Archives for category: Patty Crane

With the opening of the new building it was a busy summer. I did however manage to find time to read some fun, relaxing cozies.

Cozies or cozy mysteries are crime fiction with amateur detectives. Usually they are set in small towns, involve a dastardly deed, contain a bit of humor, maybe a little romance, very little violence and have a satisfying ending. In my experience with the genre the ones in series also feature an interesting cast of characters.

Gone Gull   Donna Andrews pens the bird themed Meg Langslow series. This is a long running series and #21, Gone Gull, just came out. Artist Meg and her extended family are spending the summer teaching at her grandmother’s new craft center on Biscuit Mountain.

When random acts of vandalism turn deadly Meg has plenty of suspects. There is the rival art academy, a developer with designs on Biscuit Mountain, and seekers (including her grandfather) of a rare gull. If you are new to cozy mysteries, this amusing series is a good place to start reading.

The titles in the Dixie Hemingway series by Blaize Clement also have an animal theme. Dixie is a pet sitter in Siesta Key, a barrier island off the west coast of Florida. She starts her days early taking care of cats, dogs, birds, fish and other assorted pets.

Dixie’s first career was as a deputy in the Sarasota County Sheriff’s office. The tragic death of her husband and daughter ended that career. In an attempt to ease her grief and depression her brother volunteered her services as a pet sitter and Dixie found a new vocation.

cat sitterThe first in this 11 book series is Curiosity Killed the Cat Sitter. Early one morning Dixie arrives to feed and groom Ghost, an Abyssinian cat, only to find a man seemingly drowned in the cat’s water dish. Lieutenant Guidry is handling the murder case but Dixie starts snooping when her client doesn’t return and can’t be reached. Dixie goes from snooping to investigating when she becomes Guidry’s prime suspect.

This book sets the tone for the series, somewhat darker than most cozy mysteries but still with touches of humor. Dixie is a complex but likeable character and the pets have personality. As the series progresses you may notice some subtle changes as authorship changed. Blaize Clement passed away in 2011 which is when #7 was published and her son John took over the series. Despite some differences the quality of the series was not affected.

The latest book, The Cat Sitter and the Canary, came out in 2015. In this one murder becomes personal when a note left on the victim indicates Dixie is next. This book had a surprise ending so I hope it’s not the last in the series.

skating     Joelle Charbonneau’s cozy series is centered on a skating rink. Rebecca Robbins grew up at the rink owned by her mother but escaped small town life to become a mortgage broker in Chicago. In the series debut, Skating Around the Law, the death of her mother makes Rebecca the new owner. Her return to Indian Falls to manage the business is only temporary. As soon as the rink sells, it’s back to the big city.

Selling suddenly becomes complicated when the local handyman is found dead in the ladies locker room. His head in the toilet, Mack Murphy has apparently drowned. The death is ruled a homicide but the sheriff is more interested in gardens than crime. Rebecca becomes determined to find the killer before her plan for the rink is as dead as Mack.

Rebecca is the central figure in this series but she is surrounded by a delightful cast of characters. There is her grandfather or “Pops” who helped raise her and is now the Romeo of the geriatric set. Lionel Franklin, the local vet, is very easy on the eyes and a distraction to Rebecca’s plans to sell and get back to Chicago. In addition there is George who teaches skating, Deputy Sean Holmes who finds her snooping to be very annoying and Elwood. Elwood is a hat-wearing retired circus camel with as much personality as he has hats and he has a hat for every occasion.

So far there are only 4 titles in the Rebecca Robbins’ mysteries and all are entertaining light reading. They are a good read-alike for Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum novels. If you are a Plum fan, you might enjoy these while you’re waiting for Stephanie’s next adventure to publish (mid-November 2017).

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matchup  More than 3800 suspense writers are part of an organization known as International Thrill Writers. They don’t pay dues but support the organization by publishing an anthology every few years. In 2014 the Faceoff anthology pitted popular characters from some of the most read male writers against each other.

The sequel published in June, MatchUp, pairs male and female writers together. The Booklist description says “Think Dancing with the Stars, but with mysteries.” The task for each pair of writers was to create a suspenseful short story starring their well-known characters.

Lee Child was the editor and also gives an introduction for each story. This information on the authors/characters and insight into the writing process is an interesting addition to an entertaining collection.

I am not familiar with all the characters depicted but for the most part that didn’t affect my enjoyment of the stories.  I saw the movie but have not read the Rambo series by David Morrell.  I was also unfamiliar with Gayle Lynds’ character Liz Sansborough but I thought their collaboration, “Rambo on Their Minds”, one of the best in the book.

“Midnight Flame” by Lara Adrian and Christopher Rice not only had characters I was unfamiliar with but also a genre I don’t usually read, the paranormal. The authors did an excellent job of taking two characters, Lucan Thorne and Lilliane, from different time periods and creating an entertaining tale. I probably won’t delve any further into the world of vampires and Radiants but I enjoyed this foray.

Child’s partner in prose was Kathy Reich with his character, Jack Reacher, coming to the rescue of Temperance Brennan. Brennan is charged with murdering a reporter who was going to expose her as inept or corrupt in her examination of the death of Army Colonel Calder Massee. As soon as he hears the news report Reacher knows she is being framed and heads her way to help.

In “Deserves to Be Dead” John Sandford’s Virgil Flowers is (to no one’s surprise) on a fishing trip when he becomes involved in a murder. Lisa Jackson’s Regan Pescoli is the investigating officer. In the intro Child’s identifies Sandford as the main author but surprisingly Regan Pescoli is the driving force for this dark tale.

Karin Slaughter and Michael Koryta teamed up for the longest and in my opinion the best tale in the anthology called “Short Story”. The two authors take their characters back in time to younger days hinted about in the series.

Slaughter’s Jeffrey Tolliver has just received his shield and is in the north Georgia mountains for a romantic getaway. He is stood up but that doesn’t mean he goes without female company. His companion for the night tries to steal his car and winds up dead. Tolliver, who had given chase wearing his t-shirt, Auburn underwear and one shoe, is arrested.

At the same time Koryta’s Joe Pritchard and Lincoln Perry are sent to the same place to find a Detroit drug dealer who is in Georgia to meet his supplier. It doesn’t take long for Joe and Lincoln to get involved and determine Tolliver’s innocence. The three team-up to find the killer and the drug dealer during an all-time record snowstorm.

There are 11 total entries with something for everyone in this engaging collection of short stories. You may even find some characters and authors to add to your reading list. The library has both regular and large print editions of it as well as the eaudiobook for download.

index.aspxWorking at the reference desk I often learn about books by readers asking for help – either in locating the desired title or finding the next title in a series. Some titles peak my interest but with so many good books to read I lose track of the title/author.

Such was the case with Jill Eileen Smith’s historical fiction books on women of the Bible. Fortunately, I spotted the latest on the New Fiction shelves reminding me of my interest.

Redeeming Grace: Ruth’s Story is actually the third in the Daughters of the Promised Land series. However, the series is a theme not a continuation so you can read out of order and not feel as though you are missing anything. If you are a stickler for order, the library has the first two in the series “The Crimson Cord: Rehab’s Story” and “The Prophetess: Deborah’s Story”.

Ruth’s story is also the story of Naomi. Naomi lived in Bethlehem with her husband Elimelech, sons Mahlon and Chilion, and their extended family. In 1296 B.C. Bethlehem and Israel were suffering through drought and eventual famine. Elimelech’s brother Boaz had convinced him to keep working the land despite the drought.

But after 2 years he stopped listening to Boaz and gave up hoping and praying for rain. He made the decision to take his sons to Moab and work the fields there. Naomi did not want to leave Bethlehem but would not let them go without her so the whole family made the journey to Dibon. Ruth and her friend Orpah were at the marketplace when the family arrived and were the first to offer a welcome.

Elimelech was able to secure land from the governor and soon prospered in Moab. His crops flourished and he was able to build a home for his family. Naomi remained true to her faith but her husband and sons were seduced by the festivals and lifestyle of the Moabites spending more and more evenings in Dibon. One such evening Elimelech didn’t come home. Naomi found his body in the road; he had been mauled by a bear.

With the death of her husband Naomi tried to convince her sons to return to Bethlehem. However, the beauties Ruth and Orpah had caught the eye of her sons and they declared their intention to stay and marry.

The custom in Moab was for fathers to choose husbands for their daughters. Ruth and Orpah had both lost their fathers in the war with Israel meaning they could make the choice of who they would marry. Ruth’s mother and the governor planned for Ruth to marry his son, Te’oma. She wanted no part of that arrangement and readily accepted Mahlon’s request to marry.

Ruth’s story truly begins when she marries and becomes Naomi’s daughter-in-law.  Ruth’s devotion to her new family and the growth of her faith sustain her through the many trials she faces. Heartache, loss and hardship test both women but Ruth remains hopeful for a better life and a second chance for love.

This dramatization of Ruth’s life is well done and an engrossing read.  Smith’s research on life and customs of the Israelites and Moabites offers readers a glimpse into what life was like during Ruth’s time.

You can enjoy it without ever having read Ruth in the Old Testament. If you have read it, you’ll find that Smith has crafted a novel that captures the lesson of love exemplified by Ruth in the book.

index-aspxIn 2010 the BBC developed a radio series telling the history of the world in 100 objects. The accompanying book by Neil MacGregor was a bestseller. Cait Murphy has used this format to great success exploring the history of sports in America.

A History of American Sports in 100 Objects is a fun and at times sobering look at the games America plays. The order of the book is chronological but you can open it at almost any page and be entertained with entries on the history of Annie Oakley’s rifle, the first Zamboni, or the golf club Alan Shepard used on the moon.

As with any such book you may not agree with all of the objects and stories the author chose. Murphy concentrated on the moments, people, and events that were catalysts for social and technological change and/or changed perceptions on race or gender. She also made it a requirement that the object had to exist and a photo accompanies each entry.

The most popular sports are well covered. Football objects include the modern football (the first balls were round not tapered and had a tendency to deflate) and the scorecard from Red Grange’s NFL debut. Before Grange brought his popularity to the game it was considered disreputable being played for and by a tough crowd. When Grange signed up, in one season, attendance went from hundreds per game to a record attendance of 70,000 at the Polo Grounds.

You will also find the 1959 Championship game, Lamar Hunt and the founding of the AFL, the Ice Bowl, Super Bowl III, Monday Night Football and a CTE scan.  Baseball coverage includes Babe Ruth’s bat, the program from the first night baseball game, the handbook from the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, jerseys of Jackie Robinson and Hank Aaron, and Yogi Berra’s catcher’s mitt.

Roberto Clemente is remembered from his baseball card. Except the 1968 All Star card gives his name as Bob Clemente. Even though he made it clear that Roberto was his name the press and baseball cards makers called him Bob or Bobby. Clemente paved the way for players born outside the U.S. to play in the Big Leagues and by the end of his brilliant career no one called him Bob.

Basketball is well covered with Naismith, Bill Russell, Bird and Magic, and Michael Jordan. The oldest known bowling ball is found in Katherine Naylor’s privy. A statue of a chunkey player, a lacrosse stick, Bobby Orr’s knee brace, and the Husky Clipper tell both obscure and well-documented moments in American sport.

As for the safety bicycle in the 1892 entry, Susan B. Anthony declared it “has done more to emancipate women that anything else in the world”. Besides transportation the popularity of the bicycle called for a less constricting form of dress and changed the perception that women were too delicate for exercise.

Women have a rich history in American sport. Some you will probably know like Babe Didrikson, Billie Jean King and Jackie Joyner Kersee. Momentous achievements also came from little known places like Tennessee State University and Immaculata College.

Before Title IX TSU was one of the few places black female athletes could compete. The Tigerbelles track team trained on an unfinished track located between a cow pasture and a pigpen. Impressively from 1952 to 1984 40 Tigerbelles competed in the Olympics bringing home 27 track and field medals.

The first women’s national basketball champion was the Immaculata College Mighty Macs. Unlike the Tigerbelles the Mighty Macs had a gym but in 1972 their uniform was a wool dress worn with bloomers. Despite the uniform this small Catholic school played a mean game of basketball and won the first three national championships.

Wrestling, boxing, tennis, swimming, even President Lincoln’s handball are all covered in this entertaining book.  The history of American sports is at times glorious and in other times ugly and rife with injustice.  Murphy has not shied away from the more unsavory moments while still celebrating the games Americans play.

gravesThe Girls She Left Behind by Sarah Graves is suspenseful and intense. This is the second in the Lizzie Snow series. Lizzie was a Boston homicide detective. She currently lives in Bearkill, Maine and is a deputy in the Aroostook County Sheriff’s Department. She took the position so she can search for her niece. Lizzie’s sister was murdered and her baby was never found.

When not following leads Lizzie is kept busy with the residents of Bearkill and the surrounding area. One of those resident is Jane Crimmins. Jane was kidnapped when she was 15 by Henry Gemerle but managed to escape. She left behind at least 2 other victims but never told anyone about the crime or the other victims. Her kidnapper was finally arrested and 3 victims rescued alive. Now Henry has escaped. Can he be headed to Bearkill and Jane?

Lizzie knows of the case but not Jane’s involvement. Currently she is looking for a missing 14-year-old, Tara. The teen has a history of running away so no one is too concerned. But Lizzie’s instincts tell her something is not right then Tara’s mother receives a text with 2 words “help me”.

Lizzie soon believes that if she can find Henry Gemerle she’ll find her missing teen. But there is a more to this than another kidnapped girl. Can Lizzie unravel the secrets and lies in time to save not only Tara but herself?

curiousJanet Evanovich has collaborated with Phoef Sutton on a new novel similar in tone to her Stephanie Plum series. Curious Minds: a Knight and Moon Novel came out earlier this year. Riley Moon, a recent Harvard grad, is a junior analyst at mega-bank Blane-Grunwald. Her first assignment is to go see the bank’s biggest investor, Emerson Knight, and assure him his money is safe.

Emerson is eccentric, young, extremely rich, and wants to see the part of his fortune that is gold. When bank president Werner Grunwald doesn’t make that happen Emerson devises his own way to get access to his gold.

A reluctant Riley and Emerson travel to the Federal Reserve in Manhattan. What they uncover sends them on a mad dash across the country searching for a missing Grunwald brother, missing gold, and one step ahead of the thugs determined to keep them from reaching Area 51 and foiling the biggest heist in history.

This novel has what Evanovich is known for – humor, clever one-liners, and mad-cap escapes. It’s a light, fun read that will make you smile.

harrisAfter 13 years Charlaine Harris has written another Aurora Teagarden book, All the Little Liars. If you are new to the series, Aurora is a librarian and lives and works in the town of Lawrenceton, Georgia. The previous 8 titles has seen Aurora go through a lot of personal changes and challenges while helping to solve murders.

In this 9th installment the newly married Aurora is expecting her first child. Also her 15 year-old half-brother, Phillip, is living with her and husband Robin Crusoe. Happily caught up in the news of her pregnancy Aurora doesn’t sense anything is wrong then Phillip and 3 other children go missing.

They were seen leaving the soccer field then seemingly vanished. The body of one of their classmates is found at the salon where Phillip and the others were headed. Did the kids have something to do with the death, did they witness it, or have they met a similar fate?

Not one to sit on the sidelines Aurora explores all avenues in her search for the missing kids while dealing with grade school bullies, an estranged father, and morning sickness. This is an entertaining series and hopefully we won’t have to wait so long for #10.