31 December 2011

What I am reading: December 2011

I started reading the first 2 last month (in the case of the McAdams for the second time), but didn't finish reading them before December started. I read Joan Hess' Claire Malloy #4 in June, and the 7,8, 15 and 16th in October, but am re-reading them as I wrap them up to send back to Mom.

I fell a bit behind in book reading as, although I had no German class this month, there was quite a bit going on with the kids, the holidays, and running around. Did a bit of magazine reading catch up.
  1. Bon Courage: rediscovering the Art of Living (in the Heart of France) (2010) by Ken McAdams: Interesting story of a man who, with his second wife, made a new life in France. Decently written for a first attempt by a non-writer (originally pilot). From my area of the states, so always more interesting:-).
  2. Dear Miss Demeanor (1987) by Joan Hess:I think this is (yes, it is)actually the 3rd in the Claire Malloy, book seller sleuth, mystery series and although short, it reads well. A classic cyanide mystery and a display of the romance with Peter Rosen, police detective. Incredible to think that the romance will take another 20 years to resolve! Claire is dragged in as a substitute teacher to Farber High, when the journalism teacher is accused of embezzlement (perhaps certification for substitutes isn't required in some states?). I really liked the characterization and the story line, although I figured out the answer far before Claire did.
  3. A Diet to Die For (1989) by Joan Hess: The 5th Claire Malloy. Still struggling along with her book business (but never as scared as I was when I struggled with my own business- I wonder if she has a huge insurance policy from her late husband that allows her to pay for health insurance for herself and daughter Caron? And to never worry about rent or food or keeping a business together?) but able to take the time to detect. "Hires" an assistant to help out her neighbor (but whose wages are paid for by the neighbor) and the assistant, a future heiress, first has mood swings, then has a mysterious heart attack. Is it related to a mysterious and fatal heart attack suffered by a young student athlete at Farber College. Enjoyable.
  4. Death by the Light of the Moon (1992) by Joan Hess: Next up, the 7th Claire Malloy. A re-read. Claire forces Carl to Loisiana to meet her grand-mother on her deceased father's side: the Southern side of the family she doesn't know. Dripping with Spanish moss, but interesting. Too bad the family connections don't show in any of the following books.
  5. Poisoned Pins (1993) by Joan Hess: And the 8th. Reading these through again, in order, makes me realize a few things. First, I have read more of these than I had thought. And second, it's annoying having so much external time pass by and yet so little time within the series. Here, Claire reminisces on being a "co-ed" in the early 70's, yet in the 90's, she is not yet 40. Which is fair. But as I keep reading the series into 2010, Claire remains just 40 and her daughter Caron still hasn't made the span from 14 to 18. This involves the sorority next door to Claire's apartment: the 4 girls staying over the summer all seem to have issues, but the one who is killed in what seems to be a hit-and-run seems to have hidden (and murky) depths. Still no real development of her relationship with Peter Rosen.
  6. Closely Akin to Murder (1996) by Joan Hess: Claire Malloy #11.I can see that my numbering has been thrown off because some books in the series are not out from St. Martin's, but from Minotaur. Eg, this isn't listed on the inside flap of my other books. I really did not like the plot of this story- a cousin Claire thought was dead returns and asks for help in finding a blackmailer.Depressing story and depressing ending.
  7. A Holly, Jolly Murder (1997) by Joan Hess: At last a Claire Malloy (#12) that I have not read before. But it was not as good as Mummy, Dearest. With several characters being Wiccan and pagan, I found the tone dismissive and patronizing. It's a religion and I don't see the need to be intolerant of it. Also, although I understand that this is a mystery series and therefore, there needs to be a murder, reading all these Hess' so close together is making me think that if I knew Claire Malloy, I would move far away from her: talk about Red Shirts! It's lucky she dates the head of the CID, because any police officer should consider someone involved with so many murders to be a very suspicious person. Farberville must have a homicide rate higher than that of Washington, DC. I see there is a cross-over from her Maggody series, but I am unfamiliar with it, so I didn't get a kick from it.
  8. A Conventional Corpse (2000) by Joan Hess: (Claire Malloy #13)A mystery convention is being held at Farber College and Claire is only supposed to be the bookseller when she is roped in to replace the organizer and general gofer. The mystery writers all share an editor, who appears without warning. A fan dies "accidently" and then the editor as well. The ending was incredibly outre for this type of mystery. I did like the look at the world of a tiny convention, though. SPOILER: A grande dame of the cozy world confesses to the murder, but although it is never stated, it seems clear that she has tidied up the actual murder and that murderer will go free. It also seems that all the characters other than, perhaps Claire and it seems certainly Peter Rosen, are aware of this.
  9. Mummy Dearest (2008) by Joan Hess: The latest at #17. Good heavens. 27 years in reality, 3-4 in book time, and Claire and Peter are finally hitched. This is dedicated to Barbara Mertz/Elizabeth Peters/Barbara Michaels and there is a hat tip to Lady Emerson on page 35 and then throughout the novel, which I found tremendously amusing. In fact, having read all these Hess' in close proximity, it's clear that this entire novel was infused with Mertz' Elizabeth Peters style and I enjoyed it very much. Luxor, Cairo, digs, stolen antiquities and a honeymoon: what's not to like?
  10. Fate's Edge (2011) by Ilona Andrews: I waited for this to be published, I ordered it in from the UK, it was delayed and I could bear it no longer so I got it on Kindle and then I got an e-mail saying it was being shipped. Color me annoyed. But not with the book. I'm so enjoying both her series, though this one is just a bit more- should I say it? edgy.
  11. Death at the Spring Plant Sale (2003) by Ann Ripley: Louisa Eldridge is in the third year of her job as a full time host of a PBS plant show. Her latest show was to be covering the Bethesda Garden Club's famous annual plant show— she has a long time friend who is a member of the club. However, the president of the club, wife of a parallel world Fed Chairman, it seems, is murdered. Or was it a failed assassination attempt? I enjoyed this greatly.
  12. Mind over Murder (2011)by Allison Kingsley: A Raven's Nest Bookstore Mystery. I generally like mysteries that have as protagonists bookstore owners or operators or writers. This one was a bit of a mixed bag though: Small Maine island bookstore, tight knit family, prodigal daughter with psychic abilities... It looks as if this was her debut, so perhaps the writing will become tighter and the plot a little denser. This felt a bit like a popcorn romance- all fluff but no substance. I enjoyed the fluff, but I need my books to have a bit more. A neighboring and nasty store owner is discovered dead in the book store (why was she there?) and an employee is suspected. Cousin of the owner, psychic-in-denial Clara, needs to get to the bottom of the problem. Particularly as her brakes stop working and it seems as if the murderer may be after her as well. There's the set up for a future romance with the owner of the hardware store as well.

1 comment:

Joyce said...

I read the first Claire Molloy books back at the old public library but didn't keep up with the series. Perhaps I should? I noted Ann Ripley's name and found the current public library has 10 adventures, so I'll give her a try. Me, I've been rereading Caroline Stevemer's fantasies from my own library and starting Martha Wells' latest (Serpent Sea)as an inaugeration of the Kindle Fire.