Joanne’s Mystery Picks

36204075THE WORD IS MURDER by Anthony Horowitz

Anthony Horowitz is a multi-talented author and screenwriter.  He’s the creator and writer of the TV series Foyle’s War and has contributed scripts to Agatha Christie’s Poirot and Midsomer Murders.  His mystery and suspense novels for adults are cleverly plotted, and he has a large following of young adult readers for his Alex Rider series and The Power of Five series.

The novel begins when Diana Cowper walks into a funeral parlor to plan her own service.   Little does she know how timely her visit will be, for a mere six hours later she is found dead – strangled – in her own home.  Daniel Hawthorne, a strange and eccentric police investigator is given the case.

Hawthorne is set on having his life and work documented as he goes about his investigations and he chooses Anthony Horowitz to act as his ghost writer!  So here we have the “real” Horowitz as a character in his own book.  At times the reader has to sort out if what Horowitz is alluding to is in this book’s plot or something in his real life, which makes for very interesting reading.

At times amusing, this novel provides enough twists and turns and a simply brilliant ending to please even the most critical reader.  This is Horowitz at his best.

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

original_400_600WILD FIRE by Ann Cleeves

In the Acknowledgements, prior to the beginning of this book, Cleeves states that this is the last Shetland novel that she’ll write.  For the reader, this means that she needs to wrap up the stories about Jimmy Perez and his team.

This novel is all about dysfunctional relationships and families and I felt that the characters were simply shadows on the page – even Jimmy Perez wasn’t fully formed and we “know” him.   When the body of a young nanny is found hanging in the barn of recent newcomers to the island, the gossip about her and the families involved, takes off like “wild fire”.  Jimmy, along with his boss, Willow Reeves, has to sort out the truth from the lies and innuendo while dealing with their own fractured relationship.

The investigation into this incident is haphazard, darting here and there without any real pattern.  Leads are quickly acted on, then simply dropped when someone else comes forward with information, never again to be pursued.  The solution appears contrived and leads the reader to ask “how did we get here?”

This is certainly a disappointing ending to a series that I’ve enjoyed reading through eight novels.  Maybe it’s just as well that it’s the last installment.


Seniors Book Club October Selection

of this earth1

The Seniors Drop-In Book Club will meet at 2:00 pm on Wednesday, October 10 in the second floor Training Room to discuss Of This Earth: A Mennonite Forest in the Boreal Forest, a memoir by Rudy Wiebe.

About the book

In Of This Earth, Rudy Wiebe gives vivid life again to the vanished world of Speedwell, Saskatchewan, an isolated, poplar-forested, mostly Mennonite community – and Rudy’s first home. Too young to do heavy work, Rudy witnessed a way of life that was soon to disappear. And we experience with him the hard labour of clearing the stony, silty bushland; the digging out of precious wells one bucket of dirt at a time; sorrow at the death of a beloved sister; the disorienting searches for grazing cattle in the vast wilderness sloughs and the sweet discovery of the power of reading.

Rare personal photographs (reproduced throughout the book) and the fragile memories of those who are left give shape to the story of Mennonite immigrants building a life in Canada, the growth and decline of the small Speedwell community, the sway of religion, and a young boy’s growing love of the extreme beauty of the aspen forests – as well as how all these elements came to inform his destiny as a writer. (Publisher)

About Rudy Wiebe (Publisher)

Where the truth lies: Author Rudy Wiebe on what’s important (Edmonton Journal)

Why Rudy Wiebe will never write a funny novel (Q&A on CBC)

A history of Russian Mennonite immigration to Canada 

Mennonites and their beliefs

St. Albert Gazette Great Reading

Book picks as published in the October 3, 2018 St. Albert Gazette. For more great reads, check here.

Sofie and CeciliaSofie & Cecilia : a novel

By Katherine Ashenburg

The story of a lifelong female friendship, set in the art world of Sweden between 1900 and 1940 and loosely based on the lives of celebrated artists Carl Larsson and Anders Zorn. Ashenburg transports us behind both the public and domestic scenes of these larger-than-life men to reveal the lesser-known but equally rich stories of the women who married them. Come to our StarFest event on October 15.



Boat peopleThe Boat people : a novel

By Sharon Bala

An extraordinary novel about a group of refugees who survive a perilous ocean voyage only to face the threat of deportation amid accusations of terrorism. The Boat People is a spellbinding and timely novel that provokes a deeply compassionate lens through which to view the current refugee crisis. Meet the author at our StarFest event on October 16, 7 pm.

Joanne’s Mystery Picks

519iq0zzdul-_sx330_bo1204203200_THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW by A. J. Finn

Think “Rear Window” (Alfred Hitchcock’s 1954 mystery thriller movie), and you’ve got the premise of this novel.  However, there’s more to this story than the one that Hitchcock told.

Anna Fox is a child psychologist who has become a recluse in her own home.  She’s plagued by agoraphobia and can only cope through drink and watching old movies.  That is until she sees something through her window that makes her question her own reality.  Of course she’s not believed – not by the police, not by her doctor, and not by anyone else.  In fact, she herself gradually begins to think that whatever she “saw” actually wasn’t real and in trying to dismiss it has no idea of how much danger she is in.  This is a gripping, intense novel, where reality and imagination are tipped on their respective heads.

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

51mfa84sb9l-_sx327_bo1204203200_THE DRY by Jane Harper

Aaron Falk, a Federal Police investigator, returns to the farming community of Kiewarra in Australia, twenty years after he and his father left under a cloud of suspicion.  He has come back to attend the funeral of his childhood friend, Luke Hadler, who along with his wife and child have been found brutally slain.  The community believes that the drought that has ravaged the countryside is the culprit in these deaths – that it drove Luke to kill his family and then to kill himself.  Luke’s parents think differently and implore Aaron to investigate further.

Aaron knows that in doing so, the secrets that he’s lived with for twenty years will surface, and that they will re-awaken the animosity of the folk who were his neighbours back then.  As he probes into the lives of Luke, his family, and the townsfolk of Kiewarra, far more secrets are unearthed along with the terrible lies that have destroyed so many people.

An atmospheric, intense and moving story, The Dry is sure to stay with the reader for a long while.

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