Welcome to the

Random words, pictures and thoughts of one who always wishes to be on the mind's road to discovery!

About Me

My photo
Connecticut River Valley, New England, United States

Friday, July 11, 2014

Mystery on the Isle of Man

Aunt Bessie Assumes (Isle of Man Cozy Mystery, #1)Aunt Bessie Assumes by Diana Xarissa
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This cozy mystery, a copy of which I received as a review copy from Goodreads, has everything to keep the reader guessing. A small community in which everyone knows each other and most of each other's business, though, like most of today's places, that is changing, a murder or two and maybe more if not stopped, a little old lady, who isn't a little OLD lady, who just always seems to run into dead bodies and members of a police force, who don't always relish her input.

This one is set on the Isle of Man, the murder victim is the elder son of rich summer folk, the lady in question is Aunt Bessie, a spinster whose home has always been a refuge for the local kids when they needed a cuppa, a cookie or two and a sympathetic ear. One of those kids is now the local constable,Hugh, whose boss, Inspector Rockwell from across--that is to say from Manchester and so unfamiliar with the Isle and its folk. Along with Doona, the secretary at the police station, these four spend several evenings eating take-out from all the local ethnic restaurants and comparing notes. If nothing else, I got hungry and started drinking tea again while attempting to sort it all out before they did--to no avail.

A fun and fast read--a truly good cozy mystery. Oh, and there is even a little bit of Manx to stir your curiosity.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Good Book That CAN Be Judged by Its Cover--Set in Uganda

The Harvest KillingsThe Harvest Killings by A.K. Goode
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An engrossing mystery thriller set in Uganda, which is why I entered the Goodreads first reads giveaway for a review copy. One of the appreciations expressed by the author is to the artist who designed the cover and I have to agree that this is one of the best covers I've seen and it would have captured my interest online or on the table or shelves of the bookstore. It is as open and stark as the descriptions of the coffee fields around the mysterious mountain surrounded by chain link fence and armed guards.

What an assembly of international intelligence agencies, private security companies, innocent bystanders, Chicago mobsters, and corrupt politicians and police populate this story! The question is, why are people getting killed, starting with the deaths of families of coffee growers, killed by an over strong pesticide, around this mountain? Why is the site where, supposedly, a simple water treatment plant is soon to be put on line, guarded by armed former military security guards? Why has a CIA agent been killed but the CIA has not come to investigate his death nor arranged to retrieve his body? Why is the property of an old coffee grower, who is supposed to have been killed in self-defense by one of the guards, got to be sold to an unknown buyer within 48 hours? These questions and more are investigated by American Intelligence Agent Dan Becker and his partner, Piper Lee.

There is much convolution and strands to this fast moving story. Lots of computer stuff I didn't totally understand but loved the young geeks, Harold and Jane et al who raced to decode an encrypted memory disc, hoping the mystery of what is hidden in the mountain could be solved before more deaths occur. And they will, since various and sundry characters either order someone be taken care of or eliminated. The attempts to carry out these orders are not always successfully carried out but they are exciting. Once an old Russian encrypter who was a double agent before he moved to London and gave his all to M16 entered the plot and the name of Yellowtail, as an old covert ops, entered the picture I knew what was in the mountain. That, however, still didn't answer how it got there, who all was trying to retrieve it and what they were going to do with it.

A few things in the writing seemed unnecessary to the plot--who cares that the US Ambassador liked to beat up women and that one woman died? It definitely pegged him as a scumbag but the reader already knew that--there was much else he did for which he wasn't prosecuted because he had diplomatic immunity--so this lame effort to throw sex into the mixture was irritating. Also, not knowing what to do with Henry after awhile so throwing him into the hospital with a shot up leg halfway through the book was distracting. He wasn't even given a great deal of protection and considering the escalating body count it seemed a weak handling of what had been a predominant character. Also couldn't see the point of the whole gambling debt and confrontation with the guy to whom he owed money. Lastly, what's with the male names beginning with " H ". After awhile I found I had to go back to remember how Hank and Harold fit together--Henry I kept pretty straight.
Nevertheless, even with these plot points, the book was a fast and exciting read and right up to the last page kept coming up with twists that were totally unexpected.

View all my reviews

Saturday, July 5, 2014

A Tale of Obsession

Juliet's NurseJuliet's Nurse by Lois Leveen
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

My copy was a review copy(ARC) provided by Book Browse First Impressions

At the outset, let me say that the premise of this book is excellent and that overall it is interesting. There are, in my opinion, some shortcomings. The bawdiness of the Nurse ( Angelica ) is probably more historically accurate than I realize but still at times it seemed rather jarring. In many instances I found the repetitiveness of the grief for the loss of her sons, of her many lustful romps with her husband , of her interactions with the Franciscan priest very irritating. Enough so in Part I that I almost stopped reading the book. Part II, once Juliet was grown and had more impact on the story than suckling Honey Nurse's breast, was far more interesting. Though, here too, the rhythm of the story would once more get bogged down in the repetitiveness of the earlier themes. In Part I a slight uneasiness with the obsession of the Nurse with Juliet arose but in Part II it caused actual distaste when the relationship became so intense that it felt almost incestuous. This closeness was less stressed once Tybalt's anger and Juliet's aroused interest in young men began to influence the story.
The strength of the story lay in the glimpses of the young Mercutio and Tybalt, in the development of the character of Paris, and in the wonderful character of Angela's husband, Pietro. The ongoing thread of the beekeeper theme carried the story from the early days of their marriage and his gifts of honey comfits, through the tragedy of Juliet's death, to the final days of Angela, alone.
Anyone who loves Shakespeare's play will enjoy Angela's story and though it slumped at times, over all I'm glad to have read it and would surely recommend it to others, whether or not they've read the original. I think it would incline those readers to go to the play as it encourages me to return to it.

View all my reviews