St. Albert Gazette Great Reading

Book picks as published in the February 20, 2019 St. Albert Gazette. For more great reads, check here.

They call me GeorgeThey call me George: the untold story of the Black train porters

By Cecil Foster

Smartly dressed and smiling, Canada’s Black train porters were a familiar sight to the average passenger—yet their minority status rendered them politically invisible, second-class in the social imagination that determined who was and who was not considered Canadian. It was their struggle against the racist Dominion that laid the groundwork for the multicultural nation we know today.

 

Up from freedomUp from freedom : a novel

By Wayne Grady

As a young man, Virgil Moody vowed he would never be like his father, he would never own slaves. When he moves from his father’s plantation, he takes with him pregnant Annie. She’ll be much safer with him, away from his father’s cruelty. This is a powerful and emotional novel about the dangers that arise when we stay silent in the face of prejudice or are complicit in its development.         

Joanne’s Mystery Picks

916wb7vjlhlKINGDOM OF THE BLIND by Louise Penny

The repercussions of the events that took place in the previous novel in this series (Glass Houses) are still being felt as we return to Three Pines, six months later.  Armand Gamache remains suspended from his job as head of the Sûreté du Québec while the investigation continues.

Like the other novels in this series, Kingdom of the Blind is a multi-layered story.  While Armand awaits his fate concerning his actions involving the drug cartels, he is presented with a new and puzzling situation.  He’s been chosen as one of three executors of the will of an elderly woman whom he has never met.  The provisions of the will are so bizarre that the woman’s competence at the time it was written is called into question.  Before much progress can be made, a body is found which throws a more ominous light on the whole situation.

While Gamache investigates the background of this woman he is informed that a major influx of opioids is about to hit the streets of the inner city of Montreal – those same drugs that were involved in the case that got him suspended.

Armand must use all of his guile to thwart the drug dealers from saturating the city with deadly narcotics while putting his life, and those of other officers, on the line.

5 Daggers
Joanne gives this “5 daggers out of 5”.

51qbfmncfolCARELESS LOVE by Peter Robinson

The body of a young woman is found in a car recently involved in an accident.  The car had been tagged with a POLICE AWARE sign indicating that the accident had been investigated and that the car was waiting to be towed.  There was no body in the vehicle at the time of the investigation so the presence of this young woman’s body is a mystery.  Not far away from this incident, the body of a well-dressed man is found in a gully.  Are the two incidents connected?

Banks and his team are tasked with finding everything they can about each of these people and determining whether or not they were victims of foul play.

I’m usually chomping at the bit to read a new Inspector Banks novel and began this one with great anticipation.  However, it quickly became stale and flat.  It seems that Banks has undergone a personality change – he’s become flippant, at times vulgar, and easily distracted from the task at hand.   His occasional references to this or that musician has segued into paragraphs about the artist and his/her music, becoming tedious and irritating.  Even Annie Cabbot seems to treat her job as a lark.

With a weak plot and characters who don’t live up to their reputation, Robinson’s latest mystery left me completely unsatisfied.

3 Daggers
Joanne gives this “3 daggers out of 5”

St. Albert Gazette Great Reading

Book picks as published in the February 13, 2019 St. Albert Gazette. For more great reads, check here.

wintersThe Winters : a novel

By Lisa Gabriele

After a whirlwind romance, a young woman returns to the opulent, secluded Long Island mansion of her new fiancé Max Winter–a wealthy politician and recent widower–and a life of luxury she’s never known. But all is not as it appears at the Asherley estate. The house is steeped in the memory of Max’s beautiful first wife Rebekah, who haunts the young woman’s imagination and feeds her uncertainties…

 

unwanted guestAn Unwanted guest : a novel

By Shari Lapena

It’s winter in the Catskills and Mitchell’s Inn, nestled deep in the woods, is the perfect setting for a relaxing maybe even romantic weekend away. So when the weather takes a turn for the worse, and a blizzard cuts off the electricity and all contact with the outside world the guests settle in for the long haul. Soon, though, one of the guests turns up dead–at first it looks like an accident…

 

Joanne’s Mystery Picks

7 1.2 deaths of Evelyn HardcastleTHE SEVEN DEATHS OF EVELYN HARDCASTLE by Stuart Turton

Aiden Bishop has been invited to a Masquerade by the Hardcastle Family, taking place at their estate – Blackheath House.  But Aiden isn’t himself.  No – really! He isn’t himself.  At any given time, he’s one of eight other people – hosts whose bodies he will inhabit for twenty-four hours each, until he solves the mystery of who killed Evelyn Hardcastle, the daughter of the family.

Each morning Aiden awakes in a new body, struggling to remember the events of the previous day, trying to put together the puzzle that will lead him to Evelyn’s murderer and his eventual release from his torment.  His life is on a loop as he struggles to “keep down” the person whose body he inhabits while trying to remember who he really is.

Author A. J. Finn describes this novel as “Agatha Christie meets Groundhog Day” and I can’t think of a better description for it.  It’s edge-of-your-seat fiction and completely unpredictable, with characters who run the gamut from odious to demure.  Truly a page-turner if I’ve ever read one.

5 Daggers
Joanne gives this “5 daggers out of 5”.

md22450752995DREADFULWATER SHOWS UP by Hartley GoodWeather

You might know the author of this hilarious mystery by his real name: Thomas King.  King brings the same kind of humour to this novel as he did to his radio show The Dead Dog Café Comedy Hour, which aired on CBC Radio from 1997-2000.

The characters in this novel are as colorful as the names they’ve been given.  Thumps DreadfulWater is a Cherokee ex-cop who has settled in the little town of Chinook, somewhere in the northwestern U.S.  He’s given up his badge for a camera and bit by bit we begin to learn why.  When he’s asked to take pictures of a dead body found in a condo, he defaults to police-mode and is soon investigating the death, against the advice of the local sheriff.  The prime-suspect is the son of Thumps’ sometimes lover, and Thumps is positive that he’s innocent.  But you cannot prove someone innocent if you cannot find them.  So in addition to trying to find the murderer, he must also find the person who didn’t do it.

There’s a chuckle on every page and I found myself laughing out loud consistently throughout the book.  Thumps DreadfulWater is such a great character – I look forward to reading more of his adventures in The Red Power Murders and Cold Skies: A DreadfulWater Mystery, released in May of this year.

5 Daggers
Joanne gives this “5 daggers out of 5”.