Welcome to the MOSL Book Challenge

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Concealed in Death by J.D. Robb

I don't think I'll be going out on a limb to say that most fans of this series are not reading it for the mystery! But what keeps me coming back for more is the great ensemble cast of characters.  There's detective Eve Dallas and her handsome, debonair husband Roarke.  Then there's Dallas's partner Peabody and her main squeeze McNabb, Dallas's best friend Mavis and her designer husband Leonardo, and psychologist Charlotte Mira and her irresistibly sweet husband Dennis. In this installment of the series, Dallas must discover who murdered twelve young girls and hid their bodies in an abandoned building fifteen years ago.  Dallas takes time out during the investigation to savor her "family".  Longtime readers of the series will appreciate how far she's come! 384 pages.

Leaving everything most loved : a novel by Jacqueline Winspear

Maisie Dobbs has reached a crossroads.  Her lover James Compton is moving to Canada to help test prototype war planes, her assistant Billy Beale is ready to start a new life with his family, and Maisie can't decide if she wants to continue her detective business, start teaching, or travel. Before she can make a decision, she's asked to investigate the murder of an Indian nanny.  The nanny had left her family behind in India to come to England to earn enough money to start a school for young girls. In the course of the investigation Maisie becomes intrigued by Indian culture.  Was the nanny murdered for betraying her family's values? What will Maisie decide to do?  I can't wait to read what happens next! 339 pages.

Star Wars: Outbound Flight by Timothy Zahn

I wish Timothy Zahn would write the screenplay for the next Star Wars movie!  He develops his characters and  uses technology to advance the story line not replace it.  Outbound Flight is the story of a mission to colonize the unknown regions at the edge of galaxy.  The mission is the brainchild of Jedi Master Jorus C'Baoth, whose arrogance and impatience do not endear him to the civilians on Outbound Flight.  He plans to use the mission to recruit and train a new generation of Jedi, by force if necessary. But even Master C'Baoth is not aware that the mission is doomed.  Agents of the Sith Lord Darth Sidious are waiting to destroy Outbound Flight before it crosses into unknown territory.  Will they succeed?  Or will their plot be foiled by the Chiss Commander Thrawn?  I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the early adventures of Thrawn, the smuggler Jorg Car'das, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and a very young Annakin Skywalker. 420 pages.

Death at the Chateau Bremont by M.L. Longworth

A Verlaque & Bonnet Mystery, in a fairly cozy style.  The most interesting part is the setting in the Aix-en-Provence region in the south of France.  Antoine Verlaque is the local investigative judge, and Marine Bonnet his ex-lover who is also a lawyer.  When a young count dies suspiciously by falling (or being pushed) out of a window of his Chateau, Verlaque is called on to investigate.  The case becomes more interesting when his brother is killed a few weeks later and some possible ties to the Russian mob are uncovered.  Verlaque is a lover of good food, wine, women and cigars, so the reader is treated to a lot of the local culture.  311 pages.

Elegy for Eddie by Jacqueline Winspear

Is the murder of an innocent justified in the cause of the greater good?  Maisie Dobbs confronts this question head on when she investigates the murder of one of her own.  Three friends and fellow costermongers of Maisie's dad are not convinced that Eddie Pettit's death was an accident.  They ask Maisie to investigate his death at the paper factory where he worked.   Eddie's employer is a powerful British publisher heavily invested in preparing for the next war with Germany.  Was Eddie murdered to keep war preparations secret? 335 pages.

The god of the hive : a novel of suspense featuring Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes by Laurie R. King

The God of the Hive picks up where The Language of Bees abruptly left off.  Mary Russell and Sherlock are on the run.  Mary has Sherlock's little granddaughter in tow and is trying to fly back to London in one piece. Sherlock has abducted a doctor to care for his severely wounded son while they attempt a boat crossing to Holland. Both believe they are being followed by the cult leader responsible for the ritualistic murder of Sherlock's daughter-in-law and others. What they have yet to discover is that the cult leader was only a pawn in a Secret Services power struggle.  King introduces the unforgettable character of Robin Goodfellow-shell shocked veteran, childlike woodsman, and implacable protector of the helpless.  An amazing adventure read! 354 pages.

A lesson in secrets : a Maisie Dobbs novel by Jacqueline Winspear.

In the previous books of the series, Jacqueline Winspear wrote about such issues as class, mental illness, returning veterans, and continuing tensions between nations in the aftermath of World War I.  Now Winspear takes up the rise of the Secret Service.  Maisie Dobbs has just been asked by the Special Branch of Scotland Yard to get a job as a lecturer at a newly founded pacifist university.  Maisie's assignment is to discover who is sympathetic to the rising Nazi party and what they are doing in support of the party.  Almost before she begins, the founder and president of the college dies from an apparent heart attack. Maisie quickly determines that the president was murdered and uses her undercover identity to try to find the killer.  Another engrossing look at post World War I England! 323 pages.

Chestnut Street by Maeve Binchy

I guess I shouldn't be shocked that a writer that died two years ago has a new book out.  After all Tupac Shakur has a musical in development on Broadway and Dick Francis and Anne McCaffrey are still writing books (with their offspring) well after their deaths!  That said, I still wanted to read the new Maeve Binchy!

This collection of short stories reads more like a set of sketches for future books- some of the stories are more developed than others. My favorites in this collection are the tale a lonely widow and the builder hired to renovate the house next door and the story of four women who decide to buy a house together. Some of the stories' main characters appear in the background of other stories and all the stories have a satisfying resolution. I'd recommend this collection for hardcore Maeve Binchy fans only.  384 pages.

The mapping of love and death : a Maisie Dobbs novel by Jacqueline Winspear

An American cartographer maps out a claim to a potentially oil-rich piece of California real estate before heading out to fight in WWI.  Many years after the war his body is discovered buried in an Allied Forces trench, the apparent casualty of a German bombing attack.  He left behind a cache of love letters but not the map to the land claim.  His family asks Maisie Dobbs to find the mysterious British nurse who wrote the letters. Maisie's search follows many false trails but eventually leads to the discovery of the missing map and another hidden legacy of the American. Reading about the role of cartographers in WWI is an added bonus! 338 pages.

"Through a Fog" by Hollis Shiloh

This was a strange little novella about a magician/courier transporting a mysterious egg across the sea to be studied by English scientists.  It is at least 50 years old and has shown no signs of life until cracks start to appear.  Soon an unusual creature hatches, but is it harmless or will it endanger the ship and its passengers?  I've read many of Shiloh's stories and this one was quite different from the others, but I still enjoyed her cast of characters as well as the unique setting.  60 pages (Kindle edition).

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Savage Harvest: A tale of cannibals, colonialism, and Michael Rockefeller's tragic quest for primitive art by Carl Hoffman

Before I read a review of this book in the St. Louis Post Dispatch I had never heard of Michael Rockefeller or of his mysterious disappearance!  Rockefeller (yes, one of those Rockefellers!) graduated from Harvard and decided to travel to New Guinea to collect primitive art for his father's new museum, On November 17, 1961 he and a Dutch anthropologist were stranded at sea, without a radio, while traveling by boat to a remote area of the region, .  Rockefeller decided to try to swim to shore and was never seen again. At the same time, the Netherlands was battling Indonesia in the U.N. for control of the territory.  Hoffman carefully constructs the case that the Dutch authorities covered up Michael Rockefeller's death because it would have damaged their claim to the U.N. that New Guinea was a civilized region under their control.  A fascinating look at what happens when a primitive culture is misunderstood. 322 pages.

Among the mad : a Maisie Dobbs novel by Jacqueline Winspear

Why do I read the Maisie Dobbs mysteries?   I admire how her character worked her way up from a house maid to a detective/psychologist/scholar.  She practices meditation, yoga, and a sort of physical mimicry of witnesses and suspects to gain insight into a case. These practices are not so unusual today, but in the 1920s and 1930s they were!

In this latest case, Maisie survives a bombing attack by a mentally ill WWI veteran.  At the same time, her assistant Billy Beale's wife has become depressed, neglecting herself and her children. Maisie tries to navigate the mental health care system of the time in search of both clues to the bombing and help for Billy Beale's wife.   Fans of  historically relevant mysteries will enjoy this look at post-WWI England. 303 pages.