Alexander McCall-Smith keeps adding to the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series and I keep enjoying the adventures of Precious Ramotswe. This time the difficult situations are a little too close to home for the Precious and her assistant, Grace Makutsi. The best auto repair assistant of Mma Ramotswe’s husband is arrested for auto theft, then Grace and her husband hire a contractor to begin building their home but the builder comes into question when one of his worker’s leaves doubt in their minds. The renowned Clovis Anderson, author of The Principles of Private Detection, comes for a visit and helps them with the terrible trouble of the dismissal of Mma Potokwane, matron of the orphan farm. Satisfactory solutions result and we continue to applaud the wisdom of Precious Ramotswe and her allies.
>Mr. J. M. Rosenblum just wanted to fit in. He had aspired to be a middle class gentleman in London ever since escaping Berlin. As a German Jew just prior to World War Two he was always striving to obey the rules set out in the Helpful Information and Friendly Guidance for every Refugee pamphlet handed to him by the German Jewish Aid Committee representative as he arrived on the London dock with his wife Sadie. As the years passed, Jack became a successful carpet factory owner and acquired a nice home, beautiful Jaguar and fitted suits from the finest tailor. The one need that he continued to have was acceptance into London society through membership in a golf club. When this failed, Jack decided that he would build his own golf course. Jack buys land in Dorset and moves his wife to the countryside. Now he has another society to fit into as he begins building a golf course on his own. He studies all the great courses and begins writing letters to the famous Bobby Jones, designer of the world renowned Augusta golf course. Mr. Rosenblum Dreams in English will charm and delight as Mr. Rosenblum deals with rampaging woolly-pigs, migrant struggles and dreams dared to be dreamed.
>The prolific Scottish medical lawyer and author, Alexander McCall-Smith, keeps me regularly supplied with reading . I can hardly keep up with his four different series along with all the other new novels calling to me as a librarian. He has written over 60 books including academic titles and children’s books. The Forgotten Affairs of Youth is the latest in his Isabel Dalhousie series. Edinburgh is the setting for this contemplative philosopher. This time Isabel is asked to help find parents of a woman who was adopted as a child. The complications involved in the discovery of the possible father make us evaluate when secrets are alright to keep. Should the man who wants to claim paternity be told that he probably isn’t the father, and should the one who would not be happy to find out about his child be forced to face his unknown history? There are other story vignettes that keep us thinking about subtle moral dilemmas such as Isabel’s mushroom poisoning which involves the delicatessen Isabel’s niece, Cat owns, a paper submitted to Isabel’s philosophical publication that was written under an assumed name and the love story’s continuation between Isabel and her Jamie.
>The year is 1803 and the Darcy’s are preparing for Lady Anne’s Ball, a long-standing tradition at Pemberley. Darcy and Elizabeth have been married several years and have settled into life at the estate with their two sons and with Bingley and Jane living near-by. In the midst of their preparations, a carriage races up to the house with a hysterical Lydia Wickham inside. Her plan was to surprise Elizabeth by showing up at the ball uninvited, with Wickham (who has not been welcome for many years at Pemberley) remaining at a local inn with his friend Captain Denney. During the dark and rainy ride through the woodlands, Denny and Wickham argue, with Denny leaving the carriage and Wickham following him into the woods. Shots are fired, Lydia races to Pemberley, a search party is formed and Darcy and Fitzwilliam find Wickham bent over the bloody and dead body of Denny. Wickham is arrested as the main suspect and is placed on trial for the murder of his friend. James has captured the original spirit of Pride and Prejudice and introduces new aspects of many of the chararacters that are so appealing in Austen’s work. James also conveys interesting information about the English legal system as well as the social system of the time. Death Comes to Pemberley offers a new view of life at Pemberley and a plot with twists and turns and an unexpected conclusion–an entertaining return to the world of the Darcy’s.
AlanBradley’s 11 year old character Flavia de Luce is one of the most endearing,inventive and precocious characters in literature. She appears again inBradley’s latest novel in the series,I am Half-Sick of Shadows. It is winter in England and Christmas isapproaching, with Flavia immersed in her chemistry experiments–this timetrying to determine if Father Christmas is real. In the midst of a storm, aline of trucks appears and heads for the de Luce family home, Buckshaw. Itseems that Colonel de Luce, in order to keep his family from bankruptcy, hasrented out the estate to a film crew. Flavia is fascinated by the appearance offamous and not-so-famous actors and actresses who take up residence in her home.The lead actors agree to perform for a fund-raiser for the local church, andthe local village residents flock to Buckshaw for the show, only to be snowedin by a blizzard. With the house filled with visitors, Flavia comes upon thebody of a murdered actress, and of course, must immerse herself in solving thecrime, much to the dismay Inspector Hewitt. We learn more about Flavia’srelationships with her sisters, her father and Dogger, who served in the warwith Colonel De Luce. This is a delightful addition to this humorous andcharming series featuring the fiendishly inventive Flavia de Luce (start with The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie.)
>With a variety of characters to help keep the conversation flowing, and a myriad of surprises to keep the story going, who wouldn’t enjoy this book? Carrie Carter is the main character of Shadows on the Sand by Gayle Roper. She owns and runs the small town café in Seaside along with her sister & baker, Lindsey. Her employees consist of Ricky the cook, Jase the dishwasher, and Andi her waitress. Many customers of interest visit the cafe daily. One of the interesting customers is Mr. Perkins, an old man that doesn’t say much but when he does you better pull in your toes. Then there is Andi’s boyfriend, Bill, who comes across as a little too rough. How about Clooney, Andi’s uncle, who spends his time looking for treasures in the sand? We can’t leave out Cilla, the lady that keeps an eye on every one and every thing going on in Seaside. Mary P is the wise one and former owner of the café. There are other locals, plus the outsiders that come in to take part in this great story.
Now, on to Carrie’s favorite customer, Greg Barnes, a very handsome man who makes Carrie’s heart do the “Snoopy Dance” every time she sees him. All Carrie really wants is for Greg to notice her, to let her know that he knows she is alive. But after three years of their daily encounter, is there really any hope? It takes a murder to get their romance on the move. When Jase is found murdered and Andi is missing, Greg and Carrie are pushed together to solve the mystery and that’s when Greg realizes, Carrie is definitely alive. That doesn’t mean the romance is in the bag though. They both have pasts that haunt them, keeping them in and out of each others reach. There are several unexpected twists to keep your mind engaged even when you reluctantly have to put this book down.
>Gracie Lynne Calloway did not like rich people. As she grew up in Shady Grove, Alabama, she was made fun of because she didn’t have a father and her mother left her on Ben’s porch in a coal bucket. She wanted her mother to come back and love her, but she was happy living with Uncle Ben and Uncle Artie. She was the best baseball player in town and proud of the fact that she didn’t own a dress, much to Auntie Alice’s dismay. Life was great up until her 25th birthday when Sam Fontana, a young lawyer, came to Shady Grove. He came to inform Gracie that she was really Kathryn Hammond, kidnapped daughter of a wealthy financier. Gracie wanted nothing to do with her new identity or the six hundred and fifty million dollar inheritance left in her name. Relatives come seeking her, some sincere others conniving. Should she refuse the inheritance she believes will ruin her life and the lives of those she loves? Salting Roses, a romance mystery with interesting characters and a well developed plot, is a great porch swing and iced tea read.
>In the beginning, I chose A Bloodhound to Die For by Virginia Lanier because it is about dogs but found many other reasons to read it. The story is fast-paced, starting on Fri. Aug 23rd and stopping on Fri. Sept. 20th with loads of action packed in. Jo Beth trains bloodhounds and uses them for tracking. In these 31 days, Jo Beth struggles with the local sheriff; deals with a crazed jealous gun carrying wife; tracks down an Alzheimer suffering woman twice; meets with a local jailed ever escaping criminal that has the hots for her; is hospitalize when poisoned; deals with the romance in her life; carries on her bloodhound training business; and tracks down the hoodlum that kidnaps her most favorite bloodhound. The characters are fun and interesting and I learned much about the bloodhound. Whew! Now, if you like fast paced light mysteries, take a breath and enjoy reading this book for yourself.
Marion Chesney has written over 100 historical romances under half-a-dozen different pseudonyms, but her mystery novels are written under the name M.C. Beaton. Author of the Hamish MacBeth mystery series, MPL has a number of videos for check-out from the television series that is loosely based on her novels.
I recently picked-up one of her Agatha Raisin novels while looking for a cozy writer that might have a lenthy series to read and recommend. What fun to find the formidable but hilarious Agatha Raisin. This fifty-three year old advertising professional has chucked life in cosmopolitan London, sold her business and moved to the charming Cotswold’s for a change of pace. Trying to fit in, un-domestic Agatha enters a baking contest with a quiche purchased from her favorite deli in London, only to be accused of murder when the judge dies of cowband poisoning. Agatha’s life is in jeopardy as she searches for the killer and tries to fit into village life. I can believe one would find Agatha embroiled in all kinds of mischief in this 22-book series and enjoy every one. Sample Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death for a cozy British mystery.
Come join the group in Izzy’s knit shop, gathered together knitting, talking, eating good food, and drinking good wine. In this sleepy tourist town on the Massachusetts coast, four women come together: Nell is a retiree who makes sure everyone is fed and taken care of, Birdie is old enough to tell it straight and not care what anyone thinks about it, Izzy left a law firm in Boston to come home and open her shop, and Cass has to wash off the smell of her lobster boat before she comes to gather with her friends and knit the same scarf over and over. Their quiet world is disturbed when Izzy’s upstairs renter, Angie, washes up on shore. The friends come together to console one another and figure out who brought this element of evil to their peaceful community. Death by Cashmere is a sumptuous story, providing a sweet escape to summer.
Avery Aames has written another of those delicious culinary mysteries that makes one want to raid the refrigerator. Many different culinary mysteries are being cooked up these days. This time we work at solving a murder as we learn the ins and outs of the cheese business. Our senses are tickled with artisan cheese descriptions and yummy sounding recipes as we watch for clues to the murder of a wealthy businessman. Other popular food novels center on chocolate, wine, caterers, bakeries, even farmer’s markets. Keep some yummy snacks handy when reading The Long Quiche Goodbye, preferably a gourmet cheese assortment with a complementary wine.
Another book in our library that may be of interest to foodies who love to party is called, The Tasting Club: gathering together to share and savor your favorite tastes by Dina Cheney. This non-fiction book guides those who are a part of the growing trend to entertain at home how to plan and host a tasting party. Learn how to choose a particular ingredient and plan a party around it. Chapters include wine, chocolate, cheese, honey, tea, olive oil, cured meats, balsamic vinegar, apples and beer; with menus, food history, perfect food pairings and accompaniments.
Meg Lanslow returns to spend the summer in her Virginia home town to help prepare for the three weddings for which she is serving as maid of honor. The brides are difficult, her relatives are crazy, the tasks are endless, the gorgeous new guy in town is reportedly gay, and, to top it all off, people are being attacked right and left. The first in a series, Murder, with Peacocks is a light and fun read.
>Jimmy is an ordinary story with extraordinary happenings. Because of Jimmy’s handicap, some of his accomplishments are what might be considered trivial to others. Yet, Mr. Whitlow pulls the reader into each situation Jimmy faces; his fears, trials and his victories. I just wanted to be Jimmy’s friend as I read through this book. The relationships that are built between Jimmy, his parents, his grandfather, his dog and other characters throughout the story are strong and endearing. I would consider this book a gentle read with a little suspense built in.
In Witch Way to Murder, by Shirley Damsgaard, you will enjoy a light touch of the paranormal. In this cozy mystery, Ophelia Jensen is a sassy, savvy librarian who just happens to be a reluctant witch, an unwanted “gift” she considers inconvenient at best and at worst downright dangerous.
Her kindly old grandmother Abby, however, has no compunctions about the paranormal, being a practicing witch with unique abilities of her own. And sometimes the otherworldly arts do come in handy — like when the arrival of a mysterious, good-looking stranger seems to trigger an epidemic of catastrophes, from the theft of bomb-making materials to a corpse dumped in Abby’s backyard. Luckily Ophelia and Abby are on the case and determined to make things right. But it’ll take more than magick to get out of this boiling cauldron of lethal trouble.