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Archive for September, 2012

An Unpardonable Crime

rip7200[3]

(book 4 for RIP)

An Unpardonable Crime by Andrew Taylor.

Paperback: 485 pages
Publisher: Hyperion (March 9, 2005)
ISBN-10: 1401329632

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From Booklist

Taylor’s novel was published in 2003 in the UK as The American Boy. The title character is Edgar Allan Poe, who lived in England from 1816 to 1820 while his foster father, John Allan, set up a British branch of his import-export business. This literary-historical mystery (whose new title nabs a line from Poe’s story "William Wilson") incorporates the boyhood Poe, the mystery of the disappearance of Poe’s biological father when Poe was an infant, and the later mystery of Poe’s behavior and disappearance before his death into a Regency drama of crossed love, class barriers, embezzlement, and murder. All of this comes about through the character of Thomas Shield, Poe’s teacher at boarding school, who gets drawn into the wealthy boy’s life and into a series of mysteries surrounding the boy. Wonderful evocations of Regency England, suggestive about the later horrors in Poe’s life

Well now.. this book kept me reading!  Short (very short) chapters!  Very British in the language of the book.  And very interesting. 

Most of the book barely touched on the murder (or murders) until near the end, but the story that Thomas Shield is telling, in the first person, certainly kept me reading and picking up the book each time I sat down.  To me, that makes for a good read!

As I mentioned.. there is murder in the book but the story leading up to the discovery of “who done it, and why” etc.. came all together near the end.  I don’t think it was a “murderous” or as “gothic feeling” as other books I have read but still.. I will say that it IS a very entertaining read.

The Amazon review makes it sound more of a story about a young Edgar Allan Poe, and certainly he is in the book, but I didn’t feel it was “just his story” being told.  There were numerous characters of interest throughout the book.  

Much of how woman were treated in those days was also covered quite nicely.  You never realized you were being given “historic information” just for the sake of saying it.

Very well written.

A Very enjoyable read.

So much so that I have sent for another of Andrew Taylors books in hopes that he can entertain me a second time!

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Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt.

Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Vintage;(June 28, 1999)
ISBN-10: 0679751521

rip7200[3]

(3rd book for RIP)

From the Inside Flap

Shots rang out in Savannah’s grandest mansion in the misty,early morning hours of May 2, 1981. Was it murder or self-defense? For nearly a decade, the shooting and its aftermath reverberated throughout this hauntingly beautiful city of moss-hung oaks and shaded squares. John Berendt’s sharply observed, suspenseful, and witty narrative reads like a thoroughly engrossing novel, and yet it is a work of nonfiction. Berendt skillfully interweaves a hugely entertaining first-person account of life in this isolated remnant of the Old South with the unpredictable twists and turns of a landmark murder case.
It is a spellbinding story peopled by a gallery of remarkable characters: the well-bred society ladies of the Married Woman’s Card Club; the turbulent young redneck gigolo; the hapless recluse who owns a bottle of poison so powerful it could kill every man, woman, and child in Savannah; the aging and profane Southern belle who is the "soul of pampered self-absorption"; the uproariously funny black drag queen; the acerbic and arrogant antiques dealer; the sweet-talking, piano-playing con artist; young blacks dancing the minuet at the black debutante ball; and Minerva, the voodoo priestess who works her magic in the graveyard at midnight. These and other Savannahians act as a Greek chorus, with Berendt revealing the alliances, hostilities, and intrigues that thrive in a town where everyone knows everyone else.

 

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Having, once again, read a book for about 160 pages and finding I was not rushing back to read each time, I gave up The Terror, and began to read Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

The first half of the book is all about Savannah and some “characters” that live there.  It wasn’t until the chapter where the murder occurred that I began to get very vivid pictures in my mind. 

“I know this…”

“It was a movie!” (duh)  Nothing like being a bit dense!! (half a books worth!)

Fortunately, (or unfortunately) I sorta/ kinda/ remembered how it ended!  However, it was more fortunate that I couldn’t remember how, or what happened, in between the murder and the conclusion!   Well.. I was remembering only as I read it!

The second half of the book was mostly the trial.  There was no doubt of the murder… but was it self defense??  Was he telling the truth?  Was he guilty of  Manslaughter or First Degree Murder? 

Had I never seen the movie it would have been a far better read for me, but even knowing the outcome it had been sooooo long since I had seen the movie that enough was forgotten to enjoy the book!

If you think you want to read of a murder trial in the very beautiful southern Georgia city of Savannah… this would be the book to read!

…and if you don’t want to read it you might consider the movie of the same name, starring Kevin Spacey and John Cusack and directed by Clint Eastwood.

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What the Dead Know

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Second book for RIP……

What the Dead Know by Laura Lippman.

Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks(February 10, 2009)
ISBN-10: 006177135X

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From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Edgar-winner Lippman, author of the Tess Monaghan mystery series (No Good Deeds, etc.), shows she’s as good as Peter Abrahams and other A-list thriller writers with this outstanding stand-alone. A driver who flees a car accident on a Maryland highway breathes new life into a 30-year-old mystery—the disappearance of the young Bethany sisters at a shopping mall—after she later tells the police she’s one of the missing girls. As soon as the mystery woman drops that bombshell, she clams up, placing the new lead detective, Kevin Infante, in a bind, as he struggles to gain her trust while exploring the odd holes in her story. Deftly moving between past and present, Lippman presents the last day both sisters, Sunny and Heather, were seen alive from a variety of perspectives. Subtle clues point to the surprising but plausible solution of the crime and the identity of the mystery woman.

I do like a mystery when only small pieces at a time are doled out like pieces of a puzzle and you are to try to figure out how they fit together.  AND.. I love, love, love a book with short chapters! (it makes me read more at each sitting then I would if the book had long chapters).  This book had both.  Short chapters  and a “cold case” mystery to be solved.

Generally I am not a lover of a “detective” type mystery but when it isn’t always stating “police” it instantly becomes more interesting to me.

I think I originally picked up this (used) book especially for RIP and although it wasn’t all bloody and gorey it was a good mystery, and being a 30 yr old cold case made it even more interesting.

Not a bad read at all, although it won’t make my “reread” list…that takes a “wow, fantastic” book . But if you like cold cases you will probably enjoy this book.

Meanwhile, I had begun a different book before What the Dead Know, called Nevermore.  According to the Amazon review it had everything I enjoy in a mystery book!… but after 129 pages I gave up.  The writing just didn’t capture me..but I like to put it out there because we don’t all have the same tastes when it comes to reading…

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Nevermore by William Hjortsberg

From Library Journal

Harry Houdini and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle join forces in this historical mystery with occult overtones. In his later years, Doyle has become a true believer in mediums who speak with the spirits of the dead. Houdini, as a master of illusion, takes pride in exposing and debunking such fraudulent people. Despite their opposing views, a mutual interest in the occult draws them together in a respectful friendship. When murders patterned after the tales of Edgar Allan Poe begin to occur, Houdini and Doyle are as fascinated as the rest of the citizens of New York. When they discover that all the victims have a distant relationship to Houdini, they decide to work together to solve the mystery. Nevermore is an enjoyable though sometimes gruesome adventure that is much enhanced by the author’s use of the many details behind Houdini’s amazing escapes and magic tricks

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August Reads

I look at the list of books I read in August and think “wow, I’ve never read so many books in one month!  Then I look again and realize many of them are not very big books lol.

The page count is 2412. 

1. The God of the Hives……….Laurie R King
2.
Sister……………………Rosamund Lupton
3.
Wildthorn…………………Jane Eagland
4.
The Secret Garden………….Frances H Burnett
5.
Little Lord Fauntleroy……..Frances H Burnett
6.
The Hobbit………………..J R R Tolkien
7.
Nine Coaches Waiting……….Mary Stewart

It was a good group of books.  I had been putting off reading The Secret Garden because I had seen both the older and “newer” (Maggie Smith) versions of the movie more then once.  But the reading of it was totally enjoyable.  And the same for Little Lord Fauntleroy.  That was quite a short book, and right after I read it the Freddie Bartholomew movie came on cable!!  It was a short but sweet movie and read. 

I reread the Hobbit so that it would be recent in my mind since part one of the movie comes out this December.  I’m glad I did because there was one part of their adventure I had totally forgotten about.

And then, of course, Nine Coaches Waiting, is my first read for RIP.  So, all in all, August was a good reading month.

So far September isn’t as good .   I started to read book 2 for Rip called Nevermore.  It had all the makings of a book I’d really like.  The book used a lot of historical figures which I enjoy in a book.  The likes of Conan Doyle, and Houdini and toss in Poe for good measure.  But after 129 pages I found I was not picking up the book every chance I had nor was I compelled to read on.  So I am giving up on this book and will look among my others and hope that the next one grabs me.

So.. how was your August?

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