Above Suspicion by Lynda La Plante

Read: April 25 - April 30
Format: Paperback 392 pages
Source: Barnes & Noble $1 table
Subject: Police procedural
Category: Something Old - read those TBRs
Challenges: 11 in 11, 75 Book, TIOLI, BOYS
Stars: ★★★½

DCI James Langton is trying to solve the old cold cases of 6 serial murders of prostitute/drug addicts when a new unlikely 7th victim may have materialized. Having convinced his superiors that he needs a large task force, DS Anna Travis is transferred to his team and together they review old cases and Travis finds a connection that links all the victims except for the newest.

DCI Langton is a strong character whose handling of the team has some issues that may endanger Anna Travis both physically or emotionally, but together they solve the murders with good detective work.

Lynda La Plante is the writer who developed the Prime Suspect series that brought Helen Mirren to the attention of many TV viewers and I believe that this series will probably be worth further pursuit. What amazes me is that I found this book on the $1 table at Barnes & Noble a few years ago. Definitely worth the investment.


In The Woods by Tana French

Read: April 18 - April 27
Format: Audio equivalent 789 pages
Source: Public Library
Subject: Police procedural
Category: Something Borrowed from the library
Challenges: 11 in 11, 75 Book, TIOLI,
Stars: ★★★

Rob Ryan, a Dublin policeman, is thrown into a troubling situation when he and his partner, Cassie Maddox, take on the investigation of the murder of Katy Devlin, a 12 year girl in suburb of Knocknaree - Ryan's original home town. Ryan's problems center around the fact that he is the one remaining witness to the disappearance of two children (his best friends) in 1984 from this same location. Keeping his involvement in 1984 a secret while investigating the dysfunctional family of the murder victim leads to trouble not just for Ryan but for his relationship with his partner. A subplot of environmental impact of a new motorway through Knocknaree vs. a nearby archaeological dig add additional twists to the plot which climaxes with a remarkable interrogation and surprising result.


Southern storm : Sherman's march to the sea by Noah Andre Trudeau

Read: April 16 - April 23
Format: E-book 703 pages
Source: Public library
Subject: historical accounts
Challenges: 11 in 11, 75 Book, SYLL,
Category: The Engagement: this is getting serious
Genre: History
Stars: ★½

William Tecumseh Sherman, a general in the Union Army, was best remembered for the long trek that his army made through Georgia in late 1864 from Atlanta to Savannah, pillaging and burning everything in their path and that is what I expected to read about in this book, however, that is not the story that was told here.

This book repeatedly told how from Atlanta to Savannah this regiment ripped up railroad tracks and that regiment foraged for food getting sweet potatoes and pigs here and sweet potatoes and chickens there, and how this regiment led the way on Wednesday and another on Friday and tiny little scrimmages erupted along this river and that river, and let us not forget that the telegraph lines were ripped down from this town and then from that town and so it went.

In 700 pages I learned hardly anything new about the "March to the Sea" than what I knew when I started because the author was constantly quoting this soldier and that soldier from this state and that state about how hungry they were and how tired. It amazes me that I actually finished this book but I kept getting just a teensy bit of information which dragged me through. Under no circumstances would I recommend this book unless someone was trying to figure out if a particular regiment was involved in the March to the Sea, otherwise, forget it.

Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday was originally hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page, but is now a traveling meme and for the month of April Mailbox Monday will be hosted by Passages to the Past! Go over and visit her to see what she got in her mailbox.

The past several months my mailbox has been devoid of books, but this week by complete surprise I received from Hyperion Press an ARC copy of The Soldier's Wife. I vaguely remember filling out a form asking for this book from Hyperion but I never figured I'd get it. Lucky me!

The Soldier's Wife

by Margaret Leroy

Publisher's Weekly says it is an exploration of "motherhood and marital infidelity, in the context of the German occupation of the British Channel Islands during WWII. Vivienne de la Mare loves her young daughters Blanche and Millie, but not her marriage, so when her husband is called up to the front, for her it's almost a relief. Then the German army occupies her town, and Vivienne is increasingly torn between her sympathies for the POWs and her budding feelings for Gunther, a German officer who has moved in next door. She and Gunther begin an affair, but she remains committed to protecting and nurturing her daughters as they grow up in this tense, dangerous environment, with waning hope of their father's return. Leroy lovingly portrays the era and the isolated Guernsey landscape while simultaneously offering an unsparing view of the specific horrors of war."

I read the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society earlier this year, so I'm interested to see how these two stories reflect on each other.


The Seduction of the Crimson Rose by Lauren Willig

Read: April 7 - April 18
Format: Audiobook 11 CDs equivalent 385 pages
Source: Public Library
Subject: espionage, Napoleonic Wars
Category: The good old days - Histories
Genre: History fiction
Challenges: 11 in 11, 75 Book, SYLL, TIOLI, AUDIO
Stars: ★★★

In this fourth installment of the Pink Carnation saga, Eloise Kelly is still working on her dissertation which concentrates on the spies during the Napoleonic Wars. She's discovered who was the Pink Carnation and now she is trying to find out who the enemy Black Tulip is. With the information that she found in Ireland, Eloise heads to review the Vaughn collection hoping to find the details that will lead her to the enemy of the Pink Carnation.

This story centers around Mary Allsworthy, the older sister of Letty Allsworthy who was the main character in the previous installment. Mary is uncomfortable knowing that she will live as a pensioner to her sister if she doesn't find a groom. Making a bargain with Lord Vaughn to hunt down the Black Tulip in exchange for a dowry, Mary along with Vaughn, work to reveal the Black Tulip.

This tale is my least favorite of the series, mainly because I didn't particularly care for the main characters. Mary was a social climber and Lord Vaughn was just a bit too haughty. Hopefully, the next book will be back on track.


The Clockwork Teddy by John J Lamb

Read: April 11 - April 15
Format: Paperback 269 pages
Source: Barnes & Noble, Off my Shelf
Subject: industrial espionage, kidnapping
Category: Setting up Housekeeping/ Leftovers
Challenges: 11 in 11, 75 Book, TIOLI, BOYS
Stars: ★★★½

The fourth installment of the Bear Collectors' Mysteries,takes Brad and Asleigh Lyons back to San Francisco to attend a bear show as well as visit with old friends and family. The bear show starts off with a robbery which leads to a murder which reconnects Brad with friends from the SFPD where he previously worked. The motive for the murder is Patrick the talking/walking Polar Bear.

Since Brad is a retired homicide inspector and knows quite a lot about the Teddy industry he is called back to service to aid in the investigation surrounding corporate espionage, murder and kidnapping. The action as well as character development is strong throughout and unfortunately there are more than a few casualties. Exciting!


Buffalo West Wing by Julie Hyzy

Read: April 9 - April 10
Format: Nookbook 320 pages
Source: Barnes & Noble, Off my Shelf
Subject: terrorists, kidnapping, hostages, transitions, protocols
Category: Something New - books that were acquired or released in the last 12 months
Challenges: 11 in 11, 75 Book, TIOLI, BOYS
Stars: ★★★★½

Upheaval reigns supreme in this book, the fourth installment of the White House Chef series and there is no way that the reader can be disappointed. President Campbell has retired and is replaced by new President Hyden along with a family that includes two small children, Josh and Abby.

On Inauguration Day a mysterious box of chicken wings shows up in the kitchen addressed to the children - they are a favorite of theirs. However, Ollie will not allow them to be given to the children because of their unknown origin - procedures. Unbeknownst to her, Cyan, her assistant, gives the wings to the laundry staff and the following morning, not only is the majority of the staff in the hospital, but the hospital is under siege by terrorists. The Secret Service is keeping all the details of the Wings under wraps (they turn out to be poisoned). Since the First Lady is unaware of this service that Ollie's given by withholding the wings from the children, the new First Lady is not exactly Ollie's greatest fan and so brings their personal family chef into the White House. Here a new conflict arises because Chef Ballantine (a true prima donna) thinks he is the new Executive Chef and controls the kitchen but is informed that Ollie is still Chief cook and is his boss.

Slowly the story and mystery build to its climax which has an edge of your seat conclusion. This series is great and the changes that are incorporated because of the election of a new president keep the stories fresh and exciting. The characters are all slowly being revealed to the reader just as you meet and get to know new friends. Love the series!


Quietly in their Sleep by Donna Leon

Read: April 7 - April 8
Format: Paperback 310 pages
Source: Public library
Subject: Religious fanaticism, nursing home fraud, Opus Dei,
Challenges: 11 in 11, 75 Book, SYLL, TIOLI
Category: Honeymoon - foreign settings/thrillers
Genre: Mystery Stars: ★★★

In this continuation of the Commissario Brunetti series, the reader is allowed to perceive the religious conflictions within Brunetti's family as well as Venetian society.

We are introduced at the beginning to Maria Testa who Brunetti recognizes as someone he knows but can't place. When he is told that she had previously been a nun that had work at the nursing home where his mother resides, he is immediately taken in as is the reader. Maria informs him of her suspicions of irregularities at the nursing home and that these were the reasons she has left the convent. Not particularly taken with the scant details that she has supplied, Brunetti does minor investigations but moves on in other areas until he is told that Maria was a victim of a hit and run accident. Not one to believe in coincidence, Brunetti proceeds to delve deeper into the former nun's suspicions.

The parallel thread of his daughter's difficulties with her religious education, bring to light Guido and Paolo's conflicts with organized religion.

This book was a bit slower then others in the series but the mystery builds beautifully, unraveling thread by thread to a satisfactory conclusion showing that Ms Leon has masterful control of her plot and characters. Looking forward to the next in the series.


Murder on Gramercy Park by Victoria Thompson

Read: April 1 - April 6
Format: Paperback 329 pages
Source: Barnes & Noble, Off my Shelf
Subject: drug addiction, murder, parental desertion
Category: Going steady: Should we keep seeing each other? - ongoing series
Challenges: 11 in 11, 75 Book, TIOLI, BOYS
Stars: ★★★½

This is the third installment of the Gaslight Mysteries with Sarah Brandt, midwife, and Frank Malloy, Detective Sergeant of the NYC police as the central characters. In this book, Malloy is called to the scene of the apparent suicide of Edmund Blackwell, hypnotic healer, after his pregnant wife returns to their home after an afternoon out to find him dead. Startled into labor, Malloy sends for Sarah to help with the delivery.

While labor proceeds upstairs, Malloy determines that the suicide is really murder downstairs. As usual Sarah gets involved in the investigation and helps Malloy in different ways resolve the twists and turns that lead to the unexpected solution.

It's great to see the interaction between the two main characters especially when they try to remain consistent with the time periods social restrictions. Their relationship is moving forward, or so it seems but do they know?


The Amber Room by Steve Berry

Read: March 29 - April 5
Format: Overdrive download equivalent 304 pages
Source: Public library
Subject: Nazi art confiscations, treasure hunters
Challenges: 11 in 11, 75 Book, SYLL, Endless Europe, Audio
Category: Honeymoon - foreign settings/thrillers
Genre: Thriller
Stars: ★★★½

Wikipedia says
The Amber Room in the Catherine Palace of Tsarskoye Selo near Saint Petersburg is a complete chamber decoration of amber panels backed with gold leaf and mirrors. Due to its singular beauty, it was sometimes dubbed the "Eighth Wonder of the World".
Before it was lost, the original Amber Room represented a joint effort of German and Russian craftsmen. Construction of the Amber Room began in 1701 to 1709 in Prussia. The room was designed by German baroque sculptor Andreas Schlüter and constructed by the Danish amber craftsman Gottfried Wolfram and remained at Charlottenburg Palace until 1716 when it was given by Prussian king Friedrich Wilhelm I to his then ally, Tsar Peter the Great of the Russian Empire. In Russia it was expanded and after several renovations, it covered more than 55 square meters and contained over six tons of amber. The Amber Room was looted during World War II by Nazi Germany and brought toKönigsberg. Knowledge of its whereabouts was lost in the chaos at the end of the war.

In 1979 efforts began to rebuild the Amber room at Tsarskoye Selo. In 2003, after decades of work by Russian craftsmen, the reconstructed Amber Room was inaugurated in the Catherine Palace in Saint Petersburg, Russia.

In this book Rachel Cutler, an Atlanta judge, discovers after her father's death that he had been a treasure hunter after WWII. He had searched and possibly found, the Amber Room, a massive set of intricately carved panels crafted from the precious substance and looted by Nazis during WWII from Russia's Catherine Palace. Intrigued, Rachel decides to try to find herself. What she and her ex-husband find are danger and see deaths that they are unable to prevent.

Rachel and Paul find a secret club who's members collect great art and are willing to do anything to hold on to their treasures.

This book had a wonderful premise but left something to be desired. It was a bit too long and at times too violent. The fascinating details surrounding the Amber Room, however, did make it an interesting read.