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review 2017-01-12 12:05
Music, mystery, beautiful writing and a story that proves reality is weirder than fiction
Ghost Variations: The Strangest Detective Story In Music - Jessica Duchen

I’m writing this review on behalf of Rosie’s Book Review Team. I was given an ARC copy of this book and I voluntarily chose to review it.

I enjoy reading in a variety of genres but have recently realised that I really enjoy historical fiction, as it offers me both, great stories and a background that’s interesting in its own right and that often offers me insight into eras and situations I know little about.

When I read the description of this novel I thought it sounded very different to what I usually read, but fascinating at the same time. A mystery surrounding a piece of music (a violin concerto) by a famous composer (Robert Schuman) that has been hidden for a long time. I love music but I’m not a deep connoisseur, and I didn’t realise when I read about the novel that the story was based on facts (it follows quite closely the events that took place in the 1930s, involving Hungarian (later nationalised British) violinist Jelly d’Arányi, and a concert Schuman wrote whilst already interned in an asylum) and included an element of the paranormal. It’s one of those cases when reality upstages fiction.

Despite the incredible story, that’s fascinating in its own right, Jessica Duchen does a great job of bringing all the characters to life. The story is told in the third person mostly from Jelly’s point of view, although later in the book we also get to hear about Ully, a character that although not based on a real person brings much to the equation, as it offers us a German perspective on the story. Jelly, who lives with her sister, brother-in-law, niece and their dog, despite her many admirers and some failed romances, is single and dedicated heart and soul to her music. I easily identified with Jelly, although our vocations and personal circumstances are very different, but I appreciated her dedication and love for music and for her family, her horror at the social and historical circumstances she was living through, her difficulties fitting in, as a foreigner living abroad, and her awareness of the challenges and limitations she was facing due to her age. There are very touching moments, for example when Jelly goes to visit her secretary and friend at the hospital and gives an impromptu concert there, when she organises a tour of concerts in cathedrals, free for everybody, not matter their social class, to collect funds for the poor, and when she becomes plagued by self-doubt, due to her personal circumstances and to her failing health. Jelly is not perfect, and she appears naïve at times, showing little understanding of issues like race or politics, limited insight into her own beliefs about the spirit world, her feelings and hesitating about what to do in her personal life, but she is a credible and passionate human being, and she gets to confront many of her fears by the end of the book.

Apart from the gripping story and the background behind the discovery of the concert, there is the historical context of the 1930s. As Schuman was a German composer, somehow it became a matter of national importance to recover the concert and claim it as a German work. The changes in Germany, the atmosphere of menace and threat, the rise of dangerous nationalism, and how that was also reflected in Britain, where the sisters lived, was well reflected and built into the book, especially when, at first sight, it seems to be only marginally relevant to the central mystery. As several characters observe in the novel, a piece of music is not ‘just a piece of music’ any longer and everything becomes vested with particular significance, thanks to manipulation and propaganda, no matter what the original intention of the composer might have been. I suspect most people who read this book won’t be able to resist comparing the historical situation then to our current times and worry.

This novel is a joy to read, one of these cases when the story and the writing style are perfectly matched and one can almost hear the music flowing from the pages. A wonderful novel that I recommend to anybody interested in the period and in good writing. I’ll be closely watching this author in the future.

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review 2016-01-22 00:00
Busman's Honeymoon: A Love Story with Detective Interruptions
Busman's Honeymoon: A Love Story with Detective Interruptions - Dorothy L. Sayers Not too long ago, my spouse read this book and intrigued me into doing the same. Back in the dark ages, when we lived in Pittsburgh and didn't have a TV or any money to speak of, we would entertain ourselves by reading Dorothy Sayers to each other in the evenings. I think we pretty much read them all, except for this one. So, now I've read this one as well. It's quite good.

My spouse vowed to divorce me if I didn't give it at least 4*s, but it's not too great a stretch for me to do so. Although, were I able to give +s or -s, I might rank it 4*-. The reason for her dictate is that I gave 4*s to The Diva Detective, which my spouse views as an inferior work. The Diva Detective actually quite good, and y'all ought to go read it yourselves.

Anyway, back to Busman's Honeymoon. Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane finally get married, after having known each other for six years. I guess that back in 1937 that was a long time. A few years earlier than that, my mother made my father wait three years before she would wed him, and up until she died at 106, she continued to lament about how long she had made him wait. My spouse barely gave me a year before we had to tie the knot. Now days, however, modern young folks wait for over a decade, it seems. I have kids to prove it.

Anyway, back to Harriet and Peter. They go off on their honeymoon to a small village near where Harriet grew up, planning to live in a house she remembers fondly from her youth. They had bought the house and it was supposed to have been pimped up for them. But when they got there, no pimping had been done, no one was there to greet them, and no one even knew they were to come. The previous owner had apparently run off, leaving oodles of debtors holding their bags, so to speak. Eventually they get inside. A day or so later, they discover the body of the guy who sold them the house in the basement, with his head bashed in. He'd been there for a week.

So we wander back and forth between Peter and Harriet getting into the swing of finally being married, so to speak, with interludes of musing about the murder, the suspects and possible motives. Well, they don't do much about motives. Their motto is that when one knows how a thing was done, one will know who dunnit, so to speak. For some reason, I found the musings about marriage and relationships rather interesting. I found much of the speculation and conjecture regarding who dunnit a bit tedious.

Whatever, it's a GoodRead for those of us who would still prefer to be reading rather than watching something stupid and trivial on the TV.
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review 2015-12-24 02:11
3 Truths and a Lie
3 Truths and a Lie: A Detective D. D. Warren Story (Kindle Single) - Lisa Gardner

By:  Lisa Gardner

ISBN: 9781101984888

Publisher: Penguin/Dutton

Publication Date: 1/5/2016

Format: e-book (Novella) 

My Rating:  4 Stars  

 

A special thank you to Penguin/Dutton and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Lisa Gardner delivers a short fun crime novella, 3 TRUTHS AND A LIE (D.D. Warren #7.5) with a sneak peak at FIND HER—upcoming Feb 9.

Boston Detective DD Warren's assignment is to speak in front of a bunch of crime thriller writers in a 50 minute Police Academy Writer's Conference class with some fun key note speakers and crime writer mentions of Karin Slaughter and Joseph Finder in attendance (which we all love—nice hair references), with a juicy witty case and a game of: 3 truths and a lie.

Since most of class likes to write about detectives, this will be their chance to see if they can figure out the clues. DD keeps the inquisitive group entertained with clues coming from all directions. From a case in a seedy motel, illegal drugs, a hooker, a wealthy nicely dressed man, a creep manager, money, a dismembered leg, a tub of dry ice, blood, a duffel bag, and a severe case BIID.

From latent prints, blood spatter, and favorite crime scenes with a bunch of aspiring novelists who are fascinated by police procedure and ensuring they get it correct. DD and hubby Alex, of course get to attend free and she has to survive this class where she gets to be the so-called expert, by providing day to day details of a homicide detective’s life. The whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Witty, and humorous ---a race against time to figure out the clues of a whodunit crime scene. Gives you an ideal -- the difficulties of a detective and a crime thriller writer. Thinking outside the box.

Looking forward to FIND HER, Feb 9 (starting next), where DD Warren is called to the scene of a murder and kidnapping. However, the same woman has been kidnapped before. Could Flora be a victim, or a vigilante?

Just enough clever enticement to tide you over for the real deal.

 

 

Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/#!3-Truths-and-a-Lie/cmoa/562508d20cf2c3576e6671df
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review 2015-10-25 20:01
ARC Review — A Solitary Man, by Shira Anthony and Aisling Mancy
A Solitary Man - Aisling Mancy,Shira Anthony

This story just speeds off from page one, running, dashing, skipping, and jumping obstacles.

It is a rush and a half—this storyline grabbed me by the collar, shook me to the core, made me scream, rave, laugh, rejoice.

Xav and Chance were great characters, both believable and real. I could see them in front of me, racing in dark alleys, or at work in the local sheriff’s office.

 

It was an amazing ride, with the dark and realistic subject of child trafficking for sexual exploitation, which is not a common subject. It was a deeply emotional story, on many levels. It rang true, and felt believable, and as most people would want to close their (our?) eyes to the very fact that this trafficking exists, we need stories like this one; these children need to be made visible. We need to hear their truths.

 

The strength needed to investigate these crimes? Incredible and amazing mental power. And a heart as big as the moon itself.

 

As Xav says, “The only way I’ve been able to do what I do is to think about the boys I can save.” And, further, “The one kid, who does make it, makes what we do worthwhile.”

 

Let’s not back away from this subject, in fear, or in disgust. Let’s look this monster in the eyes, and say, we will not accept this anymore! Because, until we all do, child trafficking for sexual exploitation will continue to happen.

 

A book like this one is important: Not only is it written very well, with a lot of action and a lot of things happening, it is also an eye-opener. I learned many new things during my read. I also felt a deep and utter satisfaction with where the whole story arc ended. There were bitter losses, too, because life is hard. But, as always with authors I love, resolution and HEA.

 

Yes I think we can safely say that this was a great book for me. I would, perhaps, have preferred the sex scenes to be fade to black, as I felt them to be beside the story itself, (you never thought you’d hear me say that, huh?) but all in all, this was a truly amazing read. I won’t be able to leave it behind me, for a long time.

 

Grab your hat, and fall right into the chase! Let’s go get these bad guys, and lock them up for good.

 

***

 

I was given a free copy of this book from the authors, and a positive review wasn’t promised in return. Publishing date: November 6, 2015

Source: annalund2011.booklikes.com/post/1276414/arc-review-a-solitary-man-by-shira-anthony-and-aisling-mancy
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review 2015-01-22 00:00
Green River Killer: A True Detective Story
Green River Killer: A True Detective Story - Jonathan Case,Jeff Jensen Much promise, but was short on delivery.
Same with my review.
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