Tuesday, April 19, 2016

When Blood Lies - a Nicole Charles Mystery

by Linda L. Richards
published by Orca Books Rapid Reads

A bit of a slow start, but I really liked the book. Rookie newspaper reporter Nicole Charles is finding her perfect job to be somewhat boring, for want of a better word. At least she has a place in the large newspaper she is calling home. Through the unexpected yet unquestioned death of the society reporter, she falls into his job. She trained to be a news reporter, what happened to reporting on crimes? What happened to following up leads? For that matter, what happened to working in her own office? The paper is downsizing, as so much media is, and much of the staff now works online from home. Working from home slightly compensates for lack of office space, but Nicole needs a desk to work at. Her best option appears to be an auction, where she finds the "perfect" desk. As bidding starts she is not the only one who wants this desk. Just as she reaches the final limit to bid, police storm in and arrest the other bidder! An extreme but fascinating interruption but fruitful because the auction must begin again. With the only other bidder gone, she gets the desk for a much lower bid.

Looking it over, she notices someone has tried to get into one of the locked drawers. Is the key lost? What could be so important in this drawer? Her brother Kyle joins her to bring the desk home, but once it is installed the search for what secrets it may hold begins. At the same time, their parents' home is broken into. Is there a connection? If so, what could it possibly connect to?

This book has a lot of surprises, a story of love and loss, crime and vintage wine, memories and misguided moments. For readers who know Vancouver, it will bring familiarity, well depicted. Activity escalates throughout Nicole's investigations. I enjoyed the book for all these reasons. I look forward to another Nicole Charles Mystery. I'm left wondering, what happened to the wine?

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Maisie Dobbs (Book #1 of the Maisie Dobbs series) by Jacqueline Winspear

by Jacqueline Winspear
published by Penguin Book

It is 1929, midway between two world wars as a young woman opens her investigative office. Maisie Dobbs, working under the name of Maisie Blanche, is a very unique person; educated, immensely knowledgeable, and intuitive; and, I think, a little psychic as well. She has many horrific memories of the Great War WWI, working as a nurse. Thus we begin to know her as an attractive and well-spoken adult who is not quite of the high class nor of the lower class, but somewhere in between. But who is she, exactly?

Jump back to 1910-1917 and we begin the journey with her. Her mother passed on and her father trying to support their young daughter and himself as a costermonger, he is no longer able to manage as bills keep piling up. Love is not enough to feed and clothe. A decision is made that changes everything but the love between father and daughter. I found myself drawn in to their hardship and the changes they deal with when she goes "into service" with Lady Rowan in a household that is not quite what one would expect of a Lord and Lady in this time period. The work ethic and hours spent are there, but Lady Rowan is actually in a period of change among the elite. The brilliance of this young girl is discovered and plans are made to accommodate learning with working within the house. Lady Rowan has determined that Maisie should be university educated.

I look at this book as an introduction to a fascinating young lady; one who cares deeply about people, intuits what they need and what she needs. We have followed her through childhood, working as a maid, going to university, leaving and joining the war as a nurse, and after the war, investigating a possible murder, leading to a lingering reminder of the war, the "walking dead" as her partner refers to it, the souls lost though the body lives on with its horrific scars both external and internal. As her investigation reaps the rewards of solving the case, she is about to embark on a career as a "Psychologist and Investigator" at the end of this first novel in the series, a career that gives the reader a taste of what is to come in future books. Though I have read a later book in the series and loved it, different as it was, I really enjoyed getting to know the younger Maisie Dobbs, her father and her "family" and can hardly wait to follow this fascinating person.

Monday, April 11, 2016

The Long Way Home by Louise Penny

Published by Minotaur Books

When Louise Penny writes a book, I always find it comforting. This may seem a strange word to use in light of the fact that her novels feature Chief Inspector Gamache and therefore feature a crime of some sort; murder, loss, injury, death. The author paints a picture as clearly as if she has been the artist. The fact that this book in particular features art does not detract from her word pictures. The Long Way Home is the 10th Inspector Gamache book with more to come.

At this time of his life, Armand Gamache is recovering from severe injuries to body and mind, as is his son-in-law and former deputy Jean-Guy. Both are no longer working for the Sûreté du Québec, but duty calls to them regardless. Armand Gamache and his wife Reine-Marie have found the perfect healing village of Three Pines, bi-lingual and calming, they purchased their home there a few years ago. This very small village might more easily be referred to as a neighbourhood, so close and welcoming the residents are. One would think that crime would never attempt to touch such a place, but no place is devoid of such things. But has a crime actually been committed? That is the question. Clara, what some might call a spontaneous artist, slapping paint on canvas with happy abandonment, is worried. She asked her husband to leave for one year and it is now past the time he should have returned. They are both artists, but with entirely different methodology. Why has he not come home? Is he dead or alive?

This book takes us inside the minds of several people, as most if not all the books in this series do. Louise Penny treats her creations as individuals she knows personally and that is what makes her books so comforting yet brilliant. We know these people. They are complete, flawed, righteous, giving, loving, supportive, in other words, they are Everyone in Anytown. As this story takes us through the growing pains of art and love, new discoveries about the population of these people are made. I love a book that teaches me something new, and this one teaches me a lot about art and its connection to heart and soul. It teaches me how to see into a painting.

Why can this group of friends not find Peter? It's almost as though he has stepped into a painting and disappeared. Yet, they are able to track his journey, but where will it take them in the end and what will they find? Clara, his wife, is sure she will find him but even the former Chief Inspector has little idea where and how to look. The journey takes this odd bunch of friends halfway 'round the globe and back. Though their journey has been extensive, it has been fruitful in an unusual way. Sometimes insight comes from surprising places. As some pieces fit together others fall apart. I loved this book for its depth of perception, its humour, its colour, its mystery, the many surprises, and the opportunity to get to know these characters and their village.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

E.Y.E. of the Scorpion (E.Y.E. Spy Mystery Book 1) by Cheryl Kaye Tardif

a Qwickie Book
Published by Imajin Books

A surprising book, looking at it from the perspective of the usual suspects and heroes. Personally I found the story very descriptive and therefore very convincing. A murder has been committed, with one very youthful witness who doesn't remember all he saw. Call in Eileen Edwards, ex-cop and exceptionally on point as a private investigator, one who worked with the Gang Task Force unit and is called in to help by the lead cop on the case. What is unique to this mystery and probable gang-hit, is that the witness is a young person in the wrong place at the wrong time. The purpose of the investigation is two-fold: who was the shooter, who was the witness and how can he be protected.

What a combination of characters Cheryl Kaye Tardif has brought together in this book! So many hurting and lost people, will they find closure to their current lives and discover a new future for themselves? From the bottom of the barrel, the very dregs of mankind, can they pick themselves up and live again? That is the root of the question as a backdrop to the crime and the author handles it with realism at the fore.

Eileen Edwards is a total exception to what one might expect of a private investigator. Though she is brilliant at what she does in investigation, she carries a lot of baggage, baggage that needs to be toppled over. The boy she must find to keep him alive is also carrying far more baggage than his slender frame should be made to bear. The past makes for a difficult beginning between these two lost souls. Can they work together or will it all fall apart? There are multiple surprises yet to come in this book, along with the fear of loss once more along the way. There are traitors and heroes and surprises, best of all, this is Book One of the E.Y.E. Looking forward to another, believe me, the ride is worth it, questions remain to pique our interest.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

The Methuselah Project - a Novel by Rick Barry

Published by Kregel Publications

A "what if" story that spreads its wings and soars. I found this novel to be absolutely fascinating. There is so much history, plausible or not, built into this book. So much to ponder. As a child myself during WWII, my interest deepened throughout. Growing up, I learned as others did, that there were many secrets, experiments, agendas, so to me, this book did have an abundance of historic fact, fiction, what-if.... Yes. What if Roger Greene had not crashed in his plane and lived only to be captured? What if German scientists had discovered a way to appease Hitler's plan for the Thousand Year Reich? What if one experiment actually worked? Herein lies the mystery, the complexity of the story.

The author, Rick Barry, has given us a full-blown history of one man's fight to return home to Indiana. This history is decades in the making. In the beginning there were seven,  Roger was Number 7. When the lab is demolished by heavy bombardment only Roger remains alive among the seven captives. What does this mean? Will he be rescued? One of his captors, indeed the scientist himself, eventually loosens up enough to provide the airman with reading material which included a Bible. His world opening up and giving him hope through many different writings provides enough to keep him sane, but for how long?

This is an adventure story unlike others. No dashing around, he is in a cage. But he has plans, and God on his side. And he is exactly the same in appearance as he was 70 years ago when he was captured. He is not even aware that the war is long over. On the other hand, is it really over for him? The opportunity he has been waiting for suddenly arises and Yes! he is free, at least he may be free, if he can just get out of Germany and to the US, but will anyone believe his story? This story has everything a person could want. A mix of everything: sci fi, romance, war, history, humanity, inhumanity, excitement, adventure, a book that will keep you reading as the world takes him through changes, terror, and more. A wonderful, entertaining and thought-provoking book with a surprise ending.