Wednesday, March 31, 2010

One Good Dog by Susan Wilson

Tami Hoag in her back cover blurb for One Good Dog by Susan Wilson says, "Nowhere can we see the potential for our own redemption more clearly than in the eyes of our dog...." 

From Booklist
Adam March is a married father and successful businessman poised to become a CEO—that is, until the day his troubled past catches up with him. Soon Adam has lost his job, his family, and his house and is living in a lonely apartment working off his community-service sentence in a local men’s shelter. Adam’s story alternates with that of Chance, a former fighting pit bull who has escaped, lived on the streets, and is now back at the animal shelter. When circumstances require Adam to adopt and care for Chance, he comes to realize the joy and comfort of animal companionship. Adam’s and Chance’s tale is one of love, loyalty, and determination, as both fight to begin new lives and relationships.

Several times I was tempted to set this book aside because of some of the descriptions of events, especially in the chapters narrated by Chance, the dog.  I hung in there, however, and am glad I did.  This novel of responsibility, redemption, and love brought both tears and smiles.

Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware of giving your heart to a dog to tear.  -Rudyard Kipling

Rating:  4.5/5 (Fiction Scale)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Dare To Die by Carolyn Hart

Dare To Die is the 19th in Carolyn Hart's Death on Demand Mystery Series featuring Annie and Max Darling, owners of Death on Demand bookstore ("the best mystery bookstore north of Miami"). 

From Publishers Weekly:
In Agatha-winner Hart's 19th Death on Demand mystery set in Broward's Rock, S.C., Annie Darling and husband, Max, invite Iris Tilford, a troubled young woman who used to live in the island community and has recently returned, to a party they're giving at the Broward's Rock pavilion. The party ends in tragedy with Annie and Max's discovery of Iris's strangled body on a path in the surrounding pine woods. Annie promises police chief Billy Cameron she won't meddle in the investigation, but when the killer targets her and Max, she breaks her vow. The plot neatly builds to an exciting climax in the Agatha Christie tradition, with all the suspects gathered near the scene of the crime, each with a strong motive for murder. Hart assembles her usual distinctive supporting cast, including wacky celebrity mystery writer Emma Clyde.

For some reason, I had been avoiding this series by Carolyn Heart but picked up Dare To Die on my last library visit and now will look to catch up on this series.  The book was full on allusions to actual mystery authors, and I came away with a list of mysterys to check out and add to my ever-growing Mystery Mt. TBR.

Rating:  4/5 (Mystery Scale)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Mystery Trio

Mysteries galore on the to be read shelf--three so far this week.

Death of a Valentine by M. C. Beaton.  I am a fan of the Agatha Raisin series and thought it was time to try one in the Hamish Macbeth series.  Death of a Valentine came home with me from the library.  I thoroughly enjoyed these characters and the setting and am looking forward to reading more in this series.
Rating:  3.5/5 (Mystery Scale)

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley.  This was the March selection for On the Porch Swing (Yahoo Group).  Took me a while to warm up to Flavia de Luce; but once she drew me into her 11-year-old mind, I was enchanted.  Flavia sums it up:  "I was me.  I was Flavia.  And I loved myself, even if no one else did." 

Another favorite character was Gladys:
Until I rescued her from rusty oblivion, my trusty old three-speed BSA Keep Fit had languished for years in a toolshed among broken flowerpots and wooden wheelbarrows.  Like so many other things at Buckshaw, she had once belonged to Harriet, who had named her l'Hirondelle:  "the swallow."  I had rechristened her Gladys.

And a real mind picture painted about the local bus arriving at a stop:
There was a rumble in the distance as the Cottesmore bus approached, waddling along the lane between the hedgerows like a chicken walking a tightrope.  It stopped in front of the bench, wheezing heavily as it subsided from the effort of its hard life among the hills.  The door swung open with an iron groan.
Rating:  4/5 (Mystery Scale)

Aunt Dimity Down Under by Nancy Atherton.  The Aunt Dimity series is the one mystery series I have followed since the first book, Aunt Dimity's DeathAunt Dimity Down Under is far and away the best in the series so far.  Thankfully, in the more recent books in the series Lori Shepherd has stopped mooning over every good looking man she encounters as she solves mysteries in the small English village of Finch.  Aunt Dimity Down Under is far and away the best in the series so far, taking Lori to New Zealand to fulfill a request from the eccentric, elderly Pym sisters.
Rating:  4.5/5 (Mystery Scale)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Fatally Flaky by Diane Mott Davidson

Fatally Flaky, number 15 in the Goldy Schulz Culinary Mystery series by Diane Mott Davidson, is the first I've read in this series since The Grilling Season and gave me a good nudge to catch up on the books between.

From Publishers Weekly
Colorado caterer Goldy Schulz doesn't have a moment to spare as she frantically tries to pull everything together for two upcoming wedding receptions, including last-minute venue and menu changes from a spoiled bridezilla, in bestseller Davidson's entertaining 15th culinary suspense novel (after Sweet Revenge). When Harold Doc Finn, Aspen Meadow's beloved retired doctor, dies under mysterious circumstances on his way to the first wedding ceremony, Goldy wonders if it was an accident or murder. When her godfather and Doc Finn's good friend, Jack Carmichael, is also attacked, it's obvious that Goldy will have to venture out of the kitchen and put her detecting skills to use once again. Stir in a slimy spa owner, rumors of a malpractice suit and the usual cast of supporting characters—including Goldy's patient cop husband, Tom, and her capable culinary assistant, Julian Teller—and you've got another winning entry in Davidson's mouthwatering series.

No quotes or notes to report.  Just a good amateur sleuth mystery.

Rating:  4/5 (Mystery Scale)

Dedication:  To Carolyn Marino with deep gratitude for excellent editing and for possessing a kind heart and a light touch.

Epigraph:  Life does not cease to be funny when people die any more than it ceases to be serious when people laugh. - George Bernard Shaw

Monday, March 1, 2010

Harbinger of Spring

The morning check of our small back yard brings something new each day, and today there were red winged blackbirds aplenty.  Many believe the red winged blackbird is the true harbinger of spring.