Monday, August 29, 2022

Book Review: Chained by Eileen Brady


Chained (Kate Turner, DVM #3). Eileen Brady. Poisoned Pen Press (2018). 270 pages. Genre: Cozy Mystery. 

First Line: "I must be out of my mind."

Summary:  Kate Turner and her assistant, Mari, are making a house call to a very rural area outside of town.  The patient is a Malamute who has a bad cut on his back.  The house call goes well until Kate and Mari are ready to leave.  The Malamute's owner mentions that her dog often brings back treasures from his explorations outside.  His latest find is a large bone from a deer.  The minute Kate sees the bone, she realizes it is not from a deer, but is a human bone. 

The forensics team discovers the rest of the body buried in the hills behind the property.  The remains belong to a man who was thought to have moved to California ten years ago.  And it appears that he was murdered. With very little evidence to go on, the police seem to be at a stand still.  The man's family asks Kate to find out what happened to their son.  As Kate begins to ask questions, she finds that the man was well liked and successful.  So, who would want to kill him and why?

My thoughts:  I always enjoy returning to this series.  Not only is the setting beautiful, but the characters are well drawn and interesting.

Kate Turner is a veterinarian who is filling in at Oak Falls Animal Hospital while the owner is away on an around the world cruise. In each book the author introduces us to the many patients Kate sees each day.  I love meeting the variety of animals and learning about different ailments and how they are treated.  Some of the patients she sees on house calls and others come to the clinic.  

Kate has been Skyping with a former boyfriend who is working at an archeology dig in Africa.  It has been fun to reconnect with Jeremy, but she is not sure where the relationship is headed.  She has become good friends with Oak Falls Police Officer, Luke Gianetti.  At least they keep saying they are just friends, but Kate feels like their friendship could develop into something more.  That is until Luke gets back together with his old girlfriend.  When Jeremy surprises Kate by telling her he is coming for a visit, she is not sure what to think.  Her relationship situation takes up more space in this mystery than it has in previous books.

As Kate begins asking questions about the murdered man, she discovers there was more to him than meets the eye.  He seems to have been well liked, but rumors are circulating that he was a ladies' man and that he abandoned his friends when he left town.  This leads to several possible suspects.  Added to that is a rumor that he was involved in drugs, which leads to even more suspects.  Eileen Brady has a knack for created interesting characters.  She is really good at creating characters who seem very rough on the outside, but end up being very soft and kind on the inside.  There are a few of those in the suspect line up.

Eventually everything gets sorted out.  The killer was a complete surprise to me.  This is a unique series that I always enjoy reading.  I would recommend that you start with the first book in the series, Muzzled, so you don't miss out on the great character development.


"Flashes of russet and gold foliage punctuated the stands of trees lining the road.  Few people ventured out this early on a Saturday morning.  Even though Halloween was around the corner, today's weather prediction called for sunshine and a high of sixty degrees - a glorious Indian summer day to be enjoyed to the fullest before winter hit."

"A massive bundled-up mound of black leather stood directly behind me.  The only human parts showing were two eyes behind round goggles and slices of wind-chapped cheeks.  Luckily, I recognized my client's voice."

"The next moment a plump load of furry feline landed full-force on my lap.  As soon as I stroked him, his purr motor began to rumble.  Mr. Katt was a 'hit and run' artist, famous for his sneak attacks on the staff."

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Book Review: Frenchman's Creek by Daphne DuMaurier

Frenchman's Creek. Daphne DuMaurier. Sourcebooks Landmark (2009) (First published 1941). 284 pages. Genre: Classic.

First Line: "When the east wind blows up Helford River the shining waters become troubled and disturbed and the little waves beat angrily upon the sandy shores."

Summary:  Dona St. Columb is tired of the constraints of society life in London.  So she takes her children and their maid to Navron, the family's country house in Cornwall.  Upon arrival she meets a impertinent servant who seems to have made himself at home while the family has been away.  When he mentions to her that there are rumors of pirates in the area, Dona finds herself intrigued.  She begins to take long walks in the nearby woods.  She soon discovers a creek she was unaware of and in the creek is a pirate's ship.  Against better judgement, she arranges to meet the pirate.  What follows is the adventure she didn't know she needed.

My thoughts:  This is a fun story that many can relate to.  We have all experienced the feeling of being trapped or stuck in a certain situation, but few of us are able to indulge in an adventure involving danger, excitement and pirates. 

Daphne DuMaurier is a masterful storyteller.  As a reader you are swept away in the adventure.  Her descriptions of the countryside, the sky, the mists on the water, the waves all help you feel like you are right there with Dona.  The main characters are also well drawn.  The dialogue, combined with descriptions of facial expressions really give the reader an understanding of the characters.  Speaking of the dialogue, it is crisp and keeps the story moving along.  The story did feel a little unrealistic to me, but I think that was the whole point.  It is like daydream one would come up with when they find their existence dreary. 

I didn't necessarily agree with the choices Dona made, but over the course of the novel she makes some major changes in her thinking.  The book really highlights the struggle between freedom and constraint and shows that neither one is ideal.  There are negatives to having complete freedom, but there are also positives to having some constraint. 

While the book did cover some heavier topics, the overall tone was light and fun.  If you are looking for a well-written story that will take you out of your day to day existence, you might like this one.


"She would lie out in her garden hour after hour, her hands behind her head, watching the butterflies as they frolicked in the sun, and chased one another, and had their moment; listening to the birds intent upon domestic life among the branches, so busy, so ardent, like newly-wed couples proud of their first home polished as a pin."

"'It is easier then, for a man,' she said, 'a man is a creator, his happiness comes in the things he achieves.  What he makes with his hands, with his brains, with his talents.'
'Possibly,' he said. 'But women are not idle. Women have babies.  That is a greater achievement than the making of a drawing or the planning of an action.'"

"'You understand now,' he said, 'how simple life becomes when things like mirrors are forgotten.'"


Monday, August 22, 2022

Book Review: Pagan Spring by G. M. Malliet


Pagan Spring (Max Tudor #3). G. M. Malliet. 304 pages. Minotaur Books (2013). Genre:  Mystery.

First Line: "Thursday, March 22.  The vernal equinox had come and gone, and Easter would soon be upon them."

Summary:  With Easter approaching, Reverend Max Tudor has begun working on his Easter sermon.  His relationship with Awena Owen is flourishing.  He can't imagine being happier in life than he is now.  Awena is out of town, but Max is looking forward to a dinner party hosted by some good friends that will include some newcomers to town. In the early morning hours after the party, one of the guests is found dead.  He appears to have almost made it to bed before he collapsed.  There are no immediate signs of foul play, but as the body is examined closer something seems amiss.  Once again Max is called upon to use his MI-5 training to help discover a murderer. 

My thoughts: This series has several elements that make for a good mystery series.  The main character is unique in that he was previously an MI5 agent, but has become a vicar.  It takes place in an English village.  The village is peopled with charming and eccentric residents.  I enjoy the way the series follows the seasons.  The author gives a real feel for the season by making note of the changing landscape and following the church calendar. 

The mystery this time was unique.  There was really only one main suspect.  However, there were lots of small clues along the way that needed to be recognized and figured out.  Another unique aspect was that after the mystery was solved, there was a lot of discussion about what had happened and why.  

I am not sure how I feel about Max's relationship with Awena.  It feels a bit forced and unrealistic.  We are told that Max is very happy in the relationship, but we aren't shown.  Some of the choices he is making and things he says are contradictory.  This left me feeling unsure about the main character.  

Overall I have mixed feelings about this series.  After reading the previous book, I decided not to continue with the series.  But, later decided I would give it another try.  As it stands now, I am not sure if I will go on with the series.  If the series sounds intriguing to you, I would encourage you to give it a try.  There are definitely elements to like here and your opinion may be different from mine. 


"The slice of Nether Monkslip in his view was of a classic village whose roots predated recorded history, a place that had survived centuries of wars and feuds and conspiracies largely because it had managed to go unnoticed."

"She was one of those lucky people born without filters; for the most part, she simply didn't care what others thought."

"But Max was genuinely fascinated by people and had a natural ability to respect differences.  In his MI5 days, this was a much-needed quality, when he was forced into forming friendships with some of the world's worst thieves and tyrants."

Thursday, August 18, 2022

Book Review: The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher


The Shell Seekers. Rosamunde Pilcher. Dell (1989). 582 pages. Genre: Fiction.

First Line: "The taxi, an old Rover smelling of old cigarette smoke, trundled along the empty, country road at an unhurried pace."

Summary:  Penelope Keeling has recently had a heart attack.  She is sixty-four years old and lives by herself at Podmore's Thatch.  Now the doctor has told her she shouldn't live alone.  She thinks that's ridiculous, she is fine.  And besides, she has a housekeeper that comes in several times a week.  However, her oldest daughter insists she must have someone to live with her.  

As Penelope works through these things with her three children, we are shown the saga of their lives. 

My thoughts:  I first read this book over twenty years ago.  I remember having good thoughts about it, but I really didn't remember much of it at all.  However, I do remember that I didn't go on to read anything else by this author.  Now I remember why.

Rosamunde Pilcher has a beautiful writing style.  The prose pulls you in immediately.  Her descriptions of place and people are wonderful and create vivid pictures in your mind.  Her descriptions engage all of your senses and make you feel like you are there.  I understand why many readers love this book.

Unfortunately, I found myself not really enjoying the book all that much.  I was disappointed by the words and actions of the characters, especially those that we were meant to like and root for.  I found it difficult to understand the motivations of Penelope.  She seemed to be a woman who loved people, but she said terrible things about her children and grandchildren.  She had very little good to say about her deceased husband or his mother. And - this next part is SPOILERish - she was unfaithful to her husband and celebrated it as did several other characters in the book - end SPOILER.

I really didn't like any of the characters in the book.  Even though we looked back in Penelope's life, I didn't feel like I ever really understood her motivations or those of her children.  However, I did enjoy the descriptions of Cornwall and the section of the book that covered the war years there.  

I can't say that I recommend this book, but I am glad to have reread it to form my own opinion of it.  I am definitely in the minority when it comes to my opinion.  If you are curious about this book, I encourage you to try it for yourself.


"She saw the house, long and low, red-tiled, hung with bougainvillaea and trellises of vines.  Heard cowbells and cocks crowing.  Smelt the warm resin of pine and juniper, blown in from the sea on a warm wind.  Felt again the nailing heat of the Mediterranean sun."

"And everywhere were evidences of the obviously cultured man who had occupied this place for twenty-five years.  Hundreds of books, not just on shelves, but spilling over onto tables, window-ledges, and the cupboard beside his bed."

"Fires lighted in the sitting room and the dining room, drinks set out, wine opened to chambre.  Here, in the kitchen, the air was filled with the scent of slowly roasting sirloin, baking onions, and crisping potatoes."

"Beyond, all was sunlit, the sands a dazzling white, the deep-blue sea dancing with sunpennies."

Monday, August 15, 2022

Book Review: The Unkept Woman by Allison Montclair

The Unkept Woman (Sparks & Bainbridge #4). Allison Montclair. Minotaur Books (2022). 320 pages. Genre: Mystery.

First Line: "The woman following Iris Sparks wasn't very good at it."

Summary:  The Right Sort Marriage Bureau is thriving.  Gwen and Iris have hired a secretary and expanded the office to include one more room.  But, it is their personal lives that are not proceeding smoothly.  Gwen is attempting to gain full legal control of her life, including her son and her finances.  Her biggest obstacle remains her father-in-law.  Iris' past literally shows up on her doorstep and barges in.  Before long a woman is found dead in the flat Iris had been living in and Iris is the primary suspect.  Gwen and Iris must work fast to discover the real murderer or Iris will go to jail.

My thoughts:  Each book in this series zips along at such a fast pace.  The dialogue continues to be witty, the pace is just right and the characters are wonderful.

I absolutely love the character development in this story.  Gwen and Iris continue to grow and change.  Gwen is stepping out of her comfort zone a little more, while continuing to be a good friend, mother and daughter-in-law.  Iris is dealing with her past and making progress.  She continues to see that some of the choices she made were harmful.  I love the honesty in both of them.

A real treat was the trip Gwen and her son made to the Victoria and Albert museum to view the Britain Can Make It Exhibition.  Every bit of their trip their was described in such detail, I felt like I was wandering through with them.  Part of the exhibit included:

"Twenty-four fully equipped rooms, each by a different designer, drawing upon the combined imaginations of furniture makers, potters, engineers shifting their focus from destroying the Axis to improving the lives of ordinary households, and artists of all kinds. Each room was created for an imaginary occupant or family, with a drawing and quick biographical sketch mounted above the listing of items displayed and their manufacturers."

I found this fascinating and would have loved to see it.  

The mystery was complex and many layers had to be uncovered to figure out what was going on. Scotland Yard was involved and so was MI-6.  So of course there were things that couldn't be said and people who couldn't be known.  There were lots of twists and turns and I was completely surprised when the murderer was revealed.  

I really enjoyed this and highly recommend this series.  If you are new to it, I recommend you start with the first book, The Right Sort of Man.

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Book Review: The Bangalore Detectives Club by Narini Nagendra

The Bangalore Detectives Club: A NovelThe Bangalore Detectives Club (Kaveri and Ramu #1). Pegasus Crime (2022). 304 pages. Genre: Mystery.

First Line: "Mrs. Kaveri Murthy pulled out her oldest sari, nine yards of checked cotton in dark brown."

Summary:  Bangalore, April 1921.  Kaveri is getting used to married life in Bangalore.  She and her husband, Dr. Ramu Murthy, are still getting to know one another.  Their marriage was arranged between their families, but both feel fortunate in their spouse. One evening they are invited to a dinner at the Century Club for the doctors and their wives.  This is a chance for Kaveri to meet some of the other wives.  

Later that evening, on her way to the ladies' room, Kaveri stops to look out the window at the gardens.  She notices someone lurking in the shadows and then views an argument between a man and a woman.  Not long after she returns to her place at dinner, a woman's loud scream is heard.  Soon the party is informed that a man has been found dead.  When Kaveri learns that the dead man is the man she saw arguing in the garden, her curiosity is peaked.  Fortunately, she brings her questions to her husband.  The two of them work with the police to help discover the murderer.

My thoughts:  Kaveri is an interesting heroine.  She is unique for her time in that she has been educated.  She grew up in a home where education was valued, even for women.  She is very interested in mathematics and is determined to continue her education.  She is currently studying to be able to take an exam, but is hiding it from her husband.  Granted, she doesn't know her husband very well yet and the prevailing attitude toward women becoming educated is negative.  There were several other instances where she hid things from her husband.  I was beginning to be a little annoyed with her.  Fortunately, each instance was soon discovered by her husband and in each instance he was not upset, but was understanding and they were able to talk about it.  This ultimately led to some good character development. 

I really enjoyed the setting.  The author did an excellent job of helping the reader get a feel for India in 1921.  The story takes place in the month of May and the description of the heat as well as the beauty of the flowers and gardens helped me to travel there in my mind.  There was such a vast range of wealth in the area, from the poor cowherders to the wealthy British doctors.  

Kaveri's husband, Ramu, has a love for automobiles and has one of his own.  There were a few scenes in the story where they went on excursions in the car.  These were some of my favorite parts of the book.  

The mystery allowed Kaveri to come in contact with people from several different classes.  Since the murder took place at the Century Club, the suspects were either doctors and their wives or staff.  Of course there is always the possibility that someone was there that shouldn't have been.  Since Ramu is at work during the day, Kaveri asks her neighbor to go with her to visit some of the people she wants to question.  As her neighbor is an older woman who has lived in the area for many years, she usually knows the person or one of their family. Along the way they are able to help some people while also gathering information.

Overall, I found this a bright, cheerful read.  I look forward to getting to know Kaveri and Ramu better in the next installment.


"She could not help but notice things in the world sometimes - patterns and abnormalities.  They multiplied and repeated in all directions, like random coordinates on a map, begging somebody - begging her - to make sense of them."

"The temperamental May sky, overcast and cloudy when they had entered the cottage, had gone through one of its quick mood changes, and the sun now blazed hot overhead."

"She remembered Lalita Iyengar had also been heavily decked out in gold, wearing a thick chain, and multiple large bangles jangling on each hand as she swam.  It seemed an uncomfortable price to pay for the pleasure of flaunting your wealth."

Monday, August 8, 2022

Book Review: Joy in the Morning by P. G. Wodehouse

Joy in the Morning (Jeeves, #8)Joy in the Morning. P.G. Wodehouse. W. W. Norton (2011) (First published 1947). 272 pages. Genre: Fiction.

First Line: "After the thing was all over, when peril had ceased to loom and happy endings had been distributed in heaping handfuls and we were driving home with our hats on the side of our heads, having shaken the dust of Steeple Bumpleigh from our tyres, I confessed to Jeeves that there had been moments during the recent proceedings when Bertram Wooster, though no weakling, had come very near to despair."

Summary: When Lord Worplesdon is in need of a place to conduct a secret business meeting, Jeeves volunteers Bertie to help out.  If Bertie would have had any say in the matter, he would have said, "No.". But, since he did not have any say in the matter, he and Jeeves are on their way to Steeple Bumpleigh.  Jeeves has arranged for Bertie to take a cottage where the secret business can be conducted.  Unfortunately, young Edwin, while trying to be helpful, burns down the cottage.  Bertie is forced to stay with Boko, who also enlists his help with Uncle Percy.  This time to smooth the way for a marriage to his ward.  In the meantime, Bertie manages to lose a brooch,  get on the wrong side of the law and become engaged to a woman he would rather have nothing to do with.  Fortunately, Jeeves saves the day with his quick thinking.

My thoughts:  I can't help but giggle while reading P. G. Wodehouse.  In fact, there are times I found myself laughing so hard I had to put the book down.  

Not only is the book funny, the characters are so endearing.  You can't help but like Bertie, even though he does get himself into the worst tangles.  Of course Jeeves is so calm and collected and is almost always able to untangle the mess Bertie finds himself in.  Bertie realizes that the situation is dire if Jeeves is stumped.  And there are a few dire situations in this book.  More than once, Jeeves was stumped.  

The other characters were fun too.  Uncle Percy is a blustering old fellow who has only bad things to say about Bertie.  Bertie is sure that Aunt Agatha "eats broken bottles and conducts human sacrifices by the light of the full moon" so he does his best to avoid her.  Young Edwin, a Boy Scout, has tasked himself with doing an act of kindness everyday.  He has fallen a bit behind and is trying to catch up.  The problem is that often his acts go wrong.  Like when he started the cottage on fire while cleaning out the chimney.  Stilton is engaged to Lady Florence, who was once engaged to Bertie.  Unbeknownst to Bertie, Stilton has become a police officer.  And then we have Xenobia, Nobby for short, who is Uncle Percy's ward.  She wants to marry Bertie's old friend Boko.  However, Boko has not made a good impression on Uncle Percy and he won't give his blessing.

The story bumps along at a good pace and before you know it, Bertie's mess is untangled and all is right with the world again.  If you are looking for something light, but not fluffy, something that will make you laugh, give Joy in the Morning a try. 


"It will be a pleasure to put in a word for you.  I anticipate notable results.  I shall play on the old crumb as on a stringed instrument."

"In appearance, as I have indicated, this man of letters is a cross between a comedy juggler and a parrot that has been dragged through a hedge backwards, and you never catch him at his nattiest in the workshop."

"'I am always stiff in my manner with elderly gentlemen who snort like foghorns when I appear and glare at me as if I were somebody from Moscow distributing Red propaganda.'"

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Book Review: The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill

The Woman in the LibraryThe Woman in the Library. Sulari Gentill. Poisoned Pen Press (2022). 288 pages. Genre: Mystery.

First Line: "Writing in the Boston Public Library had been a mistake."

Summary:  Freddie Kincaid is trying to get some writing done.  She finds herself distracted by the beauty of the Boston Public Library. Then she finds herself observing the people around her.  She begins naming them and wondering how she can fit them into her current story.  After an awkward moment when she notices one of the men staring at her, introductions are finally made.  She and the three people closest to her are getting to know one another when a scream pierces the relative quiet of the library.  

When it is discovered that a woman was murdered in the library, the four acquaintances find a bond in the fact that they were together in the library when the death occurred.  As they spend more time together, friendships are formed, but so are suspicions. 

My thoughts:  This is a unique story told in a unique way.   I found it hard to put down as the twists and turns make for a suspenseful and exciting read.

Freddie is an Australian living in Boston short-term.  She won the Sinclair Scholarship which gives writers a place to stay while writing a book.  The other people she met at the Boston Public Library are there for various reasons.  One is a writer and two are attending college.  The four of them bond over trying to figure out what happened in the library that day. Their concern for one another is what often fuels their need to get together.  There is also some romance that brews between the characters.  Unfortunately, I didn't really connect with any of the characters.  Fortunately, the story is plot-driven and that kept me turning pages.

As far as the uniqueness of the story, I will just say that it is a story within a story.  Part of the story is told in letters, but not all of it.  

The mystery was interesting.  I had a pretty good idea who the killer was early on, but the details of the crime and reasons for it were a mystery to me.  There were a couple of times in the story where I started to think things were sounding a little odd, only to turn the page and find out I was right.  The author did a good job of leading the reader to a conclusion without spelling it out.  

The book contains a bit more language than I prefer in my mysteries as well as some sexual content.  The sexual content is kept to a minimum and is mostly closed door, but is still more than you would find in a cozy mystery for example.  

The strength of this book was it's uniqueness.  The story is told in such a way as to reveal the truth in layers.  There were times when I was completely confused, but it wasn't long before things became more clear.  If you enjoy stories within stories or twisty mysteries, I think you will enjoy this one.


"Deep down I know this is about Cain, but one should maintain one's dignity even in conversations with oneself."

"'Words have meaning.  I suppose who the author is, what he's done might change that meaning.'  'Isn't meaning more to do with the reader?'  'No...a story is about leading a reader to meaning.  The revelation is theirs, but we show them the way.  I suppose the morality of the writer influences whether you can trust what they are showing you.'"

Monday, August 1, 2022

Book Review: Blue Shoes and Happiness by Alexander McCall Smith

Blue Shoes and Happiness (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency #7)Blue Shoes and Happiness (No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency #7). Alexander McCall Smith. Anchor Publishing (2007). 227 pages. Genre: Cozy Mystery.

First Line: "When you are just the right age, as Mma Romotswe was, and when you have seen a bit of life, as Mma Romotswe certainly had, then there are some things that you just know."

Summary:  Precious Romotswe is settling in to married life on Zebra Drive.  Her assistant, Grace Makutsi, has a newly acquired fiance.  Life is good.  However, there are still some things that need to be addressed.  For example, something is not right in Mokolodi.  People are acting strangely and Mma Romotswe thinks it might have something to do with superstitions.  Then there is the case of the nurse and the changing blood pressure numbers.  To top it off, Mma Romotswe is beginning to think that being traditionally built is not ideal.  Just when things feel like they are becoming too much, Mma Romotswe and Mma Makutsi take some time to do some window shopping and drink some tea.

My thoughts:  These books always remind me to slow down.  When I am feeling overwhelmed, it is always a good idea to sit and think for a while.  Or maybe have a cup of tea (or coffee).  Even, do a little shopping.  

I found the cases and problems Mma Romotswe and Mma Makutsi were working on this time very interesting.  Dealing with superstition and a situation based more on feeling than fact made for fun detective work.  

Most of all I love the characters, especially Mma Romotswe and her ability to understand the right ways to act, even if she can't always carry them out.  I enjoy entering into her thoughts while she sits and thinks.  I also enjoy hearing her thought process when she is tempted to say one thing, but doesn't because that would not be "the Botswana way".  And I enjoy getting a glimpse into a place I will probably never visit in person.  

This was an entertaining, relaxing and comfort read. 


"None of us knows how we will cope with snakes until the moment arises, and then most of us find out that we do not do it very well.  Snakes were one of the tests which life sent for us, and there was no telling how we might respond until the moment arrived."

"Mma Romotswe was not a prude.  She knew what went on between people, but she believed that there was a part of life that should be private.  She believed that what one felt about another was largely a personal matter, and that one should not talk about the mysteries of the soul."

"Everybody, she felt, could do evil, so easily; could be weak, so easily; could be selfish, so easily."