This languorous, gently beautiful novel set in gorgeous Tuscany could not be more delectable. Retired NYPD detective Nico Doyle has relocated to Tuscany after the death of his wife, Rita, a native Italian. He has family ties in the form of his wife’s sister, Tilde, and her family. Out for his morning run as the book opens, he discovers two things: a dog, and a dead body. He more or less adopts the dog – whom he christens One Wag – and hastily attempts to hand the murder off to the local police.
This is a very melancholy novel about people who live near each other, yet in isolation, thanks to a profound lack of communication. It’s set in Australia in the late 60’s, with a portion in the late 90’s. Two couples live side by side in a new neighborhood, right on the ocean. Louise and Joe, immigrants from England, live in one house with their daughter, Isla. Next door are Steve and Mandy, who are childless. Mandy often looks after Isla.
As the book opens, the adult Isla gets a call from her father, who says the police have been by to discuss Mandy, who had disappeared from the neighborhood many years ago. The central nugget of suspense in the novel concerns the relationships between the neighbors and between the couples themselves. What happened in the past that caused Mandy to disappear? Why would Isla’s father, who seems devoted to his family, have had anything to do with her disappearance?
This was a delicious slice of armchair travel – I have never personally been to Provence, but I think my new life goal might be to get there. Serena Kent’s British heroine, Penelope Kite, has started over in Provence after a divorce and seeing her children out of the nest. She’s rehabbed a gorgeous old stone farmhouse (I’m assuming it’s gorgeous, because, by the sound of the book, everything in Provence is gorgeous). She lives a pleasant life walking into the village for croissants, eating lots of incredible sounding meals, drinking wine that sounds just as luscious, practicing her cello, and oh yes – she has a flair for detection.
Review by Mike Simowski
In the colorful setting of the Tour de France (the world’s greatest bicycle race), murder and mayhem ensue in this unique and compelling thriller. Marc Moreau is a professional cyclist and one of the best in the world. But on his top-notch team, he is relegated to supporting his best friend who has won the Tour several times and is gunning for another against stiff competition. In this highly competitive atmosphere, accidents, crashes and other incidents occur at a rate that is both suspicious and alarming. Marc, a former military policeman, agrees to assist the French police in an undercover manner on the investigation, while still competing in the high-pressure 2,000-mile race.
Our September book club will meet Thursday, September 19, 6 p.m at the Classic Cup Cafe. We’ll be reading Elsa Hart’s City of Ink. It’s available on our store page at a discount. The publisher’s description:
Following the 18th century Chinese mysteries Jade Dragon Mountain and White Mirror, comes the next Li Du adventure in City of Ink.
Li Du was prepared to travel anywhere in the world except for one place: home. But to unravel the mystery that surrounds his mentor’s execution, that’s exactly where he must go.
This is one of the more stripped down narratives Louise Penny has delivered. Stripped down for Penny, that is. The essential story is a simple one that drives her narrative, but being a complex writer and thinker, she’s made the simple complex. There are two threads. One concerns the disappearance of a woman who happens to be the goddaughter of a Surete officer. Gamache, who has returned to work with a demotion (he’s head of homicide, not the entire Surete) accompanies the officer to the village where the woman lived.
Our June book club read is David Downing’s The Dark Clouds Shining, set in 1921 London. Ex-secret service spy Jack McColl is in prison, but his ex boss offers him an assignment in Russia to get out of jail time. Join us on Thursday, June 27 at 6 p.m. at the Classic Cup Cafe. 4389 Jackson Rd. for dinner & discussion. All are welcome. Purchase a copy at our online store here See you in June!
This book is an absolute dream. Willig has crafted an epic set in 1800’s Barbados, in the world of sugar plantations and slaves. Told in two narrative threads, one in the 1850’s and one in the 1810’s, it’s clear that the two story lines are intertwined – the mystery of the novel is how exactly they are connected other than by the same sugar estates.
In the 1850’s, we meet Emily and her cousin Adam, who has brought Emily and his new wife Laura to start a life on Barbados. Emily has unexpectedly inherited an estate on the island and she’s eager to see it and try to puzzle out why her beloved grandfather has left it to her and not to her brother. As fate intervenes, the Davenant family takes Emily and her cousins in, inviting them to stay indefinitely.
When you’re young and discover you love reading, nothing is better than finding the kind of book that takes you away and absorbs you for hours. As a child, I felt this way when I discovered books like The Secret Garden, Charlotte’s Web and the entire Narnia Chronicles. Transported.
It’s not so common to find this kind of immersive reading experience when you’re an older reader, so discovering one of these reads is a treasure to be cherished. That’s a long way of saying that Sujata Massey’s Perveen Mistry series are just such immersive, absorbing and captivating reads.
We are welcoming a new reviewer, Cathy Akers-Jordan, an avid mystery fan, long time Aunt Agatha’s customer and all around lovely human. Her more official bio follows this review.
Towards the end of WWI, 21-year-old Emily Bryce is determined to contribute to the war effort. She defies her parents and joins the Women’s Land Army. What follows is a coming-of-age story full of history, romance, and a little mystery with a satisfying twist at the end.
What makes the story fascinating is the focus on how British women adapt to their new roles while the men are at war. Even in the tiny village of Bucksley Cross on the edge of Dartmoor, where Emily ends up, social dynamics are turned upside down. There are no more servants because women are busy doing men’s work: planting, tending, and harvesting crops; caring for livestock; and running all the shops in the village, including the Blacksmith’s forge. Women from all classes of life work together side by side, freeing themselves from their corsets and social classes, in order to feed Britain.