Monday, August 29, 2011

Emily Arsenault's Broken Teaglass

The Broken Teaglass
Emily Arsenault
Delacorte Press

This unusual novel, Arsenault's debut, is set in the editorial department of a large and prestigious  New England  dictionary publisher where the new and somewhat clueless Billy has gotten his first real job. And like most entrees in to the working world, it doesn't make a lot of sense. Or it has its internal workings that are not clear to the neophyte.In this story, the mystery is concealed in clues in the citation files of words and Billy along with his mysterious would be girlfriend, Mona, set out to solve the mystery.

It's very well written . I recently reviewed her more recent In Search of the Rose Notes about a mystery in a girl's past.  She's very good with the story within a story and with a story that needs to unfold very slowly. I'm afraid I lost patience with Teaglass about halfway through. DNF but I will probably go back to it though.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Me, myself, & Irene

Hope everyone comes through the wrath of Irene ok. Batten down, stock up flashlight batteries, and lay down lots of mystery reads. This weekend will be good to catch up on reading if you aren't being evacuated!

Seriously, Love, Honour, and O'Brien by Jennifer Rowe, forthcoming Jan. 2012, is not the kind of thing I typically read and I didn't know if I would like it. Set in the picturesque Blue Mountains of Australia, it features Holly Love, a naive young woman, engaged to her dream man, who is not at all what he says he is. She leaves her secure office job to be married at the beginning thinking her fairy tale life is about to come true. Things unfold - I hate to give the plot away- but it is a lighthearted accidental detective story with some interesting twists and turns, some likable and highly unlikable characters- such as an Elvis impersonator chauffeur, kindly psychic, alcoholic detective O'Brien, a cool talking parrot and charming Holly herself. I really loved reading it. My only caveat is the ending is so abrupt I was looking to see if I had skipped pages. Not sure about that- maybe they plan a sequel to answer a lot of plot questions? Anyway, fun, amusing read with an empathetic note toward its characters foibles.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Jane and the Canterbury Tale Coming August 30th!

Jane and the Canterbury Tale
Coming August 30th!

Stephanie Barron's blog:

She's posted the first chapter and other treats, like an interview with the "gentleman rogue"

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Smokin' Seventeen

Smokin' Seventeen
Janet Evanovich

In this outing (17th- if you couldn't guess), our gal in Trenton, Bail bond enforcer, Stephanie Plum faces a serial killer leaving presents, Grandma Bella's evil eye, her mother's relentless matchmaking, her boss and cousin Vinnie's marketing schemes to save the business, and many other perils, including the ongoing Joe vs. Ranger lust fest, angry FTAs out to kill her, Lula's clothes choices, and working out of Mooner's bus to name a few. It's got some really funny stuff, some sex in a Porsche Cayenne- really!, and is a fun time even if the plot is not too memorable.

In the interest of full disclosure, I admit to living spitting distance from Trenton and the 'Burg, not that I spend much time there, so when I'm reading I try to figure out where it's all going on. Evanovich's 'Burg setting is right in spirit even if some of the streets, businesses, and locales she describes don't reallyd exist. The mythical rectangle between Hamilton, Liberty, Chambers, and Broad is real. And hair is big, nails are red, skirts are short, and food is Italian mainly.

Trenton is an interesting place. I was disappointed to hear from a pal who lives in the city that the upcoming Plum movie, a Katherine Heigl "vehicle" was shot mainly in Pittsburgh, wrong burg but we'll probably flock to see it anyway when it comes out in January 2012.

The next Plum in the series, Explosive Eighteen, will be out soon so it's not long to wait for the next installment.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Scudder # 1

The Sins of the Fathers
Lawrence Block

Definitely have read some Lawrence Block novels before. Read a few of the Bernie the burglar series (I was surprised to read they made a movie of one of them with Whoopie Goldberg in the title role). I don't like to start a series in the middle or the end so when I decided to check out his Matthew Scudder, the alcoholic ex-cop detective, I decided to the read the first one.

It starts with the murder of a girl who likes older men a little (a lot) too much by her gay roommate. Or is he? Or did he? She has a dad who wants to know about her life and what happened. The gay friend has a dad too (and those are the fathers in the title). And it's very good. Taut plot, good characters, noirish New York setting. Maybe a little dated in terms of the social situations described (but it was written almost 40 years ago).

Matt stops drinking in about book 12 and like all ex-drunks I don't know if he'll still be fun. I'm going to read more of these for sure. I don't know if I'll read all 17 but here's the latest:

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


The Sixes
Kate White

Academia seems to be a subtext of my recent reading. Kate White's latest thriller is set at a small upstate Pennsylvania college. Like a creepy version of Mean Girls, her character Phoebe Hall, a celeb. biographer who has to get out of New York in a hurry, finds a super secret mean girl clique at work at the college run by her childhood friend where she goes to teach a few classes. And by the way Phoebe had her own secret mean girl organization experience. Anyway the story is seriously suspenseful and paranoid. Thoroughly enjoyable. Fans of her Bailey Weggins beauty themed crime novels will enjoy it. Don't know if Phoebe will re-appear in another novel or if this is a stand-alone. Either way, fun stuff.

Monday, August 8, 2011

"I wandered lonely as a cloud...

...then I realized I fancied the odd pint."

The Coffin Trail
Martin Edwards

With apologies to Wordsworth, the above is a sign on a pub quoted in Martin Edwards' The Coffin Trail, a deftly written crime novel set in England's Lake District. For those of you who don't know, the Lake District is a gorgeous part of Northwestern England full of fells, moors, crags, mountains, Hadrian's Wall, and a bunch of lakes, Tarns, and waters, with stunning views. Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter are two of the famous writers associated with the Lake District. See:

Daniel, a rising Oxford Don and historian, decides to give up his academic career (Oxford and a offer from Harvard - gasp) and go live in a remote cottage with his mercurial new girlfriend Miranda in an invented portion of the Lakes. Not coincidentally, the cottage is one his childhood friend Barrie lived in when he was accused of the ghastly blood sacrifice murder of a beautiful visitor. Barrie died before he could've brought to trial by Daniel's father the late police detective. Among the mysteries attracting Daniel's attention are why his father abandoned his family when Daniel was a child, if he can really live the fantasy of a country life in the Lakes, was he in some way responsible for his former lover Aimee's suicide, what happened to Barrie, and who killed the beautiful Gabrielle? In these inquiries, he is aided (or is it really the other way around) by Hannah Scarlett, his father's old detective sergeant, who is newly appointed head of the Cumbria Cold Case squad.

The eponymous coffin trail is a trail historically by the local people to move their dead and several such trails are in use all over the Lake District such as those in Grasmere and Rydal. (see the link above).

The novel is rich with wonderful atmosphere and clever dead-on dialogue. The character of Daniel is not too appealing. He seems a bit cold and a bit too good to be true. The supporting characters are all highly enjoyable including Hannah, her awful boss (big surprise there) and squad of cops. Miranda is bit hard to take and it's easy to see their dramatic affair soon running its course. Since this one, Edwards has written two more in the series. It will be interesting to check them out