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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

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Medicine in Britain During Roman Occupation!

Medicus (Gaius Petreius Ruso, #1)Medicus by Ruth Downie
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Deceptively understated writing that follows the daily comings and goings of the title character, a Roman Legionnaire who happens to be a medical doctor in a Brittanica outpost in the far-reaching Roman Empire. He is a solemn man, whose life is totally filled by his job. His more easy going room-mate, the handsome one, Valens is always urging him to live it up a bit and find himself some distractions. Rusa, however, is divorced from the ambitious Claudia, whom he has left behind in Africa and is anxious to rise within the ranks to become CMO of the hospital, a position also sought by Valens.
Rusa is in financial straits, primarily the result of poor money management by his now deceased father and his spend-thrift step mother. He is attempting to write a Concise Medical Handbook that he hopes will also help strengthen his pocketbook. He is, you see, almost to end of the last pay period and his brother and other family are attempting to hang onto the family vineyards in Gaul. He must send them money for their living expenses as well as support himself.
While walking through the streets of Deva on his way back to the hospital, contemplating his position and also the mystery of the suspicious death of a woman pulled from the river and deposited in his infirmary, he comes upon a slave dealer and an almost dead female slave who is bloodied and appears to have a broken arm. Though he tries to avoid becoming involved in the workings of the town and its native inhabitants he finds himself using the last of his money to purchase this slave and take her to the hospital where he sets her arm.
So begins a series of seemingly unrelated events with which he becomes involved, not the least of which is this new unanticipated responsibility, the young blonde slave he calls Tilla.
The short chapters, interesting history of Legion life, the medicine of the times, the interaction between Romans and Britons all keep the story moving until its final revelations, which are not entirely surprising though more complex than expected. This is the first in a series of novels telling the story of Rome and its occupation of Britain. It promises to continue interesting and unusual and worth reading.

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Monday, December 28, 2015

A Change inThe Weather December 28, 2015

Nature's power and fury fascinate, frighten me and fill me with excitement. What woke me at 120 am? Was it the howling, roaring wind? The high pitched whine of the chimney cap I'd bought at the antique shop in Meredith, NH as it whirled madly? Or the frenzied cacophony of the buoy bells from Maine, the chimes Charlie gave me for my birthday, the chimes bought for Betsy as a child, the hand made bell from Joshua Tree and the myriad other chimes and bells hanging from the beams of the porch? It could have been any or all of those things. As I sat in the Christmas light lit bedroom looking toward the darkened night outside mental images of a roaring sea of air --changing tone and pitch as it eddied, rose, crested and fell moving into what had been an unusually warm space for this time of year. As the walls and roof of our solid, strong home creaked a bit with the buffeting I marveled at the fact that the most vulnerable areas of its structure, the windows, didn't even rattle in their frames. Pulse racing I listened as the wind whirled in circles and imagined the trees bending and their crowns turning and wondered if there was snow twirling as if in a snow globe. Would we lose power? Would there be icy snow on the ground come morning. On the cold air came--heavy and dense---pushing the warmer air with great force upward and eastward. I wondered if the warm air would continue out over the ocean and pick up moisture to drop as snow on Northern Europe. The temperature gradient was so great that the battle of air masses was fierce. And then, suddenly, all became calm. An occasional peal of one of the bells as the wind died down--exhausted and triumphant. So, I too, settled back down and drew the comforter around my ears and snuggled next to the cat and the husband who slept through it all. As my heart stopped racing from its wonderful exhilaration, I slept. And now, with wind swept snow --only a dusting and found in few places--and bright sun the cold air moves as a breeze and seems to dance gently among the few leaves still clinging to the oaks. For now, Nature is resting and preparing for the storm it is to bring tonight.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Silent Night Has Only One JD Robb Tale, But It Is a Good One

Silent Night  (includes In Death, #7.5)Silent Night by J.D. Robb
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It is rather misleading to have Robb's name listed prominently on the cover and have the book listed with her as the author. This is a Christmas anthology of four short stories by four authors. Robb's story is the last of the four. It is an enjoyable book--the first story by Claire Cross something that could appear on Lifetime Channel involving a hapless Christmas elf who falls in love with a mortal. The second involves a divorced mother of a young boy, who in his wanderings discovers a drunken man passed out on their Vermont lawn two days before Christmas. The third reunites a former Navy Seal, now FBI agent with his former fiancé, a girl from an affluent family who is now working with abused women and children in his former wrong side of the tracks neighborhood. And lastly, Dalles and Rourke find their first Christmas Day together disrupted by the discovery of the nude, abused corpse of a judge, thrown onto center ice in Rockefeller Plaza. The body shows all the earmarks of a crazed killer caught by Dalles and imprisoned off-planet for life three years ago. Needless to say the discovery is soon followed by confirmation that the murderer has escaped and returned to NYC to seek revenge upon all involved in his apprehension, most especially Dalles, herself.
Needless to say, while I found the first story cute and the middle ones mildly interesting, it was the futuristic tale of 2058 NYC that was most riveting.

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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Charles Lenox Must Determine Who Murdered His Friend, Jenkins Alas!

The Laws of Murder: A Charles Lenox MysteryThe Laws of Murder: A Charles Lenox Mystery by Charles Finch
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A screenwriter for a New Zealand mystery TV series was asked why people like mysteries so much. His answer was twofold--the obvious puzzle of it all, but also the satisfaction the viewer gets if he solves the mystery before the detective or at least as soon as the detective. I am in total agreement with his answer but must admit that I cannot remember solving any of Lennox's mysteries before him or even simultaneously and for that I'm grateful. There is nothing worse than plowing on through a book once you've figured it out and I often do that just to make sure. Never the case with Lenox.
Another thing I hate is being so frustrated with the false leads that I read the end of the book to see the solution because I cannot stand the convoluted story. Again, not the case with nox--there are false leads and they frustrate Lenox and his compatriots, including the reader, but before one gets bogged down in anxiety another lead appears and revs up the juices once more--even if it, too, goes nowhere.
In the end, Lenox and Scotland Yard get the criminal and the reader then looks at the case once more to see if there were hints, clues that should have been seen earlier and often there are but that only adds to the pleasure of the chase. In this particular crime, however, there is a weeks old wound on the corpse of Jenkins, the Scotland Yard investigator who is the first victim. The wound is noted at the scene, again at the autopsy and is even mentioned in the back cover synopsis, yet I cannot remember if it was ever explained away. Next time I read the book I'll have to make a special note of that clue. Hmmm--or maybe some other reader and reviewer will clarify its cause?
Just a very satisfying addition to the Lenox Mystery Series, though it is too bad Jenkins is gone--I rather liked him.

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Monday, December 7, 2015

Our Man in Charleston

It pains me to post a poor review but I've tried several times to get into this book. The writing seems lifeless and bores me terribly--it is as dry as a history text book and the historical figures are flat and lifeless. I was truly looking forward to reading about this period in our South and the days leading up to the Civil War but this is not the book for me. It is my hope that others will find it less onerous.