Weldome to a new feature on Book Club Mom: Short Reviews of Recommended Reads. I hope you’ll take a look!
The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave: Hannah Michaels doesn’t know what to think when she reads a hasty note from her new husband, Owen. “Protect her” is all it says, referring, she thinks to his sixteen-year-old daughter, Bailey. When Owen doesn’t return home from his chief coding job at a California software startup, and when police arrest the CEO for embezzlement and fraud, Hannah suspects that Owen is on the run. But why is Bailey in danger? With limited information, Hannah must decide whether to hide or seek out a hunch she has. Soon they’re in Austin, chasing down memories that lead to Owen’s secret and dangerous past. Here, Hannah faces a difficult and irrevocable choice, but she’ll do anything to protect Owen’s daughter. A fast, light and easy read about families and secrets, good for the beach or a plane ride.
Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline: I liked this book that parallels the story of a young girl sent west on an orphan train from New York City in 1929 and a present-day Native American teenage girl who has struggled in the modern foster care system. I think Kline does an excellent job showing us how Niamh Power and these destitute orphaned children, both numb and frightened, must have felt as they traveled and met up with their matches, which were often far from perfect. In present day, Molly Ayer is a rebellious, Goth girl whose father has died and whose mother is addicted to drugs. Molly meets ninety-one year-old Niamh, now named Vivian, when she is assigned to a community service punishment for stealing a book. The two form a friendship as Molly helps Vivian sort through her attic and together they relive Vivian’s story.
The Giver by Lois Lowry: The Giver is a terrific thought-provoking middle school read, great for adults too. It is the story of a controlled society in which there are no choices or conflict. When Jonas turns twelve, he must train with The Giver and prepare to receive all the memories of love, happiness, war and pain. During his training, Jonas learns the hard truth about his community and its rules and knows he must act decisively to bring about change. The best part about this book is that every word counts. Lois Lowry is great at describing her characters and their community. She includes meaningful foreshadowing that leads the reader through a gradual understanding of what might initially seem like an acceptable way to live. She accomplishes this by revealing just enough details and we realize the facts just as Jonas does. The Giver ends just as you want to learn more. And thankfully, there is more to the story in Messenger, Gathering Blue and Son.
Background: Mary Anne and her husband live in Canton, GA with an ill-tempered Tuxedo cat named Gertrude. Mary Anne volunteers at MUST Ministries and is a library liaison for her local chapter of Friends of the Library.
When did you first decide you wanted to be a writer: In 2009, my sister was involved in a shooting. That was how the Charlie McClung Mystery Series began.
Do you write full-time? If not, do you have an outside job or other responsibilities? Yes, I write full-time, sort of. Once a week, I volunteer for a non-profit who help those who are financially and food insecure.
If you write fiction, where do you get your ideas for characters and plots? The first idea for my fiction series began with the tragic shooting of sister, fortunately she lived. The other plots originate from a combination of music lyrics, news stories, and the devious side of my brain. My characters are like Frankenstein, bits and pieces from people I observe.
For fiction writers, have you ever written yourself into a story? Some people who know my husband me and have read my books asks if the two main protagonists are us. Yes, they are, well, the wish-we-were versions.
If you write nonfiction, tell me about your projects. What subjects motivate you? I’m writing a cookbook inspired the Charlie McClung Mysteries. My fans wanted it.
What kind of research and preparation do you do before you write? The series is set during the 1980s, so I do a lot of research to ensure things did or didn’t exist during that time period. I have a team of subject matter experts, a forensic pathologist, FBI agent, retired chief of police, a doctor specializing in poisons, a nurse practitioner, and the internet. I want my stories as accurate as possible down to the weather and what the crime scene would look like.
What is your editing process? Do you hire an outside editor? I cannot self-edit. My husband does two edits. Then I send it to an outside editor.
How do you decide on your book covers? Do you outsource? I outsource my book covers. I give them the short description of the book, genre, and a few ideas, then they work their magic.
How did you come up with the title of your latest book? From song lyrics, mainly Tom Petty
What route did you take to get published? Describe your experience.: I spoke with indie/trad writers who steered me toward indie. It’s been an eye-opening adventure.
Have you ever tried to get an agent? If so, what steps did you take? Nope!
What kinds of things do you do to promote your book? Amazon ads, social media, paid promotions, blogs, and word of mouth
Have you ever had a book-signing event? Tell us about your experience. I’ve had successful ones and some embarrassingly duds.
Have you taken writing courses? Yes, lots of them
Do you belong to a writer’s group? If so, is it in-person or online? Tell us about your experience. I used to be a member of Sisters in Crime, in person group, which I enjoyed.
Are you in a book club? If so, tell us about it. Is it in-person or online? Friends or acquaintances? I’m a member of an in-person mystery book club with friends and neighbors.
Do you ask friends/family to read your WIP? Friends and fans
Name three unread books on your bookshelf. Dark Tide Rising, Evil Never Dies, and Tidewater Inn
What is the last book you read? Defending Jacob
How many pages do you think a book of fiction/nonfiction should be? I don’t care if the book holds my interest.
What is the riskiest or wildest thing you’ve ever done? I went sliding down the side of a dam like all the other kids were doing.
What is the hardest thing you’ve ever done? Having to plan my mother’s funeral
What advice can you give to new writers entering the writing and publishing arena? Save a lot of money for your writing expenses. Don’t worry about writing every day. Family comes first.
I’m kicking off the new year with a new feature: Short Reviews of Recommended Reads. Take a look!
A Girl Named Truth by Alethea Kehas – I learned a lot about my blogging friend Alethea in this engrossing and beautifully written memoir about her unconventional upbringing, and more importantly, her struggle to know how truth (her namesake) fits into the narrative of her life. From her early days of rustic camping in Oregon, to life on the run with her mother and older sister in various Hare Krishna compounds, to a new chapters in New Hampshire, Alethea adapts, yet yearns to understand where she fits in. Particularly troubling is her father’s distance, a man who had once searched for his daughters, but gave up. For Alethea, truth and understanding come full circle as she enters marriage and motherhood. There’s lots more in this book. Stay tuned for a special author interview in February!
Don’t Let Go by Harlan Coben – Nap Dumas is a rogue detective in North Jersey, haunted by the deaths fifteen years earlier of his twin brother, Leo, his brother’s girlfriend, Diana Styles, and the disappearance of Nap’s girlfriend, Maura, When Maura’s fingerprints turn up on a car, Nap becomes obsessed with discovering what really happened during the fall of their senior year in high school. In question are his brother’s Conspiracy Club and the government’s Nike missile base in their town during the 1970s. Now it seems that someone is killing off the other Conspiracy Club members. Captain Augie Styles still mourns the death of his only child and feels particularly vulnerable with these new developments. I’m always drawn to books set in New Jersey and knew nothing about the Nike missile bases planted in the area, so learning about that was interesting to me. Overall, however, a typical fast troubled-detective story.
Djinn Patrol on the Purple Lineby Deepa Anappara – Jai is a nine-year-old boy living with his family in the crowded slums of a large Indian city. When one of his classmates disappears, Jai and his friends form a detective club to solve the mystery, only to discover a series of terrible crimes. This mystery portrays a vivid and sobering look at the desperate lives of many poor people living in metropolitan India. Despite their impoverishment, Jai and his family cling to their beliefs and traditions. The author also shows the conflicts between Hindus and their Muslim neighbors, who are quickly blamed for the crimes. A multitude of terms and references make this a bit of a slow read, but very moving and informative.
I loved this terrific novel about Daunis Fontaine, a young woman who witnesses a shocking murder and agrees to go undercover for an FBI investigation into the proliferation of a dangerous type of locally manufactured methamphetamine. The investigation, and a developing romance with the enigmatic Jamie Johnson, an agent posing as a hockey player, completely upends Daunis’s already shaky balance between the Fontaine side of her family and her Ojibwe father’s Firekeeper family. Set in 2003-4, in Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan, Daunis Fontaine lives with her mother, near the Ojibwe reservation where her Firekeeper family lives. Much of the two communities’ activities revolve around ice hockey and the high school, where Daunis has just completed her senior year.
Although her father, Levi, died years earlier, Daunis has close ties to the Firekeepers: Gramma Pearl, Aunt Teddie and Daunis’s half-brother, Levi. She’s equally close to her maternal grandmother, Grand Mary, who just suffered a stroke. And she wants to protect her mother, Grace, who mourns the unexpected death Daunis’s Uncle David. To help her mother care for Grand Mary, Daunis will attend college in town, instead of her dream school, University of Michigan.
The tension between the Fontaines and the Firekeepers goes back to when Grace, “the richest white girl in town” met Levi, a promising hockey player. When Grace discovered she was pregnant, her parents sent her away to have the baby and kept Levi Firekeeper’s name off the birth certificate. And when Grace returned, she discovered that Levi had married someone else and had fathered another baby, Levi, Jr.
Daunis fills her life with Ojibwe rituals, including daily offerings of semaa, a tobacco used to give thanks and communicate with the spirit world, and attends powwows to celebrate her tribal heritage. Aunt Teddie, a strong role model, wants to help Daunis become a strong woman, yet protects her from knowing too much too soon about the Ojibwe women’s blanket parties, a secret ritual that dispenses justice to men who have abused them.
Readers also learn about the community’s connections to each other and its racial divides, its struggles with drug abuse and alcoholism as well as the differences between enrolled Ojibwe descendants who receive allowances from the tribe’s casino, and others, like Daunis, who are not enrolled. But the Ojibwe, despite their problems, always show respect for the elders and the important wisdom they offer and this becomes an important theme of the book.
As the investigation continues, more young people go missing and questions arise about a drug ring inside the community. Daunis learns shocking truths about the people close to her, including Jamie, and she must make hard decisions about her future.
I enjoyed learning about the Ojibwe tribe, its beliefs and rituals, as well as the modern problems its members experience. And of course, it’s a sober reminder of the injustices Native Americans have suffered at the hands of white colonists. Although this is a Young Adult book, I think it’s an excellent read for all ages. The author, Angeline Boulley, is an enrolled member of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. This is her first novel.
I always enjoy new fiction, but I also love when I discover an excellent older book. I’m not talking about classics, but more recent books I missed when they were first published. The Cutting Season was published in 2012 and although it’s a suspenseful murder mystery, I’d also describe it as literature with well-developed characters and themes.
Set in 2009 Louisiana on Belle Vie, a former sugar cane plantation turned tourist attraction and wedding venue, Locke tells the story of four generations connected to Belle Vie and ties together two murders, over a hundred years apart. Caren Gray, the main character, grew up on the plantation, owned by the Clancy family and where, her mother, Helen was the cook. Their family traces back to Caren’s great-great-great-grandfather, Jason, a slave worker who mysteriously disappeared in 1872. Now Caren manages Belle Vie, including a staff of re-enactors who play the roles of slaves. The grounds are limited to the land adjacent to the cane fields. Groveland Farms leases the fields and, instead of employing locals, hires immigrant workers from Mexico and Central America.
Although Belle Vie is not far from New Orleans and Baton Rouge, Caren leads an isolated life on the property where she’s raising her nine-year-old daughter, Morgan Ellis. Caren returned to Belle Vie in 2005, after Hurricane Katrina and a crumbling relationship with Morgan’s father, Eric. The couple had met during law school, but Caren was unable to finish.
The story opens when a Belle Vie maintenance worker discovers the body of Inés Avalo, a Groveland employee. Her body was found along the inside of the fence that divides Belle Vie and the leased land. Detectives immediately suspect one of the re-enactors, Donovan Isaacs, who has mysteriously disappeared.
Also at play is the Clancy family: Leland and his sons Raymond and Bobby, who fell into ownership when a Clancy ancestor acquired the plantation after the Civil War. When Leland ran Belle Vie, during which time Caren and Leland’s sons grew up, he made sure to do his part to correct the injustices against blacks. Bobby, for unknown reasons, is out of the picture and Raymond now runs Belle Vie. He’s counting on his father’s legacy to help his political aspirations.
Caren feels a complex connection to Belle Vie, as do all the people who work there. Some have family ties to the place, but the young players, including Donovan, are still learning Belle Vie’s history. She’s also uneasy around Raymond, who still reminds her of his position of authority. Bobby had always been her favorite and Caren wonders about Raymond when Bobby returns to warn her about his money-grubbing brother.
Not just a suspenseful mystery, this is a story about how an ugly period of American history fits into a modern setting and how its characters deal with their own history and its connection to slavery. Should places like Belle Vie continue to exist to educate new generations, or are they just glossy versions of a shameful period?
Recent medical school graduate Liza Larkin knows something is wrong when she sees a stranger in the background of three family photos, including one from her father’s funeral. When a reverse-image search identifies Dr. Samuel Donovan, a top trauma surgeon in the Boston area, Liza switches her first-choice residency to Titus McCall Medical Center where Donovan works. Liza wants to keep an eye on this mysterious doctor and potential stalker. She can take care of herself, but she wants to protect her mother, Emily, a schizophrenic patient at nearby Home & Hearth Healing. She feels guilty about putting her mother in a psychiatric facility, but knows she could not provide adequate home-care.
Liza may be a strong woman, but she struggles with schizoid personality disorder and mourns her father, Kevin who was her best advocate. He refused to label his daughter. “You are not a list of symptoms, Liza. You are not a diagnosis. You are you, you are special,” he told her. Kevin, a rising politician, survived a shooting and immediately retired to open a food truck business, only to die from a heart attack two years later. Now Liza hears his voice in her head, guiding her decisions.
A little background information: schizoid personality disorder is not schizophrenia. It’s a condition “characterized by a lack of interest in social relationships, a tendency toward a solitary or sheltered lifestyle, secretiveness, emotional coldness, detachment and apathy.” (Wikipedia) Liza has a history of defending others with violence, but regular therapy has taught her how to overcome these tendencies and become more social. Combined with long runs and vigorous boxing workouts she manages her condition and has a small circle of friends. One concerning fact: Liza has stopped her therapy.
As Liza digs into medical records, she discovers a disturbing pattern of Donovan’s patients who suffered severe trauma but died from different causes after they recovered. Donovan’s god-like image will be hard to bring down, however, and Liza may have met her match. The closer she gets to uncovering Donovan as a murderer, the more reckless and crazed she becomes.
Wow, I really enjoyed this tightly-written story, Rubin’s latest medical/psychological thriller. Rubin does a great job with Liza’s character, who is far from perfect and sometimes makes bad decisions. Readers also learn what life is like for a first-year resident and about hospital administrative hierarchies. And through often-humorous dialogue and description, one of Rubin’s trademarks, we also get to know the side characters. As in her other books, she keeps the story current, highlighting some of society’s problems such as opiate addiction, obesity, and mental illness, as well as progress in social issues such as gay marriage.
The title is a clever play on words, referring to both doctors’ rounds and a boxing match. Donovan seems to be winning the rounds, but who will win the match?
Fatal Rounds is the first in the Liza Larkin series. I’m looking forward to the next one!
Books: Your Words, Your Life Story; Girls Succeed! Stories Behind the Careers of Successful Women; Arranging a Dream: A Memoir; Deadly Undertaking; Dangerous Sanctuary; Terror on Sunshine Boulevard; Quick Tips on Vegetable Gardening
Bio: I’ve always been a writer in my heart, but being a mom and making an income were top priorities. I taught third graders until my husband and I decided to pursue our dream of being entrepreneurs in the floral and greenhouse operation. After we sold the shop, I had time to pursue another dream, writing as we traveled full-time in our fifth-wheel camper.
What got you started as a writer? My mom. She was my second-grade teacher. When I finished my assignment, I’d visit my classmates. My mother was not happy with me for interrupting them in getting their assignments done. She told me to stay at my desk and write stories. So I did. And I guess I never stopped.
What is your writing routine? I set aside time to write every day after lunch. Sometimes it’s research when necessary. At first, it was difficult to sit down and write instead of finishing the laundry or reading a book. Now, if I have to miss my writing time due to an appointment or a meeting, etc., I resent it.
What route did you take to get your books published? After receiving 22 rejections from publishers, I self-published an eBook on Smashwords. I thought I would pull out all my hair before I accomplished this chore in 2010. For my first mystery, I decided to find a publisher after going through the frustration of self-publishing. I queried one who turned me down. I sent the second query to a startup eBook publisher who accepted the book. The publisher said they “liked my voice.” I’ll never forget that. Now I am a hybrid author with self-published nonfiction books and with mysteries and a memoir published by a traditional publisher.
What things do you do to promote your books? Virtual book/ blog tour, book signings and presentations, social media, an author website for blogging, hosting authors and being a guest at their blogs and podcasts. Plus, I publish a quarterly newsletter.
What is your favorite genre to read and why? Historical fiction to learn about 19th and 20th-century history.
Do you prefer to write dialogue or description? I love to write dialogue when the characters banter back and forth.
Have any of your characters ever surprised you? Yes, I thought I was writing a character who was so kind and helpful until it turned out she was a manipulator only looking out for herself. Did this change the plot of your book? Yes, she did. For the best, I might add.
What is the most difficult thing you have accomplished in your life? I haven’t really accomplished the job of being a mother, but it IS the most difficult challenge I’ve ever had and can still be today! I think one is always a mother even if the kid is old enough to collect social security. Grandmothering is so much more fun…
What three events or people have most influenced how you live your life? My Grandmother, Maw, really encouraged me to be a writer. My husband, Ted, has led us on a life of adventure and worldwide experiences. My friend, Bernie, instilled in me to be the best floral designer I could be and a businesswoman of integrity.
What would you tell your younger self? Stop spinning my wheels. Realize there are times when there is nothing I can do about a situation.
Have you ever met up with a bear on a hike?If so, what did you do? If not, are you looking up what to do right now? I have never met a bear on a hike; however, I have been in places with warnings that bears are in the area and read the posted signs that say “do not run.” To follow their advice seems impossible to me. I love to see bears but from the inside of the tour bus.
You’re locked in your local library for the night with no dinner. Thank goodness you have water, but you only have enough change to buy one item from the vending machine. Choices are limited to: Fudge Pop Tarts, Snickers or Doritos. Which would you choose and why? Snickers! What a treat to have loads of library books to read while munching a Snickers bar!
What’s the largest number of people you’ve had in your kitchen at one time? Actually helping in the kitchen? Probably 3. But sitting at the breakfast counter or standing in the way e.g. in front of the refrigerator? Probably 10.
Closing thoughts: Thank you for the opportunity to be a guest on your series, Who’s That Indie Author? To the readers, thank you for stopping in today. I look forward to reading your comments and answering questions you have about writing. Please, keep in touch via the links below.
Books: Hollystone Mysteries—To Charm a Killer, To Sleep with Stones, To Render a Raven, To Kill a King, and Lure River Romances—Lure: Jesse & Hawk
Bio: W. L. Hawkin writes mysterious romantic adventures from her home on Vancouver Island, Canada. Wendy graduated from Trent University with a BA in Indigenous Studies, then went on to study English literature at SFU in British Columbia, and teach high school. She found her voice publishing poetry and Native Rights articles in Canadian news magazines and is now an Indie author/publisher at Blue Haven Press.
What got you started as a writer? I started writing poetry as a teenager to make sense of my world: “It’s a maze. It’s a haze. It’s a crazy place.” But when I saw Romancing the Stone in the 1980s, I wanted to be a romance novelist. Shortly after that, I wrote the first draft of what has become my latest romantic suspense release (Lure: Jesse & Hawk).
What is your writing routine? I write when the muse is with me and then for as long as my body holds out—some days six hours if I’m on, and other days not at all.
What routes did you take to get your books published? When I first wrote To Charm a Killer, I sent it to a few agents and publishers. I had some interest, but no one wanted to commit to a first-time author who wrote blended genres. It’s hard to sell. So, I took a chance and published it myself. By that time, I’d finished my fourth book in the Hollystone Mysteries, I’d learned the ropes.
What things do you do to promote your books? I created a solid website and keep it updated. I enter contests and do readings/sales in my local community. Last year, I started working with a publicist who booked me on all kinds of media (TV, radio, podcasts, magazines) so I became comfortable talking about myself and my work (again, not easy for an introvert). I’m now able to approach people like you, Barb, and ask.
What is your favorite genre to read and why? Mystery/suspense is my favourite, no matter what century it’s set, and that’s what I write as well. Sometimes I venture into fantasy and action/adventure. I’m a regular reviewer with the Ottawa Review of Books so receive excellent ARCs from Canadian publishers.
Do you prefer to write dialogue or description? I don’t have a preference and you need to balance both in a scene to make it dynamic.
Have any of your characters ever surprised you? Did this change the plot of your book? Absolutely, and often. Once I connect with my characters, I meditate to get into an almost trance-like space where I can see and hear what’s happening. I’ve had reviewers say my writer is “cinematic” and I think that’s why. In To Sleep with Stones, one of the characters died in a very dramatic scene and I had no idea that was going to happen. I wrote that sequence in tears, and I think that raw emotion comes through to the reader.
What is the most difficult thing you have accomplished in your life? I quit high school in grade ten. In my mid-thirties, I was compelled to finish. One of the courses was Native Ancestry 11, and I had such an epiphany with that content, I wanted to go on and take university courses in Indigenous Studies. Coincidentally, I wrote the first draft of Lure: Jesse & Hawk, my latest release during that time. My ex-husband didn’t support me, so I left my marriage and completed my B.A. as a single mother going part-time to university courses for years. That was a challenging time, but also a healing time for me.
What three events or people have most influenced how you live your life? One: reading The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell in 1990 blew open my world and taught me to follow my “bliss.” Two: leaving my marriage and taking my young daughter taught me many things about living in this world. Three: graduating from university and getting my first paying gig as a teacher gave me financial independence and a sense of moral/ethical living in a community.
What would you tell your younger self? Borrowing from my mentor, Joseph Campbell, I’d say follow your passion, your bliss, and doors will open for you. Bundle up your problems and leave them outside, then walk through that door carrying a sense of curiosity, wonder, and hope.
Have you ever met up with a bear on a hike? If so, what did you do? If not, are you looking up what to do right now? I sure have! I live in the Pacific Northwest on bear territory so regularly see them. Remember that you’re a guest on their land, back up slowly, and give them the right of way. Hawk meets up with a bear in Lure, and unfortunately, he’s unable to back up and walk away, but that’s another story.
You’re locked in your local library for the night with no dinner. Thank goodness you have water, but you only have enough change to buy one item from the vending machine. Choices are limited to: Fudge Pop Tarts, Snickers or Doritos. Which would you choose and why? Doritos by default, despite the crumbs. I can’t eat gluten or cow dairy so until they start making junk food gluten free, and chocolate out of water buffalo milk and/or pure cocoa butter, I’ll stick to my corn chips.
What’s the largest number of people you’ve had in your kitchen at one time? In my whole lifetime? Probably a dozen at my parent’s wedding anniversary.
If you’re looking for an excellent classic mystery, I highly recommend The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins. It was first published in serial form in 1859-60, in Charles Dickens’ magazine All Year Round and in Harper’s Weekly and in book form in 1860. So it’s an old book, set in Victorian England, but don’t be put off by that because the plot is so clever and varied and the characters surprisingly relevant and modern, I never felt bogged down. I should mention that the book is also very long: the print version is 720 pages.
We’ve gotten away from reading long books, don’t you think? We live in a world in which there’s too much content to absorb and talk about. I feel like it all has to be done in the fastest time possible so we can move to the next book, show, movie, song, etc. I’m just as much a victim of that mentality as everyone else, but I also feel myself shifting to a different reading attitude. When readers were first enjoying The Woman in White, they were reading it a chapter at a time and looking forward to the next installment. Just like TV shows that used to be weekly and gave us time between to look forward to what might happen next. Now everything is a binge. Okay, rant over, time to talk about the book!
Set outside and in London, the story begins with drawing instructor Walter Hartright who accepts a position to tutor two young women at their estate (Limmeridge House). Marian Halcombe and Laura Fairlie are half sisters and they live with Laura’s reclusive and uncle, Frederick Fairlie. The night before Walter leaves for Limmeridge House, he meets a mysterious woman in white who has escaped from an asylum. She asks him to help her and he agrees.
At Limmeridge and as predicted, Walter falls in love with the beautiful Laura and she with him, but the relationship cannot be acknowledged because Laura is betrothed to Sir Percival Glyde, an arranged marriage. Meanwhile, the mysterious woman in white, Anne Catherick, who looks a lot like Laura, is seen around Limmeridge. While that’s one of the mysteries readers will need to be patient about, we learn early on that Anne had local connections and was taken under Marian’s mother’s wing for a short period of time. Now it’s getting complicated, but wait! In a plot to get Laura’s money, Sir Percival and his closest friend, the slick-talking Count Isidor Ottavio Baldassare Fosco from Italy, concoct a scheme with shocking results. I don’t want to give anything away, so I’ll leave the rest out. There are plenty of twists, close calls, and dramatic scenes to keep you wanting more.
I do need to note that Marian Halcombe is one of the best and most likable characters in the story. No surprise that one of the book’s major themes is about women’s rights, as Marian is a strong woman with a smart mind. I also enjoyed Fosco’s character. You can’t trust him, but he’s extremely accommodating and pleasant and so fun to observe.
Besides being about women and their rights during the mid-1800s, the story is also about class, titles, money, inheritances, land rights, deception, suspicion of foreigners, international intrigue, love and friendship. The book begins and ends with Walter Hartright’s narration, but Collins includes substantial testimonials by Marian Halcombe, Frederick Fairlie, Fosco, solicitors, housekeepers and other minor characters. The last section reads like a detective novel and helps solve the mystery.
I highly recommend The Woman in White. If you don’t have time for the book, there are plenty of adaptations to enjoy.
Have you read this classic? Are you interested now? What’s your opinion of long books and the rush to consume content? Leave a comment.
Interested in more books by Wilkie Collins? Read my review of The Moonstonehere.
Hi Everyone! Today I’d like to welcome Noelle Granger, today’s contributor to What’s That Book. Thank you, Noelle!
I’d like to welcome Kathleen Le Dain as a contributor to What’s That Book.
Title: Something to Hide: A Lynley Novel
Author: Elizabeth George
Genre: British mystery, police procedural
Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
What’s it about? Elizabeth George is an American writer who sets her mysteries in Great Britain. There are eighteen books in this series and I’ve read more than half of them. Her main character is Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley, the eighth earl of Asherton, who has a massive intellect and who struggles constantly with his background. The books have followed him over the years, through his marriage and the loss of his wife and child, and his tolerance for the foibles of his co-workers.
His partner is the decidedly unattractive Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers, who comes from a much lower class. Lynley and Havers clash constantly because she is short-tempered and very aware of her class, making her very difficult to work with. Winston Nkata is his Detective Constable, a very tall black African with a remarkable scar on his face who can relate to victims where Havers cannot.
George writes massive books, and I’ve heard complaints they can be used a doorstops. But despite the length, they are works of art—fiercely intelligent, stunningly researched, and always enticing. This novel concerns the practice of FGM (female genital mutilation) an underground, ritual practice in the Nigerian population of London. As usual with her books, written in third person omniscient, the story opens with vignettes of various characters that at first seem disconnected but which become increasingly entangled as the story unfolds. The central plot is the death, later deemed murder, of a black police sergeant who is investigating FGM in the Nigerian community. Lynley is assigned to the case, which has cultural associations that are completely foreign to him. As usual with George, there are a number of threads to the solution to the case, including a father’s cruel, violent insistence on subjecting his eight-year-old daughter to the practice. I kept reading on because I had no idea who the murderer was and there were plenty of candidates.
George’s character development is compelling and in this book, we learn more about Havers (who makes me want to tear my hair out) and Nakata, a gentle giant with a wonderful family. The author teaches the reader a good deal about the tribal origins of FGM and the work the British police are doing to root out its practice and stop it.
How did you hear about it? This book was on a best seller list.
Have you read other books by this author? Yes, quite a few.
What did you like about the book? The entangled plot line and the characters.
Closing comments: I consider Elizabeth George an author in the footsteps of Dame PD James.
Contributor:N (Noelle) A. Granger is a Professor Emerita at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. She is the author of the Rhe Brewster mystery series and the historical fiction novel, The Last Pilgrim. You can learn more about Noelle at saylingaway.wordpress.comand na-granger.com. She lives in Durham, North Carolina, with her husband and a Maine coon cat.
Have you read something good? Want to talk about it?Consider being a contributor to What’s That Book.
Email Book Club Mom at email@example.com for information.
You must be logged in to post a comment.