Sunday, February 11, 2018

In This Grave Hour

This is the eleventh in the Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear. It stands alone nicely, for it is the first I have read and I had no trouble following the plot. Maisie is an investigator with unique skills and friends. As Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain broadcasts Britain's declaration of war with Germany, a Secret Service agen, Dr. Francesca Thomas, approaches Maisie with an urgent mission. Find the killer of a man who escaped occupied Belgium as a boy during the Great War. Soon after the investigation begins, another former Belgian refugee is murdered, and it is obvious the murders are related. As the investigation continues, London prepares for war.

This is a work of historical fiction and is meticulously researched. As an American born after World War II, at a remove from the events, I found it both heartbreaking and fascinating. It would be hard enough to have your husband serving in harm's way, but to send your children away? Yes, for their safety, yet...? Barrage balloons, blackout curtains, rationing, gas masks, bomb shelters... the rending of families. How does one prepare for and endure this sort of hardship?  And there are countries where this sort of hardship is current. May I never forget.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Two Nights

This is a novel by Kathy Reichs. Sunday Night, former military, former police, current recluse, is pulled from her Goat Island home to search for the granddaughter of Opaline Drucker, a Charleston grande dame. Stella Bright, the granddaughter, managed to survive the bomb blast that killed her mother and brother, but hasn't been seen since. Mrs. Drucker also wants revenge and offers Sunnie a per head bounty for each bomber she catches...or kills. Sunnie's search begins in Chicago, to Los Angeles, to Louisville, all the while trying to repress memories of her own childhood that may just be why she took this case to begin with.

The Handmaid's Tale

A dystopian novel by Margaret Atwood which I read for book club. I didn't like the book, the ending, the subject matter, and I'm not inclined to read another by Atwood based on it. I will agree it is good fodder for book clubs simply because there's so much to discuss. The book is set in the not-too-distant future; a  religious, political party is in power in the United States. To address the problem of a low birth rate, all women who have proven themselves capable of child bearing have been separated from those children and the men who fathered them and are set up as handmaids  for the men who now run the country and their wives. The handmaids have to bear at least one child for the couple who has hired them; failure equals death in most cases. The handmaids also lose their names. They become Of the man. Our titular tale is told by Offred, and it is a horrifying tale indeed. The book is unsatisfactory in that there's no resolution. After reading this train wreck of a life we're not told how or if it ends. Not to my liking.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Dark Lava

A Lei Crime novel by Toby Neal, book 7 of the series. Lieutenant Michael Stevens is investigating disappearing petroglyphs, rare rock carvings on Maui. Someone is taking them out of their rocks with a hand held jackhammer. Stevens is married to Lei Texeira, also a police officer on Maui. She is training for the bomb squad - and not doing well. This book features Stevens' ex-wife, Anchara; Lei's dad Wayne; someone who uses shrouds to let Stevens and Lei know he wants them dead... It's an interesting police procedural that gives information on Hawaiin customs at the same time.

In Sheep's Clothing

A novel by L.D. Beyer. Action-packed, political intrigue. Matthew Richter is a Secret Service agent assigned to protect the president of the United States, Thomas Walters, who, while trap shooting, manages to kill himself. No one knows why, nor does no one know that he was being blackmailed by a Washington insider. Soon, the vice-president, David Kendall, is sworn in as president. Richter is assigned to his protective detail. Tyler Rumson, an ambitious senator, is appointed the new vice-president. The book details the survival of Richter and President Kendall after Air Force 1 is attacked. Heady stuff. And it carries you right along.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Creative You

Using Your Personality to Thrive. Informative non-fiction by David B. Goldstein and Otto Kroeger. Goes into the basics of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and how each personality tends to express self in creative works. Which tendency is strongest in each type (for instance, as an INFP, feeling is my strongest function; I should try to share my intuition instead.) Tells each type's least developed function (thinking, for me; go figure) and how to strengthen that function. How to interpret what critics say is included, as well as how each type can best overcome creative blocks. This book is so packed, actually, that I got bogged down. I was trying to take notes... it took me about a month to get through. Well worth it if you're at all interested in personality tools.

Going Underground

Autistic Detective Jonathan Roper Reveals a Dark Conspiracy in a Gripping Thriller. This is an independently published work of fiction by Michael Leese. It was one of the freebies on my Kindle, and I decided to read it because of the premise: an autistic detective. The book is well done, and the character of Jonathan Roper seems spot on as someone with high functioning autism. Chief inspector Brian Hooley is given the task of discovering what happened to Sir James Taylor, a highly regarded billionaire/philanthropist who went missing six weeks prior to his torso being found in an abandoned warehouse. He calls on the special investigative skills of Jonathan Roper, who has been on administrative leave since his challenges almost ruined his last investigation. Together, Hooley and Roper solve this case that puts Roper in personal danger.