Thursday, April 28, 2011

Three Women Three Mysteries

It has been awhile since I last blogged. I've been a little busy - but I have been reading when I can.

Since I last blogged, I have completed three mysteries by three of the authors I enjoy. Two of the authors are Texas authors - Leann Sweeney and Karen MacInerney. The other author is from Arizona (sometimes California) and her name is J.A. Jance. Each one of these authors have their own style of writing and each has it's own appeal.

Leann Sweeney's latest book is in her Cats in Trouble Mystery Series. The book is called The Cat, the Lady, and the Liar. This is the third book in the series by her and it features Jillian Hart - a widow living in South Carolina. She has her own business in which she makes quilts for cats. As you may realize too, the mystery series has some kind of connection with cats. In this book a valuable cat is found along side of a road and Jillian is asked by the shelter owner to check on the cat's home to see if it would be a good idea to return the cat to the owner. The cat's owner is an elderly rich woman who appears to have some physical problems. Jillian does not get to speak to the woman and is warned by the local police to stay away from her.

Jillian is surprised when the lady shows up at her doorstep late one night in night clothes and tells her somebody is framing her and has been drugging her. The situation becomes complicated when her employee shows up dead at Jillians yard as well and the lady immediately becomes a suspect. Jillian finds it hard to believe the lady is a murderer and she tends to believe somebody has been drugging her. The story is definitely I would recommend reading. It is a cozy mystery and easy to read.

The second book is by Karen MacInerney and is also part of a series - A Gray Whale Inn Mystery. The book title is Berried to the Hilt and is the fourth book in the series. The Gray Whale Inn is located on Cranberry Island and is located in Maine. Natalie Barnes is a retired state worker from Texas who came here to open the inn and operate it. She found it hard coming here and starting the business as an outsider three books back. She is still working on making the business successful and becoming accepted as part of the island community. She as well as the community become excited when they learn that a famous discovery may lie off there shores. And this discovery brings more business to Natalie's floundering business.

It does not help that there is hostile competition between two of her sets of guest over the discovery lying off the coast. It becomes more complicated when one of the guests turns up dead and one of the local men is taken into custody. Natalie is very interested in solving the mystery and finding the real murderer. I enjoyed the Texas connections and the fast moving pace of this - another cozy mystery.

Finally the third mystery was by J.A. Jance and it is also a part of a continuing series - the Ali Reynolds series. It features none other than Ali Reynolds - a former newscaster who got dumped by both her news station and her husband in favor of a younger woman. This is the sixth book in the series and it is called Fatal Error. Ali has moved on from that setback and is remaking her life. She attends a Police Academy to become a part of the local police department but cutbacks take away that opportunity. When a former colleague ends up missing, Ali becomes involved in the search for her. When her missing friend becomes the suspect in a murder, she uses the tools she has and her instincts to investigate and come up with answers.

This book was definitely different from the other two books. As in the other cases , I recommend the books AND the authors.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Firewheel MRD Reads Mind's Eye

The April selection for the Firewheel Mystery Reader Discussion Group was an interesting one. The title of the book is Mind's Eye and it is written by Hakan Nesser. I am not sure who suggested the group read this one but it was an excellent choice.

This book is the first book in a series involving an Inspector Van Veeteran. (Just an observation but his name is close to "veteran" which refers to a person with experience in a particular area.) The book opens with the discovery of a murder - an investigation that will involve the inspector. The person discovering the body is the husband of the victim and he has no recollection of what went on. He is the obvious suspect and is arrested and convicted of the murder. In spite of the arrest and conviction, the inspector has some doubts about the case against the husband and when the husband is murdered in an institution, he turns the investigation up a notch.

One of the things interesting about this story is the title - Mind's Eye - and it's relation to the story. (Or at least my perception of it's relation to the story!) This investigation does not focus on a lot of highly visible clues but instead relies on pieces of information that is "turned over" in the inspector's mind. He kind of refers to this process when talking to his colleague about the case. This was just one of the things that made the book interesting to me.

There were other things the author did that made the story interesting as well. One of the things he did was point out how there was a connection - outside of the case - between one of the investigators(Ruger) and the husband (Mitter) suspected of murdering his wife. Mitter who is a teacher taught Ruger's son in school. This kind of foreshadows some of the other interesting things in the book. Not to give it away but there IS a relationship between the murdered woman and the murderer.

I also thought the author used some interesting ways to describe things - like the thoughts of Mitter about his dead wife. At one point he thoughts were of her in his life like she was a part of a book of his life - a chapter in his life. And this was not totally uncharacteristic of the character who was a teacher.

There was one little clue in the book that was left by Mitter himself before he was murdered that I thought would play a part in solving the case - but it did not. Instead I think it was another interesting tool used by the author. Before he was murdered, Mitter wrote something in a Bible beside his bed in the institution. This was never discovered during the investigation. As a matter of fact, it is never brought back up until after the case has been solved and is over with. Somebody discovers that a name is written in the Bible - the name of the murderer. This is literally done in the last chapter and last page of the book. So what is the significance of this? The only clue I see is where in the Bible the clue / name is written. Was it written there on purpose? Or is this just a tease by the author? READ IT and draw your own conclusions.

Incidentally, I saved the vote by the reading group until the end. The vote was unanimous - 7 thumbs up.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Neighbors Read - Dewey

The local libraries in Sachse and Wylie Texas start a series events called Neighbors Read this coming Saturday (April 9th). These events are centered around the book Dewey: The Small-Town Cat That Touched The World by Vicki Myron and Steve James. These programs / events will go on for six weeks and you can see a list of these at

Now you may be wondering about why I am mentioning this in my blog - a blog usually dedicated to mysteries and such. Well..., one of the themes you will see on my blog is "It's All About Reading"! I read other things besides mysteries and will occasionally blog about them. In this case, I just finished reading the book about Dewey in preparation for my community's participation in these events. As a side note, I must mention I feel it is very important to support the local library.

What I found is that there is more to this book than I expected. You see, I thought this was going to be just a book about a cat - but it was more. Yes, a major part of the story was about THE CAT - Dewey and about how he came to be known as the cat of the Spencer Public Library in Iowa. But it was also a story about a community and it's library as well. The community and the library existed before Dewey came - he helped bring public attention to them. And as communities go, there are so many parts to the community - these were also the focus of the book.

There were definitely parts of the book that we in our community could relate to. Our library has been closed for remodeling that became necessary after some weather related damages. And I know Smith Public Library in Wylie is opening in a new facility as well. Part of the book describes how their library and community went through a remodelling process - and the community was involved. Speaking on behalf of Sachse and it's library, I can say with some pride that the community was also involved in getting our library back up from it's remodelling period.

More than just a focus on the cat, I think the major thing about the book I enjoyed was the inspiration it gives. Remember the phrase I mentioned earlier - it's all about reading! Well..., that is kind of like saying the library is all about books. But the library is more than JUST books - IT IS COMMUNITY!!! And while our library may not have THE CAT, hopefully it will continue to provide and be known for it's "cat" - the services it provides for the community. After all - the library is more than just books!!! Sachse Public Library - CHECK IT OUT!!!