Thursday, 19 April 2018

Just Finished, New Books, Author's A - Z, etc.

I can't believe it's already Thursday. The week has passed by fairly quickly. A fair bit of news this week. My oldest girl, Jennifer, passed the Bar exams and will go before the Bar in the summer. Upcoming, Jo will be celebrating her birthday Friday. I may even take her out for lunch. :0)

The Blue Jays are still performing pretty well. I'm trying not to get too excited as it's very early days, but it's still been enjoyable watching their games. We'll see how things turn out as the season moves along. The new guys are filling in admirably and both Morales and Donaldson have been out with injuries and they are key performers. OK, OK... enough. I don't want to jinx them.

I bought  couple of books at Nearly New Books yesterday. I've completed two books this week, one biggie which I've been working on for the past month and one other. So I'll start with those items and finish with my continuing Author's A - Z. Then maybe go out and get a Sub for lunch for the missus and I.

New Books

1. Looking Down by Frances Fyfield (Sarah Fortune #4).

"Richard Beaumont hoped to see the elusive crow on the Dover cliffs. Instead he sees a young woman falling to her death. No one recognizes her, and no one has reported her missing. Richard returns, shaken, to his wife, but instead of seeking comfort in Lilian's presence, he locks himself away and obsessively paints the scene of the woman's broken body on the rocks.

Unable to forget what he has witnessed, Richard finds solace in Sarah Fortune's seductive company. As they are drawn into a search for the dead girl's identity, they stumble upon a trade that is both breathtakingly lucrative and chillingly cruel."

2. The Anatomist's Apprentice by Tessa Harris (Dr. Silkstone #1). Harris is a new author for me. The cover and synopsis grabbed my interest.

"In the first in a stunning new mystery series set in eighteenth-century England, Tessa Harris introduces Dr. Thomas Silkstone, anatomist and pioneering forensic detective. . .

The death of Sir Edward Crick has unleashed a torrent of gossip through the seedy taverns and elegant ballrooms of Oxfordshire. Few mourn the dissolute young man--except his sister, the beautiful Lady Lydia Farrell. When her husband comes under suspicion of murder, she seeks expert help from Dr. Thomas Silkstone, a young anatomist from Philadelphia.

Thomas arrived in England to study under its foremost surgeon, where his unconventional methods only add to his outsider status. Against his better judgment he agrees to examine Sir Edward's corpse. But it is not only the dead, but also the living, to whom he must apply the keen blade of his intellect. And the deeper the doctor's investigations go, the greater the risk that he will be consigned to the ranks of the corpses he studies. . ."

3. A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson (Todd Family #2). The first book, Life after Life was a favorite of mine.

"In Life After Life Ursula Todd lived through the turbulent events of the last century again and again. In A God in Ruins, Atkinson turns her focus on Ursula’s beloved younger brother Teddy – would-be poet, RAF bomber pilot, husband and father – as he navigates the perils and progress of the 20th century. For all Teddy endures in battle, his greatest challenge will be to face living in a future he never expected to have."

Just Finished

1. Kingdom of the Cats by Phyllis Gotlieb

"Kingdom Of The Cats his is the third and final book in the Starcats series by Canadian science fiction writer, Phyllis Gotlieb. I've enjoyed the series and other books by Gotlieb very much. She has a unique take on the Science fiction novel.
I had issues with Kingdom of the Cats even as I ultimately enjoyed the whole of the story. It was very complex, which in itself is not a bad thing. What I mean is that it was often difficult to ascertain where in the universe we were at a particular time and who was speaking or performing actions or who even the heck they were.
As I mention, complexity is not necessarily a bad thing, in fact, it can make you pay more attention to the story, which was the case for me.
So there, now what was the story about? A group of Starcats, including Emerald and Etrem and 'the twins' come to the Earth and are placed in what I presume is the Grand Canyon. A catastrophe occurs, in which the majority are killed by a secret band and they are skinned as well. The rest of the story focuses on the investigation; by the Cats, Earth police and GalThree investigators. As well, we have a situation on a separate planet, where smugglers are killing and stealing special pearls. Into the mix as well is the Quemedon being who was responsible for locating the Cats on their planet and who has influenced their lives in both of the initial stories' A Judgment of Dragons and Emperor, Swords, Pentacles.
Once you wrap your mind around the complexity, if you are able to, you find a rich, interesting story, with more history of the Cats, fascinating, sympathetic character and lots of action. Well worth trying, but if you want to, you should read the stories in order to gain a familiarity with the Cats and their lives and friends. (3.5 stars)"

2. Heartstone by C.J. Sansom (Matthew Shardlake #5).

"Heartstone is the 5th book in C.J. Sansom historical mystery series featuring lawyer, Matthew Shardlake. There are many branches to this story and it keeps Matthew and his capable assistant Jack Barak very busy. It makes for a long, wandering story but there was no time when it didn't hold my interest and wondering what would happen next.
Matthew is recovering from his depression of the death of his long-time house keeper, Joan. He is dealing with a number of cases and also with a young woman he'd met in a previous story, Ellen, who resides in Bedlam, an insane institution. He is struggling to help her and at the same time to find a way of dissuading her from her love for him.
Matthew is asked by King Henry VIII's wife, Lady Catherine Parr to help her with a situation. This means Matthew will have to go to Portsmouth to check on a young man, Hugh Curteys, who may be being misused by his Ward, Mr. Hobbey. Matthew feels this might help him find out more about Ellen's past as she lived in a nearby town.
What else?? Well, Matthew is suspicious of his new steward, an old soldier Mr. Coldiron, and the young lady he calls his daughter, Josephine. And, of course, there is the threat of an invasion from France while Matthew is in Portsmouth. Troops are being drafted and sent to Portsmouth. Jack Barak is threatened with being drafted as well while his wife, Tamasin, is near giving birth. There are many old and new enemies for Matthew to deal with, Sir Richard Rich and Lawyer Dyrick. Whew! Is that enough for you?
Well, the story is involved, with many, many twists and turns and threats to both Matthew and Jack. It's a fascinating and interesting follow-on to the other books in the series. Don't be intimidated by the size, there are no wasted pages and the story is rich, historical and detailed. It's one of the more entertaining series I've read and enjoyed. (4 stars)"

Currently Reading
I've started the following 2 books to replace those I just finished.

1. Autumn, All the Cats Return by Philippe Georget (Inspector Sebag #2). This is part of my New Series Challenge.

"Inspector Sebag is a policeman in the South of France with an unparalleled sixth sense, who excels at slipping into the skin of killers and hunting them down. However, when a retired French Algerian cop is discovered in his apartment with the symbol OAS left near his body and few indications who killed him or why, Sebag's skills are put to the test. Days later, when a controversial monument is destroyed and another French Algerian is shot down, Sebag begins to put the pieces together. Bringing to light the horrors, hopes, and treasons committed during the war in Algeria fifteen years ago, in this sequel to Georget's Summertime, All the Cats Are Bored, Lieutenant Gilles Sebag discovers more than just a killer, but an entire secret history that not everyone wants revealed."

2. Collusion by Stuart Neville (Jack Lennon #2). No this is not a book about the Russian collusion investigation. Remember, not that you could ever forget as the current resident of the White House says it over and over and over... 'there was no collusion!!!' 

"A merciless assassin stalks Belfast and Detective Inspector Jack Lennon has been assigned to the case. As Lennon unravels a far-reaching conspiracy involving collusion among Loyalists, IRA members, and law enforcement, he discovers that his estranged former lover and their daughter are in the killer's cross-hairs. To catch the assassin and save the only family he has, Lennon blurs the line between friend and enemy by teaming up with an enigmatic killer named Fegan."

Bill's Ongoing Author's A - Z

C.J. Box
1. C.J. Box. Box is an American crime writer. He writes the Joe Pickett and Cassie Dewell series as well as standalone novels and short story collections. I will admit that I've bypassed his books when I've seen them on the shelf (heaven forfend that I need to start another series!!) but I've been hearing more and more about his books so when I saw one of the Joe Pickett books I thought I'd get it. Unfortunately, it's the 15th book in the series of 16 books. I'll keep looking for the earlier books. 

a. Endangered (Joe Pickett #15).

"Joe Pickett had good reason to dislike Dallas Cates, and now he has even more - Joe’s eighteen-year-old daughter, April, has run off with him. And then comes even worse news: She has been found in a ditch along the highway - alive, but just barely, the victim of blunt force trauma. Cates denies having anything to do with it, but Joe knows in his gut who’s responsible. What he doesn’t know is the kind of danger he’s about to encounter. Cates is bad enough, but Cates’s family is like none Joe has ever met."

Tom Bradby
2. Tom Bradby. Tom Bradby is an English news reporter and presenter for ITV in England and also a writer of six novels. The first Shadow Dancer was turned into a film starring Clive Owen and Andrea Riseborough. I've purchased two of his books and look forward to seeing how I like them.

a. The Master of Rain (2002).

"Shanghai, 1926: a sultry city lousy with opium, warlords, and corruption at the highest levels. Into this steamy morass walks Richard Field, an idealistic Brit haunted by his past and recently appointed to the international police. He's not there long before called to the flat of a Russian prostitute, former daughter of privilege found sadistically murdered, handcuffed to her bed. When he discovers among her possessions a cryptic shipping log, he senses that this murder is more than a random crime of perverse passion. What unfolds is a searing story that propels Field into a confrontation with the city's most ruthless and powerful gangster, and a dangerous attraction to another salacious Russian whose sordid connections seem destined to make her the next victim."

b. The White Russian (2003). 

"January 1917 - With St. Petersburg on the brink of revolution, Sandro Ruzsky, the city’s chief police investigator, returns from exile in Siberia only to be assigned a grisly case: the bodies of a young couple found on the ice of the frozen River Neva, just outside the Tsar’s Winter Palace. Ruzsky’s investigation leads him dangerously close to the royal family and to the woman he loves, and he finds himself confronting both a ruthless killer and the ghosts of his past as he fights desperately to save all that he cares for.

Alan Bradley
3. Alan Bradley. Alan Bradley is a Canadian mystery writer best known for his Flavia de Luce series. There are currently nine books in the series. I've read the first one so far and it was quite different. I now have two more books awaiting my attention. 

a. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (#1).

"I had mixed emotions as I read this book; at times I quite liked it, at times Flavia kind of irritated me. But ultimately, the success of a book is that it keeps you reading to find out how it will all wrap up. And Alan Bradley has produced an interesting, well-paced book. Flavia and her sisters are fun to read about, the games the play against each other, or more likely how the two older play against Flavia and vice versa. Dogger is an interesting friend to Flavia and I liked the Police Inspector. Overall, I did enjoy and I think I'll try to read more about Flavia and see how she and her family grow and develop."


"The summer of 1950 hasn’t offered up anything out of the ordinary for eleven-year-old Flavia de Luce: bicycle explorations around the village, keeping tabs on her neighbors, relentless battles with her older sisters, Ophelia and Daphne, and brewing up poisonous concoctions while plotting revenge in their home’s abandoned Victorian chemistry lab, which Flavia has claimed for her own.

But then a series of mysterious events gets Flavia’s attention: A dead bird is found on the doormat, a postage stamp bizarrely pinned to its beak. A mysterious late-night visitor argues with her aloof father, Colonel de Luce, behind closed doors. And in the early morning Flavia finds a red-headed stranger lying in the cucumber patch and watches him take his dying breath. For Flavia, the summer begins in earnest when murder comes to Buckshaw: “I wish I could say I was afraid, but I wasn’t. Quite the contrary. This was by far the most interesting thing that had ever happened to me in my entire life.

Did the stranger die of poisoning? There was a piece missing from Mrs. Mullet’s custard pie, and none of the de Luces would have dared to eat the awful thing. Or could he have been killed by the family’s loyal handyman, Dogger… or by the Colonel himself! At that moment, Flavia commits herself to solving the crime — even if it means keeping information from the village police, in order to protect her family. But then her father confesses to the crime, for the same reason, and it’s up to Flavia to free him of suspicion. Only she has the ingenuity to follow the clues that reveal the victim’s identity, and a conspiracy that reaches back into the de Luces’ murky past."

b. The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag (#2).

"Flavia de Luce, a dangerously smart eleven-year-old with a passion for chemistry and a genius for solving murders, thinks that her days of crime-solving in the bucolic English hamlet of Bishop’s Lacey are over - until beloved puppeteer Rupert Porson has his own strings sizzled in an unfortunate rendezvous with electricity. But who’d do such a thing, and why? Does the madwoman who lives in Gibbet Wood know more than she’s letting on? What about Porson’s charming but erratic assistant? All clues point toward a suspicious death years earlier and a case the local constables can’t solve - without Flavia’s help. But in getting so close to who’s secretly pulling the strings of this dance of death, has our precocious heroine finally gotten in way over her head?"

c. A Red Herring without Mustard (#3).

"Award-winning author Alan Bradley returns with another beguiling novel starring the insidiously clever and unflappable eleven-year-old sleuth Flavia de Luce. The precocious chemist with a passion for poisons uncovers a fresh slew of misdeeds in the hamlet of Bishop's Lacey - mysteries involving a missing tot, a fortune-teller, and a corpse in Flavia's own backyard.

Flavia had asked the old Gypsy woman to tell her fortune, but never expected to stumble across the poor soul, bludgeoned in the wee hours in her own caravan. Was this an act of retribution by those convinced that the soothsayer had abducted a local child years ago? Certainly Flavia understands the bliss of settling scores; revenge is a delightful pastime when one has two odious older sisters. But how could this crime be connected to the missing baby? Had it something to do with the weird sect who met at the river to practice their secret rites? While still pondering the possibilities, Flavia stumbles upon another corpse - that of a notorious layabout who had been caught prowling about the de Luce's drawing room.

Pedaling Gladys, her faithful bicycle, across the countryside in search of clues to both crimes, Flavia uncovers some odd new twists. Most intriguing is her introduction to an elegant artist with a very special object in her possession - a portrait that sheds light on the biggest mystery of all: Who is Flavia?

As the red herrings pile up, Flavia must sort through clues fishy and foul to untangle dark deeds and dangerous secrets."

There you go, folks. I'll continue this with upcoming entries. Now to go get some groceries before the evenings TV watching starts... Have a great Thursday and weekend!!

Sunday, 15 April 2018

Just Finished, New Books and Other Things.

Well it's been a quiet weekend for watching the Blue Jays because both of their weekend games against the Cleve were rained out. Kind of unfortunate as they have been playing ok and beat the Indians Friday night.

Jo and I loaded the dogs in the car on Friday night and she drove me around to the various local Little Free Libraries. I donated a few books to them and found three for myself. I also finished one book and have started one more. I hope to finish 3 or 4 more books before the end of the month. I'll also continue my Author's A - Z listing.

Then it'll be time for Sunday night television. I'm barbecuing lamb burgers for dinner tonight accompanied with roasted potatoes. So here we go...

New Books

1. M.C. Beaton - Love, Lies and Liquor. This is the 17th book in the Agatha Raisin cozy mystery series.

"Cotswold detective Agatha Raisin lies to herself, hoping skimpy lingerie will suit her ex's surprise holiday. He lies to himself, remembering childhood heyday of Snoth-on-Sea as sunny, now a wreck in a cold windy storm. Aggie threatens obnoxious guest Geraldine, later found strangled in Aggie's lost scarf. Aggie can try drink, but needs all her friends when bodies pile up."

2. Dick Francis - Banker (1982).

"When young investment banker Tim Ekaterin becomes involved in the cutthroat world of thoroughbred racing, he finds his life in business blown to smithereens. For suddenly the multi-million-dollar loan he arranges to finance the purchase of a champion racehorse is threatened by an apparent defect in the animal. Then, as Tim desperately searches for answers, he falls headlong into a deadly deal of violence and murder."

3. Preston & Child - Cemetery Dance (Pendergast #9). 

"Pendergast - the world's most enigmatic FBI Special Agent - returns to New York City to investigate a murderous cult.

William Smithback, a New York Times reporter, and his wife Nora Kelly, a Museum of Natural History archaeologist, are brutally attacked in their apartment on Manhattan's Upper West Side. Eyewitnesses claim, and the security camera confirms, that the assailant was their strange, sinister neighbor - a man who, by all reports, was already dead and buried weeks earlier. While Captain Laura Hayward leads the official investigation, Pendergast and Lieutenant Vincent D'Agosta undertake their own private - and decidedly unorthodox - quest for the truth. Their serpentine journey takes them to an enclave of Manhattan they never imagined could exist: a secretive, reclusive cult of Obeah and Vodou which no outsiders have ever survived."

Just Finished

The Murder Stone by Louise Penny (Inspector Gamache #4).

"I continue to enjoy the Inspector Gamache mystery series by Canadian author Louise Penny. The Murder Stone is the 4th book in the series. For a change it is not set in the small town of Three Pines, but instead at a resort, Manoir Bellechasse. However, this is still relatively nearby and we do get a brief visit to Three Pines and Peter and Clara Morrow, regulars in the first three books, play a key role in the mystery.
The Gamache's, Armand and Reine Marie, are at the Manoir to celebrate their 35th anniversary. The wealthy Morrow family, mother, step father and four children with their accompaniments, either husband / wife or child, are also there for the annual family reunion. The main purpose of this reunion is to unveil a statue honoring the original patriarch, Charles Morrow. It's quickly apparent that there are many secrets and long held resentments in this family.
Added to this is the 'murder' of one of the children, Julia, whose body is discovered crushed under the statue. This brings in Gamache's intrepid team of Inspector Belvoir and Agent Lacoste. There are also mysteries and secrets within the fabric of the Manoir as well, from the maitre d', Pierre, to the chef, Veronique, etc.
It's a nicely paced story, developing slowly and steadily as Gamache and his team search the facts, search their own histories and interact with this strange and for the most part, unlikable family. However, even there you find complexities and twists. Things aren't always as it seems. The mystery is intriguing, especially the question of how them murder could take place?
I have to say that I continue to dislike Peter, his bitterness and his jealousies. I honestly don't understand why Clara stays with him but that is a small side-note. :0) We learn more about Gamache's past, his history with his father and also how it affects his relationship with his son. As always, the food looks fantastic and we get a brief visit to Three Pines to refresh our memories of that wonderful town and its inhabitants. All in all another excellent mystery from Penny. (4 stars)"

Now Reading

Tana French - Faithful Place (Dublin Murder Squad #3).

"That which was buried is brought to light and wreaks hell - on no one more so than Frank Mackey, beloved undercover guru and burly hero first mentioned in French's second book about the Undercover Squad, The Likeness.

Faithful Place is Frank's old neighborhood, the town he fled twenty-two years ago, abandoning an abusive alcoholic father, harpy mother, and two brothers and sisters who never made it out. They say going home is never easy, but for Frank, investigating the cold case of the just-discovered body of his teenage girlfriend, it is a tangled, dangerous journey, fraught with mean motivations, black secrets, and tenuous alliances. Because he is too close to the case, and because the Place (including his family) harbors a deep-rooted distrust of cops, Frank must undertake his investigation furtively, using all the skills picked up from years of undercover work to trace the killer and the events of the night that changed his life."

Bill's Author's A - Z

Giles Blunt
1. Giles Blunt. Giles Blunt is a Canadian author best known for his John Cardinal mystery series. I was particularly interested in the series because it's set in my home town of North Bay. Of course, he calls it Algonquin Bay; maybe the town council didn't want the Bay to be known as a murder city.. lol The series has been turned into a 3 season TV series as well, and it has been quite excellent so far.

There are six books in the Cardinal series so far. Blunt has written a number of other books as well. I've read five of the Cardinal series so far and have another of his other books on my book shelves awaiting my attention. I'll highlight the first two books in the series for you and also provide the synopses of the other book I've purchased.

a. Forty Words for Sorrow.

"When four teenagers go missing in the small northern town of Algonquin Bay, the extensive police investigation comes up empty. Everyone is ready to give up except Detective John Cardinal, an all-too-human loner whose persistence only serves to get him removed from Homicide. Haunted by a criminal secret in his own past, and hounded by a special investigation into corruption on the force, Cardinal is on the brink of losing his career — and his family.

Then the mutilated body of thirteen-year-old Katie Pine is pulled out of an abandoned mineshaft. And only Cardinal is willing to consider the horrific truth: that this quiet town is home to the most vicious of serial killers. With the media, the provincial police and his own department questioning his every move, Cardinal follows increasingly tenuous threads towards the unthinkable. Time isn't only running out for him, but for another young victim, tied up in a basement wondering how and when his captors will kill him."

b. The Delicate Storm.

"A gruesome discovery in the wilderness above Algonquin Bay leads detectives John Cardinal and Lisa Delorme to a remote cabin that has served as an abattoir for a cold-blooded killer…

But the woods hide other horrors and soon a second body is discovered, naked and shrouded in ice. When one of the victims is identified as an American the Mounties have to be called in, but it's the Canadian Secret Service that arouses the most mistrust. Is their interference due to a suspected terrorist link, or is there something even more sinister behind it?

With Northern Ontario in the grip of an ice storm of once-in-a-hundred years severity, the woods take on a glittering, lethal beauty. And in this winter wonderland John Cardinal must hunt down and confront a killer."

c.  Breaking Lorca.

"In 1980s El Salvador, a young woman is detained in a government torture squad’s head-quarters, suspected of supporting guerilla forces. There, a bookish new recruit, Victor Peña, is assigned to assist in her interrogation. Before they learn so much as her name – Lorca – the squad relentlessly break her, body and soul. It is a terrifying journey into human cruelty and courage, one which years later – in the pinnacle of cosmopolitan America – still haunts the tormentor as dramatically as it does his victim."

The other 4 books in the Cardinal series are -
- Black Fly Season
- By the Time You Read This
- Crime Machine
- Until the Night

Kyril Bonfiglioli
2. Kyril Bonfiglioli. Kyril Bonfiglioli was an English writer who lived from 1928 - 1985. He wrote four books featuring Charlie Mortdecai. I've read one so far and have another on my bookshelf. I'll highlight the two I have so far.

a. Don't Point That Thing at Me (1972). 

"Introducing the Hon. Charlie Mortdecai, art dealer, aristocrat and assassin, in the first of the Mortdecai novels

Portly art dealer and seasoned epicurean Charlie Mortdecai comes into possession of a stolen Goya, the disappearance of which is causing a diplomatic ruction between Spain and its allies. Not that that matters to Charlie ... until compromising pictures of some British diplomats also come into his possession and start to muddy the waters. All he's trying to do is make a dishonest living, but various governments, secret organizations and an unbelievably nubile young German don't see it that way and pretty soon he's in great need of his thuggish manservant Jock to keep them all at bay ... and the Goya safe."

b. After You with a Pistol (1979).

"Cult classics in the UK since their first publication there in the 1970s, Kyril Bonfiglioli's wickedly fun mysteries featuring the Honorable Charlie Mortdecai—degenerate aristocrat, amoral art dealer, seasoned epicurean, unwilling assassin, and general knave-about-Picadilly - are favorites of Stephen Fry and Julian Barnes, among others. Charlie's back in After You With the Pistol, along with his new bride, Joanna, and his thuggish manservant, Jock. He’'s also still drinking too much whiskey—and anything else he can get his hands on—which makes it all the more difficult to figure out what the beautiful and fabulously wealthy Joanna is up to when she tries to convince Charlie to kill the Queen. Suffice it to say, Joanna is not quite what she seems. Don't miss this brilliant mixture of comedy, crime, and suspense."

The other two books in the series are -
- Something Nasty in the Woodshed (1976)
- The Great Mortdecai Moustache Mystery (posthumously published). 
Gail Bowen
3. Gail Bowen. Gail Bowen is a Canadian writer of mystery novels. Her novels feature political analyst and university professor Joanne Kilbourn, who is also involved solving mysteries. Wendy Crewson played the character in a series of TV movies. I read two of the books and for some reason never got into the others; there are 20+ books in the series, as of 2017. Below are the two I've read so far.

a. The Wandering Soul Murders (#3 / 1992). 

"Murder is the last thing on Joanne Kilbourn’s mind on a perfect morning in May. Then the phone rings, and she learns that her daughter Mieka has found the corpse of a young woman in an alley near her store. So begins Joanne’s chilling collision with evil in Gail Bowen’s riveting third mystery, The Wandering Soul Murders.

Joanne is stunned and saddened by the news that the dead woman, at seventeen, was already a veteran of the streets. When, just twenty-four hours later, her son’s girlfriend is found dead, drowned in a lake in Saskatchewan’s Qu’Appelle Valley, Joanne’s sunny world is shattered. Her excitement about Mieka’s upcoming marriage, her involvement in the biography she is writing, even her pleasure at her return to Regina all fade as she finds herself drawn into a twilight world where money can buy anything and there are always people willing to pay.

b.  A Colder Kind of Death (#4 / 1994).

"When a prisoner is shot to death in the exercise yard of a Saskatchewan penitentiary, Joanne Kilbourn finds herself haunted by a part of her past she wished had never happened. The dead prisoner is Kevin Tarpley, the man who six years earlier had brutally killed her politician husband, Ian, in a seemingly senseless act alongside the Trans-Canada Highway.

The haunting takes on a more menacing cast several days later when Tarpley’s sinister wife, Maureen, is discovered dead in a snow-swept Regina parking lot. A brightly colored scarf is found wound tightly around her neck, a scarf that belongs to none other than Joanne Kilbourn. Soon this single mother, author, university professor, and TV-show panelist is deemed the “number one” suspect in Maureen Tarpley’s demise.

Joanne knows there has to be a connection between these two murders. But what is it? A cryptic letter sent to Joanne by Kevin Tarpley just days before his death intimates that Ian Kilbourn’s killing may not have been as senseless as first assumed. In fact, there are hints that some of Ian’s political colleagues may have been involved. But how deeply and in what way?

Then there’s the faded photograph of a pretty young woman and her baby that Joanne finds tucked in the wallet of her dead husband. Does it offer any clue to Ian’s murder, or to the deaths of the Tarpleys? Warily, Joanne Kilbourn is forced to follow a tangled trail deep into a heartbreaking past she never knew existed."

I enjoyed the two books. I'll have to find some of the others to try.

So there you. Time for me to start up the BBQ. Have a great week!! 

Sunday, 8 April 2018

New Books and My Author's A - Z

We've had a fair bit of rain the past few days but today it's nice and sunny out. The Snowbird Aeronautical team is here for a few weeks. In fact they are currently flying around for their afternoon training session. Darn noisy things.. ;0)

Yangervis Solarte
Happy with the Blue Jays start so far this season. They were never over .500 last season and so far they are 6 wins, 4 losses. Some of the new players have been pleasant surprises; Solarte has a great, positive attitude, has played great defense and even hit well. Garcia looks like he's fitting right in as a starting pitcher. Now if only Grichuk will relax a bit and try to be more patient at the plate, well, who knows how he will do. On to Baltimore for the next series.

New Books

I stopped at Nearly New Books yesterday after going to the grocery store and found a few books, two by new authors for me.

1. The Diamond Hunters by Wilbur Smith.

"The Van Der Byl Diamond Company, willed by its founder to his son Benedict, daughter Tracey and estranged foster-child Johnny Lance, turns out to be a bequest not of love, but of hatred. For it is couched in such terms as to offer Benedict an instrument of destruction of his bitterest rival. 'Destroy Johnny' was the old man's implacable message to his son, and, obsessively jealous of his foster-brother, Benedict sets out in ruthless pursuit of this goal.

In a desperate bid to support Johnny, Tracey acquires for him the concession in the diamond-rich seabed round the coral islands of Thunderbolt and Suicide off the savage South West African coast, and Johnny throws all his resources into the construction of a vessel that will recover the stones from the ocean floor and repair his fortune at last. But Benedict, already involved in illegal diamond-dealing as a sideline, seizes this chance to attack his rival and, with a network of accomplices and some ingenious electronic tampering, plots to siphon off the diamonds. Johnny will not only be ruined by his liabilities, he will also be a laughing stock.

However, Benedict's obsessive jealousy is his undoing. He cannot resist stripping his rival of his beautiful but bitchy wife Ruby as well, and when he then discards her, she takes her revenge, precipitating a climax of murder and destruction that consumes Benedict at last."

b. Skeleton Hill by Peter Lovesey (Peter Diamond #10). 

"Battle & burial are built into the history of Lansdown Hill, so it is no great shock when part of a skeleton is unearthed there. But Peter Diamond, Bath's Head of CID, can't ignore the fresh corpse found close to Beckford's Tower. The hill becomes the setting for one of the most puzzling cases he has ever investigated."

c. Dead in the Water by Dana Stabenow (Kate Shugak #3). 

"Once, Kate Shugak was the star investigator of the Anchorage D.A, 's office. Now she's gone back to her Aleut roots in the far Alaska north- where her talent for detection makes her the toughest crime-tracker in that stark and mysterious land."

d. Mississippi Blood by Greg Iles (Penn Cage #6). 

"Shattered by grief and dreaming of vengeance, Penn Cage sees his family and his world collapsing around him. The woman he loves is gone, his principles have been irrevocably compromised, and his father, once a paragon of the community that Penn leads as mayor, is about to be tried for the murder of a former lover. Most terrifying of all, Dr. Cage seems bent on self-destruction. Despite Penn's experience as a prosecutor in major murder trials, his father has frozen him out of the trial preparations--preferring to risk dying in prison to revealing the truth of the crime to his son.

During forty years practicing medicine, Tom Cage made himself the most respected and beloved physician in Natchez, Mississippi. But this revered Southern figure has secrets known only to himself and a handful of others. Among them, Tom has a second son, the product of an 1960s affair with his devoted African American nurse, Viola Turner. It is Viola who has been murdered, and her bitter son--Penn's half-brother--who sets in motion the murder case against his father. The resulting investigation exhumes dangerous ghosts from Mississippi's violent past. In some way that Penn cannot fathom, Viola Turner was a nexus point between his father and the Double Eagles, a savage splinter cell of the KKK. More troubling still, the long-buried secrets shared by Dr. Cage and the former Klansmen may hold the key to the most devastating assassinations of the 1960s. The surviving Double Eagles will stop at nothing to keep their past crimes buried, and with the help of some of the most influential men in the state, they seek to ensure that Dr. Cage either takes the fall for them, or takes his secrets to an early grave

Unable to trust anyone around him--not even his own mother--Penn joins forces with Serenity Butler, a famous young black author who has come to Natchez to write about his father's case. Together, Penn and Serenity battle to crack the Double Eagles and discover the secret history of the Cage family and the South itself, a desperate move that risks the only thing they have left to gamble: their lives."

Bill's Authors A - Z

Cara Black
1. Cara Black. American writer Cara Black is best known for her Aimée Leduc mystery series, set in Paris. Since 1998 she has written 17 books in the series. I read the first book and must admit I was somewhat underwhelmed with it. I think the problem was that it seemed as though Black was trying too hard. I think there was enough promise that I'll try to find the 2nd book and see how the story telling and character development improves. I do have the 9th book in the series.

a. Murder in the Marais (#1).

"Aimée Leduc has always sworn she would stick to tech investigation—no criminal cases for her. Especially since her father, the late police detective, was killed in the line of duty. But when an elderly Jewish man approaches Aimée with a top-secret decoding job on behalf of a woman in his synagogue, Aimée unwittingly takes on more than she is expecting. She drops off her findings at her client’s house in the Marais, Paris’s historic Jewish quarter, and finds the woman strangled, a swastika carved on her forehead. With the help of her partner, René, Aimée sets out to solve this horrendous murder, but finds herself in an increasingly dangerous web of ancient secrets and buried war crimes."

b. Murder in the Latin Quarter (#9). 

"When a Haitian woman arrives at the Paris office of Leduc Detective and announces that she is P.I. Aimée Leduc’s sister, Aimée must dig into her father’s past to solve a murder.

A virtual orphan since her mother’s desertion and her father’s death, Aimée has always wanted a sister. She is thrilled.

Her partner, René, however, is wary of this stranger. Under French law, even an illegitimate child would be entitled to a portion of her father's estate: the detective agency and apartment that Aimée has inherited. He suspects a scam. But Aimée embraces her newfound sibling and soon finds herself involved in murky Haitian politics and international financial scandals leading to murder in the Latin Quarter on the Left Bank of the Seine, the old university district of Paris."

Cecil Day-Lewis (AKA Nicholas Blake)
2. Nicholas Blake. Cecil Day-Lewis (1904 - 1972) was once Poet-Laureate of United Kingdom and was the father of actor Daniel Day-Lewis. To supplement his income as a poet he wrote detective novels under the name Nicholas Blake. He created Nigel Strangeways, an amateur, gentleman detective. I've read two of his novels and have one more waiting my attention. He wrote 16 Strangeways' novels and 4 non-series novels. Below are the 2 I've read and one on my bookshelf.

a. The Widow's Cruise (Strangeways #13).

"Nicholas Blake takes the reader with him on a summer cruise, where jealousy and hatred shimmer over the Greek columns, the sunny quiet waters, and the donkey rides - and Nigel Strangeways is called in to solve an extremely puzzling murder."

b. Head of a Traveler (Strangeways #9).

"Upon stopping by Plash Meadows to visit revered poet Robert Seaton, Nigel Strangeways is absolutely enamored: like something out of a fairy tale, a perfect Queen Anne house stands among sprawling lawns as smooth as green glass, and whimsical gardens overflowing with roses. And not so far off, a dark and winding wood…

While visiting with the Seatons, Nigel gets more than he bargained for. He learns about the contentious legacy of the family estate, stumbles upon a secret meeting, and at lunch, when table talk turns to murder and motive, Nigel leaves feeling a little uneasy…

Two months later, Nigel is summoned back to the Seaton’s in less pleasant circumstances. A headless corpse has been pulled from the river behind the house and no one can identify the victim… let alone the murderer.

As oppressive thunderstorms roll through the countryside and the mood in the house takes a turn, Nigel has only one lead, but it’s throwing up more questions than it answers. The corpse bears a striking resemblance to Robert Seaton’s long-missing brother… but he walked into the ocean ten years prior, never to be heard from again.

Bewitched by poet and property, will Nigel be able to put his admiration aside and get to the bottom of this case?'

c. A Tangled Web.

"Daisy Bland, a beautiful and naive young woman, falls in love with Hugo Chesterman, a charming burglar, but her testimony threatens to convict him of murder."

Nero Blanc
3. Nero Blanc. Husband and wife team Steve Zettler and Cordelia Frances Biddle write the Crossword mysteries under the name Nero Blanc. There are 12 books in the series. I've read and enjoyed the first book and have two more awaiting my perusal. The first was light and fun and reminded me of Lilian Jackson Braun's Cat Who.... mysteries.

a. The Crossword Murder (#1).

"The Crossword Murder is the first book in the Crossword Mysteries series by husband  wife team Cordelia Biddles & Steve Zettler, who write under the pseudonym Nero Blanc. I've had it for awhile and am glad that I finally read it.
PI Rosco Polycrates of Newcastle, Mass, is hired by the mother of Thompson Briephs to look into his death, as she thinks he was murdered. Briephs works as the crossword puzzle editor for the local paper and also leads a seamy life. As is quickly shown, he is being  blackmailed for something and this blackmailer might have been the murderer.
Polycrates, an ex-police investigator, looks into the death and trying to get a handle on this crossword business, asks for assistance from the editor of a rival paper, Annabella Graham. Together they continue the investigation, working through clues from a series of unpublished puzzles left by Briephs. Someone doesn't like their investigation and there are threats to Graham's life.
There is a developing relationship between Polycrates and Graham, one that they both resist, as she is married.
The investigation is interesting, the puzzle aspect a unique mystery technique. I liked both characters and how the story developed. It's definitely a cozy style mystery, reminding me somewhat of Lilian Jackson Braun's 'Cat Who... ' mysteries. Most enjoyable and a fun read. I'll keep on with this series. (3 stars)"

b. Two Down (#2).

"Jamaica Nevisson—or Cassandra Lovett, as she’s known to the adoring fans of her daytime soap—has vanished without a trace. She and her pal Genie Pepper went pleasure yachting off Nantucket, only to end up lost at sea. So far, only the charred hull of the boat has turned up. Called in by Pepper’s husband, Massachusetts detective Rosco Polycrates and crossword editor Belle Graham uncover a list of potential evildoers that reads like a who’s who of Hollywood vipers, including paparazzi stalker Reggie Flack, Jamaica’s longtime nemesis. But when Belle starts receiving cryptic crosswords, she believes the women are alive and in grave danger. Now she’s up against the clock as she races to unravel the messages before someone completes an across-the-board coup. Because with two down, that leaves only one more to go."

c. Wrapped Up in Crosswords (9). 

"Holiday jitters abound this season when crossword editor Belle Graham and her P.I. partner Rosco Polycrates must catch a criminal to restore peace on earth."

There you go, folks. See anything interesting? I'm off to watch Sunday night TV, Timeless, Instinct, Madam Secretary, The Unit, etc. Have a great week!!
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