Monday, September 26, 2016

Bubble Bubble, Toil and Trouble

TitleThrice the Brinded Cat hath Mew'd By Alan Bradley
Publisher: Bantam, 352 pp September 2016
Genre: cozy mystery, YA, British, historical, fiction
5 stars : Read in one sitting, as all previous books were, often late into the night
Alan Bradley was born in Toronto, Canada. After a career in television broadcasting, he retired from the University of Saskatchewan to write full-time. His publications include children’s stories, lifestyle and arts columns in Canadian newspapers and screenplays. His adult stories have been broadcast on CBC radio and published in various literary journals. He was the recipient of the first Saskatchewan Writers Guild Award for Children’s Literature. 
The first in the series, “The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie” won the 2007 Debut Dagger Award of the Crime Writers Association in the UK; the 2009 Agatha Award for Best First Novel; the 2010 Dilys, awarded by the International Mystery Booksellers Association; the Spotted Owl Award, given by the Friends of Mystery, and the 2010 Arthur Ellis Award, given by the Crime Writers of Canada for Best First Novel. It was also nominated for an Anthony Award, a Barry Award, and a Macavity Award. Sweetness made numerous lists and awards including the New York Times, as a Favorite Mystery of 2009, an American Library Association nominee as Best Book For Young Adults; a Barnes and Noble Bestseller. The audiobook version of “The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie” was voted Best AudioBook by iTunes. The books are all NYTimes best sellers. Don't miss the audio books narrated by Jayne Entwistle- she is absolutely perfect, and in 2014 won Outstanding Audiobook Narration for The Dead in their Vaulted Arches. Academy Award-winning producer/director Sam Mendes, of “Skyfall” and “American Beauty” fame has optioned for Flavia for television movies (2012).
Story line:
This is book 8 in what I hope is a long series of sleuthing for our intrepid youngster Flavia De Luce. Yes, another cliffhanger so we know book 9 is in progress. Please read these in order as there is a good progression of character, friendships, sleuthing techniques, layers of personal history, and 'in jokes'. My favourites are volumes 1,6 and now 8. A word of warning, have your hankies ready. If you love the Flavia stories you will definitely enjoy this installment back in 1950s England. Flavia returns without welcome as her father is gravely ill. In no time she's off on trusty Gladys, in the usual English weather with the usual suspects. Fortunately there is a body and sleuthing commences.
Flavia has charmed me since the very first novel as has Bradley's excellent writing. Flavia is still a fascinating, captivating, curious, quirky, beguiling, precocious 12 year old. Her observations are priceless. I enjoy the intricate mysteries that Bradley creates, here with interesting details of woodcarvers, witches, childhood storybooks, but Flavia is the reason to read. I love her clever mind. She is going to be an incredible, formidable adult! I can't wait for the next book. The anticipation of each novel is exceeded only by the actual read. 
Gladys gave a little squeak of delight. She loved coasting as much as I did, and if there was no one in sight, I might even put my feet up on her handlebars: a bit of bicycle artistry that she loved even more than ordinary free-wheeling.
Life with my sister Daffy had taught me that you could tell as much about people by their books as you could by snooping through their diaries - a practice of which I am exceedingly fond and, I must confess, especially adept."
Thanks to my Girl Guide training, I was able to bluff convincingly when required. All those wet and windy Wednesday evenings spent in cold, drafty parish halls were paying off at last.
How could I tell the dear man that murder made me feel so gloriously alive?
The DeLuce blood is stronger, afterall, then sentiment.
There is an art to staging a convincing accident. It is not as easy as you may think - particularly on short notice. First and foremost, it must look completely natural and spontaneous. Secondly, there must be nothing comical about it, since comedy saps sympathy.
The world can be an interesting place to a girl who keeps her ears open.
Read on: 
If you like Harriet the Spy or Lemony Snickett's Violet Baudeleaire. Or are a Sherlock Holmes Fan.
Or listen to Jayne Entwistle narrate Julie Berry's Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place.
Laurie King The Beekeeper's Apprentice
Martha Grimes Belle Ruin series
Received as an ARC ebook from Netgalley, as well as purchased hardcover. 

Monday, September 12, 2016

Sometimes you can't escape the claws

Sometimes you can't escape claws...
Title:  Escape Clause by John Sandford (Virgil Flowers, #9 )
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons 400 pp October 2016
Genre: mystery, thriller fiction,
5 stars
From Amazon author list: John Sandford is the pseudonym for the Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist John Camp. He is the author of twenty-six Prey novels, most recently Extreme Prey; four Kidd novels; nine Virgil Flowers novels; three YA novels coauthored with his wife, Michele Cook; and three stand-alones, most recently Saturn Run.
Story line:
Virgil Flowers, my favourite investigator for the MN Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA), is back for another roller coaster ride. We moved from dognapping to catnapping- with endangered tigers stolen from the Mn Zoo. Everyone else is involved in politics at the state fair (leftover from the last Davenport Prey book). Virgil gets the short straw as body counts rise, brutal attack occur and bombs go off.
I always looks for the references of either Davenport or Flowers depending on the book series, and this doesn't disappoint. I don't think of it as a spinoff either, Virgil feels more like a real MN cop: tough, smart, long haired (farmer), quirky Midwestern boy. Love the cultural t-shirt references. He does the legwork, finds the clues, thinks through the larger pictures and gets his sociopath, without a gun, if at all possible. The cat helped.
I read this in one sitting, relieved to be laughing more with Virgil's engaging antics and comments. Several of the Flowers books have been very dark indeed. The Midwest realism works on all levels, from the swimming hole to the immigrant factory to the traffic. Small town life contrasts seething political issues, with good commentary and further thought. This book will not disappoint.
Read on:
To the first Virgil Flowers Dark of the Moon, or the Prey Series.
If you like Lee Child (Jack Reacher), Michael Connelly (Harry Bosch) or David Baldacci (John Puller) series.
You must be the famous Virgil fuckin’ Flowers.”
Virgil could feel his heart clogging up with grease as he finished the sandwich,
New Ulm was getting more like LA every single day, Virgil thought.
“Did you have a gun with you?” Davenport asked. “Yeah.” “You didn’t shoot it, did you?” “No.” “There’s the fuckin’ Flowers we all know and love,” Davenport said.
.....but they had the IQs of small rocks.
“It’s another one of your damn Twin Cities murders that you keep unloading on us,” the sheriff said. “If he’d dropped the refrigerator fifteen feet west, it’d technically be a Minnesota case, which it should be.” “You’re breaking my heart,” Virgil said.
“Why do your cases always wind up like this?” Duncan asked, running a hand through his hair. “Why can’t you have a straightforward missing-tigers case?”
....had physically frozen on a street corner. For nearly half an hour, he’d been unable to pick up a foot to move. Since it was St. Paul, nobody had noticed.
“I gotta think,” Virgil said. “I mean, I am thinking, but I’m not coming up with anything.”
“Beer, weed, and skinny-dipping,” Bill said. He sounded happy about it. “It is just sort of Minnesota in the summertime, isn’t it?”
“If it was anyone else, I wouldn’t believe it. With you, I think, ‘Yeah, probably,’ ” she said.

Received as an ARC ebook from Netgalley.