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Friday, February 16, 2018

After the Funeral by Agatha Christie

After the Funeral (Hercule Poirot, #31)

An ailing man in his sixties dies. Not unusual. At the funeral a sister blurts out 'but wasn't he murdered?'. Everyone shushes the sister who always even as a young woman spoke out of turn and blurted whatever she came up with. Leaving behind a substantial estate, no one wants to create waves as they each will inherit a substantial share.

All of them need the money, are desperate for it and everything seems to above board. This utterance however puts the lawyer who was also a friend on guard and he seeks Hercule Poirot's assistance to just check and verify that all is right. The murder of Cora - the sister in a hatchet attack the very next day however and the subsequent attack on her companion makes it obvious that someone is trying to hush and hide something.

In typical Agatha Christie fashion slowly unravelling the murderer is done methodically and carefully if somewhat slower than more modern mystery murder stories.

Vintage Agatha Christie courtesy of Glen Waverley library, Melbourne. 

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Secrets of the Lighthouse by Santa Montefiore

Secrets of the Lighthouse

After reading mystery murders and thrillers this was a good change. A family saga going back just two generations but worlds apart.

Lady Madeline Trawton is very much the aristocratic lady of leisure in London. With three daughters, two married into the aristocracy, her aim is to see her third also well settled. Ellen however is the changeling. After a serious think about her future, she flees her family and her fiance an retreats to Connemara where she knows her mother originated from and to her only sister. On arrival there Ellen discovers so much of the Bryne clan including the fact that her mother not only had a sister but several brothers.

Connemara works her magic on Ellen and this is where the romance starts. Apart from the romance which was a startling one, we also have a spirit of a wife who is very real and who does not want to let her husband and children go and who is clinging to be part of their lives despite it being five years since her tragic death.  Her death sudden and mourned by many is shrouded in mystery and innuendo and though the case is closed there are many who point the finger at her husband as a murderer. Ellen falling in love with Connor was not part of the equation on not just the part of the Bryne clan but also by the spirit of Caitlin who now tries to devise a method of keeping the two apart.

This bit of other worldliness coming into this story did not detract from the story itself. The family saga with its involved relationships, the love story of Caitlin and Connor and its tragic end, the love story of Connor and Ellen are very well recounted here,

The story of Ellen's mother and the two different worlds she inhabits and the reasons why she acted the way she did also unravel slowly and forms almost another story within the story.

This was a book I picked up from Glen Waverley library in Melbourne.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

The Choir by Joanna Trollope

The Choir

Reminiscent of Susan Howarth this was a change from the usual family sagas of this author. Here too human relationships formed the keynote part of the book but shadowed by the Cathedral, the Bishop, the Dean and the choir.

The cathedral is facing financial hardship. Like all old stately buildings maintenance is key, this has been neglected or not seen and the end result is an enormous outlay needed. On the other hand the choir has been an integral part of the Cathedral but it is also costing a great deal of money. The inhabitants of Aldminster are divided into two camps. Is the choir an anachronism in modern society, catering for an elite few who appreciate the music that is not appealing to everyone. Then there is the Dean's house. Massive enormous occupied by two people only. Should this be more open for use by a greater number of people.

Drawn into the story are Henry, the chorister who is destined to go places his mother and the organist, his grandfather and all the others who are integral to the story. Relationships are the cornerstone of the story - petty jealousies of the betrayed and lovelorn, the passion that is ignited by a loveless marriage, the loneliness and isolation that one can feel surrounded by many people and the feeling that you are out of date and out of time in a modern world which looks at everything with a more pragmatic and practical outlook.

All beautifully rendered in this story. All dovetailing neatly into a story which is very appealing and attractive.

Another pick from the Glen Waverley library for which I am eternally grateful. So many books so little time!

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Sense & Sensibility by Joanna Trollope

Sense & Sensibility (The Austen Project, #1)

A favourite author of mine this Austen project was not going to be easy. Following in the footsteps of the Dashwoods etc and finding that it works in a different setting was a wonderful way to relive the book.

Following the plot to a T, ingenuously keeping to all the scenes which formed the core of the original story you are never bored with this book. Knowing very early on that it was going to follow the sequence of the original did not detract from this story. It added a piquancy that I needed to know how the next part was going to follow through in this modern setting.

We have all the modern add ins of social media, trolling, hair extensions, gay party planners, depression et al. We have Fanny Dashwood with her inherent nastiness and social climbing and her aspirations of grasping it all. We have Belle who seems so ineffective at times and then Elinor the stalwart and the only one who has a grasp on reality. The other members of the family shirk from talking about money, responsibility or working.

The one detraction if at all is that at times I felt it was like late 19th century but then with all the modern hoopla you knew you were right in at the 21st! Still a very enjoyable read and one I thoroughly liked.

From the Glen Waverley library in Melbourne 

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Flesh and Blood by Patricia Cornwell

Flesh and Blood (Kay Scarpetta, #22)

I am coming back to Patricia Cornwell after about two years. I had read everything there was in the Glen Waverley library at that time and was very glad to see this one which was a new one for me. No 22 in the Kay Scarpetta series. Despite being No 22 which does seem a lot the book has pace, intrigue and sufficient mystery to keep you going.

Cornwell's writing is meticulous. Her research is obviously detailed and scrutinized because you can see accuracy in every bit of her writing. Police procedures, legal procedures, medical procedures are all very much alive and for me holds my interest throughout the story. For me it adds to the basic bones of the mystery/murder/psychological thriller part of the book.

The story here sounds more personal with the discovery of seven pennies shiny bright all with one date which has significance for Kay. One homicide follows a few minutes later followed by what seems like straight forward deaths but which on further examining are anything but. Links to an insurance company which Kay has had run ins before surface along with a political leader whose history is shadowed. He is powerful enough to bury everything that has been done by him and his son and somehow these homicides are linked back to him. The personal link does not surface till the very end and it surprises them all.

Characterization is spot on. Marino blustering and gruff, seemingly unprofessional, Kay the epitome of being calm and collected, Benton suave and all others playing a part in a story which comes together as a cohesive whole.

Loved the read.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

The Expense of a View by Polly Buckingham

This was a collection of short stories which is usually very good reading. However some of them were excellent and some were just fine.

Dealing with deep emotion in the midst of crisis, the stories are hard hitting and will make you think how you would react in similar situations. The stories cover the entire spectrum of humanity from male to female, homeless to parents to children. The feeling is dark and the emotional content is not easy to read.

Sent by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of  University of North Texas.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Longbourn Library by Trudy Willis

Longbourn Library: A Novel of Pride, Prejudice, and Books

I seldom get to a Pride & Prejudice variation unless I win a book in a giveaway so this was a free download from Amazon which was a pleasant surprise.

Set in an Idaho library mainly we have all our characters - Liz feisty librarian, Jane sweet, Mary quoting good deeds and Kitty being Kitty. Mrs. Bennett being slightly different though gossipy and Mr. Bennett being a good soul. The characters are all there but are placed not as a family(which is what I gathered) which added to the variety. Darcy and Bingley are friends and Wickham is still the pariah of the lot!

It was a fun and entertaining read. What I really needed to get my mind off Melbourne weather.
To add to the misery we have an electricity breakdown which lasted from 10 pm to 6 am this morning. At least it came on this morning. Thank God for small mercies.