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!! 

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