Archive for December, 2015

Murder as a Fine Art

Murder as a Fine Art by David Morrell.

Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Mulholland Books;(May 7, 2013)
ISBN-10: 0316216798



From Booklist

*Starred Review* At the start of this exceptional historical mystery, an artist of death prepares himself for his greatest creation—the gruesome slaughter of a young shop owner and his family. In 1854, East Londoners hadn’t seen such horrific murders since 1851, when John Williams also killed a shopkeeper and his family in a nearby neighborhood. The new crime finds Detective Inspector Shawn Ryan at the grisly, chaotic crime scene, where evidence is trampled as the killer blithely escapes. Visiting London at the time, for reasons he can’t fully understand, is Thomas De Quincey, scandalous “opium eater” and author of the 1827 satirical essay, “On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts,” and two newer essays in which he lauds various horrific details of the Williams killings as sublime art. DI Ryan initially treats the drug-riddled, elderly writer as a suspect but eventually accepts his help, if grudgingly. Military-thriller writer Morrell switches genres here in a riveting novel packed with edifying historical minutiae seamlessly inserted into a story narrated in part by De Quincey’s daughter and partly in revealing, dialogue-rich prose. The page-flipping action, taut atmosphere, and multifaceted characters will remind readers of D. E. Meredith’s Hatton and Roumonde mysteries and Kenneth Cameron’s The Frightened Man (2009). Sure to be a hit with the gaslight crowd. –Jen Baker

Wow, wow, wow, wow, wow!!  What a way to end my 2015 reading!   This book had me so hooked, I was sorry when it was over.  So much history in this book!  What a great one! and just found a sequel to it.. well, some of the same characters.. so on the wish list it went!!

Anyone who like 1800’s mystery/ murders etc. will love this book!

Oh! Did I mention that this is the same author who wrote Rambo and Rambo II?  ..ah well.. he did.

He’s been writing for some time but this is the first book I’ve read by Mr Morrell.  I looked through older books of his but this was the first using certain characters that I really enjoyed… thus I will eventually get the second book he has out using them! (titled: Inspector of the Dead)

I can’t say it enough.. I never expected to read another entire book before January but this one was not going to let me leave it on the table!!

Highly recommended!!!


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The Dead Will Tell

The Dead Will Tell by Linda Castillo.

Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks (March 31, 2015)
ISBN-10: 1250059852


Everyone in Painters Mill knows the abandoned Hochstetler farm is haunted. But only a handful of the residents remember the terrible secrets lost in the muted/hushed whispers of time―and now death is stalking them, seemingly from the grave.
On a late-night shift, Chief of Police Kate Burkholder is called to the scene of an apparent suicide―an old man found hanging from the rafters in his dilapidated barn. But evidence quickly points to murder and Kate finds herself chasing a singularly difficult and elusive trail of evidence that somehow points back to the tragedy of that long ago incident. Meanwhile, Kate has moved in with state agent John Tomasetti and for the first time in so long, they’re both happy; a bliss quickly shattered when one of the men responsible for the murders of Tomasetti’s family four years ago is found not guilty, and walks away a free man. Will Tomasetti be pulled back to his own haunted past?
When a second man is found dead―also seemingly by his own hand―Kate discovers a link in the case that sends the investigation in a direction no one could imagine and revealing the horrifying truth of what really happened that terrible night thirty-five years ago, when an Amish father and his four children perished―and his young wife disappeared without a trace.
And, as Kate knows―the past never truly dies

Well.. this is not the norm for me!  Amish murder? Pennsylvania?.. nope not my usual mystery!


A surprisingly really good one!   The book covers an old case of murder and kidnapping and slowly Chief Kate Burkholder finds herself blending the very old case… with a very new case.  I have to admit that she did some nice hiding of clues and I found myself wondering right up to the end, how it would end.

There was not a lot of Amish mentioned except for some of the language so I tended to not remember Amish facts that might have given me more hints.

A very well written book.. although there are 5 others before this book I can say with certainty that you don’t have to have read the other books first.. so no matter which one you begin with, if you like her writing you can go on from there.  I put her future book on my wish list but have no big desire to go backwards to see what her stories were like before… but that could be just how my mind has been lately.

This is a thumbs up .. enjoyed the book to the bitter end!

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The Girl in the Woods

The Girl in the Woods by David Jack Bell.

Paperback: 344 pages
Publisher: Delirium Books (August 18, 2009)
ISBN-10: 1929653107

When Diana Greene leaves her hometown for a new life, she thinks she has left the past behind: her sister’s disappearance, her mother’s illness, and the visions Diana used to see…a clearing in the woods…a moonlit night…and human bones buried in the ground. And her past remains dormant until the day a mysterious woman appears on Diana’s doorstep, promising Diana something she can’t resist. “If you help me find my missing daughter, I’ll tell you what happened to your sister.” Soon Diana is digging into the past, uncovering secrets the town has long since buried, secrets that the powerful wish would stay hidden. But when another girl disappears and the visions return to Diana with a vengeance, she knows she is on the brink of solving more than just a few missing person’s cases. She is on the brink of discovering the dark and violent covenant that the town itself was founded upon.

Excellent books, as has been all David Bell books that I have read before. (5 others: Someone I Used to Know, The Forgotten Girl, The Hiding Place, Cemetery Girl , and Never Come Back….)

As good as this book is I am still confused .. all of David Bells Paperback run about the same price.. THIS ONE, however.. can run a mini fortune, and I don’t know why!  Of course I waited a long long time to find this used one at a price I could afford (cheap) and the condition was just fine, but if you search on Amazon you will find many of “The Girl in the Woods” at a very expensive price.

Unless it has something to do with “collecting” I don’t get it.

The book is excellent, like I said, but all his books are!

I actually found one I haven’t read!… but also found out it’s because it hasn’t been released yet!  heh…

Anyway, I can say just one thing.. any of David Bell’s books are going to be a very good read.. so if you come across any, I’d pick ’em up and give them a chance.  They are especially good around “Halloween time”!

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At the Water’s Edge

At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen.

Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Spiegel & Grau (November 10, 2015)
ISBN-10: 0385523246


In this thrilling new novel from the author of Water for Elephants, Sara Gruen again demonstrates her talent for creating spellbinding period pieces. At the Water’s Edge is a gripping and poignant love story about a privileged young woman’s awakening as she experiences the devastation of World War II in a tiny village in the Scottish Highlands.
After disgracing themselves at a high society New Year’s Eve party in Philadelphia in 1944, Madeline Hyde and her husband, Ellis, are cut off financially by his father, a former army colonel who is already ashamed of his son’s inability to serve in the war. When Ellis and his best friend, Hank, decide that the only way to regain the Colonel’s favor is to succeed where the Colonel very publicly failed—by hunting down the famous Loch Ness monster—Maddie reluctantly follows them across the Atlantic, leaving her sheltered world behind.
The trio find themselves in a remote village in the Scottish Highlands, where the locals have nothing but contempt for the privileged interlopers. Maddie is left on her own at the isolated inn, where food is rationed, fuel is scarce, and a knock from the postman can bring tragic news. Yet she finds herself falling in love with the stark beauty and subtle magic of the Scottish countryside. Gradually she comes to know the villagers, and the friendships she forms with two young women open her up to a larger world than she knew existed. Maddie begins to see that nothing is as it first appears: the values she holds dear prove unsustainable, and monsters lurk where they are least expected.
As she embraces a fuller sense of who she might be, Maddie becomes aware not only of the dark forces around her, but of life’s beauty and surprising possibilities.

This is my third book by Sara Gruen.  The other two I have read are: Ape House, and Water for Elephants (which became a movie).  She is a really well written story teller.  I’ve enjoyed all her books.  Each a little different but each with a “story” to tell.  No Murders, no deep mysteries.. but interesting life stories.

Admittedly, this one is a bit of a love story, which generally is not up my alley.  But she surrounded it with the close ending of WWII and her and her husband and friend being filthy rich, and so despite the war, they go to Scotland in search of the Loch Ness Monster.   But everything begins to fall apart when she over hears the men talking.. and then realizes lies that have been told to her and others.

The romance part is not throughout the entire book, which is nice.  So there is plenty of atmosphere to be had and genuinely really great characters.

It was a fast read and I totally enjoy it, as I have her other books.  Sara Gruen and her books gets a thumbs up!

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Churchill Defiant by Barbara Leaming.

Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Harper (October 12, 2010)
ISBN-10: 0061337587



From Booklist

Expelled from power in 1945 by the British electorate, Winston Churchill could have retired, written memoirs, and basked in national esteem for his wartime leadership. The Second World War did come out, but Churchill also clung to politics for another decade, frustrating the ambition for the top spot of the Conservative Party’s younger, glamour-boy heir apparent, Anthony Eden. Leaming’s absorbing chronicle depicts Churchill’s conviction of his indispensability and Eden’s exasperations within a sequence of schemes and cabals of Tory factions to replace the former with the latter. Such plots the wily Churchill repeatedly circumvented by reneging on promises to retire and by public speeches that effectively (though deceptively) allayed rumors about his health, diminished by several strokes. Illuminating Churchill’s determination to defy time, Leaming alludes to his previous comebacks and to his belief that he alone could negotiate with Stalin and his successors, a conceit with which the author makes some sport. In the context of Britain’s grim postwar years of austerity and the ascension of Elizabeth II, Leaming produces eminently readable political history. –Gilbert Taylor

I liked reading about Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt and WWII, and so because Churchill resided in those books so much that I needed to read something about the man himself.

Obviously, I had read of the war years and so I decided on reading this particular book because it was about the years following the war.

Churchill was quite the politician.  After the was and after being expelled from power, Churchill did NOT retire.  He set his mind to getting back the power he once had.  The ten years following, he was exposed to much bad health but still persisted.  Always of the mind that they needed him to stay and to lead .

The book lets you know the sort of man Churchill was, not just what he did in the war, where he lead so extraordinarily well.

If one reads of the Roosevelt’s and the Churchill’s one begins to wonder what happened to leaders who really care?

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I did well in October and came to a screeching halt in November!  My excuses are:  decided to crochet another afghan, did not feel well,  depression and anxiety in greater quantity then normal.. and.. the holidays..

Slow as I get I haven’t quit yet! I may skip a day or only read 10 pages in a day.. but the books are always by my side. I don’t expect any great increase for December but I hope the enjoyment of it picks up.  If not, I know exactly what to do… I reread a favorite book that I KNOW makes me want to keep reading it!  

Anyway… this is my list from October and November.. hard to believe December is here!  


60..The Angel of Darkness……………Caleb Carr……….(629 pgs)

61..Rosemary the Hidden Kennedy Daughter.Kate Larson……..(320 pgs)

62..Sons & Brothers…………………Richard D Mahoney…(441 pgs)

63..Eleanor: The Years Alone…………Joseph P Lash…….(367 pgs)

64..The Girl on the Train……………Paula Hawkins…….(323 pgs)

65..The Storied Life of A J Fikry…….Gabrielle Zevin…..(288 pgs)

66..Thirteen Days:Cuban Missile Crisis..Robert F Kennedy….(185 pgs)

67..The Hidden History of JFK Assassination…Lamar Waldon..(400 pgs)

I read 4 books on the Kennedy family.  I have to say that Sons and Brothers ( JFK and RFK) and Hidden History of JFK Assassination were both quite enlightening!  I liked all 4 of the books.

Then I read Eleanor: The Years Alone.  Eleanor Roosevelt .. the woman, who is she were alive, I’d vote for to be President!! (certainly better than anyone running at the moment!)

Caleb Carr is an author I have read before and manages to write long books that keep me reading.

The Girl on the Train has had a lot of hype.  At first my one celled brain was confused, as the author continually wrote in “first person” no matter who the person was, so I would be reading and suddenly wonder who it was that was talking!  But eventually I “got it” and the book was very good.

The Storied Life of A J Fikry was an enjoyable read.  It’s a feel good book for sure.

So that’s it for 2 months.. not a one I didn’t enjoy reading!

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