The Sentence is Death

The Sentence is Death by Anthony Horowitz

In this very clever mystery, private investigator Daniel Hawthorne summons writer Tony Horowitz to a house on the edge of Hampstead Heath where a divorce lawyer has been killed with an expensive bottle of wine in the sequel to The Word is Murder. Horowitz is supposed to editing a tv script for Foyle’s War, but instead is playing Watson to Hawthorne’s Holmes as he tries to solve the mystery before Hawthorne or the threatening Inspector Grunshaw. Three cavers, a single mom, an art gallery owner, and a successful poet are all connected to the victim, Richard Pryce. Horowitz, with a book contract to write about Hawthorne, is quickly in over his head, getting in trouble at a bookstore, persuaded to attend a book club where no one wants his opinion on the mystery being discussed, and stumped by false leads on why the number 182 is painted on the wall near Pryce. Suspenseful, intriguing, and occasionally funny, with an excellent audiobook narration by Rory Kinnear; I found this a very compelling read.

Brenda

To be Taught, if Fortunate

To be Taught, if Fortunate by Becky Chambers

Ariadne narrates the travels of a small crew of astronauts exploring several distant planets and an icy moon in this thought-provoking novella. A flight engineer and pilot, she supports the scientists on their long-term mission. In cryosleep for years, their bodies are transformed by bioengineering to adapt to each world they visit. Receiving occasional news updates from an increasingly distant Earth, the crew explore worlds that are wondrous, bleak, terrifying, and lonely. As they wonder if anyone back on Earth is receiving their reports, the crew must decide whether to return to Earth ahead of schedule, continue with their mission, or settle on a planet of their choosing. Another memorable work from the author of the Hugo award-winning Wayfarers series, this is a good readalike for Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson.
Brenda

The Spotted Dog

The Spotted Dog by Kerry Greenwood

This is a very welcome new Corinna Chapman mystery set in Melbourne, Australia, centered around a bakery and an apartment house. Corinna and her boyfriend Daniel, an Israeli private investigator, focus on finding Geordie, the dog kidnapped from retired soldier Alastair. Geordie can sniff out explosives, but only responds to commands in Gaelic. Meanwhile, Corinna bakes bread and muffins with apprentice Jason, naps with Horatio the cat, meets a young troupe of actors, and tries to discover why her neighbor, a biblical scholar, is attracting a burglar or two to their building. The appeal here is the quirky characters, the cozy Melbourne neighborhood, delicious food, Corinna and Daniel’s romance, and some mystery and adventure. While there is quite a bit of suspense finding the missing dog and helping a visiting young woman who’s gone mute, it’s not the focus of the book. Jennifer Vuletic has fun narrating the audiobook and I’m not giving away the plot to share that the story ends with a potluck dinner in the apartment building’s rooftop garden. Sadly, no recipes are included. Earthly Delights is the first book in the series by the author of the popular Phryne Fisher books.

Brenda

 

 

The Best of Us

The Best of Us by Robyn Carr

Best known for her Virgin River series, Carr’s recent books are set in small town Colorado. Leigh is a doctor who meets Rob when she stitches his son Sean’s hand. Rob’s older son Finn is attracted to Maia, who’s facing a health crisis. Leigh’s Aunt Helen, a mystery writer and retired teacher, sells her Naperville house and comes to Sullivan’s Crossing for a long visit with Leigh, only to find a good friend in Sully. A multi-generational romance with considerable small-town charm and gorgeous Colorado scenery, this fourth book set in Sullivan’s Crossing is a quick, emotional, and very enjoyable read. The first book is What We Find, but it doesn’t need to be read first to enjoy The Best of Us. Readalike authors include Debbie Macomber and Kristan Higgins.

Brenda

 

The Lager Queen of Minnesota

The Lager Queen of Minnesota by J. Ryan Stradal

Edith, a famous pie baker at a Minnesota nursing home, doesn’t have a relationship with her younger sister Helen. Edith’s husband Stanley, a truck driver, and their granddaughter Diana are the center of her life. Helen, the brewer mentioned in the title, is ambitious but has settled. She married a classmate from her college chemistry class because he could help her run a commercial brewery, but their beer is nothing special. Edith can at least take pride in her pies. Diana gets in trouble breaking the law as an older teen but finds a second chance with a job at a small craft brewery. Of course Diana and Helen’s paths will eventually cross. Diana’s small brewery and the eclectic crew, including several grandmothers, are quite interesting, although I can’t tell gose from imperial stout. Readers who are familiar with craft beers will likely enjoy the brewing scenes even more than others, but it’s not essential.

A bittersweet family saga that makes for a pleasant read with an appealing Minnesota setting. I would have enjoyed more scenes with Edith and Stanley and had some questions about Diana’s motivations, but I quite enjoyed this novel overall.

Brenda

 

November 2019 Book Discussions

The Tuesday Evening Book Group will meet at 7 p.m. on November 19 (a week earlier than usual) to discuss The River, by Peter Heller. This is a contemporary thriller set in the Canadian wilderness that I found very hard to put down. Here’s my review.

The Crime Readers will meet at Home Run Inn Pizza in Darien at 7 p.m on Thursday, November 21 to discuss The Song of the Lion, by Anne Hillerman, a Navajo mystery. Optional dinner is at 6 p.m. The Crime Readers are co-sponsored by the Indian Prairie Public Library. I enjoy listening to this series on cd; this book is also available as a downloadable audiobook.

Copies of both books are available now at the Circulation Desk. Enjoy!

Brenda

The Andromeda Evolution

The Andromeda Evolution by Daniel Wilson and Michael Crichton

Fifty years after The Andromeda Strain, a mysterious structure appears in the Amazon rain forest. Project Eternal Vigilance is activated, and an international team of scientists is sent to investigate, including an astronaut aboard the International Space Station. Fighter planes are on high alert should their exploration fail. Daniel Wilson was an excellent choice to write this sequel. The scenes in the rain forest are vividly drawn, as are the robotics on the ISS. Fast-paced from the beginning, the pace and tension intensify, and the fate of the expedition (and the planet) is always in doubt. Readers know that all the scientists will not survive, but the plot is far from predictable. This science fiction thriller is sure to be popular. Matthew Reilly’s Jack West series is a good readalike.

Brenda