Monday, May 16, 2016

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick

It's the one year anniversary of the death of Miriam, Arthur Pepper's wife, and he decides to donate her belongings to charity. Arthur is intrigued when he finds what looks to be an expensive charm bracelet in one of Miriam's boots. Arthur doesn't remember ever seeing the bracelet before and it doesn't really fit with the type of clothing she liked to wear. When Arthur makes the decision to call the phone number that is engraved on the elephant charm, it takes him on a journey that shakes up his organized life and makes him re-evaluate his forty year marriage. The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper is a charming debut that will appeal to readers who enjoyed The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Wilde Lake by Laura Lippman

When Lu Brant is elected the first female state's attorney of a county outside Baltimore, it should be the pinnacle of her career, but when she decides to try a murder case against homeless Rudy Drysdale, she's forced to confront buried memories of her own childhood. Lu's brother, A.J, was involved at 18 in an incident where he broke his arm and another man died. Lu was ten at the time, enamored of popular A.J. and his group of friends. No charges were ever brought against anyone, but as Lu proceeds in her case, she finds that Drysdale was two years behind A.J. in school and that they might have known each other. Lu also reflects on being raised by her father, also a state's attorney, after her mother died while Lu was very young. Wilde Lake is a novel that transports you to 1970's and 1980's suburban Baltimore and fully immerses the reader in a world of childhood and family secrets. Like Lippman's best novels, Wilde Lake is a book that stay with you even after the last page is turned.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

In 1939, wealthy Caroline Ferriday works at the French consulate in New York City and, through her job, helps children and families suffering hardship because of the war. In Lublin, Poland, Kasia Kuzmerick finds her normal life tragically upended when both the Germans and Russians invade her country. Meanwhile, in Dusseldorf, Germany, Herta Oberheuser's medical training is interrupted by war and her devotion to Hitler. In Lilac Girls, the lives of these three women are explored over twenty years, as their fates intertwine across continents and through episodes of evil, friendship, and perseverance. First novelist Kelly based her novel on the real lives of Caroline and Herta and her thorough research makes the novel a compelling read.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The Woman in Blue by Elly Griffiths

When Ruth's friend, Cathbad, is house-sitting for a friend, he sees what he believes is a vision in the graveyard next door. It turns out to be a young woman named Chloe Jenkins, who disappeared from a drug rehabilitation clinic nearby and is later found murdered in a ditch. DCI Harry Nelson and his team wonder who could have wanted Chloe dead, since she since wasn't a local resident. Then, Hilary Smithson, a female priest who is an old college friend of Ruth's, reveals that she's been getting threatening letters. Could there be some connection between the crimes?  In The Woman in Blue, Griffiths brings back Ruth, her friends, Nelson and his colleagues in another satisfying mystery.

Monday, April 25, 2016

My Mrs. Brown by William Norwich

Widow Mrs. Brown has lived in Ashville, Rhode Island her whole life. She leads a very simple existence, working at a beauty salon and spending evenings at home, but her life changes when she sees a Oscar de la Renta black dress and decides she must have one just like it, even though buying one is beyond her means. Starting a plan of taking on extra work and economizing, she's joined in her quest by Alice (her twenty-something neighbor) and a few new female friends who become like fairy godmothers.  My Mrs. Brown is cozy, gentle read similar to Emily Alone by Stewart O'Nan and Mrs. Bridge by Evan S. Connell.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Murder on the Hour by Elizabeth J. Duncan

Spa owner Penny Brannigan is drawn to investigate a murder once again when Catrin Bellis is found murdered in her house. Single, never married, Catrin lived in her childhood home after her parents' death and was looking for a lodger to help with the bills. In addition, Catrin had recently brought a family quilt to be appraised at an antiques television show that was filming in town. Could that have had something to do with her death? Penny assists her friend (soon-to-be-retired DCI Gareth Davies) in working on the case. Murder on the Hour is another entertaining book in this long-running cozy mystery series.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Friday on My Mind by Nicci French

When an unidentified body is found with a hospital wrist band with her name on it, Frieda Klein becomes a murder suspect, since she knew the victim very well. Frieda is innocent, but it becomes clear that someone is trying to frame her for murder. Going on the run instead of being arrested, Frieda relies on the help on her family, friends, and her clever nature to evade the police and hopefully clear her name. While I enjoyed this fifth book of the Frieda Klein series, it seemed more of a book to push the ongoing story of Frieda along rather than a compelling read on its own. I read the U.K. edition of the book, it will be published in the United States this fall.