Fiction

Book 46 of 52: Murder, She Wrote: Debonair in Death by Jessica Fletcher and Terrie Farley Moran

After discovering that the Murder, She Wrote mystery novel series not only exists but is still active, I figured I should try one of the newer titles to see if it’s changed over time. After reading Debonair in Death, I can say….not much. But that’s what genre fiction, especially series, is supposed to be, right? Like putting on your old running sweatsuit, as Jessica Fletcher still apparently does in 2021 when this book was published. In this one, the crime is the murder of Nelson, a “from away” co-owner of a Cabot Cove shop. He’s found covered in blood, with a young woman who works at the local salon standing over him, also covered in blood. It doesn’t make sense that young Coreen could or would have done this, but who else could it be? Well, anyone! As Jessica both tries to finish her next book’s synopsis and clear Coreen’s…

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Book 45 of 52: Hoot by Carl Hiassen

Another boat, another Carl Hiassen book. Hiassen’s Stormy Weather was book five in this series, from alllllll the way back in January. I snapped a picture of it from the back of a boat speeding off to Dry Tortugas National Park. In that review, I mentioned that Hiassen’s work was ripe for a TV series or movie, especially since he hadn’t had that many. One was a 2006 movie version of his 2002 middle grade novel Hoot. It starred a lot famous people, including Brie Larson, Luke Wilson and…Jimmy Buffett, but wasn’t well received. Hopefully the upcoming Apple TV+ series Bad Monkey, starring Vince Vaughn and Ashley Nicole Black, will fare better. So when I saw a copy of Hoot in a Little Free Library, I figured why not, and took it with me on vacation. That picture is from Miller’s Ferry to Put-in-Bay, Ohio (when I got on the boat, I…

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Book 42 of 52: The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman

The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman is the second in the Thursday Murder Club Mysteries series, which brings together a group of senior citizens from a British retirement village with two local law enforcement officers and assorted neighborhood characters to solve crime. In this one, the ex-husband of Elizabeth, one of the seniors, comes back into her life, asking for her help. Despite her feelings about him (he cheated on her often), she still says yes. And then everything goes to hell. I don’t want to say too much here because details about Elizabeth, her ex-husband or the fellow seniors would be major spoilers for the first book, The Thursday Murder Club (which gave the series its name), which you should probably read first. You could do without it, but you might be confused. I read The Thursday Murder Club last summer and had to refresh my memory as I got into this…

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Book 39 of 52: Someone to Wed by Mary Balogh

I’ve put off writing a review of Mary Balogh’s Someone to Wed because I don’t have much to say about it. I read her books when I want a pleasant distraction from whatever hellfire is consuming our politics/planet on that day. They’re well written regency romances where of course there’s a happily ever after, but without some of the tense plots these books can bring, like someone is going to die or be murdered if the two leads don’t act promptly. In this book, which is part of the Westcott series, we have Wren Heyden, heiress to a glass works company and fortune who is largely a recluse, due largely to a birthmark on one side of her face (and what previous people have said about it, which is revealed late run the book). She proposes a marriage for very practical reasons to Alexander Westcott, who has unexpectedly found himself as…

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Book 38 of 52: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

As I’ve mentioned before, I have a subscription to Libro.fm, which lets listeners buy audiobooks through an independent bookstore. With a subscription, I pay a monthly fee for one audiobook a month (plus I get discounts on additional audiobooks should I choose to buy more). Generally, one a month enough for me, but in July I found myself with a week between finishing a book and my new credit going live. So I turned to the Libby app, which I access for free through my library, and decided why not: I’ll give The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis a whirl. If I read any of the Chronicles of Narnia as a child, I don’t remember. As a four hour audiobook, it didn’t seem like a huge investment of time. And…eh? It was fine. Maybe I wasn’t in the mood for a Christian allegory, especially not right…

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Book 36 of 52: Murder, She Wrote: A Question of Murder by Jessica Fletcher and Donald Bain

In January, on my way to Key West, I stopped at Connie’s Bookshelf, a wonderful used bookstore in Daytona Beach Shores. I picked up an assortment of paperbacks, including Murder, She Wrote: A Question of Murder by Jessica Fletcher and Donald Bain. Yes, “Jessica Fletcher” the fictional murder mystery writer/murder mystery solver from Cabot Cove, Maine, is listed as an author. I, like many people, loved Murder, She Wrote. I’d caught episodes here and there when visiting my grandparents, then binged a few seasons at the start of the pandemic (at the time, I couldn’t figure out how to stream the whole thing, though now all 12 seasons are on Peacock). I liked the pattern of the show. I liked the familiarity. I appreciated that Jessica Fletcher was a runner, and that she dressed in a way that the kids today find cool. In 2020, I also read Angela Lansbury’s…

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Book 33 of 52: The Blue Diamond by Leonard Goldberg

How many more stories can we wring out of Sherlock Holmes & Co? Quite a few, it turns out. The Blue Diamond is the latest installment in Leonard Goldberg’s “Daughter of Sherlock Holmes” series. Like the original works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, these books are “written by” by Dr. Watson, except this time, it’s the son of the original John Watson, who is married to Joanna Watson, the daughter of Holmes and Irene Adler. Joanna and the Watsons live together at 221B Baker Street, in a household run by the same Mrs. Hudson. Together they – what else? Solve crimes. Is this all far fetched? Or course it is. That Holmes had a daughter at all, and with Irene Adler, and that Joanna grew up not knowing it, is a leap. But whatever way Goldberg got to this arrangement of these characters, we’re here. In this mystery, Joanna and…

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Book 32 of 52: Flying Solo by Linda Holmes

I’m a subscriber to a local weekly newspaper, and I always make sure to read the death notices. I’m nosey, but I also look to see if the parents of someone I knew in high school – or, sadly, sometimes a classmate themselves – has passed on. Unlike obituaries, which are staff written, death notices are submitted and paid for by someone who knew the deceased. Sometimes death notices are pretty rote: born, married, job, died. Other times, they include the person’s favorite hobbies, where they traveled, and things they liked to do with the family that is now grieving, information about services, and where you can make a donation in their honor. The ones that irk me the most those that point out the person wasn’t married. Even in death, they’re still getting shit from their families for being single. This is a round about away of getting to…

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Book 31 of 52: The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel

And still we read on. I’m not going to pretend it’s not shit right now, and that I’m not incandescent with rage. But I know that reading is one of the ways that I have become a better person, and that books can bring about a lot of good. They can impart information and education, build empathy towards other people, or just be a means of escape. We’re need those things. We’re going to need them, maybe even more in the future. And so, we read on. And I review on. The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel is the follow up to wildly successful – and also reviewed here – Station Eleven. It’s another overlapping, interweaving story, this time with a young woman named Vincent, whose mother disappeared while canoeing, at the center. Everyone in the book is linked to her in some way: her half brother who…

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Book 29 of 52: The Perfect Crimes of Marian Hayes by Cat Sebastian

As I’ve written (many times) before, romance novels have a bad rap. Opinions are based on books from the 1970s, of bodice rippers with virginal heroines who find sinuous pleasure. That not all romance now, and wasn’t even then. Instead, looking at the entire genre, there’s everything from from “sweet” romances that don’t even involve kisses to those that are all about kink and/or multiple partners. And of course there’s queer romance. I can’t say I’m an expert on this subgenre, but I have enjoyed the books of Cat Sebastian. The Perfect Crimes of Marian Hayes is the second in her “Queer Principles of Kit Webb” series, about a group of Robin Hood-esque thieves in Georgian London. In this entry, we have Marian Hayes, the Duchess of Clare, who just shot her husband. Our hero is Rob Brooks, a highwayman and con-artist who had previously tried to blackmail Hayes because…

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