About the Whodunit Book Club

Whodunit Book Club has met in its present location for almost seventeen years! If you would like to join us, our meetings are held on the last Tuesday of every month (except December).
We meet at the Chapters Store located at 41 MicMac Blvd., Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. Phone (902) 466-1640

Thursday, November 26, 2009

"Hound" by Vincent McCaffrey

If bibliophilia is an illness, then Henry Sullivan is terminal! Books are his work, his life and his love. A book Hound, Henry is a former bookstore employee who now buys and then resells books over the Internet from his home.

A single man in his mid-thirties, Henry’s days are marked by estate sales, library book sales and other quests for saleable books. He enjoys a regular pint and a game of chess with his friend and confidant Albert. He makes the trek across the city of Boston to visit his father whom he seems never to have actually connected with. He shares a passing word with his landlady whom he respects and admires.

His heretofore predictable, mundane life is upturned when his landlady dies. He learns he will soon be losing his rent controlled apartment when her house is sold. This development, though troubling, absolutely pales to insignificance when Morgan Johnson, an old flame, calls him to value her husband’s books. One wonders if he is thinking of rekindling the flame when he learns of Morgan’s death the day after his visit with her. She was an important part of his life in the past and he is profoundly disturbed by her passing. Her book collection which was filled with many signed first editions was very valuable -- but would someone kill her for it?

In attempting to discover how Morgan died Henry becomes enmeshed in her family’s secrets. She was the second wife of a prominent publisher and traveled extensively. Her family and extended family hid troubles, resentments and deceptions beneath a thin veneer of respectability that their wealth and renown afforded them. Was murder kept in the family as well?

Somewhat reminiscent of John Dunning’s Bookman novels, this is a mystery novel that is more novel than mystery. Literary in both style and subject, Hound is a novel for those who enjoy a more sedately paced story.
If you are looking for action you won’t find it here. Filled with anecdotes and asides on bookselling and the love of reading, Vincent McCaffrey’s love for books absolutely drips from the pages. If you share that obsession, then you will be touched and moved by his words.

Vincent McCaffrey is obviously a man so well read that he seems to have gleaned a deep understanding of human nature from his studies. His characters are appealing and sympathetic and his story well plotted. I look forward to his next novel after what was a most enjoyable debut.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

'Castle' television show

Fans of the TV show "Castle" may be in for a treat. (or not, who can tell???)

Richard Castle has a book out. Yes that's right folks, a fictional character wrote a book... The title is as the TV show suggests "Heat wave". The publisher's blurb refers to Richard Castle as if he is a 'real' person! You can only imagine what nightmares that will present to me as a library cataloguer!

This link has an online interview with the show's stars Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic that fans will find interesting.

Whodunit Book Club - November 24, 2009

The last 2009 meeting for the Whodunits! Eighteen people attended and everyone was in good pre-holiday cheer.
Pam's question this evening was: "Do you like to receive books as gifts?"
Although we are all avid readers and booklovers the answer was not quite what one would anticipate. Many said that they would like to receive gift cards for a bookstore so that they could choose the books themselves. Reading is such a personal thing that they didn't want others choosing books for them. A few said that they did like to receive books because they appreciated the thoughtfulness that went into the choice. Most of us seem to like to give books as gifts. Perhaps we think that we are better able to choose books because of the sheer number we have read? A few confessed to giving books as gifts but reading them first! This caused quite a stir...

The novel discussed this month was R.D. Wingfield's first Inspector Frost novel "Frost at Christmas". Some of those who had watched the "Touch of Frost" television series felt that the televised Frost had a more mature sense of humour than the Frost from the novel. And speaking of humour, there was quite a bit within the pages of "Frost at Christmas". Many said they laughed aloud while reading it. The general consensus was that the book was enjoyed by the majority and some said that they would definitely read the rest in the series.

We learned a little about R.D. Wingfield. Born in London in 1928 he lived in Essex for many years with his wife and one son. He was exempted from military service due to poor eyesight and later became a radio dramatist for the BBC. He died in 2004 from prostate cancer.

Inspector Frost is pithy, acerbic, irreverent and usually right. He is so sloppy and bumbling that you gotta love him! At least I do...
Like most British police procedural series the six Frost novels should really be read in order. Anyone who hasn't yet read the entire series is in for some seriously good entertainment.

Winners of the free books this month were: Lynne, Laird, Nancy and Brian.

Merry Christmas to all the Whodunit members!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

David Jason is Inspector Frost

This month's Whodunit Book Club selection is the first in the Inspector Frost series of novels by the late R.D. Wingfield. I have long been a fan and read "Frost at Christmas" in the mid 1980s. Of course, being a fan, I was sure to view the television series "A Touch of Frost" which was based on the series starring David Jason as Jack Frost. He plays the part admirably.

Anyone who hasn't yet seen the TV series should do so. The shows are available at the Halifax Public Library if you missed them on TV.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The late great Edward Gorey

Edward Gorey at home in Yarmouthport, Massachusetts, 1992. Photo © Steve Marsel Studio Inc.

"He lived with as many as six cats at a time: the 'people,' he claimed, to whom he felt closest." —Susan Lumenello (Harvard Magazine, March–April 2007)

Many of us who watch Mystery on PBS will recognize the art of Edward Gorey.
The introduction to the show is available on YouTube.

Renown for his macabre artwork I have long been a fan.

A colleague of mine recently visited his home in Cape Cod, Massachusetts which is now open to the public. I am SO jealous. She said the house was a fascinating glimpse into the eccentric figure that was Gorey.

Many of Edward Gorey's works are available at the Halifax Public Libraries. Gorey's illustrated (and sometimes wordless) books, with their vaguely ominous air and ostensibly Victorian and Edwardian settings, have long had a cult following.
One of my favorites is his alphabet book for adults "The Gashlycrumb Tinies". His ingenious rendering of the alphabet is much too gruesome and frightening for the average child.

The book of interviews "Ascending peculiarity: Edward Gorey on Edward Gorey"
provides an intriguing glimpse into the life of this brilliant eccentric.

There is a great online interview with Edward Gorey on the MYSTERY! website.

Also, the Wikipedia entry for Gorey provides a comprehensive coverage of the man and his work.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Why do we read?

Whether a book makes you laugh or cry, it becomes indelibly a part of you. Once the words are read you can't unread them.
Think of all the things that the words and phrases within books have made you think about. The things that without the book you would never have thought of before...
The memories the words sometimes conjure. How the author's description of something or someone will make you reflect on your own experiences.

From the book "Hound" by Vincent McCaffrey.
"I lie in bed at night and read as though my life depended on it. And it does, even if it's a mundane life."
No truer words were ever spoken.

Reading makes us grow. It makes us more empathetic and broadens our knowledge of the world and the people in it. Reading provides us with a diversion from life's stresses and provides endless topics for conversation. In fact, I can think of no negatives when it comes to reading.
So... why not go and open a book???

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Yorkshire mysteries of Lesley Horton

I just finished the 5th in the series of Yorkshire mysteries by Lesley Horton. Each and every one an enjoyable read. The novels feature Detective Chief Inspector Handford who is a likeable, though complex protagonist.

This novel "Twisted Tracks" featured three simultaneous murder investigations. The murders seemed mysteriously linked. It was discovering what linked them that would crack the case. Also in Handford's inbox was a spate of staged car accidents. An elaborate insurance scam, these accidents often included women and small children as the victims.
Busy at work, his wife on a teaching exchange work term in Florida, and his mother looking after him and his daughters seems enough stress for Handford. But there is more! Thirty years ago his brother was a suspect in a rape case in which the victim later committed suicide. Handford was his brother's alibi. However, Handord who was just seventeen at the time and idolized his brother, lied to cover for him. Now that lie has returned to haunt him as the rape case has recently been reopened. As a high ranking police officer, he must now tell the truth and recant his former testimony. What will this do to his brother, his parents, his life?
Written with a deft understanding of police procedure and a keen knowledge of human nature, this series is one I will continue to follow with enjoyment.