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Penny’s Enjoyments 2019

Club Read 2019

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1pmarshall
Edited: Jan 1, 4:32pm Top

I wrote this in the introduction to my 2018 Best Reads and feel it is a good introduction to my 2019 list.

Last year I was still reading books that came out because of the various anniversaries of WW I and II, which started in 2014. I am drawn to the role of women in the wars and in the Resistance. I expect this will continue. I am now reading Felix Francis, a carryover from Dick Francis. I am looking forward to Sujata Massey next title in her new legal series. I will also return to the Fifty Books You Should Read List.

In comparison to some in Club Read I Read ‘light’ books. On the other hand I have generated some discussion about the authors and titles I list and others have tried some of them. As I have from their lists. Isn’t that the point of Club Read, to expose and stretch our reading to new titles.

I am writing a literary travel book on a trek I did across the African continent in 1975, including lead up information from 1971 - 1974. It is fun but takes time away from reading. This year I will be rereading some titles related to that trip, e.g. Alan Moorhead The Blue Nile and The White Nile. In Khartoum we camped on a point of land where those two rivers came together to form the Nile. All three rivers were brown! Today, January 1 I am close to three-quarters of the way through. We are one day out of Khartoum and just have to cross the Sahara, Morocco, Spain, France and hop over the Channel to London. However there are things to be added to what has already been written. I plan to submit it to publishers but my timeline is still wobbly in my mind.

2pmarshall
Edited: Jan 1, 5:04pm Top

#1. Gamble, Felix Francis

Felix Francis, second son of Dick Francis, was a teacher, but he also assisted with the research for his father’s books for many years. When Dick’s health was declining Felix started working on the writing side and he co-wrote four titles between 2006 and 2010. Gamble was his first solo title. In 2019 his tenth book will come out. He follows the pattern set by his father but he has his own touch. Sometimes I think he is a little heavy handed with the background information but he has improved over the years. I think he now stands alone as an author. I plan to reread his books in order of publication.

A financial adviser is shot while watching a race at Aintree. The investigation connects him and his firm to an EU investment in Bulgaria. But that doesn't explain why he was shot or why attempts are being made on his business partner's life. At the same time he and his partner are face with cancer that could mean a future without children.
⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

3dchaikin
Jan 1, 10:50pm Top

Happy New Year, Penny. Wish you well with your writing.

4NanaCC
Jan 2, 11:01pm Top

Happy New Year, Penny!

5pmarshall
Jan 3, 10:58am Top

>3 dchaikin::
Happy New Year to you. I just sent section 7, Ethiopia to Khartoum off to my readers this morning. I am now writing the next section Across the Sahara East is West, Khartoum to Kano, Nigeria. It is fun.

6pmarshall
Jan 3, 10:59am Top

>4 NanaCC::
Happy New Year 🎉🎉🎉

7dchaikin
Jan 3, 12:51pm Top

>5 pmarshall: that’s awesome

8pmarshall
Edited: Jan 16, 10:28pm Top

#2. The Chilbury Ladies' Choir, Jennifer Ryan
March 24, 1940 the Vicar posted a notice in the Chilbury Village Hall saying that the church choir would close because there were no men’s voices. The women didn’t like that and an evacuee from London helped them form the Chilbury Ladies Choir. Five women retell the events in the village from the date of the Vicar’s notice through to September 6, 1940: babies born, bombs falling, Nazi spies, overbearing men, love affairs. The power of music is strong as is that of women joined together, supporting each other and fighting a cause.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

9NanaCC
Jan 10, 1:54pm Top

>8 pmarshall: You’ve added this one to my wishlist, Penny.

10pmarshall
Jan 12, 10:10pm Top

#3. Damage, Felix Francis

Jeff Hinkley, undercover investigator for the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), is drawn into an investigation to determine who is trying to destroy the BHA and jump racing in Britain. A man believes his birth right has been taken away when in 2006 the British Horseracing Authority took over the governorance of horseracing done by the English Jockey Club since 1715.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

11pmarshall
Edited: Jan 16, 10:26pm Top

#4. ZenDoodle Patterns and Tangles for Beginners: Start to create your Zen Doodle masterpieces. 7 Bonus Templates to Incorporate Your Own ZenDoodle Patterns, Betty D. Caton

An instructional guidebook on Zen Doodles and how to take the basic designs and make intricate designs. The information is well presented I just have difficulty using a book on an IPad for this type of work. That is why I am giving it only ⭐️⭐️⭐️.

12pmarshall
Edited: Feb 1, 5:00am Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

13pmarshall
Edited: Feb 1, 4:51am Top

#5. Madame Koska and Le Spectre de la Rose, Ilil Arbel

Mix real Russian emigrates from the ballet world, fake ones in the fashion industry, people determined to dominate others, add a little poison that leads to murder and to a lot of suspicion but no motive. The setting is London between the world wars in a society that was open to different lifestyles and passions. People felt untouched by the reality of murder, but the truth comes out in the end.

There is a lot of action packed into an unspecified amount of time, and too many characters and unrelated actions happening for such a short book, 152 pages. Sometimes it feels like many weeks but also just a few days, and the time sequence doesn’t always follow the reality. How did she know about the filming before going to Switzerland when it was just decided yesterday? These are the details that should be caught by the author or the editor not the reader.

I received this through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program.

⭐️⭐️⭐️

14avaland
Jan 27, 5:08pm Top

>1 pmarshall: I came to the conclusion that it was going to be a very long time before I ever got to that Sujata Massey so I've mailed it out to Colleen. At least it stays within the "family" here, LOL.

15pmarshall
Edited: Feb 1, 4:59am Top

January 2019 Summary

Read 5
Reviewed 1

Total 5

A slow start to the year for two reasons, I had cataract surgery on January 14 and won’t get new glasses until the end of February, and I have been busy writing “Africa Encountered” a literary travel book on a trip I did in 1975 camping my way across Africa, Victoria Falls to London. I have completed the first draft, but have more work to do on it. My goal is to have it published, time will tell.

16pmarshall
Feb 1, 5:00am Top

#6. The Word Is Murder, Anthony Horowitz

Anthony Horowitz, author and screenwriter, has been asked to work with Hawthorne, an ex-police detective in a Watson - Holmes relationship, to solve a murder which Horowitz will turn into a book. A woman goes into a funeral parlour to plan her own funeral and six hours later is strangled. There are a number of threads Hawthorne follows but he is reluctant to discuss his reasoning with Horowitz. The author is not allowed to participate in the interviews but he has his own theories. None of which were mine! A good read.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

17NanaCC
Feb 2, 12:10pm Top

>16 pmarshall: I’m definitely going to have to read another book by Anthony Horowitz. I really enjoyed Magpie Murders last year.

18pmarshall
Feb 5, 10:12pm Top

#7. 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.

Felix lacks the lightness of his father’s writing, he has a heavier hand although he follows the same format that made his father such a popular author. In Triple Crown Francis shows the difference in the approach of the British and the Americans to solving a problem. The almost careless disregard to the use of weapons, the more bullets fired the better, that. the Americans have is unbelievable, but it is real. Felix presents this well, but the heavyness shows in the repeadative of the horse grooms work. I do enjoy his books just in a different way.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

19pmarshall
Edited: Feb 8, 2:03pm Top

#8. 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 plot 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 andshe 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.
Reviewed 2018/1/1
⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

I did return to this book because of my rereading of Felix Francis and I expect it will be the last time. I can feel her depression but for the novel too much detail has been given regarding it and the mystery is as a result downplayed. I would like more explanation on how spot (?) betting works.
2019-2-8

20pmarshall
Edited: Feb 10, 3:13pm Top

#9. Tudor Rose, W.H. Doyle

“Tudor Rose,” set in the reign of Elizabeth I with actually historical characters is the story of three young women, two from the country who travel to Richmond Palace in London for the wedding of one, and the third, sister of the groom-to-be, resides in the Palace and is clearly of a higher class than the other two. The Queen sets a challenge for them, the prize being the opportunity to accompany her on a tour of parts of England. The involvement of Dr. Dee and Francis Walsingham indicates there may have been more depth to the novel, but if you didn’t know they were among the Queen’s chief spies you could miss this. I have read a fair number of historical fiction in this time period.

I dislike people and books that focus only on the negative and this tone was clearly set out in the first chapter. It was second nature to these people to use others for their own gain and it carries on through out the book, regardless of their relationships. It depicts a very bleak side of this period of English history. I don’t deny it happened just not everyone always. The book was poorly edited, bad grammar and sentence structure are clearly evident. There is no excuse for this.

I received this through the Early Reviewers program.

⭐️⭐️1/2

21pmarshall
Feb 13, 3:48am Top

#10. Crisis, Felix Francis

Harrison Foster, Legal Consultant is better known as Harry, a crisis management specialist. He knows nothing about horses or racing but is sent to Newmarket to find out why his client’s horse died in a stable fire. His Highness Sheikh Karim’s horse Prince of Troy was touted to win The Derby in two weeks. Solving the crisis is complicated by the behaviour of the family owning the stables and the finding of human remains.
Felix has to believe his reader picked up on a fact the first time it is presented and not keep repeating it. It is something that can be caught and decided on in the editing process.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

22pmarshall
Edited: Feb 13, 4:04am Top

Not all of Felix Francis books have been published in ebook or large print so my reading of his titles has come to an end. Front Runner and his most recent Guilty Not Guilty

23pmarshall
Edited: Feb 24, 10:33pm Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

24pmarshall
Edited: Feb 24, 10:33pm Top

#11. The 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.

This book establishes the character of Miss Marple for the titles to come - being dismissed as a fussy old lady, a person who is nosy about what goes on in the village at all levels of society, people want to know what she thinks but dismiss it out of hand. Few of them ever learn how right she is when it comes to solving the crime. Her nephew, the novelist West Is introduced establishing her family ties. And most of all although maintaining ties to the age of her youth her knowledge and understanding of current society which she processes in her amazingly agile brain with the information she has gathered to come up with the correct solution. Human nature tells the tale.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

25pmarshall
Edited: Feb 24, 10:53pm Top

Back to WW II.

#12. The Secret Orphan, Glynis Peters
A young woman from Cornwall has been worked by her twin older brothers as a maid of all work on the family farm, when she is summoned to Coventry to be a companion to an ill aunt. Here she meets her aunt’s housekeeper, her husband and 5 year old daughter. She finds their relationship very strange, particularly in their lack of affection for their daughter. Her aunt dies, and she inherits the family farm in Cornwall when her brothers die at Dunkirk. When Coventry is bombed the young daughter is left to her. She had met a Canadian Air Force Officer in Coventry and again in Cornwall. When a dangerous situation developed around the background of the young girl the three flee to Canada. It has an overall feel of disbelief and this could be dealt with in a different way about it. It could also have been edited into a shorter book.
⭐️⭐️⭐️

26pmarshall
Edited: Feb 25, 10:11pm Top

#13. Death on the Edge, Sara Paretsky
Warshawski is called by a former high school class mate and now an English teacher in the same school, to discuss an essay written by a student from another school. An English media company has set up a competition asking high school students to write about the impact of guns on their daily lives. The teacher is murdered before they can meet. A family crisis erupts as to which cousin wrote an essay being considered for the top group, the same essay the dead teacher had questions about. Warshawski solves the case. Too much happens to quickly it would be better as a longer novella.
This short story makes the reader see this United States national issue at the family level, how the loss of a family member and how this is handled within the family has a different impact on each person regardless of the intent.

27pmarshall
Edited: May 1, 3:00pm Top

#14. Sara Paretsky: Wild Woman in Control, Gay Toltl Kinman

Boucheron "is the world's premier event bringing together all parts of the mystery and crime fiction community. In 2011 Dr. Sara Paretsky, author of the V.I. Warshawski mysteries, founding mother of Sisters in Crime, and a social activist was honoured with the Bouchercon Lifetime Achievement Award. Herein is a biography and interview with Dr. Paretsky. A most impressive woman. Sara Paretsky had me with her first book.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

February Summary

8 read

14 Total

28pmarshall
Mar 5, 12:11am Top

#15. Shell Game, Sara Paretsky
Warshawski has two cases both involving missing people. Her friend Lottie’s great-nephew is missing and the police want to speak with him regarding a murder investigation. Her niece through he marriage has disappeared after a business weekend on a Caribbean island. V. I.’s investigation widens to include the misuse of stocks that always result in a lost to the investor, the theft and sale of middle-eastern artifacts and the abuse of women.
Paretsky is one of my favourite authors and I have been reading this series since the beginning. But it is probably the most violent series I read. As the American society has become more violent her books reflect this reality. It isn’t one she likes and is clear about that. It bothers me and I am slower at reading the lateast release, I skipped the one before this but will eventually get to it. I don’t enjoy this aspect of her books.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

29pmarshall
Edited: Mar 6, 8:28pm Top

#16. All the Things We Lost, Liz Trenow

Jess, a medic in Afghanistan returns to England and falls apart. To deal with the blackouts and the nightmares she turns to drink and anger. In talking to her, her mother is reminded of her great grandmother’s diaries written from 1918 to 1922. Rose writes of the problems of living with her husband who lost his leg and has shell shock and has turned to drink, self pity and anger.
Both Jess and her great great grandfather are suffering from PTSD and are in denial which delays sharing their problems and getting help. I learned a lot from this book which wasn’t at all what I expected it to be.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

30pmarshall
Edited: Mar 8, 1:07pm Top

#17. Ma Polinski’s Pockets, Sara Sheridan
It appears to be out of the blue when Rachel White learns antiques dealer Ma Polanski left her eight million pounds but it does open a memory from when she was five and her father took her to Ma’s store. She is determined to find out why, not knowing it would lead to hidden murders, a Nazi who created a new life after the war and finally to the secret her parents have been hiding from her all her life. A good read.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

31pmarshall
Edited: Mar 9, 1:19am Top

#18. Will of a Tiger, Iris Young

“Will of a Tiger” was not at all what I expected and a topic I would usually avoid. The details of Birch Bai, a Chinese airman, and Danny Hardy an American pilot in the Chinese Airforce in World War II and their brutal treatment when captured by the Japanese was more than I wanted to know. However I was reading it for LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers program so that and the writing of author Iris Yang kept me reading.

I didn’t realize until the end that this book was the second in a series. I just thought that with tighter editing the details of Daisy and Jasmine and the Japanese could have been better explained. Also the repetition of the events in the prisoner of war camp and subsequent events in Birch’s life would have provided better flow.

Regardless I enjoyed the book and would have given it four stars except for the editing.

⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

32pmarshall
Edited: Mar 19, 7:16pm Top

#19. The Bookseller’s Tale, Ann Swinfen
This is the first in Swinfen’s Oxford Medieval Mysteries series featuring bookseller Nicholas Elyot as the sleuth. The year is 1353. In this tale a young Oxford student is murdered and his body is discovered by Nicholas floating in the river. As the tale progresses you learn a lot about the origins of Oxford University, the art of copying books, in this case for an illegal sale, and the life of a bookseller. This first tale interested me because of the book information but aside from that it kept my attention enough that I will try the second one. The one fault I have is the flowery description that just fills in time and the page with no real purpose.
⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

33pmarshall
Mar 13, 8:58pm Top

#20. The Novice’s Tale, Ann Swinfen
This tale focuses on Emma who was briefly introduced in the first book in the series. She was placed in a nunnery against her wishes by her stepfather. She has an incredible talent in copying and illustrating books. She finally escapes from the nunnery and makes her way across country towards Oxford chased by the men and dogs of her stepfather. An interesting tale about the power of the church and the gentry over others in their control.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

34auntmarge64
Mar 14, 11:01am Top

>30 pmarshall: That was interesting. I went to Amazon to look at this book and I had an unexpected e-credit and it paid for it. The book sounds really intriguing.

35NanaCC
Mar 14, 5:06pm Top

>30 pmarshall: I’ve added this one to my wishlist, Penny. As Margaret says, it sounds intriguing.

36pmarshall
Mar 15, 12:48am Top

#21 The Huntsman’s Tale, Ann Swinfen
In this tale I got a good view of village life in medieval England a few years after the plague. Nicholas and his family return to the family farm to help with the harvest. The lord has died and the manor and all the rights that go with it have been purchased by an unpleasant man who uses his power over the villagers to his benefit regardless of past practice or the truth. He is murdered during a hunt and Nicholas must find out the truth to save his friend, the Huntsman’s. This series provides interesting snapshots of medieval life.
⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

37pmarshall
Edited: Mar 15, 11:50pm Top

#22. The Merchant's Tale, Ann Swinfen
Each year the prior puts on a five day fair named after Oxford’s patron saint. This causes bad feelings between the church and the town’s people because the way it is organized costs the local merchants. The current prior uses every means possible to enforce his power on the town. In addition there are rumours of missing church valuables and a foreign killer, but his victim is unknown. Once again Nicholas ties it together.
⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

38pmarshall
Mar 17, 7:25pm Top

#23. The Troubadour's Tale, Ann Swinfen
Told over the Christmas period this tale presents a wonderful picture of a medieval Christmas and the food, and work that it entails, the outdoor fun, skating, sliding, that all ages partake in, the religious celebration of the nativity in the village church and Twelfth Night celebrations at the manor. Also the problems of a two day trip in bitterly cold weather and an excess amount of snow as well as the sudden attack by highwaymen. The mystery involves the troubadours who were hired to entertain at the manor. The have a missive for the king and others are trying to prevent it from being delivered.
I should mention that Nicholas Elyot, a graduate of Oxford and owner of of a bookstore in Oxford, provides the reader with wonderful information on how books are copied and rented to students for their studies. Also the creation of books to order that are illuminated, and bound. Fascinating.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

39pmarshall
Edited: Mar 19, 7:27pm Top

#24. The Stonemason's Tale, Ann Swinfen
In this tale the building of a chapel at Queen’s College is being sabotaged; tools stolen or broken, stone walls not yet set pulled down and more that leads to injures and death. Nicholas becomes involved because his shop and home are close to the work and disturbed by the noise and dust. The descriptions of the building methods and stone carving is interesting.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This is the last in the series Ann Swinfen died in August 2018.

40pmarshall
Mar 22, 10:21pm Top

#25. The Red Address Book, Sofia Lundberg
This is an interesting way to write a remembrance of one’s life. Doris’ father gave her a red leather address book for Christmas when she was a young girl. Now at 96 she still has it although most entries have been crossed off and Dead written beside the name. Doris started at A and has written of her relationship, good or bad, with this person and in this way tells her life story, from childhood in Stockholm to being a model in Paris in the 1930’s, meeting her true love, the coming of WW II and much more. At the same time there is her ongoing relationship with her great niece.
It wasn’t what I expected and the pressure she received to move out of her own home because of her health and age touched a nerve with me. But I enjoyed it and if you enjoy memoirs, true or not, I recommend it, she lived a lot in her 96 years.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

41NanaCC
Mar 23, 2:14pm Top

>40 pmarshall: Interesting review, Penny.

42pmarshall
Edited: May 1, 3:03pm Top

#26. The American Agent, Jacqueline Winspear
Maisie Dobbs and Priscella Partridge are joined on their ambulance run by American writer Catherine Saxon in September, 1940. Saxon makes the night’s events her first broadcast to the United States emphasizing the stalwartness of the British public in the face of Hitler’s nightly bombings. By morning she has been murdered. Dobbs is asked by Scotland Yard to investigate the case with American, Mark Scott. The U.S. is divided on what their role should be and attempts are made to silence broadcasters like Edward R. Morrow and Catherine by the Isolationists. Was this behind the murder, or was it this at the family level, Catherine not following her father’s beliefs and decrees to her? Or was it a jilted lover? Maisie has her hands full with this case and more.
Winspear has the ability to give a presence to characters that play minor roles. She developes a number of plot lines, some directly related to the murder and others tied to Maisie and has Dobbs juggle then mentally and physically as well as direct the role of others in the solution. She does provide clues to the reader and I could follow some but the outcome was a surprise.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

March Summary

12 read

26 total

1 reviewed

43rhian_of_oz
Mar 27, 9:10am Top

>42 pmarshall: I haven't loved the last couple of Maisie Dobbs books I've read. The next up for me is To Die But Once so we'll see.

44NanaCC
Mar 27, 2:21pm Top

>42 pmarshall:, >43 rhian_of_oz: my next up for Maisie Dobbs is In This Grave Hour. It’s been a while since I’ve read any of hers, so maybe I’ll get to that one soonish.

45pmarshall
Edited: Apr 7, 5:52am Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

46pmarshall
Edited: Apr 7, 5:50am Top

#27. What Child Is This, Rhys Bowen

I have started Becoming but as it is a LP book I need more light than I can turn on myself (I have a clapper on a lamp for middle of the night reading). So I found this short novella to read.

It is Christmas Eve, 1940 in London and Maggie and Jack are trying to celebrate with the little they could get on their ration cards and are missing their young daughter who died of illness even more. Their street is bombed and they escape from their burning house with the clothes on their backs. They learn of the generosity of strangers and how they can help each other build new futures despite being from different backgrounds.
⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

47dchaikin
Mar 29, 1:43pm Top

>40 pmarshall: The Red Address Book sounds terrific.

Hoping you’re enjoying Becoming

48pmarshall
Edited: Apr 7, 5:58am Top

#28.. Becoming, Michelle Obama.

What makes this book and its author unique are two things, she married a man who served two terms as president of the United States and she believed it was necessary for the First Lady to do something and it was not in her nature to not work at and for what she believed in and this was a perfect platform from which she accomplished many things.

I finished reading Becoming and while I did enjoy it I have a disappointed and confused reaction to it. I know about the life of Michelle Robinson Obama because she told it to me, over and over again. First as a whole and then in pieces repeated again and again through her time as First Lady. I understand why some repetition but please give me some credit for remembering and cut back on it.

One thing she didn’t tell me was in what subject she did her degree at Princeton. If she did I don’t recall. I don’t think it was English. I know this may sound picky but there are pairs of words that are similar but have a different meaning and use, e.g.; would and could, bring and take, among and between. When a person emphasizes the importance of education and early in their career proofread and wrote legal briefs they should know the importance of using the correct words. Certainly a book editor should have corrected the words.

Over the years I have puzzled over the role of the American First Lady. It is not an elected position or a paid one but ‘the wife’ is expected to do something. It is different from my country, Canada and other countries like England and Australia. I will preface this by saying I have not read biographies or autobiographies of all the recent, 1960 to the present First Ladies so I can’t comment on what, if any, projects they had. J. Kennedy redecorated the White House, in the ‘70’s one did a beautify America project, (Pat Nixion or Betty Ford?), Laura Bush was a librarian and advocated reading. I think Mrs. Trump is doing something about bullying, which I find quite ironic. In light of my sketchy knowledge Mrs. Obama accomplished an amazing number of useful things in comparison to others and is to be commended for it. But at the same time she lamented the time it took her away from her children, but it was her choice.

I have a better understanding on how the caucus system works. It is like being elected twice! I wish she had explained the Electrol College. It makes becoming president a three step process and can overrule the voters. Why are some states more important than others? I guess I need to google it.

One of the care givers in the nursing home I live in and I had an interesting conversation recently. It is a conversation I have wanted to have but not one that you can have with just anyone. Her mother is white and her father is black, actually brown. In colouring she takes after her father. She finds it very frustrating when faced by a person or a form asking if she is black or white. If she marked white no one would believe her, but to mark black cuts of half of her heritage. I have heard this issue discussed on the radio and the rationale given for saying a child was black and raised in that culture was because it was the minority, they would learn the white culture through life. I disagree with this premise of learning culture through life. I am bringing this up because although Michelle Robinson is black, her husband is biracial, yet he is said to be black, the first black president. In some ways slavery and the Civil War is still being fought in the U.S. (certainly under the current president.)

The other American issue that I don’t understand and comes to the fore in Obama’s second term is gun control and the ‘right’ to own and carry a gun. The shootings in schools, on the street, in nightclubs continues and politicians prevent legislation that would help keep guns off the streets. It doesn’t make sense, I don’t believe one can say the right given in the constitution in the 18 century when a rifle was necessary for hunting food can be directly applied to the situation in the 21 century. Michelle Obama doesn’t either.

It must feel awful and completely disheartening to work hard for eight years, speaking out for others unable to speak for themselves, developing community and business links to do good, to see the work your husband fought to have put into legislation and then be followed by a man who opposed it and took important aspects of it apart. A man who appears to me to have no principles, no concern for the rights of Americans who fall outside of his narrow definition and none for other nations. You gave eight years of your life for this?

You may question what I have written as not being about Michelle Obama and Becoming but these are the issues and confusions it left with me, about her, her role and her country. I do recommend her book to others.

⭐️⭐️⭐️3/4, which I have to turn into an LT ⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

49pmarshall
Edited: Apr 9, 9:50pm Top

#30. Death on the Seine, Evan Hirst

Ava Sext inherited from her uncle, a former Scotland Yard detective an apartment and book stand on the Seine in Paris. With it came a friendship with Henri DeAlt a bookseller and former notary. They become involved in a missing/dead person case attached to a group of ‘chosen’ people and ‘the work.’ I found it strange that at no time did any newcomers ask what was the ‘the work.’ No good enough to make me one to read the second in the series.
⭐️⭐️1/2

50avaland
Apr 8, 5:52am Top

>48 pmarshall: Interesting thoughts coming out of reading Michelle Obama's book.

51dchaikin
Apr 9, 1:04pm Top

Appreciated your perspective on Becoming. It’s a different point of view from where I am, and interesting.

52NanaCC
Apr 9, 7:05pm Top

I enjoyed reading your comments on Becoming. Interesting to have a different perspective.

53pmarshall
Edited: Apr 15, 1:06am Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

54pmarshall
Edited: Apr 14, 12:01am Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

55pmarshall
Edited: Apr 16, 8:56pm Top

#31. The Rule of Law, John Lescroart

A newly elected corrupt D.A. crosses Dismas Hardy when he has Hardy’s secretary arrested. When the police prove the D.A. wrong he is determined to bring Hardy down and turns to the Dock Yard Massacre to do so. Lescroart says he wrote this book to tie up some loose ends. It works for those of us who have read the series but will be difficult for others. Not his usual high quality read.
⭐️⭐️⭐️

56pmarshall
Edited: Apr 19, 12:20am Top

#32. The Victory Garden,Rhys Bowen

A W.W. II novel based on the Woman’s Land Army in England and what it contributed to England during the war.
⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

57pmarshall
Apr 21, 8:02am Top

#33. The Parisians, Marius Gabriel
This could be called ‘How to Survive W.W. II in Paris as a Woman.’ The Ritz Hotel played a major role in the life of the top Nazis in Paris (Goering,) and saw the work of the resistance (the chambermaid,) the wealthy collaborators (Coco Chanel, and French film star Arletty) who chose what they thought was the winning side so as to maintain their lifestyle. All suffered for their choices.

I hated reading the sections told by Chanel and Arletty who blamed the poverty they were born into and struggle to escape it for the choices they made. They ‘needed’ the money and men for security. Although by the end I did have more feelings for the film star. Both were reviled by the French after the war and it wasn’t until 1954 that Chanel had another show. Arletty’s career never recovered.

The chambermaid was fictional, an American artist whose lover was killed by the Nazis and she wanted to strike back and her position at the Ritz gave her the opportunity to pass on information to the OSS. She was twice arrested. The second time it was the arrival of the Americans who send her to hospitals in the States which saved her. She did reconnect with her OSS contact.

An interesting slice of life of Paris from 1939 to its liberation by the Americans in 1945. More gruesome than most of the WW I and II fiction I have read.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

58pmarshall
Edited: Apr 28, 11:40am Top

#34. Maisie Dobbs,Jacqueline Winspear
#35 Birds of a Feather, Jacqueline Winspear
#36.Pardonable Lies, Jacqueline Winspear
#37. Messenger of Truth, Jacqueline Winspear
I am rereading Winspear and Maisie Dobbs and enjoying her more as I think I understand her and her investigation methods better. She deals with topics like the facial injuries and the white feather campaign in WW I in a compassionate manner but doesn’t excuse those who took advantage.

In Pardonable Lies she has a case in which a man promised his dying wife he would investigate the death of their son. The official report from the Royal Air Force was he died when his plane crashed in France. She is convinced he is alive. The instructions given to Dobbs are to say he is dead. The father exhibits no feelings for his son except fear when he talks about his wife’s belief. It turns out his son was a homosexual and he is ashamed and fears how this would reflect on him, a K.C.

The role of artists during the war in propaganda and on the battlefield as well as after. People don’t always like to see the truth.

59NanaCC
Apr 24, 8:39pm Top

>58 pmarshall: I like the way you are looking at these.

60pmarshall
Edited: May 1, 3:10pm Top

#38. Still Waters, Viveca Sten
A new police procedural set on the small island of Sandhamn, off the coast of Stockholm,Sweden featuring Thomas Andreasson. A man discovers on the death of his mother who his father was and he sets out to claim what he believes is his rightful inheritance.

I have read other Swedish authors and found some, Henning Mankel in particular, quite dark and depressing. Sten is not, the picture she paints of Sandhamn in the summer is bright and beautiful. Her characters carry and are creating baggage but are basically normal, happy people.

I look forward to reading more in the Sandhamn Mystery series.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

April Summary

11 read

38 total

2 reviewed

61NanaCC
Apr 29, 4:56pm Top

>60 pmarshall: I’m glad you enjoyed it Penny. So far, only 6 are translated into English. I think a seventh is in the process of being translated.

62pmarshall
Edited: May 1, 3:10pm Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

63pmarshall
May 1, 3:13pm Top

#39. Closed Circles, Viveca Sten
Murder committed very publicly, hidden love affairs, greed and money, lots of money all feature in the second book in the Sandhamn series, set against a summer of sailing. One thing I don’t like in books is when the author has characters speak, adding important details to the plot, but not identifying them. It frustrates me in my attempts to solve the case. Sten does this throughout this book. The original murder leads to evidence of financial crime by the deceased, but the police are not quite at the final step of uncovering it when the murderer is arrested. Will this be left hanging?
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

64pmarshall
Edited: May 1, 11:17pm Top

#40. Guiltless, Viveca Sten

Two stores, one a murder investigation in the present and the other told over many years of a broken family and how what started as discipline leads to murder in another generation. Sten is actually telling three stores when you add Nora Linde’s marriage breakup and she handles the three well, crossing the lines over when necessary or developing them separately.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

65pmarshall
Edited: May 2, 12:12pm Top

Viveca Sten has published at least ten titles in the Sandhamn series but only the first six have been translated into English. The last to be translated was published in 2012 in Swedish, it seems to take a long time to get the translations. Her books are in 16 languages in 25 countries. A tv series has also been made. Her site is vivecasten.com

66NanaCC
May 2, 12:54pm Top

>65 pmarshall: I’m enjoying the books that have been translated, Penny. As with any series, some more than others. I’ll look forward to more coming out in English.

67pmarshall
May 3, 12:38pm Top

#41. Tonight You’re Dead, Viveca Sten
The investigation of the death of a college student researching an elite Swedish military unit leads the police to more deaths and no answers to the growing number of questions. When will the cliffhangers be resolved?
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

68pmarshall
Edited: May 4, 1:40pm Top

#42. In the Heat of the Moment, Viveca Sten
Midsummer Night’s Eve on Sandhamn Island means an invasion of hundreds of young people, drunk and high. What happens in the heat of the moment is forgetting your friends, hooking up with the wrong people, hurting those you love and finally death. The story is told, in part, by each of the participants.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

69pmarshall
Edited: May 5, 10:16pm Top

#43. In Harm’s Way, Viveca Sten
Immigration has become an issue in Sweden and the fight against it is felt in this investigation of a murdered journalist. These books aren’t dark like Henning Mankell’s but they do show the dark side of life in Sweden. The problems are universal and require people to be open and tolerant and that is difficult.
Sten has written four more in the series which need to be translated into English. This translation came out in 2018, hopefully there will be another by year end.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

70pmarshall
Edited: May 8, 5:09pm Top

#44. The Widows of Malabar Hill, Sujata Massey
I reread this book because the second in the Perveen Mistry series The Satapur Moonstone will be released May 12. Last week Massey won the Agatha Award for Best Historical Novel for the Widows. Below is the review I wrote in January, 2018.

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.
Reviewed 2018-1-11
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

Winner of the Agatha Award for the Best Historical Novel, 2018.

71pmarshall
Edited: May 8, 12:07am Top

In the past few days Amazon.ca listed a pre-order for In the Shadow of Power by Viveca Sten, #7 in the Sandhamn series. The price is $6.70 for the Kindle, the release date is October 22, 2019. Something to look forward to.

72pmarshall
Edited: May 8, 11:51pm Top

#45. An Incomplete Revenge, Jacqueline Winspear
A business investigation for James Compton leads Maisie Dobbs to a strangely quiet village that accepts annual fires and ongoing theft without involving the police. It is September and East End Londoner’s and gypsies gather for the annual picking of the hops along with the locals. Three distinct groups. Class issues, remnants of events from WW I, and school boy bullying all are woven into the plot. Winspear too looks at the underbelly of British society in 1931.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

73pmarshall
Edited: May 10, 7:12pm Top

#46. Among the Mad, Jacqueline Winspear

What happens to the hundred of thousands of men and women who return home to England broken in body and mind and receive little to no monetary support from the government and there are no jobs? Society has forgotten and don't want to be reminded of the war these people endured. Dobbs, Scotland Yard and Special Branch join forces when letters arrive warning of consequences for this lack of caring.
Not a topic I enjoyed, but it is as true today as then. We don’t want to be reminded of war and death and don’t want to see veterans, injured in body and mind.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

74pmarshall
May 11, 5:39pm Top

#47. The Mapping of Love and Death, Jacqueline Winspear

Maisie is asked by Michael Clifton's American parents to investigate his murder in the trenches in 1918. Oil in California, lovers in Paris, treacherous soldiers and the death of Maurice Blanche combine for a good read.
The explanations of the role of cartographers in WW I was fascinating. I knew of the importance of maps in battle I just never thought of them being drawn under enemy fire.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

75pmarshall
Edited: May 12, 11:06pm Top

#48 A Lesson in Secrets, Jacqueline Winspear

Maisie goes undercover with the Secret Service teaching philosophy at a small college in Cambridge founded on the principles of St. Francis and peace. But it is based on a web of lies, stolen manuscripts published under another’s name, Secret Nazis groups aimed at inquiring and innocent minds. Those who understand see the dangers of another war but too many look. through blinkered eyes.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

76pmarshall
Edited: May 13, 3:06pm Top

#49. Great Job, Dad!, Holman Wang
Great Job, Dad by Holman Wang is a picture book showing the many jobs, besides his outside work as a manager, that Dad does. He is a receptionist, taking messages for his two kids, a librarian at bedtime, a computer engineer when glitches happen as well as judge, chauffeur, and waiter. It is written in a manner that applies to dads in general, not just single dads as the title might make you think.

I was really taken by the crisp, modern lines of the illustrations and more so when I read how he did them. He hand sews each character out of wool, using a wool felting technique, and makes the other items from wood, all done to scale. On the judge pages this includes his son and daughter pointing fingers at each other at a wooden picnic table with spilled milk, French fries on the ground which a puppy is enjoying and more. He creates his scene set in the appropriate indoor or outdoor location and then ‘shoots’ the scene. Using different photographic techniques he completes his illustrations. The detail is amazing.

This book could be read to any young child from toddler up, and read by a child age seven or eight. The illustrations would engage any young reader/listener.

I received this book through LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers program.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

77pmarshall
Edited: May 15, 9:54am Top

#50. Elegy for Eddie, Jacqueline Winspear
Eddie has a way with horses and as a result is known throughout London. He is quiet, friendly, has an amazing memory and is labeled as being ‘not all there,’ ‘slow,’ or ‘dumb.’ His talents are used but he is also looked down upon by others. Regardless he has true friends who love him and when he is killed in a freak accident they turn to Maisie, who remembers Eddie from her childhood.
The investigation reveals a newspaper baron manipulating the news he prints to counter what is happening in Germany in 1933 and to make people proud of England, of work Churchill and others are doing with airplanes preparing for the defence of Britain, work which touches Maisie’s James and writer friend Partridge and a bully with ties to Eddie’s past. In the end Dobbs accepts what she finds with sadness for Eddie and a growing fear for the future of Britain. Her personal future has also been revised.
“Elegy for Eddie” more than the previous titles makes Maisie look at life and the disquiet she feels. How her inheritance from Maurice Blanche and how she is using it is cutting her off rather than including her in peoples lives. All in all it gives the reader much to think about as the decade of the 1930’s moves forward.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

78pmarshall
Edited: May 22, 11:03am Top

#51. The Satapur Moonstone, Sujata Massey

Perveen Mistry, a solicitor in 1922 India, undertakes a task for the British Raj in the kingdom of Satapur. There is a disagreement over the education of the future raj between his mother and grandmother, the regent. His father and older brother died suspicious deaths and it appears someone is trying tp poison him. Mistry is faced with the end of the rainy season which makes travel difficult, uncooperative people as well as the behaviour mores that apply to the various religions, castes and women. The ending was a surprise but one that solved all the problems, well most all. I didn’t enjoy the plot and setting of this book as much as I did The Widows of Malabar Hill.

I was bothered by the language in particular the use of the verbs bring and take and some that I thought was more recent than that that would have been used in 1922.The misuse of these two verbs has become prominent in the past 20-25 years. Bring describes an action toward the speaker, “Would you please bring me the newspaper.” and take is an action away from the speaker, “Will you please take the newspaper to Mary.” Today many people solely use the word bring. In 1922 an Indian solicitor educated at some of the top schools in Bombay and then at Oxford would have used these words correctly. There were other phrases that didn’t read correctly but I didn’t mark the page and I find it hard to browse through an ebook. But the use of them disappointed me, I expected more from Massey.

⭐️⭐️⭐️3/4

79pmarshall
Edited: May 17, 8:22am Top

#52. Dead at First Sight, Peter James
The dark side of internet dating and the huge amounts of money that is scammed from innocent people, mainly widows and widowers over 50 is the topic of “Dead at First Sight,” the newest Roy Grace police procedural. I know, coming from an era when people corresponded by letter that it is easier to write things than say them, but the openness of people writing to strangers on social media astounds me as does the idea of ‘lending’ money to strangers. James writes of an international ring centred in Ghana and Germany which isn’t afraid to step over the line to protect their business. As usual his chapters are short and his writing face paced which kept me reading to the end.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

80pmarshall
Edited: May 22, 11:02am Top

#53. Leaving Everything Most Loved, Jacqueline Winspear
Maisie investigates the murder of two East Indian women. Billie still suffers from the beating he sustained in Elegy For Eddie and Maisie questions her future.
⭐️⭐️⭐️3/4

81pmarshall
Edited: May 22, 9:05pm Top

# 54. A Dangerous Place, Jacqueline Winspear
After the death of James and her unborn child Maisie flees Canada and herself. In Gibraltar she becomes involved in the murder of a photographer which leads to involvement in the Spanish Civil War. I found a lot of repetition in the book, Maisie’s actions in Gibraltar, the Secret Police, what happened to James and her inability to move forward. It reflects her state of mind but got tedious.
I must also take Winspear to task on her use of English grammar, in particular my pet peeves the use of bring and not the correct use of bring and take. I know I a fighting a losing battle today, however in the time period in which Winspear wrote the words would have been used correctly.
⭐️⭐️⭐️1/4

82pmarshall
Edited: May 23, 3:25pm Top

#55. 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.
Winspear provides a vivid overview of Munich, even in 1938 it still attracted tourists, rich young women looking for a daring, good time, Germans acting against the government to spread the truth and the terrible threat Hitler was building against the Germans, Europeans and British. Imagine in your minds eye two six year old girls playing hidden from view, holding hands until they are about to step into view when their hands drop to their sides, one blonde, one brunette.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

83rhian_of_oz
May 22, 11:07am Top

>81 pmarshall: This book mainly frustrated me because I was looking forward to seeing how Maisie balanced her professional life with marriage and possibly motherhood.

I must see if it's a recognised trope that a woman can be professionally satisfied or personally happy but not both.

84pmarshall
May 22, 1:19pm Top

>83 rhian_of_oz::
I was also hoping for a book that addressed her personal and professional life more fully than previous ones. Unfortunately A Dangerous Place is not that book. It provides details, briefly, on her life with James and then indulges, perhaps not the right word, in her grief and inability to face life in England. Certainly the murder case was not much.

85pmarshall
Edited: May 25, 3:41pm Top

#56. 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.
I didn’t know that special villages were created for refugees, in this case, Belgians, where they used their own money, and it was expected, and happened to a large extent, that they would return home after WW I.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

86pmarshall
Edited: May 26, 8:34am Top

#57. 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!
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

87pmarshall
Edited: Jun 12, 6:44pm Top

#58. The American Agent, Jacqueline Winspear

Maisie Dobbs and Priscella Partridge are joined on their ambulance run by American writer Catherine Saxon in September, 1940. Saxon makes the night’s events her first broadcast to the United States emphasizing the stalwartness of the British public in the face of Hitler’s nightly bombings. By morning she has been murdered. Dobbs is asked by Scotland Yard to investigate the case with American, Mark Scott. The U.S. is divided on what their role should be and attempts are made to silence broadcasters like Edward R. Morrow and Catherine by the Isolationists. Was this behind the murder, or was it this at the family level, Catherine not following her father’s beliefs and decrees to her? Or was it a jilted lover? Maisie has her hands full with this case and more.

Winspear has the ability to give a presence to characters that play minor roles. She developes a number of plot lines, some directly related to the murder and others tied to Maisie and has Dobbs juggle then mentally and physically as well as direct the role of others in the solution. She does provide clues to the reader and I could follow some but the outcome was a surprise.

Winspear doesn’t say anything but the way she wraps up dangling threads, but leaves a couple, I surmise this could be the last Maisie Dobbs. But I hope I am wrong. If I go into details I would be giving things away so ... time will tell.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

May Summary

20 read
2 reviewed

58 Total

88pmarshall
Edited: Jun 3, 3:39pm Top

#59. A Gentleman in Moscow, Amor Towles

I started “A Gentleman in Moscow” twice and it took some effort for me to keep going the second time before I was far enough in to know I would keep going. In 1922 Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov is sentence by a Bolshevik Tribunal to life imprisonment in the grand Moscow Metropol Hotel, across from Red Square. A poem attributed to him, written in 1905 is what saved his live. He looks to literature and accounts of men similarly banished and bases his live on Robinson Crusoe, a plan for each day, an acceptance not a railing against what has occurred. An interrupted suicide attempt leads him to work as a waiter in the hotel. This and six year old Sofia who is left with him ‘for a short - long time’ give his life a new dimension and purpose.

His circle of friends and acquaintances is broad and keeps him in touch with the world outside the hotel to a certain extent. However his on-going loyalty to Russia is questionable. Particularly when one sees how some of his friends are treated. The years and history pass in stages. People grow up (Nina, Sofia) and grow old. In 1954 it all comes to an end with the help of others and a touch of “Casablanca” and a vagueness to the future.

I found the author inconsistent in his telling of the story. In some cases he uses long footnotes to (1) point out to the reader a minor character they should remember, (2) to cover some historical events that are happening, e.g., the depression or (3) comparisons of historical events, Napoleon and Hitler’s marches on Moscow and their failure to capture it became they ignored the weather. There were many events omitted.

I downloaded a library copy through Overdrive and it used a number of fonts, in some cases three on a page, without any reason for the change. I don’t know why this occurred but it was bothersome.

I don’t know if Towles was trying to write a 20th. century grand Russian novel in the likes of “War and Peace” and other historical novels he refers to or not. If yes, I think he failed. But he did write an entertaining novel about a hard-to-define, complicated country with an interesting twist.

I think it is more than 3 1/2 and less than 4 ⭐️‘S, but I will come down on the side of ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.

Reviewed 2019-6-3

89pmarshall
Edited: Jun 26, 7:15pm Top

#60. The Best American Mystery Stories 2018 (The Best American Series ®), Louise Penny
A doctor who preys on a shellshocked soldier injured in WW I, poachers of ivory in Tanzania, a delivery man who delivers more than Chinese food, scamming money from seniors grieving the recent loss of a spouse... and more that didn’t entertain me. I don’t think I am a modern short story fan. Or perhaps I should say my taste and Louise Penny’s don’t match.
⭐️⭐️1/2

90rhian_of_oz
Jun 4, 10:48am Top

>88 pmarshall: I'm currently 5th in the queue for this from the library (I requested it in December) so I'll revisit your review once I've read it.

91pmarshall
Jun 5, 12:23pm Top

#61. Nerve, Dick Francis

Rumours are flying around the racetrack about jockeys, one is always late, another bets too often, another is losing his nerve and hence his races. They are believed although no one tries to substantiate them and the jockey is ruined. Rob Finn is aware first as a bystander and then first hand and he sets out to find out who is behind it and why.An underlying theme is the effect being born into a family of musicians or horsemen but not having any talent or interest, has on that person and how they deal with it, positively or negatively.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

92pmarshall
Edited: Jun 13, 10:10pm Top

#62. Special Circumstances, Sheldon Siegel
Mike Daley, a lawyer with a large firm in San Francisco loses his job on December 31. He rents an office from his ex-wife Rose Fernandez opens a one person firm with a big murder case. His long time friend and former colleague is accused of a double murder. The new D. A. and the victims were all members of the law firm which makes it almost incestuest, or maybe it is.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

93pmarshall
Edited: Jun 13, 10:20pm Top

#63. Incriminating Evidence, Sheldon Siegel
Mike Daley and Rosie Fernandez are hired to defend the D. A. ‘Skinner’ Gates in a murder case. They dislike their client but come to believe he is innocent. It becomes quite involved with rich men who can manipulate a situation to their advantage, male and female prostitution, selling of drugs and money laundering and tax evasion.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

94pmarshall
Jun 12, 7:01pm Top

#64 The Not-So Great Outdoors, Madeline Kloepper

I love the colourful illustrations in this book and the way they play off the title by making the rural area look like the ‘not-so-great’ urban area. The rocks become the sculptures, the acoustic guitar the entertainment and the fire and Northern Lights the electricity and more.
A disgruntled young girl is on a camping trip with her parents and young brother. It takes her some time and seeing bears to start to appreciate what nature has to offer, something different from what she knows and is familiar with. Perhaps something better?
I received this from LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers program.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

95pmarshall
Jun 15, 2:58pm Top

#65. Criminal Intent, Sheldon Siegel
Family lies plus Hollywood moguls and crooked community developers turns into a “she said” “He said” case with a double twist at the end.
⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

96pmarshall
Edited: Jun 16, 11:15pm Top

#66. Final Verdict, Sheldon Siegel

Against Rosie’s wishes Mike takes on the murder defence of a man they had defended once before. Because their client is dying they are forced to present their incomplete case in the Preliminary portion of the trial.
⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

97pmarshall
Edited: Jun 19, 1:16am Top

#67. The Confession, Sheldon Siegel

A priest is arrested for the murder of a lawyer who based her practice on filing sexual harassment suits against the Catholic Church in SanFrancisco.
⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

98pmarshall
Edited: Jun 21, 1:48am Top

#68. Judgement Day, Sheldon Siegel
Mike pushes Rosie I yo accepting a death row appeal 8 days, 12 hours and 58 minutes prior to execution. Ten years earlier a defence lawyer was convicted of the murder of three local business men. Questions of police misdoings were cleared by I. A. Mike’s father had been an investigating officer.
⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

99pmarshall
Edited: Jun 21, 9:29pm Top

#69. Perfect Alibi, Sheldon Siegel
Grace Daley, Rosie and Micke’s 16 year old daughter’s boyfriend is arrested for murdering his father.

100pmarshall
Jun 23, 5:19pm Top

#70. Felony Murder Rule, Sheldon Siegel

California has an obscure law, the Felony Murder Rule, which means if you are with someone who causes a murder to happen you can be charged with murder. Thomas Nguyen is sitting in a car outside a liquor store in San Francisco while his friend goes in for beer. The store owner thinks Duc Tho is going to pull a gun and rob him so within five seconds ofTho's entrance he takes five bullets in the chest, The owner, Ortega Cruz, claimed it was self defence, so Thomas was charged with murder under the Felony Murder Rule. Mike Daley, out of private practice and in the Public Defenders Office takes on the case. There is a secondary story line that goes back to Mike’s brother Tommy who died in the Vietnam War.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

101pmarshall
Edited: Jun 24, 6:33pm Top

#71. Serve and Protect, Sheldon Siegel

A white San Francisco police officer pulls over a car with a broken brake light, the black driver flees the scene on foot, pursued by the officer who believes he is armed. It ends with the cop charged with murder and riots in the street. The police officer is Mike Daley’s godson and he takes on the difficult case.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

102pmarshall
Edited: Jun 26, 9:21am Top

#72 Hot Shot (Mike Daley/Rosie Fernandez Legal Thriller, Sheldon Siegel

Silicon Valley tech companies, IPO’s, inappropriate sexual behaviour in the office and outside it , mix in abuse of drugs and murder and you have Mike Daley’s latest case.
Siegel reminds me of John Lescroart, both write short chapters which leave the reader hanging. It is hard to put their books down.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

103pmarshall
Edited: Jun 29, 12:07am Top

#73. The Better Sister, Alafair Burke

Chloe, six years younger than Nicky, was a good student, an achiever in terms of her job and she developed a national reputation with the women’s magazine of which she was the editor. She appeared to have the perfect life with her husband and stepson, until she found him stabbed to death.
Nicky was a hippie, she was an addict and a drunk. Her husband took their two year old son from her and later married her sister. Her son was accused of murdered his father and this brought the sisters together again.
But I don’t know who was the “Better Sister,” arguments could be made for each one.
Interesting thoughts on how parental and spousal abuse impacts siblings.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

104pmarshall
Edited: Jul 1, 1:37am Top

#74. When You Come Back, Debra Webb

Emma is eight when her school bus gets in an accident and fer fifteen year old sister and her friend tell her to wait and they walk away to get help and are never seen again. Twenty-five years later Emma makes one of her infrequent visits home. Two girls are missing and there are demands to reopen the old case. Emma suffers from PTSD and is an alcoholic. Can she deal with this again, on the other hand can she deal with not learning the truth. Told by Emma and her mother, Helen, it provides an interesting take of the impact of such an event on parents, spouses, friends and children.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

June Summary

16 Read
1 Reviewed

74 Total

105pmarshall
Jul 1, 1:30am Top

#77. The Lost Soldiers: A gripping historical novel of love, secrets and sisterhood, Liz Trenow
An English widow, an American looking for her brother and a German woman looking for her son come together in July, 1919 in Flanders. Belgium hasn’t had time to recover from WW I but they are better off than England and Germany in terms of foodstuffs however the land is still a mass of mud trenches. You experience the war from the point of view of each woman, the feelings toward the Germans by each nationality including the Belgians and the soldiers who fought in it. It moves on well and leaves you with something to think about.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

106dchaikin
Jul 1, 1:30pm Top

The Lost Soldiers sounds potentially really moving. Looks like you’ve been flying through crime novels. I don’t read them, but they sound fun.

107pmarshall
Edited: Jul 8, 2:05am Top

#78. Dark Rhapsody, Helaine Mario
The search for specific paintings stolen by the Nazis in 1943 from a Florence art gallery owned by a Jewish family who are sent to a concentration camp in Germany. One group of searchers are doing so to hopefully return the paintings to their rightful owners, the other wants them to sell on the black market.
⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

108pmarshall
Jul 3, 11:56pm Top

>106 dchaikin::
The changes in the women and their feelings about the war, the enemy be it German or English, and coming to understand the suffering of both sides which were comprised of ordinary people was believable and well done.

109pmarshall
Edited: Jul 10, 7:36pm Top

#79. Spiked (A Kris Redner Mystery, Randall Denley
A very timely book to read about Canada - China relations with the added impact of th U. S. Kris Redner, an Ottawa journalist sees the body of a Chinese woman fall past her as she sits on her 6th floor balcony. Suicide or murder. The Chinese government takes the body and the story disappears, or it would have except for Kris. Crooked politicians and CIA agents operating outside their own country added to the depth of the scandal.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

110pmarshall
Edited: Jul 13, 3:46pm Top

#80. Ticket to Timbuktu, Joe Lindsay

Joe Lindsay’s wife, Kate, asks him what he wants for his 60th. birthday and he replies that he wants to go to Timbuktu. So she provides him with plane travel from Inverness, Scotland to Dakar, Senegal and money for his land trip. Joe choose to travel via local transportation, bus, taxi, train and boat and plane - no tourist air conditioned buses for him. He learns how it feels to be the single white person in a crowd and equates that to how Blacks must feel in Britain. With the assistance of other travellers he is able to make his way to Timbuktu, avoiding the throngs of young unemployed men who are everywhere and surround him offering to be his guide, find him a taxi, a hotel, whatever he needs - all for a price. He loves his time on the Niger River but has to take a taxi to Timbuktu now 18 kilometres north of the river. From his hotel he can walk out into the Sahara and climb a sand dune where he lays and looks at the stars.

His telling of his travels is funny, enjoyable and informative. By traveling solo he was in a position where he had to interact with and rely on the local people he met. Unlike myself he travelled in a time when he could connect with home through internet cafes and telephone, there were ATM machines and he was able to phone home. In mud hut villages in the poor country of Mali he came across teenagers playing on their ubiquitous cellphones. If you have never read literary travel before I recommend “Ticket to Timbuktu.”
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

111pmarshall
Jul 13, 9:38pm Top

#81 A Long Walk to Water, Linda Sue Park
A young girl, Nya, walks miles every day to get water for her family before a well is dug in her village in South Sudan. A young boy, Salva Dut, starts walking, in 1985, thousands of miles to escape the war in the southern Sudan and eleven years later arrives in Rochester, New York. Nya and Salva meet over fresh, clean water in 2009 in her village in South Sudan.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

112pmarshall
Edited: Jul 16, 12:01pm Top

#82. No Cure for Love, Peter Robinson

Written in 1995 and republished in 2015 Peter Robinson, know for his Alan Banks police series set in Yorkshire, shows his versatility in this police procedural set in Los Angeles.

A British actress starring in a t.v. Cop show set in L.A. starts receiving letters from a stalker. It appears to date back to her time as a druggy attached to a band - a very bad time in her life. Written from the point of view of the stalker, the police and the woman it is intriguing.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

113pmarshall
Edited: Jul 18, 3:25pm Top

#83. Willie O'Ree: The story of the first black player in the NHL, Nicole Mortillaro
Willie O’Ree, the first Black player in the National Hockey League, and I share the same Canadian hometown so I have been aware of him for some years. I decided to read this to fill in the gaps of my knowledge of his hockey career. Growing up his was one of two families who lived in downtown Fredericton, a few other Black families lived on the outskirts. He learned, as a young teen, from his parents how to direct the anger he felt because of the behaviour of others and it was this strength and his skill as a hockey player that enabled him to achieve what he did. Some time after his playing career ended he headed the NHL diversity program designed to attract young players from different races and backgrounds. He is a hockey hero more people should know about.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

114pmarshall
Edited: Jul 23, 12:55am Top

#84. The Fat Man’s Daughter, Caroline Petit
Hong Kong, 1937, Leah Kolbe’s father, an antique dealer, has died leaving her with a house full of antiques but no money. This leaves her open to the offer to go to Manchukuo (Japanese name for Manchuria) and return with some jewels and other collectibles. This task is made more difficult by her travel companions and the Japanese attacks on China.
It took me sometime to realize she was English and not Chinese. It was a difficult time in history but I found it difficult to believe at times. There is a second book in the series but It didn’t leave me wanting more.
⭐️⭐️⭐️

115pmarshall
Edited: Aug 2, 12:36am Top

I have been in a slump and having difficulty deciding what to read, so I turned to my old friend Dick Francis.

#85. Banker, Dick Francis

Merchant banker, Tim Ekaterin, invests n a prime stallion. This brings him into contact with Calder Jackson who claims he can cure horses by laying his hands on them. To say more would give too much away.

July Summary

9 Read
85 Total

116NanaCC
Jul 30, 8:05am Top

>115 pmarshall: It’s always good to return to a favorite writer when we need a push to get over a slump.

117rocketjk
Jul 30, 3:24pm Top

>91 pmarshall: I enjoyed scrolling through your thread, today. I have read two Dick Francis novels and enjoyed them both. Nerve was one of them. Cheers!

118pmarshall
Edited: Aug 2, 12:34am Top

#86. All This I Will Give to You, Dolores Redondo

Translated from Spanish this is a family saga told by a writer whose husband dies in the first chapter exposing another life. He goes to the village in northern Spain and a retired policeman tells him his husband was murdered. In the search for the truth he encounters the titled family he married into, one that sees only two levels of society, people like themselves and everyone else who are there to serve them and otherwise be quiet, homophobic attitudes and sexual abuse in a Catholic boys school.
It is well written with good character development and a believable plot. I will look for more by this writer.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

119pmarshall
Aug 2, 9:34pm Top

#87. Crosscut: A Joe Gunther Short Story, Archer Mayor
The first short story to emerge from the Joe Gunther series Crosscut introduces Sammie Martens. She has returned to Vermont following a stint in the military and is looking for a job. To have her mother arrested for robbing a gas station is a major surprise. She meets Gunther and is impressed by him but doesn’t see any action so she follows the people who she suspects are using her mother. An interesting ending.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

120pmarshall
Edited: Aug 4, 11:58pm Top

#88. Footloose, val McDermid, Peter James
A short story written jointly by McDermid and James. Corpses are showing up without feet or just feet are found in Yorkshire and Bristol. The police suspect it is the result of men with a foot fetish.Warning, both authors enjoy puns!
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

121pmarshall
Edited: Aug 5, 7:46pm Top

#89. Faking a Murderer, Kathy Reichs, Lee Childs
This book is part of The Matchup Collection and brings Temperance Brennan and Jack Reacher. In 1987 he was in the army serving ing Germany when a senior officer died. In 2012 she was asked to redo the autopsy of that office. A reporter covering the historic story was found murdered and Brennan’s fingerprints were found on the murder weapon. She, with Reacher’s help, realize they have to solve the case to prevent the FBI from arresting her.
⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

122pmarshall
Aug 6, 7:20pm Top

#90. Getaway, Nelson DeMille, Lisa Scottoline
A policeman has borrowed a friend’s rustic lake cottage in upper New York State and a lawyer had planned a weekend away in a nearby cottage. Her dog goes missing and when searching in the woods discovers a hideout with two men unloading what looks like boxes of guns and speaking Arabic. She runs, meets the policeman and then the terrorists. Not as believable or maybe too much so as the others in the series.
⭐️⭐️⭐️

123pmarshall
Edited: Aug 7, 8:05pm Top

#91. Honor &..., Sandra Brown, C. J. Box
Joe Pickett, a game warden and Lee Coburn, FBI agent, meet in the Wyoming mountains when Coburn is being shot at and Pickett hears the heavy duty ammo. Both are pinned down in a partially build building trying to work out a plan that ensures their survival. Interesting mix of personalities.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

124pmarshall
Aug 7, 11:50pm Top

#92. The Book Case, Nelson DeMille
John Corey, an inspector with the NYPD is told to investigate an accidental death in a book store, a tall book case fell and killed the owner. He decides it was murder and solves the case with those called to the scene.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

125pmarshall
Edited: Aug 8, 11:32pm Top

#93. A Hint of Strangeness (Kindle Single), Susan Isaacs
A young woman returns to here home in New York City to discover the body of her mother, a murder victim. There is no evidence of a break-in so the person must have been known to the victim. The woman is an economics student and her friend is in pre-med and they use what they have learned from the police and their courses to research information on what they know and assist in solving the case. A good read.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

126pmarshall
Aug 9, 7:48pm Top

#94. High Stakes, Dick Francis
A crooked trainer in cahoots with a bookie are out to take a toy inventor, Steven Scott, for all he is worth. It shows how far people will go to achieve what they want or to prove someone else is wrong.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

127pmarshall
Edited: Aug 14, 6:32am Top

#95. Skinner’s Rules, Quintin Jardine

The discovery of a savaged corpse in a dark alleyway comes as a shock even to Skinner The victim is identified as a successful young lawyer, and the motive for his brutal death is an utter mystery. Skinner’s investigation into four murders leads to plans for an international incident and much pressure is put on him to stop. But letting a murderer go free goes against Skinner’s rules.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

128pmarshall
Edited: Aug 14, 6:32am Top

#96. Skinner’s Festival, Quintin Jardine

On the first day of the Edinburgh Featival an explosion rocks Princes Street and one man is killed. A threatening letter is delivered to the Secretary of State demanding political separation from England. Bob Skinner is Security Advisor to the minister.
It was written in 1993 when terrorism in Britain was pretty much limited to the Irish. This book opens up the international side of it across the world and how the threat of it can be used for a number of purposes - by both sides.
I first read it in 2003 and I am sure it was more shocking to me then than now. It is terrible what we adjust to and accept in our world.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

129pmarshall
Edited: Aug 15, 9:05pm Top

#97. Skinner’s Trail, Quintin Jardine
A man has been found knifed in a luxury villa in Edinburgh. The victim had run a chain of laundrettes, saunas and pubs throughout the city, but police suspect these to be the front for a drug-distribution network. Another man, a property developer, is found hanging in a garage in Spain. Is there a link?
Skinner follows a trail of murder, and greed as it leads him back to the beginning and a violent but loyal man. A man who is so much more than a violent, killing giant and will reappear in Skinner’s life.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

130pmarshall
Aug 16, 9:45pm Top

#98. Skinner’s Round, Quintin Jardine

A golf tournament is being staged for the opening of Witches' Hill Country Club. A legendary witches' curse calls upon the death of anyone who desecrates their place of worship..Skinner and his team have to solve the 400 year old Witches’ Curse in addition to how it is used in the the present day murders. If you are a golfer you will enjoy the last chapter which is a description of the play by the World # 1 and Skinner on the last day of the tournament, the final 18 holes. The description of play is accompanied with Skinner’s theory of the murders.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

131pmarshall
Aug 17, 9:23pm Top

#99. Skinner’s Ordeal, Quintin Jardine

A mid-air explosion, and a plane plunges to disaster from the Scottish skies, with the British and American Defence Secretaries among the victims. Both local and international suspects are considered.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

132pmarshall
Aug 18, 11:24pm Top

#100. Skinner’s Mission, Quintin Jardine

When an Edinburgh car showroom is torched, leaving a charred body among the burnt-out luxury cars, Skinner wonders if a life of crime has finally caught up with one of the city's most elusive villains. His personal mission is to find out who cut rage brake line in his car which when driven by his wife caused an accident which killed her. The ramifications of this mission are far reaching. In previous books I have liked and admired Skinner, in this book I grew to dislike him for his stubbornness and the unwavering expectations he had of people with no give.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

133pmarshall
Aug 19, 10:39pm Top

#101. Skinner’s Ghosts, Quintin Jardine

Skinner faces the greatest, and most personal, tests of his career. Unless he can clear his name, and uncover the secret behind the series of brutal crimes, he stands to lose all: his family, his career, and even his life and liberty.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

134pmarshall
Aug 21, 12:46am Top

#102 Murmuring the Judges, Quintin Jardine

An armed robbery trial is about to take a macabre turn. While the lawyers tussle over the evidence, the judge suddenly collapses in mortal agony – the victim of an apparant heart attack.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

135pmarshall
Aug 22, 1:40pm Top

#103. Gallery Whispers, Quintin Jardine

One of the world’s most ruthless terrorists is on his way to Edinburgh - and he can have only one thing on his mind: the forthcoming conference of World Heads of Government. An investigation is also on-going into two suspected cases of mercy killing.
The Scottish legal system is different from ours and, I think, the standards to prove a case are higher. The assisted death cases are good examples of this.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

136pmarshall
Aug 23, 12:13pm Top

#104. Thursday’s Legends, Quintin Jardine

Former Head of Special Branch Alec Smith made plenty of enemies during a long career – and there would appear to be no shortage of suspects in his death. But as the investigation gathers pace, and more bodies appear everything keeps pointing to the Legends themselves, a diverse group of men who play indoor football every Thursday. Andy Martin has a major role is this case.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

137pmarshall
Aug 24, 12:03pm Top

#105 Autographs in the Rain, Quintin Jardine

As Bob Skinner takes an evening stroll in London a gun shot attack sends him and Louise Bankier diving for cover. Back at Headquarters, an ambitious new colleague is scheming to enlarge his territory at Skinner’s expense and in the Boarders someone is stealing trout by the thousands from fish farms.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

138pmarshall
Aug 24, 9:27pm Top

#106. Deserves to be Dead, John Sandford, Lisa Jackson
A fishing trip leads to a robbery investigation, the discovery of a child porn ring and murder.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

139pmarshall
Aug 25, 7:01pm Top

#107. Head Shot, Quintin Jardine

Skinner's legendary cool is shaken when he's faced with the brutally murdered bodies of his wife's parents in New York State. Maggie Rose' past comes back to haunt her and her husband Mario McGuire. There is a major shifting of rank and responsible and a number of voices report on the cases.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

140pmarshall
Aug 26, 11:05pm Top

#108. Fallen Gods, Quintin Jardine

Skinner's recent illness gives his enemies a weapon to use against him. The body of his unknown brother appears, his wife is charged with murder in America and a painting is distroyed at the Royal Scottish Academy. Different members of his staff relate the Scottish cases.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

141pmarshall
Aug 28, 3:08pm Top

#109. Stay of Execution, Quintin
Edinburgh prepares for a huge rally to celebrate the return of Pope John the 25th to his home town. With the whole world watching, the security has to be bullet proof.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

142NanaCC
Aug 28, 4:58pm Top

I never heard of these books by Quintin Jardine, Penny. It looks like you are enjoying them.

143pmarshall
Edited: Aug 29, 5:20pm Top

>142 NanaCC::
Quintin Jardine is a Scottish author and this police procedural featuring Bob Skinner is his major series. He started writing Skinner in 1993 and #30 is due out this fall. I like the way his books flow, short chapters that feature different characters and cases, they make it hard to stop reading. As he developed the series he introduced more characters that repeat in later books. His characters grow and develop over time and he includes enough personal life to present a well rounded person. I don’t like all of his characters and my views on Skinner vary but I do admire Jardine’s ability to develop a plot and move it forward with his characters. Because of this the books are best read in order as events and actions move forward. I have also learned how the Scottish legal system works. Give one a try.

I am doing a reread.🤗

144pmarshall
Aug 29, 5:22pm Top

#110. Lethal Intent, Quintin Jardine

Four ruthless Albanian gangsters have infiltrated Edinburgh’s underworld and MI5 are all over it. They believe they are trying to move into the city's drug scene. But do they have a bigger, more audacious objective?
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

145NanaCC
Aug 29, 6:19pm Top

>143 pmarshall: I will give one a try, Penny. Thank you for the suggestion.

146pmarshall
Edited: Aug 30, 6:32pm Top

>145 NanaCC::
Try Skinner’s Festival, it is #3 in the series. You will get an interesting look at Edinburgh’s famous Fringe Festival as well as Skinner.

147pmarshall
Aug 30, 6:35pm Top

#111. Dead and Buried, Quintin Jardine

Four crimes, four crises: can Skinner and his people solve them? A stalker, a bookmaker, a bigamist and and spooks threaten the peace.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

148pmarshall
Edited: Sep 15, 7:12pm Top

#112. Death’s Door, Quintin Jardine

Skinner is on sabbatical. Stevie and Mario lead the investigation into the deaths of 3 young women that results in more death and the escape of the killer.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

August Summary
24 read
Total 112

149pmarshall
Sep 1, 6:32pm Top

#113. Aftershock, Quintin Jardine
"Aftershock'' continues the investigation into Stevie Steele's murder (Death's Door). The murders of young women artists continues and a connection could be made between them and Bob Skinner. Why and who?
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

150pmarshall
Sep 3, 4:11am Top

#114. Fatal Last Words, Quintin Jardine

Some one is killing off the top crime writers of Edinburgh, using killing methods from their own books to do them in. Sir James Proud announced his immediate retirement from the Chief Constable's position and his successor is named. Is it Skinner?
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

151pmarshall
Sep 4, 7:49pm Top

#115. A Rush of Blood, Quintin Jardine

The Lithuanians have moved into Edinburgh and the massage parlour business. Too many deaths are made to look like suicides.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

152pmarshall
Edited: Sep 6, 5:05pm Top

#116. Grievous Angel, Quintin Jardine
This novel starts by Skinner revealing some of his past history to his wife Aileen and ends up as a review of a 15 year old case involving one family. It is interesting because it shows how Skinner starts to put his team together, Andy Martin, Mario McGuire, Maggie Rose and Allison Higgins. It also fills in some of his life as a single parent with Alex.

153pmarshall
Sep 7, 11:05pm Top

#117. Funeral Note, Quintin Jardine
Murder, no natural causes. Is corruption possible in Skinner's ranks. This and much more is told by the leading players. A very different Skinner/Jardine tale.

As I have been rereading this series I have been thinking about how Jardine planned it. How far ahead does he know what direction the characters and plot will take. In Grievous Angel he went back 15 years which allowed him to provide information on how his squad of close officers came together. In the introduction of this book he talks about planning where the books will go. Very interesting.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

154pmarshall
Sep 9, 3:44am Top

#118. Pray For the Dying, Quintin Jardine

The killing was an expert hit. Three shots through the head, as the lights dimmed at a celebrity concert in Glasgow. A most public crime, and Edinburgh Chief Constable Bob Skinner is right in the centre of the storm, as it breaks over the Strathclyde force. The shooters are dead too, killed at the scene. But who sent them?
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

155pmarshall
Sep 10, 11:47am Top

#119. Hour of Darkness, Quintin Jardine

The body of a murdered woman is identified as Bella Watson which brings forth crimes of two opposing crime lords, Manson and Holmes, from the past. An Edinburgh case Skinner, now chief Constable in Glasgow, gets involved with because of the past history and it will hit closer to him than he can imagine before it is solved.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

156pmarshall
Edited: Sep 10, 12:52pm Top

#120. A Hint of Death, Quintin Jardine

DS 'Sauce' Haddock visits his old teacher to investigate an alleged jewellery theft but discovers that the theft is a lie and it covers a much darker event that goes back to Sauce's school days. He goes to his mentor Chief Constable Bob Skinner, now in Tyneside, for help. A short story.
⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

157pmarshall
Edited: Sep 11, 5:33pm Top

#121. Last Resort, Quintin Jardine
Bob Skinner has long been an opponent of one police force for all of Scotland and it has now come to pass with Sir Andrew Martin as chief. With over thirty years in policing Skinner is faced with his biggest career decision. His wife, Sarah Grace, urges him to go to Spain and think things through away from the pressures of Scotland.

In L’Escala he is approached by old friend Xavi Aislado, former journalist with the Edinburgh newspaper “Saltire” and now living in Spain running a large multi-media empire. The Loner is an autiobiographical novel of Aislado's early life and Jardine picks that up in Last Resort. One of Aislado’s top I.T. people, Hector Sureda Roca, has disappeared and he wants Skinner’s help in finding him.

At the same time Skinner discovers that he and his family have been stalked for some months. To assist in sorting this out he enlists the help of his daughter Alex in Edinburgh. Alex is going through her own personal and professional crisis as she takes on this case.

In both cases things turn messy fast with murder and mayhem, involving old acquaintances, family members, Russian spies and a mysterious true crime author. Fold into that mix a young man who is in prison for killing his grandmother, and happens to be Skinner’s recently uncovered son.

Once the Spanish case is completed Bob returns to Edinburgh to assist Alex in winding up the stalking case. With his decision made he can relax and look forward to life.

The thing I love about Quintin Jardine is he can take all of the above blend it together and end up with a very readable book that keeps me hanging until the very end. This is the first time he has written a Skinner novel without the police background and usual round of characters and at times he is feeling his way as Bob starts to use his policing skills in new and different ways. The result is a slight lost of believability in some areas of the book. Now that I know there is a future for Skinner I wait, impatiently, for the next book.

****
Posted Review
July 12, 2015

After rereading it I still fill this way.

158pmarshall
Sep 12, 8:40pm Top

#122. Private Investigations, Quintin Jardine

A fender bender in a shopping mall parking lot reveals the body of a toddler in the trunk when the driver flees the scene on foot. The car he hit was Bob Skinner's. Skinner is asked to investigate the theft of a luxury yacht which, it's owner believes the police dismissed. The two apparently unrelated incidents lead to more deaths as the unified Scottish Police Force and Skinner follow different leads to a solution that will surprise the reader.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

159pmarshall
Edited: Sep 13, 12:11pm Top

#123. Now? Not Yet! (Mo and Peanut), Gina Perry
In “Now? Not Yet! (Mo and Peanut) written and illustrated by Gina Perry, Peanuts wants to go swimming but Mo decides they will go hiking instead and until the end of the book he overrules Peanut and his wish to go swimming. I saw him as somewhat of a bully, both in his manner toward Peanut and how he is illustrated.

The saving grace of the book are the colourful detailed illustrations. Using them both the reader and listener can make up interesting adventures for Peanuts and Mo, in particular Peanuts.

I received this book through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program.

Reviewed September 13, 2019.

⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

160pmarshall
Sep 14, 12:37am Top

#124. Game Over, Quintin Jardine

A famous model, married to a famous footballer, is found murdered in Edinburgh, and the manager of the football club is arrested. Alex Skinner is hired to defend him and despite the overwhelming evidence she believes in his innocence. She persuades her father, a former policeman, Bob Skinner to investigate the case for her. Interesting twists and turns lead to the conclusion.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

161pmarshall
Sep 14, 10:15pm Top

#125. State Secrets, Quintin Jardine

Bob Skinner is at the House of Parliament in London after being offered a peerage. His information seeking meeting is interrupted by a call from the head of the Secret Service to investigate the suspicious death of the prime minister.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

162pmarshall
Sep 15, 10:17pm Top

#126. A Brush With Death, Quintin 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?
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

163NanaCC
Sep 16, 7:34am Top

>162 pmarshall: You are moving through these books very quickly, Penny. I’m glad you are enjoying them. How many are there in total?

164pmarshall
Sep 17, 5:32pm Top

>163 NanaCC::
I just finished Cold Case # 30. The next one is due out in October and features Bob’s daughter Alex Skinner, a solicitor in Edinburgh.

165pmarshall
Sep 17, 5:35pm Top

#127. Cold Case, Quintin Jardine

As A Brush WIth Death closes Skinner receives a phone call from his friend and former boss Sir James Proud who says “ ... I’ve got a problem.” Proud is being treated for cancer, his wife is showing symptoms of dementia. The phone call leads Skinner to review a thirty year old murder of a vicar accused of molesting a young teenager, the man convicted claims his innocence but after two years in jail he hangs himself. Skinner is surprise by somethings he learns from the file but in his first review he finds nothing wrong. But in the end he sees Proud’s problem. Another good read from Jardine.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

166pmarshall
Yesterday, 5:23pm Top

#128. The Loner, Quintin Jardine

"The Loner" is the autobiography of Xavier Aislando from boyhood through to middle age. He is half Spanish and half Scottish and brought up by his grandmother, Paloma Puig in Edinburgh.
The storyline is quiet and gradually draws you into the life of this 'gentle giant,' he stands 6'7 in his socks. He is not alone in his life with close school friends and a love affair that reach back to his early school days and they play a major role in his life. But he is a loner. He determines his own path in life, who will be part of it and who won’t. Once his mind is made up it is very hard to change it. Despite being a journalist there is an innocence to Xavi and the loyalty and honesty he gives he expects in return.
"The Loner" focuses on his successful years as a journalist as well as the massive tragedy, loss and betrayal he faces as an adult.
Throughout the Skinner series reference is made to the Saltire newspaper, it is the newspaper it became because of Aislado.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

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