Wednesday, January 29, 2014


Charles Todd interests me because "he" is actually a mother and son writing team.  That fact just blows me away.  They live in different states, yet manage to collaborate on excellent books. This is the latest in their Inspector Ian Rutledge series.

Set in England just after World War I many of the characters are suffering from physical and mental problems due to their service in that horrible war.  Rutledge is too.  He is accompanied everywhere he goes by the voice of a Scottish soldier named Hamish, a sensible man who was killed in the trenches.  Rutledge blames himself so Hamish is always with him and gives him good advice.

Rutledge is sent to the Fens as the local police have requested help solving two murders.  First an army officer is killed as he approaches the cathedral in Ely for a society wedding.  Then a local man standing for Parliament is shot and killed just as he begins a speech in the middle of the village of Wriston one evening.  Bystanders carry torches so it's difficult to see but one woman sees a "monster" in a window above the ironmonger's shop.  

The Fens are very much a character in the story as is the relative isolation of villages in the area.  I didn't know anything about this part of England but found it very interesting.  There are windmills to direct water for irrigation and drainage, little bridges, and all of the land except where roads and villages are has been lowered to stave off flooding.  There are nights when misty fog makes any travel impossible, and wouldn't you know it's on such a dangerous  night that Rutledge arrives.  The people have been shaped by geography and the difficulty of making a living.

The mystery fooled me.  I kept mentally accusing the wrong man, but when I reached the end, the whole story made perfect sense.  Rutledge's own difficulties with his war experiences make him more interesting than the average detective, and I loved Hamish.  Wonderful read.

Highly recommended.
Source:  William Morrow Imprint of HarperCollins


Product Details

This book set in Germany sometime after World War II is a different kind of story than I normally read.  At first I fussed at how slowly it was progressing and at how little I knew about the narrator at the beginning.  But gradually the characters began to draw me in until I couldn't have stopped reading the book if I had tried.  This is a story for character lovers.

Iris, a librarian in Freiberg, has gone to Bootshaven where she spent childhood summers.  This time she's there for her grandmother Bertha's funeral.  The old lady had Alzheimer's disease for many years but still Iris, her aunts, her parents, and neighbors are very sad as they remember old times.  Grandfather Hinnerk had died a long time ago.  Memories of him are less happy.

When the lawyers, including her old friend Mira's little brother Max, read the will, Iris is surprised to learn that she has inherited Bertha's house.  Actually the house is one of the main characters.  I love houses that reflect a family's history.  She spends several days finding clothes in dower chests upstairs and since she only brought a dress for the funeral, she wears them.   Many are old ball gowns that she and her cousin Rosmarie along with Mira had played dress-up in.  There is a mystery about Rosmarie.  She had died 13 years ago, something about glass.  It's all very foggy.  Foggy too is what kind of person Rosmarie was.

Everything she wears , everywhere she goes riding her grandfather's bicycle, makes her think of one of the characters and we follow her inner thoughts.  As pages go by we get to know each aunt, her parents, Mira, an aunt who died young, and the man who loved that young woman.  Meanwhile, I was entertained at the silly getups she wore around town, her skinny dipping, and her conversations with Max.

If you would like to slow down and read a lovely story about a house and the people who have lived there, this is the book for you.  I found it perfect for the frigid weather when I was house bound.

Recommended EBook
Source:  William Morrow book tour

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


I must apologize to you.  I really despise the word verification blurry images on many blogs. Unfortunately, I didn't realize it was on my own blog.  Duh!

Now that Jill of Rhapsody in Books has enlightened me, it is gone.  Rejoice readers!  

I never want to make it difficult for anyone to leave a comment.  I love to read your comments.

Monday, January 20, 2014


I love J. A. Jance's several series, but the one featuring homicide detective J. P. Beaumont is my favorite.  For some reason I can identify with him.  He's had a tough life beginning with a childhood in poverty and no father.  His mother was rejected by family when she discovered she was pregnant shortly after her sailor boyfriend died.  His family refused to have anything to do with her either, so she struggled to raise him alone.  (My childhood was lovely, thank you.)  

Only recently has he had a wonderful life, since he married Mel Soames, another homicide detective.  They work for the Special Homicide Investigative Team with its unfortunate acronym, as partners.  Their skills complement each other's.

In this case they are assigned to a hush-hush problem in the governor's mansion.  Josh, the governor's step-grandson, had been brought to live in the mansion after his mother died of an overdose.  Obviously he has had a horrid life, and he's a troubled teen.  The governor's two teenage daughters have differing reactions to his presence, but he ignores them anyway.  He is caught coming home after a night out without permission.  The guv confiscates his phone as punishment and discovers a snuff film on it.  She immediately calls the Attorney General.  

Thus begins a story of two sorts of teens, the rich kids who get away with anything, and the poor kids from terrible homes who frequently are their victims.  Also there is Janie's House founded by a woman who desperately wants to lift the poor kids out of the cycle of poverty they were born into.  The house provides washers and dryers, computers, cell phones, and other necessities of modern life that those kids lack.  It's meant as a safe place where they can improve their lives.

I don't want to give away anything else because this is an excellent homicide case and our detectives are both shrewd and compassionate throughout.  We also learn something surprising about Beaumont's background that will totally floor him.

Highly recommended
Source:  purchased from

Monday, January 13, 2014


The setting of this amusing little eBook novel is post WWII London, and then southern France and the riviera.  Francis Bacon, London artist, bon vivant, gambler, and ogler of handsome young men has had it with rationing, rebuilding, and chronic lack of good champagne.  When his friend Arnold, a respectable businessman with enough money to finance the trip suggests going to Monte Carlo, Bacon is more than ready to go.  They also take Bacon's former nanny, Nan, who he lives with.  Her vision is going so he won't leave her alone -  and she's fun.

As the two men leave a gambling club the night before their planned departure, they see a man shot.  Bacon tries to save him while Arnold calls for help.  Then the club owner, to whom Bacon owes a lot of money, offers to forgive the debt if Bacon will deliver a small packet to the man's widow on Riviera.  He says the gunshot wound led to pneumonia and the man died.  

This is the beginning of a sort of Shakesperean comedy with mistaken identities, dead people who aren't really dead, scoundrels, some who learned illegal dealings during the war, corrupt cops, even the Tour de France is part of the story.  Meanwhile, Bacon assumes aliases and occasionally has conversations with his alter ego of the moment.  He is a prisoner because a weasel of a police chief confiscates his passport at a time when various bad guys are trying their bumbling best to kill him.

All through the story Bacon rejoices in his appreciation of the male figure.  He is gloriously homosexual, and of course finds many other men of his persuasion along the way.  

There are many hilarious scenes, i.e. when Bacon (who doesn't know how to drive) is behind the wheel of a truck careening down a steep, curvy mountain road while a bad guy tries to stab him in the back.  I laughed and laughed at Bacon's adventures.  Nice eBook for a dreary winter day.

Recommended reading
Source:  Open Road Media

Wednesday, January 8, 2014


This e-book is a slightly confusing mystery but I was impressed by Bruce's ability to present a character in a couple paragraphs so well that you feel like you know that person's type.  The exceptions are the main characters, DC Gary Goodhew and Kimberly Guyver, mother of a missing toddler.

The story begins with Kimberly in her kitchen finding a matchbook with the name and logo of Rita Club on it.  She burns the matchbook, then turns to take care of her son Riley.  On TV a news flash shows a winch lifting a car from the Mediterranean Sea.  She recognizes it, and immediately meets her friend Rachel to discuss the finding of Nick Lewton's car with Nick's remains inside.  They decide they must leave town for a while but separately because they're in danger and so is Riley.  Rachel takes him so that Kim can have a little time to prepare to go.

Kim always spends a lot of time looking at Mill Road Cemetery which is right next to her apartment in Cambridge.  Rachel lives within view with her husband Stefan Golinski, a jealous and violent man.  She is planning to leave him.  That afternoon their house burns.  Rachel's body is found inside but not Riley or Stefan.  The search begins.

Goodhew is a fascinating character.  He is single but very close to his grandmother.  Lives across from police station.  He's relatively new to force, but his boss has been watching him carefully and trusts him.  Goodhew has exactly what his boss looks for in a detective.  I loved following him and trying to figure out what he was thinking.  His insights are amazing and yet not unbelievingly so.  I like this guy.

Twists and turns lead the reader this way and that, but nothing really makes sense until near the end when all becomes clear.  Meanwhile, you worry - where is Riley?  Is he safe?  Will they find him in time?

Highly recommended
Source: Witness/Impulse Imprint, HarperCollins

Friday, January 3, 2014

COLD IN THE EARTH by Aline Templeton

This is the first of six DI Fleming thrillers to be issued as e-books by Witness/Impulse Imprint of HarperCollins.

In the prologue we read about a woman awakening because she's cold.  She realizes her pajamas are torn and she is bloody.  Not only that, she's outside in a maze.  She has been sleepwalking.  Then she sees a figure running toward her.  It looks like a man with horns, one of which stabs her in the heart.

The story is set in Scotland during an epidemic of foot and mouth disease among animals there and the resultant mass killing of suspect herds.  You feel so badly for the farmers who are losing everything they've worked for.  Many fall into depression or try in vain to prevent the authorities from entering their land.  Detective Inspector Majory Fleming's beloved chickens and sheep are in danger from the disease.

Then we meet Laura Harvey, a London psychotherapist whose mother has just died.  Laura is divorced, her sister had disappeared years ago, and suddenly she is homesick, not so much for her mom's home but for family and the countryside.  She had written a letter to her sister, an open letter that is published in a London newspaper.  She gets a response from someone who knew her sister.

There is another mysterious woman, unnamed, who owns a dress shop in London.  Now what do you suppose she has to do with the story?

Laura ends up going to the Kirkluce area to research an assigned story for the newspaper about the human effects of the epidemic among their animals, and because she has learned her sister had been there for a time before she disappeared.

We meet a family of some of the strangest people you can imagine.  And you thought your weird Uncle Frank was something!  All of these characters of course have a part in the mystery. The plotline is excellent, even though for a change I figured out whodunnit and the weapon involved way before the end.  It was how DI Fleming and her department discovered it that was interesting,

You'll love the characters in this book, especially Fleming and her husband.  It's nice to see a crime solver with a happy marriage.  The characters and their relationships as well as the scenery are what really make this novel.

Source:  publisher