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review 2017-05-23 18:55
Shakespeare's Landlord / Charlaine Harris
Shakespeare's Landlord - Charlaine Harris
TO SEE OR NOT TO SEE — To Lily Bard, the sleepy town of Shakespeare, Arkansas, was the perfect place to hide from the violence that nearly destroyed her life years before. Today Lily is strong, confident in the martial arts she studies, her looks disguised by her closely cropped hair and baggy clothes. Working as a housecleaner, Lily comes and goes without anyone noticing -- until she witnesses a murder.

What Lily Bard saw on that dark night has stripped away her, anonymity and earned her the unwanted attention of a homicide detective and a suspicious community. And with her intense, married, karate instructor showing a passionate interest of his own, Lily's plan of a private, well-ordered life is coming unhinged. The killer of an unlamented landlord is lurking close by. And while Lily knows the dirt on her neighbors' dust, drawers, and private live , must admit to a secret of her own: that in the shadow of a brutal murder, she is coming alive again...
 
I really enjoyed this little mystery, set in Shakespeare, Arkansas. Lily Bard, the community cleaning lady, has chosen this small town on a whim because of her last name. It seems like the perfect sleepy little community in which to avoid her traumatic past and live a quiet life.

Harris excels at portraying small town life, using ordinary people as characters. Lily is not someone that most people pay a lot of attention to—as a cleaning lady, she tends to blend into the background. The only place where she stands out is in her karate dojo, where she excels. She reminded me of Harris’ other small town character, Sookie Stackhouse, who is often overlooked because she is “just” a bar maid, but has unknown talents (telepathy).

Lily has a skill that many women have—she pays attention to detail and she can analyze those details to come to accurate conclusions. Not the most exciting mystery that I have every read, but I am already invested in Lily’s life and hope to read the next book in the series very soon.
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review 2017-05-23 16:41
If We Were Villains / M.L. Rio
If We Were Villains: A Novel - M. L. Rio

Enter the players. There were seven of us then, seven bright young things with wide precious futures ahead of us. Until that year, we saw no further than the books in front of our faces.

On the day Oliver Marks is released from jail, the man who put him there is waiting at the door. Detective Colborne wants to know the truth, and after ten years, Oliver is finally ready to tell it.

Ten years ago: Oliver is one of seven young Shakespearean actors at Dellecher Classical Conservatory, a place of keen ambition and fierce competition. In this secluded world of firelight and leather-bound books, Oliver and his friends play the same roles onstage and off: hero, villain, tyrant, temptress, ingénue, extra. But in their fourth and final year, the balance of power begins to shift, good-natured rivalries turn ugly, and on opening night real violence invades the students’ world of make believe. In the morning, the fourth-years find themselves facing their very own tragedy, and their greatest acting challenge yet: convincing the police, each other, and themselves that they are innocent.

Part coming-of-age story, part confession, If We Were Villains explores the magical and dangerous boundary between art and life. In this tale of loyalty and betrayal, madness and ecstasy, the players must choose what roles to play before the curtain falls.

 

Wow, that was a first novel? For me, it was perfection. A good twisty mystery, lots of Shakespeare, and THAT ENDING.

Dellecher Classical Conservatory is like Hogwarts for Arts students and this novel focuses on the fourth year Drama students. They’ve been marinating in Shakespearean drama for four years and have maybe absorbed more than they think. The narrator, Oliver, is most often cast as a supporting character and the others agree that he is a giving actor and a giving person. Despite that, the reader realizes that he seems to be pretty clueless—not very observant, he makes some of his most important realizations during performances of the Shakespearean tragedies.

The little that we see of Oliver’s family indicates that there is something desperately wrong—Oliver doesn’t want to go home to them and can hardly wait to leave. One of his sisters has a serious eating disorder and Oliver resents that his family can’t pay for her treatment AND his tuition. There is a serious attitude of entitlement, not only in Oliver, but in all of these students. I didn’t like a single one of them, but I loved the story!

I would love to be able to conduct conversations in Shakespeare quotes! That level of expertise in the plays would delight me. If nothing else, this book has certainly inspired me to continue with my project to see all of Shakespeare’s plays.

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review 2017-05-15 17:19
Crocodile on the Sandbank / Elizabeth Peters
Crocodile on the Sandbank - Elizabeth Peters

Set in 1884, this is the first installment in what has become a beloved bestselling series. At thirty-two, strong-willed Amelia Peabody, a self-proclaimed spinster, decides to use her ample inheritance to indulge her passion, Egyptology. On her way to Egypt, Amelia encounters a young woman named Evelyn Barton-Forbes. The two become fast friends and travel on together, encountering mysteries, missing mummies, and Radcliffe Emerson, a dashing and opinionated archaeologist who doesn't need a woman's help -- or so he thinks.

 

If Jane Eyre starred in an H. Rider Haggard novel written by Agatha Christie….you would get Crocodile on the Sandbank. First published in 1975, Peters overlays feminism over the gothic romance (which usually had mysterious goings-on too) and produces this engaging mystery. Extra points for using an Egyptian setting and getting the archaeology right. Amelia Peabody is a bit of a bossy bones, but you get enough of her history to see the why of it. (I’m probably more like her than I care to admit.)

If you enjoy a good mystery set among pyramids and ancient tombs, this book is for you.

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review 2017-05-09 07:34
Sorcerer's House (Simon Gale Series Book 2) - Gerald Verner

Written in 1956, it has all the elements of a classic British mystery. A village  ( Ferncross),an eccentric amateur sleuth, upper middle class villagers and a mysterious derelict manor house where death happens rather to often whenever a light appears in one of the rooms. 

This village definitely has some murky secrets....I must say that the end was somewhat of a suprise  ( but a good one! )

Especially recommended for fans of British murder mysteries. 

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review 2017-05-08 10:27
The Pelican Brief
The Pelican Brief - John Grisham

I haven't read this one in at least a decade, and I was happy at how well it stood up.  Dated, of course, although not quite as badly as I expected.  At one point Grantham ends a phone call and "puts the phone on the floor", which stopped me in my tracks for a moment, until I remembered: big landline phone.  Some of the money numbers are hilarious, but not unexpected.

 

What's truly frightening is how many parallels can be drawn between Grisham's President and the orange wonder-douche currently squatting in the oval office.  I know, I know, you can find parallels anywhere if you look hard enough, but honestly it doesn't take much effort to see that Grisham's clueless, blustering President, who cedes all authority to Fletcher Cole while spending most of his time in the Oval Office practicing his putting and wishing he was on the course, depressingly prescient. 

 

As for plotting, I still hold this one as one of the most intricately plotted books I've ever read.  I don't mean Darby's story, but the conspiracy that Darby uncovers - as many times as I've read this, it never gets old, never fails to enthral me.  The plotting goes a long way towards making up any inadequacies in the writing itself (if Darby told anyone, one more time, about how much she'd survived to date, I thought I might shoot her myself).

 

Still a good read!

 

 

 

 

 

Total pages: 371

$$:  $3.00

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