Design for Dying by Renee Patrick
This is an appealing debut mystery, set in Hollywood in 1937. Lillian Frost, aspiring actress turned department store clerk, is shocked to learn that her former roommate Ruby Carroll has been killed. Lillian helps the police when she discovers that the gorgeous gown Ruby was wearing, along with the contents of a suitcase found at Ruby’s boarding house, were taken from Paramount Studios. At Paramount, Lillian meets costume designer Edith Head, who helps investigate the murder. Lillian is likeable, Edith is intriguing, Ruby had plenty of secrets and admirers, and the Hollywood setting and cameo appearances by movie stars make for a quick, engaging read. A sequel, Dangerous to Know, has just been published. This is a good readalike for Stars Over Sunset Boulevard, by Susan Meissner, and may also appeal to readers of All the Stars in the Heavens, by Adriana Trigiani. Renee Patrick is the pseudonym of writing duo Rosemarie and Vince Keenan.
On May 16 at 10 a.m., the Tuesday Morning Book Group will discuss Everyone Brave is Forgiven, by Chris Cleave. This is a novel about World War II, set mostly in London and Malta, and was inspired by the experiences of the author’s grandfather and both grandmother’s during the war. Here is my earlier review.
The Tuesday Evening Book Group will meet at 7 p.m. on May 23 to discuss Odds Against, by Dick Francis. Published in 1965, this is a 50th anniversary program. This is the first mystery featuring Sid Halley, British steeplechase jockey turned private detective. Here is my review.
The Crime Readers will meet at 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 18, to discuss The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell, featuring two women who work as typists for the NYPD in the 1920s. Crime Readers are co-sponsored by the Indian Prairie Public Library. Optional dinner is at 6 p.m.
Copies of these books are available at the Adult & Teen Services Reference Desk.
The Woodridge Public Library is celebrating its 50th birthday today, with a big party, cake and music. We’re having special events all year, and I’m leading at least two book discussions of titles popular in 1967, along with creating book displays. For March, many of these books were on display:
Mainstream Fiction Popular in 1967
Baldwin, James. Go Tell It On the Mountain
Bellow, Saul. Herzog
Burgess, Anthony. Clockwork Orange
Cadell, Elizabeth. Canary Yellow
Clavell, James. Tai-Pan
Du Maurier, Daphne. Flight of the Falcon
Faulkner, William. The Reivers
Fleming, Ian. You Only Live Twice
Gordon, Noah. The Rabbi
Goudge, Elizabeth. The Scent of Water
Grass, Gunter. The Tin Drum
Greene, Graham. The Comedians
Hailey, Arthur. The Hotel
Heller, Joseph. Catch-22
Holt, Victoria. Mistress of Mellyn
Kaufman, Bel. Up the Down Staircase
Kerouac, Jack. On the Road
Kesey, Ken. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
Le Carré, John. The Spy Who Came in from the Cold
Lee, Harper. To Kill a Mockingbird
Levin, Ira. Rosemary’s Baby
Lofts, Norah. The House at Old Vine
MacInnes, Helen. The Double Image
MacLean, Alistair. Where Eagles Dare
Malamud, Bernard. The Fixer
Michener, James. The Source
Oates, Joyce Carol. The Garden of Earthly Delights
O’Connor, Edwin. All in the Family
Porter, Katherine. Ship of Fools
Potok, Chaim. The Chosen
Renault, Mary. The Mask of Apollo
Seton, Anya. Avalon
Smith, Betty. Joy in the Morning
Stegner, Wallace. All the Little Live Things
Steinbeck, John. The Winter of Our Discontent
Stewart, Mary. The Gabriel Hounds
Styron, William. Confessions of Nat Turner
Susann, Jacqueline. Valley of the Dolls
Updike, Leon. Topaz
Vidal, Gore. Washington, D.C.
Vonnegut, Kurt Jr. Cat’s Cradle
Wilder, Thornton. The Eighth Day
Wouk, Herman. Don’t Stop the Carnival
The Lost City of the Monkey God: A True Story, by Douglas Preston
In this action-packed adventure story, thriller writer and reporter Douglas Preston joins documentary filmmaker Steve Elkins in searching for a lost city in Central America, first with lidar scans and later with archaeologists. The lidar, in which a small plane flies back and forth over the tree-tops firing laser pulses at the ground, has the team focusing on a few sites in the remote area of Mosquitia, Honduras, looking for the remains of pre-Colombian settlements. For centuries, there have been rumors of a Ciudad Blanca, or White City, although the author says that at least one earlier explorer, Theodore Morde, was panning for gold instead of searching for ruins. The site Elkin’s team travels to by helicopter is deep in the jungle, and they encounter spider monkeys, howler monkeys, and poisonous snakes before they even get to the archaeological site. Torrential rains mildew their clothes in just a few days, and they are wading through rivers and up slippery hillsides. They do find evidence of a large settlement, and hundreds of stone sculptures, possibly left when the city was abandoned. The story of the expedition makes for fascinating reading. The following chapter about the spread of disease in the early 1500s that all but wiped out many areas of Central America and the Caribbean is not such easy reading, but is followed by a contemporary medical mystery. Half of Elkin’s team come down with a hard-to-treat tropical disease, including Preston. Finally, Preston travels back to T1, where the president of Honduras is making an official visit. An incredible story that makes for exciting reading.
New York 2140, by Kim Stanley Robinson
Years after melting Antarctic ice has raised sea levels by 50 feet, New York City is partly submerged, with canals and sky bridges taking the place of streets, turning the city into a Super Venice. Vlade, superintendent of the Met Life Tower condo building keeps busy checking for leaks, when he’s not retrieving residents’ boats from the multilevel boathouse. Charlotte is head of the building’s condo board, and is faced with an anonymous bid to buy the building. The many and varied residents dine together, partly fed by rooftop gardens. Young orphans Roberto and Stefan have a boat and keep getting in trouble as they explore the city, and are repeatedly rescued by financial trader Franklin. In turn, the boys rescue their friend Mr. Hexter and his precious maps from a collapsing building. Inspector Gen of the NYPD, cloud star Amelia Black, who tours the globe in her blimp, and two kidnapped coders known as Mutt and Jeff round out the varied cast of characters who at first have only the building in common. When Roberto and Stefan find sunken gold in the Bronx but need help retrieving the treasure, the residents come together to help the boys, and after a bad hurricane, use the gold to help crash and remake the city’s economic system. Quite a fun, if lengthy read, full of adventure, about a possible future city with appealing, memorable characters.
The Glass Universe, by Dava Sobel
An absorbing history of women in astronomy and stellar photography, for readers of Hidden Figures. I enjoyed reading about the women computers and astronomers who worked at the Harvard College Observatory from 1877 through the 1930s, examining glass photographic plates of stars, and analyzing the data, working at half the pay of men. The observatory has a library of these photographs going back more than a hundred years, which is being digitized. These photographs led to several advances in astronomy, as did photographs of stellar spectra. Annie Draper, wanting to see her late husband’s work continue, funded much of the observatory’s work for years. Edward Pickering was the director for many years, followed by Harlow Shapley, and they oversaw new telescopes, expansion of the buildings, grants for women doing graduate work in astronomy, and new mountain observatories in Peru and South Africa. Sobel, known for her witty books on the history of science, such as Longitude, used information found in letters, memoirs, diaries, and notes of astronomy conferences to bring the women, including Annie Jump Cannon and Cecilia Payne, vividly to life.
The Beast Master and Lord of Thunder by Andre Norton
Andre Norton wrote over 130 science fiction and fantasy novels during a 70 year writing career. Born Alice Mary Norton in 1912, she started writing adventure stories for boys, and used the pen names Andrew North and Andre Norton, later changing her name to Andre. Her series include Witch World, Solar Queen, Forerunners, Time Traders, and Beast Master. The Beast Master was published in 1959, and a sequel, Lord of Thunder, was published in 1962. Together, they’ve been reprinted as Beast Master’s Planet, and both are set on the planet Arzor, and feature Beast Master Hosteen Storm, a Navajo from Terra. Terra has been destroyed by the alien Xik, and Storm is seeking both a new home and revenge. Storm can communicate telepathically with his animals, an African black eagle, a large feline named Surra, two meercats, and his new horse, Rain. He finds work as a herder on largely rural Arzor, while looking for land to settle on. Storm learns the sign language of the native Norbies, and befriends young Gorgol. They discover sealed caves, some of which have wondrous gardens, while others have machines of unknown purpose. The Xik are still a problem, and Storm tries desperately to prevent a war between the Norbies and the human settlers. Fast-paced, with appealing characters, a compelling story and plenty of adventure, these connected books are quick, enjoyable reads. I have read several other books by Andre Norton in the past, but this series was new to me. The series was continued in 2002 – 2006, in collaboration with Lyn McConchie, who wrote three more books based on outlines by Norton. These books are Beast Master’s Ark, Beast Master’s Circus, and Beast Master’s Quest. I expect to read more of Andre Norton’s books in the near future.