The Tale Teller
by Anne Hillerman
Many years ago I read Tony Hillerman’s mysteries, eagerly awaiting the publication of each new one. Then after a hiatus, I rediscovered the Navajo world I had been missing—Shiprock, the Rez, and officers Leaphorn, Chee, and Manuelito. This time the storyline has been picked up by Anne Hillerman, Tony’s daughter. With eight books to her credit, four of which continue the plot lines established by her father, Anne Hillerman is a formidable successor to her father.
The Tale Teller weaves a plot as complicated as any mystery I have read, using the same main characters Hillerman fans have come to love. The Navajo culture is portrayed accurately including some basic Navajo words to enhance the Native ambiance in the story. The setting is the Four Corners region of the Southwest in all its dusty, gritty heat of July. The characters have just enough predictability to cause readers to smile and nod, but not so much that there are no surprises. In fact, the plot provides so many of those that your head will be spinning trying to keep up.
Lieutenant Leaphorn is hired to discover what happened to some missing donations to the Navajo museum. Bernie and Chee help solve a murder. Sorting out truths from deceptions is never easy, and it certainly isn’t in this mystery with a surprise ending.
I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to HarperCollins Publishers for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Category: Mystery, Police Procedural
Publication: April 9, 2019—HarperCollins
“My philosophy is when someone says something sweet to me, I believe it. It balances those times someone said something mean and I believed that.”
“They aren’t teaching cursive writing much anymore. My daughter just prints and types. But she’s learning to speak Navajo in class and that’s more important. You can’t expect the schools to do everything.”
Leaphorn knew what it was like to miss someone, how the numbness of shock fades into profound, bone-deep loneliness.
Murder at the Marina
Kelly Jackson grew up on a Wyoming ranch enjoying barrel racing, but moved to Redwood Cove in Northern California where she manages the Redwood Cove B&B and is an honorary member of the Silver Sentinels, a group of senior citizens who solve crime to help their community. In this cozy mystery they are called on to help two of their own, the Russian brothers Rudy and Ivan, who have a cloud of murder over their heads.
This book is replete with Russian culture and some history as the area hosts the Russian Heritage Festival. We also learn of the aristocratic family background of the brothers. The most fun and exciting part of the story is the inclusion of a remarkable Cossack riding team. I felt like I was right there watching their amazing feats. There are many possible suspects, and danger lurks in surprising places. I could read the book again just for the fun and entertainment of the last third, which would be meaningless without the development that occurs in the first part of the book. If you enjoy watching an investigation unfold, read Janet Finsilver’s Murder at the Marina where there are many pathways to the truth and clues for the sleuths to chart as they track down the murderers.
I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Lyrical Underground (Kensington Press) for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Notes: #5 in the Kelly Jackson Mystery Series, but worked well for me as a standalone
Publication: April 2, 2019—Lyrical Underground (Kensington Press)
The smells and sounds of the sea mixed together—an orchestra of sensation. Ocean mist covered my face and my skin tingled from its cool touch.
“You all give generously of your time and your caring. It’s your nature. Accepting a gift is a form of giving.”
by Karen Kingsbury
Elise is a budding artist, and Cole has a promising future as a doctor when they meet and their lives become intertwined during their last semester of high school. In Karen Kingsbury’s Two Weeks, these young people have to deal with their own pasts with single moms, their love for each other, and their relationship with God. An unplanned pregnancy, the loss of a child, and trust in God take center stage as Elise and Cole wrestle with major decisions that have wide ranging consequences.
Two Weeks is a romance but it also deals with the emotional and personal impacts of abortion outside of any political concerns. It also addresses the agony of miscarriages and infertility while holding up adoption as a difficult and complicated but positive possibility. This work of Christian fiction shines a light on a subject that is painful for many. It also examines parenthood from several viewpoints. Both topics may be sensitive for some readers, but I do recommend this work written by a prolific Christian author whose books have been made into movies.
I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Howard Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Category: Romance, Christian
Notes: 1. This book is the latest in an extensive series of books about the Baxter family. I read it as a standalone and had no problem following the plot.
2. There is a discussion guide at the end.
Publication: April 2, 2019—Howard Books
Ashley would do the most powerful thing she could. The best gift a mother could give her child. Grown or not. Now and forevermore like her life depended on it. She would pray.
Their lives were a trail of broken moments and closed doors when it came to having a baby.
“I never think of them as dead.” Her eyes grew softer. “They’re alive. They just have a new address in heaven.”
Goodness, Grace, and Me
by Julie Houston
Complicated relationships are at the center of Julie Houston’s Goodness, Grace, and Me. Harriet (Hat) has been best friends with Grace since they were eleven, and they both idolized Amanda who along the way picked up the title “Little Miss Goodness.” Twenty years later, Grace and Harriet assume they are rid of her influence when she suddenly re-enters their lives. Despite all warnings, Harriet’s husband Nick becomes involved in business with Amanda’s husband and thus Amanda. Grace’s brother continues to be under Amanda’s spell.
Life is not easy for Harriet, mother of three, who had to return to teaching because of economic problems. Also Nick’s mother has come to live with them. Although her situation is complicated, Harriet pushes hard for stability for her family.
This is my second Julie Houston book to read and I like it much better than the first. The main character is strong, likable, and has moral character. There is a subplot involving Harriet’s mother, possible dementia, and a secret. I wasn’t sure how the plot would sort itself out, but it did and I enjoyed watching it happen.
I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Aria for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Category: General Fiction (Adult), Women’s Fiction
Notes: Includes some British vulgarisms but they are not terribly offensive compared to those found in Julie Houston’s Coming Home to Holly Close Farm.
Publication: February 19, 2019—Aria
I can only ever sulk for a maximum of five minutes, by which time I’ve usually had enough of giving the cold shoulder treatment and need to start talking again. Life is just too short to spend it in silence.
Admittedly, I did most of the hard graft but I lightened the proceedings by blasting out T.Rex’s “I Love to Boogie”, so that even Kit forgot he was a fully paid up member of the moody brigade and jitterbugged round the furniture with the Hoover.
…wrapping a duvet around her against the almost damp cold which had settled in the sitting room like a melancholic maiden aunt who has outstayed her welcome, I went back through the hall to ring the doctor’s surgery.
Mother’s Day Mayhem
by Lynn Cahoon
You don’t have to have a good relationship with your mother or your child to enjoy Lynn Cahoon’s Mother’s Day Mayhem. This novella provides a quick, enjoyable, themed read. Lynn Cahoon is a big proponent of “sometimes, the family you make is just as strong or stronger than blood.” Another nice feature of this book is that although there are mysteries (where ARE those missing garden gnomes?), there are no murders.
I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Kensington Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Notes: a novella in the Tourist Trap series
Publication: April 2, 2019—Kensington
Life was good. Or it would have been if Greg hadn’t thrown a stone in the pond. Now, I had to deal with the ripples his request had caused.
“You’re never making a mistake by making yourself vulnerable. You’d regret it more if you didn’t take a chance.”
“Bite me,” the kid called back, speeding up even more. Greg sighed. “Not my circus, not my monkey. But if it was, that kid would be sitting in my office waiting for his folks to come and get him. Sometimes people need to know that respect is an important part of building a community.”
by Veronica Heley
Bea Abbot is the owner of the Abbot Domestic Agency and has a talent and good reputation for choosing honest, hard working domestic employees and matching them up with suitable employers. In this mystery she is approached by the very wealthy Tredgolds, an elderly mother and her quite unlikeable daughter, to replace several employees. Initially Bea wants to have nothing to do with them, but so many things seem out of whack that she decides to help. Two cats have been killed and several staff members dismissed for criminal behaviors. Mrs. Tredgold is a mystery herself appearing at times to be weak and at other times manipulative.
The plot of False Account by Veronica Heley is complicated and fast moving. More crimes occur, some putting Bea, her ex-husband Piers, and her ward Bernice in danger. Mrs. Tredgold’s family spends money as if there is a never ending supply and have developed a strong sense of entitlement which makes them unpleasant to be around. There are many surprises as the plot unwinds over the course of several chapters resulting in a quite satisfying conclusion.
I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Severn House for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Notes: #12 in the Bea Abbot Agency Mystery Series. It could be read as a standalone, but would probably be enjoyed more having read others in the series. I have read 6 out of the 12 in the series, and there has never been a problem in keeping up with the characters.
Publication: April 1, 2019—Severn House
Someone clunked a mug down on Bea’s bedside table. She realized it was time to wake up. She didn’t want to wake up. She might not have her eyes open yet but she already knew that a large black cloud was hanging over the day.
“The thing is, you can’t stop people being stupid, can you?”
“Is that bacon you’re cooking? I was thinking of going vegetarian but maybe I won’t start just yet.”