Archive for the 'Mystery' Category

Wicked Appetite by Janet Evanovich

Monday, October 31st, 2011

A Halloween book review by Joan Badie

In a Salem setting, the main character, Lizzie Tucker, is amusingly described and possesses beyond normal traits.  She inherits a historic saltbox that brings her to Massachusetts and takes a job as pastry chef for Dazzle’s Bakery.  She finds she has unusual talent for making cupcakes and one special customer orders two dozen a day that sets the stage for the first of Seven Deadly Sins, Gluttony.

As in the Stephanie Plum series, two intriguingly different men appear in Lizzie’s life to enhance the adventure of finding the first of seven stones that represent the seven Deadly Sins. Lizzie is told she is one of only two humans with the supernatural power to find the mystic stones.  This truly is great Halloween reading, and the story has you begging for more.

The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith

Saturday, April 4th, 2009

Seen it?

Read it?

smithalexandermccall_no1ladiesdetectiveagency

If yes, let us know …

If no, read a few thoughts from the author here , then consider checking the book out @ your library.

Deception’s Daughter by Cordelia Frances Biddle

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

Deception’s Daughter, a Martha Beale Mystery, captivates one’s imagination and transports one to another time. The narrative goes on as if in a play. Descriptive scenes and passages really bring you back to Philadelphia in the 1800′s.

The main character, Martha Beale, surpasses even Nancy Drew and Jessica (Angela Lansbury) in “Murder She Wrote.” The times remind one of Dickens’ scenes in England. Descriptions of the countryside, the poorhouses and the city are very realistic. The plot is rich with romance as well as intrigue. The surprise ending leaves the reader wanting more story to follow the characters involved.

I found this a fascinating read and look forward to reading more of Cordelia Frances Biddle’s books.

Plain Truth by Jodi Picoult

Friday, November 14th, 2008

The dictionary defines the word “plain” as “clearly understood; unmistakable; straightforward; candid,” and so a novel with the title Plain Truth would lead readers to expect a straightforward, candid, easily understood story. But, in her novel of that name, the adjective in Jodi Picoult’s title refers to the description of a body of people, the Amish, who live in the 21st century while choosing not to participate in many of the trappings of modernism. Without the advanced technology available to other farmers, they utilize their own labor to produce remarkable crops, and they rely on their families and their neighbors to help them through whatever travails and tragedies they encounter along lif’e's journey. They have a stong, unbending faith in their God and know that He will not send more burdens than they can endure.

Even the “plain truth” is never so plain that it is unmistakable, and all of us have seen instances wherein what clearly appears to be so is not so at all. The plot of Plain Truth is one which lawyers can argue is a simpe case of neonaticide, or killing of a newborn child. In recent years, many such cases have made headlines and ultimately the legal results have been based on intent to kill more than on amy other factor. In this book, the case of a teenager who gives birth to a child in her father’s barn, cuts the umbilical cord and then returns to her own bed, later to discover that a dead baby is found lying under a pile of blankets, seems to be a clear-cut case of murder.

The attorney who agrees to argue fo the defense is a distant relative of the young girl and is herself undergoing a crisis of identity. She accepts the case reluctantly and also accepts the responsibility of monitoring her client’s activities as a condition of keeping her out of jail while the case proceeds. This means that she must move into the farm for an undetermined period, leaving behind all the trappings of civilization as she knows it: no telephone, no electricity and thus no computer, FAX or even air conditioning during the hot summer months. She feels that she is the one who has drawn a sentence.

As the plot unfolds, the reader becomes familiar with the ways of the Plain People and cannot help but admire their adherence to a moral code far too rigid for most of us to observe. Their fierce loyalty to one another and the depth of their willingness to forgive even the unforgiveable is astounding to those outside their circle.
What makes the book a page-turner is its ability to convince the reader that he or she has solved the mystery of what happened in the barn, only to make the plain truth less plain in the following chapter. Just as there are many truths even when there are no lies, it becomes clear that nothing is clear. The reader hurries along from chapter to chapter, discovering new information at every turn. Not until the penultimate page does the author allow the reader to look into the heart of the mystery and learn what has previously remained hidden. Even then, the “plain truth” is clouded by individual perceptions of right vs wrong.

I recommend this book to a reader looking for a mystery unlike the ordinary “whodunit” in which one murder leads to another and corpses clutter the landscape. This one has a spiritual aspect seldom found in books under the mystery genre. Check it out!

Ann Dow

A Corner of Paradise, A Father Bredder Mystery by Leonard Holton

Wednesday, February 13th, 2008

Even more interesting than the mysterious and challenging crime being solved, is the personal story of the detective, his daughter and her new less-than-satisfactory husband. The story was written in the 70’s and the plight of the young girl and her husband seems unique to that decade. The author brings in to the story the dedication of those in the religious life by both Father Bredder and a young postulant, Mary.

The main point of interest (Corner of Paradise) is actually a corner of a Paradise Persian rug set with stones and unbelievably found burred in a grassy area. The author has a unique way of keeping your interest. He tells a great story. I’d have liked to hear more about how the young girl made out in her marriage to the young man who had been accused of the crime early on.

The Bone Garden

Tuesday, February 12th, 2008

My favorte book for the year was Tess Gerrison’s The Bone Garden. It is a mystery spanning two centuries that you can’t put down. patti

Help the Poor Struggle By Martha Grimes

Thursday, January 10th, 2008

There are bodies of children popping up. First in Dorset; one Simon Riley, in his school uniform; then in Wynchoombe a choir boy found in the church, Davey White; the third body was a little girl named Angela Thorne, found on the beach with her dog Mickey. Brian Macalvie, chief superintendent is in change of the second case, so Jury and Wiggins are working with him. The five “Alls? usually shows five fingers representing authority. I pray for all: priest, I plead for all: barrister, I fight for all: military, I rule all: judges and the fifth is the devil who takes All. Macalvie seems to think the murders are all connected to these signs. Mr. Thorne is a solicitor; Davey’s granddad a vicar, Mr. Riley’s relative is Q.C. running for parliament. Lady Jessica Ashcroft is heir to millions an millions Uncle Robert is her guardian. Jury checks the will to see who gets what. He thinks Jessie is next target, so he sends Plant to guard her undercover. Jessie’s father had killed Rose Mulvanney, who had two daughters Teresa who is five and Mary who is fifteen. Teresa went wacko and was at the funny farm for twenty years. They let her out and she killed the other kids on her way to kill Jess but Mary stopped her. Tess couldn’t go after the father because he was already dead.

Sam Waterhouse was accused and convicted of Rose’s murder and sent to jail for twenty years. Macalvie always know he was innocent. Tess took a job as governess to Jessie, the Sam actually saved Jessie from Tess. Mary was a photographer going by the name of Molly Singer’ only Macalvie knew who she really was. Jessie had a little dog named Henry.

Published in 1985

The Man with a Load of Mischief by Martha Grimes

Tuesday, December 4th, 2007

Reviewed by Rosalie Paul

Two bodies in two days; both found at Inns. First was a man, William Small, Esq. at the above title then a Mr. Ainsley at the Jack and Hammer in Long Piddleton. The owner of the first pub is Simon Matchett. The waitress who discovered the body in a beer keg in the cellar is Daphne Murch. An old guy called Twig also waits tables. Inspector Richard Jury interviews those present including Oliver Darrington, a writer, and his live-in girlfriend, Sheila Hogg. He’s a snob; she’s a floozy. Marshall Trueblood, an antiques dealer in Long Piddleton, Melrose Plant, ex-lord, and his Aunt Agatha, who lives at Ardry End are also questioned. Vivian Rivington (sister Isabel). Willie and Lorraine Bicester-Strachan (two more snobs) and Reverend Denzil Smith of the church of St. Rules and Mill Ball of the Gatehouse Tearoom and Bakery, who made a delivery there around back.

A third murder occurs at the Swan at Two Nicks Inn, one mile from Ardry End, the owner found the body -one Mrs. Willypoole. The dead man was Jubal Creed, from Wigglesworth, in Cambridgeshire.

A fourth body is discovered on December 24th at the Cock and Bottle. The victim was Ruby Judd, a maid at the vicarage. She was buried in the road with one hand sticking out. Melrose found the body on the way to Sidbury.

Then the day after Christmas the Reverend gets it in the chest with a letter opener. He is the fifth body.

Jury dug back in the police records back sixteen years when Simon’s wife was murdered. He was cleared because he was on the stage at the time of the murder. Then Melrose showed Jury how Simon pulled it off with the help of his lover. Ruby had his wife’s bracelet and remembered back when she was a child. So Simon killed her first when she told him she knew then he killed the uncle’s two friends who also knew. It wasn’t long before the Reverend figured it out he then had to go. So Jury had a show down in the church with Simon and captured him. Jury found Ruby’s diary in one of the pews. Jury’s boss is inspector Chief Superintendent Racer, he is always yelling at Jury. His secretary is Fiona Clingmore. Her clothes do that – cling more!

Published in 1981

The Rosary Girls by Richard Montanari

Thursday, August 9th, 2007

A Novel of Suspense – Reviewed by Joan Badie

This mystery, “The Rosary Girls,? is set in the city of Philadelphia. Although the crimes are too graphic, unbelievably cruel and distasteful, the description of the neighborhoods and personalities of different parts of the city is very down-to-earth and accurate. The author did his homework. The detectives featured in this story are well described and their interaction very well done. He combines not too much feeling, but lets the reader understand where the main characters are coming from in terms of background, family and emotion.

The writer is very skilled in setting up the murder situations and describing gross details along with the police investigation of the suspects and surroundings in the crime scenes. His choice of a religious (Catholic) background in the mystery is unappealing to me, the reader. However, the mad man perpetrator uses the rosary’s Sorrowful Mysteries to execute his murder of young Catholic schoolgirls. Each girl is left with a rosary between bolted hands at the time of her death, along with other atrocities. Each is positioned in death on a Sorrowful mystery. The last girl escapes by hurling herself, despite a drugged condition, out of the car. The murderer, seeking the Crucifixion theme next, then turns to the female detective, Jessica, and her little five year old daughter, Sophie, for the final sacrifice. The action is gory and stimulating at the climax. At the end, the author seems to imply the death of the murderer’s premature baby and subsequent decline of his wife and marriage, led to his infamous crime spree. It seems the murderer was expecting a resurrection of his baby (The grave was recently dug up.)by his horrible murders during Holy Week before Easter.

The story of the detectives’ lives are also portrayed and one feels they actually know them. Kevin Byrne is the male detective of many years who suffered a near death experience and now has a sixth sense of murder happenings and a feel for the evil of the murderer. He ends up in the hospital, but opens his eyes to life once again while Jessica, his partner, is there.

The author really gets you wondering who the murderer really is! He is obviously very skilled. Yet, I feel it is not at all wise to write such gruesome details and explanations as it my lead to some deranged guy to try it on others. I call to mind the killing of the Amish girls in Lancaster, Pennsylvania early in this year of 2007 with the lame explanation the murderer was still grieving over the loss of a premature baby some years ago.

Burglar in the Library by Lawrence Block

Monday, July 9th, 2007

Reviewed by Carolyn Wood

Burglar in the Library by Lawrence Block mirrors Agatha Christie’s Body in the Library.  Check out http://www.who-dunnit.com/reviews/28/  for a detailed review of the work Alan Paul Curtis gives the read a thumbs up.  He pays homage to “Agatha Christie style mysteries.? Block’s work reads like a pop culture version of Agatha Christie’s, Body in the Library in my opinion.  Perhaps this is the appeal of Block’s work.  The characters are well developed and the addition of Raffles, loyal four footed companion adds frivolity to the piece.  I was pulled in by the characters development though the plot was too familiar.  The pace of the action felt jarring read on the heels of Christie’s gem.