Database Part 2

Dead Woman Walking by Sharon Bolton (2017)

Dead Woman WalkingA peaceful hot-air balloon ride turns deadly as the passengers notice a man killing a woman, and he notices them. 

Title: Dead Woman Walking
Author: Sharon Bolton
ISBN: 1250103444 (ISBN13: 9781250103444)

Genre: Thriller
Series? No

Publisher: Bantam Press
First Publication Date: April 20th, 2017 (368 pages)

Available Formats on Amazon:

  • e-book $12.99
  • Hardcover $15.78
  • Paperback $16.99
  • Mass Market Paperback $8.49
  • audiobook available through audible

 Why I chose this book: 

While looking at Thrillers, I noticed this was a new one, set in England and the premise intrigued me, so I picked it up. I am very happy I picked this one up. 

Author Interviews:

Lancashire Telegraph

Mystery Tribune

Significance:

There are twists here I do not think are done often, also the addition of the hot air balloon was a very different plot device. 

Awards:

  • N/A – only published this year

Synopsis:

Jessica Lane takes her sister, Isobel, on a hot air balloon trip for her 40th birthday. The air is crisp, the weather clear, and all is well, until they spot a woman running from a man carrying a shotgun. When the man hits she on the head with a huge rock, the hot air balloon passengers know they’ve stumbled upon something they shouldn’t have. There is no cellphone service, the balloon won’t move faster, and now the man is chasing them down on his bike. 

A crash landing leaves just one survivor. She has seen the murderer’s face and he has seen hers. Not knowing who to trust, she tries returning to where she feels safest, but even there may not be safe from this man. He is determined not to let his crime be known, so he cannot let this last person survive. The longer this chase goes on, the more they learn about the other and realize there may be more to this all than they knew. 

Evaluation:

I cannot remember the last time I cursed so much while reading a book. This book is frustrating, but in a good way that gets your heart racing and gives that desire to pull at your hair in those uncertain moments. 

First let me talk about the characters. This is hard to do, because most of them have died and I don’t want to give anything away 🙂 Our ‘survivor,’ who the police figure out is Jessica Lane, is wildly clever and crafty. As the reader learns more in the background chapters about Jessica’s life and her investigations, they (like me) may come to feel a sense of connection to Jessica — a desire for her to live! Patrick, is very difficult to like, but in that way I think it makes him an interesting antagonist. His family, the Faas, have an interesting flavor to them, although I wonder on the use of ‘gypsy’ and if this is yet another book which makes these types of people look bad. 

This book is more focused on the plot. While there are chapters focused on the past, to an experienced reader, I do not think this will be a problem. To an audiobook reader, it may be confusing at times, especially if it cannot be read all at once, since they might forget dates which become a bit more important towards the end of the book. When those end chapters say “Two days before” they mean the day of the crash! Anyhow, there is always something going on in this book and the short chapter lengths make the book feel more intense. 

There are a few twists to this book, some I saw coming, some I suspected, and a few I was so clueless about. I already plan on recommending this one to people.

Other Reviews: 

From Amazon: “Criminal, policeman, victim: Bolton plays the three sides of her triangle deftly against the middle, delving into their pasts and presents but hinting at a future readers can only guess at…guaranteed to provide its share of chills.”
— Kirkus Reviews

From Novelist: Bolton’s (Little Black Lies) latest stand-alone hits the ground running—so to speak—with a terrifying hot-air balloon crash. The passengers witness a murder from the air, and the perpetrator stalks the balloon from a motorbike; eventually, all but one of the passengers are dead . The survivor manages to evade the killer, but he knows she’s alive and sets out to find her. Interwoven with the tense hunt are numerous other threads: a family that runs a human trafficking ring from their heavily fortified compound; the police officer investigating the balloon crash, who has his own complicated connections to the case; and the backstory of the surviving woman  and her late sister. The pace is propulsive, the plotting is twisty, and readers will tear through the book as the tension ratchets up. That said, some readers may find that the reveal in the final pages defies credibility and wraps things up a bit too neatly. VERDICT This will be the book of the fall for Bolton’s fans and anyone who treasures the experience of staying up late reading just to find out what happens next. [See Prepub Alert, 3/23/17.]—Stephanie Klose, Library Journal –Stephanie Klose (Reviewed 08/01/2017) (Library Journal, vol 142, issue 13, p76)

Appeals: 

 

England setting, police aspect, current problems – illegal immigration, chase, multiple POV, flashbacks, fast-paced, suspense

I would recommend this to anyone interested in books with an English setting, or don’t mind it, along with a chase (villain chasing MC) while the mystery slowly unfolds. 

“Clues for the Future”

Multiple POV: Patrick, Jessica (Police), Isobel (Nun), police officer, organ harvesting from immigrants

Rating:

  • Quality: 5★
  • Popularity: 4★
    People may not know of this book, but I think I could push this one easily

Read-alikes

Before the FallCamille (Verhœven, #3)In the Woods (Dublin Murder Squad, #1)

  • Before the Fall by Noah Hawley
    Features survivors of a crash which has flashback chapters, written with an intensifying pace. 
  • Camille by Pierre Lemaitre
    These are both suspenseful books which feature survival and witnesses
  • In the Woods by Tana French
    Dark and suspenseful books with gripping writing which will keep readers hooked.

Booktalking Ideas: 

This may be a difficult book to book talk if focused on characters, because of the twists, but I think if focused on events and the plot, people may become hooked. Really going into detail about what is going on may get people’s blood pumping. 

I think reading those few pages when Jessica notices the man and he notices them after hurting the girl and then him shooting the pilot would be great inclusions. It doesn’t give anything away, but that gut-wrenching feeling will be conveyed. 

“Jessica brought her phone up and took his picture again. A clear shot this time. Unfortunately, he had the same.”

Discussion Questions:

  1. Did you think it was fair of the author to keep calling Isobel Jessica? Was it okay since that is what the police were calling her? 
  2. What did you think about the scene with Neil? Was that needed? Did it add anything to the story? 
  3. Organ donors are always in demand and all countries have different systems. Do you think it is fair that in Britain a family can dismiss a person’s choice to donate their organs? What do you think of America’s system? Should we allow people to sell their organs? 
  4. There are many times Patrick almost finds Jessica/Isobel. Do you think this helped build the suspense or was it unbelievable? 
  5. What do you think of the ending? Was it wrapped up too nicely? Is there anything you would have changed? 
Database Part 1

The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith

The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency  (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, #1)Precious Ramotswe opens up her own business to become the first lady detective in Botswana, and cases roll in quickly.

Title: The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency
Author: Alexander McCall Smith
ISBN: 1400034779 (ISBN13: 9781400034772)

Genre: Cozy Mystery
Series? Yes

Publisher: Anchor
First Publication Date: 1998 (235 pages)

Available Formats on Amazon:

  • e-book $4.99
  • hardcover $22.09
  • paperback $8.48 (used for a penny)
  • audiobook available through audible

Why I chose this book: 

We had to read this book for class, but it is also one I have seen mentioned in Goodread’s groups, so I wanted to give it a try.

Author Interviews:

Miami Herald

Significance:

This is a book set in a foreign country, Botswana, and that makes it quite unique here in the states, especially since most books available here are set in America, Britain, or an alternate universe.

Awards: 

Penzler Pick (July 2001)

Today Show Book Club selection (8)

The List 100 Best Scottish Books

Book Sense Book of the Year Honor Book (2003.1|Paperback Honor Book, 2003)

Martin Beck Award (2004)

Whitcoulls top 100, 2008 (69)

Rough Guide to Crime Fiction (52)

World Book Night selection (2013)

 
Synopsis: 
 
Precious Ramotswe’s father dies leaving her with his healthy cattle, but beforehand tells her to sell it all and set herself up in a business. She takes his words to heart and does just that, although perhaps not creating the business he would expect. No, Ramotswe has decided to come a detective, the first lady detective in her country. She knows drumming up business and keeping it running will be a hard job, but she is ready for it.
 

Just shortly after opening the business, Mma. Ramotswe receives her first customer, goes on the radio, and even has a spot in the newspaper. She may still be in the red, not making enough to cover the bills, but people are coming in and she is solving problems. Most are common ones she can deal with simply enough, mostly catching cheating husbands or the like, but some turn out to be sad for her, such as a missing son that no one is looking for.

Evaluation: 

This book was incredibly boring for me. Had I not had to read this for class, I wouldn’t have finished it. As it was, I skipped paragraphs and sometimes even pages in order to get through it. The biggest problem is that I like action and an over-arching story and even adventure or something, while this is more of a character-driven story.

Now, one of my biggest problems is when the time within the book drastically changes, with almost no warning, or no reason. This mechanism to tell the reader about a character’s past or about the consequences of actions, is rather annoying, especially when one is trying to keep track of a story. A book in a series told over time, should be linear, in my opinion. Jumping ahead one year into the future tells me we are now a year into the future, but immediately jumping back to ‘the present’ was annoying. There are also whole chapters on the scenery or other side characters who may give background on Mma. Ramotswe’s character.
So, 20% into the book I was ready to put it down, but I do see why people may enjoy this story.

For starters, for people who enjoy light, quick stories this is perfect. For the most part, Mma. Ramotswe takes a case and wraps in up within a chapter, so this can be read in those little moments of free time. The focus is also very much on the characters, so if people enjoy that sort of thing, then they will feel a deeper connection with the book. It is a charming little book that is not meant to hook people, but let them slowly sink in to.

Other Reviews from Novelist: 

Publishers Weekly:The  African-born author of more than 50 books, from children’s stories (The  Perfect Hamburger) to scholarly works (Forensic Aspects of Sleep), turns his talents to detection in this artful, pleasing novel about Mma (aka Precious) Ramotswe, Botswana’s one  and only lady  private detective. A series of vignettes linked to the  establishment and growth of Mma Ramotswe’s “No . 1 Ladies  Detective Agency” serve not only to entertain but to explore conditions in Botswana in a way that is both penetrating and light thanks to Smith’s deft touch. Mma Ramotswe’s cases come slowly and hesitantly at first: women who suspect their husbands are cheating on them; a father worried that his daughter is sneaking off to see a boy; a missing child who may have been killed by witchdoctors to make medicine; a doctor who sometimes seems highly competent and sometimes seems to know almost nothing about medicine. The  desultory pace is fine, since she has only a detective manual, the  frequently cited example of Agatha Christie and her instincts to guide her. Mma Ramotswe’s love of Africa, her wisdom and humor, shine through these pages as she shines her own light on the  problems that vex her clients. Images of this large woman driving her tiny white van or sharing a cup of bush tea with a friend or client while working a case linger pleasantly. General audiences will welcome this little gem of a book just as much if not more than mystery readers. (Aug. 27) — Staff (Reviewed July 29, 2002) (Publishers Weekly, vol 249, issue 30, p57)

Kirkus:Botswana’s only female detective, Precious Ramotswe—-whose investigation of whether the  father who’s inconveniently turned up on the  doorstep of Happy Bapetsi, who’s been getting along fine without him, is really her father, edges her toward considerably darker waters-—isn’t just ready to confront everything from theft to kidnapping to murder: she’s ready for prime time. The  first American publication of this 1999 debut has been preceded by two special Booker citations and two sequels, Tears of the  Giraffe (2000) and Morality for Beautiful Girls (2001), both forthcoming in the  series. (Kirkus Reviews, June 1 , 2001)

Appeals:

cozy mysteries, gentle reads, Africa setting, spirited characters, heartwarming, upbeat

Perfect for someone looking for a quick, light read, or wanting a setting outside of the US.

“Clues for the Future” 

Mma. Precious Ramotswe, Africa –Botswana, lady detective agency, cozy, quick solves, witch-doctors

Rating:

  • Quality: 4.5★
    No problems with editing, but unneeded chapters
  • Popularity: 5★
    Around for years and still being read

Read-alikes: 

A Guide to the Birds of East Africa (Mr Malik #1)The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector ChopraA Carrion Death (Detective Kubu, #1)The Marriage Bureau for Rich People

  • A Guide to the Birds of East Africa by Nicholas Drayson
    Another book set in Africa which is light-hearted, although a romance.
  • The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra by Vaseem Khan
    Another unusual setting with a charming mystery and a spirited protagonist.
  • A Carrion Death by Michael Stanley
    A mystery set in Africa, although a bit more intense.
  • The Marriage Bureau for Rich People by Farahad Zama
    Warm tone and enjoyable characters who muddle in other people’s business, but more women’s fiction and no mystery.

Booktalking Ideas:

No doubt about it, this booktalk would need to focus on the characters, mainly Mma. Ramotswe. Perhaps I would talk some of her father and her father’s cousin’s experience with her and how smart she is as a child. This would give her a background and help people warm up to her.

Then, I might read a revised scene of her first ‘case’ when she found the fraud in her cousin’s husband’s accounts. This would show how she came to want to be a detective and how she has the knack for it.

I may start summing it up with the types of cases she receives, ending with the missing son and how it tugs at her heart, making her question why she is in this business when she cannot help everyone, “…or can she?”

Discussion Questions

  1. Much of this book is spent explaining the protagonist’s past. Did reading about her father and her time as a child, endear her more to you? Do you think it was needed?
  2. Many of the cases Mma. Ramotswe solves in this book seem to go quite quickly and very smoothly. Did you enjoy these kinds of cases? Does it speak to a simpler time even if the town is hinted at being quite crime-ridden?
  3. What do you think about how most of the men in this book are presented as cheaters or abusers?
  4. Gender roles are very clearly shown in this book. While this book was written in 1995, it was also written by a male. Do you think the gender roles are stated as such because of the year? the author? the location? or perhaps because of Mma. Ramotswe’s gumption it should be seen more in a feminist light?
  5. At what point do you think Mma. Ramotswe decided that she would be okay getting married, when most of the book she said she was done with husbands?
Database Part 1

Gangsta by Kohske (2014)

ギャングスタ 1 [Gyangusuta 1] (Gangsta., #1) Nic and Worick are ‘Handymen’ dealing with dirty jobs, but this next job, it might be too dangerous
even for them.

Title: Gangsta, Vol. 1
Author: コースケ (Kohske)
ISBN: 4107716252 (ISBN13: 9784107716255)

Genre: Graphic Novel, Thriller, Science Fiction
Series? Yes

Publisher: Viz Media LLC (American publisher)
First American Publication Date: February 18th, 2014 (192 pages)

Available Formats on Amazon:

  • paperback $9.45

Why I chose this book: 

I have seen a few episodes of the anime and I own the first book, although in the original Japanese. I picked it for this assignment, because I wanted to add a manga to it and this one is very clearly an adult one.

Author Interviews:

English Q&A over ask.fm with fans

*I couldn’t find anything else in English…

Significance:

This is a pretty brutal manga, not that that is significant, but it was still made into an anime which airred in Japan and also an American company (possibly more foreign countries). The manga is also published in many countries.
It features a deaf character, which is rare for manga, as well as characters with PTSD. The fact that the main characters are not teenagers and that this is so violent, is pretty unique.

Awards: N/A

Synopsis: 

Nic and Worick are an unlikely pair, but they where brought together and haven’t left each other’s side yet. They run a business together as ‘Handymen’ who take care of the dirty jobs in their town, whether it be sex or murder. In this crime polluted town, there isn’t much they haven’t seen or experienced, so it is hard to shock them. What may be a challenge or kill normal people, barely makes Nic break a sweat. So, when they receive a request from a cop they know, they are not too concerned.

The job? Take care of the new muscle in town that is threatening the gang hierarchy. Sounds simple enough, for these men, but they seem to have adopted a hooker after killing her pimp, gangsters are targeting the one non-discriminating hospital, and dangerous people keep popping up with super strength and speed, much like Nic. What happened to Nic and Worick to make them the way they are and will they be able to drive this enemy from their town?

Evaluation: 

What an explosively amazing book! This book is really gritty and dirty, which is even shown with the art style. The town almost seems like a playground for crime, with prostitutes working in alley ways, drugs being passed around normally, and police trying to keep the peace with the gangs in town. Our main characters, are not the traditional heroes who fight evil, but they work to maintain peace and for a price, becoming anti-heroes.

gangsta vol. 1 page

The characters are so awesome. You can tell that there are secrets to be revealed and growth to happen, but it will take more time than one volume can truly capture. They aren’t the squeaky clean characters many manga feature, but are rugged, flawed, and don’t blink at the thought of committing crimes (prostitution, murder, stealing), but there is a reason for them to live like this and it is being slowly shown.

I mentioned the art briefly, but let me explain more about it. The art is very clean cut with marks in the background to show the dirt (notice the ” on the walls in the picture to the right). There is definitely a mature look, but messy looking when there are flashbacks of horrid deeds. This is not pretty or beautiful art, but it has a charm to it.
Also, the fact that the sign language is put into black text boxes is a very cool distinction.

This does feel like a first novel though, meaning that it is the setting and background for the upcoming huge story. It is not as obvious as some novels, but the feeling is still there. Also, this book is quite mature, so I would recommend it to older teens and adults because of the nature of the book.

Other Reviews: 

From Novelist:

In this crime manga, familiar elements show promise that isn’t realized. Worick is a one-eyed gigolo with a traumatic past. Nic is deaf, swings a samurai sword, and has some superpowers. He’s a “tag,” wearing a dog tag that serves the neighborhood as a symbol to beware. Together, they’re the “handymen,” killers for rent from corrupt cops and residents of a bad neighborhood, alike. There mystery here seems artificial, with many open questions presumably left for future volumes, including questions about what Nic’s powers are and why he has them. Early on, the duo rescues Alex, a prostitute who becomes their secretary and an agent for the reader’s curiosity about Worick and Nic. Although the lack of substantial content is frustrating, the art’s nicely attitude driven and the guys are attractive in their suits and well-done manga hair. Much of the narrative revolves around violence and abusive sex, but it’s all shown with flair and distinctive images from Kohske, a relatively new manga-ka who began drawing in 2010. Perhaps this is fresher for the native Japanese audience, but U.S. readers can see this kind of thing weekly on TV with more satisfying plot structure. (Feb.) –Staff (Reviewed January 20, 2014) (Publishers Weekly, vol 261, issue 03, p)

Otaku USA Magazine

Appeal:

gritty, crude, illustrations, violent tone, deaf men, gigolos, manga

I do think this is a comic that can appeal to people who don’t read manga, but probably would stick more to those who at least read comics.

“Clues for the Future”

Nic & Worick (gigolo), Alex (prostitute), Human experiments, Handymen for hire, gang wars

Rating:

  • Quality: 5★
    Absolutely amazing
  • Popularity: 4★
    Many people may enjoy this.

Read-alikes: 

Deadman Wonderland, Volume 1 (Deadman Wonderland, #1)Tokyo Ghoul, tome 1 (Tokyo Ghoul, #1)Berserk, Vol. 1 (Berserk, #1)Cowboy Bebop, Vol. 1

  • Deadman Wonderland by Jinsei Kataoka
    This series also has gritty writing, and violent tone and illustrations
  • Tokyo Ghoul by Sui Ishida
    This features college students and older in a blood, cruel world, much like Gangsta.
  • Beserk by Kentaro Miura
    This is also a violent manga with a violent tone and gritty illustrations
  • Cowboy Bebop by Yutaka Nanten
    This manga has a gritty and mature writing style, but lighter on the violence.

Booktalking Ideas: 

This is a booktalk I would save for adults, just to be safe and not worry about the book getting censored. There are very mature themes in this book, so I would also feel the need to state that upfront.

One way to go about this book would be to showcase the plot, the action, and the fighting. Start from a bland position of calling them handymen working dirty jobs, then explain their first job in the book is to ‘take care’ Barry the pimp and his gang and how they decide not to kill Alex, the prostitute, instead taking her into to work for them as a secretary. I’d end this with an exciting bang, with Nina asking them for help since the hospital is being threatened and how when Nic seeing that a gangster is wearing dog tags like his, he starts to get excited.

Another way would be to focus on the characters themselves and get people to like them, if not connect with them. Worick, the fun-loving gigolo, Nic, the samurai sword wielding fighter, and Alex, the ex-prostitute. Explain how they are trying to survive in a cruel dystopian world and this is how they are doing it, although violently.

Discussion Questions: 

  1. This is definitely a cruel and horrible world to live in. Although we know little about the town and even less about the world, what are your ideas so far? Do you think it was a war that brought this on? Perhaps a government created drug?
  2. Nic and Worick are not the traditional good guys. They do murder and steal, regularly. Did this keep you from enjoying the book or the characters?
  3. In the fight in front of the hospital, the man fighting Nic shows that his dog tag says B/2 while Nic then smiles while showing his is engraved with A/0. While the story has hinted a bit about what these things mean, what are your ideas?
  4. What is your opinion on the artwork? Do you think it is too messy or too neat for this kind of manga?
Database Part 1

A Share in Death by Deborah Crombie (1993) *Audiobook

A Share in Death (Duncan Kincaid & Gemma James, #1)A rare relaxing holiday for Superintendent Duncan Kincaid ends abruptly with the discovery of a dead body.

Title: A Share in Death
Author: Deborah Crombie, Michael Deehy (narrator)
ISBN: 0792741331 (ISBN13: 9780792741336)

Genre: Traditional Mystery
Series? Yes

Publisher: Audiogo
First Publication Date: February 17th, 1993 (243 pages)

Available Formats on Amazon:

  • e-book $10.99
  • Hardcover $2.01
  • Paperback $2.65 – $6.97
  • audiobook available through audible

Why I chose this book: 

I really enjoy mysteries, but I haven’t listened to any recently, nor have a read a traditional mystery in quite some time. This one was available at the library so I wanted to give it a try.

Author Interviews:

The Lit Pub

Publisher’s Weekly

Pan Mcmillan – video

Significance:

N/A — not a new concept or unique way of having things done.

Awards:

  • Agatha Award Nominee (1993)
  • Macavity Award Nominee (1993)

Synopsis:

When Duncan Kincaid’s brother cannot use his time share, Duncan goes instead, finally getting a much needed vacation. The country air and time away from crime and murder are just what Kincaid needs. Unfortunately, the vacation is already off to a bad start when he walks in to the inn to hear a heated argument. He decides to hide his identity, so people will not treat him differently.

But, when a new acquaintance ends up dead in the hot tub, and someone in the house must be the killer, Kincaid cannot hide who he is. Even with the local police being uncooperative, Duncan’s sense of duty will not allow him to continue taking it easy. His suspicions and insight with the fellow people using their time shares may allow him to dig deep and discover the killer, or it may put him in the killer’s sights.

Evaluation: 

I started this book a bit uneasily and a bit confused since the book throws the reader into the mix, with a police officer going on vacation. The tone suggests in a way that we should know who Duncan Kincaid is, but fear not, everything is explained. Once the murder was committed, right when I knew it would be, I was hooked into the story, trying to figure out the murder right along side Duncan Kincaid. This book brings to mind those classic mystery books where you have all the suspects, but the detective must deduce who the killer is, giving this book a sense of nostalgia while still being a new book. Really, I felt the need to sink into a comfy chair and listen to the book.

I think the audiobook helped bring me into the book. The narrator did a wonderful job and gave many of the characters even slightly different voices. There was also a few different accents thrown in correctly which was a nice surprise. Duncan was truly brought to life through this narrator. I cannot comment on speed, I think for a normal person perhaps it was a good speed, since I usually listen to my books at a higher speed.

The plot went along steadily, with nothing I would call fluff included. Everything seemed quite important. Well, everything except Kincaid and his feelings towards some of the women… but I’ll leave that to my fellow readers to decide on. I honestly did not guess the suspect, which can either be attributed to the great writing, an unfair twist, or me missing a part when I was distracted from the audiobook. This is a series I will be continuing and one I’ll recommend to other people.

Other Reviews: 

From Novelist:
This talented American debuts with an energetic “British” mystery. When New Scotland Yard detective Duncan Kincaid finally takes a  well-deserved vacation at a  Yorkshire time-share  resort, he becomes involved in  the murder of an employee there. He enlists the aid of his London partner, Sergeant Gemma James, and the two gather enough material to weed through the resident/suspect young politician, spinster sister, adulterous lovers, etc. Great continuity, clever plotting, and hidden agendas all contribute to a  successful novel.  –Library Journal

Publisher’s Weekly

Appeals:

Leisurely paced, intricate plot, suspenseful, London, police procedural

This is one for those classic mystery lovers or people who like reading British police novels.

“Clues for the Future”

murder @ an inn, police officer on holiday, suspects known

Rating:

  • Quality: 5★
    I loved this.
  • Popularity: 4★
    This shouldn’t be hard to sell to people.

Read-alikes:

The Killings at Badger's Drift (Chief Inspector Barnaby #1)Murder on the Orient Express (Hercule Poirot, #10)A Great Deliverance (Inspector Lynley, #1)The Merchant's House (Wesley Peterson #1)

  • The Killings at Badger’s Drift by Caroline Graham
    While I haven’t read this book yet, I’ve been watching the TV show on Netflix and the feel is quite similar. Also, both are set in England.
  • Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
    Classic murder mysteries with a set suspect pool, told at a leisurely pace.
  • A Great Delieverance by Elizabeth George
    A police procedural mystery which is suspenseful and set at a leisurely pace.
  • The Merchant’s House by Kate Ellis
    A police procedural mystery which is suspenseful and set at a leisurely pace, but does focus more on the characters.

Booktalking Ideas: 

For this book the characters can be focused on. Mostly, I’d start with Duncan Kincaid and his need for a vacation and how he is an amazing cop. Then, let the murder drop and how it was done. Next, it would be time to point out the suspects and describe them.

Another way to go about this is focusing on the plot, since that is the focus of the book. Start with the murder, fill in the background, and start the speculation of the suspect. End with the second murder and the mounting confusion.

Discussion Questions: 

  1. Do you think the author played fair, i.e. gave the reader a fair chance at guessing the suspect?
  2. Do you think Duncan should have been honest about his profession from the start?
  3. There are many times Duncan would encounter a woman and think about having a relationship with them, or his attraction to them, do you think this added to the story or told us more about his character?
  4. Who did think the killer was?
  5. This series is he Duncan Kincaid & Gemma James series, yet there were not many Gemma scenes. Possibly there will be more in the future, what do you think about this? Did you prefer mostly only reading Duncan’s POV? Do you think Gemma can add to the stories?
Database Part 1

Her Royal Spyness by Rhys Bowen (2007)

Her Royal Spyness (Her Royal Spyness Mysteries, #1) Georgie, cousin to the Queen, is flat broke. She escapes to London for freedom only to wind-up with a dead man in her bathtub.

Title: Her Royal Spyness
Author: Rhys Bowen
ISBN: 0425215679 (ISBN13: 9780425215678)

Genre:  Historical cozy mystery
Series? Yes; On-going

Publisher: Berkley Hardcover
First Publication Date: July 3rd, 2007 (336 pages)

Available Formats

  • e-book $7.99
  • Hardcover $3.99
  • Paperback $2.97 – $7.99
  • Audiobook through Audible

Why I chose this book: 

I had never read a historical mystery before and thought I should rectify that. This one popped out because it appeared to be humorous and full of shenanigans.

Author Interviews:

All About Romance
Poisoned Pen Press

Significance:

Awards:

Agatha Award Nominee (Novel, 2007)
Dilys Award nominee (2008)
Macavity Award Nominee (Historical Mystery, 2008)

This book is a historical cozy mystery, so it is unique in the way it tries to stay accurate while also giving us a fiction.

Synopsis:

In 1932, Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie, 34th in line for the throne and cousin to the Queen, is flat broke. Her brother, Binky, has control of their estate in Scotland and their residence in London and her sister-in-law, Fig, is ready for Georgie to be gone. In her mid-20s, that means marriage.

Overhearing the name of the man, Prince Stiegfriend (aka Fishface), who will be potentially proposing to her, Georgie escapes to London to find her own way. This includes, cooking and cleaning for herself, and learning to dress herself. She also learns a few other tasks, if only to make her life more comfortable as she learns how to survive on her own and search for a job while hiding her noble-birth. Georgie finds a friend and fellow ‘broke noble’ in Darcy O’Mara who gives her tricks and tips, making life easier.

Things are finally starting to look up for Georgie, until Binky visits London and a dead man ends up in their bathtub. Georgie must solve the murder before the police put her brother or her in prison!

Evaluation: 

This book is cute, fun, and quick to read. While the story isn’t gripping in its intensity, the flow of the story and the humor help keep the reader engaged. While it does take a while for the mystery to truly begin, the build up was believable and not at all annoying. The humor produced a few small chuckles from me, but not enough for me to recommend this to someone wanting a funny book.

The characters were all quite defined and easily recognizable. There were a few times I confused some characters, but I blame that on my own memory and the spacing between their appearances. I think Georgie is a lovable character and hard-working. She may not be the easiest character to relate to, but I feel her predicament and her solution will gain her dedicated readers.

The setting was exquisite. It really felt the research was done for this book and it allows the readers to fall easily into the setting and perhaps learn more about the time period. The choice of time period allowed the characters some flexibility with how they act and gave them more freedom to move, which was fun to read about.

I will definitely be continuing this series at a later date.

Other Reviews: 

Library Journal (From Novelist)- Bowen, author of the successful “Molly Murphy” and “Constable Evans” series, turns her  attention to 1930s London and Lady Georgiana, great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria and 34th in line to the English throne. Despite their high-class breeding, the Rannoch family is quite broke, and Georgie must make ends meet in London with no money and no staff to take care of her  needs. Then someone murders the odious Frenchman who had planned to seize the Rannochs’ Scottish estate. Because Lady Georgiana asks questions to save her  brother, who is the prime suspect, the killer’s attention turns to her . Delightfully naïve, charming, and quite smart, Georgie is a breath of fresh air. Don’t miss this delightful cozy series launch. Bowen lives in Northern California. [See Prepub Mystery, LJ 3/1/07.] –Jo Ann Vicarel (Reviewed July 15, 2007) (Library Journal, vol 132, issue 12, p59)

Publisher’s Weekly

Appeals: 

cozy; 1930s; nobility; focus on characters; historical accuracy

This is one for people who want something simple and light-hearted. I wouldn’t recommend this one to hardcore history buffs, but to people who still want to read about a different time period, perhaps not too old though, this one would work well.

“Clues for the Future”

1930s mystery; mystery of a dead man in the tub; attempts on her life hidden as clumsy; opens the house up: job; father noble, mother an actress

Rating:

  • Quality: 4★
    A few moments I thought could have been improved
  • Popularity: 4★
    With 11 books in the series so far, I’d say this is a quite popular series

Read-alikes: 

Sweet Poison (Lord Edward Corinth and Verity Browne, #1)Gin & Daggers (Murder, She Wrote, #1)Murder UndergroundAnything Goes (Grace & Favor, #1)

  • Sweet Poison by David Roberts
    Historical fictions which feature a murder and noble characters
  • Gin & Daggers by Jessica Fletcher and Donald Bain
    Cozy mysteries with a tone of ‘strong sense of place’ and are considered gentle reads. This is for the person who doesn’t care about the historical part of the book.
  • Murder Underground by Mavis Dorel May
    Cozy historical fictions set in 1930s London where no one likes the dead person
  • Anything Goes by Jill Churchill
    Cozy and gentle historical mysteries set in the 1930s with an engaging writing style.

Booktalking Ideas:

This is a book where you can start by briefly setting the setting. Have the audience understand the time period, then bring up Georgie, who she is, then end with “and she’s penniless.”

Then describe her plight and her determination to survive on her own. I’d mention Darcy O’Mara and how they crash a wedding, adding ‘this may not be the way Georgie wanted to survive, but one needs to eat more than baked beans and eggs to survive!’

Lastly, I’d bring up the sudden murder and how it throws a cog in Georgie’s plans and could possibly destroy her life!

Discussion Questions: 

  1. What would you have done in Georgie’s position?
  2. Who did you suspect as the murderer?
  3. Do you think the way Darcy O’Mara is living is acceptable? Do you think he should find employment even if it means giving up his title?
  4. What do you think Georgie will do next?

 

Database Part 1

Watchmen (1986) by Alan Moore

Watchmen

Masked heroes, past and present, must deal with their own personal faults and regrets while trying to live in a world on the verge of WWIII.

Title: Watchmen
Author: Alan Moore (writer), Dave Gibbons (illustrator/letterer), John Higgins (colorist)

ISBN: 0930289234 (ISBN13: 9780930289232)

Genre: Graphic Novel, Fantasy, Thriller
Series: No (issues consolidated into this book)

Publisher: DC Comics
First Publication Date: 1986 (416 pages)

Formats available on Amazon: 

  • e-book $9.99
  • Hardcover $22.59
  • Paperback $17.99
  • Comics: $38.99

Why I chose this book:

I have heard good things about this graphic novel and when talking about adult graphic novels, it is one that definitely comes up in the conversation.

Author Interviews:

GIANT Magazine
Slate: Who Watches the Watchmen’s Watchers?
The Guardian: Alan Moore Confirms he is Retiring From Comic Books

Significance:

This book has won many awards, was made into a movie, and is a big name in graphic novels, even studied on college campuses.

Award Winners
•Eisner Awards: Best Graphic Album – New

•Harvey Awards: Best Graphic Album – Original
•Locus Awards: Best Nonfiction/Related/Reference Book
•YALSA Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults: Book to Movie: Ripped From the Pages (2015)

Synopsis: 

Masked heros, vigilantes, or superheros — however you want to call them, they’ve been banned from protecting the streets. Some people are for this citing these vigilantes as dangerous, while others found them to be more effective at cleaning up crime than the police. The only heroes left are the ones who work for the government and the ones who still fight crime while running from the cops.

During this time, The Comedian, a masked hero working for the government is thrown out the window, or as the police think: he had an accident. Rorschach, the one vigilante still working the streets, is on the case looking for someone who is killing masked heroes, even though no one else believes him or are too buried under their own problems to be any help. Even Nite Owl, Rorschach’s prior partner, are not taking Rorschach’s claims series

In a world on the verge of WWIII these ‘heroes’ may be the last defense the world has against destruction, but is that really what they want?

Evaluation:

This is not a book for someone looking for a casual or fun read. This is a book that will make you think and reconsider your opinions at every turn. For a graphic novel, there is huge walls of text in the speech bubbles and multiple story lines going on at once, between the different heroes, a comic book hero (yes within a comic book), and the regular people on the street. The text make be difficult for older readers or people with sight problems to read unless an e-book version will enlarge the pictures.

All of the story lines and points of view make the story hard to follow along with, so the reader has to be dedicated to the novel and not let their attention wander. The plot is set up for the thinkers to solve a mystery while also pondering the state of the world in this comic and how it may reflect the world we live in. So, this is a great graphic novel to teach with.

The art is in the old superhero style, but with muted and dull colors. These aren’t colors to draw in reluctant readers, but they do set the tone for the bleak setting. There are also usually nine panels per page, which makes the pictures smaller, yet not lacking in detail. There is massive amounts on each page within these small panels, some without text too, so readers much be prepared to pay attention. At the end of each chapter, or issue, there are special articles, chapters from made up books, or other things which provide background information about what is going or characters.

The characters are all dynamic in their own way with no one being completely good or completely bad and having their own moral codes.

Personally, I started out liking the story and curious about where things were going, but after 20% in I was bored with no idea of the point of the story. I found the text to be long-winded and at times annoying. The characters were hard to relate to since everyone seemed quite extreme in their morals or what they thought in the good v. bad debate.

Other Reviews:

Common Sense Media

IGN

Appeal:

morals debate; vivid characters; dystopian

This will be a good book for professors to give students in order to think about good and bad or right and wrong. This also one for those heavy thinkers who want something deep and intricate, where they can find something new in it each time they read it.

“Clues for the Future”

masked heroes; potential WWIII in the 80s; finding a common enemy to unite against; no entirely good or bad people (debatable); vigilantes fighting one of their own.

Rating: 

  • Quality: 4★
    Dragged on in a few places and was confusing.
  • Popularity: 4★
    Popular within certain circles (graphic novels, superheros, college students/professors) and people who have seen and enjoyed the movie

Read-alikes:

C.O.W.L. (COWL)A Game of Thrones: The Graphic Novel, Vol. 1Gotham Central, Book One: In the Line of DutyThe Judas CoinThe Coldest Winter

  • C.O.W.L Vol. 1 by Kyle Higgins
    These books have detailed art styles and a large cast of realistically flawed characters.
  • A Game of Thrones: The Graphic Novel by Daniel Abraham
    These are extremely detailed books which bring up questions of right and wrong, featuring a large cast of flawed characters.
  • Gotham Central Book 1: In the Line of Duty by Ed Brubaker
    These books are both bleak, suspenseful and deal with criminals and heros
  • The Judas Coin by Walter Simonson
    Both bleak and suspenseful books that deal with flawed heros
  • The Coldest Winter by Anthony Johnston
    Bleak atmospheres revolving around a war with the Russians.

Booktalk Ideas: 

  • “We are all just puppets, Laurie. I am just a puppet who can see the strings.”
  • How would the world be different if masked vigilantes ran the streets and dispensed their own justice on villains? How would the world have changed if a man became a super being due to an accident in a nuclear lab?
  • The end is near, but which way will end us first?

Discussion Questions: 

  1. Do you agree or disagree with Adrian Veidt (Ozymandias) and his actions?
  2. Why do you think the comic about the shipwrecked sailor was included?
  3. Is there a right or wrong person in this comic? Why? If yes, who?
  4. What do you think about The Comedian and Silk Spectre? Do you think she should have reported him? Would it have changed events if she had?
  5. What would your vigilante name be?

 

 

Database Part 1

Angels Burning by Tawni O’Dell (2016)

Angels Burning

A murdered girl in a small town, a missing brother, and the man Dove set up for murder is back to haunt her. 

Title: Angels Burning
Author: Tawni O’Dell 
ISBN: 1501132547 (ISBN13: 9781501132544)

Genre: Mystery/Thriller, Psychological Suspense
Series? No

Publisher: Gallery Books
First Publication Date: January 5th, 2016 (279 pages)

Available Formats on Amazon:

  • e-book $11.99
  • Hardcover $4.30
  • Paperback $7.14
  • Audiobook through Audible

Why I chose this book: 

I wanted to expand my thriller and suspense repertoire and I also wanted to read a book with an older protagonist since most books I read have a main character within the range of 16-30ish years old.

Author Interviews: 

My Bookish Ways

Significance: 

Written by an author whose book was featured on Oprah’s book club.

Synopsis:

Dove Carnahan is the chief of police is the small town she’s lived in for 50 years. She does right by her community, doing all she can to help them. Underneath her helpful and clever exterior, Cove hides a dark and life-altering secret she’s kept since she was 16.

When a teenage girl is found beaten, burned, and dead in a fiery sinkhole, the small town is rocked. Dove must solve the worst murder in the history of the town, since her own mother’s murder. Along with the man put away for murdering her mother all those years ago now finally free and claiming his innocence, Dove can’t help but draw parallels between the trauma dealt to the families in both crimes.

While trying to keep her secret hidden, deal with her own family drama, and help a family that doesn’t seem to want her help, Dove must find a way to find the murderer and bring justice to the dead.

Review:

Trigger Warning: child abuse, pedophilia, suicide

Dove Carnahan is a 50 year old female police chief with only six officers under her command. The young and mostly mentioned duo are 23 years old, only two years younger than myself, so that was definitely an interesting aspect for me. Hearing someone around my age being called young and when it got boring one summer “used a magnifying glass to burn ants” was a bit weird. Firstly because I don’t feel young, and secondly because sometimes they seemed to be written younger than they were. I just really needed to get that out there.

This book really dived deep into the life of Dove’s family and the Truly family. The mystery is there, but even though Dove is the chief of police, she isn’t focused on the police procedure. She actually does more leg work than I thought a police chief would do, from all the episodes I’ve seen of Law & Order. Now, this isn’t all to say the book is not interesting, because OH, it is. There are depths to characters and no one is really a stereotypical ‘good person’ everyone has multiple sides of them and even bad or dangerous people have decent sides to them. I thought the writing and characterization was done extremely well.

I did have a problem with Dove as a character, who seemed a bit all over the place to me. Some of her actions did not make sense to me or her responses to people would blow me away with her rudeness. She is not a bad cop, but at the same time in the real world her badge would have been taken away. Her thoughts of not being the other woman while sleeping with a married man made me roll my eyes. So, not liking the main character did make this a bit aggravating to read.

All in all it was an entertaining book, a great story with an emotional ending, and gave me some food for thought.

Other Reviews:

Publisher’s Weekly

Kirkus Reviews

Appeal: 

Intricate-plot, no clear line of good and bad people, small town, police, compelling

This is for people who care more about the drama, the people, the who and the why of a crime, and don’t mind officers not following the rules. This is not for the faint of heart — not because of the violence or grisly nature of the main crime, but because of everything else going on in the book. Those who want some food for thought or a more complex read should check this one out.

“Clues for the future”

murder family for family, change your fate, what is love?, no entirely good or bad people, beauty and age is important and is difference between sexes, older protag.

Rating:

  • Quality: 4★
    A few moments I thought could have been improved
  • Popularity: 3★
    Not many reviews on Goodreads or Amazon, but pushed to the right person, it could be a great match.

Readalikes:

All the Missing GirlsThe Stranger You Seek (Keye Street #1)Walking the Perfect SquareEvery Last SecretDéjà Dead (Temperance Brennan, #1)

  • All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda is psychologically thrilling with that overarching threat of danger and suspense. There is a crime both past and present that need to be solved.
  • The Stranger You Seek by Amanda Kyle Williams has a strong female investigator who is affected by a past personal murder that influences the current case.
  • Walking the Perfect Square by Reed Farrell Coleman features a crime in the past that needs to be solved. It becomes more complex as the story enfolds, drawing the reader in.
  • Every Last Secret by Linda Rodriguez has a small town vibe with a strong female cop with family problems.
  • Deja Dead by Kathy Reichs is another thriller involving crime which involves family members in a grisly case.

Booktalking Ideas: 

I think I would focus on the past and present parallel and how Dove is haunted by her past.

Quote from page 19: “All I want to know is why you and Neely lied and sent me to prison for something I didn’t do”
I don’t flinch. I stare him down, saying nothing, until he finally gives up and leaves.
I will never tell him that I’ve often wondered the same thing.

A police chief must solve a horrible murder of a teenage girl while trying to keep a 35 ear old secret hidden.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Sexism is still prevalent today, especially in the police force, but is it being over done in media? Does it just seem mandatory to put in for police novels?
  2. P. 41, the difference of opinion of college and jail. What are the implications of a family so against college and do you think this made Camio into an outcast of the family?
  3. This book provides us with many different examples or ways of love. What do you think Love means? Are there different levels of love? Are there different meanings in different scenarios? If so, should we have different names for those?
  4. In this time period where police are very visibly taking liberties with the law and their power, here we have a main character who at times, abuses her power as well, yet we are in the position of sympathizing and agreeing with her actions. If you saw a cop shoot a teenager’s motorcycle tires, would you think that is acceptable behavior? Do you think the passage could have been written differently or a different action could have been taken to get to same results?