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review 2017-06-21 21:51
The Curse of the Pharoahs / Elizabeth Peters
The Curse of the Pharaohs - Elizabeth Peters

Victorian Amelia Peabody continues to journal her Egypt adventures, toddler Ramses left in England. Husband Radcliffe Emerson's old friend Lady Baskerville fears a curse killed her husband Sir Henry, and soon engages the attentions of American Cyrus. The will funds continued excavation. But a lady dressed in white floats, flutters, spreads fear, and more death.

 

***2017 Summer Lovin’ Reading List***

It’s official—I adore Amelia Peabody-Emerson! Modern feminist sensibilities injected into a Victorian heroine. She loves her husband and her son, but she needs some mental stimulation and some physical labour to keep her occupied.

I loved that Radcliffe and Amelia have nicknamed their precocious son Ramses after the demanding and flamboyant Pharaoh. He takes after both of his parents, needless to say, in his intelligence and his firm opinions! I appreciate Amelia’s (sometimes unwarranted) self-confidence and her delight at being able to escape the boredom of motherhood and running a household. What could possibly be better than returning to Egypt to explore a newly discovered tomb with her beloved husband? Well, achieving that task while still having cooling baths at days end and tea whenever necessary, that’s what!

Peters manages to give us plenty of potential murderers and lots of unusual characters to provide intrigue and comedy. Amelia brandishes her parasol with abandon and barges her way to a solution with panache!

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review 2017-06-21 21:26
Death in Cyprus / M.M. Kaye
Death in Cyprus - M. M Kaye

Twenty-year-old Amanda Derrington is on an extended cruise with her uncle when she decides to make a short side trip to the sun-washed island of Cyprus. But even before the ship arrives in port, there is a suspicious death. Once the passengers reach the island, it soon becomes clear that the death was in fact an act of murder. What Amanda had meant to be a pleasant excursion quickly takes a turn for the worse in this classic novel of suspense and romance by one of our most celebrated writers.

 

***2017 Summer Lovin’ Reading List***

I love these older murder mystery/romance mash-ups written by writers like M.M. Kaye and Mary Stewart. Dating from the 1950s, they were written in an era where book heroines were more innocent (and worried about their reputations) and the social classes were more firmly entrenched.
I owned all the Kaye’s Death in … series at one point in my life and read them all multiple times. I wasn’t more than three pages into this one when I realized that I already knew who the murderer was, but I still enjoyed the reading process. The descriptions of Cyprus were beautiful and made me wish I could visit Villa Oleander and picnic in the Cyprean countryside. Kaye spent time in Cyprus as a British army wife, so no doubt was able to describe terrain that she was familiar with and obviously fond of.

Reading this now, as an older person, I realize how excruciating the effects of class are and how much personal income has become the new way to distinguish between classes (rather than whom one is related to). The characters in this novel often marry for money (George Norman and Alastair Blaine both depend on their wives’ money for their comfortable life style) and it was a foregone conclusion by their friends that it was a reasonable choice. Interestingly, it was men marrying for financial advantage, rather than the usual women in this case, perhaps Kaye pointing out that it’s a two way street.

This time around I also noticed how Persis, the American writer, is so very stereotypically American—she is loud, brash, demanding, and not the slightest bit retiring. Plus, she is attracted to British men for the same reason that many North American women are, that enticing accent. Still, she is a good friend to Amanda, our heroine, and courageous when required, so the impression is not at all negative.

An excellent nostalgia read, a great way to spend a lazy summer evening.

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review 2017-06-19 21:31
Hallow Point / Ari Marmell
Hallow Point - Ari Marmell

The Spear of Lugh, one of the four Kingly Hallows of Ireland is in Chicago. And everyone, everyone wants it, for it is said that he who carries the spear into battle cannot be defeated. Among those who seek it are an agent of the infamous Wild Hunt; a mobster who knows far more about these things than he should; and of course both the Seelie and Unseelie Courts – the last people PI Mick Oberon would want getting hold of the spear...

 

Hard-boiled Fae detective Mick Oberon has quite the situation on his hands! The Spear of Lugh is somewhere in 1930s Chicago and every Fae faction (and a few in-the-know wise guys) want to get their meat hooks on it!

Mick uses his brain-box a little more in this mystery (when he isn’t getting pounded by some palooka that is), although he still has problems with his thought processes when he’s around a certain dame. Good action, good complications, excellent title! I am particularly fond of Fast Frankie, the leprechaun.

I still find this series a bit heavy on the Chicago gangland lingo—too many flivvers, floggers, bulls, molls, gats and what have you. But if you can overlook that, it is a fun little series.

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review 2017-06-19 19:35
Shakespeare's Christmas / Charlaine Harris
Shakespeare's Christmas - Charlaine Harris

Even in a sleepy Arkansas town, the holidays can be murder.

Lily Bard is going home for the holidays. More comfortable in baggy sweats than bridesmaid's frills, Lily isn't thrilled about attending her estranged sister's wedding. She has moved to Shakespeare, Arkansas, to start a new life, cleaning houses for a living, trying to forget the violence that once nearly destroyed her. Now she's heading back to home and hearth--just in time for murder.

The town's doctor and nurse have been bludgeoned to death at the office. And Lily's detective boyfriend suddenly shows up at her parents' door. Jack Leeds is investigating an eight-year-old kidnapping and the trail leads straight to Lily's hometown. It just might have something to do with the murders...and her sister's widowed fiancé. With only three days before the wedding, Lily must work fast to clean up the messy case before her sister commits...marriage!

 

In this installment, we change small towns and therefore a lot of the people that Lily Bard is interacting with and it’s a good change. She returns to her home-town and her family’s home for her sister’s wedding right before Christmas. After her traumatic rape & mutilation, Lily fled the town, her family and her friends, to start a new life in Shakespeare, Arkansas. Although she doesn’t regret the change of scene, in this book she learns that she maybe left too soon, not giving anyone (including herself) time to get used to her new normal.

Like many people, Lily is reluctant to return home to face the family. She is not comfortable in her own skin yet, although she’s getting there, and doesn’t have the social skills to deal with those close to her effectively. A very typical introvert, she finds that it doesn’t have to be quite as difficult as she envisioned it—her family will meet her half-way if she makes an effort.

One thing that did improve this book was that Lily was out of her regular routine—so although she takes on some cleaning tasks (as part of her “investigation” of what’s going on in her home-town), the reader isn’t subjected to as many detailed scenes of her cleaning routine. Also, she is away from her gym, so ditto with the karate/strength training that permeates the first two books.

I think this could be a good series for people who care too much about the opinions of others, particularly those not close to them. Lily seems to be far too worried about what the community thinks of her and not worried enough about what she thinks of herself. Lily, if they aren’t paying your bills, their opinions don’t matter!

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review 2017-06-16 22:36
One Corpse Too Many / Ellis Peters
One Corpse Too Many - Ellis Peters

An ingenious killer disposes of a strangled corpse on a battlefield. Brother Cadfael discovers the body, and must then piece together disparate clues--including a girl in boy's clothing, a missing treasure and a single flower--to expose a murderer's black heart.

 

"The trouble with me, he thought unhappily, is that I have been about the world long enough to know that God's plans for us, however infallibly good, may not take the form we expect and demand."

Brother Cadfael, that former military man in a monk’s robe, knows his onions….and his murder victims and fugitives! When a murderer dumps his victim amongst the bodies of those hung for treason, Cadfael is not willing to let the perpetrator get away scot-free. Dragged away from his garden and his herbal potions, the good Brother must search for justice, but not interfere in politics.

I so enjoy the time period and setting of this particular series! I also appreciate the non-gory nature of the mysteries and the slower pacing more suited to the historical period depicted. Sure, there are pressures to solve the murder, but Cadfael has the time and thinking space in his garden to put the facts together and come up with a logical argument. He has both his military experience and his monastic learning to draw on, a formidable combination.

But it is Cadfael’s common sense and knowledge of human behaviour that makes him a good detective—and his willingness to admit that sometimes his monastic duties will need to be set aside if justice is to be done. A good man to have on your side!

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