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.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

A Gathering of Secrets by Linda Castillo

When Daniel Gingerich is found dead in his family's barn and the fire department determines that it was arson, police chief Kate Burkholder wonders who would want the Amish teen dead. Even though he was on Rumspringa and could break some of the rules, he had a girlfriend that he was going to marry. With some investigating, Kate finds out that Daniel had an evil streak and preyed on young women his age. Did someone plan the ultimate revenge on Daniel for all his wrongdoings? A so-so read for me because the mystery feels like a retread of previous books.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Clock Dance by Anne Tyler

In Anne Tyler's latest novel, the reader encounters Willa Drake at four times throughout her life. In 1967, she's eleven-years-old and processing why her mother has left home. In 1977, Willa's about to become engaged to her college boyfriend, Derek, while in 1997, she's just entering widowhood. The majority of the book, however, takes place in the present, when she's contacted by a neighbor of one of her son's ex-girlfriend. The ex-girlfriend, Denise, has just been accidentally shot in the leg, and there is no one to watch her daughter, Cheryl. In a spur of the moment decision, Willa and her husband, Peter, head out to Baltimore from their home in Tucson to take care of Cheryl while Denise recovers. Willa, it turns out, is really at loose ends and discovers that she needed by Cheryl and Denise. She is also enjoying meeting all the neighbors that live on Dorcas Road, but Peter is perplexed by Willa's actions and considers the whole trip a burden. Clock Dance is a character study of Willa explored through her everyday life. An enjoyable read similar to Stewart O'Nan's wonderful Emily Alone.

Monday, July 9, 2018

The Ruin by Dervla McTiernan

When the police tell Jack Blake's girlfriend, Aisling, that he committed suicide, she has a hard time believing that Jack would take his own life. His older sister, Maude, who left Ireland twenty years ago, is even more convinced that Jake was murdered. Detective Cormac Reilly, who first encountered the siblings when their mother, Hilaria, died of a drug overdose, now works old cases and is asked to take another look at Hilaria's death. As a newcomer from Dublin, he is finding the office politics of the Galway police station puzzling and feels that someone is trying to keep him off-track with his investigation. Could the deaths of Jack and Hilaria be connected, and is either one of them a murder? In this first book of the Cormac Reilly series, McTiernan writes a mystery with characters that the reader finds interesting and cares about. Reviews have said that the author is similar to Tana French, which is an apt comparison.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

The Secret Life of Violet Grant by Beatriz Williams

In 1964, wealthy Vivian Schuyler lives in New York City, working at a magazine in a lowly position rather than taking the usual route of marriage. One day, she picks up a package from the post office and discovers it's a large suitcase from a great aunt that she never knew. Violet, Vivian's aunt, was a scientist who disappeared in Europe on the eve of World War I while accused of murdering her husband, Walter. Thinking this will make a great story, Vivian begins to delve into the magazines archives and asks her relatives what they know about Violet. She is also trying to come to terms with her feelings for a doctor named Paul that she has just met. In The Secret Life of Violet Grant, the reader travels between Vivian's and Violet's storylines in this portrait of two women who bucked the traditional norms of their times. This is also the first book of the Schuyler Sisters trilogy. For readers who enjoy historical fiction with strong romantic subplots.