Widow Kate Warne becomes the first female Pinkerton agent in 1856 Chicago. Learning to pick locks, do surveillance, shoot a pistol, and to assume many disguises, Kate keeps having to prove herself in a man’s world. Kate helps prevent an assassination attempt on Abraham Lincoln, and frequently works undercover in Southern cities. I enjoyed reading about Kate’s interactions with the other Pinkerton agents, and with her landlady. This is a very suspenseful, compelling read, based on historical events, with complex, relatable characters. A good readalike for Amy Stewart’s Girl Waits With Gun, but with less family drama, this historical novel should be popular with book discussion groups.
On July 17 at 10 a.m., the Tuesday Morning Book Group will meet to discuss Pirate Hunters, by Robert Kurson. A real-life adventure story of danger and deep-sea diving, historic mystery and suspense, by the author of The Shadow Divers. Here’s my earlier review.
The Tuesday Evening Book Group will meet at 7 p.m. on July 24 to discuss Manhattan Beach, by Jennifer Egan. Anna Kerrigan is working at the Brooklyn Navy Yard who wants to be a diver and really contribute to the war effort, while also helping out her family and searching for information about her father Eddie. My earlier review is here.
The Crime Readers will meet again in September.
Attending a book discussion earns an extra entry for our Summer Reading Safari.
Happy Summer Reading!
I found this science fiction novel, a quick read, on the 2017 Locus Recommended Reading List. Locus Magazine reviews science fiction, fantasy, and horror. Set on Earth in the near future, aliens have made peaceful first contact. They have a ship in New York harbor, and want to meet evolutionary biologist Marianne Jenner. Her research may help the aliens find distant kin on Earth, including her son Noah. The aliens from Deneb have come to warn Earth about a deadly spore cloud they will soon encounter, and the race is on to prevent a pandemic. Noah, who uses the intoxicant sugarcane, quickly bonds with the Denebs. The aliens leave behind plans for a space ship, just as the spore cloud appears. This is the first book in a trilogy, so it’s no surprise that the spore cloud’s effects aren’t as dire as predicted. Marianne’s young grandson Colin has super hearing, along with many other young children. Predictably, there are ecological and financial problems from the spore cloud, and differing opinions about the proposed starships to Deneb. The book is fast-paced, with appealing characters, and slightly mysterious, nonviolent aliens. The second book is If Tomorrow Comes, to be followed in November by Terran Tomorrow. This book is based on the award-winning novella, Yesterday’s Kin, and is a good readalike for Kim Stanley Robinson’s ecologically focused science fiction, including Forty Signs of Rain and New York, 2140.
The Lost Queen of Crocker County by Elizabeth Leiknes
Jane Willow, the former Corn Queen of Crocker County, Iowa, moved to Los Angeles after high school to study film and hasn’t been home since. Now a successful film critic, she adores her practically perfect parents and wants them to move to L.A. Jane isn’t always likable, and has too much drama and tragedy in her life. I had a hard time believing the secrets she kept from her parents and best friend, Charlotte. Charlotte, who now runs a meatloaf hotline, is more interesting than teen Bliss and her screenplay. The story is a page-turner, but not quite the feel-good read I was expecting.
A heartwarming book about second chances and dealing with a serious illness set in southwest France. Jess broke up with Adam a few weeks after their son William’s birth. He didn’t seem interested in being a father or settling down. 10 years later, Jess, a creative writing teacher in Manchester, takes William to spend the summer with Adam at the chateau and cottages he’s remodeled in the Dordogne region. Jess’ mother Susan is quite ill and it’s her wish that William and Adam develop a close relationship. Adam is quite busy, but two of Jess’ friends arrive for vacation, along with three children. Full of gorgeous scenery, good food, and family drama, this is an engaging summer read. Along the way, there are cookouts, castles to tour, a waterfall to slide down, along with some romance.
A fascinating real life adventure, sure to appeal to fans of The Pirate Hunters. Mearns describes the research, fundraising, and dramatic searches needed to find historical shipwrecks. His teams have searched for a 15th century ship connected to Vasco de Gama, an Australian World War II hospital ship, and the freighter Lucona, which sank in the Indian Ocean in 1977 after an explosion in the cargo hold. This book is quite the page turner; I wanted to see if his team could find yet another long missing ship, and possibly discover why it sank. Equipment failures, conflicting eyewitness accounts, and rough weather make searches even more challenging.