Career diplomat Dillion Randolph returns home to his censorious father after a nasty scandal with a married woman in Australia. He is given a second chance in post-war Berlin with the U.S. Mission in Berlin but his indiscretion makes him the perfect target for the Soviets. When a beautiful actress suddenly enters his life, is it true love or just a KGB “honey trap?” Double agents have been worrisome for the allies recently but it takes a pragmatic British spy to ferret out the truth behind the alluring Fraulien Schiller.
Flanders has captured the atmosphere of Cold War Berlin perfectly. His description of the city, hemmed in by the Russians, struggling to regain its footing after the war is both poignant and hopeful. Aficionados of John le Carré, Alan Furst and the late Philip Kerr need to add this to their collection.
Murder on the Left Bank (An Aimée Leduc Investigation)
By Cara Black
As with all of Black’s books, I sat down one evening, started reading Murder on the Left Bank, and didn’t stop until I had gotten to the last page. Juggling the demands of her detective agency and her baby, Aimée reluctantly takes on a bewildering case for a good friend. A missing dossier and the suspicious death of the notebook’s courier digs up reminders of the dangerous syndicate that murdered Aimée’s father. Black doesn’t mess around in her 18th Aimée Leduc book and it doesn’t take long for the tension to build in this one. Reluctantly, our heroine finds herself having to rely on her godfather, her child’s father and her enigmatic mother to protect the life of her baby.
As usual, a most satisfying read with the added charm of Paris, Aimée’s vintage wardrobe and the quirky cast of characters that make up her friends and family.
Pub. Date June 19, 2018
Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions
By Mario Gidrdano
Recently translated from the German, this features some of the most delightful characters I’ve read in ages. Poldi (which is short Isolde) has recently moved to Sicily from Munich. She is widowed, oft-times depressed, hard-drinking and has recently turned-sixty. Her husband’s three Sicilian sisters worry about her health but Poldi finds an unexpected diversion. After discovering the body of a young man who has been helping her restore her house, Poldi decides to solve the murder of Valentino Candela and romantically pursue the handsome Sicilian policeman assigned to the case.
Poldi is the nervy heroine we all like to see stubbornly tracking down a murderer. Her persistence in often humorous and engaging. That being said, she is also prone to dark moods and depression, which are actually rather refreshing and human.
Probable Claws: A Mrs. Murphy Mystery
By Rita Mae Brown
The 27th Mrs. Murphy Mystery employs a lot of the things we like best in these mysteries such as ingenious murder, engaging banter between the animals as Harry Hairsteen’s totes her pets around town into possible dangerous situations and, of course, that particular southern charm that Brown uses to elevate even the most diabolical of her characters. That charm extends to additional personalities that seemingly have nothing to do with the folks in Crozet only because they exist in the 1700’s. Eventually, we are given clues to the connection between the past and the present but, as much as I enjoyed the side story, it was a little disconcerting. I was left with the impression that RMB enjoyed writing about the 18th century mystery more than she did the 21st.
Pub. Date May 29, 2018
When it started raining yesterday afternoon I knew it was the perfect time to cuddle up with my cat and start reading The Rules of Magic. Little did I know, that I would be still at it long after the rain stopped and the sun set. Dinner was delayed, phone calls ignored and, with apologies to my best friend, whose birthday it was yesterday, texts abruptly answered. The prequel to Practical Magic, was impossible to put down.
When I was done I felt as if I had been on an emotional journey from joy to despair and back again. Woven throughout is that love, no matter how messy, inconvenient or dangerous it is, can heal even the heart of a witch. The story is made all the more rich by Hoffman's descriptions of nature. Whether it's the vast expanse of NYC's Central Park or a quiet New England cemetery, her flowers, herbs and wild life restore not just the characters but the reader, as well.
Pub Date 10 Oct 2017
My very own "familiar," Sherman, who reads right along side his mom.
If you saw the PBS series, then you will be familiar with the characters from this program. The television series had been commissioned by the BBC to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of World War Two, following the lives of four girls in the Women’s Land Army. Moore, who wrote the series script, picks up where the series left off.
War on the home front has its own challenges and being a young lady with a past who is married to a vicar is only the beginning. It seems that everyone has their secrets in this charming sequel to the popular television series. This is book I in a three-part series to be completed by Moore, who has obviously done his research. My only complaint is that it reads like a lot of British television dramas, less literary than soap opera.
This is a fascinating memoir about living on an organic vineyard in Saussignac, Dordogne. The Caro and her husband are raising their two daughters to be environmentally aware in one of the most beautiful regions of France. The couple faces countless challenges in their business ventures, cultivating grapes, marketing their wine and strengthening their marriage.
The descriptions of wine and food is delectable but, more importantly, this book presents a persuasive look at the ecological dangers of using pesticides in vineyards. It isn’t easy to find organic wine up here in the mountains of North Carolina but the author has made a convert out of me. Oh, and one other little personal delight, is a meeting between Caro and author Martin Walker (see my review of The Templar’s Last Secret) at a wine fair.
Pub Date: Sept 2017
As a young orphan boy in Victorian London, Wiggins had been trained by the best. Known to us today as the Baker Street Irregulars, Wiggins and his fellow street urchins were initiated into the world of trade craft by none other than Sherlock Holmes. After a stint in the military, Wiggins is back on the streets working for a debt collector. A thankless job that isn’t paying the rent. Enter Captain Vernon Kell from the War Office. It is 1909, trouble is brewing abroad and England will be at war in five years. There are Bolsheviks in Russia, an arms race with Germany and European treaties are in peril. Foreigners are bringing their problems to Great Britain and Kell badly needs agents to work undercover.
Wiggins turns up his nose at the offer to go “official” until an old army buddy is killed by Russian anarchists. Sherlock Holmes, who recommended him to Kell, urges him to put his talents to good use. At first, Wiggins agrees to go undercover in a munitions factory only because he wants revenge. Before long, the investigation quickly becomes a complicated game with alarming consequences for the Empire.
H.B. Lyle was in the film industry and it shows. The story is fast-paced, rich in descriptions and the dialogue is true to the characters. Overall, this book is just plain fun. It is sprinkled with real life personages, such as Captain Kell, Winston Churchill and MI6 founder, Mansfield Cumming, as well as the literary characters of Wiggins, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. There is even a link to Her Majesty’s favorite spy, James Bond.
Pub Date: November 7, 2017