Monday, August 13, 2018

Princess Elizabeth's Spy by Susan Elia MacNeal

In this second book of the Maggie Hope series, Maggie is sent to Windsor Castle by MI-5. Her mission is to help protect Princess Elizabeth, but she will also be working as Elizabeth's math tutor. The British authorities feel the princess might be in danger, since she is next in line to the throne. Soon after Maggie arrives, one of the Ladies-in-Waiting is murdered and she wonders who among the castle employees is loyal to the Nazis. Princess Elizabeth's Spy is another enjoyable entry in this mystery series, with lots of details about life at Windsor Castle during World War II.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Safe Houses by Dan Fesperman

In the late 1970's Helen Abell is in charge of maintaining CIA safe houses in Berlin, where, one evening, she overhears and records two conversations which will have repercussions over thirty years later. In the present, her daughter, Anna, is stunned when Helen and her husband are killed by their son, Willard. She ends up hiring investigator Henry Mattick to help her uncover if Willard is really a murderer. In the process, Anna learns of Helen's past. Henry, however, has secrets of his own that might compromise his ability to aid Anna. Their inquiries uncover details of Helen's life with the CIA, which they slowly realize probably caused the disintegration of Helen's family. Safe Houses is a spy novel that reminded me of the books of Laura Lippman. I really enjoyed the descriptions of the characters and how the plot unfolded.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

The Shortest Way Home by Miriam Parker

Thirty-year-old Hannah is just about to graduate from business school and has landed a coveted job in New York. But when she and her boyfriend, Ethan, spend the weekend in Sonoma, Hannah finds herself under the spell of the area, specifically the small, historic winery of Bellosguardo--so much so that she decides to stay in town and take a job at the winery while Ethan goes to New York without her. Hannah immerses herself in life at Bellosguardo, getting to know how the wines are made and connecting with the owners, Everett and Linda and their dog, Tannen. Sparks also fly when Hannah meets their son, William, but he is headed to New York himself for graduate school. The Shortest Way Home is a charming debut novel about one woman's journey to discovering herself and what really makes her happy. A great read-alike for Judith Ryan Hendricks and Christina Baker Kline's The Way Life Should Be. Absolutely one of the most satisfying books I've read this year.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

In This Grave Hour by Jacqueline Winspear

In 1939, private detective Maisie Dobbs is asked to look into the murder of Belgian refugee Frederick Addens. Addens came to England during World War I and had assimilated into British life - marrying, having two children, and working as a railway engineer. Who could have wanted him dead? When the murder of another Belgian is discovered, Maisie wonders if the men knew each other, and goes about tracing their lives in both countries. Meanwhile, with war just being declared, Londoners and the rest of the country are preparing for the unknown - sending their children to the countryside, enjoying a few luxuries before rationing goes into effect, and worrying about those loved ones who are of age to fight. Maisie and her family and friends are bracing for the heartache that is bound to be on its way. In This Grave Hour is a heartfelt portrait of life in England at the beginning of World War II.

Day of the Dead by Nicci French

In this last book in the Frieda Klein series, Frieda is in hiding and has broken off contact with her friends and family because serial killer Dean Reeve has been terrorizing her and those she loves. However, a series of murders are happening around London, and they appear to be committed by Dean. Frieda knows it's inevitable that she and Dean will have a final showdown, and only one of them will probably come out alive. To make matters worse, Frieda's life is interrupted even more when criminology student Lola Hayes finds her and also becomes one of Dean's targets. In order to protect Lola, Frieda lets Lola join her in lying low. Will Lola cause Frieda to lose focus and put both their lives in jeopardy? Day of the Dead is a satisfying end to the series, but I will miss my annual catch up with Frieda and her friends.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Mr. Churchill's Secretary by Susan Elia MacNeal

In 1940, American-raised Maggie Hope has returned to her birthplace of England to sell her grandmother's home, but with no one wanting to buy it and a war on, she decides to stay and gets a job at No. 10 Downing Street as a secretary. Maggie is overqualified for the position with a college degree from Wellesley and acceptance to the PhD program at M.I.T. Because of her intellect, she finds herself working closely with Prime Minister Churchill and involved in combating both the IRA and the Nazis. Being back in England also allows Maggie time to reflect on her parents, who died in a car accident when she was very young. Eventually, it becomes clear that those around her are keeping secrets about her past. In this series debut, MacNeal writes a mystery full of historical detail about daily life in London during World War II, along with creating an engaging and interesting main character.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Tiny Little Thing by Beatriz Williams

The second book in the Schulyer Sisters trilogy focuses on oldest sister, Tiny. Tiny is married to Frank Hardcastle, who is running for a U.S. House of Representatives seat in Massachusetts. While Tiny loves Frank, their marriage has been tested by her recent miscarriage and more importantly by her deep love for Frank's cousin, Caspian. Caspian and Tiny met two years ago when she was engaged to Frank and neither knew of the family connection. Tiny Little Thing tells the story of the last couple of years of Tiny's life in alternating chapters. Will Tiny be a loyal candidate's wife and stay with Frank or follow her heart to Caspian? An enjoyable read--and interesting to see another sister's point of view.