Auntie Poldi and the Vineyards of Etna by Mario Giordano
Auntie Poldi returns! Oh, how I love this woman. She is a German widow of a Sicilian living in the shadow of Mt. Etna and trying not to drink herself to death in view of sea. Once she straightens her wig, puts down her glass of wine and straddles her Vespa, there is no stopping 60 year old Polidi. Not her Sicilian sister-in-laws, not her German want-to-be author nephew, and certainly not her handsome lover, Chief Inspector Montanta!
What does a poisoned dog and the deaths of a fortune teller and a well-known attorney have in common? Could it be the Mafia? Fast-paced, sexy and smart, Giordano transports the reader to sunny Sicily. If you are anything like this 60 year old reader, you will soon be reaching for your laptop to search for Sicilian vacation rentals with a view of ocean. Pub. Date March 2019
Death in Paris by Emilia Bernhard
When American Rachael Levis learns that her ex-boyfriend has died face down in a bowl of soup, she is surprised that a bottle of rosé was on the table as well. Edgar detested rosé. It’s been years since she was with him and she is happily married to another man but Edgar had been her first mature relationship when Rachael first moved to Paris. It seems that he had not forgotten her either, putting her in his will and requesting that she catalogue his huge library. With a legitimate reason to snoop around, Rachael and her best friend Magda take it upon themselves to discover who murdered Edgar Bowen. This is an entertaining read with a fun amateur sleuth duo and no shortage of Parisian atmosphere! Pub. Date October 2018
Killer Thriller by Lee Goldberg
Ian Ludlow, former television script writer and best-selling author writes books that get the attention of the CIA, mostly because they tend to come too close to the truth. Doing research in Hong Kong, it doesn’t take long for Ian and his assistant, Margo French, to become a target for the Chinese government who believe that his relationship with the CIA makes him a high profile spy.
As in the first Ian Ludlow book, the hapless author finds himself in bizarre situations that have terrifying global consequences. Suspenseful, exciting chases, unique characters and an absolutely pleasurable way to pass an evening. Or, well into the night because you won’t be able to put it down. Pub. Date February 2018
In the Galway Silence by Ken Bruen
Jack Tayor is a former Irish cop who is far from perfect. He drinks too much, pops stimulants, his relationships have been rocky and he talks too much. Things have been looking up lately but that is all about to change. He gets drawn into a strange murder, his ex-wife shows up with a daughter he didn’t know he had, his girlfriend’s son is kidnapped and then there is the serial killer…
I am pretty good at sticking to the plot of a story and this one was difficult but worth it. This is Bruen’s 14th Jack Taylor mystery but my first. Dark, circuitous, complex and witty. Yes, Taylor is a deeply flawed and tormented character but he’s also someone who grows on you. I shall definitely catch up on the 13 other books! Pub. Date November 2018
Shadowed by Death by Mary Adler
Oliver Wright has returned home from the Pacific minus a leg. The Marine is trying to settle back into his pre-war job as a homicide detective in San Francisco but unrelenting pain, haunting memories and his superior’s apprehension about his disability, makes it difficult. Aided by his wartime companion, Harley, a German shepherd, Oliver is determined to do the job that he loves. The discovery of a mysterious woman beaten almost to death and dumped on the grounds of the Presidio coupled with a frightened little girl, a beautiful Polish resistance fighter who has left her children behind, a grandmotherly Italian restaurateur and a community of Jewish chicken farmers lead Oliver to fear that the evil tentacles of the war in Europe has reached California.
Facing his own demons, Oliver is actually one of the more sensitive detective characters I’ve come across. His relationship with his dog Harley is one of the best parts of the novel. It’s only 1944 and the war in Europe is not over. There are a lot of questions left unanswered so we can assume that Oliver and Harley will be back. There were some disjointed bits along the way but it is clear that Adler has done her research and I enjoyed reading about wartime San Francisco. Pub. Date September 2018
The Au Pair by Emma Rous
Seraphine Mayes has come home after the death of her father. Going through his effects she chances on a photograph that raises questions about her childhood and the death of her mother. Challenging her uncooperative grandmother and brothers, Seraphine decides to seek out answers herself.
The story switches back and forth between the summer of her birth and her quest to seek out the au pair who was in the house at the time. The haunting truth begins to evolve into something dangerous as Seraphine begins to uncover secrets that others have conspired to keep hidden all of these years. This is one of those books that you will not want to put down. It sweeps you along with Seraphine from the scattered memories of a senile gardener to dangerous seaside cliffs. Pub. Date Jan 08, 2019
Little Shop of Found Things by Paula Brackston
New York Times bestselling author of The Witch's Daughter, has penned a delightful tale of magic and suspense. Xanthe and her mother Flora have had a tough go of it over the past couple of years. Starting anew, they have purchased an antique shop in the charming little village of Marlborough. Xanthe has a unique power to sense the history of some antique pieces. When she touches them, she can sense something of the people who once owed them. When she and her mother attend an auction at a local country manor she is drawn to a silver chatelaine that has a powerful hold on her.
The chatelaine leads her to an ancient jail cell built into the wall of their new garden. A ghostly figure living in the house threatens to harm Flora if Xanthe doesn’t go back to the 1600’s to rescue her daughter. Paula Brackston spins a compelling story with dimensional characters that is hard to put down. I look forward to reading this continuing series. Pub. Date October 9, 2018
Fromage a Trois: Paris, Love, Cheese by Victoria Brownlee
Anyone who loves Paris and who has stood in a French cheese shop and marveled at the seemingly acres of plump fresh cheeses, will be transported to France. Even if you’ve only dreamed about Paris and appreciate the creamy taste of a good goat cheese on your tongue, you will adore this book.
Ella used to be adventurous but after the man that she thought she would settle down with dumps her, she decides to leave Australia and return to the city where she was a different, more courageous person. With the help of Serge, the owner of the local fromagerie, she sets herself a challenge: eat a different kind of cheese every day for the next year.
Ella soon discovers that carving out a life in Paris is not that simple. Neither is trying to consume 365 types of cheese! This is a fun and engaging book. This is an entertaining read with tasty dairy overtones. Pub. Date October 2018
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.