Monday, May 28, 2012

Don't Ever Get Old by Daniel Friedman

Eighty-seven-year-old Buck Schatz, a retired cop, passes his time watching television and smoking Lucky Strikes, while living with his wife of more than sixty years, Rose.  When an old acquaintance of Buck's reveals on his death bed that SS guard Heinrich Ziegler, whom they both encountered during World War II, escaped with loads of gold, Buck is stunned. Ziegler almost beat Buck to death during the war and he, like everyone else, believed that Ziegler died at the end of the conflict. Nursing some revenge, Buck decides to look for Ziegler and enlists his twenty-something grandson, "Tequila," to help. Buck soon realizes that he's not the only one after the treasure and, as the body count mounts, he and Tequila find themselves deeper into the mess. Don't Ever Get Old is an entertaining debut mystery with lots of personality.  The relationship of Buck and Tequila, for me, was reminiscent of Janet Evanovich's pairing of Stephanie Plum and Lula, although not so over the top.  I look forward to another outing with Buck.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Drowned by Therese Bohman

Marina is spending part of the summer with her older sister, Stella, and her boyfriend, Gabriel (a novelist), at a home that belonged to Gabriel's grandparents in Skane.  Marina is attracted to Gabriel despite his being in a relationship with Stella. Add to this the fact that Stella's job working as a horticulturist keeps her very busy, while Gabriel is at home writing (and alone with Marina) and you have a situation that can only end badly. Things get even more complicated when Marina suspects that Gabriel's occasional uncontrollable anger causes him to hurt Stella.  Is Marina more concerned with herself and her own twisted happiness or will she help her sister instead?  That is the question.  A disturbing read.

Friday, May 18, 2012

A Simple Murder by Eleanor Kuhns

In 1795, Will Rees, a Revolutionary War veteran and widower, returns home to his farm in Maine, which he's left in the hands of his sister and her husband--with the promise that they take care of his son, David. Rees is stunned to discover that David, now 14, has been made to feel unwelcome in his own house and has moved to live with local Shakers. Rees then goes to see how David is doing and is asked to find out who murdered Sister Chastity, a member of the Shaker community.  Rees has had previous experience solving crimes and with help from ex-Shaker Lydia Farrell he makes progress, but also stirs up danger.  In A Simple Murder, Kuhns brings the post-Revolutionary War period to life in this novel filled with interesting characters and a mystery that you want to follow to the end.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

True Sisters by Sandra Dallas

True Sisters explores the lives of four women who, in 1856 as members of the Mormon church, make the arduous 1,300-mile trek from Iowa City to Salt Lake City, pushing handcarts all the way.  One of the women is Nannie Macintosh, travelling with her sister Ella and brother-in-law Andrew.  Nannie is upset to discover that, Levi, the man who broke their engagement, is on the journey with his wife, Patricia.  Anne Sully is pregnant, is not a Mormon and has not made the venture of her own free will.  Her husband, John, sold the successful clothing store her father left them in order to go to Salt Lake City.   Louisa Tanner's husband Thales is a captain, responsible for a hundred people along the way.  However, he starts to let his power go to his head.  Lastly, Jessie Cooper is making the trip with her brothers, Ephraim and Sutter.  Among the women's problems is the fact that the journey leaves late--meaning they'll be travelling in winter weather with carts made of inferior green wood. The travelers are also hindered by food shortages and the number of personal items that they have to purge regularly from their carts along the way.  True Sisters is based on the true story of the Martin Handcart Company, of whom over 135 died--making it "single greatest tragedy in the history of American's westward expansion."  In Dallas' deft hands, she humanizes the women and makes the journey come alive for the reader.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Wife 22 by Melanie Gideon

Alice Buckle has been with William for almost twenty years and they've grown apart. Married and living in Oakland with their two teenage children, they hardly spend time alone.  When the opportunity comes along for Alice to participate in a marriage study online, she agrees and becomes Wife 22.  Alice tells her assigned researcher her deepest thoughts and feelings rather than confiding in anyone else.  Soon, Alice and the researcher begin to correspond online separately from the study.  Will this relationship endanger the life she's built with William?  Wife 22 is a light, often humorous tale of a woman balancing her needs and those of her family.  Read-alikes would be Jeanne Ray, Cooking for Harry by Kay-Marie James, and Jane Austen in Scarsdale by Paula Marantz Cohen.  It will be published later this month.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Trust Your Eyes by Linwood Barclay

Ray Kilbride has come back home to Promise Falls after his father, Adam, dies in a lawn mower accident.  Ray's younger brother, Thomas, has schizophrenia and spends his time online, surfing Whirl360, a mapping website that takes him around the world street by street.  Ray worries about how Thomas will do living in a group home, now that their father isn't around anymore.  Ray sees a more serious side to his brother's obsession when Thomas is convinced he's seen someone being murdered in New York City while on Whirl360.  While Ray is skeptical of Thomas' claim, the reader knows that Thomas has seen a crime involving waitress Allison Fitch, who was blackmailing the state's attorney general.  With Thomas pressing Ray to go to New York to check out the scene, the brothers embark on a journey, having no idea what they've gotten themselves into.  In addition, Ray also wonders about his own father's death and if it really was unintentional.  In Trust Your Eyes, Barclay has written another novel that's perfect for readers who enjoy family-driven suspense.  He also throws in a few great surprises...  It will be published in September.