Penny in 2018
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I am starting the year with a ‘comfort author,’ sort of. When I am lost for something to read and I want a comfort author one of my go-too’s Is Dick Francis I like his son Felix Francis but not quite as much. I decided to read his newest Pulse, and it is quite different. More when I finish and post it. Just not the comfort book that I expected!
I don’t plan ahead what I am going to read other than I have a variety of wish lists on amazon.ca. My next read is prompted by what is in my Kindle, what I have borrowed from the library, a title I may have encountered on the LT Friday what are you reading question...
In 2017 I read 220 books so my goal for 2018 is 250.
Top Five Reads of 2017:
A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
Hiroshima Maidens- Rodney Baker
Innovation Nation: How Canadian Innovators Made the World Smarter, Smaller, Kinder, Safer, Healthier, Wealthier, Happier - David Johnston, Tom Jenkins
The Suez Canal - Samuel C. Burchell
Miracle at Dunkirk - Walter Lord
I use an iPad and I don’t know how to copy covers, or even if I can. I have mastered copying text. Can anyone help?
Also in 2015 there was a bingo game of subjects to read. Has it gone away, posted elsewhere? Would I be able to copy it?
Oh! Happy New Year to one and all! I wish you a year of health and good reads📚⭐️📚
Happy New Year, Penny! I look forward to following your reading this year.
#1. Pulse, Felix Francis
Pulse is a different Francis Book, quite removed from those written by Dick and going farther into another subject than the previous Felix Francis titles. Both authors did plotted their horse related mysteries around other occupations, bankers, pilots, and toy designers are some examples.
First I will outline the plot. Dr. Chris Rankin is a doctor in the emergency department of the Cheltenham Hospital. An unconscious man arrives from the racetrack without identification and he dies. She decides it is her fault and sets out to find out who he was and what happened to him. In the process she uncovers a racing/betting fix and she endangers herself and her family. Typical Francis.
Dr. Rankin is suffering from depression and an eating disorder to the point she is suspended from her hospital duties and placed in a mental institution. She does return to work but recovery is a slow personal battle.
What makes this, in my mind, different from other Francis books is the detailed scientific and medical information provided, the details of the man’s symptoms, heart rate and blood pressure, the impact of orally ingested cocaine. In addition there is in-depth information on depression and anoxia and the mental and physical impact on the person. This is not in-passing information but as I said detailed information throughout the book that is presented in both a scientific and layman’s language. I found it repetitious.
When I don’t know what to read I look to Dick/Felix Francis as comfort books. This won’t be on my comfort list, but I will probably reread it because some of the plot details are hidden by the medical info. If you read Francis don’t skip Pulse.
#2. The Case of the Angry Actress, E. V. Cunningham
Eleven years ago Hollywood studio executives and actors gang raped a young actress, promising her a role in a film. Sargent Masao Masuto of the Beverly Hills Police Department is investigating one death which leads him to two others. He has identified the group of people but which one is the murderer?
This is the first in a series of seven titles featuring Masuto, written From 1967 to 1984 by Howard Fast using the pseudonym E. V. Cunningham. I am rereading it, having first read it in the 1980’s.
#3. The Day Will Come, Beryl Matthews
Another WW II war story of a woman and her experience in army intelligence, including a sojourn in France. More story than action, but one that showed the bonds that grew quickly among those involved in the war, military, resistance and citizens and how they supported each other.
Hi Penny, interesting comments on Pulse. I'm a Francis fan, but I put that one down at some point last year for some reason. I'm currently reading Louise Penny's Glass Houses via audiobook.
#4. Color of Fear, Marcia Muller
Sharon McCone’s father, Elwood, is attacked in San Francisco and left for dead in what appears to be a racially motivated attack. Subsequent events against her agency and staff support this theory. It happens just prior to Christmas and is solved by New Year’s. It highlights an increasingly nasty side of our society as well as the ‘don’t get involved’ sector, but not in a preachy way by any means.
Like Pulse by Felix Francis the medical information is provided in detail on his head injuries including the treatment. Also both books discuss the brain condition locked-in, which McCone experienced in the book titled Locked In. The difference is Muller adds the information through the plot discussion. Francis made the medical details a sub-set of the plot. I preferred Muller’s treatment (no pun intended).
#5. How To Find Love in a Book Shop, Veronica Henry
The epigraph for this book is by Nora Ephron ‘Reading is everything.’ Emilia inherited Nightengale Books from her father only to discover he really didn’t know anything about numbers. While struggling with the decision to sell or not through the store the books she sells touch and change the lives of her customers. It sounds cliche but it is true the right book at the right time does speak to the reader.
A word on the number of stars I award. A book has to really touch me to get 5, 4 - 41/2 is a very good read, 31/2 is entertaining, 3 is entertaining but needs to be better edited. 21/2 and below need to be re-edited and mistakes corrected. From my seven years of running a publishing company I really notice mistakes in editing, a person’s car is red in one chapter and blue in the next, and repetition of facts past the necessary.
#6 When Books Went to War: The Stories That Helped Us Win World War II, Molly Guptill Manning
The actions of librarians, first in setting up public programs fighting against the distruction of books and the ideas they represent by Hitler and the German military in 1933, the collection of over ten million books for U.S. military bases in the United States, their support of the Council that worked to put paperbacks in the hands of every American serviceman and then at the end of the war their efforts to ensure returning military understood the G.I. Bill makes me proud to be a librarian.
When Books went to War opens and closes with the role of librarians. The other focuses of the book are the power of the book and reading and the change they can make on a person. By providing the paperbacks they enable men at war to find another place to go, an escape which enabled them to survive the day to day warfare.
In addition to the struggles of producing the books it covers the politics surrounding the project. It could do with better editing that reduced the repetition. Interesting and it filled in gaps I had on this project. I learned from this book.
#7, White Sand Blues, Vicki Delany
Rapid Reads is a great Canadian series published by Orca Books. If you tutor ESL adults or in literacy programs and are looking for good titles in a variety of topics I recommend it. The reading time is about 11/2 hours. This is Vicki Delany’s second Rapid Reads Series. The first is the Ray Robertson series about a member of the RCMP in South Sudan and then Haiti.
Ashley Grant has escaped the cold Canadian winters and taken a job as a medic in the Victoria and Albert Islands in the Caribbean. She is met upon her arrival by plane by a new colleague in the ambulance enroute to a drowning. The victim is the father of a school friend who claims her step-mother murdered her father.
This is Vicki Delany’s second Rapid Read series, following the Sargent Ray Robertson series.
I think I am in over my head with this group in the types of books we read and approach to reading. I have books that have been on my Kindle for months and months waiting to be read only to be bypassed by a new arrival. I get a whim and read five literary travel ‘walking’ books in a row, then I go back to WW II resistance, some fiction some nonfiction by not by authors well known.
Let me hold that thought and go back to Books at war.
a club read danger... finding enticing titles many times faster than you can possible read them. : )
#8. The Case of the One-Penny Orange (A Masao Masuto Mystery, E. V. Cunningham
Masuto is faced with the unusual, two robberies where the locations were ransacked but nothing taken and two, perhaps three murders. How he zeroes in on the One-Penny Orange 1848 stamp from Mauritius as the cause is a real stretch but the history of the stamp is interesting.
#9. Wives of War, Soraya M. Lane
Three young nurses are part of the Normandy Invasion in May, 1944. This is their war story as they nurse their way across northern France to Brussels. I am not sure what draws me to books like this from WW I and II but I am moved by what they gave up at such a young age. What they accomplished under such terrible and trying conditions and what they carried within themselves over the rest of the years of their lives.
#10. A Murder of No Account, Julie Underwood
Eve Duncan and her friend Charlie come across the body of a young woman who appears to have been murdered. It is the beginning of WW II and the police, being short-handed, enlist Duncan’s services to investigate the Polish woman’s death. It was clear to me from the beginning who did it. A pretty thin mystery.
#11. The Widows of Malabar Hill, Sujata Massey
Perveen Mistry, the first woman solicitor in Bombay, in India for that matter, is based on India’s two earliest women lawyers: Cornelia Sorabji of Poona, the first woman to read law at Oxford in 1892, and Mithan Tata Lam who was also an Oxford graduate and the first woman admitted to the Bombay Bar in 1923. I think she represents them well. Mistry started her legal education at the Government Law School in Bombay in 1916 and completed it at Oxford in 1921. Upon her return to Bombay she entered the practice of her father, Jamshedji Mistry. Perveen is a smart, articulate woman and it is her attention to detail that leads her to the problem and helps her solve it.
The case she is working on is the estate settlement of three widows living in the Malabar Hill neighbourhood of Bombay and the four young children of Mr. Omar Farid. Once all debts have been paid the settlement is a mathematical division of the assets starting with the children, and the return of the dowry to the widows. Mr. Faisal Mukri, the appointed estate trustee, sent Perveen a letter stating the widows wished to give up their assets as a donation to the family trust. She is puzzled by this for a couple of reasons, the signatures on the attached documents are questionable and on what do the widows plan to life if they fore go their assets. To complicate matters the widows live in seclusion and will only deal with another woman. On Perveen’s first visit Mr. Mukri is murdered and it has to have been done by someone with in the house.
A subplot of the book is Perveen’s marriage, in 1916, to Mr. Cyrus Sodawalla of Calcutta and subsequent seperation. This episode contains interesting information on some female customs as well the legal standing of women in India in the 1920’s.
The book requires the readers’ attention as there are many characters that move the plot along as well as provide background information. As I wrote that it came to me that that is appropriate for an Indian novel as it reflects the large, busy society of the country.
Massey is also the author of the award winning series featuring Rei Shimura, a Japanese American antique dealer in Japan, originally from California. A series I greatly enjoyed.
#12. The Last Painting of Sara de Vos, Dominic Smith
Sara de Vos, a painter from the golden age of Dutch art, the 1600, Ellie Shipley, an artist and forger, in New York, 1957, a university professor and curator in 2000 in Sydney and Marty de Groot, New York lawyer and caretaker of a family art collector are the major characters of The Last Painting of Sara de Vos which moves from Holland in 628-31 to Sydney in 2000.
Ellie Shipley is curating a show of the female artists of the Dutch Golden age at a Sydney art gallery in 2000. An art gallery in Holland has lent “Girl at the Edge of the Wood,” believed to be de Vos’ last painting. An American collector, de Groot, is also lending the same painting to the gallery. Shipley is about to be faced with the step out of bounds she committed in 1957 when, following a theft at the de Groot home, she make a copy from the original painting.
The plot is intriguing. It reads like a mystery, how will she be found out and what will happen to her. Is it really de Vos’s last painting? What happens to de Vos? I recently started to paint and I appreciate the part that is an art lesson in light. How it creates shadows in the snow, in the folds of drapes, how to determine where it will come from. It has a lesson in how to create a forgery from aging the canvas to how paints were mixed by de Vos and then by Shipley to create the same aging effect. It also moves back and forth in the time periods and characters well.
>17 pmarshall: I have books that have been on my Kindle for months and months waiting to be read only to be bypassed by a new arrival. I get a whim and read five literary travel ‘walking’ books in a row, then I go back to WW II resistance, some fiction some nonfiction by not by authors well known.
Follow your whim, is my philosophy. I no longer have to read for either work or school, so now I read what interests me, period. And that takes me in directions just as you're suggesting: following leads, reading on related topics, then looping back. The trick is to not lose interest in the original book, but when that happens I just move on to whatever is intriguing NOW. Part of this is age, I think, because there's only so many hours in a life, and why spend them on something that's no longer holding one's attention?
Thank you. I needed those words. I went to your home page. I am also a retired librarian. Sometimes being a librarian makes me feel guilty because I haven’t read all/many ‘classics’ and some awards turm me off titles. But, on the other hand, I enjoy what I read and learn things from most of it. What more can I ask for, oh and I am entertained. 📚📚📚
#13. The Honest Spy, Andreas Kollender
Fritz Kolbe is an officer in the Germany Foreign Office, stationed in Berlin durning WW II. He is a German, but not a supporter of Hitler or his government. He has access to incredible information that would be very valuable to the allies. He offers it to the Americans and works with Allan Dulles. In the end he is labelled a traitor. This is bases on true events.
#14. Letters of Freedom, Jean Grainger
Carmel was raised in an Irish orphanage and entered a loveless marriage to look after a farmer and his daughters. When she receives a letter from a doctor in England saying he knew her mother who had searched for her for years she takes a chance on life and agrees to meet him.
#15. The Case of the Russian Diplomat, E. V. Cunningham
Masao Masuto, Head of Homicide, Beverley Hills Police Department and a Zen Buddhist has a different approach to solving crime. He is able to make connections among pieces of information that lead to the closing of the case. A dead man in a hotel pool, his absent clothes, Russian scientists touring orange groves, the break-in at a munitions factory, a belly dancer and a missing bus boy are all parts of the solution to this mystery but only Masulto could connect the dots.
You're cruising through books, Penny. Many mysteries. Wives of War sounds really interesting.
#16. From the Heart of Africa: A Book of Wisdom, Eric Walters
“There is always a winner, even in a monkey’s beauty contest,” and I won again with my second Early Reviewers Book by Canadian Eric Walters. The first was Hope Springs, the story of bringing water to two villages in Kenya.
From the Heart of Africa: A Book of Wisdom is a collection of proverbs, also known as aphorisms collected from across Africa. Many are familiar in other words, but as Walters points out in his introduction Africa is where we all started our journey on this planet and it is here wisdom started. “One people, one race, one place.”
Each proverb is illustrated in beautiful, rich colours in a variety of styles sure to please the eyes of the reader and children listening. The illustrators come from around the world.
Eric Walters is a Canadian author, teacher and founder of Creation of Hope, a community in Makueni County, Kenya which supports orphans. In recognition of his work he has been made a Kamba elder and, in 2014, was named to the Order of Canada.
#17. The Case of the Poisoned Eclairs, E. V. Cunningham
To keep one woman from telling a truth about himself, a man commits three murders and two attempted murders. This is an interesting view of the life of women in Beverley Hills as well as how the mind of a Zen Buddhist policeman works as he puts together pieces of information to make a viable case.
#18. The Case of the Sliding Pool, E. V. Cunningham
Bones are found when rain caused a pool to slide down the hill, they were 30 years old. Masuto takes on the case which has no clues as to who was murdered and buried , by whom or why. Starting with how the grave was dug he figures the case out by constantly questioning himself. Four murders later he faces the two businessmen involved in the original murder.
#20. The Case of the Murdered MacKenzie, E. V. Cunningham
Case of the Murdered Mackenzie, E. V. Cunningham (1985)
Bodies that fingerprints don’t identify, two attempts on Masuto’s life, one resulting in the death of a colleague, the FBI, CIA and finally the KBG, no real plot that ties it together. The last in the series and, I think, the worst.
20 Books read
1 Series read - Masai Masuto, E. V. Cunningham (Howard Fast), Police Procedural, 7 titles
5 Titles reviewed
Favourite book: The Widows of Malabar Hill, Sujata Massey
So glad to find you in this group. We have a very similar taste in mysteries! Just one glance at your thread has increased my wishlist.
And I am sorry you've had health problems. I hope all is well.
At 4:40 a.m. on January 24, 2018, a pipe in the sprinkler system broke. When I was evacuated from my room there was about 4” of water on the floor and water dripping from the ceiling. Eighteen of us were taken to another building. I was fortunate as my room sustained little damage. The ceiling in two rooms and in the dining room and kitchen fell. There are still workers here and it is obvious as soon as you enter the front door that you are in a construction zone. The dust and dryness have effected my eyes so I have not been reading. The Olympics have also taken over my time.
#21. Skinner’s Elves: A Bob Skinner Christmas Story, Quintin Jardine
A short story told by James “Jazz” Skinner Bob and Sarah’s son tells of the Christmas of 2041 in Spain and the power of grandchildren to reach through the sadness and mourning their grandfather is lost in following Sarah’s death.
It is nice to see into the future and where Bob’s children are in their lives.
>39 pmarshall: So sorry to hear that! I'm on construction sites frequently and know how hard it is to be around it. I hope everything is clean up quickly.
>42 janemarieprice: I think the fact that they have to work around the 18 residences Makes the construction process that much more difficult however they are progressing well. Thank goodness.
#22. The Tuscan Child, Rhys Bowen
In 1973 Joanne Langley’s father dies and she discovers that she is not an only child but has, possibly, 2 half brothers. She also learns that in World War II her father’s plane crash in Italy. She decides to visit Tuscany and find out more about her father, a person she never really knew. The novel moves between 1973 and Joanne’s time in Tuscany and 1944 when her father who is in hiding after his plane crash and was help by a local woman.
#23. the Fifth Gospel, Ian Caldwell
Nearing the end of Pope John Paul tenure a controversial exhibition is being planned on the Shroud of Turin and it’s relationship with the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches. Two brothers, one a Catholic priest and one an Orthodox priest, are working with the curator when he is murdered and the story is told by one of them.
1 Short story, 2 books read
Favourite book - The Fifth Gospel
Curling the first week of February and the Olympics mid-month certainly took up some of my reading time. Also the dust and dryness resulting from the sprinkler flood bother my eyes when I read.
#24. The Woman on the Orient Express, Lindsay Jayne Ashford
Agatha Christie flees London to Baghdad via the Orient Express, escaping from the media surrounding her ‘missing days,’ her divorce and Archie Christie’s upcoming marriage. On the train she meets two women who are also hiding parts of their life and will have a major impact on her life in a very short period of time, and her future husband, an archaeologist. If you are a fan of Agatha Christie I recommend this fictionalized biography to you.
>37 pmarshall: I seem to have an arc of the Sujata Massey here somewhere, glad to hear it's worth the read. Ages ago I read quite a bit of her series set in Japan.
>44 pmarshall: Have you read Rhys Bowen’s other recent stand alone In Farleigh Field? I read that one last year, and I’ve been thinking about trying this new one.
You’ve been doing some good reading. I’m so sorry to hear of your health problems.
#25. Goodnight From London, Jennifer Robson
Ruby Sutton, an American journalist moves to London in 1940 to work for a weekly newspaper and to send articles back to a paper in New York. Having grown up in an orphanage the move changes her life. Not just living through the Blitz and losing her home but experiencing the open friendliness of the English people as they lived through the war at the same time opening themselves to a journalist and finding her first true friends.
I read In Farleigh Fields last year. What struck me about it was the active support for Hitler among the upper class in England. It certainly didn’t help the war effort. I was aware of it but this book really brings it out. Do read it and let me know what you think.
#26. The Girl in the Blue Coat, Monica Hesse
Hanneke, a teenager, supports her parents by procuring and selling black market goods to paying customers in Amsterdam during WW II. Her life changes when a customer asks her to find a missing Jewish girl who had been hiding from the Nazis in a secret room in her home.
#27. The Frenchman’s Daughters, Paul Sinkinson
In 1940 a motley crew of a couple of French soldiers and civilians, a couple of British soldiers and a French train engineer made their way to the latter’s farm enroute to the French coast and to England. This was just after Dunkirk. The engineer was murdered by German’s at his farm and his three daughters joined the others in the escape.
Once they reached London they approached De Gaulle to join the Free French. Here is where the most interesting part of the book starts. In detail it outlines the 18 months of training they undertake in Yorkshire to prepare them for their return to France. It included what you would expect, physical training, Morse code, map reading, weapons from hand guns to knives to hand-to-hand combat. For the three young women, 19 and 16 year old twins a weekend in a brothel where they learn to be comfortable with their own sexuality as well as with men in German uniforms. The men learn how to operate trains, boats and tanks and they all learn how to parachute out of a plane in the dark of night.The details of all the training are fascinating.
In 1943 the men parachute into the south of France and the women arrive over the Pyrenees from Spain. All had spent time in Gibraltar getting a tan, nothing was left to chance. Their clothes, shoes etc. had been made in France and sent to them in England for wear and washings.
Now they put their training to use with the goal of disrupting the Germans without making it look like the activities were carried out by the local citizens. They wanted to avoid retaliation. They bombed bridges, sabotage trains, take back gold and jewels the Germans had stolen from Jews. This funded weapons for local resistance groups.
As D-Day came closer they joined forces with local French resistance groups, assisting with training and disruptive activities leading up to and beyond the Normandy invasion. At one point they work an operation with the American Army.
It is fiction but the writing style is more like nonfiction which adds to the reality of the book. I have my usual complaint of poor editing. In this case the author confuses two characters and has, Jean, a Frenchman from Lillie, introducing the group to his parents at their farm in Yorkshire. Edward was from Yorkshire and his parents lived on a farm. At the beginning of the book is a list of characters with a short biographical note which helped me sort this out. One other thing that bothered me was they all survived the war, with just two of the men getting wounded. I know their training was to help them avoid this, but I found it unrealistic.
I have read a number of books, fiction and nonfiction, about World War II and the resistance. None have had the level of detail on the training and activities as The Frenchman’s Daughters. I highly recommend it.
Reviewed March 8, 2018
I am preparing for To Die But Once, number 14 in Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs series. Before I read the new title I reread the last one or two titles in a series to refresh my memory.
#28. Journey to Munich, Jacqueline Winspear
Maisie is recruited by the Secret Service to rescue a British citizen inprisioned in Dachau. She is also asked by John Otterburn to bring his daughter back from Munich. As to be expected when dealing with the Nazis all does not go according to plan.
#29. In This Grave Hour, Jacqueline Winspear
September 3, 1939 is an emotional day for Maisie and the Partridge family as Britain declares war on Germany. Thomas, the oldest of Priscilla's three sons is 18 and wants to join the RAF. Maisie undertakes a complicated murder investigation into the deaths of Belgian refugees from WW I. Children are evacuated from London to Maisie's home in Kent.
>56 pmarshall: I really should get back to the Maisie Dobbs series. The last I read was the tenth, Leaving Everything Most Loved. I’m not sure why I haven’t read any since that one.
Edited to add that your post prompted me to download the next two books for my trip next week. They were available at the library.
>57 NanaCC:, Oh boy. You're in for it, Colleen. I absolutely want to hear what you think of book 11.
#30. Murder on the Orient Express, Agatha Christie
A train stuck in a snowdrift, a dead man with twelve stab wounds, thirteen people of different ages, nationalities and background, a few clues and an old kidnaping case sets the scene. Add Hercule Poirot to the mix and a solution is arrived at.
>61 pmarshall: I haven’t read many of the Bess Crawford series, Penny. I’m still making my way through Inspector Rutledge. I’ll get to her eventually.
#33. A Casualty of War, Charles Todd
Bess Crawford twice treats a British soldier who claims he was shot, in the head and in the back, by another British soldier, perhaps by the distant cousin he met once in Paris. Captain Travis ends up in a hospital for the mentally disturbed in England. Bess is determined to get him released and sets out to find his relatives.
#34. Triple Crown, Felix Francis
Jeff Hinkley is seconded to the American agency that oversees fraud in horseracing. There is a mole within the agency disrupting their investigations of the use of drugs by alerting trainers and owners prior to raids and testing. Hinkley goes undercover in a stables with the aim of identifying and catching the mole. Another good Francis read.
>67 pmarshall: I’ve read all of the Adam Dalgliesh novels, but I’ve never read this book, which I believe is short stories. I’m adding to my wishlist.
#36 Wolfie and Fly, Cary Fagan
Renata Wolfman, “Wolfie,” and Livingston Flott, “Fly,” are neighbours and in the same class at school but not friends. Renata is quite happy on her own, with her books, crafts and imagination. Fly aggravates his older brother and makes up songs. One morning left on her own Renata decides to turn the box the new fridge arrived in into a submarine. Fly arrives on the doorstep seekers a place to hide from his brother and talks his way into the living room where he discovers the sub. After some minor changes he persuades “Wolfie” to take it on a trip and what an adventure they have!
The children are believable characters, we all knew loners at school, kids others made fun of, but interesting people if you had the opportunity to know them. The adventure involves imagination, information fron Renata’s book on the ocean and an escape from a pirate!
A chapter book that draws out the adventure and will have the reader looking for future adventures of Wolfie and Fly.
I received this as an Early Reviewers book.
Reviewed March 20, 2018
#37. The Color of Secrets,Lindsay Jayne Ashford
In 1943 Eva, whose husband was missing in action, met Bill, a black American soldier in her home town in England. They fell in love and when he shipped out she was about six months pregnant with their daughter, Louise. Eva’s husband returned at the end of the war and he adopted Louise. Thus began the secrets of color and it’s impact extended into the next generation.
#38. Mrs. Pargeter’s Principle, Simon Brett
Mrs. Pargeter reads the death notice of a man listed in her late husband’s book of associates, a name she doesn’t recognize. When she makes inquiries among other men who worked with Mr. Pargeter no one recognizes the name. So who is Sir Normington Winthrop? She, with assistance, investigates his background and runs into a variety of funny and interesting situations.
#39. Presumption of Guilt, Archer Mayor
A body is found incased in cement forty years after the building of a warehouse. The murdered man is identified as a roofer, recently seperated from his wife and father of a a young son and daughter. He also worked as the manager of the roofing company for the local owner. These are the forty year old facts. The present brings forth thieves, murder and perhaps mob connections. Joe Gunther and his investigators have to find the solutions.
#40. Trace, Archer Mayor
Gunther is called away to assist his ill mother and the team takes on three complex cases. Three bloody teeth found on the train tracks and a burnt out box leads Willie on a search involving Homeland Security and the U. S. Military. Sammie is made acting director and she becomes involved in a murder that leads to the downfall of a New York lawyer. New technology reopens the investigation of a three year old case involving the shooting of a cop and the driver of the car he stopped on the highway. A great read!
#41. Crystal, Susan Hill
The only son and youngest child in an Irish family of six children it was determined from an early age that he would be a priest. His first assignment was to a church in a concrete city in England with a priest who didn't like him. The conclusion comes too fast to make it believable.
#42. Hero, Susan Hill
Detective Chief Superintendent Simon Serrailler received The Queen’s Police Medal at Buckingham Palace. Following celebrations with his family he goes for a walk which takes him back to his first beat in London. It brings back memories of a car crash, a robbery and chasing a suspect. He sees him again, weeks later, and persues him in a race that takes them to the rooftops. The man falls to his death and Simon is seen as a hero for bringing about tthe death of a man with a long, violent rap sheet. This is the first time he hears the wotd hero applied to himself and doesn’t feel it is correct.
#43. To Die But Once, Jacqueline Winspear
War has been declared against Germany. The events leading to the evacuation of Dunkirk are underway in Belgium and France. This book gives the perspective of Dunkirk from that of the British people, not the military which is interesting. Sixteen year old Tim Partridge and his friend ‘borrow’ a boat from his friend’s father and join the Dunkirk evacuation. Maisie’s attempts to adopt Anna are being blocked because she doesn’t have a husband, she is only a widow. The major case she and Billie take on starts as a search for a missing teenager and grows to include abuse of the Secrets Act, plans to rob the Bank of England and very harmful paint fumes. Oh, and throw in a German spy for good measure. It all comes together in the end. A good read!
I'm glad to see someone is reading Archer Mayor! He must be up to about book 30 by now! In the early days, we used to have him regularly at the bookstore for signings. One of our favorite events was Julia Spencer-Fleming, Sarah Stewart Taylor & Archer. It was great fun (Julia & Sarah told Archer he needed more sex in his books...LOL)
We have a thread (here in Club Read) going for those who read Mysteries, Crime Novels & Thrillers, if you are interested in stopping by.
I hadn’t read Archer Mayor in a while and I forgot how much I enjoy his books. Joe has a new lover, Beverly!
Has Julia Spencer-Fleming written anything lately? I enjoyed her Clare Fergusson series. It brought together two of my favourite mysteries, ecclesiastical and police procedurals.
I do follow Mysteries, Crimes and Thrillers, I just haven’t posted to it I guess.
#44. Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, Helen Simonson
Major Pettigrew is a retired British army officer and widower living in a small English Village. He developed a friendship with Mrs. Ali, Pakistani Widow who owns The Village Store. They're developing friendship exposes The Villages racism against foreigners tradespeople and seniors.
>79 pmarshall: re: Julia Spencer Fleming. Not to my knowledge. Her most recent seems to be 2013. Her husband passed away in 2017 and that may have postponed writing or publishing....
#45.The Fall, John Lescroart
Rebecca Harding's first case is difficult for a number of reasons. Her client pushes for a quick trial which leaves her with limited preparation time he becomes a friend as well as a client and becomes personally involved with her assistant and roommate. The usual characters float in and out of this book and add a familiarity to it. The end is a surprise to all. A good read.
#46. Poison, John Lescroart
A former client of Harry's is accused of a murder from which she will also financial benefit. Three members of the family run firm are also suspects. This case cases a crisis in his family.A good read, what I expect from Lescroart.
#49. The Sleeping Dictionary, Sujata Massey
The bones of this book tell the story of ten year old Pom from when she was carried away from her coastal home by the tsunami that killed her family to when she is in her late twenties and becomes engaged to Simon an Englishman. It is told against the rise of India from being a British colony to independence in 1947 and her earlier life working as a domestic in a boarding school, her teen years as a prostitute. She becomes pregnant as a result of being raped by a customer and runs away with her baby. Her goal is to earn enough money to pay for her education. I avoided this book for a while because the parts seemed bizarre, but I really like Sujata Massey's writing and she researches her work well.I should have relied on my faith in Massey sooner.
#50. Front Runner, Felix Francis
Jeff Hinkley is told by the top jockey that he is being blackmailed to stop races. Before they can meet again the jockey is murderd. Hinkley encountes an angry situation where he over hears a man being told "You shouldn't even be in the country!" and he wants to know why.
#51. Beneath A Scarlet Sky, Mark Sullivan
Based on the true story of Pino lella, a member of a wealthy Jewish family in Milan, Italy. In 1943, age 17, Pino starts his resistance activities by leading Jews and downed Allied airmen over the Alps to neutral Switzerland. Just prior to his 18th. birthda, at his parents urgings, he enlists in the German army to avoid being conscripted into the Italian army and sent to the Eastern Front. He becomes the driver for the German general Leyers and is exposed to the worst of German warfare. Little is written about the war in Italy which makes this even more interesting.
#52. 30 Days of Justis, John Ellsworth
Michael Gresham received a letter from the daughter he never knew he had asking for his help. She has been convicted of murder in Washington state and is on death row, awaiting the death penalty in 30 days. She was placed in foster care at age 13, raped by her foster father, a judge, at age 14 who dies of HIV and accused her of giving him the disease. Gresham faces a crooked and biased legal system that fights him down to 11:58 p.m. on the last day of his daughter's life. Interesting.
#53, The Best of Our Spies, Alex Gerlis
Two Nazi spies enter England via the Dunkirk rescue mission and, unknown to one of them, they both come under the control of British Intelligence and are used to pass false information to the Germans on where the D-Day landing will occur. A good read and interesting story line.
#55. Proof Positive, Archer Mayor
A University of Vermont student art show fatures photos taken in Vietnam resulting in the deaths of some of the men who appeared in the photos. Why? Tropical Storm Irene causes a landslide in a cemetery and a coffin full of rocks is uncovered. Where is the body\person? A woman known as Governor has been in a mental hospital for over 40 years and it is not known why. During Irene she wanders away and disappears. A former Governor appears to have died of natural causes, but did he? In the aftermath of the storm and the resulting damage to roads, bridges, cell towers etr. and the unusual number of cases Gunther and his staff are stretched to the limits and beyond.
#56. A Brush With Death, Quinten Jardine
The morning following Leo Speight's retirement party he is found poisoned in his living room. He was a world boxing champion and a national hero. Father to four children with three women and married to none, many friends and business associates whom all have expectations of being in his will. Was jealousy, rivalry or a business dispute the cause?
#57, Y Is For Yesterday, Sue Grafton
A test is stolen, students' results are questions, a girl is accused of stealing the test, she is murdered and ten years later the teenage boy convicted is released. Just prior to the murder four teenage boys film themselves raping a female classmate, they claim "it was a lark," a mockumentary. The fillm is sent to the murderer's parents upon his release in a blackmail attempt. At this point his parent's call in P. I. Kinsey Millhone. The blurb of the book I first read focused on the sexual assault and I avoid reading books about that. I should have trusted Sue Grafton, but it wasn't until I talked to my sister that I decided to read it. I am sorry it is her last as I would have liked the series to end with a better read. However the way the story of the past and the present are told is well done and I did enjoy that.
Considering this is the last in the series the title is somewhat ironic!
#58. The Other Einstein, Marie Benedict
Before reading this book I thought of Albert Einstein as a brilliant and eccentric scientist. Now that I have finished this book I would add intellectual thief and and untrustworthy person to that description. This well researched fictionalized biography is definitely written from the point of view of Mileva Maric Einstein. She was his fellow student and researcher, his friend, lover and mother of his daughter and then his wife, housekeeper and finally seperated spouse. He promised to recognize her intellectual abilities and contributions early on in their relationship but it never happened. Would he have received the Nobel prize without her assistance? I think not. Did she bring some of this onto herself? Yes, but given the society in which they lived and her personal lack of confidence forced on her from childhood due to her bad leg and society's reaction to Eastern European she lacked the support to stand up for herself and her sons for many years.
#59. The Aviator's Wife, Melanie Benjamin
Anne Morrow was the quiet, shy, intelligent child in a affluent, outgoing family. Her father was the U. S. Ambassador to Mexico when she first met Charles Limdbergh. He was a golden hero following his solo flight across the Atlantic in 1927 and her father had invited him for Christmas. They married in 1929, 18 month old Charlie was kidnapped in 1932. By that time she was his co-pilot and navigator as the explored and mapped travel routes world wide. She was also his cook and housekeeper. Their lives, although forever emotionally interlocked were marked by seperation and ruled by his strong will and her need to keep peace. I hope to read a biography of her in the future.
Total to date: 50
I keep telling myself that I should finish the Sue Grafton series. I can’t remember how far I got, but I don’t think it was more than J or K. If I do it, I think I’d go back to the beginning. I was reading them as they came out, so you know it was a long time ago.
Do it! I think they are worth reading, good plots and characters.
Just getting started in this group, and you gave me several good suggestions for my "to read" list!
I am a retired middle school teacher (not missing it at all!). I used to feel guilty at not finishing a book once I started it. As someone else said earlier, life is too short to read something I don't like.
I also like being able to read what I want with no "assigned reading" and no guilt about not reading all the classics and etc. I use the same system of selecting books--sometimes I read several in a series, or chase off on tangents, and loop back around to my original book--maybe. My Kindle e-reader has so many books on it that I have not read, because Amazon has me pegged for recommendations and "You might also like. . ."
>102 LadyoftheLodge: Laughing at your comment about the kindle. Mine is loaded for the same reason. And I must admit that very few have been a poor match.
#51. Hearts of Resistance Soraya Lane
I am back at World War Ii and the women who according to Churchill "set the world on fire." The women and men who participated in the Resistance and caused turmoil among the German army movements shortened the war and prepared the way for D-Day. The role of women may have been whispered about but it took many years befors it was publicly acknowledged. Books like this, written seventy or more years later celebrate these women.
The Allied Army landed in Italy in September 1943 and in northern Europe on D-Day, June 5 1944. Following Dunkirk at the end of May 1940 there were no Allied troops in Europe. The war was fought by the Resistance set up in small, 3-5 person groups that were loosely connected to each other and through radio transmission to Army Intelligence or the Free French in England. The lack of the army is something often forgotten.
#52. Full Disclosure, Beverley McLachlin
Jilly Truitt, orphan, foster child, street persson and now a criminal defense attorney in Vancouver, is defending a wealthy man accused of brutally murdering his wife. The police identify him as the murderer and stop looking. The case goes to court on circumstancial evidence. The plot is deep and convoluted bringing in a past drug case of Truitt's. I hope McLachlin makes this the first in a series.
Note: McLachlin, now retired, was the seventeenth Chief of the Supreme Court in Canada, the longest serving and the first woman to hold the position. Also a reader of mysteries in her spare time I think!
#53, Bolt, Dick Francis
One of steeplechase jockeyKit Fielding's owners is being blackmailed. The co-owner of the princess' husband' company needs documents signed seeking government permission to manufacture plastic firearms and when faced with refusal is taking drastic actions. Does this include killing the princess' most valuable horses?
I have discovered a number of Dick Francis titles available immediately through Overdrive so I am going to indulge myself!
One of the things I enjoy about reading Dick Francis is what I learn from his characters. In the case of Bolt it is about the arms trade, both legal and illegal and how guns are made to be broken down to be shipped in parts to be undetected.
In Break In it is the power of suggestion, particularly as used by newspapers, In Knock Down the power is by word of mouth. We are so open to believing what we hear. In this title the role of a bloodstock agent is explained and I found that very interesting. Again the public, in this case the buyer, can be easily manipulated by what they are told or see, e.g., an ungroomed horse. In Reflex, which I am currently reading, I am learning a lot about photography and in particular the development of film. Francis educates with each book on a wide variety of topics. His books are more than horses and murder!
#56. Reflex, Dick Francis
Philip Nore,jockey and observer of life, is pulled into having a more active role upon the death of a fellow jockey's father, a photographe. In the ptocess of unraveling the photographic secrets he discovers the man was also a blackmailer and certain events force Nore to continue in this vein. Interesting information on photography.
#57. Before the Poison, Peter Robinson
Peter Robinson known for his outstanding Inspector Alan Banks series has written an equally outstanding standalone. It is written in two parts, Grace Fox's war journal, 1940-1945, follows her life as a Queen Alexandra military nurse in Singapore and through the Pacific fleeing from the Japanese. In 1945 she is in northern Europe and sees the results of using poison in warfare, including in the concentration camps. The second level takes place in 2010-11. Chris Lowndes is a Yorkshireman returns home after living in California for over twenty years and he purchased Grace Fox's old home sight unseen. He discovers she was hung in 1953 for murdering her husband. He feels she is innocent and sets out to prove it. The ending throws a twist into the works. A gripping read.
#58. In the Frame, Dick Francis
Charles Todd goes to visit his cousin Donald and his wife Regina and finds the police investigating a robbery, the house is empty, and a murder. Regina interrupted the robbery and was killed. By chance Todd meets a woman whose house has been burned down and the police and insurance investigators can find no trace of the contents in the remains. Both she and Donald had recently returned from Australia where they had each purchased a painting by the same artisr. This sends Todd off to Australia on what turns out to be a near deadly investigation of an international ring of burglaries,
Todd is a painter of horses and painting provides the backdrop to this mystery.
#60. Before the Fall, Noah Hawley
A private jet crashes enroute from Martha's Vineyard to New York. A very wealthy family of three and their security guard, a man about to be arrested for money laundering at the international level and his wife and three crew members die. A man who had accepted the offer of the flight just that morning and a four year old survive after he swims fifteen miles in the Atlantic carrying the boy. Information on each of these individuals and pertinent events in their lives are provided. The crash is investigated by various government agencies and the FBI, each with their own agenda.
The crash, the rescue, the wealth and activities of the people involved all contribute to making this a newsworthy event, and as one producer and presenter of news says "the people deserve to know." The lives of each victim are dug through and the information used to support theories of the event, to flesh out the story, to create diversions or just to make it more newsworthy - whatever that means. Little regard is given to the individuals involved and how the news presentation reflects or affects them.
A subtext throught outthe book is the questioning of news and what it is; a reporting of the actual details of an event, the interpretation of those events to fit a personal viewpoint or to support a theory, for example a terrorist attack to prevent the person involved in the high level money laundering from being questioned or to sensationalize the reporting to bring in more viewers.
The twist at the end that reveals the actual cause of the crash was never speculated on, perhaps because those people were not seen to be newsworthy and after all in typical (to me) American fashion who you are related to excuses you!
A thought provocating read as well as an interesting mystery.
#61. The Goddaughter, Melodie Campbell
Gina Gallo's uncle runs the mob in Hamilton, Ontario. She has just established her legitimate gemologist business when she receives hot gems that a mobster, now dead, delivered to her family and not to Buffalo, New York. She is persuaded to deliver them to Buffalo and that is the beginning of her farcical trip that includes stops in Toronto and Phoenix. This is a Rapid Read, a publishing line of literacy readers that are also of general interest by Orca Publishers.q It is the first in a series of mysteries featuring Gina Gallo.
#62. High Stakes, Dick Francis
A crooked trainer uses all means possible to seperate the owners of the horses he trains from their money. This includes working with a devious bookmaker who is out to swindle the general public. When he takes advantage of toymaker Stephen Scott he finds he has met someone who will fight back.
#63… 10-Lb. Penalty, Dick Francis
In practice, a 10-lb penalty is the maximum extra weight a winning thoroughbread is normally set to carry in a horse race. Ben Juliard discovers a 10-lb penalty can be a killer when he finds himself the target of his politician father's enemies. Interesting insight on the way elections were run in England in the 1990's.
#64. Silks, Dick Francis, Felix Francis
Geoffrey Mason, barrister cum amateur jockey, is defending a fellow jockey of a murder charge. He is also being threatened by a former client to ensure that the jockey is found guilty. Like other Dick Francis books the focus is less on horses and racing and more on the murder and in this case the law. Since June I have been re-reading some favourite Francis’ titles and I looked forward to “Silks.” Unfortunately it doesn’t measure up to many of his books. The plot is interesting but it needs a good edit to improve its pace and flow and to reduce the lecturing tone. However if you are a Francis fan it is worth reading.
#65. Rat Race, Dick Francis
There's no shortage of suspects when Matt Shore and his four race going, air taxi passengers narrowly avoid death when the plane blows up. It's up to Matt to determine who wants whom dead and why. Francis' wife Mary learned to fly and loved it. For seven years they ran an air taxi service for jockeys, trainers and others flying among the race tracks of England, Ireland and France. This book is bases on this experience - minus the bomb.
#66. Decider, Dick Francis
Architect/contractor Lee Morris and five of his six sons get sucked into the intra-family warfare concerning a race course. Navigating the turbulent family waters is complicated by the fact that he is connected by marriage to the combatants, one of them is willing to kill to close the race course and sell the land to a developer. One of my favorite Rancis' mysteries!
I see you've been getting your Dick Francis fix, Penny. I read everything in pre-LT days but I just couldn't get comfortable with Felix Francis after the first couple of books. Maybe I'll try again sometime.
Felix has improved, but his books don't have the same flow as his father's did. But do give him another try. Dead Heat is a good one.
#68. The Murder of Mary Russell, Laurie R. King
The secret life of Mrs. Hudson comes to the forefront when her son Samuel appears at the Holmes' house in Sussex and confronts Mary Russel. Mrs. Hudson and Holmes are left with a blood stained sitting room and no Mary. The book alternates with the past life of Clarissa Hudson and the present. Who would have thought that of Mrs. Hudson, landlady and housekeeper to Sherlock Holmes,
#69.Dead If You Don't, Peter James
Almost hour by hour from Thursday, August 10 through to Monday, August 14 James lays out the devious activities that take place in Brighton and Hove, the burial of body parts in a land fill, the murders of seven or more people, a planned bombing of a soccer stadium, the kidnapping of a teenage boy. At first as events unfold the police question whether the events are connected but as more come to light it is clear that it can all be traced back to an Albanian mob leader. It is amazing how James keeps track of all the strands of the plot and makes it easy for the reader to follow the different crimes easily.
# 70. Anne's Numbers, Kelly Hill
Anne's Numbers Inspired by Anne of Green Gables by Kelly Hill is a bright, colourful counting book which will certainly attract the eye of its intended audience, toddlers, but will also amuse readers of all ages. I liked that the items counted were different, 3 stepping stones, 7 toadstools. The board book is a nice size to show off the cheerful illustrations but too large for small hands to hold on their own. The counting actually starts on the cover which I found awkward. I expected to see 1 when I opened the book not 2. Actually there is no 1, although there is 1 butterfly on the cover which leads to 2 butterflies inside. I received this book through the Early Reviewers program.
#71. Odds Against, Dick Francis
Former Championship Jockey Sid Halley has been drifting for two years, since his hand was damaged and he had to give up riding. But a bullet in the stomach kick starts his serious career as a private investigator. His first job is to prevent the takeover of a race course and have it turned into hundreds of ticky tacky houses.
#72. The Quasimodo Trunk: An Oz Blackstone Story: - 3, Quintin Jardine
#73. Born To Be Wild, Quintin Jardine
#74. The Last Chickenpig , Quntin Jardine
In a series of short stories Jardine is writing a mystery, this is the third installment. In the first Born to be Wild actor Oz Blackstone dies in a movie stunt accident in South America. In The Last Chickenpig Oz's 16 year old son has reason to believe his father is still alive and travels from Spain to Toronto to find him. In this the third installment Tom confronts a man he believes to be his father and they set out to find his con artist stepfather, Liam Matthews.
I am a great fan of Scottish crime author Quintin Jardine, in particular his Bob Skinner police procedural series.
#75. Mathew's Tale, Quintin Jardine
Mathew Fleming returns to Scotland after six years fighting in the Napoleonic Wars to discover his family thought he had been dead for three years and his beloved had married.He rebuilds his life and fortune but when his close friend is charged with the murder of the Laird he drops everything to seek justice in a very corrupt legal system. Within a week David MacGill is hung and Fleming vows to revenge his death. This is quite different from Jardine's usual writing, modern day police procedurals, but it has the same ability to capture the reader, a definite page turner!
#76. Whip Hand, Dick Francis
Sid Halley is asked to investigate the failure of four 2 year-old horses, all from the same trainer, from winning as expected, not coming in last as they do, also the syntication of horses and the people involved and his estranged wife's involvement in a scam. The going gets very rough indeed before Halley is able to work his way through these cases.
#77. Endgame: A Nameless Detective Novel (Nameless Detective Novels, Bill Pronzini
Tw cases come into the agency at the same time. One, which involved a multi-hour drive to investigate the death of a man is assigned to Jake Runyon, Nameless took the second. It involved a missing woman, a woman with agraphobia. She had been missing for a week when her husband, whom friends and relatives suspected of doing away with her, reached out for help. Both cases have twists to them and boh men face death that bring about major changes in their lives before the book ends. I haven't read a Nameless Detective in a long time and I forgot how much I enjoy Bill Pronzini's writing.
#78. Under Orders, Dck Francis
Sid Halley is asked to investigate the fixing of races and internet gambling on a day that also saw the murder of a jockey, a trainer and the death by heart failure of a winning horse. The horse was morned by more than the others. In past cases Sid has show that he can't be intimidated by threats of force, in this case he has to show that threats to his loved ones get the same reaction.
#79. Refusal, Felix Francis
Sid Halley returns to investigation against his will. He has come to the attention of an Irishman from Manchester who specializes in moving in on people and taking over their life and have them do as he says. This is not Sid's way so putting himself and family in danger he sets out to put McCusker out of business.
#80. Enquiry, Dick Francis
We learn through flashbacks that narrator and jockey Kelly Hughes and trainer Dexter Cranfield have just lost their licenses; an enquiry panel was of the opinion that Kelly had held back his odds-on favorite and let another Cranfield-trained horse win. However, there was enough inconsistent behavior exhibited by the panel that Kelly believes he was set up.
#81. Hot Money, Dick Francis
A millionaire's estranged, fifth wife is murdered and someone is trying to kill him. He turns to his son, Ian Pembroke, by one of his previous wives for help. In the process Malcolm becomes a racing fan and horse owner. An interesting take on children of a wealth man who feel that what he spends is taking away from them.
Books Read - 31 18 of which are by Dick/Felix Francis
Books Reviewed - 3
2018 Total - 81
I have new respect for Dick Francis and his craft. Reading his novels one at a time as they were published provided entertainment, reading them as a body of work provided new insights, knowledge, and appreciation of his work.
His objective was always to entertain the reader and to have horses somewhere in the story but you can also learn from his work. His research is meticulous, for example for “Flying Finish” which is about the air transporting of horses he and his wife Mary went on a run to Milan. He helped care for the horses, she took pictures and notes.
For the research for “Rat Race,” which involves an air taxi service for jockeys, Mary Francis started taking flying lessons. She continued them when the research was complete and got her license and for eleven years was part owner of a similar air taxi service.
Many of Francis’ titles just touch on horses and focus on other occupations. In “Straight” jockey Derek Franklin suddenly inherits his brother’s semiprecious stone importing business and must keep the business running and find one hundred missing diamonds. The information on how diamonds are bought and sold is most interesting.
He also deals with social problems like alcoholism. In “Knockdown” Jonah Dereham’s brother is an alcoholic. The understanding of alcoholism as a disease and the necessary strength to overcome it is part of the background of this mystery about bloodstock agents.
It is interesting to note how many of his characters are loners e.g., Gene Hawkins in"Blood Sport," Sid Halley, Matt Shore in "Rat Race," without families. Another theme, which runs through his books, is that children are good observers ("Shattered," "Decider," "Blood Sport") and more should be made of asking them what they saw. Francis is also a romantic and although in his autobiography “The Sport of Queens” he says he doesn’t believe in love at first sight it happened to him when he was introduced to Mary. “Mary and I smiled at each other and to my astonishment, before we had even spoken, I found myself thinking, ‘This is my wife." This happens in a number of his books.
At one time Francis wanted to have Mary’s name added to his as author of the books but she demurred at the suggestion. However there is no doubt that the work was a partnership. His last three titles were written with his son Felix, who has continued to write.
All in all Dick Francis provides a good read, interesting characters against a variety of backgrounds and a problem to be solved and, in many cases. something for the reader to learn.
#82. Wild Horses, Dick Francis
While making a film about racing in Newmarket, the director, Thomas Lyon, finds himself facing a dilemma of whether to reveal the truth about a 26 year-old murder which he learned from a deathbed confession of an old friend or stick to the script. Interesting information on knives and the collecting of them. In 1988 it was made illegal for anyone or institution except for a museum to collect knives or retain a collection they had prior to that date. It is also illegal to carry a knife.
#83. Dead Heat, Dick Francis, Felix Francis
Restaurant owner, Max Moreton, gets into hot water when guests at a gala race course dinner become very ill with food poisoning. This is closely followed by a bombing at the next event he caters. Who arranged the bombing and why do they want to kill Max?
#84. Smokescreen, Dick Francis
Edward Lincoln completes the last scenes of a movie which has him left in the desert handcuffed in a car. He then goes to South Africa to help a friend with her race horses. There the movie scene becomes real life. In the movie the focus was on the mental aspects of being left to die but he realizes when he is undergoing the real thing, no stopping for lunch, it is the physical that is the hardest thing to cope with. And it is all because he was given the gold mine shares someone else wanted to inherit.
#85. Bonecrack, Dick Francis
An interesting read, how two sons, one 34 and one 18, deal with oppressive fathers. Told against the background of running a horse racing stables by one and the ambitions to ride a famous horse in the Derby by the other.
A rutthless crime lord decides he wants his son Alessandro to ride on the Derby winner, sees the best way to achieve such an end is to kidnap Neil Griffon, who is temporarily in charge of his father's stables & threaten him with the destruction of the stables unless his son is given the ride.
#86. To the Hilt, Dick Francis
Artist, Alexander Kinlock leads a quiet life in Scotland until he returns home one day to find a group of thugs waiting for him asking 'Where is it?'This leads to his financial rescue attempt of his stepfather's brewery against the physical deterient of his daughter who will eventually inherit it. I learned interesting acts about King Alfred the Great, after whom the brewery is named and of Prince Charles Edward Stuart, aka Bonnie Prince Charlie and two opposing views of his contribution to Scottish history.
#87. Forfeit, Dick Francis
A racing correspondent is beaten, threatened with blackmail and watching his wife, who has polio, have her respiratory unplugged, all because the newspaper he writes for specializes in sensationalism. In this case a story about off-court betting and horses that end up being pulled at the last minute.
#88. Proof, Dick Francis
Tony Beach drifted into the work of a wine merchant because he didn’t have his family’s interest in the military or horse racing and he did have the ability to identify wines and spirits based on smell and taste. He never felt he lived up to his father’s expectations of him as a leader and his fear of acting in a pressure situation. In Proof his experience with wine and spirits helps him track down stolen tankers of whiskey and in doing so he proves to himself that he can overcome the fear of acting just as his father did.
I am seeing different threads as I reread Dick Francis this time. Upfront there is the story, the entertainment, always a horse or two somewhere, a little violence, sometimes romance, right versus wrong. Behind that is a theme sometimes of family, often a conflict between father and son, or the strength of friendship and what it means when the bond is broken. Interesting.
#89. Flying Finish, Dick Francis
A young aristocrat, Henry Grey, throws up a respectable job to join a firm which transports race horses all over the world. When men start making one way trips he wonders what happened to them.
An interesting commentary on the place of the aristocracy in the everyday working life of England and how they are viewed by others.
In preparation for the writing of this book Francis went abroad an air horse transport plane and worked as a stable lad. Mary Franci, who was a pilot, did the navigation.
#90.Shattered, Dick Francis
When a jockey dies following a fall in a steeplechase, he accidentally embroils his friend Gerard Logan, an artisan glassblower, in a perilous search for a stolen videotape. …. Glass shatters. Logan doesn’t – but it’s a close thing. Fascinating technical information on glassblowing and the physical and mental strength it requires to create a masterpiece.
#91. Gatekeeper, Archer Mayor
A drug dealer is left hanging from a bridge and a woman O.D's and the governor of Vermont, preparing for re-election declares a war on drugs. The Vermont drug route was serviced from Massachusetts and one of Gunther's female cop goes there on her own to set up an undercover sting operation. All is not what it seems.
#92. War Brides, Helen Bryan
Five young women come together in a village in Sussex, England durning World War II. Elsie was evacuated frm the slums of London, Evangeline was from New Orleans and was sent to the village by her mother-in-law, Alice was a teacher and grew up in the village as did Frances, a debutante and good-time girl and Tanni who escaped from Austria with her Jewish husband. Add in a true fact about a person who was provided information to the Germans and you have an interesting novel.
#93, Camilla: Princess of Wales: A Camilla Park Bowes Biography, Kay Holborn
A superficial overview of Camilla's life and her role in the ending of Diana and Charles' marriage.
#94. Magpie Murders: the Sunday Times bestseller crime thriller with a fiendish twist, Anthony Horowitz
This is two books in one. The first a take on an Agatha Christie and the second a modern day murder set in the publishing industry in London. I got taken up by the first and was surprised when the second intruded. I had to reread the first chapter!
#95. Mountbatten: The Private Story, Brian Hoey
An amazing man - naval cadet in WW I, First Sea Admiral at the end of WW II, the last Viceroy of India, related to royalty across Europe, beloved Grabdpapa, a man of emense ambition, a hard worker and either respected or hated by those who worked for/with or knew him. He needed and srove to achieve recognition but was also insecure within himself. Regardless he did not deserve to die when the Irish Republican Army blew up his fishing boat. Not a typical biography rather a mater of fact exploration of a man's character.
#99. The Scent of Rain and Lightning, Nancy Pickard
Murder past and present retold. Twenty-three years ago Jody's father was murdered and her mother disappeared. The town drunk was arrested and found guilty, although he claimed to be innocent. Twenty-three years later he is given an early release and returns to Rose, Kansas, a very small town with a long memory. The book moves back and forth from the present to the past as the mystery plays itself out.
I read a lot of Pickard's books, mostly the Jenny Caine mystery series and then she stopped writing around 2002. This standalone came out in 2007, with another and since then silence. But Fantastic Fiction shows her as alive. A good author.
#100. The Victims' Club, Jeffery Deaver
A faculty member and researcher at a small, prestigious New England college is given a roofie at a party and then her clothing rearranged, pictures taken and posted on social media world wide. When the police detective gets close to involving a student athlete the chief of police has the weight of the college board and administration calling for his dismissal. He solves the case and the three men involved pay for their actions. A trick ending.
#101. Even Money. Dick Francis, Felix Francis
Ned Talbot has some problems. His wife suffers from bipolar disorder and has been hospitalize for the past five months. A man appears claiming to be his father, but Ned had grown up being told his parents had died in a car crash when he was a baby, then this man is murdered within an hour of their meeting. And just to make life interesting a large bookmaker is out to buy Ned's company regardless of the fact it is not for sale, and men followed his father from Australia wanting things he had stolen.
#102. The Advocate's Dilemma, Teresa Burrell
Sabre Brown is a Juvenile Dependency Attorney representing two boys in an abuse case involving parental neglect and drug and alcohol use on the part of the parents. She discovers a dead man in her office who is the father of her clients. She learns information from one of the boys that would assist in the defence of the lawyer arrested for the murder but would breach her confidentiality agreement with her client, hence her dilemma.
Thanks. I don't think he gets the credit he and his wife Mary deserve.
#103. The Advocate's Ex Parte, Teresa Burrell
Sabre Brown is asked to meet privately with a judge to discuss a case and she refuses to do so without another attorney present. The judge responds with anger and the Ex Parte doesn't happen. Hours later he is dead in a hit and run. What case did he want to discuss and why?
#104. The Advocate's Felony, Teresa Burrell
Sabre Brown's brother Ron has been in the Witness Protection Program for seven years but his cover is threatened and he tells his sister to take her mother to a safe place. She then joins her private investigator in the search for her brother and identifying who is behind his problems.
#105. The Advocate's Geocache, Teresa Burrell
Sabre Brown is geocaching and it is great fun until she finds a cache with a death certificate dated for a couple of weeks in the future. Subsequent caches tie into one of her cases, murder occurs, paternity is questioned. Sabre and her brother scramble to decode the location clues as time is running out.
#106. The Advocate's Homicides, Teresa Burrell
The book starts three years in the past when one of Sabre Brown's clients, a 14 year old boy who had been molested by his drug addicted mother's boyfriend is acussed of murdering him and burying his body in the woods. It is determined that he will be tried as an adult and the jury finds him guilty. In the present three more bodies are found in the same area and the scenario starts again. Who is behind this?
#107. The Advocate's Illusion, Teresa Burrell
Sabre Brown's active cases which all involve minors who have been sexually molested include a 12 year old child bride who has been removed from her family and her 42 year old 'husband. This case has an interesting side issue related to marriage and the 1st. Amendment. Three young boys removed from their mother's care following charges against her boyfriend and her drug habit. The father has a severe anger issue. And her mother, a long time widow has met a man on the Internet which raises flags. But who tries to kill her?
#109. Bloodline, Dick Francis, Felix Francis
Jockey Clare Shillingford should have won that race and her twin brother, Mark, a race announcer told her so. They argued about it. The next day he is told she fell from the 15th floor of a London hotel. He wants to know why, and he does find out when there is a third attempt to murder him.
You have been gobbling up the Dick Francis books, Penny. Is he a recent find for you?
My father introduced me to Dick Francis in the late 1970's and I have been reading him ever since. He had a book out for Christmas. When he died his son Felix took over the series. When I don't know what to read he is one of the authors I go back too. I enjoy the mystery but have come to enjoy, and learn from the setting which was always well researched by his wife Mary and later Felix. It is a comfort read for me. I have read many of them 3/5 times.
#112. Uncorking a Lie, Nadine Nettmann
Many wine collectors purchase bottles of vintage wine to have not to drink. But Paul believed part of the wine's story was in the tasting so he has a dinner party and opens a bottle he paid $19,000 for at an auction and it is a counterfeit, never ment to be opened and discovered. He hires Katie Stillwell to investigate.
#113. Miss Marple: The Complete Short Stories, Agatha Christie
Christie wrote twenty short stories featuring Miss Jane Marple, the spinster from Saint Mary Meade, a small English village that was a microcosm of the world. The majority are done in a group setting whereby situations are presented and each person, e.g., a novelist, a retired policeman, an actress, an old lady, provide a solution. In the beginning Miss Marple is ignored, hushed up, but they come to realize that she is correct and gradually respect her opinions. To the point that a retired police commissioner consults her and directs the local police to do so as well.
#114. Blue Water Hues, Vicki Delany
Ashley Grant, the main character in Vicki Delany's "Blue Water Hues," is a Canadian para-medic working at the Victoria and Albert Islands Health Services. She and her partner Simon are called to a kitchen fire at a high class beach resort, where they treat two staff for smoke inhalation and a third person, the chef, is rushed to the hospital but dies en route.
A second call out later the same day is for a gunshot wound and the man dies on the way to the hospital. Police call it a suicide. Ashley learns he was the boyfriend of the woman who died at the hotel and is asked by a member of the chef's family to investigate when the police close the case. The police take it more seriously when Ashley and Darlene nearly die when the car brakes are cut after they were asking questions at the resort. Their information helps lead to the police solution of the case.
This is a short mystery part of the Rapid Reads series published by Orca Book Publishers for literacy programs. It has good character development and sets out the two sides of life on the island, those who live there and do the support work and those who come from away and see only the surface behaviour of the islanders as they interact with the tourists and people who hold the power. But I found the investigation of the plot to be to condensed to support the murder and attempted murders and the tie in to the resort weak. I have read twenty Rapid Reads, including seven by Vicki Delany and this misses the quality mark set by them. I enjoyed reading the mystery it is just not as good as the other Rapid Reads I have read.
I received this book through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program.
Reviewed July 13, 2018.
Your Dick Francis reviews have inspired me to read his work. Which do you recommend I start with? Read them in order?
If you check fantasticfiction.con under Dick Francis you will see he has two short series, Kit Fielding (2 books) and Sid Halley (5 books), the rest are all standalone titles so the order doesn't matter. They all feature horses, some more some less. Some of my favourites are Decider, 10lb Penalty, Hot Money, Proof and Straight, also the Kit Fielding series which are two of his earlier titles. Give any one a try, and please let me know what you think.
#115. Mary Cyr, David Adams Richards
Mary Cyr is an orphan in a large extremely wealthy New Brunswick family that has made its money in newspapers, mining, forestry, oil and gas and related industries that leave them open to attacks from environmental activists and anyone opposed to the English, French and Acadian role in the development of the Marimachi, New Brunswick and Canada. Mary's father died when his plane crashed when she was ten. Her mother, a British war bride became an alcoholic and was hounded out of the family by her in-laws. It was said Mary suffered a head injury as a child causing a brain injury. She was also molested by a teacher resulting in a pregnancy All of this explains the way she lived her life.
The crux of the story in "Mary Cyr" is a cave-in at a coal mine in Mexico that is partially owned by Mary's family. The local owners don't want to excuvate to rescue trapped miners as this will show they didn't use $14 million sent by the Canadian company to upgrade the safety of the mine, but took it for personal use. So they close over the entrance. However there is proof that the miners are still living which results in the murder of two young children. Mary is charged with murder and arrested. From here the quality of the Mexican police and legal system take over and innocence no longer matters.
Through an old friend of Mary's and her diary the events of Mary's live are laid out. The racist views of Mary and her associates are laid out in such a way that they come full circle and show the bigotry and ignorance of those who protest against industries working in the environment field, e.g., mining, oil, gas. Academics who have never been out of the classroom but know what is best for Native People, and using the stories of girls and women who have been sexually assaulted for publication.
When you look at the parts I have laid out it is hard to imagine how it all comes together in a cohesive manner with a story that will keep you reading through some of Adams Richards digressions on the circular arguments on the environment, roles of historical explorers and the social scientists. I did get lost a time or two but the tie in is to Mary's upbringing, the dinner discussions, the events in her young life at boarding schools and to the lack of parental guidance this wealthy young woman received.
I have a personal pet peeve that relates to authors who add a second language without providing a translation. I don't know if what I, a unilingual reader, am missing. Through out most of the book Adams Richards is very good at providing a translation of the Spannish he uses, he slips a little near the end. However, although it is acknowledged in a dinner discussion that not all Canadians are bilingual he does not provide a translation of the French phrases he uses.
"Mary Cyr" is a multilevel read, the mystery surrounding the mining accident and how Mary Cyr happened to be in Mexico, the events of her live from about the age of ten as laid out in her diary and related by John Delano, her family and it's business and the discourse that accompanies the action. It works, and it is what one expects from this national and international award winning award author.
Reviewed July 21, 2018
>181 pmarshall: Thanks! I will check them out. I am not a big horse racing fan, but my husband and I attend the Kentucky Derby every year. It is quite the outing!
#117. And Then There Were None, Agatha Christie
Christie considered this one of her best mysteries written. Once explained it all makes sense but while it is happening it is so easy to overlook an important point. The gathering of ten unconnected people, whom society has alluded are guilty of a death, on an otherwise deserted island and one of them starts to pull the strings until none are left. Brilliant.
#118. The Body in the Library, Agatha Christie
The body of a 'flooze' (my word not Christie's) is found in the library of Col. and Mrs. Bantry and immediately after phoning the police Miss Marple is called. The second body found in a burned out car is that of a missing Girl Guide. Miss Marple works out the connections, solves the case and saves the reputation of her friends. People do talk in small villages.
I love Agatha Christie. I read And Then There Were None for the first time this year, and really enjoyed it. It was very well done.
#119. 4:50 From Paddington, Agatha Christie
Mrs. McGillicuddy sees a man strangle a woman as her train and another slowly pass each other. She immediately tells her friend, Jane Marple, who through carefully placed questions and the use of a map determines where the murder likely took place. She hires a smart young woman to work in the nearby house and waits for events to happen. And they do.
I read a sample version of Dead Heat and will need to get the whole enchilada now to finish it. Thanks for your suggestions!
#120. Nemesis, Agatha Christie
One of Miss Marple's most difficult cases. She is hired by a dead man to take a Famous House and Gardens bus tour, identify a problem and solve it. He doesn't leave her entirely on her own, he arranges for a doctor to take the same tour and three elderly sisters to invite her into their home at one of the stops. She can't prevent the murder of a fellow tour participant, but she does solve the case. And asks for her twenty thousand pounds to be put in her current account!
#121. Murder at the Vicarage, Agatha Christie
The first mystery in the twelve title series of Miss Marple Mysteries is told by Vicar Clement. The vicar finds a body in his study and immediately two people claim responsibility but are quickly released. With much speculation and mis-direction from the villagers Miss Marple puts forth a solution both the vicar and the police are willing to try to prove. Of course, she is correct.
#122. The Good Sister, Maggie Christensen
Bel, age 65, returns to Glasgow after over 40 years in Australia when her only remaining relative, Isabel, 96, is dying. Isabel has written a memoir of her live from 1938 when she has finished school. The novels winds back and forth through the lives of the two women and the present.
#123. Isobel's Promise, Maggie Christensen
The second and last instalment of the family saga started in The Good Sister. It opens at Isobel's funeral with Matt and Bel, the Isobel's of the title, committing their love for each other after a short friendship of three months. Once Bel returns to Australia events intervene to delay her return to Scotland. A long ago divorced and dying husband appears, problems with selling her house, the offer for her business falling through and family problems all need to be worked through and, of course, doubts regarding feelings.
#124. Caribbean Mystery, Agatha Christie
Miss Marple's nephew has send her to a Caribbean island for a holiday. At first finding it dull and unable to match people to those from St. Mary Mead, the death of an elderly Englishman changes all that. Molly and her husband Tim run the hotel and she shows evidence of psychological problems. A maid is murdered. Miss Marple finally sorts it out with the assistance of Mr. Rafiel who will reappear in Nemesis.
#125. A Darkness of the Heart A Joanne Kilbourn Mystery, Gail Bowen
Joanne learns that the man she knew as her father until his death in her late teens was not her biological father. Artist Desmond Love, her adopted daughter's grandfather and father of her close friend artist Sally love was. She is approached by a playwright to allow him to develop a television production on the history of her family. He has currently on Broadway a production based on a series of Desmond Love's paintings and is in Regina to turn it into a movie. Add in show business jealousies, recreated lives, sexual deviant behaviour and a dead man and you get the 18th Joanne Kilbourn mystery. A different background but another must read from Canadian author Gail Bowen.
#126. At Bertram's Hotel, Agatha Christie
A step back in time is the atmosphere created at Bertram's Hotel. But Miss Marple feels it is not right, that there is evil underneath. The police are in agreement as they investigate train, bank and store and robberies in wealth homes and a tie in to the hotel.
#127. Vinyl Cafe Turns the Page, Stuart McLean
Stuart McLean was a wonderful writer and storyteller who died too young. He had a weekly CBC Radio program that featured Canadian musicians and Dave and Morley stories. Listeners waited for new stories, favourite repeats and classics like "Dave Cooks a Turkey." McLean taught English and writing at Ryerson in Toronto and to read his stories is good but in my head I hear his voice. His humour is wonderful as he tells tales of Dave, Morley and their two children, his neighbors, growing up in Cape Breton and running The Vinyl Cafe, Dave's second hand record store. I highly recommend him. This book is mostly about Sam, Dave's 14 year- old son.
#128. The Breakers (A Sharon McCone Mystery), Marcia Muller
It is 4:26 a.m. and I should be asleep, and I was, but that's another story. I heard the email alert and I knew Sharon had arrived. Since I couldn't sleep I had to open my new book. I love Sharon McCone and Marcia Muller! Today got even better - except for not being asleep.
The Breakers was low-key for a Muller mystery. In this book a young friend and former cat and house sitter of Sharon's disappears from an old building she is rehabbing and her parents reach out to Sharon. She does the majority of the leg work herself and, in fact it is a fairly straightforward case, but it does have a couple of strange side plots. The ending makes me think the end of the series is near. I wonder who will replace Sharon McCone and Sue Grafton's Kinsey Milhone for me? I hope I am wrong.
August Total, a very slow month, too hot to do much of anything!
2 in progress
#131. The Moving Finger, Agatha Christie
Anonymous letters start appearing in the village, to long term residents and new comers, followed by the suicide or is it murder of the middle-aged wife of a solicitor. Miss Marple appears just at the end but is, of course, instrumental in leading them to the final solution.
#132. Slay Ride, Dick Francis
An official of the English jockey club is sent to Norway to investigate the disappearance of an English steeplechase jockey who is also accused of stealing the day's take at the race track.
#133. The Moonstone, Wilkie Collins
The Moonstone is a name given to a large yellow diamond stolen from a religious shrine in India during a battle between the British and the Indians in 1799 by John Herncastle as witnessed by his cousin John Verinder. The diamond carried a curse which brought trouble to whom ever possessed it.
In brief "The Moonstone" is a suspenseful story of the gifting of the diamond to a young lady on her 18th birthday in 1848, its disappearance the same night and the subsequent search for it until 1850.
The way the mystery is told is most interesting. Eleven different characters relating their role as well as to what they could personally attest to the robbery. This provides various views on what occurred and how the actions of others were interpreted.
In these narratives the reader learns of the history of the diamond and it's three Indian protectors, the gifting, the loss and the search for the diamond from a long-time servant in the country home of the wealthy family, the poor Christian spinster cousin who thrives on doing good work and spreading the faith. Two male cousins one a gambler and the other somewhat of a dilettante, both wishing to marry the same cousin. The wealthy side of the family, the family solicitor, the village doctor and his assistant, a police sargent who specializes in family thefts and roses, and a well traveled man with certainty some Indian heritage. It provides an interesting cross-section of life in Victorian England.
It is one of the earliest mystery novels written, and was serialized, likely in a newspaper, when first published. For those of us use to the pace of today's mysteries we may find it a little slow in places but it did not lose my attention. Collins is to be commended for keeping all the strands of the story straight.
Reviewed September 18, 2018
#134. A Forgotten Place, Charles Todd
Bess Crawford is assigned to a hospital in England that treats soldiers who have lost limbs. She is particularly attached to a small group of Welshmen she first encountered in France. She takes leave and follows them to Wales. They were coal miners and know they have no future and a number of them find a way to kill themselves. Following the only officer she finds herself stranded in an isolated coastal village in which some strange events take place - men buried with no notification to the police, attacks on individuals, including Bess, closed-mouth villagers and treasure from a ship sunk 400 years ago.
An interesting read but I think Todd should have ended the series when the war ended. This is too much of a stretch and lacks the quality of the earlier titles.
Reviewed September 21, 2018
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