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

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Connecticut River Valley, New England, United States

Thursday, October 22, 2015

A Reason to Live--Marty Singer, Retired DC Detective and Cancer Patient

Reason to Live, AReason to Live, A by Matthew Iden
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Marty Singer, retired DC Homicide Detective and recently diagnosed cancer patient, is demoralized, depressed, despondent, lonely, restless, hopeless. Mindlessly, he sits nursing a cup of coffee in a small café when a young girl stops at his elbow and identifies herself as the daughter of a woman slain by a fellow cop 12 years ago. Despite what appeared to be an open and shut slam dunk case, the cop, Michael Wheeler, walked and Marty was the lead detective on the case.

Now, Amanda, a twenty something young woman stands before him and announces that Wheeler is back in town and she is afraid for her life. She needs Singer to find Wheeler and protect her. Suddenly, Marty is energized at the prospect of finally getting justice for Amanda's mother and, at the same time, putting Wheeler away--something Marty was not able to do the first time and for which he has always felt somehow guilty. What went wrong in a case that seemed so iron clad? Can he get it right this time and prevent Wheeler from killing yet another woman, Brenda Lane's daughter?

Marty's sleuthing is helped by his former partner, Kransky, as well as Wheeler's defense attorney. Every time there appears to be a viable lead it falls through. The biggest mystery is where Wheeler is and where he has been for the past 12 years, since his acquittal. He appears to have fallen off the face of the Earth and yet he seems to be stalking Amanda and leaving white carnation petals, the flower he gave her as a child, in places where she works and frequents.

Interwoven with the investigation is Marty's starting chemotherapy--something which leaves him nauseous and weak and which brings the reality of his disease into focus. Not sure what the outcome of his cancer will be, Marty finds that the challenge of protecting Amanda and investigating the man who killed her mother helps to keep him going and gives him a reason to live.

Well written and exciting, Iden keeps the story moving and the reader guessing practically to the last page. A really Good Read.

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Friday, October 16, 2015

Working Her Way Through College

Lowcountry Bordello (A Liz Talbot Mystery, #4)Lowcountry Bordello by Susan M. Boyer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Liz Talbot Mystery #4--haven't read the first three but think I'm going to have to get hold of them. An entirely new approach to the cozy mystery genre. Well, the plot is different even if the main characters are not unique. Liz Talbot is a PI with a handsome partner, Nate Andrews and a helpful ghost of a high school friend, Colleen. Liz and Nate are about two days from their wedding when Liz gets a call from one of her bridesmaids who tells her, hysterically, that she has just seen her husband, dead and face down in the ancestral home of her family in Charleston. Let me back up, Olivia, the bridesmaid, has seen her husband, Robert, dead on the floor of Aunt Dean's parlor.

Well, Robert is very much alive but a prominent politician is not. Also the ancestral home, far from being a boardinghouse run by Olivia's ancient aunt, is actually a bordello. The girls housed there give a whole new meaning to working one's way through college. Like a fun game of Clue, only with the room and weapon known, Nate and Liz attempt to discover who did the murder while also trying to get the details of their rehearsal dinner etc set.

A great romp like an Audrey Hepburn-Cary Grant movie with lots of Y'all's thrown in.

PS--Love the covers on the books from Henery Press!

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Friday, October 9, 2015

X Marks the Spot--Grafton's Almost Last Book in the Series

X (Kinsey Millhone, #24)X by Sue Grafton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It has been awhile since I've read any of Sue Grafton's alphabet mysteries and I'd forgotten how much I love Kinsey Milhone! The latest installment does not disappoint. As usual, Kinsey is juggling life and work in her normal methodical manner. She takes on a simple location job-- rich woman wants to reconnect to a son she gave up for adoption years ago. He's just gotten out of jail and she's lost track--wants to help him go straight and succeed. Simple $200 job--right?

Henry, her landlord, is obsessed with saving money on his water bill but actually, no, that isn't the issue--he wants to cut down on his water usage in anticipation of rationing as the drought intensifies in Santa Teresa Ca. He is also falling into the habit of running errands for the new elderly neighbors, since the man is confined to a wheelchair and his wife is his sole caregiver. Kinsey feels he's being taken advantage of and she has a strange feeling about the whole set-up.

A former colleague has died in an accident and his widow is asking Kinsey's help in organizing his files since she is being audited by the IRS. Kinsey didn't like the guy--thought he was a crook--but she is friends with the widow and wants to help her get the files sorted and most of them shredded and discarded. Among the papers is a large padded mailing envelop that Pete, the deceased, had secreted away. It contains a few mementoes of a woman, whose death seemed suspicious 30 years ago. They had been sent by the woman's friend to the local Catholic priest to be given the woman's daughter, now grown and married. Pete also left an encrypted list of the names of several women that he apparently was investigating--all somehow connected to the woman's husband. Kinsey decides to continue before turning the items over to the girl.

As usual all of these threads are nicely intertwined in the story that Kinsey tells the reader as though they were right along with her or waiting at Rosie's up the street with Henry to get the day's report. And, as usual, the story ends with all the threads tied off, sort of, anyway until next time in Y or Y Not? BTW, Grafton is too cute tossing X's all throughout the book--Teddy and Ari Xanakis, Father Xavier and even Pete's box of files marked on top with a large X !!

Now I have to go find the other Grafton's that are in one of the TBR piles around here.

This particular one was a GoodReads Uncorrected Proof Giveaway for review.

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Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Wandering Harlot

Wandering Harlot, TheWandering Harlot, The by Iny Lorentz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The time is 15th Century Germany.King Rupert has died and his two sons are in conflict over the throne. Without a firm governing hand the nobles are in disarray--forming and breaking alliances, overtaking each others properties and incarcerating and killing opponents.

So, too, is the Catholic Church and the Holy Roman Empire in chaos with three disparate Cardinals claiming to be the rightful Pope. As in the lay realm, the Church's clergy--from Bishops to lowly monks are anything but religious. There is corruption and sin at every turn. And there is collusion and unsavory alliances among the hierarchy of the priesthood and the strongest of the nobles.

Onto this stage steps the affluent Matthis Sharer and his beautiful daughter, Marie. As the story opens the Sharer home is being prepared for the celebration of Marie's betrothal to Rupert Splendidus, the son of a Duke and a Counsellor of the City of Constance. The marriage is seen by many to be an excellent match which will elevate Marie in society and bring Matthis' considerable wealth to Rupert over time. Marie is an innocent young girl, nervous at the prospect of marriage to this man she hardly knows but accepting of her obligations and duty to her father. A childhood friend, Michel, the seventh son of the local taverner, loves Marie but, being of such lowly stature with no chance of being able to support her, is hardly considered an eligible suitor.

Michel, who has heard rumors of Rupert's nepharious dealings in the town resulting in the ruin of many a family, warns Marie that this match is dangerous and will result in sorrow. Though this only increases Marie's apprehension she is powerless and must carry out the contract of marriage the next day.

Rupert, however, has other plans and as the legal documents have been signed the only way to break the marriage contract is to prove that Marie is not a virgin as claimed in one of these signed by her father. He states that Marie has slept with several men and that they will vouch to these accusations. Marie is arrested to await inspection by an honest local woman who can attest to her virginity. While being held overnight she is raped repeatedly, fails the inspection the next day and despite her hysterical accusations is whipped and taken from the city and left in a gully to fend for herself. She is forbidden to return to Constance under pain of incarceration and so begins the life of a wandering harlot, who spends five years in the company of other prostitutes traveling from festival and fair to another selling herself in order to eat and have a roof over her head during harsh winter.

Though the book is quite long and the above introduction covers only a very few of its pages, the story moves very quickly. It is populated by nobles and their wives, prostitutes with stories as varied as the areas of the country and personalities to match. The men with whom these women sleep are kind or cruel, generous or greedy, but those that are important in Marie's search for revenge are more highly developed characters as are several of the women with whom she travels. Though they are fictitious they walk through a landscape and history that is made more interesting by their presence.

The book cover calls this part of the Marie series and though the story could end satisfactorily at its end, I hope there is a series and look forward to following Marie into the next phase of her life story.

I received this book as a Goodreads Giveaway in exchange for my review.

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