Saturday, August 16, 2014

End of Summer Reading

Someone said to me recently that if it weren't for all the new titles constantly coming out, she could catch up on her reading.  It's a common problem for we book addicts, but it's a problem we love to have.  Every month brings a new delight by a favorite author or the discovery of a new favorite author, established or novice.  It's like Christmas morning all year long.  This summer has and continues to provide an extensive list of new publications to entice readers.  So, as August is rapidly passing and with it summer, here are some great titles with which to finish out the season.  I've provided reviews for the first two.  I'm still playing catchup and looking forward to the others. 

The winners of Sujata Massey's The Sleeping Dictionary were Karen F. and Karen B.  I guess Karen was the lucky name for these two drawings.  Congratulations to you both, and I know you are in for some great reading.

End of Summer Books Reviewed

Murder in Retribution by Anne Cleeland
First up is one coming in at the tail end of July, and I was fortunate to receive an early copy of this one back in March.   Murder in Retribution by Anne Cleeland is the second book in the Acton and Doyle Scotland Yard series, and this new series has completely captivated me.  The suspense and unusual relationship between Acton and Doyle are fascinating.

One of the most thrilling discoveries for a mystery genre reader is that of a new series. That has indeed been my pleasure with the New Scotland Yard series by Anne Cleeland. I was most fortunate to receive an advanced copy of the second in this series, Murder in Retribution, and reading it has cemented my addiction to the characters of Chief Inspector Michael Acton and Detective Constable Kathleen Doyle as they work together both professionally and personally. I think Cleeland's real gift in this series is its unexpected bluntness of events, an original approach that ignores the normal unfolding of life and relationships. I am hopelessly hooked, just as Acton is with Doyle.

In this second novel of the series, the husband and wife team of Acton and Doyle become involved in the underworld murders in London that seem to be a tit-for-tat turf war affair. It's a dangerous matter of investigation, and as seems to be the norm for the anything but normal couple, the investigation turns personal. Acton has his own interests in bringing to justice certain criminal elements, and Doyle becomes a sitting duck for a most callous killer. Even the brilliant Acton can't anticipate the insidious plan of attack that ensues.

Anne Cleeland has created a captivating series full of intrigue and originality. The delightfully witty dialogue of her characters is not limited to the main characters' give and take of intellectual sharpness and Irish good humor. The entire cast is gifted with clever quips and interplay. I find myself rereading dialogue in various scenes just to experience the satisfaction of it again. Doyle is perhaps the most gifted, as even in dire circumstances, she seems to be capable of seeing the irony or insanity of it. And, her understanding of and acceptance of Acton's special problem is most welcome, as the reader doesn't have to spend time wading through misunderstandings and immature relationship issues.

So, it is with unrestrained enthusiasm that I endorse and recommend Anne Cleeland's novel Murder in Retribution, due out the end of July. I encourage pre-ordering it to ensure a quick arrival. And, if the first in the series, Murder in Thrall, hasn't been read, it's a must to enjoy the full impact of the Acton/Doyle partnership. I confess that, even though I'd already read the first book, I went back and reread it before delving into the second. Now, you know just how much I am enraptured by these novels. 

Queen of Hearts by Rhys Bowen  (August 5th)
Another great piece of luck was receiving the 8th Her Royal Spyness novel with wonderful Lady Georgie.  Rhys Bowen is one of those authors who is unbelievably of producing two great series a year, both of which are favorites of mine.  Her Royal Spyness and Molly Murhpy are mystery series with wonderfully detailed historical connections.

Although Lady Georgian Rannoch's mother is completely self-centered and mostly ignores Georgie, Claire has seemed to find some use for her daughter as an adult child. Georgie wisely takes advantage of her mother's whims to include her on unexpected adventures. Claire Daniels has finally decided she will marry her wealthy German industrialist, but she must first divorce her American husband. The quickest way to do that is to travel to Reno, Nevada in the States, so Claire invites, or rather she swoops into Kingsdowne Place in Kent to scoop up Georgie to accompany Mummy dearest to America. What's especially generous of clueless Claire is that she realizes Georgie needs clothes for the trip. Of course, it's just possible that Claire only wants Georgie to look presentable to be with a famous actress of the London stage. While Georgie is the Lady and 35th in line to the British throne, she is penniless and much dependent on the way the wind blows.

A five-day voyage to America provides Georgie with much adventure and reunites her mother with an old acting buddy, Stella Brightwell, who had found fame in American movies. Stella is traveling with Cy Goldman, the impresario of Golden Pictures, who made her a star and is her lover. It's not long before a plan is hatched to help Claire get her quickie divorce and star in a movie with Stella. The crossing also produces Darcy O'Mara, Georgie's love, who is working on behalf of the Crown to snag a jewelery thief supposedly aboard the ship, possibly within Georgie's circle of acquaintances. As one coincidence usually leads to another with Georgie, she finds herself in the midst of movie making Hollywood in the 1930s and being surprised by her English best friend, Belinda, who shows up, as she so often does, unannounced. Charlie Chaplin makes an appearance in a delightful side note role, and shows his admiration of the female sex. It seems bed hopping isn't just an English sport. When the whole troupe retires to Cy Goldman's Hollywood hills home, the action really heats up in more ways than one, and Georgie and Darcy must once again unscramble a murder scene with unexpected results.

The Royal Spyness series is a constant source of entertainment and suspenseful adventure. The intermingling of humor in a story of financial downfalls, royal missions, and perplexing murders is a successful formula that shows no cracks. Rhys Bowen has created a perfect cast of characters to love, hate, and even occasionally become frustrated with. Oh, those of you fans who are reading these books as quick as they hit the stores know to what I refer concerning the frustration part. I'm guessing the cold Pacific Ocean comes in handy. 

Other Books for End of Summer Reading

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty July 29th
Lucky Us by Amy Bloom   July 29th
The Good Girl by Mary Kubica   July 29th
A Little Night Murder (10th in Blackbird Sisters Mystery series) by Nancy Martin    Aug. 5th
An Unwilling Accomplice (6th in the Bess Crawford Mystery series) by Charles Todd   Aug. 12th
Designated Daughters (20th Deborah Knott book)  by Margaret Maron,    Aug. 12th
Small Blessings by Martha Woodroof    Aug. 12th

Bittersweet by Colleen McCullough   Aug. 19th
We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas   Aug. 19th
The Long Way Home (10th in Armand Gamache series) by Louise Penny    Aug. 26th
Sunshine of Scotland Street (8th in 44 Scotland Street series) by Alexander McCall Smith