It felt like June just flew by. With many days of high temps and high humidity, inside reading in air conditioned comfort was the place to be....eleven books read this month.
I'll begin with the ones I rated 4.0's because one of those is very special. Earlier this year I blogged about the term Love Lies Bleeding in which I stated that upon looking it up I learned there was a book by that name.
My perceptive, fellow-book-loving-younger son, set out to find a copy. He did - a new paperback edition published in 2015. And he gave it to me as part of my Mother's Day gifts.
I've said it many times, British mysteries seem to me so much smarter than any others. Love Lies Bleeding by Edmund Crispin (pen name of Robert Bruce Montgomery) is not only a fine mystery about a missing Shakespearean manuscript, it substantiates what I believe about British novels. The Words. You can tell this novel was written long before the dumbing down of students everywhere. Words Crispin uses as a matter of course, I even had to look up some of the meanings. (Which I loved, because I love words.)
Thank you, Preston, for this most thoughtful gift. And let me know if you want to read it.
Mary Chamberlain is a new-to-me author. I liked her novel, The Dressmaker's War, about an English woman caught up and confined by the Nazi's in WWII. Her talent and passion for dressmaking saves her during the war, but can't do the same after she is freed and returns to England. Even though it is sometimes hard to read books like this, I do appreciate learning more about that time. One of my 4.0's.
My other 4.0 is another new author, Fredrik Backman. Britt-Marie Was Here is the story of a 63-year-old woman who finally has enough of being taken for granted in a loveless marriage and walks out. She must have a job, but at her age and with no experience, what can she do? After persistent pestering at the employment agency, she is sent to a small, derelict town as caretaker of the activity center which is scheduled for closing. A hopeful story of how an outsider helps transform a hopeless village and finds acceptance and love.
A year ago I discovered a new author, Tana French, at our library when they got book #5 of her Dublin Murder Squad mysteries. Unfortunately that was the only one of her books they had. Fortunately, I found # 2 The Likeness at Half-Price Books and bought it.
Each book in the series features a different member of the Dublin Murder Squad. The Likeness follows Cassie Maddox after she leaves the squad and becomes a member of the Domestic Violence team - which she is realizing was a wrong move.
When a young woman is found murdered Cassie doesn't understand why she is being summoned to the scene until she gets there and discovers the murder victim looks so much like her that she could be her twin. Not only that, but the I.D. on the victim is the same name Cassie had used in one of her undercover roles.
Then Cassie's old UC handler convinces her to go back to the house where the victim and four others lived together pretending to have recovered, knowing that one of the four or all of them may be the murderer.
There was so much mounting tension in this book that I would have to stop and put the book down. Great psychological insight, evocative prose and sense of place. (House description and how they felt about living there.) Diametrical outcomes, but both satisfying. This author is very good.
One of Laurie R. King's Mary Russell books (#10), The God of the Hive, was my other 4.5 book this month. Russell and Holmes are separated and on the run, wanted by the police and pursued by an enemy with powerful connections. Russell has Holmes' young granddaughter with her while Holmes is trying to get his injured son to safety.
The mastermind of all this is trying to discredit and/or kill Mycroft Holmes and take over his place in British Intelligence. My two favorite characters in this novel were the granddaughter and the hermit she thought of as 'The Green Man'. I wish one or the other of my two libraries had all of the books in this series.
Another new author for me was Emily Brightwell. I sampled one of her Victorian Mysteries, Mrs. Jeffries And The One Who Got Away. It was okay, but not great - another of what I call 'quick, little mystery reads'. I already have enough of those that I do read without adding another series. I rated this one a 2.5.
My final five June reads are all rated 3.5. They are:
Time of Fog and Fire, Rhys Bowen's 16th Molly Murphy Mystery. It is 1906 and Molly's husband, Daniel Sullivan is on special assignment for the President and the Secret Service. He can't tell Molly where he is or when he will return. When she receives a coded message from him from San Francisco she takes it to mean he wants her to join him there.
She arrives to the news that he is dead and buried after a fatal fall off a cliff. Just when she discovers he is still alive, the great San Francisco earthquake occurs and they are separated from their little son. I always enjoy the Molly Murphy Mysteries although I didn't think this one was as good as usual. It seemed a little contrived.
Dishing The Dirt by M.C. Beaton is her 26th Agatha Raisin Mystery. This is one of those quick little mystery series that I won't give up. They're always good and I don't always figure them out. Only Agatha is intuitive enough and snoopy enough to keep solving all those Cotswold murders.
Sally Hepworth is another new author. I read her first two books, The Secrets of Midwives and The Things We Keep which is about early onset Alzheimer's and my favorite of these two. Rated each 3.5.
Lastly, another Jacquelyn Mitchard book, The Breakdown Lane, about a woman whose husband leaves her just when she discovers she has MS. After all her struggles raising the children, holding onto her job, dealing with the disease, the author decides to give her a break and brings in an old boyfriend who is now a rich, successful doctor, to fall in love with. I felt that was a little far fetched. But still a good read.