Monthly Archives: January 2010

Death of a Witch by M.C. Beaton (Review #2)

witch1Reviewed by Stephanie Nordkap

This edition contains an excerpt of Ms. Beaton’s next book Death of a Valentine.

Death of a Witch is the 24th mystery featuring Hamish Macbeth, a series set in the picturesque Scottish Highlands. In this novel, MC Beaton takes a look at the superstitious nature of a tight-knit community that protects its own and alienates those interfering with community affairs.

Hamish has just returned from a rather dull vacation in Spain to find a newcomer in the village, a woman by the name of Catriona Beldame who creates special ‘medicines’. It appears the local men have been visiting Catriona for certain potions meant to increase their prowess in the bedroom, but instead has them visiting the local doctor for treatment for swelling and infections. While Catriona seems to have endeared herself to many men in the village, except for Hamish who remains suspicious, the women remain aloof and unwelcome of their spouses’ amourous attentions and totally distrust the ‘potions’ and Catriona.

When Catriona is violently murdered, and her cottage goes up in flames, the villagers murmur to one another about ‘witchcraft’. And suddenly Hamish is implicated in the murder as he has been overheard threatening her. When three other villagers are killed in succession, pressure is put upon Hamish to solve the murders quickly before any other murders are committed. To help him in his pursuit of the murderer, Hamish calls upon his reporter friend Elspeth Grant and Lesley Seaton, the new forensics expert who appears to have her sights set on Hamish. To Hamish’s surprise, he also learns that his former love Priscilla Haliburton-Smythe is in town, creating some awkward moments for Hamish.

It is clear that Hamish has difficulty keeping to a committed relationship. His relationships and the experiences he has are often laughable and create some interesting moments in the book, but they also serve as a larger theme, the battle for control between the sexes that has infected the small town of Lochdubh. Secrets that would normally remain behind closed doors are suddenly becoming public, embarrassing many of the villagers.

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The Wife’s Tale by Lori Lansens

taleReviewed by Nancy Eaton

How would you feel if you were waiting for your husband to come home and he did not? This is exactly what happened to Mary Gooch on the evening before their 25th wedding anniversary.

There were many nights that Mary’s husband did not come home on time. She did not question where he was or what he was doing. She and her husband married very young – they met in their last year of high school. Mary was always overweight as a child and this is where she heard the term obese. However, being a young child, she thought the word the doctor mentioned to her mother was “obeast”. She did manage to slim down but right before her wedding started to gain weight again.

Now Mary is a compulsive eater and weighs at least 300 pounds. Mary has never done anything too much on her own except head for the refrigerator. When she realized her husband was not coming back, she started to search for him. The first thing she did was board an airplane. She had never been on an airplane before.

Written in Bone by Simon Beckett

writtenReviewed by Allen Hott

“Our lives, and sometimes deaths, are stories written in bone. It provides a telltale record of injuries, neglect or abuse.”

These lines really describe “Written in Bone” as Simon Beckett has crafted a really interesting tale of how a forensic anthropologist works to solve crimes. Beckett has put together a great mystery and allows the reader to watch for the clues. And he has also put enough clues throughout the reading so that the reader solves the crime several times before the final ending. Really great writing.

A body is discovered in a deserted cabin on one of the islands off the coast of Scotland. The body has been almost totally consumed by fire yet the building itself shows little signs of any fire.

A retired detective who has moved to the island from the mainland under some trying circumstances finds the body. He is not looked on with much favor by many of the members of the department from which he retired. He calls in the finding to his former boss who is in the midst of dealing with a horrific train crash on the mainland and has little neither time nor inclination to do anything about the finding.

However the superior does contact one of his forensic team and asks him to detour to the island rather than come home after his current case is finished. And thus Doctor David Hunter is called away from returning to his home and girlfriend who is extremely upset about the situation.

Hunter arrives on Runa, the small island in the Outer Hebrides, at the same time that a powerful storm is heading in that direction. Throughout the rest of the story, Beckett uses the storm to create scenes that are indelibly inscribed in the reader’s mind. Many things happen because of the storm and the damage that it does. And the reader feels the rain pelting down and the wind howling for days.

However Hunter and Andrew Brody, the retired detective team up and work together to pull all pieces of the original crime and the subsequent ones together. They do so without much help from the mainland police officer who is sent out on assignment for the case.

Several more murders are committed and many side events are cleverly woven into the story to keep the action moving. However, no matter what the reader believes, when the final chapters ring down the curtain no one will have been able to solve all the mysteries as they unfold. Truly a completely different ending and actually not once but twice.

Who Owns the World by Kevin Cahill

worldReviewed by Diane Pollock

Who? A handfull…. The book had great points on land ownership, but was rather depressing. In spite of all so-called “social progress” in “rule of law” based states, land ownership is still restricted to the elites. A world in which a figurehead queen can own 1/6th of the surface of the Earth is a world that has very little hope.

Size Eight in a Size Zero World by Meredith Cagen

sizeReviewed by Julie Moderson

Meredith Cagen lives in Manhattan in the Upper East Side. She lives with her husband and two children. She is not a size zero and is a very pretty brunette. I believe this is her first novel and I just love it.

Lindsey Chandler is a 32-year-old New York working wife and mother. She thinks that she has old-fashioned values but I think she doesn’t. She is married to Grant, who is a man who considers his wife to be his personal property and servant. Grant is a mean hateful person who seems to take pride in hurting Lindsey. She has two wonderful children who deserve to have a father in their life. Grant has never gone to any events at his children’s school or their classes.

Where the Heart Was by Glenn G. Boyer (Review #2)

heart1Reviewed by Cy Hilterman

When I tackled this book I thought I would never get finished reading it. The size was humongous! But, as I read on I discovered there was very little the author could have left out of his story. “Where the Heart Was,” tells a family linage story that goes from the 1800’s through Pearl Harbor in 1941. It is told in a memorable way that probably would align with many of our own families if we went back far enough. The descriptions that the author ingrains in your mind will not leave you whether they are happy, sad, or just simple occurrences. The characters can be pictured as you read each page. You will travel with some of history’s well-known people such as Abraham Lincoln, General Grant, and other famous military figures on and off the battlefield, and someone that could have been your grandpa or grandma while they remember those famous people they knew, or knew of, from history. Some in war, some in peace, some deep in Indian territory, some while courting, some in saloons or whorehouses, or just riding in an old automobile on roads so rough that your insides might move around a lot. Falling in love usually started quite young and, as today, some lasted and some didn’t.

Shadow of Power by Steve Martini (Review #3)

shadowReviewed by Allen Hott

Paul Madriani with his partner, Harry Hinds, is at it again. This time they are attempting to defend a guy who looks, beyond a shadow of doubt, to be guilty.

The police pick up Carl Arnsberg, an avowed white supremacist, after Terry Scarborough is found dead in his hotel room. Scarborough championed any cause that would get him notoriety and more headlines. His current cause had been the way that slavery was handled by our founding fathers.

Scarborough’s book, “Perpetual Slaves”, had been at the top of the bestseller list for some time and the amount of money that he was making from it was enormous. He had convinced his agent that he had a very incriminating letter that was only known as the “J letter” and it would be the stepping-stone to his next bigger best seller. The “J letter” supposedly spelled out how a trio of our most famous founding fathers managed to get slavery in this country but keeping the language necessary for that to happen in the new Constitution.

Moon River and Me by Andy Williams

moonReviewed by Allen Hott

Quite a journey and quite a story! Andy Williams tells his life story from the beginning in Wall Lake up to present day in Branson. And this memoir is one of the best that I have read.

Explaining how he and his brothers got their start mainly because of his father who believed “you have to practice harder because you are not as good as the others out there”. This concept has continued to be the driving force behind the tremendous successes that Andy Williams has enjoyed.

His dad, being musically inclined, was overjoyed when he heard the harmony that his four sons achieved when they sang in the church choir. He then felt and truly believed that they could become much greater and that their voices could lift them out of little Wall Lake, Iowa and out into the musical world. After the boys had pretty much sung at every possible site in the little town, he sold their home and moved them to Des Moines.

Aksandar by Judith Montgomery

aksandarReviewed by Vickie Dailey

With Aksandar, author Judith Montgomery paints a thrilling and vivid story of Aziz Rashani and his group fighting for an independent Afghanistan in 1979.

The story is quick moving if a little choppy, going quickly from one event to another. One such event
has Aziz saving an american woman, Jane, during a student rally turned bloodbath with killing in the streets. Aziz and Jane embark on a love affair that conflicts with traditions.