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A Ghost of Childhood Past

28 May

In Jeffrey Ford’s latest novel, The Shadow Year, a young boy’s life is forever changed when his schoolmate disappears and he and his brother decide to investigate the strange going-ons in their small town.

With shades of Stephen King and Ray Bradbury, Ford brings to life the nameless narrator’s loving, funny but dysfunctional family that includes his hysterical brother who watches out for him when isn’t forgetting about him, an alcoholic/artist mom, a dad who works three jobs and a sister who seems to know the future with the help on an invisible friend.

With the help of an unexpected visitor, they try to find out more about a mysterious man they dub Mr. White who seems to slowly be circling them even as they spy on him.

Set in the mid 60s, The Shadow Year is dark, funny and evocotive. It takes you back in time, but then sends a shiver down your spine when you discover that someone’s not what they appear to be. Kathy B


How a liar tells the truth

18 Jan

inthewoods Early one day in 1984, three twelve-year olds set off into the local woods. Late that night, only one is found – mute, with blood on his socks and no memory of what happened. Twenty years later, he’s a detective for the Dublin police and still remembers nothing. When he and his partner are sent to investigate the murder of a girl whose body is found where the woods once stood, clues lead him to believe there’s a connection to his friends’ disappearance, and he starts to remember things he’d long forgotten. Or does he? There are two things the good detective tells the reader at the start. One: He craves the truth and Two: He lies.
In the Woods, by Tana French, is a gripping and involving thriller that leaves you wondering what the he** happened in those woods? (it better not be the fairies)
Kathy B

Abandon hope all ye who enter here.

21 Aug

In Philippe Claudel’s By a Slow River, a small-town policeman recounts the murder investigation of an angelic young girl during WW1. The investigation coincides with the suicide of the beautiful but enigmatic new schoolteacher, and the death of the narrator’s beloved wife during childbirth. His description of how the town’s local residents respond to the murder and suicide is colored by his overwhelming devastation at his wife’s death.
Well written, but grim, with a little twist at the end and a revelation about the narrator that may stun, but not really surprise the reader.
So, if you don’t need a happy ending, this winner of the France’s 2003 Prix Renaudot award is well worth the time

Kathy B
Slow River

Beverly Connor does it again…

23 Mar

deadpastDead Past, the newest Diane Fallon Forensic Investigation mystery by Beverly Connor, keeps you guessing until the end.  The story opens with a bang as a meth lab in an apartment building basement explodes.  As the police order an evacuation of the closest homes, including Diane’s, she encounters a gun-toting student missing his right hand.  The suspense builds as Diane and her team start to identify the bodies, unsuspecting students at a party in an apartment above the meth lab, and gather evidence about the explosion to help solve this crime … or has more than one crime been committed?  How many cases is Diane working on?  Will you fiqure it out before Diane does?  Another engrossing mystery in a great series.  Renee 

A Detective with a Heart

14 Feb

In 1940 London, Johnny Hawke is just scraping by as a Private Investigator. Discharged from the army after loosing an eye in rifle training, the former constable is hired to look for a couple’s missing daughter. As he starts to dig, Johnny discovers their daughter may have been living a double life connected to the dark side of the burgeoning film industry. Meanwhile, Peter, a lonely boy who’s run away from home, finds his way into Johnny’s life. The friendship between Peter and Johnny is charming, as the PI seems to see a reflection of himself in the young boy.

Filled with dashes of humor and bits of romance, Forests of the Night, by David Stuart Davies, evokes WW2 London with likeable characters that you truly care about. Kathy B

Mavis has her baby!

29 Dec

I love the mix of murder, romance, and humor that author J. D. Robb has in her “in Death” futuristic mystery novels. The lastest, Born in Death, ends with Mavis having her baby but only after her best friend, Lieutenant Eve Dallas of the New York Police and Security Department, investigates two brutal torture-murders and tries to locate a missing friend of Mavis who is also pregnant. Eve also has to find time to buy a baby present for Mavis, host a baby shower at her home and, with her husband Roarke at her side, attend birthing classes. Not only do Robb’s characterisations make these people come alive, but she deftly describes the murder scenes and autopsies without being too graphic. The writing makes all these elements work together wonderfully. Reneebornindeath

If you enjoy historical mysteries…

1 Dec

I recommend Some Danger Involved, the first in a series by author (and librarian!) Will Thomas. Set in Victorian London, young Thomas Llewelyn is down on his luck and in desperate need of a job. After a strange interview process, he becomes the assistant to the enigmatic “enquiry agent,” Cyrus Barker. These enjoyable mysteries are told from Thomas’ perspective, and while the story is entertaining and the author brings Victorian England to life, it’s the relationship that develops between these two very different men that I most enjoyed. Cyrus Barker is a true original and Thomas seems bemused yet fascinated by his secretive boss. The next two titles in the series are To Kingdom Come and The Limehouse Text. Enjoy! Kathy B