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

Friday, December 30, 2011

Whodunit Book Club November 29, 2011

Fifteen members attended the last Whodunit meeting of 2011. Two members contributed to our waistlines with wonderful cookies and chocolates. Thanks so much.

Our book this month was "Big red tequila" by Rick Riordan. (pronounced Rye or din)
The first in a series of novels featuring Tres Navarre, an unlicensed private investigator set in San Antonio, Texas.

From the author's website: Jackson "Tres" Navarre and his enchilada-eating cat, Robert Johnson, pull into San Antonio and find nothing but trouble. Ten years ago Navarre left town and the memory of his father's murder behind him. Now he's back, looking for answers. Yet the more Tres digs, trying to put his suspicions to rest, the fresher the decade-old crime looks: Mafia connections, construction site payoffs, and slick politicians' games all conspire to ruin his homecoming.

It's obvious Tres has stirred up a hornet's nest of trouble. He gets attacked, shot at, run over by a big blue Thunderbird—and his old girlfriend, the one he wants back, turns up missing. Tres has to rescue the woman, nail his father's murderer, and get the hell out of Dodge before mob-style Texas justice catches up to him.

The 'big red tequila' referred to in the title is a drink of tequila mixed with Big Red cream soda. UCK!

Once again we rated the novel by voting 1-10 as to our enjoyment. The score was 4.6

Plus points: Everyone seems to agree that the cat, Robert Johnson was a real and likeable 'character' who added to the book. The character of Maia was feisty and seemed too smart to be paired up with the protagonist Tres (pronounced “trace”). The descriptions of the San Antonio setting were well depicted and written with a real knowledge of the area.

Minus points: The cover was not particularly attractive and many said that they would NOT have read the book if just perusing the shelves. It appears at first glance to be a western novel. The character of Tres came off as being rather unintelligent. Although it was stated in the novel that he holds a PhD in medieval studies. The peripheral characters were unrealistically portrayed. The wrap up to the story was confusing to read and the resolution was murky and difficult to understand.http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif

Rick Riordan is a Shamus and Anthony Award winning novelist. You can view an online interview with him here.
Although our book club did not rate the novel "Big Red Tequila" highly, there are many who do as is proven by his award-winning status.

The question was posed: "How do you know a book is good if you've never read one that's bad...?

Lucky book winners this month were: Lynne, Carolyn, Camilla, Tracey and Margaret.

Our next meeting will be held the last Tuesday of January 2012, when we will discuss the novel, "Skin and bones" by Tom Bale.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Whodunit Book Club October 25, 2011

Eighteen Whodunit members turned out for the meeting on this damp and chilly evening.
The novel discussed this month was "The little stranger" by Sarah Waters. Including one vote made in absentia, the club's average rating for the book was 7.194 out of 10.
Like the familiar saying "Those who loved it, loved it a lot". Those who didn't, didn't. The reaction to the novel was polarized, with members voting either very high or very low.

The author, Sarah Waters was born in Wales in 1966. She earned her PhD in English literature in 1995 and soon after starting writing novels. Her books have been in the running for several prestigious literary awards including the Ellis Peters Historical Dagger and the Lambda Literary Award for Fiction, and were shortlisted for the Orange Prize and the Man Booker Prize. A lesbian herself, she often portrays lesbians in her novels although she didn't in "The little stranger". Her fifth novel, it took her two and half years to write.
See her online interview discussing the writing of "The little stranger".

Positive praise from Whodunit members included such comments as "well-written"; "suspenseful"; "great characterization"; "great sense of place".
Negative comments included "too much detail"; "too long".

Written with consumate skill, the story was absorbing and could be interpreted many different ways. Hundreds Hall, the decaying house featured in the novel was a character unto itself and many said that they could perfectly picture it in their mind's eye.
Doctor Faraday, a rural physician and a bachelor, seemed to have aspirations to own the house with the elevated status it represented -- and some mentioned that he could be interpreted as 'the little stranger' as he visited the house as a child when his mother was a servant there. (Incidentally Sarah Waters' grandparents worked as servants in an English country house). A member commented that there is a 'little stranger' in all of us - that it is the dark part of our personality.

The setting was written so well that the reading of the novel was almost a visual experience. The novel was set in a time when there was a distinct and impassable divide between the social classes and the author aptly describes the social mores and customs of the time period. Somewhat gloomy and dark, Sarah Waters describes her work as being somewhat Dickensian.

The novel can be read as a gothic ghost story; a supernatural thriller, a psychological character study, or a historical mystery novel. All would be correct and the author leaves the decision up to the reader.

Congratulations to the lucky winners of five free novels this month:
Brenda (welcome back!)

Monday, October 17, 2011

"The little stranger" by Sarah Waters

October's novel to be discussed in Whodunit is "The little stranger" by Sarah Waters. As luck would have it, I read this novel just days before it was announced as October's selection.
It is a particularly fitting selection for October as it has been described as a 'gothic ghost story'.
If anyone is interested they can read my review of "The little stranger" on my Fictionophile blog.

Whodunit Book Club September 27, 2011

With a scant showing of only twelve Whodunit members, September's club meeting was quieter than usual. The book selection this month was "Revenge of the lobster lover" by Hilary MacLeod. With 4 abstained and 8 voted, the novel received an average of 6.31 out of ten points.

It was said that although the novel was short on 'mystery', it was a FUN and light-hearted read with likeable characters. A good summer read. Positive comments proclaimed it to be well written with good descriptive passages. The more negative comments described the book as 'strange' and 'inconsistent'. It was noted that the cover was unusual and didn't tie in to the plot. Another comment was that readers would have liked to have had a map of the fictional place to refer to.

If there was a lesson to be learned from reading this novel it is that nathttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifure kicks butt. The plot had a long build-up to a tumultuous ending. Much like a storm can brew for days and then be over in a few minutes.

The author, Hilary MacLeod has spent the last 20 summers in a little house by the sea in Prince Edward Island, but lives the rest of the year in Ontario. She writes about islanders with fond affection.
For those who enjoyed the book there is a sequel entitled "Mind over mussels".

The lucky winners of free books this month were: Marlene, Betty, Brian and Cathy D.

Next month's selection is "The little stranger" by Sarah Waters.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Whodunit Book Club July 26, 2011

Fourteen members attended the July meeting. Pam’s “semi-magical” question was “Do you prefer to read something familiar, [i.e., set in a familiar place] or to learn something new, be adventurous?” A few preferred stories set in recognizable places, a handful favoured more exotic locales, but most said they were equally happy with familiar or unfamiliar settings. Many mentioned that they were distracted if there were inaccuracies in describing the locale, a possible pitfall for books set in places well-known to the reader, and some mentioned that they really like to have maps included with the book.

This month’s book was "Foul Deeds" by Linda Moore, which is set in Halifax.

Members present were asked to rate the book out of 10. The average score was slightly over 7. (One member had not read the book and, therefore, abstained.)

Foul Deeds, written by Linda Moore, a former artistic director for Neptune Theatre, centres on the murder of an environmental lawyer and activist in modern day Halifax. In the story professional criminologist Rosalind (Roz) works for a Private Investigator while, at the same time, indulging her passion for theatre by preparing a company of out-of-work actors for a bare bones production of Hamlet. A number of members commented on Moore’s skillful use of dialogue and the inter-weaving of passages from Hamlet into the story. The downtown Halifax she writes about rings true not just in its physical descriptions but in the portrayal of the political climate. Although not as gritty a story as many in the book club prefer, the writing and the familiar locale made for a good entertainment.

The winners of four mystery novels were Heather, Gaye, Marlene, and Nancy. Congratulations all!

The next meeting will be held on September 27 when we will discuss "The Revenge of the Lobster Lover" by Hilary MacLeod.

Thanks to Marlene for writing this blog entry while I was at the cottage. While there, I read "Foul deeds" and concur with the rating of 7/10 as well as the sentiment that the novel was an enjoyable read.

Reminder: There will be no meeting of the book club in August.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Whodunit Book Club June 28, 2011

Eighteen members were present for the June meeting.
Pam posed the question: "Does a mystery have to contain a murder in order for it to be a good read?" With the exception of a few who like their stories to be a little gory and love a good murder, most thought that a novel could be considered a good read if the 'mystery' was something as mundane as a theft, a missing person, or the like as long as the characters and plot were interesting.

This month's novel was "Life sentences" by Laura Lippman.

The members present were asked to rate this month's book out of 10. Two members abstained from voting as they had not read the book. The remaining sixteen rated an average of 5/10. Not really a 'mystery' in the usual sense of the genre, this novel was more a study that explores the responsibility writers hold for the content of their work.

"Life Sentences" was inspired by a real-life story of a Baltimore woman whose young son disappeared, whereupon she refused to make any statement and spent seven years in prison for contempt of court. Lippman's protagonist in the novel, Cassandra Fallows, an author, knew a girl in grade school who, as an adult, had that same experience. Cassandra sets out to write a book about herself and her childhood friends and how this girl, Callie Jenkins, eventually went to jail under suspicion of murdering her son. Cassandra returns to her home town of Baltimore and seeks the memories of old friends who no longer feel terribly friendly toward her -- and whose memories often differ dramatically from her own.

The few members who rated this novel highly liked the concept dealing with memory. How the book raised the notion that everyone's 'truth' is different. How different people witnessing the same event can have completely different memories of that event. How, over time, we can reinvent the past to suit ourselves making it all about us.

Those who did not rate the novel highly found that the author did not invest in her characters which left the reader not really caring about them one way or another. The novel seemed comprised of several different story lines without any one being followed through before another started.

The lucky winners of three hardcover novels were: Betty, Kim and Marilyn. Congratulations!

The next meeting will be July 26th when we will discuss "Foul deeds" by Linda Moore.

Reminder: There will not be a meeting of the Whodunit Book Club in August.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Whodunit Book Club May 31, 2011

Sixteen Whodunit members attended our May meeting on one of the first lovely evenings after a spell of rain and fog. There's dedication for you!
Sadly, our fearless leader was absent due to a family bereavement.
Gaye took charge of the meeting in her absence and she did a fine job of chairing our unruly group.
The novel this month was unlike previous picks in that it was a spy novel. "At Risk" by Stella Rimington was recommended by one of our members. We were asked to rate the novel out of 10. The average rating was 6.9 with the following breakdown: 3x8.5 ; 5x8 ; 1x8.1 ;1x7.9 ; 3x6 ; 2x5 ; 1x1
Written by the head of Britain's MI5, Stella Rimington brings insider knowledge to the subject of her novels. Her protagonist, Liz Carlyle goes on to feature in 5 other books in the series the most recent of which is "Rip tide" which comes out this year. She writes of plausible situations in a fashion that was appreciated by many, but was too verbose and detail driven for some. It was generally agreed that the first third of the book was slow, but that the plot gained momentum and was a page-turner toward the end. Most members spoke of their dislike for the MI6 character, Bruno. The author seemed to fully develop the personalities of her women characters -- much more than her male characters. Her portrayal of the terrorists was sympathetic. No small feat when you think about it... The target of the terrorists was kept a secret from the protagonists AND the reader which was appreciated by most of us. We were suprised when the target was revealed. The physical descriptions of setting were well done. So much so that the reader could almost feel the cold and hear the explosion.

Stella Rimington's first book was a memoir, "Open Secret". This work tells of her career in the MI5, which she joined in 1969 and worked with for close to 30 years. In 1992 she was appointed as the first female Director General of MI5. In 1993, Stella Rimington became the first DG of MI5 to pose openly for cameras at the launch of a brochure outlining the organization's activities. She became a Dame Commander of Order of the Bath in 1996. She has been called the First Lady of Espionage and has been chosen to chair the 2011 Man-Booker Prize.

You can see a video clip of an interview with Stella Rimington online.

Members were asked the question: "Do you usually read the acknowledgements, dedication and thank-you in the book you are reading?" Most do citing that they want to learn a little bit about the author and are curious to ascertain from where they got their research and support. Some said that it depended upon whether they liked the book or not.

Lucky book winners this month were: Jody, Cathy, Betty and Tracey. Congratulations girls!

Next month's meeting on June 28th we will discuss the novel: "Life sentences" by Laura Lippman.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Whodunit Book Club April 26, 2011

With only 13 persons in attendance (all female) this was the smallest gathering at Whodunit for some time.
Pam's 'magical' question for this evening:
"If you could come up with your own mystery book award, what would it be for?"
Some great answers included:
Best surprise ending
Most realistic/authentic story
Most interesting protagonist
Most puzzling mystery
Best depicted setting
Best red-herring
Best dust-jacket cover art
Most riveting story (page-turner)
Best first line
Best mystery series
Most well researched novel
Best animal sidekick
Most dastardly villain
Best candidate for a series
Best title (fits plot)

The novel under discussion for this month was: "And on the surface die" by Lou Allin.
Born in Toronto and brought up in Cleveland, Ohio, Lou Allin then returned to Sudbury, Ontario where she held a teaching position at Cambrian College. She taught literature, writing and public speaking for more than twenty-five years. She has a PhD in English Renaissance literature and she wrote her thesis on Christopher Marlow. She retired to British Columbia where her Holly Martin mystery series is set.

Whodunit members did a little vote on the novel and it earned a 5/10. Two members said they would read another novel in the series, two members said maybe and the rest of us said that we wouldn't pursue the series further.
The general consensus was that the novel could have done with more characterization and less flowery description which relied heavily on adjectives. Some felt that so much emphasis was put on trivialities that it almost seemed like deliberate 'padding'. There seemed to be an overuse of quotation marks and it was generally agreed that the novel could have been much shorter.
The setting played a huge role in the novel and it was felt that the author did a good job of describing Vancouver Island.
It was said that some aspects of the novel could have been developed more. The mystery surrounding Holly's mother was intriguing. The policewoman, Ann (of the bad back) and Chipper, Holly's sidekick - were both quite likeable characters who could have been fleshed out more.
Holly Martin seemed a cold character who routinely disparaged others.
There were many unanswered questions about the novel. Why did the murderer choose the victim? Why murder her rather than just molest her?
We wondered what the title had to do with the plot as it seemed completely unrelated to the story.
For those who DO want to read a second novel in the series, the title is: "She felt no pain". Perhaps the series will improve...

Although this was not a favourite novel for Whodunit Book Club - it was a most enjoyable meeting.
There was talk of the mating habits of slugs... MUCH HILARITY ensued. O.K. so we do digress just a little....

This month's lucky book winners were:

Next month's novel (as recommended by Betty) is:
"At Risk" by Stella Rimington

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Whodunit Book Club March 29, 2011

A cozy gathering of 15 souls turned up for this month's Whodunit meeting. Some regular attendees were absent - and some we haven't seen for a while were warmly welcomed.
Pam's 'magical' question(s) for this meeting:
1. Rate this month's book from 1-10.
2. Do you prefer graphic/grisly mysteries or cozy/traditional mysteries?
I'm afraid the rating of this month's title was very low. According to my calculations, the average score was 2 out of 10.
On the whole, members enjoy both grisly and cozy mysteries depending upon their mood and of course the quality of the writing.

The title this month, "Red snow" by Michael Slade was for the most part a disappointment. The plot was referred to as 'flat' and poorly written with little in the way of character development. Members spoke of the gratuitous and very graphic gory scenes. (He calls his fans "Sladists"). Some believed that the author had a good premise for the novel, but did not follow through upon that premise. The characters were like cardboard cutouts, and some of the dialog was almost spoof-like.

The author, Michael Slade is actually a pseudonym for Vancouver based criminal lawyer, Jay Clarke. He specializes in the 'law of insanity' and he argued the last death penalty case in Canada.

Mr. Clarke works with writing partners. He has written with his wife, his law partners and now his daughter. He terms 'his' 14 novels to be 'isolation thrillers'.
His website, specialX.net is unique and worth a visit.

The lucky winners of free books this month were:
1. Carolyn
2. Gaye
3. Jodie
4. Myrtle

Next month's selection is "And on the surface die" by Lou Allin. It is the first in a series set on Vancouver Island.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Karin Alvtegen... Sweden has done it again!

The single most positive aspect of "Shadow" is the beautifully written prose. The words seem to speak directly to the reader in a heart-touching and sometimes heart-wrenching way.

I'll admit this is one of those novels where the cover art drew me in. Who can resist an adorable little boy?
Then I read the blurb at the back which told me that this little boy was abandoned and was somehow connected to the death thirty five years later of a 92 year old woman who had books in her freezer upon her death... That was enough to capture the attention of any bibliophile. Too old to be the boy's mother, how could this woman be connected to him?

The novel was a mystery, but not written in the traditional way. In fact the reader does not really know what the crime(s) were until close to the end of the book. When the circumstances are revealed it left me both disturbed and profoundly moved.

Set in Stockholm, the novel followed the life and family of Axel Ragnerfeldt, a famous and Nobel Prize winning novelist. (the author of the books in the freezer). The novel poses the question: How much is glory and fame really worth, when counted in the suffering of the people closest to you? His family were portrayed with such depth and empathy that the reader felt their hopelessness. The claustrophobic family ties, mysterious disappearances and dark secrets surrounding a man shrouded in myth were portrayed with an honesty and brutality that spoke of deep understanding. The theme of how the sins of the fathers are visited upon their children is not a new one, but Alvtegen's prose brought the theme home to me like no other book ever has. "No matter whether your action is evil or good, it spreads like rings on the water. Over vast expanses it will travel, finding ever new paths. That is why your influence is infinite, and also your guilt."

"Shadow" is the first novel I've read by Karin Alvtegen and I will read as many more as I can get hold of. That being said, this novel was not exactly uplifting. In fact I would go as far as to say that anyone suffering from seasonal affective disorder should not read this book in the winter. The overall tone was bleak and melancholy. To quote the novel's description on the author's website, "her darkest and most complex thriller to date, in which the disturbing truth of a sick family is gradually and mercilessly laid bare. " Highly recommended.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Whodunit Book Club February 22, 2011

Nineteen members braved the chilly temperatures to attend this month's meeting.
Pam's 'magical question' this evening:
"Do you prefer reading 'page turners' or books that savour language more and venture into description and characterization?"
The majority of members seemed to read both types with a marked preference toward the more literary type of novel, with a few preferring the page turner type of book. The discussion then digressed to a the query "What IS a page turner?" We deemed a page-turner could fall within two different catagories. The first category of page-turner is an action packed novel with short chapters and little characterization. The second category could be any book that you are so interested/immersed in that the pages seem to turn of their own volition. The dictionary definition of page turner: any book, esp. a novel, which is so interesting, exciting, suspenseful, etc. that it draws the reader along, though it may be of little or no literary worth.

The novel under discussion this month was "True Blue" by David Baldacci. A book that could be considered a page-turner, but one which fell into the first category. About 75% of the members in attendance did not enjoy the novel and a few of those did not read it to the end. The comment was made that to enjoy this type of novel fully one would have to "check their brains at the door" and have the ability to suspend belief. About a quarter of the members enjoyed it a lot and would read more books by this author.

David Baldacci is a best-selling novelist in the true sense of the term. He has over 100 million books in print and his books have been printed in over 45 languages!
He began writing in high school and claims that writing is his 'private passion'. A lawyer in real life, David Baldacci has worked as both a corporate and a trial attorney. He is a philanthropist who established the "Wish you Well Foundation" which promotes literacy.

"True blue" was a novel which told the story of 'black-ops' pertaining to national security. While suspenseful and action-packed its characters were one-dimensional and the plot was at times unbelievable. The protagonist Mace, was a larger-than-life character who recently released from prison, took more chances than any sane person should. Her sister, Washington D.C.'s police chief seemed to bend the rules to aid her wayward sister at every turn.

Break-neck paced, the novel was saturated with strong women. Two somewhat likeable (Mace and her sister Beth) and two that were villainous (the Russian assassin and the attorney who framed Mace). It portrayed the U.S. capital as having a dark and dank underbelly where no one would want to visit.

Congratulations to the lucky winners of the free book draw this month:

Whodunit's next meeting will be held on March 29th when we will discuss "Red snow" by Michael Slade.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Tote bags for mystery lovers

Just visited the CafePress website and found some great tote bags for those who enjoy mystery novels.
Some examples that you will appreciate...

Thursday, February 3, 2011

"Devil at the crossroads"

Just finished the third novel in a British police procedural series by Olive Etchells that is definitely worth a mention.
The protagonist, DCI Channon reminds me a little of P.D. James' Adam Dalgliesh.
The setting is a beautiful and idyllic seaside Cornish village.
When the body of the son of one of the community's richest residents is found propped against an ancient standing stone at the crossroads of the village, DCI Channon must deal with the ramifications of the incident for the village and its residents...
Books in the series are:

#1 No corners for the devil
#2 Footprints of the devil
#3 Devil at the crossroads
The cover art is what first drew me to the series, but I have been avidly following this author ever since. I found that the characters are well rounded and sympathetic. Anyone wanting to read a character-driven British police procedural will not be disappointed.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

WHO reads mysteries?

If you are reading this blog then you are quite likely a reader of mystery novels. However.... did you ever wonder just exactly WHO reads mysteries? I found a fascinating report compiled by Sisters in Crime that sheds some light on just WHO reads mysteries. On page 4 of this report you will find that they polled 1,056 people and include statistics such as: 64% were female; 47% were over 60 years of age, etc. etc. So if you are curious, give it a read.
The results made me ponder. If 47% are over 60 and only 14% are under 30 years of age… doesn’t that correlate to what those who were polled read as children?
Today my two genres of choice are mystery and historical novels. I grew up with Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys with some classics thrown in for good measure.
Does the fact that today’s youth are reading fantasy (Harry Potter) and vampire novels predispose them toward fantasy reading in their later years?
In this digital age some suggest that a very small percentage of youth read for pleasure at all. That thought makes me very sad… I have also read that students fail to read complete novels at school if they have access to short extracts. (Cliff Notes, Coles Notes).
Don’t misunderstand me, I think it is great that today’s youth are reading, but I am fairly convinced that they should be exposed to a wider selection of genres. What they read now may indeed influence their future choices.
I would love to hear your comments on this topic.

Mystery authors on Facebook

Many of you now belong to the social network Facebook. Did you know that many of your favorite mystery series authors are on Facebook as well?
For a comprehensive listing of authors on Facebook visit the blog of Carol Thomas.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Whodunit Book Club January 25, 2011

Another new year has begun. How nice to share it with Whodunit! This month marks the 13th anniversary of Whodunit so that is something to celebrate!
Seventeen members turned up for our first meeting of 2011.
Pam's magical question this evening was in three parts: "What brings you back to Whodunit? What do you enjoy most about it? What would you like to see in future meetings?"
The prevalent response was that members came for the social aspect of it. They enjoy spending time with like-minded people who understand book 'addiction' and are enthusiastic about reading. They find coming to club encourages more variety in their reading choices and they like sharing opinions with other members. Some mentioned that they would enjoy having more authors visit Whodunit meetings.
The book discussed this evening was "The case against Owen Williams" by New Brunswick author Allan Donaldson.
Born in Taber, Alberta, Donaldson grew up in Woodstock, New Brunswick and now resides in Fredericton. Not much information is available about Donaldson other than that his first novel, "Maclean", was shortlisted for the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize.
The publisher's description of "The case agaqinst Owen Williams": "Donaldson’s new novel is a literary mystery set in the fictional town of Wakefield, New Brunswick, against the backdrop of the Second World War. Following a night at The Silver Dollar dance hall, a teenage girl turns up dead in a gravel pit. The last person reported to have seen her is Owen Williams, an introverted soldier stationed with the local garrison of “Zombies”-conscripted men unwilling to serve overseas. When Lieutenant Bernard Dorkin, a young lawyer from Saint John, volunteers to defend Williams, whom he believes is innocent, he finds himself up against a theatrical local favourite leading the prosecution and a public mostly hell-bent on a foregone conclusion. The Case Against Owen Williams explores the potential for wrongful conviction and the gaps in the justice system that allow it to flourish."
Whodunit members found this novel very realistic. So much so that it didn't 'feel like' fiction. It lacked the psychological background explanations that we tend to prefer in novels. Members found it curious that Owen Williams' parents seemed to have no heart-felt reaction to his predicament.
The protagonist was Bernard Dorkin, the lawyer. The case made him examine his duties and responsibilities to his client and he firmly believed his client was innocent of the crime. The club questioned "Would Dorkin have defended Owen Williams as well if he had NOT believed in his innocence?" It was unfortunate that Williams stuck to his false story which totally discredited his testimony. Whodunit members thought Owen Williams to be naive, pitiful and even pathetic. Not a particularly likable fellow, he didn't even say thank-you to his lawyer for all his hard work in defending him. Also he called the victim names after his exoneration. We wondered how the case would have proceeded if it were tried today. Blood tests and DNA evidence might have cleared it up quickly as all the evidence presented in the novel was completely circumstantial.
Whodunit members enjoyed the descriptions and 'feel' of the New Brunswick setting. It was also commented upon that Donaldson had a good grasp on the use of similes and metaphors.
Per chance, one Whodunit member happened to see a television program called "Ghost cases". The episode was about a local ghost story in St. Andrew's, New Brunswick and featured a haunting in the old jail built in 1832. The last person to be hanged in St. Andrew's was Tom Hutchings, an RAF sergeant convicted of murdering a 19 yearl-old local girl, Bernice Connors following a dance in the local community centre while he was stationed in the area. According to witnesses, Hutchings has never left the jail and continues to haunt his old cell.
Links to newspaper reports of the case can be found here. Also "The case of the haunted cell" website provides information on this topic.
Whodunit members then speculated that Allan Donaldson may have used this case as the basis upon which he wrote his novel. Surely there are too many similarities for there to be no connection. It was also surmised that if Tom Hutchings had indeed been innocent he had all the more reason to haunt the jail.

The lucky book winners this evening were: Nancy, Heather, Lynne and Jean.

Gifts for bibliophiles

Looking for gifts for your bibliophile friends? or maybe yourself? While perusing one of my favourite author's websites (Susan Hill), I came across some great items.

Also there are bibliophile gifts available here.

More great gifts can be found at CafePress.ca

Whodunit Book Club Nov. 30, 2010

Sorry, this one is late being posted. I wrote it after the meeting and forgot to upload it to the blog. My apologies.
November's meeting was particularly enjoyable. It was our last meeting of 2010 and there were 23 members in attendance.
The magical question this month: "Have you ever made a New Year's resolution that was book related?" As usual the answers were both interesting and varied. Some responses were: To read one book per week for the next year ; To count and keep track of the books read over the year ; to read books by authors with names that begin with A thru Z so as to broaden reading horizons ; to stop buying so many books and use the library more ; to weed personal book collections and give excess to charity ; to finish one series before starting another ; to try a new genre than one which you presently read ; to read more poetry ; to increase number of books read per year.
This month's book was "The forgotten garden" by Kate Morton. This is a book that I personally enjoyed so much, I wrote a separate blog entry about it on my Fictionophile blog.
We learned a little about the author, Kate Morton. She holds a degree in English Literature and Kate is currently enrolled in a PhD program researching contemporary novels that marry elements of gothic and mystery fiction. She is a bestseller in the United Kingdom as well as her native Australia and has sold more than 3 million books! She used her grandmother's experience as the basis for this novel.
What Whodunit thought of "The forgotten garden":
Some members loved it (myself included). These found the different perspectives of the narrative to be like a 'kaleidoscope'. The language and style was admired as was the seeming ease and smooth transition with which the author handled the time shifting. This group found the novel sentimental and magical and approved of how the author incorporated fairy tales as clues to the plot line.
Other members didn't enjoy the novel and found it 'sappy', slow and tedious.
Most members would read another book by Kate Morton, though some had read her first novel "The house at Riverton" and deemed it a disappointment.
Her latest novel "The distant hours" is on shelves now.
The lucky winners of this month's bookaways were: Margaret, Trish, Heather, Terena, Regis and Laird.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

2011 Edgar Award Nominees

Here are the best novel nominees for the 2011 Edgar Allan Poe Awards, honoring the best in mystery fiction produced in 2010. The Edgar Awards will be presented to the winners at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, New York City on April 28th, 2011.

Caught by Harlan Coben (Penguin Group USA - Dutton)
Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin (HarperCollins – William Morrow)
Faithful Place by Tana French (Penguin Group USA - Viking)
The Queen of Patpong by Timothy Hallinan (HarperCollins – William Morrow)
The Lock Artist by Steve Hamilton (Minotaur/Thomas Dunne Books)
I’d Know You Anywhere by Laura Lippman (HarperCollins – William Morrow)

Mystery's Grand Master for 2011: Sara Paretsky