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, December 30, 2010

Mystery conferences in 2011

Sounds like 2011 will be a great year for those mystery lovers who have the time and inclination to attend mystery related conventions and conferences.
A full listing of the year's offerings can be found on this link:
Of course the two to note are: Bloody Words (Canada's mystery conference held this year in Victoria, B.C. June 3-5, 2011)and Boucheron (St. Louis, Missouri Sept. 15-18, 2011)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

"Blood in the water" by Gillian Galbraith

Started yet another mystery series which I will be following avidly. "Blood in the water" introduces Alice Rice, a single, lonely, disillusioned Edinburgh police detective. The setting of the novel is like the cover, cold, dark and wet -- Edinburgh in December.

Alice lives for her work. She has no close friends or love interests. Her only companion is her dog Quill, whom she leaves with a neighbour when she is working. The neighbour is elderly, paranoid and sinking into dementia. Also in the novel, are Alice's ill but very dedicated female boss DCI Bell and her nemesis who 'annoys her beyond endurance', DI Eric Mason.

The title "Blood in the water" refers to the journalists who, like sharks circling, pester the detectives whilst they attempt to conduct murder investigations. (p. 72) Of course the reader can have other interpretations... that is the joy of fiction.

Unlike other mystery novels where the victims are unknown to the reader, this novel introduces each of the murder victims and fleshes them out enough for the reader to be invested in them. The reader then takes it personally when they are seemingly senselessly murdered.

The victims are, all but one, professional people. An esteemed women surgeon, and two lawyers one male and one female. The exception seems to be Sammy McBryde, who is a 'jobbing gardener'. What links these victims?

The author, Gillian Galbraith, is an advocate turned author. Advocate is the term used for lawyer in Scotland. There are many legal passages in the novel which will be confusing to the uninitiated, as the legal system in Scotland seems vastly different to that with which we are accustomed. However, don't let that deter you from reading the novel, as the writing overall is very entertaining.

Galbraith has a knack of making all of the characters sympathetic. I found myself liking them all.... even the murderer.... Oh dear!

I look forward to the second novel in the series, "Where the shadow falls".

Saturday, November 27, 2010

"Our Lady of Pain" by Elena Forbes

Just turned the last page of "Our Lady of Pain" by Elena Forbes. The second installment in what is shaping up to be a superb British police procedural series.

The first book in the series, "Die with me", I reviewed on this blog on June 13, 2009.

"Our Lady of Pain" is set in London, in February, with DCI Mark Tartaglia and policewoman Sam Donovan working an intriguing murder case. The body of a beautiful young art dealer is found by a passing jogger naked and frozen in Holland Park. Her body is posed in such a way that she looks like she is praying and an excerpt of a poem is found in her mouth.

The murder investigation is hindered by the fact that the victim, Rachel Tenison led a very mysterious and disturbing life. They flounder along with the case until a journalist links this case with one from the previous year which has some similarities to the one that they are working on... At this point a detective from the first case, Simon Turner, is assigned to work with them.

The suspects are credible villains who hide their motivations and lie about their whereabouts forcing Tartaglia and the Barnes Murder Squad to work even harder and more ingeniously to seek out the truth.

With brilliant characterizations and a steadily increasing grip of suspense, this novel delivered on all levels. It has in fact, ascertained that Elena Forbes has been added to my favorite novelists list. (see bottom of this blog's front page)

Read "The Darker Side", and original essay by Eleana Forbes available online.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Whodunit Book Club - October 27th, 2010

A lively crowd of eighteen gathered for October's Whodunit Book Club meeting and we were all pleased to welcome a couple of new members, Holly and Marian.

Pam posed the questions: "What did you think of last month's meeting with guest author Pamela Callow?" and "What is on your 'to read' list right now that you are excited about?"
The general consensus was that everyone greatly enjoyed Pamela Callow's visit to club.
We enjoyed her gracious and accommodating attitude and appreciated hearing a little first hand knowledge about book publishing from an author who is experiencing the process for the first time.
Many reading suggestions were garnered from listening to members share what their next read would be.

This months book for discussion was Henning Mankell's first Kurt Wallander mystery, "Faceless Killers".
Henning Mankell became interested in writing at an early age and is a prolific author who has written plays, novels, and even children's books. He is an award winner. His novel "Sidetracked" won the Gold Daggar in 2001. He has sold 35 million copies of his works and those works have been translated into 41 languages! In 2008 Mankell was the 9th best-selling author in the world!

Mankell divides his time between Moçambique and Sweden and he has commented that he has one foot in the snow and one foot in the sand.

Interesting to note was that he chose the name Wallander for his detective by getting his name out of the phone book.
Wallander is a bizarre sort of anti-hero. Mankell confesses that he is not sure that Wallander and he would be friends in real life as he doesn't like him very much.
Described by the Whodunit members as pathetic, solitary, forgetful, dysfunctional, disorganized, irresponsible, sorry for himself and too dependent on alcohol, it is no wonder that Mankell feels this way.

The novel "Faceless Killers" had a chilling beginning. The Swedish winter weather was cold and bleak and the horrific crime was disturbing. In Faceless Killers, an elderly couple are murdered on an isolated farm after being brutally tortured and the woman's final word 'foreign' unleashed a ferociously anti-refugee sentiment in Ystad. Most members enjoyed the first 1/3 to 1/2 of the novel. The victims had an interesting double-life and the references to the noose that were scattered throughout the novel intrigued the readers. However, many were disappointed in the ending and felt cheated. The noose references turned out to be 'red herrings' and the solution to the crime seems almost an appendix to the story rather that a true conclusion due to the fact that the author revealed crucial information only at the last minute... The crime was motivated by greed and was perpetrated by criminals with sociopathic tendencies.
It was noted that the novel seemed almost farcical at times. The Swedish police force seemed to have myriad outstanding resources at their disposal, but the workforce seemed provincial in their behaviour.
I came away from the meeting not really knowing if the members would continue reading other books in the series. Sometimes the first novel of a series is not the author's best work, and there must be a reason why Mankell has sold 35 million copies...

I very much enjoyed the PBS Mystery rendition of "Faceless Killers". In fact I think I enjoyed it much more than the book and discovered that others agreed. Wallander was expertly portrayed by Kenneth Branagh. Anyone who has not yet seen the Wallander mysteries on PBS are in for a treat. Kenneth Branagh a self-confessed voracious reader, had just finished reading nine Mankell titles when he met Mankell in a bathroom at a reception honouring Ingmar Bergman, Henning's late father-in-law.

Click here for a link to a Sunday Times article on Henning Mankell's thoughts on Kenneth Branagh's portrayal of Wallander.

Also, here is a link describing Branagh's win of the 2010 BAFTA for Leading Actor for his portrayal of Wallander.

There were six book giveaways this month. The lucky winners were:
Regis, Marian, Camilla, Tracy, Marilyn and Marlene.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Whodunit Book Club - September 28th, 2010

Whodunit Book Club was thrilled to welcome local thriller writer, Pamela Callow to club this month!
The author of the bestselling novel "Damaged" Pamela generously shared some of her experiences with getting her first book published, the writing process and some other background information.

A self-confessed bookworm as a child, she was a regular patron of the local Bookmobile. When she was eight years old, she decided that she wanted to write a book. She credits her junior high school English teacher with lighting the 'spark' that really got her started. Pam took an adult education class at Mount Saint Vincent University. It took her five years to get published.

Her very first novel (a time travel historical novel) is as yet unpublished. She intends to someday revisit this book, fine tune it, and perhaps try once more to get it published.

"Damaged" was based on an actual legal case from the United States in which the perpetrator was an oral surgeon, a funeral home was involved with tissue brokering, and a class action suit resulted from it! She decided to set the novel based on this case in Halifax. The first publisher she approached actually rejected "Damaged" based on the setting. Whodunit members appreciated the local setting so we could readily imagine the scenes in the novel. Pamela receives positive emails from all over the U.S. and Canada about "Damaged", so the setting is clearly not a deterrent to those readers!

There is a great book trailer for "Damaged" available on You Tube!

A lawyer, Pamela Callow's writing process was aided by her legal background. This helped when doing research for her novel and also helped to open doors to such places as the Halifax Police Department. Her husband, a physician was helpful with the medical side of the story.

Pamela Callow gave us some insight as to the incredibly hard work that is required to ensure that the continuity of plot and character development is maintained. This is especially important when writing a series. She claimed to be a 'plodder' when she spoke of her writing regime. She creates flow-charts, an outline, and a full back-story for all of her characters before beginning on the actual novel. With a four book contract, she has resigned from her legal career and now writes full time, seven days per week!

Whodunit members were curious about Alaska, the husky dog which was a character in "Damaged". She says he is based upon two dogs that belong to her brother. She also let us know that there would be dogs featured throughout the series.

The second novel in the Kate Lange series, "Indefensible" is due out December 2010. This novel features a wrongful accusation against Randall Barrett and occurs four months after "Damaged" ended.
She is currently working on "Tattooed", the third novel in the series.

She credits her excellent PR team with some of her success. The first printing of "Damaged" was 128,000 copies! A real coup for a first-time novelist.
She commented upon the cover art of her books. They will all center around a woman's face and water. This, she says is a semi-metaphor for characters that are figuratively 'drowning'.
The hidden staircase in Kate Lange's home is another recurring element in the series. Pam says it is a metaphor for Kate's life.

Pamela Callow graciously signed books for Whodunit members following the meeting.
Some photos of the signing are below.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Whodunit Book Club - August 31st, 2010

Sixteen members attended this month's meeting which was, as usual, a lively event.
The circle's question this month was: "What book is on your nightstand right now?"
The answers enabled us to learn a little more about our fellow bookclub members AND some great recommendations were given in the process!
The novel discussed this month was "The girl with the dragon tattoo" by Stieg Larsson. This novel has been published in over 40 languages and has sold over 20 million copies! Therefore it meets anyone's criteria of a 'bestseller'. It is also an award winning book which garnered the Anthony Award and the Glass Key Award.
We learned a little about the author who, sadly, is deceased. He died of a heart attack at age 50 before having the opportunity to reap the rewards of his efforts as all three of his bestselling Millennium trilogy were published following his death. He was an investigative journalist, a workaholic and an activist. Because of the nature of his work he feared for his safety and hid out in his own home. He and his partner of 32 years never married because in Sweden you have to divulge your address once you are married. As a result, his partner Eva Gabrielsson does not benefit from the proceeds of the novels. His estranged father and brother inherit his estate. For an online interview with Eva Gabrielsson click here.
Stieg Larsson put a lot of effort into researching and preparing his novels. He actually had an outline for ten novels!
Also, the novels have been made into movies in their original Swedish language. I was fortunate enough to see the first two. There are also English language movies being made, but I believe that the original Swedish versions will surpass these in talent, direction and cinematography. I simply cannot imagine that the part of Lizbeth Salander played by Noomi Norén (aka Noomi Rapace) could be matched by another actress.

Whodunit members enjoyed the novel and about 3/4 of the members want to read the sequels. They felt that the ending was very well done and in keeping with the story.
Some found that the first of the book dragged a bit, but most agreed that this was needed to 'set up' the story for the rest of the novel.

This month's lucky winners of Pam's book giveaway were:
Jody, Marilyn, Heather and Lynne.

Next month's title is "Damaged" by Pamela Callow. A local author, she has agreed to attend our next meeting and Whodunit is excited to have her with us.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Great mystery anthology!

I enjoy reading short stories in my genre of choice... the mystery. When I come across a collection that is of absolute 'stellar' quality, I feel it is my duty to share it with my fellow mystery lovers.
"The Penguin book of Crime Stories volume II" is just such an anthology! Selected and introduced by one of my favorite authors, Peter Robinson, this collection surpassed my expectations.
Two of my favorite stories from this collection were: "The visitors' book" by Sophie Hannah and "The game of dog" by Reginald Hill.
Other excellent short stories in this collection were written by Ruth Rendell, Sue Grafton, Maureen Jennings, Robert J. Randisi, Rick Mofina, John Connolly and Lee Child to name a few.
Highly recommended. Enjoy!

Whodunit Book Club - July, 2010

I was sorry to have missed this meeting, but summer vacation took precedence.
I have garnered the following information from some of my fellow club members.

Pam's magical question/ice breaker was:
"What is your beverage of choice when you read?"
Varied answers included tea, coffee, wine etc. Of course all the answers came with anecdotes...
The novel discussed this month was "Sign of the cross" by Anne Emery.
First in a series set in our hometown of Halifax, Nova Scotia, the book was enjoyed by most members. People felt the characters were believable and for the most part likable – the story was believable and not too far fetched. Overall the book was well received. Some highly recommended it, and gave their copies to others to read. Some had already read other books in the series.
The importance of 'setting' was discussed at length. Some enjoyed the fact that the books was set locally so that they could readily identify with the descriptions. Others prefer it if a novel is set in other parts of the world so that they can learn about other places.
The protagonist is Halifax lawyer, Monty Collins. He is hired to defend a priest, Father Brennan Burke who is suspected of murdering a young girl whose body was carved with a religious 'sign'.
From the author's website: "From their first meeting, Monty finds Burke acerbic, arrogant, and evasive about his relationship with the victim. Conflict between lawyer and client simmers all through the ordeal that lies ahead, as evidence piles up and murder charges seem inevitable. With Burke remaining tight-lipped about his past, Monty has no choice but to go behind his back and conduct a probe into the life of his own client. Never in his career has Monty been so lost for answers, until a long-forgotten incident takes on new and ominous meaning...".

"Sign of the cross" was the winner of the Arthur Ellis Award for Best First Novel in 2007.

The winners of the book giveaways will be added to this blog posting when I get the information. Anyone wishing to add to this post is very welcome to add their two cents worth...

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Whodunit Book Club - June 29, 2010

June's Whodunit gathering was made up of a very lively and talkative group! Yet another enjoyable evening! The group welcomed a new member, Heather, who must have been overwhelmed by our chatter.

Pam posed the question: "Have you a favourite book that you buy over and over to give as gifts, or have you a book that you have bought more than one copy of?"
As usual the query garnered much conversation. Many stated that they had a favourite children's title that they repeatedly bought for gifts.

The book under discussion this week was "Coroner" by M.R. Hall.
The first comment was that although the novel had a strong female protagonist, the author is a man (Matthew Ronald Vickery Hall). He is a barrister and this, his first novel was nominated for the 2009 CWA Gold Dagger Mystery Award! He lives and works in the Wye valley in South Wales, where the Jenny Cooper novels are set.

The protagonist, Jenny Cooper has recently been appointed coroner in a small, rural community. It was understood that she was offered the job because they thought she would be easy to manipulate, having recently had a breakdown. Although she is a strong individual she relies heavily on prescription drugs and is emotionally vulnerable in part due to her recent divorce and separation from her teenage son. Her predecessor in the post of coroner recently passed away and her assistant, Allison, remained loyal to his memory, due to the fact that she had been in love with him. This made for an uncomfortable and sometimes frustrating working experience for Jenny.

Many of our group liked the parts in the book that detailed the coroner's courtroom scenes. For the most part, Jenny was thought to be a likeable, strong, and damaged protagonist. Some thought that her addiction to prescription drugs was mentioned too often in the story. Some thought that if that had not been done, the reader would come away with a distorted view of Jenny.
The possible love interest in the novel, Steve, was thought to be suffering from a resistance to responsibility and had a commitment phobia. That is not to say he was unlikeable, only flawed...

The club generally thought that the novel accurately portrayed the corruption present in most social structures and they liked the Welsh detective who seemed to have a Welsh/English rivalry going.

Some members of the club felt cheated because they were robbed of the opportunity to guess who the villain of the novel was because he was not introduced until near the end of the book.
All in all, the book came away with favorable views and I expect many of us will read the sequel(s) "The disappeared" and "The rapture".

This month's lucky book winners were: Gaye, Myrtle, Cathy and Marilyn.

It was announced in club that the local thriller writer, Pamela Callow will be a guest to our meeting on September 28th. Her book "Damaged" has garnered a lot of favorable press and is in high demand. We look forward to her visit.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Whodunit Book Club - May 25, 2010

The May meeting of the Whodunit Book Club consisted of 19 members. A good sized crowd for a lovely spring evening.
Pam's magical question.... What was your last 'impulse buy' of books, and what made you succumb to the impulse? The answers were varied of course and stimulated the usual interesting discussion. Some said the cover art was a factor, some said the price. Some said it was the fact that it was an anthology (which have a limited shelf life) and some just wanted to treat themselves.

The book under discussion: "When Zeffie got a clue" by Peggy Darty. Most of us were in agreement that the book was poorly written and could be aimed at a juvenile audience. The cozy mystery was a bit too 'goody-goody' with antiquated sex role portrayal, annoying repetition, and stilted, unrealistic dialogue. Some went so far as to say the book was boring with cardboard characters and plot and a setting that played little or no part in the story's development. The group said that the best part of the book was the cover and that they definitely would NOT read another book by the author!

The book give-away winners this month were: Carolyn, Judy, Nancy, Cathy, Marilyn and Regis.

It was mentioned that local author Pamela Callow (author of 'Damaged') is interested in being a guest at a Whodunit meeting sometime in the near future.

The book for next month's discussion: "Coroner" by M.R. Hall. I have read this novel and hope that the club members will enjoy it as much as I did.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mystery Scene magazine

I am a huge fan of Mystery Scene Magazine. It is the must-have periodical for fans of mystery and suspense fiction. The magazine features great reviews and insightful articles on mystery authors and their work. Highly recommended!
This month's issue features author Lisa Lutz (author of the Spellman novels). The Whodunit Book Club will remember we did her first Spellman novel "The Spellman Files" in club.
Also figured this month is an article on Cara Black and her Paris mysteries. We did the first novel in the series "Murder in the Marais" in club recently.
Fans of Stephen King will enjoy the article on him and the book "Haunted heart: the life and times of Stephen King" which is the first book-length King biography.
There is always a little something for every mystery fan!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Whodunit Book Club - April 27, 2010

A smaller than average group of twelve turned out for this month's Whodunit meeting. We welcomed a new member, Kim.
The discussion question: "If a complete stranger viewed the list of books you have read over the past five years what would they think of your reading choices?"
The answers were varied. Some who read only mysteries and suspense might be viewed as blood-thirsty or a little warped. On the other hand they might be perceived as having a thirst for justice that real-life seldom affords... Some who read a lot of non-fiction might be perceived as intelligent. Those who read a variety of genres might be perceived as being 'well-rounded'. As many of us frequently wonder what others think of us, this was a question that provoked some thought.
This month's book for discussion was "Anatomy of Deception" by Lawrence Goldstone.
A historical forensic mystery, the novel was set in 1889 Philadelphia. Members agreed the book was well researched and that although complicated the plot was entertaining in a didactic way. The novel featured real people and fictionalized characters together. One of the real people in the novel was Dr. William Osler who has been referred to as 'the father of modern medicine'. Dr. William Osler was a bibliophile who collected the works of Michael Servetus. Another was Dr. William Stewart Halsted, an American surgeon of some reknown. Some members did not approve of the way the real people in the novel were portrayed in a less than flattering light and thought that the author took unnecessary liberties in that regard. A few readers believed the book should have used fictionalized characters to be implicated in the crimes, and left the real people's memory unsullied.
The painting on the dustjacket is a famous work by artist Thomas Eakins which now hangs at Johns Hopkins Medical Center.
"Anatomy of Deception" depicted the 'old-boy' network thought prevalent in the medical profession. The idea that physicians will cover for each other, regardless of whether guilty or innocent. Another theme was the moral rationale of 'the greater good'. The question of who is valuable... the dilemma of sacrificing a few for the benefit of the many...
The book accurately described historical medical practices and recounted several events in this pivotal time in the history of medicine. During the time period in which the novel was set, autopsies were very controversial and the fact that the doctors in the novel used autopsies to further their knowledge of the human body made them ahead of their time and ground-breakers in the practice of forensic medicine.
To listen to a filmed interview with the author, Lawrence Goldstone click here.
The lucky winners of the book draw for this month were: Betty, Kim, Marlene, and Lynne.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Whodunit Book Club - March 30, 2010

A wonderful spring evening at Chapters Dartmouth with 14 members in attendance!
The question for the circle this time: "Do you talk about books with people?" Considering we are all avid readers and some of us work in the book business, the answer would seem to be a no-brainer.... But NOT so! Surprisingly few of us actually discuss the books we read. Reading seems to be a very private affair. Some have a select few who they discuss with, but most use Whodunit as their outlet for discussion.

The book discussed this month was "Murder in the Marais" by Cara Black. The first title in a nine book series, the novel was set in 1993 Paris. The protagonist is Aimée Leduc a a half-French, half-American female private investigator who specializes mostly in computer crime. She partners with a dwarf named René, who also has superior computer skills. The firm's finances are tight however and she takes on a case that is far out of her realm of expertise. Aimée is a thoroughly modern gumshoe who takes on a case with historical implications. The historical back story concerns the Nazi occupation of Paris during WWII and the mistreatment of Jews during that time.
Although not all the Whodunit members liked the book or would read another in the series, there were several positive points they conceded: It did not read like a first novel and the language was at times almost poetic ; the descriptions transported the reader to Paris ; although the narrative was at times confusing, and sometimes implausible, the satisfying ending neatly tied up all the loose ends.
Myself, I would not read another in the series, but I did find the WWII history to be the best part of the novel.
Tonight's book giveaway sent the following members home with a new read: Brian, Caroline, Shawna and Regis. Congratulations gang!
Next month's selection is "Anatomy of Deception" by Lawrence Goldstone.

Monday, March 8, 2010

"The lineup"

If like me, you wonder what inspires your favorite mystery novelists, then the new book "The lineup" edited by Otto Penzler is a must read.
Some of the most famous and influential crime writers reveal the inside story behind their greatest detective creations. Some of my favorite authors are included: Colin Dexter, Carol O'Connell, Jeffery Deaver, Ian Rankin, and Michael Connelly to name a few.
What inspired the authors to create the characters the way they did? Why did they chose the locations they did? You will discover what makes these much-loved fictional characters tick, and have a unique chance to get inside the minds of the esteemed novelists who created them.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Whodunit Book Club - February 23, 2010

A sparse crowd at Whodunit this evening. Was everyone too busy watching the Olympics? We did however have three new members which were warmly welcomed. (perhaps frightened off?)
The circle's discussion this evening was a bit different from our usual practice. This time we were invited to recommend authors and titles for future Whodunit reads. Many great sounding recommendations were offered and I look forward to diverse reading ahead.

This month's book was "Mortal Remains" by Peter Clement. A real departure from our usual fare in that it was a medical thriller. The first of this genre we have done in club. The author has been a medical doctor for 28 years and an ER physician for 20 of those years. He writes under his first and second name so as to keep his writing life and his medical life completely separate. We can all assume he is very successful as he now writes full-time.
This month's title was inspired by a real-life disappearance of a female medical student.

Most seemed to enjoy the book, though comments were made that there was too much medical terminology, that the plot was a bit too predictable and that there were too many plot 'threads' to be tied up. Most enjoyed the story and some mentioned it would have made a great movie. Certain scenes were portrayed vividly -- the initial diving scene, the scene where Mark Roper was shot at while driving, and the well scene were mentioned in particular. Favorite characters were Bessie, the geriatric doctor and Nell, the town's busy-body. It was remarked upon by several that the elder Dr. Braden was particularly sinister and that his son was a bit of a wimp.
The devious Dr. Melanie who made patients ill in order to 'cure' them was rather creepy. The club deemed Lucy to be a 'red herring' (we all love those). The side-plots of the home for unwed mothers and the maternity hospital were intriguing.
Most agreed that the threads of the plot were tied up satisfactorily.

This novel differed from most in that it had two 'culprits'.

The winners of this month's freebies were: Marlene, Caroline, Cedella and Judy.
Two of the winners were new to the club which was a nice welcome for them.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

"Devils in the mirror" by Lesley Horton

I just finished the third novel in the Inspector Handford mystery series by Lesley Horton. Another great read!
The novel deals with the issues of racism, religion, inner-city youth and ultimately murder. The author writes of which she knows. She was a teacher in an inner-city school in the area of Yorkshire, England in which the books are set.
With a growing Asian population, racism continues to be an issue in schools AND in police work in and around Bradford.
This title was written sympathetically and the reader can't help but identify with the people from both sides of the racial divide.
The protagonist Inspector John Handford, is a professional policeman who tries not to let his personal life interfere with his investigations. However, this time his wife is a teacher at the school where the murder victim attended and he realizes that the lines between his professional life and his personal life are blurred...

Shayla Richards was just fifteen when her body was found on Druid's altar on the moor.
Of mixed race parentage, Shayla had been missing for several weeks, was a known truant and a troublesome teenager. However, she didn't deserve this!
Handford and his team set about finding her murderer, but they meet up with loads of oppostion along the way...

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Whodunit Book Club - January 26, 2010

Tonight's meeting was extra special! It marked the 12th anniversary of the club!
Also, our close-knit group welcomed two new members!
The 'magic' question this month was "Do you consider yourself a fast or slow reader?
Most of the members considered themselves to be faster readers than most, probably because they are avid readers and with practice comes speed... Our fearless leader said she read about 50 pages per hour. I have never measured how many pages I read in an hour, but now I am curious and will probably HAVE to find out!
The book under discussion this month was "The sweetness at the bottom of the pie" by Alan Bradley. I read this book back in July of 2009, so my memory of it was a bit fuzzy. My posting from last July reads:
"What a unique premise for a mystery novel! The protagonist is an eleven year old female aspiring chemist. Growing up in a motherless, and very eccentric household, Flavia de Luce is memorable to say the least. Throw in a dead bird, a little poison and some rare stamps, and you've got a unique historical British mystery written by a Canadian, Alan Bradley.
The book is the first of a proposed series called the Buckshaw Chronicles and Flavia even has her own fan club!
It has placed on numerous bestseller lists and has won the Debut Dagger Award awarded by the British Crime Writer's Association!"

At bookclub I was astounded to find out that Alan Bradley had never set foot in England until AFTER he wrote this book! Also, on the merit of an excerpt from this novel, the author garnered a 6 book deal with his publisher (at the age of 69).

Most of the club members agreed that Flavia was precocious and extremely observant for her age of eleven. She had to grow up fast because of being in a motherless family with little supervision. Many wondered why Flavia was not in school as the book was set in June and there were other children attending school in the time the novel took place.
Members liked the vivid description and considered the hostage scene to be quite exciting. A majority of members want to read the second title in the series "The weed that strings the hangman’s bag".

Next months meeting welcomes reading suggestions from WhoDunit members.
The winners of the free books at this meeting were: Betty, Lynne, Nancy and Brian.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

"The Crossing Places" 1st in a superior new series

In the past year I have read many books, mostly of the mystery/thriller genres. Many were by authors that I have been reading for years. Many were part of series that I have come to regard as old friends.
Recently I read a debut novel, first of a series, that promises to be one that I will follow for years to come. "The crossing places" by Elly Griffiths.
Set mostly in a brooding saltmarsh area of England's Norfolk coast, the series features Ruth Galloway, who is a university lecturer in forensic archaeology. Ruth is an intriguing character. Solitary, smart, and strong, (not to mention a cat owner) Ruth is a protagonist that I want to follow and I eagerly await the next novel which features her.
With such a powerful protagonist and themes of missing children, historical exhumations, and just a smattering of romance, "The crossing places" exhibited everything I truly enjoy in a mystery novel. Griffiths descriptions of the barren and beautiful marshlands set the mood for the book excellently.

The clincher for my buying the book was the attractive dustjacket which just happened to exhibit the words "Ruth Galloway is an inspired creation" -- Louise Penny. As Louise Penny is one of my favourite authors, her recommendation carried great weight with me.

I urge others to read the novel. I love sharing the joy...

"Elly Griffiths is a pseudonym for Domenica de Rosa, who was born in London and spent ten years in publishing before she turned to writing fiction. Her Ruth Galloway novels are inspired by the work of her husband, who gave up a job in finance to train as an archaeologist, and by her aunt, who lives on the Norfolk coast and who filled her niece's head with the myths and legends of that area. She and her husband have two children and live near Brighton."--MysteryBooks.ca