PD James is a master writer! This book is full of well flesh-out characters behaving in believable ways in an excellent whodunit. The story will stand alone, but fans of the Adam Dalgleish stories will enjoy this adventure of the Scotland Yard inspector. James' complex characters add even more layers and nuances and we come to know AD and his team even better in "The Lighthouse." Danger, adventure, great characters, terrific writing-- who could ask for more?
My mom has a lovely antique scale, the kind that has two brass pans suspended from a cross piece. To weigh something you add weight to the lighter pan until the two hang perfectly level. The Secret Keeper reminds me of that scale. There is a lynch-pin event that is the center balancing point. Then on one side we have the characters and action in present day England and on the other the characters and action from the past, primarily London during the blitz of WWII . Kate Morton piles the characters and action first on one side, then the other, adding carefully with a steady hand until the reader is about to burst from the suspense of bringing it all into balance. As the present day characters find clues about the past, stories of the past are revealed with intriguing hints of further clues the present day characters should pursue. The past and present are brought into balance in a most satisfying way. Warning: try to reach the second half of the book as you come to a weekend without too many commitments-- you won't want to put it down!
Birds of a Feather is set in Britain between the World Wars. It is a cannily crafted mystery and superbly written. The characters are classics of British mystery: brilliant detective, engaging sidekick, enigmatic mentor, Scotland Yard inspector, wealthy patroness, missing heiress and her father who wants her found. Jacqueline Winspeare takes these "stock" characters and brings them to life by revealing multiple facets of personality or unexpected twists in motive. The heiress is not missing but running away. The father wants her back not from love, but duty. The engaging sidekick is a loving family man with a dangerous secret. The Scotland Yard inspector is a single father. And the brilliant detective is also a compassionate boss, a loving daughter, a person caught between the classes of British society. Add to these ingredients a plot that asks the question, "How do you live with yourself after ...", a plot fueled by regret, fury, making amends, revenge, love, duty, fear... Well it is just monumentally well done!
Craig Johnson's Walt Longmire series is a new favorite. I picked up, Cold Dish, the first of the series in May prior to a trip to Wyoming looking for some "local color" before I went. Since then all my credits have gone to Longmire books! Johnson wraps mystery, humor, great characters, sense of place great story and pacing into a wonderful series.
Maisie Dobbs is exceptionally well written. The depth of character development, complexity of plot and vivid writing puts Jacqueline Winspear in a class with my favorite British mystery writers: PD James, Dorothy Sayers and Ellis Peters. If you like Dalgleish, Wimsey and Cadfael, you will like Maisy Dobbs.
The author has a wonderful dramatic climax with with a terrific follow-through that completes the story without feeling like a "stuck-on" epilogue.
Barrington turns in a great performance! To my surprise there are several verses of song scattered about the story. Barrington handled the songs with a sweet strong voice that complemented the story-telling and was not distracting.
What a pleasure to find the first of a series of British mysteries to be such a complex and pleasant read! BBC should pick this series up for "Mystery"!
If you enjoyed Lewis, Tolkien, Bujold or George RR Martin you will not enjoy this book. Not one character has a shred of honor or decency. They are self-centered, depressed and depressing. One truth shared early on is that great power and unlimited resources given to people with no moral grounding does not make those people happy and is dangerous to everyone around them. I wish I had stopped when I got that point. I stubbornly persevered hoping it would get better. It doesn't. If reading about self-destructive, miserable, shallow characters is enjoyable for you by all means embark on this book.
The story of Louis Zamperini reminds us all that freedom is NOT free. It also reminds us that grace IS free. The making, testing, refining, winnowing and deliverance of an incredible man is told between those two truths. This is an amazing, riveting, well-written story. I am not usually a non-fiction reader but bought this on the strength of Laura Hillenbrand's Seabiscuit. There is not a disappointing paragraph in this book. The depth and breadth of the research is breath-taking. But do not take that to say that this book is a dry recitation of facts. I came away feeling that I had met Mr. Zamperini and his amazing compatriots. Do not miss this great book!
Under Heaven is tightly crafted and superbly written. The audio version is narrated with great skill by Simon Vance. He gives a lovely flavor of the pace and the poetry of Mr. Kay's story. If you enjoy a tale that will take you to another place and time you will enjoy this book. Mr. Kay's plot is like a large, complex and beautiful puzzle. As the last few pieces are placed the whole picture makes sense. Very, very satisfying!
VERY scary, which is saying something for Dean Koontz! Not his best, but a good read for the Halloween season.
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