I have not ever really kept track of the number of books I have read during any given period of time. Since this is what I enjoy doing in my free time I don’t feel that it will be a problem. I will be counting the books I read beginning with January 1, 2011
1. THE FENG SHUI DETECTIVE’ CASE BOOK Nury Vittachi 1.1.11
“The world is heaven and heaven is the world. This is the beginning of understanding.”
From Some Gleanings of Oriental Wisdom
by CF Wong
CF is a feng shui master and amateur detective who has the fortune or misfortune of having a young Australian sidekick or apprentice , Joyce.
Mr. Wong has called together his associates because he has been given an assignment that would take him to several different locations in a world tour such as Australia, India and Thailand to evaluate the suitability of several rooms and locations with regard problems that have arisen in the past and in order to prevent problems in the future.
The art of feng shui maximizes good ch’i, which is the force of life. Joyce Mcquinnie has been studying and trying all she can to try to help Mr. Wong in his work. The main problem is that she speaks English and he speaks English but he hardly understands a word she says. If she says, “ It’s a piece of cake” he assumes she is hungry.
This is not a problem because although Mr. Wong is very thin he loves to eat. The varieties of foods described in this volume are an adventure in themselves.
This leads to wonderfully entertaining misunderstandings. In these cases things like wild white tigers, dead fish and kidnappings are centerpieces of exotic adventures that teach as well as amuse.
C. F. Wong says at the end
Enjoy the journey, for the journey is the end and the end is the journey.
2. DEATH AT BISHOPS KEEP Robin Paige 1.2.11
3. ASSASSINS OF ATHENS Jeffrey Siger 1.3.11
4. DRAGON BONES Linda See 1.6.11
5. THE CAPE COD MYSTERY Phoebe Atwood Taylor 1.4.11
6. THE PENGUIN POOL MURDER by Stuart Palmer 1.9.11
Hildegarde Withers left Iowa looking for adventure and ended up in New York teaching third grade for years before she got her opportunity for adventure. This happened when she took her class to the New York City Aquarium and discovered a dead man in the penguin pool. The man was murdered by Miss Withers own hatpin.
Published in 1931 the story takes place just after the great stock market crash, and the murder victim himself is a stockbroker. The mystery involves love triangles, publicity seeking DA’s and romance.
7. THE HOUSE WITHOUT THE DOOR by Elizabeth Daly 1.9.11
Published in 1942 it is the case of a widow who has gone into hiding with a double identity to try a have a new life after being acquitted of the highly publicized murder of her husband. But she has begun to get threatening note and subsequently she has had several attempts made on her life.
Document expert and amateur sleuth Henry Gamadge is asked to help clear her name. Gamadge , however, must sort through a the motives of several suspects before he can get a clear picture of what is going on, so he initially puts his client Vina Gregson in a safe haven. It is only hours before another murder is committed and the police want Henry to spill the beans. A nice bit of twisting at the end.
8. DIARY OF A WIMPY KID by Jeff Kinney 1.8.11
9. CUTTING FOR STONE by Abraham Verghese 1.9.11
This is an engrossing saga which originates in the thin clear air of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia during the middle of the twentieth century. Two boys, identical twins are born amidst confusion, hysteria, pain, death, and miraculous circumstances. Even before drawing breath one is the savior and comfort of the other.
Ethiopia had been a Christian country that remained uncolonized by European forces until WWII when it was invaded by Mussolini. Their great Emperor Haile Selassie was descended from the Queen of Sheba and Solomon himself. At Missing Hospital where the boys Shiva and Marion are born a great medical service is provided to the community. There is an excellent internist, a skilled Ob-Gyn surgeon, and an extraordinary surgical team Sister Mary Praise and Dr. Thomas Stone. From this core cast of characters comes an amazing story that teaches and humbles.
The title of this book is taken from the Hippocratic Oath ” I shall not cut for stone…” meaning that a practitioner of the art of medicine will not do surgery unless he is qualified to to do.
10. GYPSY IN AMBER by Martin Cruz smith 1.10.11
This is Martin Cruz Smith’s first mystery. I found it very enjoyable. The main character Roman Gray is Gypsy or Rom. If Smith had continued in this series the character would have been fleshed out and developed more over time. As it is we just get a hint of what we are going to miss out on. Smith includes some background of Romany development which does indeed go all the way back to the Egyptian culture, with ties to Indian history as well. This adds to the mystery of Roman gray himself.
11. WILD PITCH by A. B. Guthrie Jr. 1.11.11
This is a wonderfully written mystery which takes place during the ’70s in the foothills of Montana. Guthrie has a very engaging way with words. The story is told from the point of view of a seventeen year old almost deputy who is the sidekick of a small town Sheriff Chick Charleston. There are two murders to solve in an area where this is an unknown happening. This is accomplished with humor, nice pace and an occasional poetic turn of phrase by Pulitzer Prize winner Guthrie. I want to read more from this author. I see he wrote one mystery in the early ’40s ,also with a western theme which I will try to get a hold of.
12.City of Silver By Annamaris Alfieri
Potosi, high in the altiplano of the majestic Andes Mountains is the richest cirty in the Western hemisphere, perhaps the world. It’s wealth comes from the prosperous silver mines that are being emptied at a rate that that still cannot satisfy the greed of the King of Spain. There is still enough silver around to make most of the Spanish colonists wealth as well, perhaps not as wealthy as they would like because the cuts that they King takes are astronomical. Still it is said that they burn money in the churches instead of candles. Nonetheless there are ways to increase what ever you do have what ever your lot in life. It is because of these dealings that that evil problems begin to be seen in Potosi.
The first begins with the death of Inez de la Morada, the daughter of the mayor the richest and most powerful man in Potosi, who has fled to the local convent, pleading for sanctuary. She refuses to tell the Abbess from what she fearing but she is found dead in a locked cell, and suicide cannot be ruled out. Shortly after this another young postulant is found the victim of a similar sudden death.
Inez’s father the Alcade, has problems of his own. The silver mines of Potosi have been sending coins to the king’s coffers in Spain, silver coins that have been adulterated with alloy. The face value is not real and this is a threat to the Spanish economy and the strength of it’s currency. The king has sent his investigator and everyone is anxious about the possible punishments which include the loss of their fortunes.
There is a race against time to find the cause of the murders so that the convent and its abbess are not blamed for crimes against the church, which is a great concern in these days of the inquisition. The role of the women in this time is one of powerlessness for the most part, but in the end it is the women who triumph.
13. Murder on the Matterhorn by Glyn Carr
Abercrombie AKA ‘Filthy’ Lewker is a well known Skakespearean actor and stage manager who spends most of his free time mountaineering. It is a lesser known fact that he worked for the British secret service during WWII and that he has a definite knack for solving mysteries albeit as an amateur. His forte is the mischief and murders committed amidst crags, slopes and peaks where he can spot anomalies.
He is planning to take a well earned rest in Switzerland and he is asked by the secret service take it at the foot of the Matterhorn where he can connect with an old friend from the French resistance, who is also a mountaineer, but who has become very famous and is now a force in politics. What kind of a force is the question that everyone is asking and that Lewker in supposed to answer,
Published in 1952 the worry is whether he has become a communist. Unfortunately he is killed on the Matterhorn seemingly by a fall before the answer is known. Lewker is soon on the scene and it is he that pronounced the word Murder! Suspects abound of course, as do dogmatic policemen, naturlich.
There is a wonderful sense of place and time in the story. It was very enjoyable.
14. The Black Tower by Louis Bayard
This is an interesting historical mystery that takes place in Paris shortly after Napoleon is exiled and the Bourbons return to power. No matter how tough it is these days it is a million times better that living during the French revolution or restoration.
15. Par Four by Elizabeth Gunn
Jakes Hines has been recently promoted to Chief of Detectives in Rutherford Minnesota and before he can catch his breath he has a kidnapping, two murders and some unusual robberies to solve. This is a fast paced well done story.
16. Night Visit by Priscilla Masters
I could not get past the main character’s lack of judgement and insight, as well as her inability to see what was right in front of her face. Thick as a plank is the best desciption for the nice doctor.
17. Rolling Thunder by Chris Grabenstein
Chris Grabenstein’s mystery series which takes place at the Jersey shore is a great place to visit to remind us of summer, the ocean and warm breezes instead of arctic chills. The excellence of the writing is surely a bonus, as is the interesting story and the humor with which it is told.
18. Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery
19. The Man Who Understood Cats. By Micharl Allen Dymmoch
This is one of the best series I have read although it is mostly hard to get.
20. Death In the Family by Jill Mc Gown
The plot is a twisty as a DNA double helix.
21. The Fourth Wall by Barbara Paul
A Broadway playwrights life becomes a revenge tragedy. She must find a way to take control again.
22. Night Soldiers by Alan Furst
A man’s life is defined by the cruel death of his brother before he can find a way to find a light in the chaos.
23. Second Burial by Andrew Nugent
A young Nigerian Immigrant is attacked and left for dead on a mountainside outside Dublin. The investigation is taken all the way to Africa. Very well done.
24. The Anteater of Death by Betty Webb
A nice mystery involving interesting characters, animals neat puzzles, well written all in all.
25. Frozen Sun by Stan Jones
Alaskan State Trooper Nathan Active has relationship problems as he seeks a lost beauty queen. When he finds her not a problem is solved.
26. A Rather Lovely Inheritance by C. A. Belmond
This is the story of a hard working historical researcher whose eccentric aunt leaves her an inheritance in England and France as well as a puzzle to solve and a romance to make her happy.
37. Bag Limit by Steven Havill
What starts as a car crash on a hidden cul de sac turns into a satisfying mystery as Sheriff Bill Gastner approaches retirement.
31. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Survival is second nature for Katniss Everdeen of District 12 but it is entertainment for the denizens of the Capitol. By spinning out the entertainment you can acquire the means to survive.