Friday, June 28, 2013

The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan

In 1947, Frances Gerety coins the saying "A Diamond is Forever" for client De Beers. The reader then gets a glimpse into Frances' life as a single career woman in Philadelphia working at the advertising agency Ayer and Son and how the creation of the tagline followed Frances throughout her life.  The theme of diamond rings and love is explored in four people's lives: Evelyn, a wealthy retired schoolteacher in the 1970's, James, a paramedic struggling to make ends meet in 1987, Delphine, a Parisian woman who left her husband in 2003, and Kate, a liberal upstate New Yorker who is against the idea of marriage in 2012.  Sullivan is able to vividly create the characters' lives in the different decades and keep the reader guessing about how their paths will intersect.  The Engagements reminded me of the novels of Stewart O'Nan.

The Case of the Deadly Butter Chicken by Tarquin Hall

Private detective Vish Puri is hired to find out who poisoned the father of famous cricketer Kamran Khan.  Puri was actually present at the party where Mr. Khan ate the butter chicken laced with aconite. Was he killed because of the illegal goings-on in the international world of cricket (such as match fixing and illegal gambling) or is the reason more personal?  Puri has his hands full, having to travel from India to Pakistan dealing with several wealthy, powerful and hard to access suspects. Will he be able to unmask the killer?  This third novel in the Vish Puri series was okay reading, but I was hoping for more of a presence for Puri's mother, Mummy-ji and forward movement in the lives of the recurring characters.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Close by Eyes by Sophie McKenzie

Londoner Gen Loxley still suffers immense grief over the stillbirth of her daughter, Beth, eight years ago.  Her husband, Art, a successful businessman has been able to move on. When a woman named Lucy O'Donnell tells Gen that her baby was born alive and that Art knew about it, Gen believes that she might be telling the truth. After looking through personal papers of hers and Art's, she finds a payment of 50,000 pounds that Art can't account for, which raises Gen's suspicions even more. Gen's journey causes her to revisit the memories of her daughter's death and put her own life (and others') in danger.  In Close My Eyes, McKenzie has written a psychological puzzle filled with doubt, emotion, and perseverance.  A book that you want to gulp down in one sitting because you have to know how it ends.  Give to readers who enjoyed Little Face by Sophie Hannah and Lullaby by Clare Seeber.  It will be published next month.

Second Watch by J.A. Jance

J.P. Beaumont decides it's time to have double knee replacement surgery since he's been in pain for a while. While he's recovering in the hospital and on heavy pain medication, the ghost of Monica Wellington visits him. Monica is angry that Beau never found her killer. Her murder was Beau's first case as a homicide detective for the Seattle PD, over forty years ago. He decides it couldn't hurt to delve into it again, since he has some time on his hands. The reader is taken back in time to see Beau's original work on the case in the seventies and how his recent activity leads to more questions, cover-ups, and murder. On a personal level, the image of Lennie D. also appears to Beau while he's in his medicated recovery. Lennie D. saved Beau's life in Vietnam and died in the process. Having the dream about Lennie causes Beau to confront his wartime past and do justice to Lennie D's memory.  Second Watch is another enjoyable entry in the J.P. Beaumont series.  I'm so glad that Jance has continued to write these books.  It will be published in September.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Crime of Privilege by Walter Walker

Twelve years ago, lawyer George Becket helped cover up a young woman's rape by some acquaintances, who were the relatives of Senator Gregory in Palm Beach. He was rewarded with a job in the district attorney's office in Cape Cod. George has been contacted repeatedly since by someone representing the father of the victim. They wanted him to come clean about the event, but he never did. George is then approached by Bill Telford, whose daughter, Heidi, was murdered nine years ago. Telford believes a member of the Gregory family killed his daughter and that the district attorney's office has disregarded any evidence Telford's brought them. George then decides to look into Heidi's death. His investigation takes him around the world, but he is being shadowed and doesn't know who he can trust. Will George be able to right the wrong in his past? With its setting and aura of wealth and power, Crime of Privilege reminded me of the novels of Nelson DeMille.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Something Borrowed, Someone Dead by M.C. Beaton

Private detective Agatha Raisin is finding that the recession is affecting her business. A lot of the small cases that provided a steady income have dried up. When Jerry Tarrant, head of the parish council in the small English village of Piddlebury, hires Agatha to look into the murder of resident Gloria French, she agrees to take the case.  Gloria, despite performing a lot of charity work in the village, made a lot of enemies by pilfering things from people and refusing to return them.  Even though the residents of Piddlebury disliked Gloria, Agatha finds that the villagers have closed ranks and believe that Gloria's killer was an outsider.  Their behavior is making it extremely difficult for Agatha to solve the case.  But as regular readers of this longtime series know, Agatha always gets a positive result, despite putting her own life on the line time and time again.  An enjoyable sojourn with Agatha and her friends...  It will be published in September.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris

In Sedaris' latest collection of essays, he includes stories about his childhood, his adult life, and some that are fiction.  I really enjoyed "Memory Laps" about his childhood recollections of when he learned to swim, "Just a Quick E-mail" a story of fiction about a woman thanking a friend for a wedding gift, and "The Happy Place" about David's father pressuring him to get a colonoscopy.  I also thought that the collection was a much better read than the last few I have read by him.  In other recent Sedaris books I've read, I've felt that the stories about his childhood were superior to those about his adult life or the fiction ones. In this collection, though, I really enjoyed all three.