Thursday, August 31, 2006

Books read in August

Not a bad month, but I did read a couple story collections that were a little weak. Here's the list of books I read during August.

Revved! by Harry Paul & Ross Reck - Rev up your workplace by caring.

The Fourth Bear by Jasper Fforde - Jack Spratt and the Nursery Crime Division investigate the Gingerbreadman's escape, exploding cucumbers, and the mystery of the fourth bear.

Snow Blind by P.J. Tracy - Although the Monkeewrench team does not have a large role in this mystery, it's an outstanding police procedural. The Minneapolis detectives look for someone who killed two cops and built snowmen around them.

The Hunt for Sonya Dufrette by R.T. Raichev - Manor house murder investigated by a msytery writer/librarian and a retired friend.

Killing Floor by Lee Child - The first Jack Reacher story in which he cleans up the town where his brother was killed.

Million Dollar Baby by Amy Patricia Meade - A first mystery in which Marjorie McClelland, a mystery writer, and millionaire Creighton Ashcroft find a body on Ashcroft's property in 1935. It would have been a better story if Ashcroft had been the featured character.

Talk to the Tail 'cause the whiskers ain't listenin'! by Revilo - Pet cartoons.

Down by the Riverside by Jackie Lynn - First mystery in which Rose Franklin, a divorced nurse, ends up in West Memphis, Arkansas, curious about a body found at a campground.

The Good Good Pig by Sy Montgomery - True story of the naturalist's pet pig that received a lot of love, and grew to 750 pounds and thirteen years.

The Ghost and the Dead Man's Library by Alice Kimberly - Penelope McClure, bookstore owner, and Jack, the ghost of a private eye, investigate when owners of a set of books about Poe die unexpectedly.

The Garden of Eden and Other Criminal Delights by Faye Kellerman - Short story collection.

The Silver Anniversary Murder by Lee Harris - Chris Bennett receives a phone call saying a body is going to be found.

Waltzing at the Piggly Wiggly by Robert Dalby - Charming first novel about a group of widows who scheme to save a dying grocery store by offering dancing.

The Mortician's Daughter by Elizabeth Bloom - A disgraced NYPD cop returns home to Massachusetts when her best friend's son is murdered.

The Oxygen Murder by Cammille Minichino - Gloria, a retired physicist, her husband Matt, and their friends are in NYC when Gloria discovers a dying woman in the apartment rented by Matt's niece.

The Cinco De May Murder by Lee Harris - On a trip to Arizona, Chris Bennett looks into the death twenty years earlier of a high school friend.

Mystery Writers of America Presents Death Do Us Part edited by Harlan Coben - Mystery story collection.

Mystery Writers of America Presents Death Do Us Part

Harlan Coben edited this mystery collection, and some of the biggest names in the business submitted stories, such as Lee Child, Laura Lippman and Ridley Pearson. But it's actually the lesser known authors whose stories shine. Bonnie Hearn Hill has a story set in Galveston in 1865 before the news of the end of the Civil War arrived. It's a story with a surprising twist. Tim Maleeny's Till Death Do Us Part is an absorbing little story. Perhaps the most powerful one is The Cold Hard Truth in which author Rick McMahan allows a Kentucky State Trooper to tell the sad story. Any story collection has some weaker pieces. Readers just need to search for the gems by authors who might not be recognizable.

Friday, August 25, 2006

The Cinco de Mayo Murder

Lee Harris' latest mystery is another cold case featuring Christine Bennett, the former nun who left the convent, married a policeman, and had a son. Chris is one of my favorite mystery characters, a quiet perceptive woman who digs away at puzzles about people and relationships.

Sister Joseph, General Superior at Chris' former convent, invites her along on a trip to Arizona. Before leaving, Chris remembers that a high school classmate of her tragically died in Arizona twenty years earlier. When she visits Heinz Gruner's mother, she discovers that she always had questions about her son's death. Chris willingly takes on the job of probing into the past.

After meeting with the policeman who investigated the case, and walking the trail at Picacho Peak where Heinz died, Chris and Sister Joseph have questions. Chris' curiosity leads her to a group of men who lived in Heinz' dorm in college. As she talks to each of them, the story gets more tangled until she doesn't know who to believe.

This was not Harris' strongest book. There were too many men involved, and too many telephone conversations. The book just didn't seem to have the same personal touch as some of the earlier books in the series.

I did enjoy the Arizona trip, particularly when she mentioned a mystery bookstore on a corner in Scottsdale, the Poisoned Pen without a name in the story.

I'll always be waiting for the next Lee Harris book, even if this one wasn't up to standards.

Lee Harris' web site is

The Cinco de Mayo Murder by Lee Harris. Ballantine Books, c2006. ISBN 0345475976 (paperback), 241p.

The Oxygen Murder

This is the eighth of Camille Minichino's Periodic Table mysteries, featuring retired physicist Gloria Lamerino. Gloria always provides lessons about the element featured, in this case oxygen in the form of ozone. But, I learned something that hadn't dawned on me as I read the earlier books.

Gloria is a middle-aged scientist, a woman who escaped into her lab when her fiancee died years earlier. Although she recently married a homicide detective, and is best friends with a couple than owns a funeral home, Gloria lacks some people skills. Quite often Minichino introduces a younger person into the scenario, a person who provides the people instincts and skills that Gloria lacks.

In The Oxygen Murder, Gloria, Matt and their friends Rose and Frank Galigani are in New York City in December. When Gloria arrives at the apartment rented by Matt's niece, Lori, she stumbles upon a dying woman. Lori and Amber, the woman in Lori's apartment, were working on a documentary film dealing with ozone depletion and problems in the workplace. The scientific connection gives Gloria an opportunity to pry into the story behind the murder. However, in this case, she's out of her element in New York City, where she seems to be flailing around looking for a solution.

Lori is the contrast to Gloria. She's a young woman, at home in NYC, and skilled in dealing with people. Once Lori overcomes her initial problems, she's an asset to Gloria's investigation.

I hadn't realized until this book that Minichino skillfully introduces characters to balance Gloria, who at times can be one-sided. I've enjoyed the previous books, but I hadn't noticed the balancing of characters.

Minichino's stories are always educational, with Gloria's information about the elements. But, they are also absorbing mysteries, as Gloria, a scientist with a need for solutions, investigates murder as connected to the elements.

Camille Minichino's web site is

The Oxygen Murder by Camille Minichino. St. Martin's Minotaur, c2006. ISBN 0312347863, (hardcover), 244p.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Mortician's Daughter

As Beth Saulnier, the author writes the Alex Bernier mysteries. As Elizabeth Bloom, she wrote See Isabelle Run. I didn't read Isabelle, but The Mortician's Daughter written as Bloom is the strongest one of her books that I've read.

Ginny Lavoie has a history in the NYPD, a cop in disgrace and on suspension. She also has a history in her Massachusetts hometown, one she's been trying to escape. But when her best friend, Sonya, calls in desperation, saying her son, Danny, was murdered, Ginny returns home.

Ginny knows that the street person the local police chief arrests for Danny's murder couldn't have committed that vicious crime. But events start to overwhelm her as she investigates. She's soon drowning in memories - memories of an old boyfriend, old friends, and her life as the mortician's daughter. She's also drowning in suspects when she discovers what Danny was looking for before he was murdered.

Ginny Lavoie's personal and professional life may be a mess, but her loyalty to her best friend, and her determination to give Sonya answers is admirable. This is a complicated mystery, with twists and turns. Ginny is a complicated character worthy of this absorbing book.

And, make sure you read the Author's Note before reading the story.

Elizabeth Bloom's web site is

The Mortician's Daughter by Elizabeth Bloom. Mysterious Press, c2006. ISBN 0892967862 (hardcover), 304p.

Senator Barack Obama

Jim and I were willing to drive all the way to Austin, Texas to attend the Texas Book Fair to see Senator Barack Obama (and our friend, Ann, who lives in Austin).

But Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe is sponsoring Obama's appearance at the Orpheum Theater in Phoenix on Oct. 23. Tickets were just $35 apiece, and for that price we each get a copy of Obama's book, The Audacity of Hope, or 1 copy and a $26 gift certificate to Changing Hands. Senator Obama will speak, and then sign books while members of the Downtown Chamber Series play in the background. It should be a wonderful evening!

Monday, August 21, 2006

Waltzing at the Piggly Wiggly - addendum

I had email today from Robert Dalby, author of Waltzing at the Piggly Wiggly. I was pleased to find out that is was also released simultaneously by Books on Tape, and will be a Thorndike Large Print edition.

Even better, Putnam has committed to a series, with next summer's book Kissing Babies at the Piggly Wiggly, and the next one to be A Very Piggly Wiggly Christmas.

I hope these books succeed. They remind me of Jan Karon's Mitford series, or Phillip Gulley's books about small town life in Indiana. Each of the towns has its eccentric characters who bring the town to life. I'll be recommending it to the same group of patrons who read those books.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Waltzing at the Piggly Wiggly

Robert Dalby's first novel is a charming southern story of love - love of a group of wealthy widows for each other, love for a community, love for a way of life. It's the story of an eccentric town held together by a quirky group of people. It's a novel I'm going to recommend to my library patrons.

In Second Creek, Mississippi, in 2001, the local Piggly Wiggly is about to close. Its business is threatened by the new MegaMart that opened on the outskirts of town. But Laurie Lepanto, President of a small group of wealthy widows, the Nitwitts, refuses to let the grocery store and its owner, Mr. "Choppy" Dunbar succumb without a fight. Her scheme to help the store attract business? Six afternoons a week, Powell Hampton, a widowed ballroom dancer, will dance with the customers while their groceries are picked up.

Laurie's ideas might change her life and Powell's. It could even change Mr. Choppy's, a man who keeps a secret, even in a small gossipy town. In fact "Waltzing at the Piggly Wiggly" could change the small community of Second Creek forever. Head south to a likeable southern town in this enjoyable novel.

Waltzing at the Piggly Wiggly by Robert Dalby. G.P. Putnam's Sons, c2006. ISBN 0399153675 (hardcover), 309p.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

The Silver Anniversary Murder

Lee Harris is one of my favorite authors. I bought and read every book she wrote, except for the 2006 one, which I just received, The Cinco de Mayo Murder. I'll be reading and reviewing that shortly.

Harris' books are an escape for me. I pick up her books, and have to read them straight through because they are so absorbing. She writes about Christine Bennett, a former Franciscan nun, who married a police officer, Jack Brooks, and has a happy married life with him, and, by this book, their five-year-old son, Eddie. However, Chris is very good at solving the puzzles of cold cases. She has an intuition about people that helps her as she worries away at the puzzle.

In The Silver Anniversary Murder, she receives a phone call from a stranger telling her a body will be found shortly, and she might be interested in the case. While she's on the phone, Chris thinks she hears a shot. She immediately goes to the police with her suspicion that she heard a murder, and they start by tracing the phone call. However, the address connected to the phone number turns out to be an empty apartment, and the tenants seem to have a number of names. When their daughter shows up, she tells Chris a story that has her looking into a mystery that originated twenty-five years earlier.

Harris' books are intriguing examinations of people, and what makes the ordinary person become a killer. I enjoy the cold case and puzzle aspect of the books. I also appreciate Jack, Christine's husband. He's one spouse in mysteries that doesn't discourage his wife from investigating, but assists her however he can. Once again, Harris has written a fascinating mystery. I'm looking forward to The Cinco de Mayo Murder.

Lee Harris' web site is

The Silver Anniversary Murder by Lee Harris. Ballantine Books, c2005. ISBN 0449007308 (paperback), 245p.

The Ghost and the Dead Man's Library

Alice Kimberly writes a very good series of woo-woo mysteries, but The Ghost and the Dead Man's Library is the best yet. Woo-woo mysteries, as used by readers on DorothyL, are mysteries involving supernatural elements. Kimberly's protagonist is Penelope Thornton-McClure, the owner of a small bookshop in Rhode Island. But the other main character is Jack Shepard, the ghost of a private investigator who was killed in Penelope's bookshop in 1949. He still haunts the bookshop, assisting Penelope when she's involved with murder.

Penelope and her aunt collected a set of rare volumes about Edgar Allan Poe just before the owner died. Circumstances around the death made Penelope suspicious, and she was even more uneasy when the first person to buy a volume died in car crash. When Penelope and a friend are both attacked, she and Jack decide to take the investigation into their own hands.

Kimberly's mysteries are more than cozies. As Penelope and Jack investigate current crimes, Jack inspires Penelope's dreams about his old cases. Somewhere in those dreams is a link to the current case. Jack, a character out of the 1940s, uses the slang of a PI from that period. The stories combine the atmosphere of both periods, which make them fun. The combination of a detective ghost, current murders, and the Poe angle make this mystery very interesting.

The Ghost and the Dead Man's Library by Alice Kimberly. Berkley Publishing Group, c2006. ISBN 0425212653 (paperback), 254p.

Friday, August 18, 2006

The Garden of Eden and Other Criminal Delights

Faye Kellerman's new book is a collection of short stories and a couple essays. As with all collections, some of the stories are better than others. I enjoyed the four stories featuring Kellerman's series characters, Peter Decker and Rina Lazarus. Discards, a detective story featuring Andrea Darling was a strong story. The ones she wrote with her children were really not worth reading. Mr. Barton's Head Case was particularly poor.

But, I had to agree with Kellerman. My favorite story in the whole collection was Holy Waters, one that she said combined humor and religion. It introduced a likeable rabbi who could be the main character in a collection of short stories himself.

As with many collections, there are ones worth reading, and weaker ones that are worth skimming through. I'll be interested to read another collection that's out now, Coronado by Dennis Lehane, to see if there are quite as many weak stories.

Faye Kellerman's web site is

The Garden of Eden and Other Criminal Delights by Faye Kellerman. Warner Books, c2006. ISBN 0446530395 (hardcover), 327p.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

The Good Good Pig

If you appreciated John Grogran's Marley & Me, you'll love Sy Montgomery's book about her pet pig, Christopher Hogwood. The naturalist adopted Chris when he was a sick runt, and he grew to 750 pounds and 14 years. In all that time, he showed her how to love.

Sy Montgomery, a naturalist, is married to a writer who was never accepted by her parents. She was a military brat, always moving, and, in her adult life, she continued to move around as she did research and wrote. It wasn't until Christopher came into their lives that Sy actually found a place that felt like home, in New Hampshire. Sy always identified more with animals than with people, but Chris' charming ways brought the whole community of Hancock into Sy and Howard's life. The couple that didn't want children found Chris to be a magnet for children. Chris gave them unconditional love, and they learned about love from him.

What can I say? Naturally, The Good Good Pig has a sad ending because it's the story of a pig who lived fourteen years. But if the naturalist didn't already understand the power of animals to change the world, she learned it by sharing her life with Christopher Hogwood, The Good Good Pig.

The Good Good Pig by Sy Montgomery. Ballantine Books, c2006. ISBN 0345481372 (hardcover), 225p.

Mysteries - Chocolate for the Mind

Yesterday, I was corresponding with a friend who I knew as a library supporter and patron in Lee County. Nellie complimented my blog, and said how much she enjoyed reading it, especially since she and I share a love of mysteries. She said I could quote her wonderful comments.

"It is nice to know someone whom you respect who loves mysteries as much as I do. I think of them as "chocolate for the mind" and I'm an avowed chocoholic. Mysteries are especially fun in the summer when you want to just enjoy reading. But I will say that my favorite mystery writers really write well and cause me to try to figure out the villain and/or motive before I finish the book. And many times, there are hidden messages for the reader. Those are fun." Nellie Slaton

Mysteries - chocolate for the mind.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Down by the Riverside

Down by the Riverside is the first Shady Grove mystery by Jackie Lynn. Under her real name, Lynne Hinton is the author of Friendship Cake, Hope Springs, and the Hope Springs trilogy. She is a former pastor, and her background is reflected in this gentle mystery.

Following her divorce, Rose Franklin left North Carolina with her travel trailer, heading for Arizona, until her truck broke down in West Memphis, Arkansas. A kind stranger hauled her trailer to Shady Grove campground on the banks of the Mississippi. She arrived just in time to see a body pulled from the river. Her interest grew to intrigue when she discovered the body was an undertaker with the last name of Franklin. Rose soon finds that the Mississippi has other secrets to give up, and that Shady Grove campground is a gathering spot for those who have secrets in their past.

Down by the Riverside is more than just a mystery. It's a story of Rose's rediscovery of herself. Shady Grove is "a place to make great passages in life, just like the Mississippi River." Rose finds a wise child, discovers appearances can be deceiving, and finds love. Jackie Lynn brings Rose to life in Down by the Riverside.

Jackie Lynn/Lynne Hinton's web site is

Down by the Riverside by Jackie Lynn. St. Martin's Minotaur, c2006. ISBN 0312352301 (hardcover), 288p.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Million Dollar Baby

I think Amy Patricia Meade made a mistake with her mystery, Million Dollar Baby, by calling it a Marjorie McClelland Mystery. Marjorie, a 30 year old mystery writer in Ridgebury, CT in 1935, might be the main character. But millionaire Creighton Ashcroft, who falls hard for Marjorie, is a much more appealing character, and just as involved in the story. In fact, Creighton and Marjorie find a body on the grounds of Kensington House, the estate that Creighton just bought. Together with police detective Robert Jameson, they investigate a five-year-old suicide that might have been connected to the murdered body they just found. The trio find themselves asking questions of the small town residents of Ridgebury, and partying with the wealthy former owner of Kensington House.

Million Dollar Baby evokes the spirit of the 1930s, a time when the Depression affected the lives of the rich, poor, and middle-class. The author also highlights the Art Deco period, as shown in the home of Gloria Van Allen. Meade brings the period to life.

The weakness in the book lies in the character and behavior of Marjorie. At times she can be single-minded, stubborn, and strong, as a woman who has made her way as a successful author in the 1930s should be. However, more often than not, she comes across as childish and naive, with an unreasonable temper. Creighton Ashcroft is portrayed as an Archie Goodwin with money, a dilettante who has tired of society. He's a kind, likable, intelligent man who could be the hero of the series as easily as he could be the sidekick. I tired of Marjorie's little temper tantrums. Creighton could easily carry the series.

Amy Patricia Meade's web address is

Million Dollar Baby by Amy Patricia Meade. Midnight Ink, c2006. ISBN 0738708607 (paperback), 349p.

Killing Floor

My husband, Jim, tore through all of Lee Child's books in a couple weeks, and then asked for more books with a character similar to Jack Reacher.

After reading Killing Floor, the debut novel, I told Jim I could just bring him westerns. Killing Floor is just a western written under the guise of a mystery - stranger rides into town, woos woman, cleans up town, leaves woman and rides out of town. I loved the story, and Jack Reacher.

Reacher, a former military policeman, reached a small Georgia town by bus, and, while eating breakfast, was picked up for a murder that occurred before he arrived. Once he convinced two police officers he couldn't have committed the crime, he discovered a personal reason to stick around and find the killers. He gathered a few allies, and set out to investigate.

Jim said the first two books show Child developing as an author, and by the third book, he's come into his own. If I didn't have other commitments, I'd be racing through the series just as he did. Reacher is an intriguing character, and I'm looking forward to the rest of the books.

Lee Child's web site is

Killing Floor by Lee Child. Jove Books, c1997. ISBN 0515123447 (paperback) 419p.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The Hunt for Sonya Dufrette

I finished R.T. Raichev's mystery, but I was a little disappointed in it. Granted, Antonia Fraser said of it, "A fascinating and surreal murder mystery which recalls the best from the Golden Age." I was hoping for the Golden Age part, not the surreal.

The mystery had all of the makings of a traditional country house mystery - the cast included a writer, Sir Michael and Lady Mortlock, a sheik, a military officer, an exiled Russian countess, a nanny, and a child. Antonia Darcy, the writer, relates the story twenty years after the disappearance of Sonya Dufrette, a seven-year-old. On the day Sonya was presumably drowned, the entire house party was watching the wedding of Princess Diana and Prince Charles. Twenty years later, Diana is dead, Antonia is divorced and working as a librarian in a military club. She is also curious about what really happened the day that Sonya disappeared. Together with Major Hugh Payne, she starts to dig a little, beginning with a manuscript she wrote at the time.

The Hunt for Sonya Dufrette was darker and less definitive than I like a mystery to be, particularly when I was hoping for a traditional, Christie-like house mystery. However, I liked Antonia and Major Payne, and I might try Raichev's next mystery.

The Hunt for Sonya Dufrette by R.T. Raichev. Carroll & Graf, c2006. ISBN 0786717866 (paperback), 220p.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Snow Blind

I wish I would have been able to see P.J. Tracy at The Poisoned Pen this weekend. I would have told the mother/daughter writing team that Snow Blind was their best book since their debut novel, Monkeewrench.

The Monkeewrench computer team plays a very small part in this novel. Instead, the story focuses on Minneapolis police detectives Leo Magozzi and Gino Rolseth. Gino has been entered in the police department's charity Winter Fest Snowman Scultping Contest, so he's on the scene when a body is discovered in a snowman. The discovery is grim enough, but when a second body is found, and both victims turn out to be cops, the entire city panics. If two policemen are dead, why are Magozzi and Rolseth driving sixty miles north of the twin cities to consult with a newly elected sheriff who has a body on her hands on the first day of her job? Because her county's victim was also found in a snowman. As Magozzi and Rolseth use their knowledge, and Monkeewrench's expertise, the teams discover an unusual link.

Tracy tells a fascinating story of police procedure. There isn't quite as much humor in this novel as in some of the previous ones, but Gino is always good for a laugh with his griping. This time, he has good cause for griping. Gino hates the winter weather as much as I would. Tracy has written a descriptive novel of the snow and cold in Minnesota, which doesn't make this Arizona resident interested in moving north. The authors relate a compelling story with an ending that will make the reader pause. How is justice served?

P.J. Tracy's web site is

Snow Blind by P.J. Tracy. G.P. Putnam's Sons, c2006. ISBN 039915339X (hardcover), 311p.

Friday, August 04, 2006

The Fourth Bear

Jasper Fforde received rave reviews for his literary Thursday Next mysteries, but I prefer the Jack Spratt Nursery Crimes books. The Fourth Bear is the second mystery to feature the Nursery Crime Division of the Reading Police Department, a division devoted to investigating those crimes dealing with nursery rhyme and fairy tale characters. It takes a complete suspension of disbelief to enjoy these stories.

If you can accept that Jack Spratt and Mary Mary are the investigators responsible for crimes, then you can accept that the Gingerbreadman, who was hospitalized in an institution for the criminally deranged, has escaped and is terrorizing the countryside. Spratt and Mary are not assigned to that case, so they're busy investigating the disappearance of Goldilocks. As usual, Spratt is suspended from the job, so he splits his time between investigating on the sly, and dealing with his own personal problems, brought to light when Punch and Judy move in next door.

Nursery crimes always have serious consequences for the country. As Spratt and Mary continue to investigate, they discover that the Gingerbreadman, Goldilocks, and the mysterious Fourth Bear are intertwined with the country's most powerful company, and an amusement park based on the Battle of the Somme.

Fforde tells fascinating stories about politics and corruption, with the clever use of nursery rhymes. He creates a unique, totally believable world. I'm already looking forward to the next Jack Spratt mystery, The Last Great Tortoise Race.

Jasper Fforde's web site is

The Fourth Bear by Jasper Fforde. Viking, c2006. ISBN 0670037729 (hardcover) 378p.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Lady Luck's Map of Vegas

Lady Luck’s Map of Vegas takes home the gold!

Barbara Samuel reports that she won her fifth RITA award from the Romance Writers of America for Lady Luck's Map of Vegas. I'm a big Barbara Samuel fan. Her books are intriguing looks at today's women. They feature strong women who have to overcome difficulties, but they survive.

The paperback edition of Lady Luck is now available.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


Revved! is the latest workplace motivation book by Harry Paul & Ross Reck. In just 111 pages, it offers very simple advice. If you want to inspire people, and get them to work for you, you have to show them you care.

The storyline about a woman named Katie Adams is very simplistic, and the advice might seem simple. But the premise that you can win staff over by sincerely caring about them is a sound premise. I do believe that a supervisor's job really is all about showing people that you care, and, in return, they will do their best for that supervisor.

More ideas are available at

Revved! by Harry Paul & Ross Reck, Ph.D. McGraw-Hill, c2006. ISBN 0071465006 (hardcover), 111p.

Books read in July

This was another good month. But, after a recent discussion on DorothyL, the mystery list, I'm going to say, most of the books I read are highly rated because I don't bother finishing books I don't like. Life's too short with too many good books out there to bother with books I don't enjoy. Most books I finish are ones that I enjoyed.

Here are the books I read in July.

Lost and Found by Carolyn Parkhurst - The story of the people participating in a scavenger hunt game show.

Hit Parade by Lawrence Block - A novel formed by short stories about John Keller, an introspective hit man.

Silver Lies by Ann Parker - First mystery. In Leadville, CO, Inez Stannert, a saloon keeper, investigates when a friend is murdered, and dragged into the alley behind her saloon.

Murder Passes The Buck by Deb Baker - First mystery. In the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, 66-year-old Gertie Johnson refuses to accept that a shooting death during hunting season isn't murder.

Too Darn Hot by Sandra Scoppettone - In 1943 in NYC, Faye Quick is asked to look for a missing soldier.

Restoring Grace by Katie Fforde - When two friends move in with Grace after her divorce, everyone's lives change.

My Cologne Backfired by Cathy Guisewite - Cathy cartoon collection from 1984.

A Garden of Vipers by Jack Kerley - Carson Ryder and his partner look for a brutal killer in Mobile, AL, and find a connection with a powerful family.

Murder, Eh? by Lou Allin - In Ontario, realtor Belle Palmer searches for a runaway boy whose mother was murdered.

Don of the Dead by Casey Daniels - First mystery. Pepper Martin, tour guide at a Cleveland cemetary, sees the ghost of a mobster, and tries to find his killer.

Iron Ties by Ann Parker - Inez Stannert smells trouble as the railroad and its guest, General Ulysses Grant, approach Leadville, CO in 1880.

Witch Way to Murder by Shirley Damsgaard - First mystery. Ophelia retreated to a job as a small town librarian in Iowa when she couldn't prevent the murder of her best friend, Brian, but she and her grandmother, Abby, are caught up in murder and meth.

Eight of Swords by David Skibbins - First mystery. Tarot reader Warren Ritter has his own past to hide, so he isn't happy when a client disappears, there's a murder, and he's framed as the scapegoat.

Charmed to Death by Shirley Damsgaard - Ophelia must come to terms with her own psychic powers in order to protect Abby and herself from Brian's killer.

My Favorite Midlife Crisis (Yet) by Toby Devens - ARC - First novel about a 54-year-old doctor and two friends as they look for love.

Almost Friends by Philip Gulley - Sam Gardner takes a vacation from his job as minister to care for his ailing father, but he doesn't expect the Harmony Friends to fall for a female minister.

Almost Friends

Philip Gulley returns to Harmony, Indiana in his latest novel about the small town, and, particularly, its Quaker community. When Dale Hinshaw starts an Evangelism Committee, Harmony blows up. Pastor Sam Gardner's father suffers a heart attack during all the turmoil, so he asks for vacation for three months to help his father. He doesn't expect that the church will hire a female minister, and fall for her.

But, this is Harmony, and disasters are always waiting around the corner. Almost Friends is one of the weaker of Gulley's efforts. For humor, you can't beat Christmas in Harmony.

Philip Gulley's web site is

Almost Friends by Philip Gulley. HarperCollins, c2006. ISBN 006075656X (hardcover), 216p.