Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman

Set primarily in the late 1950s and early 1960s, Alice Hoffman's novel is a coming of age story about three siblings who can trace their ancestry back to the 1600s and a woman deemed a witch in Salem, Massachusetts. This 2017 novel, a prequel to Hoffman's 1995 book Practical Magic, puts a witchy spin on themes such as parents trying to do their best and young people coping with new experiences in love and launching their adult lives. The Rules of Magic is an easy to read and entertaining novel.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Weekend Read July 28-29

This weekend I'm digging into Persons Unknown by Susie Steiner. The novel is a man-stabbed-and-murdered who-done-it mystery featuring Detective Manon Bradshaw. Put the tea on; this police procedural is set in the town of Huntingdon in England.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Highly Recommended Reading: Force of Nature by Jane Harper

Jane Harper knocks it out of the park again with her new book, Force of Nature. In Force of Nature, Federal Agent Aaron Falk, whom we met in The Dry, is under pressure from his superiors to obtain key documents that will support charges of money laundering against members of a family-run accounting firm.

To obtain the documents, Falk and his partner recruit/coerce (as law enforcement does) one of the top management employees at the firm who is not a member of the family, Alice Russell. This setup runs smoothly until Alice disappears while on a weekend corporate retreat, hiking and camping with her co-workers in the wilderness.

Told in chapters which alternate between events occurring during the retreat and the investigation into Alice's disappearance, Force of Nature quickly turns into a suspenseful page turner. Did Alice disappear by choice or was she murdered? If she was murdered, was that related to her work with Agent Falk or was it related to heinous crimes which took place in that same wilderness, decades ago? Chilling!

An entertaining read with lots of contemporary florishes, Force of Nature is highly recommended. 

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Highly Recommended Reading: The Punishment She Deserves by Elizabeth George

Elizabeth George's latest book featuring Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley is everything a novel should be: gripping, layered, and thoroughly enjoyable.

In The Punishment She Deserves, the powers-that-be in New Scotland Yard are pressured by a member of Parliament into reviewing the death of a man while he was in police custody. The events occur in a small college town. The dead man was a local deacon who had been accused of child molestation. Local authorities reviewing the death concluded that it was suicide. The deacon's father does not believe the accusation or that his son killed himself. His threat of a lawsuit and pressure on his local member of Parliament result in Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers and her boss, Detective Chief Superintendent Isabelle Ardery, being sent out into the field to determine if the suicide conclusion was reached properly.

Havers is suspicious. Chief Superintendent Ardery is not, although Ardery's attention to the investigation is distracted by the twin issues of deepening alcoholism and a legal battle with her ex-husband over their children. Ardery's problems are just one of multiple threads running through this richly textured book: family dysfunction, more abuse of drugs, and other messy pieces of life are all part of the absorbing story. Elizabeth George gives us a great deal, and it is all wonderfully written. She expertly takes us along with Havers, who is soon joined by Lynley, in getting to the bottom of it all.

The Punishment She Deserves draws you into its atmosphere and keeps you there. This is a terrific read and highly recommended.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Highly Recommended Reading: The Mad Wolf's Daughter by Diane Magras

One of the most entertaining books I've read in a long time is The Mad Wolf's Daughter by Diane Magras. The book's target audience is readers ages 9 to 12, and the lean text reflects that age group, but The Mad Wolf's Daughter is an exciting adventure story that anyone will enjoy.

Set in Scotland during the Middle Ages, the heroine is 12-year old Drest. Drest lives with her father and five brothers; she never knew her mother. The family works together as a household troop, a war-band that goes out to fight and conduct raids. Drest, too, has learned to fight but, because she is the youngest, she has remained home while her family goes out on adventures. One night after her father and brothers returned, very tired, from a raid, a group of knights invade their home turf, a high point of land that extends out into the Scottish waters. On her father's orders, Drest hides from the invaders. And although she escapes harm, her family is captured and taken away by boat.

Drest finds one injured knight who was left behind by the raiders. She learns from him that her family has been taken to a castle and will be hanged in a matter of days. Determined to rescue them, Drest departs for the castle. She brings the injured knight along with her as her captive and bargaining chip. And thus the adventure begins as Drest encounters bandits and witches, makes new friends, hears disturbing revelations, and engages in lots of swashbuckling action as she starts to build her own legend in the Scottish countryside.

The Mad Wolf's Daughter is great fun, a pleasure to read, and a book I highly recommend. Hopefully there will be many more books from Diane Magras in the future. 

Friday, April 27, 2018

More Cormoran Strike novels from J.K Rowling writing as Robert Galbraith

Good news mystery fans: A fourth book is on the way in the J.K. Rowling series featuring Cormoran Strike. The new book is reportedly called Lethal White. Additionally, a BBC television series based upon the books is coming to the US this year, reportedly via HBO.

The first three books in the series are excellent and I urge you to check them out. Strike is a private investigator, a former member of the Royal Military Police who lost part of a leg in the Afghanistan war, and the son of a rock star. Rowling pulls all these threads together to make an interesting character, and her imagination and great storytelling skills make for highly entertaining reading.