Friday, March 31, 2006

Books read in March

March was a slow month for me. I had almost two weeks that I couldn't get into anything I was reading. (Of course it didn't help that I was watching basketball games throughout March Madness.) But, here's the list of books I read.

1. Getting Old is Murder by Rita Larkin - Gladdy Gold, a senior in a retirement village in Florida, suspects that recent deaths are murder.

2. A Case of Imagination by Jane Tesh - First Madeline Maclin mystery. Madeline, a beauty queen turned PI, investigates mysteries surrounding a beauty pageant and "haunted" houses.

3. The Blight Way by Patrick F. McManus - The outdoors writer turns to mysteries in the introduction of Sheriff Bo Tully and his father, Pap, the former sheriff of Blight, Idaho. These folksy sheriffs are smarter than they appear in the mystery of an LA man found shot in a pasture. Fun mystery.

4. Murder in Greenwich Village by Lee Harris - One of my favorite mystery writers brings back Jane Bauer's NYPD Cold Case Squad. Jane, a detective, and the group of detectives investigate the ten year old murder of an undercover cop who was tracing stolen guns.

5. A Year in the World by Frances Mayes - Five years of travel combined into one yar of travel writing and food.

6. The Sweet Golden Parachute by David Handler - In Dorset, CT, Mitch Berger & Des Mitry get mixed up in the murder of a local eccentric, Can Man, and family feuds.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Quote

On page 200 of Frances Mayes book, A Year in the World, she says, "One of this life's pleasures: a writer's books can intersect with your life and lead you to the next largest space you can occupy."

Has any particular author done that for you? Or, has one particular book moved you because it was appropriate at that stage in your life?

I know I've had many books that have been timely in my life. The most recent one was, Sex and the Seasoned Woman by Gail Sheehy. At almost 49, this book showed me women who were filled with joy with the life they are only now starting to discover.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Acknowledgments

Shannon, whose blog is The Hook, Line and Stinker, http://surlygirl19.blogspot.com, loves first sentences, and her blog is devoted to them.

I love acknowledgments. Sometimes they're nothing special. But, occasionally an acknowledgment says something about the author, and the book.

I'm reading Frances Mayes' newest book. Mayes, author of Under the Tuscan Sun, has a new travel book called A Year in the World: Journeys of a Passionate Traveller.

She describes the genesis of her adventuresome spirit in the last paragraph of the acknowledgment. It says, "The wild seed of this book took root long ago, and I offer mille grazie to my father, who said the family motto should be "Packing and Unpacking," and to my mother, who always said, "Go."

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Desert Run

As the fourth book in Betty Webb's Lena Jones mystery series, Desert Run is the best one yet.

On Christmas Eve 1944, twenty-eight German POWs tunneled out of their Arizona desert prison, planning to escape to Mexico. Although most were captured immediately, three of them became suspects in the brutal slaying of a local farm family. Although they were exonerated by the local police, there must have been some connection. The link is still there over sixty years later, when private detective Lena Jones acts as security for the film crew producing a documentary about the escape. Why was an elderly former POW viciously killed in his home? Lena suspects a local connection as she digs in order to save the primary suspect, an Ethiopian immigrant.

Betty Webb's stories always touch on Lena's past. Although Lena learns nothing more about her history in this book, she discovers a great deal about the local Arizona history. Webb's book is a fascinating glimpse at a historical event that few people know about. She has written a compelling mystery using an actual event to launch the story. The book is absorbing and a puzzle right up to the end. History buffs and cold case fans will find this novel intriguing.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Murder in Greenwich Village

Lee Harris can always get me out of a reading slump with one of her new books. Murder in Greenwich Village is her latest Manhattan mystery, featuring Jane Bauer, a detective on NYPD's Cold Case Squad.

As always, Harris mixes the intrigue of an old case with Bauer's personal relationship with a police chief. Both storylines are fascinating. Ten years earlier, an undercover cop was shot while trying to investigate the movement of handguns and the theft of 227 guns from an armory. The suspense builds as a cop is kidnapped, suspects are killed, and there is suspicion of an internal connection. Jane's long affair with Hack is the only escape she has at times from the baffling case.

Once again Harris has written a fascinating story.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

2,472

One year ago, I put a counter on this blog. Since then, 2,472 visitors have viewed Nikkis World. Thank you very much!

This has been a slow month for me for reading. Nothing has kept my attention. I'm sure I'll be back online with a couple books to talk about shortly, but this month has just been a poor month for good books.

Monday, March 06, 2006

A Case of Imagination

Jane Tesh's debut mystery introduces a unique voice. Madeline Maclin is a North Carolina beauty queen turned private investigator. Since her career in Parkland is in the pits, she agrees to accompany a college friend, Jerry Fairweather, to the house he inherited in Celosia. Despite her distaste for beauty contests, she finds herself caught up in the local competition in Celosia, where every girl wants to be the new queen. However, this year's pageant is accompanied with disaster and tragedy, and Madeline agrees to investigate.

In the meantime, her friend, Jerry, a fake psychic who refused his parents' inheritance, checks out his "haunted" house, and they both agree to investigate the hauntings experienced by a local poet.

Madeline is a wonderful new character who only hides her love for Jerry from him. In the meantime, Jerry struggles with secrets of his past and a dying relationship.

Publisher's Weekly called this a "cozy," probably because they had no other word for it. But, once again, Poisoned Pen Press has discovered a writer with an unusual character, one with depth of character seldom seen in cozies. I'll be waiting to see what happens with Madeline and Jerry.

The Blight Way

Move over Bill Crider. Patrick F. McManus, usually known for his humorous outdoor stories, had written a humorous outdoor mystery. Bo Tully, Sheriff of Blight County, Idaho, is a sheriff in the same vein as Crider's Dan Rhodes.

In Blight County, the Tullys have been sheriffs for over a century. Bo, and his retired father, Pap, may come across as aw shucks types of men, but they're shrewd county sheriffs who know the residents and criminals in their territory.

When a well-dressed man from LA is found shot and hanging from a fence in a pasture, Bo wants to know what would attract an outsider to their county. Together with Pap and a few chosen deputies, Bo decides to check on the local invasion of strangers.

McManus' mystery is a fun portrayal of the rough life in Idaho, as witnessed by a couple of wise men with their fingers on the pulse of their community.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Books read in Feb. 2006

I read a few less books this month, but had a couple outstanding ones. Here's the list of titles.

Deadly Will by Marion Moore Hill -This was the first in the Deadly Past mystery series in which Milli Kirchner goes to Philadelphia for the reading of the will of an unknown ancestor. This was slightly disappointing because it's the "Deadly Past" series, and they will all take place in historic settings, so I thought there should have been more history involved. Millie's ancestor was an acquaintance of Ben Franklin's, and the heirs did tour some historic sites, but I still expected more history.

Dinner with Anna Karenina by Gloria Goldreich - I reviewed this earlier in February, but it was an enjoyable book about six women in a book discussion group, and the changes in their lives and relationships during one year. The actual book discussions that took place greatly added to the enjoyment of this one.

A Minister's Ghost by Phillip DePoy - Folkorist Fever Devilin investigates the death of two teens who were hit by a train. The mystical air, and eerie atmosphere of this book reminded me of Sharyn McCrumb's Ballad series.

Perfection by Walter Satterthwait - Another book summarized here earlier, but worth repeating. A serial killer on the gulf coast of Florida is targeting big women, and Detectives Sophia Tregaskis and Jim Fallon investigate. Told from the point of view of all three main characters.

Annie Freeman's Fabulous Traveling Funeral by Kris Radish - Best book of the month. Five women honor a dead friend's request to scatter her ashes in places she knew and loved. As they travel together, the women share a celebratory funeral. Reviewed earlier in more detail.

Last Dance by John Feinstein - Inside the 2005 Final Four basketball tournament, won by North Carolina. Too many stories told from multiple viewpoints, and too repetitious.

The Ghost and the Dead Deb by Alice Kimberly - The second book in the Haunted Bookshop series combines the best of the hard-boiled detective book and the cozy. Penelope, the bookstore owner, teams up with her resident ghost, a former private detective who was killed in her store. Together they investigate the murder of a true-crime author who appeared at the store the night before she disappeared.

Cherry Cheesecake Murder - Joanne Fluke - One of the better later entries in this series featuring Hannah Swensen, owner of The Cookie Jar, a bakery in Lake Eden, MN. Hannah's problems with her suitors become minor when a movie company comes to town. Hannah, her sisters, and her cronies "snoop" when the dislikable director is murdered. Terrific looking recipes are included.