Monday, August 22, 2011

June Books

In 1946 London, Juliet Ashton is searching for her next writing project when she receives a letter from a man who bought a secondhand book with her name in it. He lives on the Channel Island of Guernsey, which was under German occupation during the war. Through a series of letters to and from various characters, we follow a powerful story about friends, enemies, imagination, and loyalty. Both historically fascinating and beautiful.

In 12-century England, Adelia Aguilar is ordered by Henry II to accompany his daughter to Sicily for her marriage. What follows is a thrilling story of heretics, revenge, and danger as the royal procession is stalked by death. I love this series of a Jewish pathologist tied to England by her priestly lover and their daughter. Begin with Mistress of the Art of Death.

RUSSIAN WINTER/Daphne Kalotay/B-
Nina Revskaya was once a star in the Bolshoi Ballet. Now, as an old woman, she is auctioning her jewelry collection but one piece holds a mystery that one man desperately wants to unravel. Set in contemporary Boston and Communist Russia in the years before and after WWII, this story never quite came together the way I wanted it to. But still an interesting look at a desperate time and place.

MAD, BAD, AND SAD/Lisa Appignanesi/B+
This history of women and mental illness begins in the 19th century and examines how doctors and cultures collaborate to name specific disorders. From hysteria to schizophrenia, illness is often defined and named by more than just symptoms. Very interesting.

BLINDMAN'S BLUFF/Faye Kellerman/B-
It's been a long time since I've picked up a Peter Decker mystery, but this was a fun read for an afternoon. Decker's wife Rina has been called to jury duty and ends up involved in her husband's current murder investigation. Easy and quick.

Not precisely a mystery, more like an intriguing character study. Stuart Font is throwing a housewarming party for his new flat, carrying on an affair with a married woman, and inordinately taken with his own good looks. When the beautiful Asian girl across the street asks him for help, Stuart can't believe his good luck. The final reveal of what's inside the mysterious house across the street fell a little flat for me, but otherwise I adore Rendell.

The best yet of Walsh's continuation in Dorothy L. Sayers' Peter Wimsey mysteries. When an impoverised aristocrat needs money, he comes to Peter and Harriet, resurrecting memories of Peter's first case. But the mystery of the emeralds is a merely a skeleton for the true heart of this book, which lies in the ties of family and responsibility. I suspect Sayers would approve.

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