Joanne’s Mystery Picks

28007842BY GASLIGHT by Steven Price

This atmospheric tale of loss, obsession and revenge takes us from the diamond mines of South Africa, to the crowded streets of Victorian London and the battlefields of the American Civil War.   It is 1885 and William Pinkerton takes up the search for a man who eluded his famous late father for so many years – the infamous Edward Shade.  But Shade proves to be as shadowy as his name suggests and there are those who maintain that he doesn’t even exist.

Adam Foole, a gentleman con-man and thief, returns to London in search of a lost love who he learns, has a tenuous connection to this same man, Shade.  Slowly their stories begin to converge and both men are thrust together in an unlikely bond.

Price’s brilliant writing allows our senses to smell the decay and stench of the streets and sewers of London, to see and feel the grit under the fingernails of the poor and downtrodden, and to hear the incessant sounds of war on the battlefields of America.  This is a novel of epic proportions and leaves the reader in awe of the ability of this writer to create such a stunning work of fiction.

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Please join me on Saturday, October 14 at 7:00 p.m. at St. Albert Public Library as we welcome Steven Price to STARFest.

Summer Reading Game Reviews

We’re in the final stretches of the Adult Summer Reading Game, but there is plenty of time to get a few more books in!

1137151Before Green Gables by Budge Wilson

I really enjoyed this book! It is written in a similar style to Lucy Maud Montgomery’s book and the details of life in rural P.E.I. in the early 1900s really made me feel like I was right there. I recommend this book to all lovers of Anne of Green Gables. it will leave you with a wonderful “feel good” feeling.
Loved it!

massey_murder-size-custom-crop-438x650The Massey Murder: A Maid, Her Master and The Trial that Shocked a Country by Charlotte Gray

I chose this book as a fan of true crime, but I was pleasantly surprised by the engaging look at our country at the turn of the 20th century. Gray uses the trial of Carrie Davis as a frame for a growing Toronto/Canada, a country at war, and the changing role of women. I missed Charlotte Gray when she was at our library, but I will be sure to see this author if she comes back!
It was good. ~Staff review by Michelle

1291577Sisters in the Wilderness by Charlotte Gray

For those who love early Canadian history, Sisters in the wilderness is an illustrated double biography of Susanna Moodie and Catharine Parr Traill, two of Canada’s earliest pioneers. Set in the “backwoods” of Upper Canada in the 19th century, it is a great novel of those early days: the hardships, the struggles, the isolation, loneliness and fear. It is also a story of achievement — two sisters and the birth of Canada’s literary tradition. A great read!
Loved it!  ~Staff review by Iris.

 

Joanne’s Mystery Picks

chasing-the-dead-david-raker-mystery-by-tim-weaver-1101993324CHASING THE DEAD by Tim Weaver

Alex Towne is dead.  Or is he?  His mother, Mary, claims to have seen him walking down the street – 6 years after he mysteriously disappeared and one year since his body was found burned beyond recognition in a car wreck.  Is this simply a case of wishful thinking on her part, or is there some substance to what she claims?  David Raker, a missing persons’ investigator, hopes that in helping Mary (as fruitless as he feels it might be) he’ll be helping himself to come to grips with the loss of his wife.

What David doesn’t realize when he takes on this case is the extremes that people will go to hide the secrets in their past.  As he delves deeper into Alex’s disappearance, he finds that not everyone is whom they say they are and a sinister network whose purpose is yet unclear, is manipulating every single move.

Be prepared for a real roller-coaster ride here – and hang on!  The ending might just derail you!

51s23vyfr3l-_sx333_bo1204203200_MURDER IN AN IRISH VILLAGE by Carlene O’Connor

Since the death of her parents a year earlier due to a drunk driver, Siobhan O’Sullivan has run the family bistro along with her five siblings.   At the age of twenty-two, this is not what she’d envisioned for herself.  She should have been pursuing her studies at the University of Dublin.  Instead, she’s baking brown bread and pouring tea in the tiny village of Kilbane in County Cork, Ireland.

When Niall Murphy, brother of the man responsible for the death of the O’Sullivan parents, turns up dead in the bistro, Siobhan is determined to solve the crime, especially since her brother has been arrested for it.  With each subsequent chapter, Siobhan names a different villager as the murderer until facts and alibis dismiss them as being even remotely involved.

Dotted with Irish slang and colloquialisms, O’Connor does her utmost to make the reader feel that they are there – in County Cork, Ireland.  However, it just doesn’t ring true for me.  The words appear “planted”, impeding the natural flow of the narrative.

In the end, the motive of the murderer seems incompatible with the severity of the crime.  Of course, one never knows what triggers someone to murder…

But in the case of this novel, it really doesn’t work for me.  As a “cosy”, it might work for some, but it leaves me unsettled and unfulfilled.

Joanne’s Mystery Picks

9780385678414Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew’d by Alan Bradley

How wonderful it is to have Flavia back in England after her “interesting” year at Miss Bodycote’s Female Academy in Toronto!  None is more pleased than Flavia, herself.  However, her pleasure is put on hold when Dogger informs her that her father is ill in hospital and that she will not be able to visit him for the time being.

Hardly expecting a rousing welcome home from her sisters Feely and Daffy and her pest of a cousin, Undine, she jumps at the chance to head out on Gladys to run an errand for the Vicar’s wife.  What she finds when she reaches her destination whets her appetite for investigation and discovery.  Of course it takes her down a path that she surely could not have imagined.

Filled with the humour and cheekiness that we’ve come to love, this book is an absolute delight to read.  Flavia is surely the cleverest “detective” since Christie’s Poirot and Marple.

Joanne’s Mystery Picks

burningmanBryant & May and the Burning Man by Christopher Fowler

There’s no doubt in my mind that Christopher Fowler is a brilliant wordsmith!  His latest chronicle of the Peculiar Crimes Unit is proof of this. A more clever, witty, smart and “edge of your seat suspenseful” tome I haven’t read in a very long time.

It’s chaos in London, leading up to Guy Fawke’s night. Demonstrators are up-in-arms over the scandal involving a wealthy financier who’s been accused of insider trading. When a homeless man is found dead, burned  after a Molotov cocktail was thrown onto the steps where he was sleeping, the Unit are called in to investigate whether this was an accident or pre-meditated murder. And what’s up with Bryant? He seems more distracted than ever. Meanwhile his many odd contacts (comparable to  Sherlock Holmes’ “Baker Street Irregulars”), help to flesh out the strange tangents that he goes off on.

Filled with history, metaphor, and those odd bits of trivia that Fowler so cleverly adds, “The Burning Man” is most definitely his best to date.