Saturday, July 11, 2015

Library Memes

Great Libraries.....

When I had charge of "collection development", I made sure that this was so!

Dame Agatha VIII

Sparkling Cyanide: Colonel Race 
★  ★  ★  ★  ★ 

Luxembourg of what was known to be the side effects of post-flu depression... 

All of Rosemary's inheritance from her family goes to her sister Iris; should anything happen to Iris, the  money goes to Aunt Lucilla Drake (whose only son, Victor, is a very bad lot). 

George has received anonymous letters to the effect that Rosemary was poisoned and after discussing the matter w/ his old friend, Colonel Race, decides to lay a trap for the murderer at another dinner at the Luxembourg, by the end of the evening George too is dead from poisoning....  
At dinner were the same people as the prior year's fatal dinner: Iris (George's sister-in-law & Rosemary's younger sister); Ruth (George's secretary whom both George & Rosemary relied on to take care of all details and who is in love w/ George); Anthony Browne (a shady character now in love w/ Iris);  Stephen Farraday (a minor MP & Rosemary's eager to escape lover); and Alexandra Farraday (Stehphen's wife who would do anything to keep her marriage intact).

As a few days pass, it becomes apparent that Iris is also in danger, she is nearly run down by a car, and then she is found in her room w/ the door sealed and her head next to the grate w/ the gas running......

There is no loss for suspects, and most all disliked Rosemary....

I liked the story, I liked the characters and I found the story so intriguing that I read it in one sitting.

Death Comes as the End
★  ★  ★  ★  ★

Parting from her usual writing & characters, Dame Agatha treats us to a Historical Mystery set in 2000 BC, in Ancient Egypt.

Imhotep, a wealthy ka-priest, tomb keeper has stupidly brought home his new concubine, Nofret.  Nofret is as young & beautiful as she is manipulative & hateful, she makes many enemies in the house, not the least of all the women.

As Imhotep is off on business, he unthinkingly leaves Nofret behind. As tensions mount, Nofret does her best to suborn the family, while they in turn fight back.  Nofret writes to Imhotep complaining of the family's treatment of her and he immediately replies with the disowning of everyone except his daughter.....

Soon thereafter, Nofret is found dead at the base of the hill where the tomb is kept..... Although the family suspects one of their own as the murderer of Nofret, they all keep a united front and insist that she accidentally fell to her death.

Everything seems to return to "normal" within the family, but the killer strikes again and again...... No one being safe.

Well written, a great story, lively characters.... all the clues were there, but I didn't see them as I was too engrossed in the story.

The Mysterious Mr. Quin
★ ★ ★★

What a pleasant change from Poirot & Miss Marple.....  Although there wasn't as much sleuthing, but taking knowledge and putting it forward & assessing what the facts were.

The two main characters are: Mr. Satterthwaite, a distinguished gentleman of short stature, well known in higher circles of society, discreet and in possession of great observational talents; and Mr. Harley Quin, an enigmatic tall dark man, who appears and disappears at the most opportune times.

Mr. Satterthwaite and Mr. Quin play off of each other, the former with his critical thinking skills and the latter with his ability to bring forward the knowledge & facts Mr. Satterthwaite has laying dormant in his thoughts.

There are 12 stories in this book, most all interesting, some easily solvable, some completely baffling:

1: The Coming of Mr Quin: New Years' Eve, a suicide years ago, a Blonde who now has dark hair, an estranged married couple, a murder, and a brilliant deduction

2: The Shadow on the Glass: a ghost of a Cavalier who appears in a window (no matter how many times it is replaced), a woman holding a gun w/ two dead people lying beside her, a jealous triangle, and a living ghost

3: At the "Bells and Motley": a dark and stormy night (pun intended), a broken down car, crossword puzzles, French cat burglars, a dead husband but no body to be found

4: The Sign in the Sky: An unhappy wife, a suspicious husband, a gun left behind, and a man wrongly accused of murder

5: The Soul of the Croupier: Monte Carlo, a Countess, a young lover, a croupier's purposeful passing of winnings to the wrong person, a marriage torn asunder by vanity & greed

6: The Man from the Sea: a closed up old house, a young man on the verge of suicide, a mysterious woman in seclusion, and a touching story of unrequited love & redemption

7: The Voice in the Dark: a shipwreck that one sister survives the other does not, years of haunting voices, a spiritualist & a seance, and a sister returned from the dead

8: The Face of Helen: a young woman, two suitors, a wedding gift of a radio & a lovely glass sculpture, and a man with a voice that can shatter glass

9: The Dead Harlequin: a painting of a dead harlequin, a rug where no rug was before, a mysterious face in the window, and a strange suicide w/ the gunshot at an impossible angle

10: The Bird with the Broken Wing: a country gathering, a very happy young woman who for some reason has hanged herself, an ukulele with a broken string, and spurned suitor

11: The World's End: a group of people picnicking at "the World's End", a missing opal, a young man accused of theft, a large sum of money, and an "Indian Box" with a hidden compartment

12: Harlequin's Lane: an odd man & wife, a lovers' lane ending @ a rubbish heap, the story of a lost ballerina, a visiting impresario, unrequited love, and death

A very interesting set of stories, many revolving around love relationships...

Towards Zero: Sup. Battle
★ ★ ★★

I like Superintendent Battle, he's very refreshing and not "contrived" as are other of Christie's protagonists, but that is not to say that the ending of this was not contrived nor believable....

This story weaves in & out of several people's lives.... but how they all come together doesn't mesh:  

The story begins w/ a group of barristers discussing cases, and the eldest of them, Mr. Trewes, speaking w/ wisdom that all listen & pay attention to......

A year earlier, Angus MacWhirter, attempted to commit suicide off of the cliff where Lady Tressilian lives... He had told the truth when asked to testify against his former boss in a car accident case....  Thus his former boss had Angus fired and ruined his reputation.  

The story then moves on to an end of summer visit at the home of Lady Camilla Tressilian. Much to Lady Tressilian's dismay; Nevill Strange (Camilla's deceased husband's heir) has obstinately invited himself & his current wife Kay to stay, knowing that Nevill's first wife Audrey and her friend Thomas will be staying as is their custom.

Kay's childhood friend, Ted is staying at a nearby hotel, but spends most of his time with Kay.  Also staying at the hotel is the barrister Mr. Trewes (who tells a story at dinner about a seriously disturbed child who murdered a playmate....  This child Mr. Trewes announces, he will never forget) and Angus MacWhirter (who has gone back to visit the scene of his attempted suicide).....

The next morning Mr. Trewes is found dead of heart failure at his hotel.  A few days later Lady Tressilian is found by a housemaid with her head bashed in, her personal maid is found in her bed comatose....  All the evidence points to Nevill who had a loud fight with Lady Tressilian the night before, regarding his desire to divorce Kay and remarry Audrey.... but of course when closely examined the evidence shows that Nevill has been framed......

Then somehow, Angus MacWhirter gets involved when he saves Audrey from throwing herself off the cliff, and he saves the day......

WTH? The ending was pretty weak and very convoluted.....  which lost the story 1 star.

The Moving Finger: Marple
★ ★ ★★

Jerry Burton (a pilot recuperating) and his sister Joanna have let a house in the quiet village of Lymstock.... Soon they are victims of poison pen letters, as are most of their neighbors.

When the mother of the odd & unwanted young Megan commits suicide and her maid is poisoned, the village is thrown into even more of a frenzy of accusations & suspicions...

The vicar's wife, who with her acid tongue & pronouncements, is not above suspicion herself, calls in her friend Miss Marple to help solve the problems.

Meanwhile Jerry not only takes a keen interest in Megan and is surprised find his interest to be romantic, but an even keener interest in solving the crimes. 

When Megan decides to blackmail her stepfather (at the behest of Miss Marple) the solution of the poison pen letters & the murder is solved.

I liked the mystery, the plot, the romance, and the twists made for good reading, but I found Miss Marple's intervention too pat.

Cards on the Table: M. Poirot, Mrs. Oliver, Sup. Battle & Col. Race
★ ★ ★★

This was a very interesting plot, murder in plain sight of others.....  The clue was there right in the "interviews" of the suspects.

Mr Shaitana (who fashions himself after a modern Mephistopheles in dress & manner) makes it his business to collect things, including people's dirty secrets....  Unfortunately he turned out to be a very "stupid" man (M. Poirot's words), for Mr Shaitana decided to give a party and invite 4 people (all who have apparently gotten away with murder) and 4 great detectives (M. Poirot, Superintendent Battle, Mrs. Ariadne Oliver, & Colonel Race) to have dinner with him.

The two groups of people were in separate rooms playing bridge.... Mr. Shaitana was in w/ the 4 murderers sitting in front of the fire and was found slumped in his chair, apparently sleeping..... But in reality murdered w/ a pretty little dagger.

The four detectives go about working on different aspects, all gathering clues & interviewing the suspects in their own particular manner.... And then there is another murder and an attempted murder.

This was the first time that I understood M. Poirot's methods, although as they followed the bridge scores, I didn't understand them. Mrs. Oliver was outright annoying. Sadly, Superintendent Battle wasn't as visible as in the past & Colonel Race was off quietly making inquiries so one didn't get to follow his investigation at all.

It was a pretty satisfying mystery......

Hallowe'en Party: M. Poirot
★ ★ ★★

A young girl boasts at a party that she has seen a murder and didn't report it because at first she didn't know what she saw......

No one believes her (because everyone knows she is a liar) except the murderer......   

She is found drown bobbing for apples.....  Then her little brother is murdered....

Mrs. Ariadne Oliver seeks M. Poirot's help in solving the crime.  Many people are not quite who/what they seem and there are more than a few hidden connections.

I liked the story, I liked the characters, I liked that Hastings was absent, and Poirot was not his usual arrogant little self.

Double Sin: Poirot & Marple
★ ★ ★

Double Sin: Waylaid on the way to visit a client, M. Poirot & Hastings come across a niece selling a valuable piece for her aunt and a young man w/ a "feeble" mustache

Wasp's Nest: A dying man, caught in a love triangle, plots a murder... seemingly his own.... M. Poirot heads him off at the pass

The Theft of the Royal Ruby (also known as The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding): A missing ruby ends up in the Christmas Pudding, M. Poirot grabs it and proceeds to solve the case

The Dressmaker's Doll:  A doll appears in the shop—a floppy, long-legged doll that sits itself on the best sofa. But where did it come from, and why does it appear to watch them? 

Greenshaw's Folly:  An old woman who likes to play games, shot in the back w/ an arrow; a Lady's Companion owed back wages; a disinherited nephew; and Miss Marple as a witness to the will.....

The Double Clue: M. Poirot is asked to attend a dinner party of a famous collector...  After dinner the safe is found to have been rifled and its contents removed. For some reason there are two very obvious clues.... Why would a thief be so careless as to leave two personal belongings behind?

The Last Seance: "Raoul Daubreuil insists his fiancée give up her activities as a talented and successful medium when they marry. However, he agrees to attend what is to be her last séance—with Madame Exe. But even Raoul can't foresee the tragedy ahead." -- Amazon

Sanctuary: "Bunch, engrossed in her flower arrangements for the church, is placing the chrysanthemums when she sees a man crumpled over on the chancel steps, dying. The man can only utter one word, “sanctuary.” No one at the vicarage understands what he means, and nothing can be done to stop his death. But, when his relatives promptly arrive to pick up his possessions, Bunch can’t get the word out of her head. She knows just who to turn to, her godmother, Miss Marple. What Bunch and Miss Marple discover is more exciting than anything that could be expected to happen in a sleepy village like Chipping Cleghorn. Who is this man, and what does “sanctuary” mean?" --Amazon

Three Blind Mice: M. Poirot, Mr. Quinn, & Miss Marple
★ ★ ★ 

Many of these stories were published in other anthologies so there may be duplication of reviews.

Three Blind Mice - Residents of a guest home are snowed in, among them is a murderer

Strange Jest - Marple: Two nephews Edward Rossiter and Charmain Stroud, promised by their Uncle to receive an inheritance, seem to have been left nothing in their uncle's will. Miss Marple intends to investigate

The Tape-Measure Murder - Marple: Mr. Spenlow's wife is murdered while he is visiting Miss Marple, yet he is a prime suspect

The Case of the Perfect Maid - Marple: A maid is fired for stealing, but how is it that her replacement is stealing as well?

The Case of the Caretaker - Marple: While bedridden, Miss Marple reads Dr Haycock's manuscript of an accident which turns out to be murder

The Third Floor Flat - Poirot: Four young people, accidentally locked out of their 4th floor flat, take the coal trolley up but end up accidentally in the 3rd floor flat and discover the body of a murdered woman

The Adventure of Johnny Waverly - Poirot: A family threatened with the kidnapping of their 3 year old son take every precaution to prevent the occurrence, unfortunately when the child is taken it becomes apparent that it is an "inside" job

Four-and-Twenty Blackbirds - Poirot: A man eats the same food at the same restaurant on the same day of the week for 20 years. On the day he changes his meal choice he is found dead.... how can that be?

The Love Detectives - Mr. Quinn: A messy love triangle, a murder, and the implication of the lovers has Mr. Quinn investigating (Mr. Quinn is another of Christie's detectives that I find to be a refreshing change from M. Poirot & Miss Marple)

The Regatta Mystery: Miss Marple, M. Poirot, & Mr. Pyne
★ ★ ★

The Regatta Mystery - Parker Pyne: Mr Parker Pyne catches a diamond thief during regatta festivities at Dartmouth Harbour.

The Mystery of the Baghdad Chest - Poirot: M.Poirot figures out how a dead body found its way into the titular chest in the midst of a dance party

How Does Your Garden Grow? - Poirot: M. Poirot finds the clue to the murder of an older woman who has written him for help just prior to her death

Problem at Pollensa Bay - Mr. Pyne: During his vacation, Parker Pyne solves a mother's dislike for her son's fiancee before an act of violence can occur

Yellow Iris - Poirot: Poirot follows an anonymous phone call to a restaurant table laden with the favourite flower of a woman who died mysteriously four years before. This story was expanded and made into the full-length mystery Sparkling Cyanide, featuring Colonel Race instead of Poirot

Miss Marple Tells a Story - Marple: Miss Marple recalls solving (without leaving her own chair) a seemingly impossible murder

The Dream - Poirot: An eccentric millionaire tells Poirot of a troubling dream in which he kills himself – and is found dead a week later

In a Glass Darkly - I have not read

Problem at Sea - Poirot: a rich woman is found dead in her cabin on a luxury ship off the shore of Alexandria. The story concludes with Poirot saying: "I do not approve of murder."

The Underdog & Other Stories: M. Poirot
★ ★ ★

I think I'm just worn out w/ M. Poirot & his arrogant cleverness as well as with Captain Hastings & his blind stupidity

The Under Dog: When the cruel CEO of a chemical company is bludgeoned to death in his home after the company's formula for a revolutionary new synthetic rubber is targeted by a thief, M. Poirot is called in to investigate

The Plymouth Express: A young naval officer on the Plymouth express finds the dead body of a woman underneath a seat in his carriage... her money and her jewels are gone. She was married to an unsuitable husband and on her way to a house party to meet up w/ a previous flame of unscrupulous character.  Again, M. Poirot solves the case

The Affair at the Victory Ball: Young Lord Cronshaw and his fiancee Coco Courtenay attended the ball with several friends, all dressed as characters from the Italian Comedy, he as Harlequin, she as Columbine, and both died that night, she from a cocaine overdose in her flat, he with a table knife through his heart at the ball

The Market Basing Mystery: M. Poirot, on holiday w/ Hastings & Inspector Japp is interrupted by a local constable asking for help. The reclusive owner of a local large mansion, was found dead in his dilapidated house, supposedly by suicide. At the house, they  meet with a Doctor, the housekeeper and a contentious couple who rouse M. Poirot's suspicions

The Lemesurier Inheritance: A family curse, a dreaded inheritance, young heirs dying mysteriously who would not be affected by the curse and another having three very close calls. His mother, not believing in curses calls M. Poirot to investigate

The Cornish Mystery: Poirot receives a visit from a woman, claiming that she's is afraid that her husband is not only having an affair, but is attempting to murder her. When Poirot arrives to talk to her, he finds that she has died from poisoning. Her niece who had been living with her for 8 years suddenly moves out and is now engaged to her Aunts much younger "friend"

The King of Clubs: The Oglander family was playing bridge in the drawing room when the French windows burst open and a woman staggered in, blood on her dress. She managed to say, "Murder!" and then collapsed. The family fetched both a doctor and the police who called at the next-door villa to find the body of Henry Reedburn, the theatrical impresario, dead in the library with his skull split open by some unknown weapon. Enter M. Poirot to sort it all out

The Submarine Plans:  The secret plans for the new 'Z'-type of submarine were stolen. The ladies in the party retired at 10:00 pm and the men went into the study to discuss the plans which have been moved from the safe to the table....  A stranger is seen out on the terrace and the plans disappear. M. Poirot searches for footprints to no avail, yet successfully deduces who stole the plans

The Adventure of the Clapham Cook: Mrs Todd is determined that M. Poirot investigate her missing cook. Also missing from the Bank where Mr. Todd works is a bank clerk (Mr. Davis) who disappears with fifty thousand pounds of securities, a suicidal man and a typist. It is up to M. Poirot to puzzle out how all of these people could possibly have anything in common

Poirot Investigates: American Version
★ ★ ★

11 + 3 different not-so-short stories: that did not really engage me. 

All were: featuring a person who asked for help, Hastings being a lost as ever, M. Poirot being as clever as ever, but without much of a story or clues.  After a brief explanation of the situation and a short discussion between M. Poirot & Hastings; VOILA! M. Poirot has the solution.

1. The Adventure of "The Western Star": Jewel thievery & duplicity at the Full Moon

2. The Tragedy at Marsdon Manor: M. Poirot investigates a murder made to look like suicide

3. The Adventure of the Cheap Flat: Two spies, Naval Plans, a murderous Italian in a cheaply sublet flat

4. The Mystery of Hunter's Lodge: A wife & maid are locked out of the room while the man of the house is killed by a bearded stranger,

5. The Million Dollar Bond Robbery: A banker's nephew is sent abroad w/ a million in bonds, when they disappear en route to their destination, M. Poirot investigates

6. The Adventure of the Egyptian Tomb: Death by curse of several Egyptologists, a nephew in need of money, a wife convinced of the curse 

7. The Jewel Robbery at the Grand Metropolitan: A rich woman goes to her room in order to show M. Poirot her exquisite pearls, but she find they are gone!

8. The Kidnapped Prime Minister: On his way to a very important & secret peace conference the Prime Minister is waylaid, M. Poirot sets out to find him.

9. The Disappearance of Mr. Davenheim: Mr. Davenheim goes out to post some correspondence, he does not return to meet his visitor... The safe's contents are missing... M. Poirot solves it all and never leaves his chair

10. The Adventure of the Italian Nobleman: A telephoned cry for help from the Count, the butler takes a stroll, a table set for dinner and then cleared

11. The Case of the Missing Will: An Uncle leaves his clever niece a will, but then he writes a second one and hides it.... M. Poirot is hired to find it.

12. The Veiled Lady: A jewel theft in broad daylight, a young woman being blackmailed, and a Chinese Puzzle Box

13. The Lost Mine: Poirot was once given shares in an ancient Chinese mine as payment for an investigation, but the papers were lost and a visit to an Opium Den was necessary to locate them

14. The Chocolate Box: M. Poirot's one "failure" to uncover the murderer of the French Deputy who was living in Brussels and was about to play an important political role in the separation of Church & State

Partners in Crime: Tommy & Tuppence
★ ★

This was about the two of them, after their first spy adventure... being connected to a second. 

They open up a detective agency in order to help crash the spy ring, but in the meanwhile take on various & assorted other cases, so it was more like a series of short stories, with themes that have been found in other Christie stories.

Many of the stories had endings cut short, with no facing off of the thief/murderer/culprit, which I didn't like.

There was quite a bit of mindless banter, which really did confuse & lose me.... and silly pretending to be other famous detectives....

Murder at the Vicarage: Miss Marple
★ ★ 

This book bored me.......  I simply did not like the characters, so I didn't care that the mean old man got killed.
So um: 
Soon after a dinner where everyone present discusses how they would go about murdering the odious civil magistrate; he is in fact found murdered, while waiting to meet with the Vicar @ the vicarage
Both of the main suspects, the magistrate's wife and her young lover, confess to the crime..... Yet there are others who have something to hide, the mysterious newcomer, the flighty daughter, the archaeologist & his assistant..... and the town gossips make matters worse.

Witness for the Prosecution & Other Stories
★ ★ 

Most all of these stories were written for various magazines....  The most famous is the title of the book & a movie starring Marlene Dietrich. 

The stories, many of which deal with "spiritualism" are interesting enough, but much unlike her murder mysteries they are often dark & filled w/ foreboding. 

I did not like most of the characters, nor did I feel empathy for any of them.....  
The stories are:
The Fourth Man
The Mystery of the Blue Jar
The Mystery of the Spanish Shawl (a.k.a. Mr. Eastwood's Adventure)
Philomel Cottage
The Red Signal
The Second Gong
Sing a Song of Sixpence
Where There's a Will (a.k.a. Wireless): This I liked, an Aunt gets even &  justice after her death.....
The Witness for the Prosecution
However, if you are tired of T&T, Marple, & Poirot, this might be the break you're waiting for........ 

Friday, July 10, 2015

A Mixed Bag of Reviews

I do apologize, since I retired a year ago from the Library, I really haven't been reading as much: I'm busy with my new career as a photographer......  So,   I'm going to try and catch up with my reviews:

The Laws of Murder: Charles Finch

★ ★ ★ 

1876: Charles Lenox has stepped down from Parliament in order to work full time as a detective in an agency he has opened w/ three other people: John Dallington, Polly Strickland Buchanan, & the Frenchman LeMarie.....  

But all is not going as well as they would hope, as a friend of Charles, Inspector Jenkins (of Scotland Yard, with whom he has worked closely), has made disparaging remarks about Charles to the local papers and the agency has lost business because of it.

A few nights later, Inspector Jenkins is found shot in the head with a cryptic clue in his shoe addressed to Charles, and in addition has left a message w/ his subordinate, Inspector Nicholson, that  should something happen to Jenkins, Charles Lenox should be called in to investigate.

Days later, Charles finds out that Jenkins had been investigating the Marquess of Wakefield, who was known for his violent temper & illegal business gains.... The cryptic clue is a ticket to a ship's hold, owned by Wakefield, and upon pulling the ticket's cargo from the hold they find a  trunk not only filled w/ salt but with the body of the Marques as well.....

The book twists & turns and eventually many high ranking members of London's Privileged Class are caught in a scandal of enormous proportions....

I like Charles Lenox and his coterie of close friends. They all have their flaws but are warm, intelligent, & are dedicated to improving the lives of others.

Rebel Belle:  Rachel Hawkins

★ ★ ★ 

Oh my this was a light, delightful, funny YA Fantasy book, that now has a sequel!

Harper Price is an over-achieving Southern Belle w/ the perfect life: boyfriend, parents, & friends. 

She is at the prom, about to be crowned Queen, when she goes to the bathroom in order to put on lip-gloss. There she finds the janitor dying, as she bends over to check him, he pulls her close and gives her a kiss of icy cold breath.

Immediately, her history teacher barges in w/ a scimitar and tries to kill her, but she saves herself by shoving the heel of her shoe into his carotid artery.  

She leaves the bathroom to get help from her friend(s), and when she returns the bathroom is empty & spotlessly clean.

Much to her dismay, Harper has become a Paladin and it is her duty to protect the Oracle, who just happens to be her nemesis, David....  

What is worse it will all come to a head in the midst of Cotillion.......

I found this book to be fast paced, funny and filled with action. I liked the characters, they were not over-written or campy....

I am already reading the sequel "Miss Mayhem"

Miss Mayhem: Rachel Hawkins

★ ★ 

Because I wanted more and I didn't want the story to end so soon....

Harper Price is a Southern Bell who has survived an attack on her being the night of Cotillion....  Her new boyfriend, David, the Oracle had come into his power by way of a spell of a Mage.....

During Cotillion, All Hell Broke Loose and the Mage who had been protecting the Oracle for all of his life was killed, but luckily there was another human around and she breathed her Icy Breath of Power into him.  Unfortunately for Harper (Paladin) & David (Oracle), the new Mage is Ryan, Harper's ex-boyfriend.

During the fray, Harper's best friend Bee was abducted.... and in this Sequel, they all set out to find her.  What they find is Bee is a new Paladin and unless Harper can pass the ultimate Paladin tests, Harper will die and Bee will take Harper's place.....

Basically, life goes on for them and there is more than one relationship issue. The future of the Oracle is uncertain and Harper, Ryan & Bee have all pledged to keep David safe for life, but all they really want to do is live normal lives.... 

This was a fast & entertaining read, and except for their super-power life, they were like any other teenagers....

Like I said, I wanted more, and Nicole R, you will too! But, I don't think the author really had any choice in ending the story where she did, because I truly believe, she didn't know where else to go w/ the Oracle and keep the others in a balanced teen life.

Sprout: Jennifer Wayne

★ ★ 

What can I say?

Sprout is very, very interested in elephants..... his dream is to one day ride one.  
One of the little boys in his school has ridden one (or so he says)... but he is not a nice little boy.

One day, Sprout heads out for the zoo but ends up lost.... He accidentally runs into the housekeeper & her daughter.  The little girl takes Sprout to the local secondhand store where she shows him a red plaster elephant holding up a table, which he promptly buys.

Sprout puts wheels on his elephant & takes it to school, causing an uproar............................

I'm not telling you the rest, it would be a spoiler.

Death of a Liar: M.C. Beaton 

★ ★ 

New neighbors (husband & wife) move into Lochdubh, they buy the school house and proceed to alienate the locals.......

A woman calls Hamish claiming she was raped.....  but upon medical exams finds her to be a Virgin, and a well known liar. <

Soon all three are dead.....  Not wanting Hamish to get any credit, SOB Blair sends Hamish to investigate the death of the Liar, which happens to be connected to the murder of the couple.....

There is an odd new church on the Loch Ness, two hidden diamond engagement rings, a cache of money, some very nasty crooks, and very nervous mortuary owners.....

Hamish is confused (as always) by 4 women; Elspeth (his fomer & now well known newswoman), Priscilla (local love & cold fish), Anka (a mysterious Polish baker & companion of former policeman Dick), and Christine (the new forensic tech).....

I liked the twists, turns, & connections, they kept me very interested but then I got to the Hamish vs Blair parts & I'm tired of those..... as well as his stupidity about women......

There is the usual b.s. w/ SOB Blair trying to discredit Hamish & get him fired, as well as the growing wishy-washiness of Chief Daviot (who should know to trust Hamish & distrust Blair)....   

This is what made me mark this down 1/2 (ultimately) 1 star!

Arranged Marriage: Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni 

★ ★ ★ 

I normally love her work, as most of it is uplifting w/ a mixture of spirituality & magical realism.  This book of short stories fell short for me.

It was because there was nothing redeeming about the misogynistic culture and feudal expectations that the women in these stories had to live with & endure.

Lyrical as the writing was, the romance of India was portrayed for what it is/was.... oppressing.

I'm glad I read it, but it left me wanting one of her other "feel good" stories. 

Wicked Craving: G.A. McKevette

★ ★ 

I read it on vacation & left it in the airport....

Savannah is a plus sized, former police office who now runs a PI firm in the sleepy beach town of San Carmelita. She works along side police detective Dirk Coulter, who is her "boyfriend" and who she loves to feed home cooked Southern foods.... 

Dirk has asked Savannah to help him with the murder case of the wife of an infamous diet "doctor" (who uses hypnosis with his clients) is found at the foot of the cliff of their sea side home.... Her corpse showed signs of struggle & blunt force trauma and the jewelry she was wearing that night (rented from a big name jeweler) is gone.

The doctor (a con man w/ a shady Las Vegas past) was having a affair w/ two different patients; one pregnant w/ his child, the other an abused wife whose husband has recently come into a large sum of cash and has recently moved into the doctors gated community. 

Chasing the doctor are two very disgruntled men; a bad guy (ex-partner & con man) from Las Vegas and a patient who he promised to help quit gambling w/ his infamous method of treatment.

On top of all of this the doctor's wife was having an affair and it turns out, she wasn't his wife after all.....  There is no lack of suspects.<br/><br/>To make matters even more complicated, Dirk is of his feed and is upsetting Savannah a great deal by refusing to eat & leaving her abruptly.......

Meh....  The story line of the murder was fine (I never figured out who did it), but the involved characters were really detestable people and Savannah was bitchy throughout the entire book....
To Say Nothing of the Dog: Connie Willis

★ ★ 

This was a story about time travel, rebuilding the Coventry Cathedral w/ some butt ugly fancy name brass flower pot, saving of a cat from drowning, 3 romances, spiritualism, too much scientific & historical explanations and way too much hysterical blathering.

I just wanted the book to be over.....The part about "Three Men in a Boat on the Thames...... and a cat" was so awful and affected that I nearly quit before I got half way through.

Connie Willis had a great premise, but she had to prove to herself & readers how very artful and clever she is, with all the unnecessary minutia, side conversations, and interruptions which ruined the book for me.

Artists in Crime: Ngaio Marsh

What tripe, I was finally happy to get a book by Marsh (as I had heard so many good things about her writing) but if this is an example of her work, it is the last one I'll pick-up.

Inspector Alleyn is on a cruise of the South Pacific when attempting to escape the clutches of an amorous seductress he comes across Agatha Troy, a very well known artist & chats her up a bit.

However later (in the next chapter) there is a set of dreadfully written letters to & from Agatha Troy and a second set of equally dreadful letters to & from Alleyn and his "Mamma"

Then suddenly we are in England in the Agatha Troys studio w/ a group of unlikable student artists & a model w/ an attitude. The model is snarky, whiny & refuses to hold a pose, that is being used by one of the student artists for an illustration that will be used in a murder mystery....

And the model is found dead, impaled upon a dagger hidden in the folds of the drapery she reclined upon while posing for the illustration.....  

Oh who did it? Oh who cares?