Penny Reads 2021

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Penny Reads 2021

Redigerat: jan 1, 3:50pm

#1. SHADOW CRIMES, Michael Hambling

This is a continuation of the Sophie Allen series started in 2020. I got the first 8 books from KindleUnlimited.

This starts as an investigation into a bent cop but before that even begins a policewoman is the victim of a verbal racial attacked. The attacker only appears to be surprised when she identifies herself as police. The bent cop is murdered before he is interviewed but that case leads to one that involves materials being smuggled into prisons. The death toll mounts to four. It is complicated because of the layers and the identity of the head man is only learned when an arrested man breaks down.


jan 1, 9:38pm

Happy 2021 Penny!

Redigerat: jan 2, 7:51am

>2 dchaikin:
A Happy and Healthy New Year to you! Enjoy your reading 📚

Redigerat: jan 2, 8:18am

I am going to try and participate more this year instead of just entering my books. I am thinking of branching out into new genres, but I do enjoy what I read. I am limited to Kindle/ebooks because of my vision and $ limit the titles I can buy so I use KindleUnlimited a lot. There are some authors I just have to keep up with, e.g.: Quintin Jardine, Kathy Reichs, Charles Todd’s Maisie Dodds, and Laurie R. King. We will see what happens!

Redigerat: jan 2, 10:01pm

#2. SILENT CRIMES, Michael Hambling

Jade Allen, daughter of Chief Superintendent Sophie Allen discovers the body of a tramp who was living in the woods. She hadn’t seen him in town for a few days so went looking for him. The investigation leads to a commune that closed under some dark circumstances 12 years earlier which left another murder victim. Police in a number of countries become involved before the old and new cases are closed.

I like the way Hambling weaves in the family lives of his characters. He also keeps some police who have moved to other forces tied into Allen’s investigations.


Redigerat: jan 10, 12:46am

Det här meddelandet har tagits bort av dess författare.

jan 7, 2:13pm

Top 5 Books of 2020

Queen of the World: Elizabeth II: Sovereign and Stateswoman, Robert Hardman

Pursuing Giraffe: A 1950s Adventure, Anne Innis Dagg

Unnatural Causes The Life and Many Deaths of Britain’s Top Forensic Pathologist, Richard Shepherd

The Answer is ...: Reflections on My Life, Alex Trebek

The Daughter of Time, Josephine Tey

Has anyone posted to the main LT Best Books list and created their own list? Every year I have a difficult time with this. It takes numerous tries to get the titles and now I can’t drag on my list to reorder them.

jan 8, 6:30am

>7 pmarshall: Not yet but I intend to, I just need a bit of quiet time to whittle down my top 20 (ish) to 5.

jan 8, 11:18am

A belated Happy New Year and happy reading in 2021.

jan 8, 10:29pm

>9 rocketjk:
A Happy and Healthy New Year to you!

Redigerat: jan 10, 5:21pm

#3.The Missing Sapphire of Zangrabar, Steve Higgs

Patrica Fisher discovers her husband of 30 years in bed with her best friend and her reaction is to empty their bank accounts and drive to Southampton to take a cruise that day. This results in her becoming involved in a jewelry robbery and a number of murders and assaults. Despite being placed under arrest in her suite she finds ways out and is able to work out the solution. Entertaining.

Redigerat: feb 1, 9:03am

#4. All Things Bright: The Freeman Files Series: Book 10, Ted Tayler

This cold case involves the murder of a 14 year old girl for no apparent reason. The first action after reviewing the file is to make a list of people to interview and add and subtract people from the list as information comes in. Young mothers as a result of rape start to appear, a common father, a group involved with drug distribution and controlled through fear of harm to their children. With a major twist at the end. Freeman has an uncanny ability to look at facts from a different angle and suddenly see the whole picture.

Redigerat: jan 10, 5:16pm

#5. The Kidnapped Bride, Steve Higgs

Patricia Fisher continues on her round the world cruise. When leaving Miami an older man and his young fiancée join the boat, she under some duress. She is kidnapped and Fisher is asked to assist in finding her. It turns into a mob vs mob story but she works it all out in a rather clever manner.


Redigerat: jan 11, 10:27am

#6. The Director's Cut: A Patricia Fisher Mystery, Steve Higgs

A movie is being filmed on board between Los Angelos and Honolulu, however the star is murdered, Patricia Fisher’s friend Barbie’s life is threatened and Fisher is being kept from investigating. Too much is packed into the plot, child actors who do and don’t succeed, a actress who breaks her ankle and is replaced by Barbie takes revenge and an actress who blackmails male actors over sex videos. A little of all the industry’s woes.


Redigerat: jan 11, 6:42pm

#7. The Couple in Cabin 2124, Steve Higgs

Patricia Fisher is out for a walk when she sees a man preparing to throw himself overboard. Before he does he gives her a paper with the number 2124 on it and he asks her to save Anna. This leads to a confrontation with Tokyo mobsters. Fisher’s husband shows up unexpectedly which further confuses matters. Unbelievable.

Redigerat: jan 12, 8:23pm

#8. Doctor Death, Steve Higgs

A virus is attacking the people on the cruise ship and nothing that is being done to stop and cure the patients is working. Mrs. Fisher, by accident, discovers that a doctor that has developed a cure has had his family kidnapped to force him to work for the terrorists. If I had read this before COVID-19 I would have completely dismissed this book, but because of it I can see this happening.


Redigerat: feb 1, 9:01am

#9. Murder on the Dance Floor, Steve Higgs

Something strange is happening on board the Aurelia. There is evidence that a person or persons is visiting the top suites, leaving a business card but not taking anything. The Indian television version of “Dancing with the Stars” is taping an episode onboard the ocean liner. The first body of a dancer is found with a business card on her chest. Two more bodies plus an attempt on Patricia Fisher’s life follow. It takes Fisher and her friends just a few hours to solve the various crimes.


Redigerat: jan 13, 9:48pm

Det här meddelandet har tagits bort av dess författare.

Redigerat: jan 15, 7:22pm

#10. Mission for the Maharajah, Steve Higgs

Another unbelievable tale featuring Patricia Fisher. Her first mystery had her recovering a sapphire belonging to the country of Zangrabar near India. In this book she and her friends are invited to the coronation of the new maharajah and they discover a plot to replace the maharajah with another man.


jan 14, 1:02pm

#11. A Sleuth and her Dachshund in Athens, Steve Higgs

The captain’s nephew is murdered after just one week of working in the Bursar’s Office. Why? Patrica Fisher comes up with a couple of solutions developed before and dismissed after another murder. A visit to a fight club in Athens provides the final answers. A midnight visitor to her suite sets the scene for what will happen in Malta, the next stop.


Redigerat: feb 1, 9:01am

#12. The Maltese Parrot, Steve Higgs

In Athens Fisher receives a disc drive to pass on to another British intelligence agent in Malta. She makes the attempt but instead is arrested for his murder. Other people are also after the drive and murders are committed over it. She becomes aware of a sex trafficking ring that has a headquarters in Malta. It takes women off the street and they go by ship to Algeria. I am not clear how but she does stop both of these groups.

Redigerat: jan 15, 7:25pm

#13. No Place Like Home, Steve Higgs

Patrica Fisher comes to the end of her round the world cruise and returns to her village. She opens a private investigation office and her first client is her soon to be ex-husband. His partner, who was Patrica’s best friend has been murdered. Her life is threatened three times before the case is closed. Then a lawyer Fisher thought was a threat turns out to be an agent for the Maharajah of Zangrabar who has found a way to thank her for her actions related to his coronation.


jan 15, 4:48pm

Happy New Year, Penny. You are off to a fast start. Have you started painting yet?

Redigerat: jan 16, 2:25pm

#14. What Sam Knew, Steve Higgs

Higgs starts a new Patrica Fisher Mystery Adventure Book series now that she has settled in the village and opened an office as a private investigator. This first books deals with a missing dog and a rock climber whose death is called an accident by the police but a murder by his wife. The cases solve themselves with good luck from Fisher.

Redigerat: jan 17, 8:42pm

#15. The Art of Inheriting Secrets, Barbara O'Neal

Olivia Shaw is amazed to learn upon the death of her mother that she has inherited a very large estate in England, one that has been in the family for 600 years and that she is a duchess. In 1977 her mother left it and moved to San Francisco, the estate was deserted and the house and gardens fell to ruin. Olivia faces a number of problems as she wrestles with her decision about her future and that of the estate.


Redigerat: jan 20, 12:13am

#16. In Bad Company (Sandhamn Murders Book 9), Viveca Sten

Set in Stockholm, and it’s islands in the present day and Bosnia in 1992, 1993, during the civil war this is the story of a criminal who physically abuses his wife and is responsible for the death of three people and an attack on another. It is an explanation of the safe homes for the abused wife and her infant to flee to, until her husband discovers where she is. It is not a book I enjoyed because of the violence, in Bosnia and Sweden and the helpfulness of some of the characters. Swedish society and government support for the police and women’s shelters seems to be falling apart despite the strong tax base it has. This is a continuation of the Nora Linde and Thomas Johansson series. I don’t know how to rate it because of the feelings it left me with.

Redigerat: feb 1, 9:00am

#17. Where the Forest Meet the Stars, Glenda Vanderah

Jo, a Ph. D science student, doing bird nesting research in southern Illinois, finds a young child in the forest that surrounds her rental cabin. She claims to be from the Pinwheel Galaxy in the Ursa Major Galaxy and send to earth to witness five miracles. Jo and her neighbour, Gabe, find it difficult to accept this story, but when she calls the police Ursa runs away and they aren’t very helpful. An event in mid-summer brings Ursa’s identity to a head and the truth is not what people expected.

This book was on the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and Amazon bestseller lists.


Redigerat: jan 20, 3:52am

>23 NanaCC:

Yes, I started on a project for my sister. In November she got COVID-19 and was moved out of her room and all her things were packed up. She lives in a nursing home in Saint John. She was quite ill but has now recovered and was back in her bare room before Christmas. She said she wanted a Christmas decoration but didn’t know where her’s were then she found a Christmas tree I had done in 2017 and put it on the wall. So then I painted (watercolour pencils) a Christmas village which she put on the wall. Even when all her things are back she doesn’t have a lot of flat surface so I got the idea of doing her a doodle, that’s what I call these small things I do, for each holiday. So today I did hearts inside a heart using oil pastels. Next I will do St. Patrick’s Day ☘️. That will keep me busy for a while. I have 4 in my sketchbook I can use and 8 on my list to create.

jan 20, 10:56am

>28 pmarshall: I love that idea Penny. It’s a very special and personal thing to do.

Redigerat: feb 1, 9:00am

#18. Comeback, Dick Francis

Diplomat, Peter Darwin, returns to England and becomes embroiled in a racing mystery involving a veterinary surgeon with serious troubles. It takes place in the village he lived in until age ten which brings back bits and pieces of memories which help him connect people and events. It is a strange feeling but one that gives him the why but not the who of the current events.

Redigerat: jan 24, 11:18pm

#19. Dead Heat, Dick Francis

Restaurant owner, Max Moreton, gets into hot water when guests at a gala race course dinner become very ill with food poisoning. This is closely followed by a bombing at the next event he caters. Who arranged the bombing and why do they want to kill Max?

This quote was in this book: Abraham Lincoln said “Things may come to those who wait, but only what is left from those who hustle.” The second part of this is not familiar to me.

Redigerat: feb 1, 8:58am

#20 This Time Next Year We'll Be Laughing, Jacqueline Winspear

Winspear’s memoirs is a wonderful collection of family stores from her grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins and her own small family of parents and younger brother from WW I to the death of her parents in 2015, connected by descriptions of people and places. She was born in 1955 and grew up in rural Kent but in many ways her childhood spend hops and fruit picking was similar to that of earlier generations in her family. Her family got by with hard work from all four members and taking advantage of every opportunity to earn money. It is an amazing memoir, so well told.

Readers of her Maisie’s Dodd series will recognize settings and events from this telling of Winspear’s early life.


Redigerat: jan 29, 10:20am

#21. Reflex, Francis Dick

The death of a racetrack photographer.followed by the trashing of his home during his funeral and then the destruction of it by fire causes jockey and photographer Philip Nothe to agree to the photographer’s son’s request that he look into his father’s death/murder. He finds a box of film puzzles which when solved and printed prove to be very dangerous. At the same time he is asked by his grandmother, upon their first meeting, to find a sister he never knew he had.

The power of a photograph is clearly illustrated, what the photographer can do with it and what impact it can have on those in it, particularly if they claim not to know each other or be father/daughter when they are doing something they shouldn’t do together. A picture can be worth much more than a thousand words.


jan 29, 10:39am

I can’t settle on what I want to read and my Santa books are regular size print which makes them an effort to read. So II have follow back on Dick Francis, my comfort read. I recently discovered that he is also the comfort read for a long time friend. We spent the good part of an hour talking about him on the phone earlier this week. TBC

Redigerat: jan 31, 3:50pm

#22. Break In, Dick Francis

Kit's twin sister Holly, is married to Bobby, son of Maynard Allardeck, who maintains a feud against the Fieldings, and as a result their stables are the target of a smear campaign in a national newspaper. Kit is determined to fight this battle even as the number of opponents increases. He sees it as a complete disregard for Bobby and Holly in the newspaper’s attempt to blacken Maynard’s name and prevent him from getting a “K,” a knighthood.

It is interesting to observe the interaction between Kit and the Princess, the various newspaper villains, Maynard and those he has taken advantage of and Bobbie, his sister Holly and Danielle. He has the ability with Holly to know what is in her mind and when he needs to call her and she of him. A skill that is also developing with Danielle. Too bad it didn’t work with the others he could have avoided some beatings.


Redigerat: feb 1, 8:59am

#22. Bolt, Dick Francis

The second in the Kit Fielding series.

The Princess Kit Fielding rides for family has come under threat from a unscrupulous business partner of her husband's who wants their company to manufacture plastic arms. This would bring dishonour to the family. At the same time Kit feels that his relationship with the Princess' husband’s niece is under threat by her nephew as well as Danielle’s fear of Kit’s job. Kit also feels threatened by Maynard Allardeck and the authority he has as a Racing Steward. Add to the mix a sudden visit from Florida of the Princess’ sister-in-law who is trying to pressure her brother to sign the gun deal as it will increase her allowance. Living in Palm Beach is expensive! Finally three of the Princess’s horses are murdered with a bolt to the brain. Kit must solve all of this plus attempts on the lives of Danielle and Litsi. He and his friends face an arrogant bully who only see what he wants and it takes some twisted thinking to best him. Another horse is dead before that is ended.

In this book Francis, perhaps guided by his wife Mary and her experiences as a jockey’s wife, presents what the spouse goes through as her husband experiences the excitement and dangers of steeplechase racing. As one wife said to Danielle “It is fear and Joe, or no fear and no Joe.” At the same time Kit is wrestling with the idea of a life alone. This is done with out sentimentality but one does feel the emotion.

jan 31, 4:58pm

January, 2021 Summary

5 Rereads
17 Read

22 Total

Redigerat: feb 2, 9:32am

#23. The Dreamer, Sheldon Siegel

I am rereading this book before I read the new title in the series Final Out. A long time habit of mine.

If I understand it correctly the Dreamer was a category President Obama created for people in the United States in 2012, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. The young woman accused of murder is registered as a Dreamer, but that disegnation will expire in a few weeks. She is accused of killing her boss, a well known chef and restaurant owner, as well as being a nasty person who sexually harassed his workers, men and women.

I like Siegel because he clearly lays out the building of the case and it’s pros and cons and then it’s presentation in court.


Redigerat: feb 3, 8:51pm

#24. Final Out, Sheldon Siegel

A video shows a man running with a baseball bat in his hand, the camera coverage stops, then the man is seen running the other way without the bat. A man is found floating in the bay, his head bashed in and beside him is a bat. The police arrest a man who goes to the Public Defenders Office for a lawyer. The defence is SODDI (Some Other Dude Did it) and it works, or does it?


Redigerat: feb 5, 12:56pm

#25. Embers of Murder, Alec Peche

An arsonist is setting fires in California with an added touch, the body of a bad date from an on-line website is found where the fire started. An insurance agent gets suspicious when three of his clients are found in these circumstances. The Sacramento Medical Examiners Office, Jill Quint’s former employer calls her in to look into his claims as they are busy with a bus crash. When Jill visits the burn sites she finds cigarette butts and another investigator which sets off bells in her mind. The case gets stranger as the investigation widens ending in closure.
It was interesting reading about arson and the factors that need to be considered to get a good fire going. It is timely considering the number of wildfires in California.

Redigerat: feb 28, 12:09pm

#26. The Paris Library, Janet Skeslien Charles

The American Library in Paris was officially established in 1920 and it grew out of the American Library Association service to provide books to American soldiers in Europe during World War I. A building was converted into a library and between the wars it provided reference services, educational outreach and was a bridge between America and France. 2020 was its 100rd anniversary.

The Paris Library is the story of two women, Odile Souchet, who grew up in Paris and Lily, Odile’s neighbour in Montana in 1983. Odilie’s story is that of the library and the way it worked to continue its services despite the restrictions placed on it as well as her personal story. Lily is a high school student who befriends her neighbor and gradually learns her story.

I was attracted to the book because it was about a library and it lives up to my expectations of what libraries do that are beyond what most people would ever expect of them. I was a librarian in various types of libraries so am aware of what good library service can do. The personal stories fill in the impact of the German control of Paris on the daily lives of its citizens. Worth reading.

Reviewed February 11, 2021


Redigerat: feb 6, 5:52pm

#27. Time’s Up A Dr. Jill Quint, M. D. Mystery Series Short Story, Alec Peche

This short story is a prequel to the Dr. Jill Quint series. It introduces her on her vineyard and starting plans for her first bottling which brings in Nathan, a wine label designer. The call from Fresno to assist them by doing an autopsy on an elderly man who appears to have died of natural causes. Doing test in her own lab causes Jill to question this and think it was murder. No held back by employer regulations she turns to her friends Marie and Jo for information on the man’s family. Quint passes this on to the police who get a confession. The beginning of a new business is set for Quint.


Redigerat: feb 8, 5:54am

#28. Ruthless Crimes, Michael Hambling

A convoluted plot involving a government immigrant investigation group, the movement of Iranians to Britain illegally which ends up as front page news when, to make more money, the boat across the Channel is overloaded and understaffed and crashes on the beach resulting in deaths. How does that tie into the single deaths Superintendent Sophie Allen and her team are investigating?

I liked the interplay of individual police officers, an Iranian family, and Allen’s family throughout the book. It helped create a balance between everyday life, albeit mixed with tragedy, and the high level police investigation involving the Dorset police, the Met. and the government and the ruthless criminals who kill easily to cover their tracks and are doing it for the money. Unfortunately I found the ending a bit of a whimper after a big buildup.


feb 9, 8:44pm

#29. Even Money, Dick Francis, Felix Francis

Ned Talbot has some problems. His wife suffers from bipolar disorder and has been hospitalize for the past five months. A man appears claiming to be his father, but Ned had grown up being told his parents had died in a car crash when he was a baby, then this man is murdered within an hour of their meeting. And just to make life interesting a large bookmaker is out to buy Ned's company regardless of the fact it is not for sale, and men followed his father from Australia wanting things he had stolen.

This was the fourth book Felix co-wrote with his father and it contains some of the worst examples of his writing. The depth of detail that doesn’t move the plot forward instead it turned this reader off. The explanation of how the bookmakers work is interesting and important to the plot but not in the amount of detail provided. The running of the mental institution Sophie is in and the guidebook details on Australia are two other examples of his over writing. His writing turned some readers away from this series which is unfortunate as he did improve.


feb 10, 3:58pm

>41 pmarshall: fascinating about the Paris Library.

>44 pmarshall: your Felix Francis writing analysis is interesting to me.

Redigerat: feb 11, 2:28pm

>45 dchaikin:

There is a lot more to Dick Francis than a mystery that mentions horses, e.g. Hot Money is about family relationships and how adding money tends to make them worse, Straight is about the gem stone industry and quite fascinating. I wrote a long piece on Francis I can post if you are interested.

I really enjoyed The Paris Library. I was a librarian so am well aware of what good library service can do.

feb 11, 2:30pm

#30. In The Frame, Dick Francis

Charles Todd goes to visit his cousin Donald and his wife Regina and finds the police investigating a robbery, the house is empty, and a murder. Regina interrupted the robbery and was killed. By chance Todd meets a woman whose house has been burned down and the police and insurance investigators can find no trace of the contents in the remains. Both she and Donald had recently returned from Australia where they had each purchased a painting by the same artisr. This sends Todd off to Australia on what turns out to be a near deadly investigation of an international ring of burglaries,
Todd is a painter of horses and painting provides the backdrop to this mystery.


Redigerat: feb 12, 8:37pm


An interesting pairing of policemen faced with two murders during a fox hunt. John Crowe method is to work out all the questions and answers, he dots the ‘i’s’ and crosses the ‘t’s’ in his investigations before he acts on the final decision and declares it solved and makes the final arrest. His background in the police was working his way up from working the streets to finally moving into the detective branch and now heading up the Murder Squad which goes out to solve crimes the local police can’t.

In this case he is paired with a local inspector who enter the police with a law degree and went directly into the detective branch. He is considered a late entry and people in this category often find it difficult to be accepted as they didn’t work their way up. In this case the inspector sets his mind on a suspect and Crowe finds it difficult to get him to look at anyone else. He thinks in a straight line.

In the end Crowe steps outside of his usual behaviour and meets with what turns out to be not one but three possible murderers and he is not sure who it is. It could have turned into a dangerous situation but instead works out. Both men admit to having learned from the other and Crowe returns to London leaving the Inspector with the final paperwork, reinforcing its importance.


Redigerat: feb 16, 12:42pm

#32. Code Name Madeleine: A Sufi Spy in Nazi-Occupied Paris, Arthur J Magida

Noor Inayat Khan was born in Moscow, grew up outside Paris and lived her early adulthood there and in England before WW II turned her known world upside down. Her father was an Indian Sufi mystic who believed in harmony, beauty and tolerance and he practiced and taught it while living in the world as it was, not as he would have liked it to be. And this was the legacy he left his daughter. As she told one British Special Operations Executive (SOE), you don’t tell a lie, you say nothing. He didn’t believe it possible but she did it.

Noor Khan was a beautiful young woman, a musician, a writer with the ambition to write children’s books when the war was over. She did have one published in 1939. She could be very organized - or not, calm - or not, in which case she lost her voice. People either believed in her or not when it can to being a member of the SOE.

Unfortunately she landed in France in late 1943 when the Germans had just taken over the last large resistance cell around Paris and the SOE didn’t know. She made many mistakes and broke the SOE rules and was saved and corrected by others and luck or intuition. The expected lifespan of a radio operator was eight weeks, Noor operated for twice that and some before a former neighbour gave her up to the Gestapo. But not before she sent off information that was crucial in pre D-Day planning.

Once captured she was not tortured instead had ‘conversations’ about music, literature and the like once it was accepted she wouldn’t answer any questions about her work. She escaped twice and was recaptured and after D-Day (she didn’t know it had happened) she was moved to Dachau and killed with three other women. Noor has been officially honoured by the French and British governments as well as individual groups.

The book is based on extensive research, including manuscripts and documents, as well as interviews. At times it was a ponderous read particularly when dealing with some of the Sufi teachings, as well as the SOE. I think it is the author’s writing style as well as the subject matter. Having read a number of researched historical fiction on the resistance in France and the role of the SOE learning how it operated with Noor was an eye-opener. It wasn’t the smoothly operating organization portrayed in other books. This could be because of timing, it was published in 2020 so more documents may have been made available to researchers. It is worth reading.

Reviewed 2021-2-15


Redigerat: feb 22, 8:28pm

Det här meddelandet har tagits bort av dess författare.

Redigerat: feb 16, 1:19pm

#33. Enquiry, Dick Francis

We learn through flashbacks that narrator Kelly Hughes and trainer Dexter Cranfield have just lost their licenses; an enquiry panel was of the opinion that Kelly had held back his odds-on favorite and let another Cranfield-trained horse win. However, there was enough inconsistent behavior exhibited by the panel that Kelly believes he was set up and he is determined to find out who framed them.

This book is a study in social class at all levels. Kelly’s family, poor farm workers in the mountains of Wales belief he ‘deserved’ to lose his license because ‘The Lord’ Steward said so just as much as the Steward who was a ‘Lord’ believed he had the right to take it away. Wealthy trainer Canfield felt the ruling had more impact on him because of his social position than it did on his workers who he laid off for something which they had no responsibility. Roberta Canfield exposed only to her parents views acts the same way and wonders why she is treated as she is by ‘Hughes,’ as she refers to Kelly. Like father, like 19 year old daughter.

In addition to social levels determined by birth and wealth, Francis throws in behaviour towards deviant sexual practices and mental illness. It is rare that a person is looked at for themselves and then have their circumstances are accessed before behaviour or standing is judged.



feb 17, 2:45pm

#34. Slay Ride, Dick Francis

An official of the English jockey club is sent to Norway to investigate the disappearance of an English steeplechase jockey who is also accused of stealing the day's take at the race track.

I didn’t really like this book when I first read it and I still don’t. The plot is relatively easy to follow but the Norwegian names make the characters more difficult to follow. I expected the main character to be more questioning, even suspicious of his friend, Arnie. Who would meet someone off a plane from London and put him in a rubber dinghy to talk unobserved in Oslo Harbour, for that matter why would anyone in their right mind and a business suit go!


feb 18, 6:07am

#35. A Dartmoor Murder, Roy Lewis

An American mine owner uses political means to have John Crow from Scotland Yard’s Murder Squad investigate a murder at his mine in Devon and to evaluate his company’s problems. Crow objects at the high handed manner and outside the normal procedures this case is receiving but off he
goes to Dartmoor. He encounters local resentment and objection to the investigation as well as to the existence of the American owned mine and the environmental issues surrounding open pit mining. In a tense ending which brings the owner, politicians and locals together for an opening ceremony that turns into an ugly demonstration Crow unveils his case and the arrests are made.

Lewis packs all the issues of foreign ownership, bad management practices and politicians with something to hide and lose in a ‘them against us’ situation into one short mystery and juggles it in a realistic manner.


Redigerat: feb 22, 8:31pm

#36. Buried Secrets, Ted Tayler

This cold case involves the murder of a runner who is strangled and left in a field. Freeman’s first step is always to review the original case files and to develop a list of people to interview. Some were interviewed ten years ago and some not. The dead man had been a naval submarine officer and vacation pictures he send his parents lead the team in a new and very surprising direction. Gus also learns of a change in his personal life that will make a major impact.


Redigerat: mar 1, 9:56pm

#37. Just as I Am: A Memoir, Cicely Tyson

I enjoyed this book but was also frustrated by it. It gives an interesting and honest accounting of the ups and downs in her life. An example being the abusive marriage between her parents, her father was a womanizer and it became violent when her mother could take no more, in the middle of the night, Cicely would be between her parents, crying, trying to stop the fight. Her own relationship with Miles Davis followed a similar pattern. However it was when she excused her father’s behaviour because his background came from slavery where Blacks were mistreated that I had a problem. Why do other men behave in the same fashion? I think it has more to do with power and guilt.

In other sections she talks about the poor Blacks as if they were the only immigrants to experience a hard life. What about the Irish, Italians, Poles and Spanish, to say nothing of the Jews? Each immigrant group left their families and home land under different circumstances and suffered for it. Africans were not given a choice, they were brought to North and South America as well as the Arab world to be slaves. It was much more drastic for them but that does not erase what happened to White immigrants. I capitalized White because, for the first time, I realized in reading this book that other ‘races’ were given that distinction but not Whites. Not in anything I have read.

Our experiences are the same and different but, as in the case of this book, more often separated in unusual ways. I am making a point of this because Tyson did, enough to make me think about more than one side of the immigration history. She talks about not having time to mourn her mother because Blacks have to go back to work to earn a living. This point is made in such a way that this reader thought she didn’t think it doesn’t happen to others, they have as much time as they want. This is not the case.

Tyson played some amazing, strong women in her career. She chose this as her way of protesting the life of Blacks in the United States. She did not carry banners and march in parades. She spoke through her art. One point she made was the few roles written for Black women actors. I am not a movie watcher so it is not something I had thought about before. In some cases I can see it making a difference, for example she portrayed Harriet Tubman and a maid in “The Help” roles that call for Black actors. On the other hand actors of different backgrounds have acted in Shakespeare’s work. Does the colour of the actor or the strength and experience they bring to a role matter more? I don’t know.

She earned many awards and honours for her acting as well as the work she did in promoting Blacks in this field. This included the Kennedy Honours and a special Oscar.

I found this book interesting but full of contradictions. It made me think of things that I am not sure Tyson expected. I don’t expect this to be accepted by all but I hope it makes you think when you read it. Which I think you should do.

Reviewed February 28, 2021


feb 25, 11:09pm

#38. Wild Horses, Dick Francis

While making a film about racing in Newmarket, the director, Thomas Lyon, finds himself facing a dilemma of whether to reveal the truth about a 26 year-old murder which he learned from a deathbed confession of an old friend or stick to the script. Interesting information on knives and the collecting of them. In 1988 it was made illegal for anyone or institution except for a museum to collect knives or retain a collection they had prior to that date. It is also illegal to carry a knife. It is masterpiece on manipulation both at the time of the original death and current time.


Redigerat: feb 28, 3:53pm

#39. Never Somewhere Else, Alex Gray

I am starting to reread the Detective Chief Inspector William Lorimer, Glasgow Police Department series by Alex Gray. The first book was written in 2002 and I read it in 2014.

Three young women are murdered, mutilated and left in St. Mundgo’s Park. Initially there doesn’t appear to be any connection among them. For the first time Lorimer is working with a psychologist, Dr. Solly Brightman from the University of Glasgow and he is not sure he likes this. It will be an adjustment.

Considering the evidence, the witnesses and the psychological points bring them close to a solution but it is a final act by the killer which breaks it open.

Learning about the architecture of the city, in particular Rennie MacIntyre’s work is interesting.


feb 28, 12:25pm

February 2021 Summary

5 Reviewed
7 Rereads
9 Read

16 Total Read

Redigerat: mar 2, 7:27pm

#40. A Small Weeping, Alex Gray

The body of two prostitutes are found in the underground station and two nurses from a private care home all holding a red carnation. But does this mean just one murderer.

The nursing home specializes in neural disorders with both I’m and out patients. One resident hears the murder of the nurse and sees him when he enters her room to get a carnation from her vase. She is unable to speak or move so the murderer knows he is safe. Lorimer does gain some valuable information from her.

Maggie Lorimer decides to apply for an overseas teacher exchange. She will be going to Florida for ten months.


mar 4, 3:57pm

#41. Shadows of Sounds, Alex Gray

The leader of the City of Glasgow Orchestra is found dead in his dressing room. DCI Lorimer and psychologist Soloman Brightman are faced not only with his murder and that of the second violin but connections to an international drug ring and trading in stolen musical instruments. Add in homosexual relationships, babies born by the same mother and father but not by the husband. Secrets that people whisper about, a bit here another bit there.

Maggie Lorimer did go to Florida and discovers teachers’ problems are similar on both sides of the Atlantic. With a little help from a friend Lorimer wraps up his case and he nad Maggie’s mother arrive in Sarasota just a day late.


Redigerat: mar 6, 3:03pm

#42. The Riverman, Alex Gray

An international accounting firm that grew out of a family firm based in Glasgow is facing difficult times and their numbers reduced by murder and kidnapping; two partners, and the head of Human Resources are dead and two other partners have disappeared. Perhaps a touch of greed and embezzlement set all this off?


Redigerat: mar 7, 6:20pm

#43. Pitch Black, Alex Gray

Someone is slowly killing off the players of a Glasgow football club. The question is why? Greed, disloyalty, bribery, and money are among the answers as is spousal abuse gone a step to far. Oh, there is also a clubhouse ghost who plays a major role.

The pathologist, Rosie, is involved in a serious traffic accident which removes Solly Brightman from working on the case and moves him to her bedside.


Redigerat: mar 10, 12:36pm

Det här meddelandet har tagits bort av dess författare.

Redigerat: mar 14, 11:35pm

# 44. Hot Money, Dick Francis

A break from Bill Lorimer/Alex Gray. Hot Money is one of my favourite Francis books. A VERY wealthy man, Malcolm Pembroke has an uncanny ability to make money buying gold and stocks and knowing just when to sell. He is spending his money and six of his seven children are very upset as they see it as ‘their’ money. He is supporting charities, establishing scholarships, buying horses.

His fifth ex- wife was recently murdered and except for his strong alibi the police would have arrested him. Now someone, he suspects one of his ex-wives or children, has made two attempts on his life (so far.) He has turned to his son, Ian, for protection and a solution.

Dick Francis writes a study of people. In this case it is of a family fighting over the size of a future inheritance. They don’t see the millions their father earned as his to do with what he wishes, it is their future and he should leave it alone. Although he set up each of them with trust funds they want more, now and later. A situation that occurs everyday over hundreds of pounds to millions.

Ian, who believes it is his father’s money to enjoy, studies each of his half-brothers and sisters to determine if they are making the attempts on Malcolm’s life. What he learns is an interesting study in family dynamics. It also leads him to the murderer, but how to prove it?

By the end Ian causes some upheaval in the family and definitely some rethinking of personal desires. For himself he decides to move from amateur to professional steeplechase jockey for the remaining 4/5 years of his career and then look to training. He has also faced up to why he has remained single, he didn’t want to follow his father’s example. Certainly the unveiling of the murderer makes a major impact on the family. At the end the rebuilding of Malcolm’s home which had been twice bombed, is seen as a sign of rebuilding the family.

Reviewed March 10, 2021


Redigerat: mar 11, 5:58pm

#45. Glasgow Kiss, Alex Gray

A toddler is stolen from in front of her house and a teenage girl is found strangled. The cases are only connected in the overload of work it gives Lorimer and his team. The investigation of the teenager’s dead leads to the discovery of three more bodies. Maggie Lorimer is very much involved as the girl was a student of her's and prior to her death had accused another teacher of raping her, which Maggie does not believe. Once accused, even if found innocent, as is the case here, the teacher’s career is finished because people talk and doubt the solution. As Lorimer tells his wife there are many more victims beyond the immediate ones.

Solutions are fragile things and are arrived at after a lot of hard work as well as by chance, as is the case in both investigations.

Redigerat: mar 12, 10:41pm

#46. The American Agent, Jacqueline Winspear

The new Maisie’s Dobb’s is due out next week so I need to reread her last book.

Maisie Dobbs and Priscella Partridge are joined on their ambulance run by American writer Catherine Saxon in September, 1940. Saxon makes the night’s events her first broadcast to the United States emphasizing the stalwartness of the British public in the face of Hitler’s nightly bombings. By morning she has been murdered. Dobbs is asked by Scotland Yard to investigate the case with American, Mark Scott. The U.S. is divided on what their role should be and attempts are made to silence broadcasters like Edward R. Morrow and Catherine by the Isolationists. Was this behind the murder, or was it this at the family level, Catherine not following her father’s beliefs and decrees to her? Or was it a jilted lover? Maisie has her hands full with this case and more.

This action took place at the beginning of the ‘Blitz’ which was a constant, nightly bombing of London and other parts of England from Sept 7, 1940 until May 10, 1941. Bombing continued throughout the war but this period identified as ‘The Blitz’, from the German word, Blitzkrieg meaning lighting, was known for its intensity and the sheer number of bombers flanked by fighter aircraft and the V flying formation. It is incredible to think that the RAF defended Britain against Germany in the skies above England for over two years with the support of the air forces of some Commonwealth countries. At the same time they did significant damage to Germany by bombing it in return. There was no army on the ground of Europe until 1943 when Canadian troops landed in Italy on July 9, followed by the Americans on September 9.

Winspear has the ability to give a presence to characters that play minor roles. She developes a number of plot lines, some directly related to the murder and others tied to Maisie and has Dobbs juggle them mentally and physically as well as direct the role of others in the solution. She does provide clues to the reader and I could follow some but the outcome was a surprise.


Redigerat: mar 14, 10:31pm

#47. Five Ways to Kill a Man, Alex Gray

A teacher gives her sixth form English class a copy of the poem “Five Ways To Kill A Man” by Edwin Brock and something she could never imagine develops over the next ten years or so.

Lorimer is sent to a small town outside of Glasgow to review a case. What was seen as an accidental fire that killed two adults Lorimer sees as murder. At the same time a serial killer of old ladies has struck three times. Are the cases related?

Maggie’s mother has a stroke and recovers in the hospital. Gray has the treatment of patients perfect, the loss of identity when she is called ‘Alice darling’ by someone decades younger and she would prefer Mrs. Finlay, becoming invisible because wheel chairs are below the sight line of most people, the noise from other patients, the television. She recovers enough to move in with Maggie and Bill but is then kidnapped by the villain in Lorimer’s case.

As always Gray weaves a number of stories throughout the major plot in a masterful manner.


mar 12, 12:57pm

Hi Penny. Stopping by for a big catch-up, always fun, and to say hi.

> 49 i was really interested in Code Name Madeleine: A Sufi Spy in Nazi-Occupied Paris and your review of it.

>55 pmarshall: regarding Just as I Am: A Memoir - interesting comments. I know that when I read memoirs, author’s write about their own lives and the atmospheres they were in. They usually don’t compare and contrast to other situations they didn’t personally experience. I wouldn’t expect Tyson to compare her life to that of other down-trodden ethnicities, even though the discussion might be of interest to readers. Of course I haven’t read the book.

mar 12, 3:40pm

Hi Penny. Just catching up on threads. You’ve been busy. Have you been doing any painting?

mar 12, 10:45pm

>69 NanaCC:

I have done shamrocks and Easter eggs in my project for my sister. I am waiting to get a tooth removed and it bothers my concentration.

mar 13, 8:20am

>70 pmarshall: I’m sorry about the tooth, Penny. That can be painful and distracting.

mar 14, 12:36am

I'm catching up, too. Teeth hurt more than they have any right to, don't they?

Redigerat: mar 16, 9:10pm

#48. Sleep Like the Dead, Alex Gray

The most innocent statement thrown out to a student in a Shakespeare seminar by Dr. Solly Brightman sets everything in motion. Kenneth Scott is murdered execution style and there is no why in his life. His former brother-in-law, a drug dealer, skips the country, two of his colleagues are executed and his sister, Scott's ex-wife, disappears. Lorimer has to connect the dots.

Stalking, racism in the police station, the impact of immigrant groups on other races and themselves, well as the criminal activities some brought with them are all touched on by Gray.


mar 14, 11:39pm

>68 dchaikin:

You are right. I just got frustrated because it reads as if it never happens to non-Blacks. I just expect people to have some knowledge of history and I shouldn’t.
It is an interesting read.

Redigerat: mar 17, 11:59pm

# 49. A Pound Of Flesh, Alex Gray

In Glasgow in a two year period four 'young women of the street' are killed, two strangled and two knifed. Three johns, one who is the government's first minister, all of whom drive a white Mercades SC, are shot at close range. Two serial killers operating at the same time.

Lorimer's question is are the two cases related? He has made a career move and is now a Superintendent heading up the Serious Crimes Squad. He doesn’t know his staff and is far from settled. He is instructed to ignore the women and focus on the death of the first minister. He can only do this for so long because he disagrees with the directive and because Dr. Brightman shows him that the cases are probably related.

Gray provides a good view of the lives of Glasgow’s prostitutes. She has the ability to maintain a number of layers in her books and thus provides good background information that ties in to the main plot. An example of the degree is Dr. Brightman, a tired new father whose infant daughter is not sleeping through the night, decides in his tiredness to leave a message for Lorimer with a police officer when he knows it should be confidential.

On his 40th birthday Maggie has a surprise party for him and part way through the case comes to a climax. Including notification that the Squad is being disbanded for financial reasons.


Redigerat: mar 20, 3:52pm

Det här meddelandet har tagits bort av dess författare.

Redigerat: mar 20, 4:52pm

#50. The Swedish Girl, Alex Gray

Death reveals hidden aspects of a person's life and in the case of the Swedish Girl she was far from the demure persona she presented to people. But neither were the living witnesses. When given the chance to lie about their sexual prowess some guys did and others were to embarrassed or shy to tell the truth. On the other hand Kristy believes in her flat mates innocence and goes to Lorimer and takes steps to assist the police when they take a second look. It changes her life.


Redigerat: mar 22, 1:43pm

#51. The Bird That Did Not Sing, Alex Gray

The 2014 Commonwealth Games are opening July 23 and in the months leading up to them Lorimer has a dead Nigerian young woman recovered from a pond, security issues involving MI6, the death of his high school sweetheart's husband and she has moved into his house as well as the trafficking of young women from Nigeria for sexual purposes
along with the day to day happenings to deal with.

We meet Asa a 15 year old Nigerian girl who is being turned into prostitute to service men going to the Games. Vivian Gilmartin who before she went to London with the dream of being an actress was Bill Lorimer’s first girl friend. She organizes a class reunion while her husband is in Glasgow finalizing an African theatre tour. Both have a sub-set of plans. The ‘Freedom Group’ want to draw attention to a Free Scotland in a big way on the opening day of the Games. Lorimer and his troops have their hands full.


mar 22, 2:49pm

#52. The Bank Job, Alex Gray

A short story that as a prequel to the series explains how a stunner job at a bank led to Lorimer leaving his studies in art history and joining the police.


Redigerat: mar 24, 9:30am

#53. The Consequences of Fear, Jacqueline Winspear

There are multiple levels to this book. It starts in October, 1942 and ends with the bombing of Pearl Harbour. There is much to fear in both the actions of the characters and the consequences.

England is sending trainer volunteers to work with the Resistance in France. Maisie’s Dobbs is involved with the approval process as the recruits work through levels of training. She experiences great fear for the future of two young women whom she knows.

The Police and Government departments used young boys to run from building to building to deliver messages. One young lad sees a murder occur and then delivers a message to the murderer. There is no sign of the crime so the police don’t believe him and he goes to Maisie who does believe him after some investigation.

The threads of these two events start to intertwine. Maisie’s adoption of Anna is complete and she continues to be torn when she has to spend time away. The new factor is her love affair with Mark Scott and where it might lead.

In her usual fashion Winspear weaves together fact and fiction to provide the reader with a good read.


Redigerat: mar 25, 10:04pm

#54. Keep The Midnight Out, Alex Gray

Maggie and Bill’s special place is a cottage on the island of Mull. But it has now been invaded by a dead body, the noise of fight birds drew Bill to the body of a red headed young man laying on the lawn above the tide line. As Lorimer studies the scene he has vague memories of a similar body about 20 years earlier in Glasgow, one of his first cases. One that was never identified. The chief investigator is not partial to Lorimer’s presence, she is afraid he will take over her crime which is not his intent at all.

One theme that has gone through the previous books is the childlessness of the Lorimer’s and the three or more miscarriages Maggie and Bill have suffered. The first is recounted in this book as it moves back to the 20 year old crime. In their case it drew them together. Maggie is an English teacher to the top four forms (junior and senior high school.)


Redigerat: mar 27, 6:21pm

#55. The Darkest Goodbye, Alex Gray

Someone is making money in a terrible way. The number of dead elderly or terminally ill is growing but the number of killers is unknown so the numbers could be much higher. Email approaches are made to relatives from Quiet Release offering to relive the suffering of their loved ones ... for £5,000.

Into this complex plot Gray weaves in a newly released ex-con nurse who is befriended by the Christian manager of a nursing home for stroke victims. Lorimer is drawn in because Maggie’s cousin is one of victims. DC Kirsty Wilson’s first day with the CID has her questioning some actions of the officer appointed her mentor. What should she do? Add in a man claiming to be the unknown out-of-wedlock son of a woman who has left her son over a million pounds in her will. Is it good luck or good management?

As one woman in the book says “You take your sick dog to the vet don’t you?” This is a difficult topic to deal with and Gray does it well.


mar 26, 5:43am

Catching up (you're such a prolific reader I'm perpetually behind!), but noting in particular your book on Noor Inayat Khan. Sounds hugely interesting. The bravery of men and women like her is so humbling.

mar 27, 3:39pm

>83 AlisonY:

When you live in a nursing home during COVID-19 there is not a lot to do so I read. I have read a few good new titles but mainly I am rereading books. Unlike some readers I don’t remember every book so it is like reading new ones, exceptof course for Dick Francis, an old friend.

Redigerat: mar 28, 10:22pm

#56. Still Dark, Alex Gray

The person at the head of Quiet Release was not captured in The Darkest Goodbye and has moved in a new direction in Still Dark. He is gathering information from street people and creating new false identities for himself.

Lorimer has a mental breakdown after, on New Year’s Eve, he faces a gunman who has killed his wife and two sons, it ends with his blood and flesh covering Lorimer after he shoots himself and baby daughter. After time in a police treatment facility he returns to work to head up the reopened investigation. He encounters police corruption which hinders his work.

Gray provides wonderful descriptions of Glasgow, and Scotland, it’s neighbourhoods, architecture and gardens.


mar 28, 4:52am

>84 pmarshall: Being in a nursing home during COVID must be really tough. Are libraries open for you to get new titles, or is there a library area in your home?

mar 28, 9:58pm

>86 AlisonY:

I borrow ebooks from the library but their collection is not the best.

mar 30, 7:30pm

#57. Only the Dead Can Tell, Alex Gray

The most complicated book to date in the Lorimer series however Gray lays it out so the action in different places, the large number of characters and the numerous activities can be easily followed.

A woman dies in Glasgow, did her husband murder her or did she kill herself? Pop-up manicure shops are fronts for brothels run by sex-traffickers who bring in young women from Slovakia in Aberdeen involving a Glasgow car hire business owned by the dead woman’s husband.

There is conflict among the police and with the pathologist, Dr. Rosie Ferguson (Brightman) over her decision it is suicide and not murder and the outcome could damage her career while she is off on maternity leave. Lorimer and his officers bring the various threads together successfully.


Redigerat: apr 1, 10:29pm

#58. The Stalker, Alex Gray

Maggie Lorimer is doing an author’s tour of Scotland with her first children’s picture book. Her husband is dealing with the current murders of two women and another murder of some years ago. All three women, as well as Maggie, have similar looks and the stalker is attracted to her. In addition to the real stalker the P.R. Assisted she has accompanying her on the book tour decides to make the most she can from the situation to get publicity even if she fakes things.


Redigerat: apr 1, 10:35pm

March Summary:

Read: 5
Reread: 13

Total: 18

Redigerat: apr 1, 10:46pm

#59. When Shadows Fall DSI William Lorimer, Alex Gray

Flynn finds a 20 year old corpse in a flower bed he has been hired to dig up. Someone is killing retired police officers across Scotland, five, plus one to go, one who is still a leader. A serving officer is murdered in a similar manner but the bullets don’t match. The bullet in the skeleton does match.

Police Scotland is stretched to its limits, morale is low, people are quitting. Just what the person behind the plan wanted. Gradually Brightman sees the plan but it takes believable divine intervention to bring it to an end.


Redigerat: apr 3, 5:13pm

#60. Before the Storm DCI William Lorimer, Alex Gray

Written from the point of view of a former Zimbabwean police officer forced to flee his country, Syrians who are not happy in Glasgow and have joined forces with a woman to create a terrorist moment on Christmas Eve as well as Lorimer. He is aware there is something being planned and it is a matter of putting pieces of information together and to make use of the skills of the Zimbabwean to come to a solution.

I am now up to date with the Lorimer series and I need to wait for Gray to write another book.


Redigerat: apr 4, 5:40pm

#61. A Genuine Mistake: The Freeman Files, Ted Tayler

A stranger rings a doorbell and leaves a dead man on the steps. The description of the dead man by family, friends and staff is almost too good to be true, open, friendly, honest, true to his family, his business dealings honest and lawful. Why was he murdered? Gus Freeman and his cold case squad uncover only one thing not identified by the original police. He had been wearing white gloves when he went to the door and they are missing. Why? True to form the case is solved and the answer is a major surprise.


apr 5, 4:46pm

#62. High Stakes, Dick Francis

A crooked trainer in cahoots with a bookie are out to take a toy inventor, Steven Scott, for all he is worth. When the cheater is caught out he refuses to accept that his behaviour has brought out actions against him by the innocent victim. Hatred blinds people. On the other hand the innocent victim finds there are unexpected costs to exposing the guilty, costs that hurt him. But he would do it again.


Redigerat: apr 13, 5:30pm

I have returned to Dick Francis and his Sid Halley series, one I haven’t read for some time. It is probably the most violent of his books, first the attacks are against him but they extend to friends and family to increases the pressure on Halley to drop the case. He covers an interesting range of cases, the take over of a race track to use for housing, internet gambling and, of course, crooked trainers and jockeys. I admire Halley for his belief in right and wrong, his ability to think through a situation, his willingness to stand up for people forced into the wrong position and his taking on his opponents directly when forced to by them. I am missing one title Come to Grief which has a well known television presenter harming colts. An interesting mix.

#63. ODDS AGAINST, Dick Francis

A bullet to the stomach kick starts the second phase of Sid Halley’s professional life, that of a private investigator. His first case is to save a race track from being turned into 'ticky-tacky little boxes.' A horse stepping on his wrist ended his riding career and in this case he is faces with the complete ruin of it as men attempt to beat information out of him.


apr 10, 5:38pm

#64 Whip Hand, Dick Francis

Halley is approached by two different individuals to look into syndicates of horses and the people behind them. Some are clean and some are not.

The wife of one of the best trainers tells Halley that in the past two years two of their best young horses who were expected to win a big race and bombed were got at before the race. She says the same will also happen to their current star. Everyone thinks she is menopausal. She wants Sid to protect him.

Finally his ex-wife has become involved in a swindle scheme and her partner has absconded with the money. If charged she could go to jail. Halley’s former father-in-law has asked him to look into the situation however she fights him all the way.

Halley is challenged mentally and physically is this book.


apr 13, 4:28pm

#65. Under Orders, Dick Francis

Sid Halley is asked to investigate the fixing of races and internet gambling on a day that also saw the murder of a jockey, a trainer and the death by heart failure of a winning horse. The horse was morned by more than the others. In past cases Sid has show that he can't be intimidated by threats of force, in this case he has to show that threats to his loved ones get the same reaction.


Redigerat: apr 14, 3:23pm

#66. Refusal, Felix Francis

Sid Halley returns to investigation against his will. He has come to the attention of an Irishman from Manchester who specializes in moving in on people and taking over their liives and have them do as he says. This is not Sid's way so putting himself and family in danger he sets out to put McCusker out of business. In the process he is accused of sexually abusing his six year old daughter. He also undergoes tests, physical and psychological, to see if he is a suitable candidate for for a hand transplant. Then he has to hope for rain.


apr 15, 10:44pm

#67. Proof, Dick Francis

Tony Beach drifted into the work of a wine merchant because he didn’t have his family’s interest in the military or horse racing and he did have the ability to identify wines and spirits based on smell and taste. He never felt he lived up to his father’s expectations of him as a leader and his fear of acting in a pressure situation. In Proof his experience with wine and spirits helps him track down stolen tankers of whiskey and in doing so he proves to himself that he can overcome the fear of acting just as his father did.

I see different threads as I reread Dick Francis. Upfront there is the story, the entertainment, always a horse or two somewhere, a little violence, sometimes romance, right versus wrong. Behind that is a theme sometimes of family, often a conflict between father and son, or the strength of friendship and what it means when the bond is broken. Interesting.


Redigerat: apr 18, 5:36pm

#68. Blood Sport, Dick Francis

Hawkins job is to be a fixer for his boss. This request, to recover a stole horse in the United States, is outside the norm. However when he witnesses the attempted murder of the horse’s owner, while having a Sunday cruise on the Thames he agrees. It is a complicated mystery but well laid out for the reader.

Hawkins suffers from severe depression which is a difficult battle when not working. It takes another man losing his life to save his that makes him realize that he can’t squander this gift. He has to live. As a person who suffers from depression I could identify with him.


Redigerat: maj 2, 11:30am

#69. Field of Thirteen, Dick Francis

Thirteen diverse characters from book-makers to news editors, from crooked owners to a tramp who walk away with valuable horses and a an infatuated middle age owner who is ripped off by the trainer and handsome young jockey. Francis is so good at defining characters and emotions.


Redigerat: maj 2, 12:34pm

The new Peter Robinson Alan Banks mystery Not Dark Yet is due to be released May 18th so I have been rereading the last four titles as they all feed into it.

#70. When the Music’s Over, Peter Robinson

Two cases, one current and one 50 years ago addresses the issue of sexual abuse of underage girls. Not a topic I like so I have been avoiding this Robinson book in the Alan Banks series. However he dealt with it well although parts are graphic.

The current case is the investigation of a murder, the body of a young woman is found on an isolated rural lane. She was sexually and physically assaulted. This case turns into one that involves 30 - 40 aged Pakistani men grooming young white women to be prostutues. Most of them are 2 or more generations British but “play the race card” when it is convenient which keeps the community on edge.

The historical case involves a then 14 year old being raped by a well known actor. The investigation shows this was not a single occurrence for the actor as other women come forward. Missing police records add to the difficult of investigating this case.

An interesting read inspite of the subject matter.


The topic of sex trafficking runs through this and three of the next four titles as does racism and immigration into England fro Asia. The views and behaviour toward women in those countries and in England are highlighted.

#71 Sleeping in the Ground, Peter Robinson

A sniper on a hill across the valley from a wedding party ... and he strikes, bride, groom, 2 bridesmaids, a photographer, the father of the groom, a guest, it is over in less than a minute. It takes Banks and his team longer and it is necessary to go back to a 50 year old murder before this case is solved.

An sideline to Banks is his interest in poetry and music. The reader receives a tutorial in music ranging from the classics to ‘the 60’s music of his youth to ‘90’s rock, particular artists and songs and the memories and feelings that come with the music.


Redigerat: maj 2, 12:38pm

April Summary

Reread - 11
Read - 2

Total 13

Total = 71

Redigerat: maj 2, 12:20pm

#72. Careless Love, Peter Robinson

Beautiful, intelligent women students in need of money to cover the costs of their education are recruited to be the mistress of older, wealthy men. Something goes wrong and the first body is found in a car the police had pulled off the road until it could be towed to the garage. The question is suicide or murder? The second body, a man in evening dress is found in a crevice on the moor. It appeared that he fell and broke his neck. The third body, the second woman in fancy dress was found in a fallen down shed and it is murdered. It is a complicated case that takes imagination as well as hard slogging by the police.


A different view of the use of women in the sex trade.

#73. Many Rivers to Cross, Peter Robinson

There are three lines to the plot of this book which are intertwined. The death of a 13 year old Syrian who was smuggled into England and as a result got caught up in drug trafficking. The smuggling involved underage males and females as well as drugs and was controlled by Albanians. One woman, Zelda, a friend of Bank’s, had been caught up in it and the aftermath for a number of years escaped and put it behind her, although it still lived in her mind. She comes across one of the top Albanians and determines to do away with him. The third strand is the division between the section of the city waiting to be redeveloped and its relationship with with the wealthy neighbourhood it abuts. Cases are solved but I suspect parts of this book will continue in the next.


Zelda and her story is a major part of this book although she did appear previously. It is her story that I expect to read more of in the new title. An event and character ties back to an earlier Banks incident when he is drugged and his home set on fire. Two colleagues rescue him.

Redigerat: maj 7, 7:23pm

#74 Extraordinary Canadians: Stories from the Heart of Our Nation, Peter Mansbridge, Mark Bulgutch

This book was not what I expected but was so much more. I thought it would be about Canadians whose name I would recognize, from history or the news. Instead it was about ‘ordinary’ Canadians who took steps to make their lives extraordinary. People who lived through the circumstances live gave them and used what they learned to educate and do good for others. There are seventeen stories in total, the majority about single individuals.

Hope Swinimer from Nova Scotia who studied to be an accountant so she could manage a veterinarian clinic and opened the first wildlife rescue and rehabilitation shelter in the province. Jessica Grossman, now an actor and model, from age 8 to 13 lived in and out of hospital in agonizing abdominal pain, she couldn’t sleep or eat. She had Crohn’s disease and it wasn’t until she had surgery at age 13 and got an ostomy bag that she could live her life. She took up educating people about ‘the bag’ through a blog and public speaking. Bill Campbell started successful not-for-profit housings projects in Prince Edward Island. Robb Nash does about 250 musical performances in schools annually helping students deal with depression and suicidal thoughts. He has been there, he knows.

There are more interesting people and their stories, each told in the words of the subject. This adds to the interest ad variety of the book.

The author, Peter Mansbridge, worked for the CBC and ended his career as the top broadcast journalist in the country. What he does, he does well. The book was published in 2020 and includes an article on an emergency room nurse in Vancouver planning how to treat COVID-19. Even if you aren’t Canadian the people will appeal to you.


Reviewed May 7, 2021

Redigerat: maj 12, 10:20pm

#75. Silks, Felix Francis

Geoffrey Mason, barrister cum amateur jockey, is defending a fellow jockey of a murder charge. He is also being threatened by a former client to ensure that the jockey is found guilty. Like other Dick Francis books the focus is less on horses and racing and more on the murder and in this case the law. I have been re-reading some favourite Francis’ titles and I looked forward to “Silks.” Unfortunately it doesn’t measure up to many of his books. The plot is interesting but it needs a good edit to improve its pace and flow and to reduce the lecturing tone. However if you are a Francis fan it is worth reading.


Redigerat: maj 12, 10:34pm

#76. The Lions of Fifth Avenue, Fiona Davis

A family saga that occurs in 1913 -16 and 1993 centred on the New York Public Library and members of a family who lived and worked there. The major event is the theft of valuable old books in both time periods. It provides an interesting view of life in New York in 1913 particularly for women.

I enjoyed it but felt it needed to be edited to provide a smoother read.


maj 14, 7:05pm

#77. Left You Dead, Peter James

It doesn’t pay to make assumptions. In this case a woman leaves her husband in the car and goes into the grocery store to buy kitty litter and disappears. Her husband is arrested for her murder although her body is not found. Assumptions are made based on this and other information which nearly causes three deaths before the case is ended.

Grace and his boss Pewe have a final showdown and one of them will go. Roy and his wife face a personal crisis when his son Bruno suffers extreme head injuries when he is playing on his phone and steps in front on a car.

There is an incredible amount of repetition in this book. The evidence did increase in size but there was no need to review it from the beginning four or five time. A couple of times would have been sufficient, readers do remember. I will admit that I don’t remember all books in a series and that is why I read the last before the new one. But while reading I do keep track of events. However I do miss not being able to flip pages in a book when I am reading an e-book. The editing is why I gave this only 3.5 stars.


Redigerat: maj 16, 12:08am

#78. Strange Beginnings: The Freeman Files Series, Ted Tayler

Gus Freeman pickup his next case hoping it is more straightforward than the last, but it is not to be. A woman was murdered in her car, parked on a busy street and her body lies over the steering wheel for two hours before it was noticed. The team have to work through confusing family dynamics, one father several mothers and children, weekend sex parties for couples and underage girls, which 20 years later leads to blackmail, crooked cops and, of course, witnesses that only tell partial truths. The team’s work takes the case only so far and the rest is unscrambled in Gus’s head.


Redigerat: maj 17, 5:21pm

#79. Banker, Dick Francis

Merchant banker, Tim Ekaterin, invests n a prime stallion. This brings him into contact with Calder Jackson who claims he can cure horses by laying his hands on them. The bank lends money to a breeder but there are problems when the first season of foals are born. Who creates the ills from which the horses are cured?

An interesting example of how newspapers can be used to bring about change, in this case in bank security.


Redigerat: maj 20, 6:04pm

#80. Not Dark Yet, Peter Robinson

As I expected this book carries on from Many Rivers To Cross with alternating sections follow the strains of the plot. Zelda is in Eastern Europe as she seeks out the truth of how the girls from the orphanage were picked out then returns to London where she learns that her boss was working for the Albanians. This puts her in contact with one of the two men who snatched her when she left the orphanage. She returns to Yorkshire and the action continues.

Gerry and Annie are investigating the murders of two men and get sidetracked by a hidden camera video of a rape. This case gets closed. Banks is involved with the major investigation of the murders as well as the roll of Albanian mobsters. He is also concerned about Zelda. There is a possibility the latter two could reappear however I think Robinson has devoted enough time to them. I wonder where he will go next?


Redigerat: maj 23, 7:57pm

#81. Prince Philip: I Know I am Rude, But I Like It: The Royals and the Rest of Us as Seen By Prince Philip, Nigel Cawthorne

The author has taken quotes from Prince Philip’s comments and speeches on a variety of topics, e.g. Science, Industry, Education, Travel, and the Press demonstrating his rather bizarre sense of humour and his lack of patience and temperament. He did not suffer fools gladly. Because much of it is out of context it is difficult to judge whether it is humorous or not. What doesn’t come across clearly is what a hard working Royal he was until at ninety he started to step back from the over 600 educational, charitable, military, and international associations, to name only a few, that he was associated with, many in an active working capacity.

There is biographical information at the beginning and end which places his life in context within the Royal Family.

One interesting fact I learned was it was King George VI, Queen Elizabeth’s father, who said “The House of Windsor is not a family but a firm,” in 1945.


Redigerat: maj 27, 7:52pm

#82. A Little Red Book of Murder Stories, Bill Pronzini

A collection of seven short stories Pronzini has written over the past thirty years. It included one Nameless Detective story, a series I have followed for years.


Redigerat: maj 27, 4:59pm

#83. Wish You Were Dead: Quick Reads 2021, Peter James

A holiday in France turns into a horror story for Roy Grace and his family when it is high jacked by two recently paroled criminals Grace had helped put away. It is a novella write to attracted readers as part of the Quick Reads Series by The Reading Agency.


maj 27, 9:03pm

Lots of great reading!

How do you do those yellow stars?

maj 29, 10:05pm

>115 Nickelini::

It is an emoji I have on my IPad keyboard.

Redigerat: jun 4, 9:46pm

#84. Be Kind, Be Calm, Be Safe: Four Weeks that Shaped a Pandemic, Bonnie Dr. Henry

First off the subtitle is misleading as Dr. Henry deals with the time she hears about this respitory disease in China at the end of 2018 until April, 2019. It explains it reached British Columbia and spread through and the steps they developed to track it, study it, make decisions regarding actions and communicating information on COVID-19 to the public and particular community groups. The process she under took is quite fascinating.British Columbia has a large Asian population, many business links with China and numerous airlines connected China and Vancouver. So it was natural for the disease to show up there first.

Dr. Bonnie Henry is the Provincial Health Officer for the Province of British Columbia, Canada. She consults with the Minister and Deputy Minister of Health and an assortment of community, provincial, national and international groups but is solely responsible for making the rulings that govern public health in the province. Her’s is not a political appointment.

The book covers in detail the development of her planned public health response for the province of British Columbia in dealing with the pandemic. I remember watching her news briefings from that time and how impressed I was with the way she presented detailed information to the public in a calm, straightforward manner. She has the ability to make hard decisions knowing how they will impact individuals but does so because they have to be done. Each statistic she reports is a person, not a number. She has become an hero for many in B. C. The title “Be Kind, Be Calm, Be Safe” comes from one of the mantras she repeats. Another is “It’s Not Forever, But It Is For Now.”

She opens a part of her life to the public. Just after closing down a variety of services, including hair salons she realized it is time for a cut and colour. She knows her hairdresser would go to her home but she also knows she can’t ask her to do so. Instead the hairdresser drops off some products and directions and she and her sister, Lynn do her hair. Following her next weekly televised press conference comments start circulating about her hair. So on the next Friday she tells the story of her hair, admitting neither she or her sister would be good hairdressers.

I found the book interesting but it could have been edited to make it easier to read. I found it dense, particularly in the prologue which was full of acronyms referring to public health organizations and national and international groups set up to deal with COVID-19, which were unnecessary as they weren’t used in the rest of the book. Because of her work with her team the province handled the first wave well and if the book continued it would show the preparations continued to hold.

If you live elsewhere this book will provide you with one government’s approach to dealing with COVID-19. If you somehow missed the beginning, how it developed in Wuhan, China and spread across the world this book might interest you. In Canada the Chief Public Health Officer of each province was the key person but each province dealt with it differently, although there was an exchange of information. The role of the Federal Government is with overarching matters, the closure of the border with the United States for example.

It amazes me that Dr. Henry found the time to write this book!


Reviewed May 30, 2021

May Summary

13 Read
2 Reviewed

Total = 84

maj 29, 11:27pm

>116 pmarshall: It is an emoji I have on my IPad keyboard.

Oh nice. I guess if I post from my iPhone I can do the same, and I guess I could edit after I type up my reviews. Hmmmm.

Redigerat: jun 4, 9:39pm

#85. The Comfort Bearer, Cathy L. Patrenos

Soon Ja was 16 when her parents were persuaded to let her go from Korea to Japan to work in a silk factory and earn much need money for her family. Where she ended up was at a Comfort Station in Manchuria. Her ability to meditate saves her sanity as she services soldier after soldier. Men, both good and bad, determine the direction of the next few years of her life. Koshiro, the kind Japanese medical doctor who does the in frequent examinations on the woman discovers she is pregnant and has her moved to his home, not as a sexual partner but a guest. Ping, the truck driver and Resistance fighter against the Japanese, who rescues her when she and the doctor are arrested. Rescued from death but not from a return to the Comfort Station life. Determined to find a way to gather information for the Resistance she prepares herself to be selected by Colonel Yamada, the new camp commander, as his ‘woman.’ This leads her to Shanghai where the Colonel is killed in a terrorist bombing and she is severely injured. Akira, Yamada’s aide, and a Red Cross nurse protect her during her recovery. She ends the war as a nurse before returning to Korea. Years later she testifies on her experiences in a class-action suit against the government of Japan but it takes years for a decision. However it does bring the story full circle when she is reunited with her family.

Prior to and during World War II over 200,000 women from across Asia, with the majority from Korea, were forced to work as Comfort Women by the Japanese military. Other more appropriate terms would be prostitute or sex worker or whore. There is historical documentation on this although it is still strongly denied in Japan or told with a different slant that recognizes men’s needs, not women’s rights. It is clear the author did a fair amount of research into this and the ongoing conflicts between Japan and Russia, Manchuria and China prior to WW II.

I liked the book and learned from it however I feel there was too much repetition on her meditations. They were important to her but I didn’t need to be told more than a couple of times. This includes the mountain descriptions. Also the atrocities that Japan’s military practiced are overused in making the point. I felt she was reaching to deface Japan when she had already clearly established its place in history. Readers do forget some details but don’t want to be bombarded by them over and over to ensure they don’t.
On the whole it is an interesting accounting of a little know historical event that violated international law and was a crime against humanity.


Reviewed June 1, 2021

Redigerat: jun 4, 6:37pm

#86. The Bombay Prince (A Perveen Mistry Novel Book 3), Sujata Massey

The future King of England and Emperor of India, Prince Edward (VIII) is touring the Indian subcontinent for four months start in Bombay in November, 1921. The tension that is seething across the country becomes the backdrop for the action of this interesting mystery. The divisive issue is independence, some people want it and others don’t and the Prince’s visit brings out the demonstrators, the terrorists, freedom activists and the racial and religious conflicts.

Indian students at a small Scottish Presbyterian college have been told they will see the Prince as a group, a decision that is not welcomed by all students and faculty. While the Royal party is driving by the college a male student chases the vehicle down the street and is arrested, and the body of a female student is found in the grounds. The first thought is suicide but the coroner rules it murder by strangulation.

Perveen Mistry is involved because the young woman had asked her for an opinion just a few days earlier. Could the College expel a student who refused to attend the viewing? The answer was it depended on whether a contract had been signed upon admission and what it included and/or if there was a handbook on student behaviour and expectations. Mistry was on the grounds when Cuttingmaster’s body was found and she and her father attended the Coroner’s Inquest representing her parents.

The Police claim that Cuttermaster was a terrorist because of her involvement in the Student Union Club and her stand in favour of independence. Also some of her belongings were found near a railway that had been sabotaged. An American journalist appears everywhere and seems to know more than he should.

The book conveys a real sense of what being in Bombay was like following the riots and destruction of businesses and local properties. As well as the conflict among the population groups India is divided in to: Indian, British, Anglo Indian and other local groups plus the major religions, Hindus, Muslim, Buddhists, Christian and Sikhs and minor ones like Parsi which is prominent in this book.
Massey’s research into the Prince’s visit and its impact on Bombay and the different aspects of society is evident I particularly enjoyed her descriptions of the architecture of the city, buildings like the Asiatic Society of Bombay (Mumbai) and its many gardens.

“The Bombay Prince” is the third title in the Perveen Mistry series and award winning author Sujata Massey doesn’t disappoint her readers.


Reviewed June 4, 2021

Redigerat: jun 6, 9:31pm

#87. The Mystery of Mrs. Christie, Marie Benedict

This novel is related in calendar order two levels of Agatha Miller Christie’s life. The first level starts with her meeting of Archie Christie in 1912, a meeting that breaks all the rules of society that govern Agatha’s life. Two years later Archie persuades her to marry him when he is home on Christmas leave in 1914. Durning the war Agatha works as a nurse then trains to work in the pharmacy. This gives her the background on poisons that she uses in her books. This level follows the course of her marriage, birth of her daughter, the changes in Archie and finally to her disappearance.

The second level follows Archie over the eleven days of Agatha’s disappearance in 1926. It shows an unpleasant side of Archie’s personality. It also brings the two of them together and Agatha claims to have amnesia from a car accident and has no memory of the past eleven days.


Redigerat: jun 10, 5:01pm

#88. The Murder of Mary Russell, Laurie R. King

The new Mary Russell book is out but before I read it I need to read Riviera Gold but something in it took me back to this book. So Castle Shade has to wait until I get Mrs. Hudson straighten out.

The secret life of Mrs. Hudson comes to the forefront when her son Samuel appears at the Holmes' house in Sussex and confronts Mary Russel. Mrs. Hudson and Holmes are left with a blood stained sitting room and no Mary. The book alternates with the past life of Clarissa Hudson and the present. Who would have thought that Mrs. Hudson, landlady and housekeeper to Sherlock Holmes would have such a varied background.


Redigerat: jun 11, 6:18pm

#89. Riviera Gold, Laurie R. King

Following Island of the Mad Sherlock goes to Romania and Mary works as crew aboard a sail boat from Venice to Monte Carlo where she takes on a search for Mrs. Hudson.

The plot is twisted around various past and present smuggling activities, one involving Jack Hudson (Clara Hudson’s father), another the Czar’s gold both pre-revolution and 1925. King also mixes in some Americans, Gerald and
Sara Murphy, authors Fitzgerald and Spanish artist Picasso for colour as well as Lillie Langtry, a long time friend of Clara Hudso and some Russian nobility/thugs.

Even with the multiple characters and strings of plot King does keep it moving and fairly straightforward.


Redigerat: jun 13, 11:18pm

#90. Castle Shade, Laurie R. King

Holmes’ client is Queen Marie of Romania, granddaughter of Queen Victoria and Czar Nicholas. She has a castle in a small town in Transylvania which she is gradually rebuilding. She has received a threat to her teenage daughter and there have been strange events happening in the surrounding area which threatened the lives of animals and teenage girls, including an attack on Russell. People are talking of vampires. After much description of the castle, the town, countryside and people Russell and Holmes finally have some ideas on what is happening and take action. The culprit is stopped in front of the Queen by her daughter and a valuable vase and her dog, with Russell close behind.

I liked this the least of any of the books in the series. There was too much repetition and description and it lacked balance. Although Bram Stoker wrote of Dracula in Transylvania, as King tells us more than once, I found the vampires totally unbelievable.


jun 10, 7:53am

Hi Penny. I just finished the second Perveen Mistry, and hope to get to this one soon. I’m also interested in the Agatha Christie book. I’m looking forward to your comments about Mary Russell. I know nothing about those books.

jun 10, 4:56pm

>125 NanaCC::

Glad you enjoyed Sujata Massey’s books. She has an earlier series featuring Rei Shimera an American of Japanese decent who is an antique dealer in Japan.
The Mary Russell series is reading interesting, good mysteries with lots of information about different places and events. The newest Castle Shade takes place in Romania and is # 17 in the series.
I highly recommend both authors.

jun 10, 5:01pm

>118 Nickelini::

Did it work?

Redigerat: jun 19, 12:18am

#91. The Mary Russell Companion, Laurie R. King

King reviews how she received the ‘memoirs’ of Mary Russell in a metal trunk with pieces of clothing and other assorted things. She clearly states that the first book The Beekeeper’s Apprentice was either A) written by herself or B) was a memoir of Russell’s found in the trunk. She discusses each of the first twelve books, with some input from Russell. This is followed by discussion of the memoirs, the role of Holmes and the ongoing role of Russell. There was definitely new information I didn’t know before about the books and Russell and Holmes. It appears that she lived into her nineties (or more) and Holmes, 40 years older was still alive and active. That part was hard to believe!


jun 20, 12:44pm

#92. The Marriage of Mary Russell, Laurie R. King

Holmes proposes as he and Russell are sitting on the banks of the Thames after escaping from a boat that was on fire and exploding. Blackened cheeks, singed hair and a possible concussion didn’t make it very romantic. They don’t tell anyone as they wanted only witnesses present. Then Holmes gets the idea of holding it in the chapel on the family estate currently controlled by cousins he doesn’t get along with. The end result is far beyond their dreams or nightmares!


Redigerat: jun 23, 3:54pm

#93. The Dictionary of Lost Words, Pip Williams

When I was young and I asked my mother how to spell a word she would say “Look it up in the dictionary.” And I would reply I can’t because I can’t spell it.” This historical fiction covers the years 1886 to 1989 and significant events told through the words of Esme Nicoll.

At age five she introduces us to the Oxford English Dictionary and how it is compiled, how decisions are made on what words are included and, more importantly, the words, mainly words related too and used by women are omitted. Her father is one of the associates and her first relationship with the dictionary’s workings is sitting under the work table and picking up the discarded slips.

Esme becomes friends with an actress who introduces her to the world of the protesting suffragettes. Not a place where she is comfortable and she struggles with what actions in which she can become involved. This friendship leaves another major mark on Esme’s life.

The third event is World War One which has a major impact of the progress of the dictionary as young men enlist. Her wedding to Gareth, a compositor with the Oxford University Press who is working on the dictionary takes place before he goes to the front. It also leads her to a new use of words and language working with soldiers who have lost the ability to speak as a result of what they suffered in battle.

The dictionary is finally completed in November, 1928 and work has already started on the first of several supplements before the second edition is released in 1989. This is a historical novel for people who love words. The ending brought tears to my eyes.

I don’t always read the Afterwords and Acknowledgments but in this case I urge you do so as the history of the dictionary continues. They identify the historical people and reinforce the true activities that are in the novel.


Reviewed June 23, 2021

Redigerat: jun 26, 1:04pm

#94. Lady Clementine: A Novel, Marie Benedict

I have read a number of the titles Benedict recommends on Clementine Churchill and although they touch on her war work it is not presented in the same way as this book. The emphasis is truly on Mrs. Churchill, warts and all, as a wife, mother and individual. She was a strong woman and accomplished much, but also suffered from depression which she gradually learned to control Theirs was a true love match, it was not always smooth but their love never faltered.

Her early life is covered but the emphasis is on her life with Winston Churchill until the end of World War II. She made a decision to put her husband before her children, and he put himself before everyone most of the time. The impact of this on the family clearly shows and it is only with Mary, her youngest daughter, raised by her nanny, that Lady Churchill develops a real adult relationship.

During the war she identified issues that have an impact on women and families and works to solve them. The first being the state of air raid shelters where people spent 12 - 14 hours a day. Her work with the Red Cross led to a project with the Russian Red Cross and in 1945 a six week tour there. She was received with much acclaim by all but Stalin. She also worked closely with her husband on his speeches and letters, preparing for foreign visitors and supporting Winston’s unsure side which he hides from others.

The partnership with the United States was crucial to the war effort and both before and after it’s entry into the war a great deal of time and attention by both Churchill’s was devoted to developing it. Roosevelt’s turning away from W. Churchill and Britain and toward Stalin and Russia in the last year and a half of the war was a bitter blow. More so to the Prime Minister, she had never developed a relationship with Roosevelt and in fact lacked trust in him. The country that had stood alone against Nazi Germany at the beginning of the war is once again alone at the end.

The author’s notes and acknowledgments are worth reading. They clearly show the depth of research she undertook. This is a historical fiction but it has a good foundation of fact.


Reviewed June 26, 2021

jun 26, 10:37am

>130 pmarshall: I loved that one, Penny. I thought it was very well done. I cried too. Several times in fact. 😄

Redigerat: jun 27, 4:07pm

#95. The Only Woman in the Room, Marie Benedict

I puzzled over the title until close to the end of the book. In ,1942 the U. S. Navy turned down the opportunity to misdirect enemy torpedoes and to correct a problem with their own torpedo system because it was developed by a woman. They told her not to play with science and to sell war bonds instead. The system she had developed with musician George Antheil received a patent but that didn’t prevent the government from using the information, without permission or compensation until into the 1990’s.

Lemarr, a name given to her by Louis B. Mayer, was a stage star in Vienna before the war. It was from listening to table talk when entertaining her first husband’s guests that she learned about armaments and the problems Hitler had with his torpedoes that started her learning. It was the Nazis’ torpedoing of a British relief ship with close to a hundred children on board that started her scientific search for a solution. Her escape from that marriage and Austria took her to a film career in Hollywood. The book ends on a night in 1942 in Philadelphia where she raised two million two hundred and fifty thousand dollars for war bonds!

As always Benedict’s notes are worth reading. I found the pace of this book slow and repetitive. However I still gave the book four stars because of the way the author presents the many facets of Lemarr in a non- judgmental manner.


Reviewed June 27, 2021

jun 30, 6:23pm

#96. Dead Reckoning: The Freeman Files Series, Ted Tayler

A half dozen people gather in an old pub on Salisbury Plain during one of the worst rain and wind storms of the season. One of the men insults and threatens each of the others. The next day his son finds his body in the entrance to his house. Three years later the case ends up with Gus Freeman and his team who re-investigate the case.

jun 30, 6:28pm

June, 2021 Summary

12 Read
5 Reviewed

96 Read Total

Redigerat: jul 1, 11:49pm

#97. New Brunswick Was His Country: The Life of William Francis Ganong, Ronald Rees

Ganong, 1864 - 1941, has been called New Brunswick’s greatest scholar. He taught Botany at Smith College in Mass. and spent every summer in his home province canoeing down every river to map the province. He was behind the founding of the N. B. Museum in Saint John. His publications number over thousand and cover a number of scientific areas. He had an international reputation.


For those who don’t know New Brunswick is a Canadian province on the east coast. It shares a border with the state of Maine to the south.

jul 2, 4:32am

>136 pmarshall: I really envy people like Ganong whose passion and their job are one and the same. Sounds like he was in a league of his own, though - over 1,000 publications.... wow.

Redigerat: jul 4, 11:24pm

#98. A Study in Sherlock: Stories inspired by the Holmes canon, Laurie R. King

Seventeen authors contribute fifteen short stories that feature Sherlock Holmes or are written in the style of Conan-Doyle. They range from Holmes discovering the elixir of youth through a particular strain of honey bees in China, to the death of President McKinley, to a police case in Alaska. Very entertaining.


Redigerat: jul 12, 7:51pm

#99. The Masterpiece, Fiona Davis

In 1928 Clara, a teacher of Illustration at the Grand Central School of Art, makes a name for herself illustrating “Vogue” covers and working with an automobile manufacturer designing cars that would appeal to women, from the head lamps, door handles to the dashboard. She and her fellow artists are reaching their prime when the depression hits. In 1931 a train accident claims the life of some and Clara disappears.

In 1975 Virgina, a middle aged divorcee and breast cancer survivor, gets a job with Penn Central in the information booth at Grand Central Station/Terminal. She discovers the art school and a piece of art that spoke to her. She learns the history and discovers the beauty of the station. She takes on two battles. Finding the name of the artist of her painting and recovering it, at the same time bringing Clara the recognition she deserved. The second battle was to help prevent Penn Central from changing the historical status of Grand Central Station and building a skyscraper on the site.


jul 12, 8:12pm

>139 pmarshall: Interesting! I take it this is based on a true story?

Redigerat: jul 14, 8:30pm

#100. Death Before Compline, Sharan Newman

Death Before Compline is a collection of short stories featuring Catherine LeVendeur and people within her family circle. Published in chronological order rather than publishing order they add breadth to our knowledge of LeVendeur.


jul 13, 7:28am

>140 Nickelini::

The facts about Grand Central Station and Penn Central are true, and the art school is real but the characters and most of the plot are fiction. Jackie Kennedy Onassis was involved in saving the station and she is in the book.

Redigerat: jul 18, 2:59pm

#101. The Bone Code, Kathy Reichs

In Montreal and fifteen years later in Charleston Tempe is faced with the bodies of two females, shot, identically wrapped and stuffed into medical waste barrels and dumped in the ocean some years prior to recovery. In Montreal she and Ryan were unsuccessful in identifying the bodies or developing a case. In Charleston Tempe is determined that won’t happen again. And it doesn’t.

The second aspect of the book is about the manipulation of genes, DNA and vaccines for control and money. It is interesting, and scary, because of COVID-19. For me it gets too scientific and I had trouble following all the details. This is where the book lost half a star.

Overall the basic plot is good and the characters interesting as usual.


Redigerat: jul 29, 10:29pm

Det här meddelandet har tagits bort av dess författare.

jul 29, 10:33pm

#102. The Personal Librarian, Marie Benedict, Victoria Christopher Murray

Belle de Costa Greene (Belle Marian Greener) is the personal librarian to Junius Pierpont Morgan starting in 1906. She learned to love and appreciate books from her father Richard Greener, the first African American to graduate from Harvard and a leader in the civil rights movement in the late 1800’s. She influenced Morgan’s selection of items for the library and carried on as its director until she retired in 1948. She took it from a private to a public library as she believed everyone should have the opportunity to read and be inspired by the collection.

She lived her life as a white woman because she was pale enough to pass. Her mother brought up the entire family in that manner. It was a constant internal battle for her, particularly as she became more aware of the lack of rights for African Americans.

Marie Benedict wanted to write this book for some time but felt she couldn’t do it herself, hence she asked Victoria Christopher Murray to write with her. They edited and rewrote the book through the COVID-19 Pandemic and the racial events of it were discussed. I didn’t know this until I read the author statements at the end of the book, but it was published in 1921 so it was on my mind, some things haven’t changed.

This is historical fiction but well researched and very much based on fact.


Reviewed July 29, 2021