Saturday, November 30, 2013

Murder in London at the start of last century.

 This story is set in London and takes place at the turn of the 20th century.

At a party at the Spanish Embassy, a confrontation takes place resulting in a young woman falling to her death.

Later, we learn that one of the guests' wife was raped and appears to have been murdered.  Thomas and Charlotte Pitt investigate along with his former boss at Special Branch, Victor Narraway who is now a member of the House of Lords.

 This story is cleverly written. Pitt must prove that there is a connection involving England's benefit since his department handles state issues.  The woman who fell to her death is the daughter of the Portuguese ambassador.

We also learn of other rapes that have happened. At this point in history women seemed afraid to report rape because they would be held to blame and their reputation ruined.

There is also a connection to Leander Starr Jameson's raid in South Africa and money spent in financing the raid.

 The end result is a well plotted, complex mystery packed with historic and interesting characters. The conclusion is well done and clever.

Anne Perry is a master of this genre and this is the 28th novel in the series. I enjoyed her writing style and the story which held my attention throughout.

Monday, November 25, 2013

A ride and a love story

Ninety-one-year-old Ira Levinson crashes his car going around an icy curve. His car goes down a snow packed embankment and his injuries make him unable to get out of the car. Besides the snow, the road is isolated and Ira fears that he won't be found.  He feels helpless but is visited by the spirit of his late wife, Ruth.

 The novel tells two stories that are interwoven around each other. In the second story, Sophia Danks, a college student interested in art history falls in love with a cowboy who is a bull rider. His name is Luke and these seemingly unlikely pair fall in love.

Like many of Nicholas Sparks's books,. there is detailed descriptions of the characters and their lives. In Ira's case, we observe his father's haberdashery business and how Ira falls in love with Ruth from the moment she comes into the store to buy a hat for her father. Her family was from Vienna and we also learn that those who were left behind were facing the persecution of the Jews under Hitler.

Many of Sparks's novels have been turned into films and it is easy for the reader to close their eyes and imagine the action unfolding on a screen before them.

There are no surprises and some of the action seems like it's been done before but still an enjoyable novel and a fine romance, just right for romantic literature fans.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

A mystery that stands out and is perfect for the holidays.

I was enchanted with this book as soon as I saw the cover with the tall spruce trees lining a snow packed road and a lone vehicle traveling with what appears to be flashing lights. Was it traveling to some mysterious setting?

The story has two parts. In one, the wife of a powerful, arrogant judge disappears and her car is found abandoned in a snowbank. The judge is not well liked but could he have been behind his wife's disappearance? What could be his motive? There is evidence that shows something is amiss.

In the other portion of the story, someone seems to want to harm Cork O'Connor's son, Stephen,  or his girlfriend. The youngsters car is practically forced off the road and skids into a possible life or death situation.

Everything is shrouded in mystery and Cork, the former sheriff, now a P.I. is asked to assist in the investigation because the sheriff's investigator is on vacation.

Cork is a returning character who is the protagonist of William Kent Krueger. He is part American Indian from the Ojbwe tribe and we experience the mysticism and spirituality of the Indians and Cork's daughter who was planning to become a nun.

Cork follows the investigation and someone goes to Stephen's girlfriend's home and kills her dog. She and her mother were minding the dog until a relative got out of jail in the near future. Cork analyzes the occurrences and begins to see a pattern. But who could be doing these things?

The setting is just before Christmas and perfect reading as we get ready for the holidays.

The characters are unique and wonderful. The area of the crime is in Minnesota just outside of an Indian reservation and the author's descriptions are vivid and memorable.

Very entertaining.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Action in East Texas at the turn of the 20th Century

Sixteen-year-old Jack Parker has seen his parents die of the smallpox epidemic and his grandfather killed by an outlaw. When the outlaw kidnapped Jack's fourteen-year-old sister, he couldn't let the outlaws get away with it. He's determined to rescue her and his actions reminded me of Huckleberry Finn. There is a comparison to Mark Twain in Joe R. Lansdale's writing.

Action takes place in East Texas at the turn of last century. We follow Jack's narrative and his amazement with some of the new advances such as the telephone and automobile.

Jack has a group of men who agree to go after the outlaws. He has land from his parents and grandfather and offers that as an incentive. Among the characters who accompany Jack is a black man who was a grave digger, a dwarf who had been in the circus, a whore, and a sheriff who had been a bounty hunter. The men are also accompanied by a hog and this reminded me of the piglets who followed the cattle drive in "Lonesome Dove."

They follow the trail of the outlaws and one of the outlaws, Fatty Worth, has escaped from jail and is on the trail to join the outlaw gang. This man is a cold blooded killer who was reminiscent of Blue Duck from "Lonesome Dove" in the multitude and heartlessness of the people he meets along the trail and kills.

Along the way, Jack's friends talk about their past adventures and in this manner we learn of Shorty's meeting Buffalo Bill and Annie Oakley among other notables of history. This adds to the interest in the story.

The Thicket is a wooded area where the outlaws are hiding. This area is populated by murderous men and when peaceful people try to exist among them, many of the law abiding people are killed.

The story moves along swiftly with images of  Texas and life in a wild area at a momentous time in history.


Friday, November 8, 2013

Wasted days and wasted nights, but not if you have a good book

We go back in time for "W is for Wasted." It's 1988 and Kinsey Millhone is age 38.

There are two parallel investigations that PI Kinsey gets involved with. First there is a homeless man who had Kinsey's name and phone with him when he died. Through the investigation, Kinsey learns that the man was a former convict whose conviction was overturned. He was ostracized by his children and was a long lost relative of Kinsey's. She learns that the man had made her the executor of his estate.

The second story involves a shady police investigator, Pete Wolinsky who tried to take advantage of every situation. He gets involved in a marital investigation and it develops that there is a chance for Pete to make extra money through blackmail.

This is an enjoyable novel with a contemporary plot in that it deals with the homeless and medical experiments. The Wasted in the title appears to be about the lives of the homeless and in particular, Kinsey's relative who wasted his life when he had the brains to make something of himself.

Kinsey's relative, R.T. Dane was tried and convicted of a crime that a fellow worked committed. Only when the other man was on his death bed was Dane's conviction overturned and Dane freed. By that time, his family didn't want anything to do with him.

The action moves along nicely and Kinsey's dealing with Dane's children is interesting to follow. We come to feel that the children were only looking for what they could get from suddenly seeing something in their dead father that they liked.

I found the book entertaining but not one of the author's best works. I appreciated how  the author wrote about the homeless and how they might have become more if their situations were different.

Monday, November 4, 2013

'Tis a tale of the old country

"Buried in a Bog" is Sheila Connolly's charming story about a young woman from Boston who goes to her ancestral home in Cork County, Ireland.

The author states that she has a fondness for genealogy and this novel demonstrates her interest and passion. The story follows Maura Donovan who comes to a small village, Leap, in County Cork. Her gran, Nora raised Maura and her dying wish was that Maura return to the village where Gran lives in her younger days.

The picturesque village of Leap is made up of many people named after their relatives so we see a number of characters with the same name. This is confusing to Maura but she is enchanted by the tradition. She is told to go to Sullivan's Pub and will receive directions to the friend of her grandmother's who corresponded with her, Bridget Nolan.

Soon after Maura's arrival, a body is found in a bog. The person might have been there for half a century and is the talk of the town as to who it might be.

The owner of the pub had recently died and Maura takes a job there as she tries to learn more about her family and the land surrounding them.

Many people come to Sullivan's to interact with each other and share the latest gossip. Maura meets them as they arrive and interacts with them.

A man is murdered in the neighboring town and this becomes a bigger source of interest. Then, Maura finds a letter in the bar's papers. This is from a man in Australia trying to find about his ancestors and his missing uncle. Maura thinks that this might be the man in the bog and brings the info to the police but someone tries to run her car off the road and intimidate her.

Many people are related to each other and befriend her. Two managers of the pub ask her to remain in Leap until the ownership of the pub is determined.

This is a delightful story of identity and life's goals. Maura has nothing to tie her to Boston and comes to love the area and its inhabitants. She fits into her new surroundings easily and stands up for herself with the person trying to scare her into leaving.

I enjoyed the story and Maura's infatuation with the land and people who we find were related to her in distant ways.

Highly recommended.

Friday, November 1, 2013

A love story in cattle country and the threat of wolves

In the ranching community of Hope, Montana, wolves make their presence known by killing a number of the ranchers' cattle.

The ranchers, led by the powerful Buck Calder, would like to exterminate the wolves but the wolves are protected by government laws.

Helen Ross, a wolf biologist, is sent to the area to tag and protect the wolves. She is provided a cabin in the mountains so she can do her work in the area that is closer to the wolves trails.

Buck's son, Luke, is an eighteen-year-old who dislikes the idea of killing animals. He and Helen form a relationship that becomes romantic. They both attempt to protect the wolves from the ranchers' hatred.

The story presents both points of view, the care for an endangered species that had roamed this area, and the survival of the ranchers' cattle.

Among the unique characters we meet is J.J. Lovelace, a wolf catcher. He seems to have no love for anyone but is captivated by a one-year-old child he comes across at Buck's ranch. This encounter seems to open an area of Lovelace's soul.

Helen is a character the reader can empathize with, trying to do a job surrounded by ranchers who hate what she's doing. The pacing of the story is also well done as we get to see the town folk deal with the elements of a snowy winter.

The story is based on relationships and Luke's development as a character is well documented. He had been under his stern father's rule but even as a young person, he is strong enough to make up his own mind about the wolves and his future.

The story was enjoyable and it leave a good memory of Hope, Montana and make us wonder what the community might be like today.

Currently Reading

Currently Reading
Broken Promise