Eve, there are police cruisers with flashing lights on the street and people milling about on the lawns.
It turns out that somebody has stolen all the Christmas presents out from underneath the Christmas trees in the neighbourhood homes. Since it's obvious that the thief won't be found overnight, Sophie and her family organize a toy drive so the kids can have something to open on Christmas morning.
The next day, Laci's father Forrest (who has been separated from his wife for only a few months) arrives at the party with a woman named Bonnie, who happens to be a professional acquaintance of Sophie's and the mother of Shawna's (Laci's sister) boyfriend.
At a Boxing Day dinner hosted by Bonnie, ostensibly to announce Shawna and Beau's engagement, Bonnie instead announces a surprise of her own. That evening, when Sophie goes to Bonnie's home for a scheduled meeting, she finds Bonnie's body.
Certain that someone in Laci's family will be accused of the crime, and with Wolf away visiting family, Sophie is forced to investigate on her own.
A fantastic stay-up-all-night read. This series just keeps getting better! (less)
The story begins with what we soon realize is a flashback to an incident that occurred at an unspecified time.
Then, we realize that Detective Inspect...moreThe story begins with what we soon realize is a flashback to an incident that occurred at an unspecified time.
Then, we realize that Detective Inspector Armand Gamache is in Quebec City, visiting an old friend and mentor. His wife, Reine-Marie, has been with him, but returned home to Montreal that morning. Slowly, it is revealed to that Gamache is in the process of recovering from a trauma.
In Quebec City, he is filling his days by doing some historical research at the library of the English Literary and Historical Society. One day,he arrives to see emergency vehicles outside, and is at first not allowed to enter. Then, the Inspector in charge recognizes Gamache, and tells him that a body has been found in the sub-basement of the historic building, and that the body is not a centuries-old skeleton as might be expected, but Augustin Renaud, a local historian.
Gamache agrees to consult with Inspector Langlois on the case, partially to avoid thinking about the incident he's trying to come to terms with, a situation he believes he handled badly.
Gamache receives daily letters from Gabri Dubeau in Three Pines stating that his partner Olivier Brule is innocent of the murder for which he's been convicted (see The Brutal Telling). He begins to doubt hhis handling of Olivier's case as well, and asks his assistant Jean Guy Beauvoir, also on leave, to go to Three Pines and investigate. Though Beauvoir hates Three Pines, he'd do anything for his Chief (and is frankly relieved to be doing something).
The narrative moves easily between the flasbacks which slowly reveal the progress of the incident that put them both on leave, Gamache's investigation in Quebec City and Beauvoir's investigation in Three Pines.
This may well be the best book of a series in which all the books are extraordinary.
This is the second of the Pizza Lover's Mysteries. The protagonist, Eleanor Swift is the widowed owner and chef of A Slice of Delight, a small pizzeri...moreThis is the second of the Pizza Lover's Mysteries. The protagonist, Eleanor Swift is the widowed owner and chef of A Slice of Delight, a small pizzeria in the small town of Timber Ridge, North Carolina.
Eleanor's only employees are her sister, Maddy and a young college student named Greg Hatcher. Greg's grandparents were killed in an explosion the previous year, and their will divided their estate between Greg and his spoiled older brother Wade. But Wade believes he should get 3/4 the$200,000 estate, and is planning a lawsuit to that effect.
Greg shows up at work one day with a bloody nose, received in an altercation with his brother. Late that night, she's awakened by a phone call from the police chief, who asks her to return to her restaurant. Wade's was found on the floor with a bloody rolling pin next to him, and Greg is the chief suspect.
Certain that the young man, whom Eleanor thinks of as family, is innocent, she and Maddy set out to figure out who the real killer is. Their quest is not aided by the fact that Eleanor dated Police Chief Kevin Hurley in high school, and things are still uncomfortable between them. Also, Greg and Wade's mother, learning of their quest, tries to stop Eleanor and Maddy by planting a cockroach in a meal she ordered at their restaurant.
The sisters' quest to clear the name of their employee and friend is very believable; they talk to residents of their town in plausible scenarios. The characters and the relationships between them are also well-drawn.
Chris Cavender is the pen-name for Tim Myers, who writes several other cozy mystery series under his own name and various others. I enjoyed this so much that I'm going to check out some of those other series. (less)
This is the second of the Where Are They Now mystery series featuring freelance writer Tilda Harper. Tilda's focus is on entertainment news, and she's...moreThis is the second of the Where Are They Now mystery series featuring freelance writer Tilda Harper. Tilda's focus is on entertainment news, and she's a big fan of classic television, so when she's asked to do a series of articles about a 1950s Western called Cowtown, she's thrilled.
She rushes to finish the article she's doing on pinup queen Sandra Sechrest, a contemporary of Bettie Page. Returning to Sandra's apartment late one night after forgetting her camera there, Tilda finds Sandra lying on the floor surrounded by blood.
She immerses herself in research for the Western article, hoping it will help her deal with the nightmares resulting from her grisly discovery. What she doesn't expect is that the two subjects will be linked by more than era, and finally realizes that the only way the nightmares will stop is if she figures out who killed Sandra.
Ms. Kelner's research into 50s-era television shows and pinup queens is obviously extensive. She's even created quotes from a fictional overview of Cowtown for the chapter headings.
Descriptions of Tilda's life as a struggling freelance writer are convincing, as are her relationships with co-workers and friends. I'm certain that roommate Colleen is drawn from a woman I shared an apartment with when I was in grad school!(less)
There's been a lot of discussion about whether or not this book is a mystery. I don't think it really matters how it's classified, but readers looking...moreThere's been a lot of discussion about whether or not this book is a mystery. I don't think it really matters how it's classified, but readers looking for a traditionally constructed mystery novel won't find it here.
What they will find is an extremely well-written story about a young man named Billy Webb, recently graduated from university with a degree in philosophy, who takes a position as an editorial assistant at a dictionary publishing house.
One of his tasks is to respond to letters with questions about definitions and word construction. Asked to respond to a letter questioning a response from another young editorial assistant, Mona Minot, he talks to her about details of the original letter. While searching through the citation files for information, they stumble across a citation that looks like a quotation from a book called The Broken Teaglass. Curious about the book, they look it up, only to find that it doesn't exist, and are ready to disregard it when they find another.
Billy and Mona become obsessed with these fragments, and begin to search the citation files for more. This quest draws the two young people into an odd friendship, through which both learn about not only each other but themselves.
As mentioned in the first paragraph, this is an unusually constructed novel, with the unlikely premise of the business of lexicography. Mystery or not, it's a cleverly fashioned novel.(less)
Alice Bliss has a complicated relationship with her mother, as do many girls of fifteen. Alice and her father, Matt, are very close. They both love to...moreAlice Bliss has a complicated relationship with her mother, as do many girls of fifteen. Alice and her father, Matt, are very close. They both love to garden, and she enjoys helping him build things.
So Alice is understandably devastated when her father's National Guard unit is deployed to Iraq. Of course it's stressful for her mother, Angie and her eight-year-old sister Ellie, but it can't possibly be as hard for either of them as for Alice. Yes, Alice is self-centered, as many teens are.
Although the book is written in the third-person, and much of it is from Alice's point of view, we do occasionally get a glimpse of Angie's feelings, and Ellie's and even those of Alice's best friend Henry. Henry's devotion to Alice is simple and absolute, and is described by Harrington in words akin to poetry.
But mostly we live and breathe through Alice. We empathize with her as she wears one of her father's shirt to a rag, discovers the release of running and yearns for attempts to remember Matt's voice and image.
Although Alice Bliss is being marketed to adults, it's also appropriate for teens. The numbers may be decreasing as American soldiers return home, but there are still many who have relatives or friends deployed overseas. Of course in many cases, a soldier is a soldier, regardless of which flag she or he fights under.
Looking back at this review, the words summarizing and describing Alice Bliss seem inadequate. This amazing novel may become a classic in the vein of To Kill a Mockingbird or Catcher in the Rye. (less)
Every time I read Jan Burke's latest book, I think it's her best. I thought Hocus was the best. I thought Bloodlines was her best. But I'm pretty sure...moreEvery time I read Jan Burke's latest book, I think it's her best. I thought Hocus was the best. I thought Bloodlines was her best. But I'm pretty sure that Kidnapped is really her best. Members of the Fletcher family, a large, unusual SoCal clan, are being killed. One of Irene's former colleagues married into the family, though that is not the only reason Irene's investigative senses are tingling. She's just done a feature on children kidnapped by their non-custodial parents. One of the Fletcher kids disappeared five years previously at the time of her father's murder, and Irene is pretty sure she was kidnapped by her mother.
Reading about Irene and Frank is like visiting old friends. Exciting, yet comfortable, though certainly not boring.(less)
Now that I work in Pasadena one day a week, I like to listen to audio-books while I'm driving. Luckily, I'm now able to download books from my local l...moreNow that I work in Pasadena one day a week, I like to listen to audio-books while I'm driving. Luckily, I'm now able to download books from my local library's website, so I don't have to fiddle with CDs while I'm on the freeway.
Reynard Muldoon is an 11-year-old orphan who lives in the Stonetown Orphanage. One day, his tutor, Miss Perumal, spots an advertisement in the newspaper that reads: ARE YOU A GIFTED CHILD LOOKING FOR SPECIAL OPPORTUNITIES?, and suggests that Reynnie might be interested.
He is, and is required to take a test near Stonetown Bay. After he passes the first test, he has to take another, and navigates his way across town to the building where the second test will be held. He and only 3 others pass this second stage, and go through a third.
When they find out that they will be going on a special and dangerous secret mission, they name themselves The Secret Benedict Society, after the man who brought them together.
It would be very easy to give away too much of the plot of this charming children's book, but in order to avoid that, the opposite is necessary. Suffice it to say that this is an extraordinary book suitable for upper-elementary and middle-school readers who don't mind learning new words or reading an almost-500-page book.
The narration by Del Roy is perfect for the tone of the writing. He also reads the next two books in the series, The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey and The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Prisoner's Dilemma.(less)
I was spurred to read Cattery Row by some reviews on DorothyL. It wasn't until I was halfway through it that I realized it was the second in a series,...moreI was spurred to read Cattery Row by some reviews on DorothyL. It wasn't until I was halfway through it that I realized it was the second in a series, so of course I immediately checked Mew out of the library. Theda (short for Theodosia) Krakow is a freelance writer. It's been a rough few months for her: her boyfriend Rick took a job in another state, and her longtime cat companion James died.
She is just starting to come out of her mourning period (mostly for her cat), and see her friends again. A fan of alt rock, she loves to check out the many underground clubs in the Boston/Cambridge area where she lives.
Happening upon what she thinks is a stray kitten one day, she follows it to a house inhabited by an elderly woman who, it turns out, has many, many cats, which gives her the idea that she might do a story about cat hoarders. But later, when she goes over to the woman's house, she finds her dead in her kitchen.
Although the police seem convinced that the woman fell and hit her head, Theda and her friend Violet are convinced that it was murder. (less)