Tuesday, November 27, 2012


There was no way I would miss this wonderful novel. For one thing, book bloggers I trust loved it. Secondly, I spent a lovely day in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston long ago, before thieves made off with art worth about $500 million today, and I was completely taken with this sort of quirky museum founded by a sort of quirky rich lady.

The story wasn't quite what I expected but that's a good thing. It doesn't involve the thefts directly but that's always in the background informing the plot. This is about a struggling young artist who is brilliantly talented but has been caught up in unfortunate circumstances due to love gone wrong. Claire Roth is her name. She makes a living, such as it is, copying great paintings for a reproduction company.

Then Claire makes a Faustian bargain with an art gallery owner who promises to produce her first show. She believes fervently that what she is doing is legal but it sets her off on a search for a real Degas that she believes has been forged. The plot is complex and so is the art technique she eventually uses but it isn't at all difficult for this non-artist to follow. I thoroughly enjoyed learning about painting.

Highly recommended reading.
Source: Amazon Vine - thank you.

Friday, November 16, 2012


This is a delightful cozy mystery set in Seattle.  I hadn't read a cozy for ages but this one just hit the spot.  The plot centers around old Grace Episcopal Church and its rector, Father Robert Vickers.  It's spring and the dwindling congregation has gathered to bury the ashes of a parishioner in the side lawn that has been consecrated for this purpose.  As maintenance man Henry begins to dig the hole though, his shovel strikes a wooden case.  Also, the bell tower has begun to drop chunks of stone near the Memorial Garden.

The congregation of this beautiful old church is small, consisting mostly of elderly people, and they cannot afford to repair the bell tower.  One member is a developer and he has drawn up plans for a condo, coffee shop, etc. to be built on the grounds.  Of course that would be heresy to Vickers and the others who love the church.  The Bishop, a hilariously pompous character, would just sell the whole thing and send the members to other churches.

As is appropriate for a cozy, the characters in the book will have you chuckling.  Vickers, for instance, is a balding middle-aged man who wants to find someone who could love him.  The young organist, Daniel, is a brilliant musician with no social skills.  Deacon Mary is a selfless soul who runs the food pantry.

I recommend this short, lively read.
Source:  Partners in Crime Tours

Saturday, November 10, 2012

PLAY HIM AGAIN by Jeffrey Stone

I was offered this ebook by the author and, although I rarely do so, I accepted.  The synopsis appealed to me because it is set in 1928 Los Angeles and the hero is a rumrunner and would-be producer of talking movies.  

While I was reading the book, I just happened to see a program on TV about this era in L.A. which showed what's left of some of the speakeasies and tunnels where the booze was kept.  The mayor and much of the police force ran the racket so the mob never took over as happened in Chicago.  This enhanced my reading pleasure.

Matthew "Hud" Hudson is our hero, although a crook.  Ships bring booze from Canada and rumrunners like Hud offload it and smuggle it into L.A.  They make tons of money despite the fact that occasionally someone gets greedy and hijacks their booze.  It's during such a time that Hud's best lifelong friend is tortured and murdered.  He vows vegeance against Frank Minetti, the goon who was responsible.  

Meanwhile, Hud has fallen in love with a woman who isn't involved in the "business" and she isn't comfortable with what's going on.  Hud actually, in his own way, is an honorable man and his friends are loyal.  His real passion is for movies and he's been stashing his money away to get into the movie business, but plans to keep on rumrunning because it's so profitable.

Along the way we learn a lot about smuggling, cons, Chinatown gambling run by tongs, and the early movie business.  This is what lifts the book above an ordinary read to a satisfying one.  Thrills and chills plus 1928 L.A.  What more can you ask? 

I can happily recommend this book and I'm looking forward to the sequel.  It is available from Smashwords.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Under the Eye of God by Jerome Charyn

By this time, the day before the election, I think the majority of us have decided politics was invented to drive us all nuts.  The ads, the commercials, the robocalls, enough already.  I do hope everyone who can possibly get to the polls will vote tomorrow, so we can all get back to normal annoyances.

Meanwhile, if you're one of those people who suspects that politicians are all crooks with an axe to grind and that everything is a conspiracy, I have just the book for you.  I especially want to recommend Jerome Charyn's latest Isaac Sidel novel, Under the Eye of God, if "madcap" and "zany" are words that your favorite reads bring to mind.

Isaac Sidel is the former police commissioner of NYC who still carries a Glock in his pants, and he's currently mayor of the city of New York.  He also happens to be the current Vice President-elect of the U.S.  His running mate, J. Michael Storm, is a notorious womanizer with a photo of him, um, relieving himself in the Rose Garden making the rounds.  Needless to say, everyone wishes Sidel would be president, or at least remain mayor of NYC.  Those who know him well call him "the Don Quixote of Manhattan."  

Sidel was born in NYC, the son of a glove manufacturer who had a silent partner, David Pearl.  Pearl is a recluse who lives in a grand old building called the Ansonia, and Sidel is mesmerized by Pearl, the building, and the history of the building.  Unbeknownst to Sidel, Pearl has been maneuvering his career all his life, with the side advantage of allowing Pearl to take over the Bronx.  He wants to install some military complex there.  Confused yet?  I certainly am, and I've finished the book.

There is a bit of a plot here and there is definitely a love interest.  Sidel, also referred to lovingly as "the Big Guy," is wacko but he has a good heart.  Otherwise, I find it difficult to explain his story to you without spraining my brain severely.  Let's just say that it's a good book to read if politics has made you delirious, or if you just plain like confusing fun.

Source:  Tribute Book Tour