Joanne’s Mystery Picks

Lost manThe Lost Man by Jane Harper

The Australian Outback is a punishing environment even for those who know it well and respect it.  So how did Cameron Bright come to be where his body was found – at the legendary stockman’s grave – without any provisions or even a vehicle to get him safely back home?  This is the major question that is posed by this standalone novel by Jane Harper, author of The Dry and Force of Nature.  And this is the question that Nathan, the oldest of the three Bright brothers, tries to find the answer to. 

Harper’s ability to create such tangible atmosphere in her novels is critical to how the reader reacts to the whole story.  Here we suffer the heat and dryness of the Outback to the point of thirst; feel the grit of the sand between our teeth; and feel the sweat as it soaks into our clothes.  We can only imagine, in horror, what Cameron felt while slowing dying in the heat and relentless sun.

In The Roar of the Crowd by Janice MacDonald, one or her characters says: “literature teaches us that subtext and back story is where everything really happens”.  This couldn’t be more true than it is in this novel. Despite being estranged from his family for ten years, Nathan is determined to solve the tragic mystery surrounding his brother, Cameron.  But there are so many secrets and so much pain to get through…

Make sure you add this book to your list of “must reads” along with Harper’s first two, if you haven’t read them already.

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

St. Albert Gazette Great Reading

Book picks as published in the July 31, 2019 St. Albert Gazette. For more great reads, check here.

Reality bubbleThe Reality bubble : blind spots, hidden truths, and the dangerous illusions that shape our world

By Ziya Tong

A groundbreaking, fascinating book for our times. Ziya Tong brings to bear her scientific worldview and formidable understanding of the urgent problems that confront our world. The Reality Bubble provides a vivid picture of what stalks our blind spots and reveals how the way we look at the world has the power to shake civilization. Fast-paced, utterly fascinating, and deeply humane.


Becoming Dr. SeussBecoming Dr. Seuss : Theodor Geisel and the making of an American imagination

By Brian Jay Jones

Whimsical and wonderful, Dr. Seuss’ work has defined our childhoods and the childhoods of our own children. Theodor Geisel, however, had a second, more radical side. It is there that the allure and fasciation of his Dr. Seuss alter ego begins. He had a successful career as an advertising man and then as a political cartoonist, his personal convictions appearing, not always subtly, throughout his books.

St. Albert Gazette Great Reading

Book picks as published in the July 24, 2019 St. Albert Gazette. For more great reads, check here.

Big skyBig Sky

By Kate Atkinson

Iconoclastic detective Jackson Brodie returns in a triumphant new novel by the brilliant Kate Atkinson about secrets, sex and lies. Jackson Brodie has relocated to a quiet seaside village, in the occasional company of his recalcitrant teenage son and an aging Labrador, both at the discretion of his ex-partner Julia. It’s picturesque, but there’s something darker lurking behind the scenes.


Searching for Sylvie LeeSearching for Sylvie Lee

By Jean Kwok

Sylvie, the beautiful, successful older daughter of the Lee family, flies to the Netherlands for one final visit with her dying grandmother–and then vanishes. Amy, the sheltered baby of the Lee family, is too young to remember a time when her parents were newly immigrated and too poor to keep Sylvie. Sylvie, the golden girl, kept painful secrets . . . secrets that will reveal more than Amy ever could have imagined. 

Joanne’s Mystery Picks

Welcome to Joanne’s 150th review for our SAPL Reader’s Blog!!

51kplqqp2nl._sx332_bo1204203200_Unto Us a Son is Given by Donna Leon

As I was reading Leon’s latest Commissario Guido Brunetti mystery I began to think that she’d taken a departure from her usual format. The story was interesting – Count Falier, Brunetti’s father-in-law, asks him to investigate his wealthy, elderly friend Gonzalo Rodriguez de Tejada who has recently put a plan in place to adopt a much younger man as his son. And as the particulars of Gonzalo’s plan unfold, along with the resistance to the adoption by his friends, Gonzalo abruptly drops dead on the street. So – a death – but one that is easily explained.

It isn’t until page 169 that we are faced with a murder. As Louise Penny stated in an interview on CBC Radio’s “Q” in 2017: “Murder is the beginning, not the end of the story”. It is at this point that the author explores human nature and the “real” story comes out. Leon is certainly on board with this premise and beautifully peels away the layers of this story to get to the core and ultimately, to the truth.

Masterfully written, with fully-fleshed characters and a setting that begs one to purchase an airline ticket to Venice (if only to eat one of Paolo’s glorious meals), this novel ticks all the boxes as a terrific read.

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


St. Albert Gazette Great Reading

Book picks as published in the July 17, 2019 St. Albert Gazette. For more great reads, check here.

patsy filePatsy
by Nicole Dennis-Benn

When Patsy finally gets a visa to visit her best friend and secret romantic interest, Cicely, in America, she is filled with hope for her future, even though she has to leave her young daughter, Tru, behind in Jamaica. When she arrives, her hopes quickly disintegrate and she must face the dispiriting reality of being an undocumented worker. Her mother’s abandonment deeply impacts Tru, who is facing her own struggles.


ice world.jpgThe Ice at the End of the World: An Epic Journey into Greenland’s Buried Past and Our Perilous Future
by Jon Gertner

Greenland has long attracted intrepid scientists and explorers. Gertner balances exciting stories of discovery and exploration with a straightforward discussion of the impact of Greenland’s rapidly melting ice sheet, which is both a time capsule, and a disturbing portent of the future. The far-reaching consequences of the global climate change crisis are conveyed with an eye towards spurring readers to action.