The Murder of Mary Russell

jacketThe Murder of Mary Russell by Laurie King

The title of the 14th book in the Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series may have fans rather worried. I’m not going to reveal much of the plot, just reassure readers that Laurie King continues to take this series in new and creative directions, including setting part of this book in Australia. Sherlock’s housekeeper Clara Hudson shares center stage here with Mary Russell, and I quite enjoyed getting to know her better. Very suspenseful, with a little humor; a thoroughly satisfying read.

Brenda

 

Wild by Nature

wild by nature jacketWild by Nature by Sarah Marquis

A short but stunning memoir of the ultimate real life adventure. Sarah Marquis, a National Geographic explorer, spent two years planning a three-year journey trekking across east Asia and Australia, mostly from north to south. She starts in Mongolia, then China, back up to Siberia, then through Laos and Thailand before taking a cargo ship to Darwin, on the north coast of Australia and walking to the south coast. She hikes alone, often disguised as a man, carrying a 40 pound backpack and pushing a 110 pound cart, carrying two weeks worth of food and water. There is a detour for a medical emergency, but she is returned to the evacuation point. Sarah communicates with her expedition leader occasionally by satellite phone, has a contact in each country, and shops for food in tiny villages. Mongolian horsemen harass her by riding around and around her tent at night, but women in the villages help her even when they have no shared language. The weather extremes are often a challenge. She clearly loves being close to nature, and even relishes her time in the deserts. The Swiss explorer is in demand as a motivational speaker, but clearly prefers to be on the move. Learn more and watch her speak on her website.

Brenda

The Rosie Project

rosie project jacketThe Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

I really enjoyed reading this heartwarming romantic comedy. Australian genetics professor Don Tillman, who may remind readers of television’s Sheldon Cooper, has been on many first dates but no second dates. Striving for more efficiency on the Wife Project, he compiles a questionnaire to weed out women who smoke, drink too much, are often late, and are vegetarians. His friends, fellow professor Gene and his psychologist wife Claudia, encourage him to be more open-minded. Don likes routine and efficiency, and clashes with his Dean when a student plagiarizes an essay. Then along comes Rosie. She smokes, is late, works in a bar part-time, and only eats sustainable seafood. She is not at all suitable, but is intelligent, beautiful, and very good company. Rosie asks Don to help her find her biological father, and they initiate the Father Project, which even takes them on a trip to New York City, where Don discovers baseball. Don is frequently clueless but often charming, and struggles with the idea of love, while unpredictable Rosie is more than she appears at first. This first novel is a thoroughly engaging read.

Brenda

 

Murder and Mendelssohn

mendelssohn jacketMurder and Mendelssohn by Kerry Greenwood

Although this is the 20th book in the Phryne Fisher series, this mystery could be a fine place to start. The books are set in late 1920s Melbourne, Australia, and the city is vividly described. Asked by Detective Jack Robinson to help investigate the murder of a choir director, Phryne joins the choir, which is preparing to perform Mendelssohn’s Elijah. During rehearsals, lunches, and parties thrown by the flamboyant soloist “Auntie” Mark, Phryne considers the possible suspects. In a parallel story, Rupert Sheffield, a mathematician in town to give lectures on the science of deduction has had some close calls. Phryne dislikes the very arrogant Sheffield, but his assistant, Dr. John Wilson, was a dear friend of hers in World War I, where she drove an ambulance and he was a medic. The reader learns that not only is Sheffield a former intelligence agent for MI6, but so is Phryne. Phryne’s assorted household, including the dog, helps with the two cases, and Phryne plays matchmaker for Dr. Wilson. Phryne and her friends are always good company, and so is the choir. I was even inspired to listen to a recording of Mendelssohn’s Elijah.

I listened to the audiobook, narrated by Stephanie Daniel. The print book will be coming out in May, several month after being published in Australia.

Brenda

Phryne Fisher mystery series

phryne jacketUnnatural Habits by Kerry Greenwood

This is the latest book in the the Australian mystery series set in and around Melbourne in the 1920s. The first book is the unfortunately named Cocaine Blues. Phryne grew up poor in Melbourne before her father inherited an aristocratic title, drove an ambulance in World War I, and was an artist’s model in Paris. Now she’s single and wealthy in Melbourne, and a fearless private detective. She has lots of adventures, and has a lover, as well as two adopted daughters. In the latest outing, pregnant women who had been living (and working) at a convent have gone missing from their maternity house, along with Polly, a reporter who was searching for them. Phryne also acquires a new member of the household, 14-year-old Tinker. For more about Phryne and her friends, visit the author’s website. Greenwood also write the Corinna Chapman series, set in modern day Melbourne. Read my review of Earthly Delights here.

Brenda

Earthly Delights

Earthly Delights by Kerry Greenwood

The Corinna Chapman mystery series by Kerry Greenwood is an unexpected pleasure. Kerry is best know for her Phryne Fisher series, set in 1920s Melbourne with the exotic and now rich private investigator Phryne. The Earthly Delights books are set in modern Melbourne, in and around an eccentric Roman-style apartment building. Corinna, a former accountant, now bakes artisan bread, and groans everytime the alarm rings at 4:00am. She acquires an unusual young apprentice, and has two actress/model hopefuls as shop assistants. Corinna also has a nose for solving crimes. We meet the quirky residents of her building, vicariously enjoy some wonderful meals, and explore the best and also the poorer parts of Melbourne. I’ve read and enjoyed the first four books in the series and have two more to go. Visit Kerry’s website for more about Corinna, Melbourne, and some delicious looking recipes. The books are:

Earthly Delights

Heavenly Pleasures

Devil’s Food

Trick or Treat

Forbidden Fruit

Cooking the Books

 

Enjoy, and let me know if you try any of the recipes.

Brenda