Naomi Hirahara: Evergreen

Japantown #2

The follow up to Hirahara’s spectacular Clark and Division finds the Ito family, released from detention camp and the follow up resettlement in Chicago, back in 1946 Los Angeles.  After the Japanese were sent to camps, their homes and businesses were taken over, and they’ve returned to try and build up their lives again.  Our heroine, Aki, works as a nurse’s aide and is waiting for her husband Art to return from the war.  She and her parents have found a small home to rent which the two couples will share. read more

Sujata Massey: The Mistress of Bhatia House

Perveen Mistry #4

The much anticipated return of Sujata Massey’s Perveen Mistry is well worth the wait.  It opens with this wonderful sentence: “Sisters will fight. It’s true whether they are raised together or meet as sisters-in-law in a joint family household.”  It sets the tone and theme for the novel, which is about the power of female connection.  And murder, of course.

Perveen the only female lawyer in 1920’s Bombay, lives with her family after a disastrous marriage.  As the book opens, she’s attending a fund-raising party for a new women’s hospital at Bhatia House. Her sister-in-law and former best friend, Gulnaz, has just given birth to the family’s first granddaughter, and she cannot attend.  In her stead, Perveen is bringing Gulnaz’s donation. read more

Nilima Rao: A Disappearance in Fiji

This book is such a fun read, which is odd as the subject matter is difficult.  Set in 1914 Fiji, at the time a British colony, the rollback of slavery in Britain made it difficult for colonies to obtain workers for their sugar cane and other plantations.  The solution (a fairly short lived one) was to import Indians as indentured servants.  The workers signed up for a set time – five years – and then were free.  Ultimately, about half returned to India; about half stayed in Fiji.  That’s the setting. read more

Summer reading: Book Club picks & dates

Join us this summer for some reading!  In June, we’ll read S.J. Bennett’s All the Queen’s Men, meeting in person on Sunday, June 25 at 2 p.m. and on zoom on Wednesday, June 28 at 7 p.m.  In July, Allison Montclair will be joining us on zoom on Sunday, July 23 at 2 p.m. to discuss her new book, The Lady from Burma.  While it’s not necessary to have read any of Ms. Montclair’s books before the discussion, I recommend them highly!  It’s a wonderful series set in London just post WWII.  And spoiler, Allison Montclair is a pen name – tune to discover her (?) true identity.  In August, we’ll be reading the much award nominated Shutter by Ramona Emerson, meeting in person on Sunday, August 13 at 2 p.m. and on zoom on Wednesday, August 16 at 7 p.m.  Anyone is welcome – please message us on facebook or twitter or email us at store (at) for more info or for a zoom link. read more

Cara Black: Night Flight to Paris

The second novel from Cara Black featuring WWII sniper/assassin Kate Rees is just as nail-bitingly difficult to put down as the first book.  Kate is getting her mojo back in Scotland, training recruits, when she’s whisked to London to renew her spycraft skills and get a new assignment.  She’s given specific instructions, but little information.  She’s to be sent to Paris with some penicillin, kill a target, extract an operative and return – within two days.  Black gives the reader the full treatment on every step of Kate’s journey, so you are with her on the bumpy flight to Paris, the landing in a field, and her exhaustion as the finds her way to the city to begin her mission. read more

Colin Cotterill: The Motion Picture Teller

This charming mystery from Colin Cotterill’s innovative pen is not a murder mystery, but it is a mystery.  Set slightly in the past – 1996 – the action takes place mostly in a corner of Bangkok where postman Supot hangs out whenever he can at his buddy Ali’s video store.  This book will bring back a wave of memories of old video rental places and the pleasures of browsing the shelves and discovering a treasure.

While neither Ali or Supot make much money, they are united in their love of cinema, and their happiest hours are spent in the back of the store watching an old film like Casablanca. At one point, Supot thinks to himself: “He wondered if anyone had ever starved to death from enthrallment, dazzled to malnutrition by cinematic magic, not realizing they hadn’t eaten for a week.”  One night Ali and Supot’s viewing is interrupted by an old wino named Woot, who brings in a box of video tapes to sell.  Ali gives him a little bit of money, and as he and Supot go through the tapes, they discover an unknown (to them) movie called Bangkok 2010. read more

Francine Mathews: Death on a Winter Stroll

Great Christmas Read

Confession: this is the first book I’ve read in Mathews’ Merry Folger series, and I very much regret not being up to date (something I plan to rectify). What a great read – it reminded me of Jane Haddam’s books, without some of the sardonic edge that Haddam brought to her work.  Set on Nantucket, the setting is spectacular, and it’s obviously born of a personal love and knowledge of the area.  She describes the social strata of a resort perfectly – the workers who serve the very wealthy who frequent Nantucket exist in a different social sphere.  Merry, a native, is a “townie” who grew up on Nantucket and has long family roots on the island. They are there when the dust of the tourist season clears, and the gap between townie and summer visitor is often vast. read more

Naomi Hirahara joins our August Book Club

Naomi Hirahara will join our book club via zoom on Sunday, August 21 at 2 p.m. when we discuss her award winning book, Clark and Division.  Set during WWII, it follows the travails of the Ito family who are placed in a Japanese internment camp in California and then, after two years in the camp, relocated from California to Chicago. The portrait of the family, of the time period, and of the Ito family’s circumstances are beautifully portrayed.  All are welcome to join!  Come with questions or come to listen.  I can’t recommend this book more highly – it was my favorite read of 2021 and am delighted to get it into the hands of as many readers as possible.  We do have copies available on the store page of this website, but please check out your local bookstore, your library, and find and read a copy in some form or fashion!  Email us as store (at) for the zoom link. read more

May Book Club Read: Slow Horses

Join us in May for our book club read of Mick Herron’s Slow Horses, the first in his series about MI5 agents who have made some epic fails.  We’ll meet in person on Sunday, May 22 at 2 p.m. or via zoom on Wednesday. May 25, at 7 p.m.   Email us at or message us on facebook for details.

Here’s the publisher’s description of Slow Horses (now an excellent TV series): London, England: Slough House is where the washed-up MI5 spies go to while away what’s left of their failed careers. The “slow horses,” as they’re called, have all disgraced themselves in some way to get relegated here. Maybe they messed up an op badly and can’t be trusted anymore. Maybe they got in the way of an ambitious colleague and had the rug yanked out from under them. Maybe they just got too dependent on the bottle—not unusual in this line of work. One thing they all have in common, though, is they all want to be back in the action. And most of them would do anything to get there─even if it means having to collaborate with one another. read more

James R. Benn: Road of Bones

This book will be published on September 7.

For new readers, the Billy Boyle books are set during WWII and feature an army captain, Billy, who investigates the murders that occur on the edges (or directly inside of) the war. It’s now 1944, and after giving Billy a bit of a break in the last book, The Red Horse, author James Benn plunges Billy and his sidekick Big Mike directly into the action.  Road of Bones begins and ends with two bravura action scenes, a type of writing at which Benn excels.  Action scenes can easily become dull or repetitive (to this crime reading veteran, anyway), but Benn is specific, descriptive in a concise way, and the pacing of his action scenes is perfection.  The more I read, the more I think pacing is all, and Benn has the gift. read more