Sunday, August 18, 2019

Book Review: A Letter of Mary by Laurie R. King

A Letter of Mary
Author: Laurie R. King
Series: Sherlock Holmes/Mary Russell (Book 3)
Publication: Minotaur Books; 1st edition (August 24, 2010)

Description: The third book in the Mary Russell–Sherlock Holmes series.

It is 1923. Mary Russell Holmes and her husband, the retired Sherlock Holmes, are enjoying the summer together on their Sussex estate when they are visited by an old friend, Miss Dorothy Ruskin, an archeologist just returned from Palestine. She leaves in their protection an ancient manuscript which seems to hint at the possibility that Mary Magdalene was an apostle--an artifact certain to stir up a storm of biblical proportions in the Christian establishment. When Ruskin is suddenly killed in a tragic accident, Russell and Holmes find themselves on the trail of a fiendishly clever murderer. A Letter of Mary by Laurie R. King is brimming with political intrigue, theological arcana, and brilliant Holmesian deductions.

My Thoughts: This mystery begins with a visit from an old friend. Miss Dorothy Ruskin is an amateur archaeologist that Mary and Sherlock met when they were in Palestine. Miss Ruskin has an interesting gift for Mary. She has brought her a papyrus that is purported to me written by Mary Magdalene which shows that she was one of Jesus's apostles. This would be epic if it were true. The changes to the Christian churches would be immense. Miss Ruskin had shown it to two experts who declared it false but neither Miss Ruskin or Mary are willing to dismiss it. The papyrus is in an old Italian inlaid box which presents a mystery of its own.

A couple of days later, Sherlock reads a notice in a London paper asking if anyone knows the identity of a woman dead in a hit-and-run. It is Miss Ruskin which involves Mary and Sherlock in trying to find out if it was an accident or murder. And, if it was murder, finding out who murdered Mary's friend.

The suspects range from her family to the potential supporters of her next archaeological dig and may involve politics in Palestine. Mary and Sherlock call in Mycroft and the latest Inspector Lestrade to help them and each goes undercover to uncover the clues.

I enjoyed the setting. Many of the characters were interesting people including Colonel Dennis Edwards who is one of the group who were planning to support Miss Ruskin's next dig. Even though he couldn't be more misogynistic, Mary finds him attractive and somehow likable. I liked some of the walk-ons like a brief mention of Tolkien and possibly Lord Peter Wimsey. I also liked seeing how Holmes and Russell's marriage is progressing.

Favorite Quote:
The dead have a claim on us even heavier than that of the living, for they cannot hear our explanations, and we cannot ask their forgiveness.
I bought and read this one sometime before February 2008. I recently purchased the Kindle copy for my reread. You can buy your copy here.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

ARC Review: Stolen Things by R. H. Herron

Stolen Things
Author: R. H. Herron
Publication: Dutton (August 20, 2019)

Description: A sensational crime, a missing teen, and a mother and daughter with no one to trust but each other come together in this shocking debut thriller by R. H. Herron.

“Mama? Help me.”

Laurie Ahmadi has worked as a 911 police dispatcher in her quiet Northern California town for almost two decades, but nothing in her nearly twenty years of experience could prepare her for the worst call of her career—her teenage daughter, Jojo, is on the other end of the line. She is drugged, disoriented, and in pain, and even though the whole police department springs into action, there is nothing Laurie can do to help.

Jojo, who has been sexually assaulted, doesn’t remember how she ended up at the home of Kevin Leeds, a pro football player famous for his work with the Citizens Against Police Brutality movement, though she insists he would never hurt her. And she has no idea where her best friend, Harper, who was with her earlier in the evening, could be.

As Jojo and Laurie begin digging into Harper’s private messages on social media to look for clues to her whereabouts, they uncover a conspiracy far bigger than they ever could have imagined. With Kevin’s freedom on the line and the chances of finding Harper unharmed slipping away, Laurie and Jojo begin to realize that they can’t trust anyone to find Harper except themselves, not even the police department they’ve long considered family . . . and time is running out.

My Thoughts: Police dispatcher Laurie Ahmadi lives a parent's worst nightmare when she answers a 911 call and hears her daughter asking for help. JoJo is sixteen, she's been sexually assaulted and drugged, when she awakens in the house of pro football player Kevin Leeds. Laurie rushes to the scene, sure that Kevin is the one who raped her daughter. But JoJo is equally sure that he did not.

Kevin and JoJo became friends while they were volunteering for CapB - Citizens Against Police Brutality. JoJo has kept this secret from her police dispatcher mother and police chief father who have both told her to stay away from CapB. JoJo is also keeping secret that she and former friend Harper Cunnigham have rekindled their friendship.

While the body of Kevin's friend Zachary Gordon is stashed in a closet just feet away from where JoJo was, Harper is missing. With a blank space in her memory where the past evening should be, JoJo doesn't know how they got to Kevin's and where Harper could be.

The stress of the evening has caused Omar Ahmadi to have a heart attack which leaves no one to help Laurie investigate to find Harper and find out what happened to JoJo. Her investigation leads to all sorts of secrets and corruption in their police department and Laurie, JoJo, and Kevin are on their own because they don't know who can be trusted in the police department. Even Omar isn't in the clear!

This was a pulse-pounding, fast-paced thriller with intriguingly human characters. I couldn't put it down!

Favorite Quote:
"I'll help you kill him. If you need me to." Sarah cleared her throat. "Of course, let me state for the record that I'm joking."

Laurie knew she wasn't. "Thanks, friend."
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Friday Memes: Stolen Things by R. H. Herron

Happy Friday everybody!
Book Beginnings on Friday is now hosted by Rose City ReaderThe Friday 56 is hosted at Freda's Voice. Check out the links above for the rules and for the posts of the participants each week. Don’t dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

Beginning:
No one ever called 911 because they were having a great day.

Well, sometimes Jocko Smith did, but he was a local drunk who didn't get along with his therapist, and 911 was free.
Friday 56:
White girl hurt, another one missing, black guy dead, infamous black superstar athlete at the middle of all of it -- it was on the front page of every local paper now, and by tomorrow it would hit the major media channels.
This week I am spotlighting a thriller I got from Edelweiss. Stolen Things is R. H. Herron's debut novel. Here is the description from Amazon:
A sensational crime, a missing teen, and a mother and daughter with no one to trust but each other come together in this shocking debut thriller by R. H. Herron.

“Mama? Help me.”

Laurie Ahmadi has worked as a 911 police dispatcher in her quiet Northern California town for almost two decades, but nothing in her nearly twenty years of experience could prepare her for the worst call of her career—her teenage daughter, Jojo, is on the other end of the line. She is drugged, disoriented, and in pain, and even though the whole police department springs into action, there is nothing Laurie can do to help.

Jojo, who has been sexually assaulted, doesn’t remember how she ended up at the home of Kevin Leeds, a pro football player famous for his work with the Citizens Against Police Brutality movement, though she insists he would never hurt her. And she has no idea where her best friend, Harper, who was with her earlier in the evening, could be.

As Jojo and Laurie begin digging into Harper’s private messages on social media to look for clues to her whereabouts, they uncover a conspiracy far bigger than they ever could have imagined. With Kevin’s freedom on the line and the chances of finding Harper unharmed slipping away, Laurie and Jojo begin to realize that they can’t trust anyone to find Harper except themselves, not even the police department they’ve long considered family . . . and time is running out.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Book Review: The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. King

The Beekeeper's Apprentice
Author: Laurie R. King
Series: Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes (Book 1)
Publication: Minotaur Books; Special edition, 20th Anniversary edition edition (April 1, 2010)

Description: What would happen if Sherlock Homles, a perfect man of the Victorian age--pompous, smug, and misogynisitic--were to come face to face with a twentieth-century female? If she grew to be a partner worthy of his great talents?

Laurie R. King, whose very different first novel, A Grave Talent (SMP, 1993), drew rave reviews, read the Conan Doyle stories and wondered about such an imaginary encounter. And following through, she has written The Beekeeper's Apprentice.

1914, a young woman named Mary Russell meets a retired beekeeper on the Sussex Downs. His name is Sherlock Holmes. And although he may have all the Victorian "flaws" listed above, the Great Detective is no fool, and can spot a fellow intellect even in a fifteen-year-old woman.

So, at first informally, then consciously, he takes Mary Russell as his apprentice. They work on a few small local cases, then on a larger and more urgent investigation, which ends successfully. All the time, Mary is developing as a detective in her own right, with the benefit of the knowledge and experience of her mentor and, increasingly, friend.

And then the sky opens on them, and they find themselves the targets of a slippery, murderous, and apparently all-knowing adversary. Together they devise a plan to trap their enemy--a plan that may save their lives but may also kill off their relationship.

This is not a "Sherlock Holmes" story. It is the story of a modern young woman who comes to know and work with Holmes, the story of young woman coming to terms with herself and with this older man who embodies the age that is past.

My Thoughts: This is the first book in a series that began in 1994 and published the most recent entry - the fifteenth - in 2018. It introduces fifteen-year-old Mary Russell who is an orphan, an heiress, and a scholar. The story begins with her almost stepping on Sherlock Holmes when she is out wandering the Sussex countryside and reading Virgil. Holmes is watching bees and trying to track a new swarm for one of his hives.

Ostensibly retired, Holmes fills his time keeping his bees, doing a variety of experiments, and writing about various topics like footprints, tire tracks, cigarette ash, and blood. Their first meeting shows them that, despite their many differences, they share many characteristics too. Their hungry intellects, curiosity and deductive powers lead to a developing friendship.

Holmes takes Russell as his informal apprentice and Russell finds a home that is much warmer than the one provided by her guardian aunt. Gradually, Russell gains the skills Holmes is teaching which go along with her own interests in theology.

The story covers about four years of time with Mary growing from a precocious fifteen-year-old to a more worldly and educated nineteen-year-old who moves from apprenticeship to mastery of the arts of detection. She becomes a full partner and equal in the variety of cases that come to them. From an early case of the kidnapping of a six-year-old senator's daughter to a case with roots in Holmes' past, we can see the growth in their partnership and in Mary's skills.

I really enjoyed this rereading of a book I read more than 20 years ago. I loved the historical detail about a time of great change in Great Britain. I loved the contrast between a 20th Century young woman and a Victorian man. I also loved the way those two very different people had so many similarities. The mystery was engaging and complex. I didn't remember who the villain was and enjoyed watching Mary and Holmes follow the clues to discover her.

Now, I want to go on and read the rest of the series again so that I can watch Mary grow and her relationship with Holmes gain in depth and complexity.

Favorite Quote:
"That's what tears are for, you know, to wash away the fear and cool the hate."
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Book Review: A Fountain Filled with Blood by Julia Spencer-Fleming

A Fountain Filled with Blood 
Author: Julia Spencer-Fleming
Series: Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne Mysteries (Book 2)
Publication: St. Martin's Paperbacks; 1st Edition edition (April 19, 2004)

Description: Nestled in the heart of the Adirondacks, Millers Kill, New York is about as safe as it gets. That's why Episcopal minister Clare Fergusson is shocked when the July Fourth weekend brings a rash of vicious assaults to the scenic town. Even Clare's good friend, police chief Russ Van Alstyne, is shaken by the brutality of the crimes―especially when it appears that the victims were chosen because they are gay. But when a third assault of an out-of-town developer ends in murder, Clare and Russ wonder if the recent crime wave is connected to the victim's controversial plan to open an upscale spa in Miller's Kill. Not all things in the tiny town are what they seem―and soon, Clare and Russ are left to fight their unspoken attraction to one another even as they uncover a labyrinthine conspiracy that threatens to turn deadly for them both...

Julia Spencer-Fleming follows up her award-winning debut mystery, In the Bleak Midwinter, with the equally riveting A Fountain Filled with Blood.

My Thoughts: This is the second book in the Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne mystery series. Clare and Russ are trying to stay away from each other until the inappropriate feelings they are having for each other subside. Clare, as an Anglican priest, can't fall in love with very married Russ Van Alstyne despite the fact that they have so much in common and communicate so well and Russ's wife really doesn't understand him or care to try.

When the gay medical examiner is stopped and beaten nearly to death and the gay owner of a video store is also beaten, the idea of Millers Kill being an idyllic small town is showing its hidden darker side. But when the gay developer of the new Adirondack health club/spa that is promising jobs and prosperity is murdered Clare wonders if there is more to it than a few redneck homophobes. Russ doesn't want to publicize the possibility of hate crimes for a number of good reasons.

Clare and Russ keep running into each other as each pursues their investigations in their own ways. It just so happens that the niece of the local woman who is developing the property is about to be married at Clare's church which gives her an in to investigate.

The story centers around the murder investigation which has them looking into the new development which is bringing out a number of environmentalist protesters including Russ's mother Margy. He even arrests her and she spends the night in jail rather than letting him post her bail. This little episode added some humor to an otherwise tension filled story.

Speaking of tension, Clare needs to fly a helicopter to bring an accident victim to help as soon as possible. Russ has major issues about helicopters since a crash when he was in Vietnam but goes along despite his fears because it will take the two of them to get the victim to help. And then the helicopter crashes. Wow! Tension on tension and danger too.

This was another excellent mystery with intriguing characters and a great setting.

Favorite Quote:
"Yeah, but that's not as sexy as a young hip priest with--" Bensen broke off, his eyes thoughtful. "You aren't a lesbian, by any chance?"

"No!" she said, and immediately regretted denying it so fervently. "What I mean is, my sex life is private." Bensen looked very interested. She felt her cheeks getting pink. "That is, if I had a sex life. Which I don't. I'm practicing celibacy."

"I hate to interrupt this fascinating conversation, but I need to as Mr. MacPherson to spend a little time with Ms. Nguyen from the district attorney's office." Clare spun around and discovered she had been right to expect the police to be here. Chief Van Alstyne was standing in the doorway, eyebrows raised.
I bought this one March 25, 2009. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Book Review: Nothing Stays Buried by P. J. Tracy

Nothing Stays Buried
Author: P. J. Tracy
Series: Monkeewrench (Book 8)
Publication: G.P. Putnam's Sons (August 1, 2017)

Description: The Monkeewrench crew returns to face the city of Minneapolis’s worst nightmare—a rampant serial killer on the loose—in this electrifying thriller from the author of The Sixth Idea.

When Minneapolis homicide detectives Leo Magozzi and Gino Rolseth are called to a crime scene in a heavily wooded city park, everything about the setting is all too familiar. And when they discover a playing card on the victim's body, their worst fears are confirmed—there’s a serial killer operating in the city for the first time in years.

Across town, Grace MacBride and her unconventional partners at Monkeewrench Software find themselves at both personal and career crossroads. Weary of the darker side of their computer work for law enforcement, they agree to take on a private missing-persons case in a small farming community in southwestern Minnesota.

As the violence accelerates in Minneapolis, Magozzi and Gino soon realize their killer is planning to complete the deck, and they enlist Monkeewrench to help stop the rampage. As a baffling tangle of evidence accumulates, the cops and Monkeewrench make the unlikely connections among a farmer’s missing daughter, a serial killer, and a decades-old stabbing that brings them face-to-face with pure evil.

My Thoughts: There is a new serial killer terrorizing Minneapolis. His victims are brunettes who are running in parks. He leaves a playing card on his victims' bodies. Magozzi and Rolseth catch the case of the latest victim in Minneapolis. But he's also committing crimes in St. Paul.

Meanwhile, the Monkeewrench gang has decided to take a more personal case and look into the disappearance of a young woman from a small town in rural Minnesota. Strangely enough, these cases come together by way of drug cartels and long-past friendships and crimes.

I liked that Grace and Magozzi's relationship is getting closer now that Grace is nearly six months pregnant. I liked the Minnesota setting. I liked that some of the danger in the book come from Minnesota weather and summer tornadoes.

Favorite Quote:
As she had learned these past few years, things changed - life, people, animals - all without your permission, no matter how zealously you fought to maintain supreme control. 
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Monday, August 12, 2019

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (August 12, 2019)

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? is now hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date.

It’s Monday!  What Are You Reading is where we gather to share what we have read this past week and what we plan to read this week.  It is a great way to network with other bloggers, see some wonderful blogs, and put new titles on your reading list.

I will be combining my YA and adult reading and purchases on this one weekly roundup.

Other Than Reading...

I didn't read as much as usual this week because I had company for four days and had a lunch gathering with 22 of my fellow 1968 graduates. I had a great time with both activities. My friend and I talked a lot, went out to eat a lot, and spent an afternoon at the casino. My classmates and I talked and talked and caught up on each other's lives.

The weather was great with lots of sunny skies and temperatures in the high 70s and low 80s. Our solar system produced 282 kWh of power.

Read Last Week

If you can't wait until the review shows up on my blog, reviews are posted to LibraryThing and Goodreads as soon as I write them (usually right after I finish reading a book.)

  • Dare You to Lie by Amber Lynn Natusch (YA; Mine) - This was a fast-paced thriller with a wonderfully, sarcastic main character and a cliffhanger ending. My review will be posted on Sept. 11.
  • Don't Say a Word by Amber Lynn Natusch (YA Review; Sept. 17) - Middle book in a trilogy that has a cliffhanger ending. It also has a fast pace and intricate plot. My review will be posted on Sept. 14. 


  • O Jerusalem by Laurie R. King (Mine) - This was a reread of a book I read before I began blogging. I love the characters and the historical detail. My review will be posted on Sept. 15.
  • Justice Hall by Laurie R. King (Mine) - This is also a reread of a book I read before I began blogging. It had wonderful writing, great descriptions, and great characters. My review will be posted on Sept. 22.

DNF

  • The Babysitters Coven by Kate Williams (YA Review; Sept. 17) - I read about 20% of this one but didn't like it. 

Currently

  • The Game by Laurie R. King (Mine) - I bought a used hardcover copy from Amazon Vine to replace my original paperback. I was surprised when I got to about page 70 to discover that someone had used a mint condition $2 bill as a bookmark and left it in the book. While still in circulation, it is still rather unusual to see one.

Next Week




Reviews Posted




Want to See What I Added to My Stack Last Week?

What was your week like?