Saturday, 30 June 2018

Reading Update and My Ongoing Author's A - Z

Tomorrow or the next day I'll do my June Reading summary so this entry I'll update on the last book(s) I finished and continue with my Author's A - Z.

Oh, and before I say anything else... I'd like to wish Canada an early

The missus has been trying some new recipes this week and they've been very successful. She made Chicken Chasseur (a fond memory of her mother's cooking) and yesterday, Boeuf Bourguinon (we'd seen it on a CBC show, Back in Time for Dinner. They follow a Canadian family from Toronto; making them live in a different decade from the 40's to the present. In the '60s episode, they had the mother cook Boeuf Bourguinon... Jo's was much better... :0)

I finished one last book this month.

The Old Man in the Corner by Countess Emma Orczy.

"The Old Man in the Corner by Baroness Emma Orczy was a little gem. I'd read her adventure, The Scarlet Pimpernal, and had enjoyed quite a bit. While I was reading it, my wife mentioned that she remembered a radio series she'd listened too many years ago, which was based on Orczy's book about The Old Man in the Corner. It sounded interesting and so I decided to see if I could find a copy; which I did at The Book Depository (one of their print on demand books).
Basically, the book is a collection of short story mysteries. They remind me somewhat of Isaac Asimov's books about the Black Widowers, in which a group of older men, meet regularly at their club and meet someone who explains their circumstances (normally involving a crime) and then without leaving their club they try to solve it (usually with final words from the waiter). The Old Man in the Corner features a similar situation. Newspaper reporter, Polly, meets regularly with The Old Man at a local cafe (an A.B.C shop as it's called) and the old man details a recent court case; a robbery, a murder etc. Polly basically listens while the old man tells her the story and then solves the case, a case that has continually befuddled the police and courts.
There are a variety of stories in the book and each is interesting as is the Old Man's solutions. I enjoyed each case and the Old Man's quirks (he is impulsive about tying a string in knots as he goes through each case). Once solved he basically disappears until the next meet. The stories are short and grab you right away and the solutions are also interesting. What I particularly enjoyed was the final case and Polly finally getting in the last word. It was a surprising ending that actually had me laughing out loud in amazement. I enjoyed this book very much and recommend highly. (4.5 stars)"

I didn't start a new book when I finished this last book as I already had 4 books on the go. I'll finish one of those first before I start another.

Bill's Authors A - Z

Ann Cleeves
1. Ann Cleeves. English crime writer Ann Cleeves has written a number of different mystery series. I especially have enjoyed the Vera Stanhope and the Shetland series so far. She has also written the Palmer-Jones and Inspector Ramsey series but I've yet to try them. I'll highlight one of the Shetland and Vera books.

a. The Crow Trap (Vera #1).

"Definitely a different mystery writer. I enjoyed it very much. I had seen a couple of episodes of the TV series, Vera previously and Ann Cleeves had received some recommendations from my Goodreads acquaintances. So I finally got the first book and took the time to read it. Quite different from the series which is, of course, Vera-centric. In the book, you don't really meet Vera Stanhope until about half way through and she is almost peripheral as we explore the other women's lives and the events which are being investigated. Very methodical, interesting way of developing a story and ultimately the solving of the mystery is almost incidental. Vera is an interesting copper, not like any others I've read about, grumpy, a busy-body, but still with an intuition towards solving the crime. I enjoyed this and will read other Ann Cleeves stories."

There are currently 8 books in the Vera series. You can also catch the TV series based on the books. It's also quite good.

b. Raven Black (Shetland #1). Jo bought me the first three books in this series of 9 books for Xmas a couple of years ago. I've enjoyed the books I've read so far. Also the TV series.

"This was an enjoyable mystery. It's the first book in the Shetland series, with Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez, a former resident of the Shetland islands, looking to solve the murder of a young girl. Now I had already watched the TV mini-series based on the books so found myself trying to find the similarities and differences between the show and the book, but the book was interesting enough that this constant comparison didn't detract from my enjoyment of the book, itself. There are quite a few differences; characters (the female Sgt from the TV show was not in the book) and I think that the resolution of the story was quite different from that of the TV series, which is interesting in itself. All in all, it was an excellent, entertaining introduction to this series by Ann Cleeves. I look forward to reading more of the books."

Barbara Cleverly
2. Barbara Cleverly. Barbara Cleverly is an English writer of historical mysteries. I've enjoyed her Joe Sandiland books so far. There are 13 books so far. She has also three books in her Laetitia Talbot series. I'm interested in checking it out as well. I've read the first 4 books in the Sandiland series so far. I'll highlight the last three.

a. Ragtime in Simla (#2).

"World War I hero and Scotland Yard detective Joe Sandilands is traveling to Simla, summer capital of the British Raj, when he is thrust abruptly—and bloodily—into his second case of serial murder: His traveling companion, a Russian opera singer, is shot dead at his side in the Governor of Bengal's touring car at a crossroads known as Devil's Elbow. Like Cleverly's award-winning and enthusiastically reviewed The Last Kashmiri Rose, which debuted Sandilands, Ragtime in Simla effectively combines exotic settings with high suspense in a deftly plotted tale of 1920s India. At Simla, in the pine-scented Himalayan hills, the English colonials have re-created a bit of home with half-timbered houses, glittering dinner tables, amateur theatricals, and gymkhanas. But when Joe's murder investigation turns up an identical unsolved killing a year earlier, he begins to uncover behind the close-knit community's sparkling facade a sinister trail of blackmail, vice, and deadly secrets."

b. The Damascened Blade (#3).

"In the northwest frontier 1910, the screams of a wounded British officer abandoned at the bottom of a dark ravine are heard by a young Scottish subaltern. Ignoring the command to retreat to base the Highlander sets out alone, with dagger in hand, to rescue his fellow officer from the Pathan tribesman who is slowly torturing him to death. But the bloody outcome of this rescue attempt is not what anybody could have predicted. Over a dozen years later the backwash of this tragedy threatens to engulf Joe Sandilands. On a welcome break from his policing duties, Joe is spending a fortnight with his old army friend, James Lindsay, commander of the British army's front line fort at Gor Khatri on the Afghan border. However, the fragile peace is soon broken resulting in the death of a Pathan prince and the taking of hostages, and Joe and his companion are given seven days in which to identify, arrest and execute the killer before the frontier erupts into war. The deadly edge of the final days of the Raj sets the backdrop for this third engrossing novel in the popular Joe Sandilands series"

c. The Palace Tiger (#4).

"This is the 4th book in the Joe Sandilands mystery series, so far set in India during the time of the Raj. Sandilands is a Scotland Yard commander who, in the first book, was seconded to the British police in India to teach law enforcement techniques to the Indian police and to learn from them as well. In the 4 books he has also worked for Sir George Jardine, the governor of Bengal, traveling around India solving various mysteries and acting as Sir George's eyes and ears in outlying areas. This story finds Sandilands in Ranipur, looking into the suspicious deaths of two heirs to the throne of the prince who is also dying. As well, he is to assist if possible with tracking and killing a tiger that has been killing local people. I like the pace of the story and I've grown to like Sandilands, his detective style and his personality. The mystery is interesting and worked at methodically and this allows Barbara Cleverly to give an excellent portrayal of the region and of life in the Raj at the time. The story isn't complex but it's still an entertaining read. I will now have to find the next in the series, The Bee's Kiss, which finds Sandilands returning to London. I'm looking forward to seeing him in action in more familiar turf for him. 3.5 stars."

Deryn Collier
3. Deryn Collier. Collier is a Canadian writer who has written two books in the Bern Fortin series set in British Columbia. I've read the first book and enjoyed it.

a. Confined Space

"When respected ex–Canadian Forces commander Bern Fortin cuts short his military career to take a job as the coroner for a small mountain town in the heart of BC, he’s hoping to leave the past behind. Bern’s looking forward to a quiet life, but the memories of what he witnessed during his stints in Afghanistan and other war-torn countries haunt him still.

When the body of one of the workers is found floating in the huge bottle-washing tank at the local brewery, Bern is called in for a routine investigation. What first appears to be a tragic accident takes a menacing turn when the body of the worker’s girlfriend is discovered in a nearby field. Bern needs the help of brewery safety investigator Evie Chapelle, who, burdened by tragedies she might have prevented, is more determined than ever to keep her workers, and their tight-knit community, safe. Soon, Bern and Evie find themselves risking their jobs—and their lives—to uncover a killer hiding in a place where it is awfully hard to keep a secret. "

b. Open Secret (#2).  

"After the abrupt end to his military career Bern has settled into an uneasy peace in his new life in Kootenay Landing—a peace he knows can’t last. Out for a fall hike, he discovers Dr. Juniper Sinclair, the town’s lone doctor, attempting to revive small-time drug dealer Seymour Melnychuk, who has been shot in the forehead. In a seemingly unrelated incident, Gary Dowd abandons his van while crossing the US border. Gary is a local father of two, an accountant, and a steady, predictable guy. He’s also been best friends with Seymour Melnychuk since elementary school.

Bern knows the two disturbing events must be related and works with police constable Maddie Schilling to uncover the hidden ties that connect the two cases. Why was Dr Sinclair already on the scene? Why is there no exit wound on Seymour’s body? Why did Gary Dowd disappear while trying to cross the border? Who truly controls the hills and forests around Kootenay Landing? Amidst the chaos of the case, Bern’s military background comes back to haunt him, forcing him to confront the secrets of his own past that he has long sought to keep buried.

As Bern and Schilling close in on the killer, each is drawn into the case personally and the stakes are higher than anyone can imagine. Everyone has something to hide, and no one in Kootenay Landing seems willing to talk. But Bern Fortin is well aware that no secret can remain buried forever—not even his own. "

So there you go... Time to take the puppies out for their evening walk. They've been very patient. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.  

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Mid-Week Reading Update and My Ongoing Author's A - Z

Its a lovely sunny, cool day outside today. I went to my physio this morning then picked up some sausage rolls for lunch from the Church Street Bakery; probably the best sausage rolls we've found in the local area. I took a brief drive around to some of the Little Free Libraries on the way home but didn't find any books that I might have been looking for.

I finished two books since my last entry.

Just Finished

1. Think Fast Mr. Moto by John P. Marquand (Mr. Moto #3).

"I've enjoyed the Mr. Moto spy series by John P. Marquand very much. There are 6 books in the series, although some have been published under more than one title. Think Fast, Mr. Moto is the 3rd book in the series and was originally published in 1937. Young Wilson Hitchings has recently moved to Shanghai to learn the running and management of Hitchings Bank, from his uncle. While there his Uncle Will sends him on a mission to Hawaii. It seems that the daughter of the black sheep of the family is running a casino in Hawaii using the Hitchings Brothers name and Will wants Wilson to buy her out.
Before he departs, Wilson briefly meets the enigmatic Japanese spy, Mr. Moto, who is trying to discover more about Chinese dealings in Manchuko, the new state in northern China and if Hitchings Brothers are involved in financing Chinese rebels there.
This will all come to a head in Hawaii. Something is a bit off with the casino in Hawaii. Things don't seem quite legal. Eva Hitchings hates Hitchings Brothers as they treated her father quite poorly. She doesn't trust Wilson. He's not sure if he should trust her. Should they trust Mr. Moto? An attempt is made to assassinate the Japanese spy. Does he trust them?
It's an all around fast-paced story and very entertaining. Mr. Moto is a great character, smart and interesting. The series is worth trying. I have one left to read and it's on my book shelf. (3.5 stars)"

2.  John le Carré; the Biography by Adam Sisman.

"Over the course of John le Carré's 86 years he's written 24 novels. He's maybe most well-known for his aging spy, George Smiley, who appeared in many of his early novels. I've read nine of ten of his books and have in the past few years, started to read his earlier works, as I missed them when I started to explore his writing.
This biography, John Le Carré: the Biography by Adam Sisman piqued my interest when I first saw it on the bookshelves in one of my local book shops (It was originally published in 2015). I finally purchased a copy and was glad to settle down to it this past month. The book was well-organized and flowed nicely. Sisman has an excellent way in presenting his story. It progresses logically, from le Carré's early childhood until his 80th birthday, finishing with his 2nd most recent novel, A Delicate Truth (2013).
I found le Carré's early life very interesting. Much detail is provided about his father and how poorly he treated his wives and children. Ronnie Cornwell (le Carré's real name is David Cornwell) was a ducker and diver, a grifter and philanderer and never changed over the course of his life. He used his children to achieve his own ends, got involved in many financial schemes, spent time in prison for his shady dealings and many times left his boys on the spot.
Much of what David accomplished was almost almost in contrast to his father. Not too say his father wasn't loved, as he had loyal friends, but he just wasn't a very good man / father. Cornwell's story moves through his childhood, time spent at boarding schools and gradually to university and a career with MI5 and MI6. Cornwell had marriage difficulties, was somewhat of a philanderer as well but ultimately found the wife who supported and for whom he cared dearly. As we get to David's writing career, we move chronologically through all of his novels, what influenced him in writing them, reviews of the books, problems with publishers, movie and TV tie-ins, etc. It's a very interesting story and we do find inklings of Cornwell's attitudes and how they develop and change over the course of his long life. Work was an addiction to him and his methods of formulating and developing his stories make for some interesting reading for budding authors.
If you've enjoyed le Carré's books you might find this biography interesting. It was nice reliving the stories and also remembering the history of the time in which Cornwell grew up and also meeting the people who became his friends.  (3.5 stars)"

Currently Reading
I'm enjoying the 4 books I've got on the go at this time. All are mysteries but they are a nice variety.

1. Flesh and Blood by John Harvey (Frank Elder #1). My sister-in-law Sue bought me this for Xmas a couple of years ago. I'm glad she did, it's great so far.

"Fifteen years ago Susan Blacklock disappeared. Although Detective Inspector Frank Elder has taken early retirement, the case still plagues his mind.Prime suspects, Shane Donald and Alan McKeirnan, were convicted a year later of the brutal rape and murder of a young girl, and now that Shane has been granted parole, Elder feels compelled to revisit the past.
Then Shane disappears and another young girl is murdered. Elder's involvement is now crucial. Taunted by postcards from the killer, an increasingly desperate Elder battles to keep his estranged family from being drawn into the very heart of the crime."

2. Occam's Razor by Archer Mayor (Joe Gunther #10).  I'm jumping ahead from the 1st book in this series but I will get around to finding the books in the series. It doesn't seem to matter so far.

"The body was positioned so that the train neatly obliterated its head and hands. Dressed in a homeless man's clothes with empty pockets, it might easily be passed-off as an unfortunate John Doe. And yet… Joe Gunther has a knack for knowing when things don't quite add up, and the math in this case is all kinds of wrong. Add a toxic waste dumping scheme, a stabbing, and a whole lot of state politics… if Occam's razor were applied to Gunther's caseload, how many incisions would it make?"

Bill's Author's A - Z

Agatha Christie
1. Agatha Christie.  One of the grand-dames of the mystery genre, Christie lived from 1890 - 1976. Over the course of her career, she wrote 66 novels and 14 short story collections. She made Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot household names. You can watch any versions of the excellent movies and TV series in which their characters star. She also created other wonderful characters such as Tommy and Tuppence, a great husband and wife sleuth team. I read a few of her books when I was a youngster but then kind of abandoned her for many years. I think it was The Murder of Roger Ackroyd that did it for me then. You read a mystery and try to figure out who might be the murderer and then it turns out it's someone who delivers the milk... or something like that. Anyway, I started reading the books again the past few years ago and have enjoyed them immensely. Below I've highlighted 3 of my favorites so far.

a. The Murder at the Vicarage (Miss Marple #1).

"A most enjoyable introduction to the Miss Marple series of mysteries. I particularly enjoyed how the story was presented, with the Vicar being the story teller. Miss Marple is almost in the shadows, as the Vicar wanders around town on his own or with the police inspector, chatting with people, hearing the ideas and thoughts. Miss Marple is a watcher, a wise lady, who observes and figures things out. The Vicar meets with her regularly, discussing ideas, clues and gaining her insight. I loved the story, loved trying to figure things out (for the most part, unsuccessfully) and I loved the main characters, the Vicar and his lovely young wife, Griselda and Miss Marple especially. The story was fun and a pleasure to read. I was even happy with the ending, more than satisfied as Miss Marple presented her findings and solution. Loved it!"

b. Peril at End House (Hercule #8).

"Finishing off 2014 with a couple of Agatha Christie mysteries. Peril at End House was originally published in 1931 and features super sleuth Hercule Poirot. In this story, Poirot is living a retired life, spending some time on the coast with his friend Hastings who has returned from Argentina. He becomes involved in a case of attempted murder of a young woman, Miss Nick Buckley and is frustrated trying to solve the case and keep her alive. All of the suspects seem innocent and Poirot even begins to doubt his own abilities. Has retirement made him rusty? Is he getting too old? An interesting story and an interesting case. I've enjoyed getting back into Agatha Christie's writing in 2014."

c. The Man in the Brown Suit (Colonel Race #1).

"The Man in the Brown Suit by Agatha Christie is one of those without either of Christie's famous sleuths, Marple or Poirot. Instead the hero is one Anne Bedingfield. She spent her early life with her father, basically a secretary helping him with his anthropological work.
Anne, during a visit to London after the death of her father, is on hand to observe the death of a man in the subway. Was it murder, suicide, an accident? She discovers a piece of paper in his pocket, which leads her to what she thinks might be a related death at a house near London.
These events begin to involve Anne in a series of events, attempts on her life, etc and a journey to South Africa. Intrepid and seeking adventure, she searches for the mysterious Colonel, finds herself in the company of Colonel Race (Is he Secret Service?) Suzanne, wife of a British civil servant, Sir Eustace, a somewhat lazy rich Englishman on his way to deliver secret documents to the South African government, and the Man in the Brown Suit (is he a murderer or a spy or can she trust him?)
There is romance, adventure, fun and games, stolen diamonds, intrigue and a darn good mystery with, for me at least, a nicely satisfying and surprising ending. I really liked Anne Bedingfield and Suzanne, strong, spunky, independent women and I liked the story a lot. I keep discovering that Agatha Christie does not disappoint. (4 stars)"

I've got another 7 or 8 (if not more) Christie books awaiting my attention. I like to read one or two a year so they'll keep me going for awhile. I hope to eventually read all of her books.

John Christopher
2. John Christopher. Born Sam Youd, John Christopher was an English science fiction writer. He lived from 1922 - 2012. I heard of him when I saw a write-up for his book, The Death of Grass, which sounded very interesting. It took me awhile to find a copy of that book but I read another of his stories in the interim which I enjoyed. I'll highlight those books below.

a. The Lotus Caves (1969).

"I imagine The Lotus Caves by John Christopher would be classified as Young Adult now, but either way it's an interesting little SciFi story. It features Marty and Steve, two teenagers who have grown up on the Moon in the Earth settlement there. Marty's best friend has been recently sent back to Earth for school, so Marty begins to hang out with Steve, an orphan.
They get in trouble for a prank they perform in the Bubble, where the colony resides and then decide to take a Crawler out to explore one of the early settlements. This leads them to explore further and they crash their vehicle and find themselves in contact with an alien mind in an underground cave system.
Is the mind benign or threatening? What will happen to Marty and Steve? That you have to find out. All in all it was a readable, interesting Science fiction novel, nothing outstanding but an easy, entertaining read. I enjoyed. (3 stars).
Christopher was a prolific writer and I'll keep looking for his books. The Death of Grass looks especially interesting."

b. The Death of Grass (1957).

"As the story opens, the initial viral strain has already attacked rice crops in East Asia causing massive famine and a mutation has appeared which infects the staple crops of West Asia and Europe such as wheat and barley, threatening a famine engulfing the whole of the Old World, while Australasia and the Americas attempt to impose rigorous quarantine to exclude the virus.
The novel follows the trials and struggles of the narrator's family as they attempt to make their way across England, which is already descending into anarchy, to the safety of his brother's potato farm in an isolated Westmorland valley.
The main characters sacrifice many of their morals in order to stay alive. At one point, when their food supply runs out, they kill an innocent family simply to take their bread. The protagonist justifies this with the belief that "it was them or us."

Susanna Clarke
3. Susanna Clarke. Clarke is an English writer who is best known (so-far) for her debut novel, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. She has since published a collection of short stories; The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories. I've read Jonathan Strange and enjoyed it immensely. It's a story of magic and builds slowly and develops into an excellent story. I will have to check out her short stories.

a. Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell

"I was unsure whether to give this three or four stars. The story was very interesting and flowed nicely. I felt at times that it didn't have to be so long. The plot was interesting, but the ending somewhat of a let down; only somewhat, as the story was resolved satisfactorily. It was interesting and different and worth reading. The characters were well crafted and in some cases quite menacing. The magic was quite intriguing and I liked both Strange and Norrell, for different reasons as they are quite different characters. I think my favourite characters were Childermass, Arabella Strange and Flora Greysteels.. as well as Mr Segundus.. Worth reading and making the effort."

So there you go,  a few authors and reading ideas you might like to check out. Enjoy the rest of your week.

Friday, 22 June 2018

The Weekend (Almost) Update and Author's A - Z

Well, it's Friday and after a few really hot days (yes, it's all relative), the temperature has dropped to a more reasonable 17 degrees Celsius. Instead of going for my morning walk today I went to the gym and used their walking machine.. Kind of boring but I watched a bit of footie on the TV, managing to avoid falling off the treadmill as I walked and watched. I CAN DO TWO THINGS AT ONCE!!!

The missus and I have spent this week fuming at the humanitarian crisis invoked by the F*@*wit in chief of the US and his henchmen / women that run his government. We even contributed to an organization that is working to support the immigrants locked up and to reuniting them with their children. One of the positive things that seems to have occurred in response to Trump's actions. (Click on the link above if you want to check out their Facebook page.

I've watched a bit of the World Cup of Footie, but have basically just kept track of the scores. I'll check out England's game against Panama on Sunday. I've been avoiding the Toronto Blue Jays for much of this year. They have their moments but I think it might be a year for rebuilding, get some young talent to go with their young players in the minors. Keep Grichuk, Pilar, Diaz, Solarte and some of the other youngsters. Maybe trade Donaldson, Morales. I'd hate to see them trade Happ and Estrada because they can be a steadying influence to younger starters. But I also can see that they might be used to get more young strength. Oh well. We'll see what happens.

Anyway, now on to my Reading update. A couple of books arrived in the mail this week and I found a couple at my local used book store as well. I'll update that and also continue my Author's A - Z.

New Books

From Nearly New Books in Comox
1. Lieutenant Hornblower by C.S. Forester. I've read many of the Hornblower books and this is the last one that I needed to add to my bookshelf. It's been an enjoyable series so far. As well, I've enjoyed the TV series very much.

"In this gripping tale of turmoil and triumph on the high seas, Horatio Hornblower emerges from his apprenticeship as midshipman to face new responsibilities thrust upon him by the fortunes of war between Napoleon and Spain. Enduring near-mutiny, bloody hand-to-hand combat with Spanish seamen, deck-splintering sea battles, and the violence and horror of life on the fighting ships of the Napoleonic Wars, the young lieutenant distinguishes himself in his first independent command. He also faces an adventure unique in his experience: Maria."

2. Mercy Among the Children by David Adams Richards. I read one of Canadian author, Richards' books last year and enjoyed very much. I liked the view of New Brunswick and its people. This book won the Giller Prize in 2000.

"As a boy, Sydney Henderson thinks he has killed Connie Devlin when he pushes him from a roof for stealing his sandwich. He vows to God he will never again harm another if Connie survives. Connie walks away, laughing, and Sydney embarks upon a life of self-immolating goodness. In spite of having educated himself with such classics as Tolstoy and Marcus Aurelius, he is not taken seriously enough to enter university because of his background of dire poverty and abuse, which leads everyone to expect the worst of him. His saintly generosity of spirit is treated with suspicion and contempt, especially when he manages to win the love of beautiful Elly. Unwilling to harm another in thought or deed, or to defend himself against false accusations, he is exploited and tormented by others in this rural community, and finally implicated in the death of a 19-year-old boy.

Lyle Henderson knows his father is innocent, but is angry that the family has been ridiculed for years, and that his mother and sister suffer for it. He feels betrayed by his father’s passivity in the face of one blow after another, and unable to accept his belief in long-term salvation. Unlike his father, he cannot believe that evil will be punished in the end. While his father turns the other cheek, Lyle decides the right way is in fighting, and embarks on a morally empty life of stealing, drinking and violence."

Halcyon Books, UK
3. The Leavenworth Case by Anna Katharine Green.  I am one of the moderators of the Mystery, Crime book group in Goodreads. One of the other moderators, Nancy, has been reading mysteries starting with the origins of the genre. This book was one she read as part of that challenge and it sounded very interesting to me.

"First published in 1878, nine years before the debut of Sherlock Holmes in A Study in Scarlet, this atmospheric and suspenseful mystery well deserves a modern audience." — Publishers Weekly
Horatio Leavenworth, a wealthy merchant and pillar of nineteenth-century New York society, has been found shot to death in his Fifth Avenue mansion. Circumstances point to a member of his household as the killer and particularly to his lovely nieces, one of whom will inherit his fortune. The idea of a lady murderer, especially one of the Leavenworths' social stature, is almost too shocking to entertain, although the evidence — a broken key, an incriminating letter, and an overheard snatch of conversation — points toward the young nieces. But which one?
This brilliantly plotted tale of love, greed, sacrifice, and betrayal introduced the first American series detective, Ebenezer Gryce, and is widely considered the first full-length detective story written by a woman. The suspenseful bestseller is credited with attracting writers to a genre previously considered unworthy of serious literary attention. It remains not only a fascinating whodunit but also an absorbing look at nineteenth-century mores and manners."

World of Books, UK
4.  Let Sleeping Girls Lie by James Mayo. I read the first book in Mayo's Charles Hood spy series a couple of months ago. I'm enjoying exploring 60s spy series, like Adam Diment's Philip McAlpine series and Peter O'Donnell's Modesty Blaise series. I've also got James Leasor's Dr. Jason Love series in my sights.

"Charles Hood, dynamic hero of Hammerhead, tackles another breathtaking assignment. At the request of Lord Claymore, head of the City's secret consortium The Circle, he trails a lovely blonde with a Bentley across Europe."

Bill's Author's A - Z

G.K. Chesterton
1. G.K. Chesterton. English author, Chesterton, lived from 1874 - 1936. He is especially known for his Father Brown mystery series. I have also enjoyed his The Man Who Would Be Thursday and have another on my bookshelf.

a. The Innocence of Father Brown (Father Brown #1).

"In his day, Flambeau was a legend of the underworld. Even now, his old confederates remember with pride the Tyrolean Dairy scheme, in which he built a thriving milk business despite owning not a single cow. But today the master thief finally meets his match. Attempting to steal a priceless cross, Flambeau runs afoul of Father Brown, an ordinary-looking priest with amazing insight into the criminal mind. With grace, logic, and good humor, the stout little clergyman soon reforms one of England’s most notorious villains.

In thrilling tales such as “The Blue Cross,” “The Secret Garden,” and “The Hammer of God,” G. K. Chesterton’s immortal priest-detective applies his extraordinary intuition to the most intricate of mysteries. No corner of the human soul is too dark for Father Brown, no villain too ingenious. The Innocence of Father Brown is a testament to the power of faith and the pleasure of a story well told."

b. The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare.

"Perhaps best known to the general public as creator of the "Father Brown" detective stories, G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936) was especially renowned for his wit, rhetorical brilliance and talent for ingenious and revealing paradox. Those qualities are richly brilliant in the present volume, a hilarious, fast-paced tale about a club of anarchists in turn-of-the-century London. The story begins when Gabriel Syme, a poet and member of a special group of philosophical policemen, attends a secret meeting of anarchists, whose leaders are named for the days of the week, and all of whom are sworn to destroy the world. Their chief is the mysterious Sunday - huge, boisterous, full of vitality, a wild personage who may be a Chestertonian vision of God or nature or both. When Syme, actually an undercover detective, is unexpectedly elected to fill a vacancy on the anarchists' Central Council, the plot takes the first of many surprising twists and turns."

c. The Napoleon of Notting Hill

"A comical futurist fantasy, first published in 1904, about a tradition-loving suburban London community of the 1980s at war with its modernizing neighbors. Chesterton's splendid storytelling gifts and his sympathies for the plight of small nations trying to remain independent are strongly in evidence."

Lee Child
2. Lee Child. English writer James D. Grant, writing under the name Lee Child, has made a name for himself with his action-filled Jack Reacher series. At the moment there are 23 books in the series. I've read 5 so far and enjoyed them all. I've got another 3 sitting on my book shelf awaiting my attention. Below I've highlighted my last three books.

a. Die Trying (#2).

"A Chicago street in bright sunshine. Jack Reacher, strolling nowhere, meets an attractive young woman, limping, struggling with her crutches, alone. Naturally he stops to offer her a steadying arm and then they turn together—to face twin handguns held level and motionless and aimed straight at their stomachs.

Chained to the woman, locked in a dark, stifling van racing 2,000 miles across America, Reacher needs to know who he's dealing with. The kidnappers are saying nothing and his companion claims to be Holly Johnson, FBI agent. She's fierce enough and tough enough, but he knows there must be more to her than that. And at their remote, hostile destination, they will need to act as a team and trust each other, pitting raw courage and cunning against insane violence and seemingly hopeless odds, with their own lives and hundreds more at stake."

b. Tripwire (#3). 

"Reacher's anonymity in Florida is shattered by an investigator who's come looking for him. But hours after his arrival, the stranger is murdered. Retracing the PI's trail back to New York, Reacher's compelled to find out who was looking for him and why. He never expected the reasons to be so personal - and twisted. 

c. Running Blind (#4). 

"Women are being murdered nationwide by a killer who leaves no trace of evidence, no fatal wounds, no signs of struggle, and no clues to an apparent motive. All the victims have one thing in common: they each knew Jack Reacher."

Next in line are -
a. Echo Burning (#5)
b. Without Fail (#6)

Erskine Childers
3. Erskine Childers. English writer Robert Erskine Childers was born in London in 1870 and died in Dublin in 1922. He was a Fenian revolutionary who smuggled guns to Ireland and was executed by the authorities of the Irish Free State during the Irish Civil War. He is also noted for his 1903 novel, The Riddle of the Sands, which was acclaimed as one of the earliest forms of the espionage novel. I found it quite interesting.

The Riddle of the Sands.

"While on a sailing trip in the Baltic Sea, two young adventurers-turned-spies uncover a secret German plot to invade England. Written by Childers - who served in the Royal Navy during World War I - as a wake-up call to the British government to attend to its North Sea defenses, The Riddle of the Sands accomplished that task and has been considered a classic of espionage literature ever since, praised as much for its nautical action as for its suspenseful spy craft."

There you go folks. Have a wonderful weekend! 
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