Sarah Stewart Taylor: The Drowning Sea

The third novel in Sarah Stewart Taylor’s Maggie D’Arcy series finds Maggie at a crossroads.  Formerly a Long Island cop, she’s now unemployed, and in Ireland with her daughter, on holiday with her boyfriend, Connor and his son. The first novel was Maggie’s journey backwards: she looked for the killer of her cousin, who had disappeared in Ireland twenty years before.  The second novel finds her investigating a crime that begins on a Long Island beach but has roots in Ireland.  This third novel finds her firmly in Ireland, planning to move there, and deciding what she should do as far as a new career.  As the book makes obvious, she very much misses police work and hates being on the outside looking in (this is a clue to her eventual decision, but it’s hardly a spoiler). read more

Reviewers & Book Club Faves

Our two regular reviewers, Cathy Akers-Jordan and Vicki Kondelik, have shared their top 10 lists with us, and the book club chimes in on their favorite reads of the year as well.  Lots of good reading here!

Cathy:

Daughter of the Morning Star, Craig Johnson.  The new Longmire book is always the highlight of my mystery-reading year. The rez isn’t part of Walt Longmire’s jurisdiction, but when Tribal Police Chief Lolo Long recruits Walt and Henry to protect her niece, we learn the shocking statistics on the abuse and murder of Indian Women. Walt deals with a teenage basketball star while trying his best to keep her alive. read more

Best of 2021

There are two authors whose work is so consistently excellent I don’t add them to my best of lists anymore, but I can tell you that William Kent Krueger’s prequel to his Cork O’Connor series, Lightning Strike, is beautifully written, felt and told; and Louise Penny’s The Madness of Crowds, a sly look at devotees of a flawed charismatic leader, is a beautiful read.  Both writers have a quality of heart and spirit that give their books an extra something, and their main characters, Cork O’Connor and Armand Gamache, are beloved by readers. Soon to join these two are Elly Griffiths and Ann Cleeves, both of whom turned in stellar reads this year (see below).  I invite readers to cast their reading nets a bit wider and consider some of these other fine titles.  These are all books that stayed with me and left me thinking after I finished them. read more

July & August Book Clubs

July Book Club will meet in person on Sunday, July 18, 2pm at my home.  We’ll also be meeting via zoom on Wednesday, July 21, at 7pm.  Please message me if you’d like to attend either iteration and you don’t have the relevant details or zoom link.  We’ll be discussing Sarah Stewart Taylor’s wonderful novel, The Mountains Wild.

August book club will meet in person on Sunday, August 22 at 2p.m and via zoom on Wednesday, August 25 at 7pm.  We’ll be reading Caroline B. Cooney’s Edgar nominee, Before She Was Helen. read more

Sarah Stewart Taylor: A Distant Grave

The second in Stewart Taylor’s Maggie D’Arcy series follows her elegiac first outing, The Mountains Wild, my favorite read of 2020.  Maggie is a Long Island homicide cop, but as the first novel explored, she has deep roots in Ireland.  In the first novel she searches for her long lost cousin’s killer; in the second novel, the crime occurs up the street from her home, but the roots of the story again take her back to Ireland.

She’s left behind a new-old flame in Ireland and has been planning a long vacation there with her daughter to visit him, but she catches a homicide case two days before they plan to leave.  When it turns out the victim was Irish, she figures she can combine business and pleasure, and her boss gives her leave to take off. read more

June & July Book clubs

In June, we’ll meet on Sunday, June 13 at 2 p.m. to discuss Peter Swanson’s Eight Perfect Murders.  This book is available for purchase on our website.  From the  publisher: Years ago, bookseller and mystery aficionado Malcolm Kershaw compiled a list of the genre’s most unsolvable murders, those that are almost impossible to crack—which he titled “Eight Perfect Murders”—chosen from among the best of the best including Agatha Christie’s A. B. C. Murders, Patricia Highsmith’s Strangers on a Train, Ira Levin’s Death Trap, A. A. Milne’s Red House Mystery, Anthony Berkeley Cox’s Malice Aforethought, James M. Cain’s Double Indemnity, John D. Macdonald’s The Drowner, and Donna Tartt’s A Secret History. read more

Sarah Stewart Taylor: The Mountains Wild

This novel will be released on June 23, 2020.

I was a huge fan of Sarah Stewart Taylor’s Sweeney St. George series, published in the early 2000’s.  Sweeney was an expert on gravestone iconography, and the books were beautifully written, thoughtful mysteries.  Stewart Taylor has been away from mystery fiction since 2006, and this return feels more polished, more pointed in its narrative drive – it’s a step up.  I’ll say up front it’s one of the best books I’ve read this year.

It’s not a total departure from the Sweeney books – the passion is there, the love of history is there, but it’s more focused.  It follows the story of Maggie D’Arcy, who, as an adult, is a homicide detective on Long Island, but who, as a 20 something, lost the cousin who was like a sister to her.  The cousin, Erin, had left the states for Ireland, and hasn’t been heard from since 1993.  There are other young women who were killed (and discovered) in the same area, and Maggie and the rest of her family are pretty sure Erin is dead, but they’d like to know. read more