Tag: Harriet Engle

Mystery Series Reviews | Death at La Fenice

Death at La Fenice coverDEATH AT LA FENICE
Donna Leon, Guido Brunetti #1

We travel to Italy for this next murder mystery, Death at La Fenice, and look into the world of opera and talented well-known musicians and the death of an internationally well-known conductor. Donna Leon describes Venice, the canals and waterways, and the life of the police detective, or commissario. Guido Brunetti, a man in his mid-forties, married and with a son and daughter, conducts the investigation into the death of Maestro Helmut Wellauer.

The overwhelming odor of almond points to the cause of death: poison by cyanide. The question of who would murder the maestro loomed over Brunetti, and the police commissario travels throughout Venice and beyond to interview those currently and previously associated with Wellauer, his main thrust of questioning being to find out about the man’s personal life.

Ms. Leon introduces the reader to all walks of life, including the talented and wealthy musicians of the opera to the formerly talented and formerly wealthy former musicians of the opera, all of whom could be prime suspects. She also weaves in a good glimpse of Brunetti’s personal life, introducing us to his wife, his two children, and his wealthy in-laws. She adeptly keeps the true identity of the person who took the life of the maestro a mystery – and why.

Next up: The Cat Who Ate Danish Modern by Lillian Jackson Braun

Harriet Engle, a Staff Assistant at the Manheim Community Library, is an avid reader of several authors who write murder mystery series. Look for her weekly reviews highlighting each of these series.

Note: If you decide to start one of the series being reviewed and wish to read the next in the series, go to www.fantasticfiction.com, type in the author, and scroll down to see which book was written next under that series. The Manheim Community Library may not have the book you want, but staff will be happy to order it for you from another library.

You can also find and request the next book in the series right from the LSLC catalog. Search the book you have just read from the search bar at the top right of manheimlibrary.org. Click on the title to open up the book information and then scroll down to the section marked “Series”. At a glance, you can see the series and where the book you searched is in the series. For series of more than 14 titles, click on the button below that says “See Full Series”. To request another title from this section, just click on the cover and it will take you to the screen to request a copy from the Library System of Lancaster County to be delivered to Manheim Community Library (or another library in the LSLC.)

Mystery Series Reviews | A is for Alibi

A is for Alibi by Sue Grafton coverA IS FOR ALIBI
Sue Grafton, Kinsey Millhone #1

Sue Grafton wrote a series of murder mysteries based in Southern California – Santa Teresa and areas surrounding Los Angeles (at least in this first novel). The titles of her novels begin with a letter of the alphabet – A Is for Alibi, B Is for Burglar, and so on. The main character, Kinsey Millhone, is a private investigator who doggedly tracks down the killers, putting information together like pieces in a puzzle.

Nikki Fife has just been released, on parole, from prison after serving eight years for murdering her husband, Laurence Fife. She says she did not do it and has hired Kinsey Millhone to find the real murderer. Laurence Fife was a philandering husband involved in numerous affairs. He pushed his first wife, Gwen, out of their marriage, taking with him all the money and assets, along with their two children. He then married Nikki.

Another death took place shortly after the death of Laurence Fife. Libby Glass died in the same manner, something Kinsey finds very intriguing, and the question arises: are they connected? Once she begins her investigation, two more people die.

Ms. Grafton skillfully weaves quite an interesting and dangerous web.

Next up:Death at La Fenice, by Donna Leon

Harriet Engle, a Staff Assistant at the Manheim Community Library, is an avid reader of several authors who write murder mystery series. Look for her weekly reviews highlighting each of these series.

Note: If you decide to start one of the series being reviewed and wish to read the next in the series, go to www.fantasticfiction.com, type in the author, and scroll down to see which book was written next under that series. The Manheim Community Library may not have the book you want, but staff will be happy to order it for you from another library.

You can also find and request the next book in the series right from the LSLC catalog. Search the book you have just read from the search bar at the top right of manheimlibrary.org. Click on the title to open up the book information and then scroll down to the section marked “Series”. At a glance, you can see the series and where the book you searched is in the series. For series of more than 14 titles, click on the button below that says “See Full Series”. To request another title from this section, just click on the cover and it will take you to the screen to request a copy from the Library System of Lancaster County to be delivered to Manheim Community Library (or another library in the LSLC.)

Mystery Series Reviews | The Cater Street Hangman

THE CATER STREET HANGMAN
Anne Perry, Charlotte and Thomas Pitt #1

The Cater Street Hangman coverAnne Perry wrote another murder mystery series featuring Charlotte and Thomas Pitt. In the first book of the series, The Cater Street Hangman, the two were not an item. Charlotte Ellison lived with her wealthy family in an elite part of London. She was forbidden to read the newspaper, however, her father often left it lying out, and she would sneak a read as much as possible. After all, her father reasoned, the contents of the newspaper were not suitable for young ladies to read.

Sarah Ellison had married Dominic a year before, and even though she had come to terms with her infatuation with Dominic and her sister’s marriage, Charlotte retained a slight “crush” on him. Both Dominic and Sarah become dominant characters as this mystery unfolds. Grandmama also maintains a high level of importance, and Charlotte values Grandmama’s knowledge of all the exciting things and people of the past:  Waterloo and Napoleon; the Crimea; scandals of the royals; and Florence Nightingale. This series is set in the 1880s, and Thomas Pitt comes into the scene when a second local woman is found in a neighboring street, hideously and brutally murdered.

Ms. Perry again tastefully describes the class differences in this series – the elite and wealthy, the household servants, as well as the public servants such as the police – and she does it so as not to leave any questions in your mind as to who is important and who is not.

Up Next:  A is for Alibi, by Sue Grafton

Harriet Engle, a Staff Assistant at the Manheim Community Library, is an avid reader of several authors who write murder mystery series. Look for her weekly reviews highlighting each of these series.

Note: If you decide to start one of the series being reviewed and wish to read the next in the series, go to www.fantasticfiction.com, type in the author, and scroll down to see which book was written next under that series. The Manheim Community Library may not have the book you want, but staff will be happy to order it for you from another library.

You can also find and request the next book in the series right from the LSLC catalog. Search the book you have just read from the search bar at the top right of manheimlibrary.org. Click on the title to open up the book information and then scroll down to the section marked “Series”. At a glance, you can see the series and where the book you searched is in the series. For series of more than 14 titles, click on the button below that says “See Full Series”. To request another title from this section, just click on the cover and it will take you to the screen to request a copy from the Library System of Lancaster County to be delivered to Manheim Community Library (or another library in the LSLC.)

Kids Book Review: The Nerviest Girl in the World by Melissa Wiley

Reviewed by Harriet Engle

This is a story about Pearl, a nine-year-old girl with three older brothers. With three older brothers, she had to be nervy. Pearl and her family live on a ranch in southern California where they raise cattle, sheep, and ostriches. Pearl takes care of the ostriches as her daily chore – feeding them, collecting their eggs, and cleaning out their pen.

This book was written about a time before automobiles became the common way to travel, early 1900s. It also was a time before smart phones, “You Tube,” instant entertainment, and, of course, two-car garages. In fact, if anyone wanted to get anywhere, they rode a horse. It is about silent movies, the entertainment of the time. The silent-movie producer comes to town to make movies, and he needs fast-riding cowboys. He hires Pearl’s brothers. An unexpected fast and nervy ride of her own puts Pearl in the sights of the camera and the producer, and before she knows it, she is in the movies.

Ms. Wiley lived in this part of the country for more than ten years, and to write this piece of historical fiction, she thoroughly researched the silent movie industry. She catches the attention of the reader with some tricky stunts that only a nervy little farm girl with three older brothers can do.

 

From the publisher:

  • Reading age : 8 – 12 years
  • Lexile measure : 900L
  • Grade level : 3 – 7

Mystery Series Reviews | Everywhere That Mary Went

EVERYWHERE THAT MARY WENT
Lisa Scottoline, Rosato and Associates #1

Everywhere that Mary Went cover

The Rosato and Associates series by Lisa Scottoline takes us to Philadelphia and is a bit different in that the main character, Mary DiNunzio, is a lawyer. It focuses mostly on justice rather than the detective work we have been reading about in the other series. Ms. Scottoline provides us with plenty of drama, suspense, life-threatening happenings, and untimely and unnecessary death. She writes a running narration of a young lawyer in the big city who must face her fears and stare down the enemy.

Mary DiNunzio works for a large law firm in Philadelphia and eagerly awaits the election of new partners for the firm, of which she has been told she is one of three likely candidates. However, between now and then, she presents just her second oral argument, and that she must do in front of a crude and rude judge. On top of that, someone is making anonymous and silent phone calls, and Mary also believes she is being stalked. Both the professional and personal chaos builds into a crescendo that culminates in the death of her secretary and friend. In the thought processes of a professional young woman on her own, everyone becomes suspect.

 

Next up:  The Cater Street Hangman by Anne Perry

Harriet Engle, a Staff Assistant at the Manheim Community Library, is an avid reader of several authors who write murder mystery series. Look for her weekly reviews highlighting each of these series.

Note: If you decide to start one of the series being reviewed and wish to read the next in the series, go to www.fantasticfiction.com, type in the author, and scroll down to see which book was written next under that series. The Manheim Community Library may not have the book you want, but staff will be happy to order it for you from another library.

You can also find and request the next book in the series right from the LSLC catalog. Search the book you have just read from the search bar at the top right of manheimlibrary.org. Click on the title to open up the book information and then scroll down to the section marked “Series”. At a glance, you can see the series and where the book you searched is in the series. For series of more than 14 titles, click on the button below that says “See Full Series”. To request another title from this section, just click on the cover and it will take you to the screen to request a copy from the Library System of Lancaster County to be delivered to Manheim Community Library (or another library in the LSLC.)

Mystery Series Reviews | The Cold Dish

THE COLD DISH
Craig Johnson, Longmire #1

The Cold Dish coverWe are not traveling too far with this week’s review, but we are returning to Wyoming. This trip takes us again to the Big Horn Mountains, the Powder River, a different county (Absaroka), and a different town (Durant). The characters, too, are different:  Walt Longmire is the sheriff, Vic Moretti is his deputy, and Henry Standing Bear is Walt’s best friend.

Sheriff Longmire is a widower with a daughter, Cady, who is a lawyer in Philadelphia. He has been the sheriff of Absaroka County for much of his adult life and is considering retirement. There isn’t much crime in this part of Wyoming, but what Longmire has experienced haunts him, especially a case involving a young Native American girl, Melissa Little Bird, who was allegedly gang-raped by several high school jocks. Melissa was born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Longmire highly respects the Native American people, their customs and lore, and cares deeply for those under his jurisdiction. He also cares deeply for his staff and the colorful residents of Absaroka County.

As Walt is doing his weekly study of the file on Melissa, he is notified that there is a dead body in a ditch. Since those who find this dead body have a notorious reputation for being mostly drunk, Walt discounts the report and sends his deputy, Vic Moretti. Unfortunately, there is a dead body, one of the boys involved in the Melissa Little Bird case. Walt now wonders if this was an accidental shooting or intentional. If intentional, then the lives of the other boys may be in danger as well.

Next up:  Everywhere That Mary Went by Lisa Scottoline

Harriet Engle, a Staff Assistant at the Manheim Community Library, is an avid reader of several authors who write murder mystery series. Look for her weekly reviews highlighting each of these series.

Note: If you decide to start one of the series being reviewed and wish to read the next in the series, go to www.fantasticfiction.com, type in the author, and scroll down to see which book was written next under that series. The Manheim Community Library may not have the book you want, but staff will be happy to order it for you from another library.

You can also find and request the next book in the series right from the LSLC catalog. Search the book you have just read from the search bar at the top right of manheimlibrary.org. Click on the title to open up the book information and then scroll down to the section marked “Series”. At a glance, you can see the series and where the book you searched is in the series. For series of more than 14 titles, click on the button below that says “See Full Series”. To request another title from this section, just click on the cover and it will take you to the screen to request a copy from the Library System of Lancaster County to be delivered to Manheim Community Library (or another library in the LSLC.)

Mystery Series Reviews | Iron Lake

IRON LAKE
William Kent Krueger, Cork O’Connor #1

Iron Lake coverFrom the high country of the Guadalupe Mountains, this week’s book review takes us to Aurora, Minnesota, in St. Louis County, just this side of the border with Canada. Like the mountain ranges of Texas, this county is rough and wild. Krueger does an excellent job, in my opinion, of describing the isolated lakes and desolate woodlands of this northernmost part of our country. He does this while his main character, Corcoran (“Cork”) O’Connor solves a few very gruesome murders.

Cork was the sheriff of Aurora, Minnesota, keyword being “was.” After an unfortunate event involving the death of a close friend, Cork was relieved of his duties. He also was living with his wife and three children, but putting it mildly, his marriage with Jo was on the rocks. And then the very dead body of Judge Parrant was discovered by the newsboy, Paul LeBeau, on one of his two routine paper routes. This discovery set in motion a complex hunt for both Paul, who disappeared, and the person who cold-bloodedly murdered the judge. Being an investigator at heart and part Native American Ojibwe by blood, Cork is naturally drawn in, along with his participation requested by those who trust him, to find the young boy and the ruthless killer.

Krueger has a style of writing that keeps you reading. His knowledge of the Native American people and their ancient customs, along with the lay of the land, makes for some very good reading.

Next up: The Cold Dish by Craig Johnson

Harriet Engle, a Staff Assistant at the Manheim Community Library, is an avid reader of several authors who write murder mystery series. Look for her weekly reviews highlighting each of these series.

Note: If you decide to start one of the series being reviewed and wish to read the next in the series, go to www.fantasticfiction.com, type in the author, and scroll down to see which book was written next under that series. The Manheim Community Library may not have the book you want, but staff will be happy to order it for you from another library.

You can also find and request the next book in the series right from the LSLC catalog. Search the book you have just read from the search bar at the top right of manheimlibrary.org. Click on the title to open up the book information and then scroll down to the section marked “Series”. At a glance, you can see the series and where the book you searched is in the series. For series of more than 14 titles, click on the button below that says “See Full Series”. To request another title from this section, just click on the cover and it will take you to the screen to request a copy from the Library System of Lancaster County to be delivered to Manheim Community Library (or another library in the LSLC.)

Mystery Series Reviews | Track of the Cat

TRACK OF THE CAT
Nevada Barr, Anna Pigeon #1

Anna Pigeon had a nature-lover’s dream life: a Law Enforcement ranger in the Guadalupe Mountains of West Texas. Her assignments involve wandering the high country for days searching for evidence of specific wild animals – high country that includes deep canyons, ponderosa pines, limestone walls, the great expanse of Texas sky, and dead bodies, dead human bodies.

So begins this series featuring Anna Pigeon. You will learn that Anna has experienced tragedy and loss in her young life. Her “escape” into the wilderness of National Parks gives readers a glimpse of each park as she travels from one assignment to another, experiencing the vast ruggedness of North America, from coast to coast. Ms. Barr masterfully describes each park and skillfully takes Anna, and you the reader, through some rather spine chilling tragedies involving some rather strange and ruthless people.

Back to the dead body Anna discovers in a deep limestone canyon. It is the body of a fellow ranger, one whom Anna knows only in passing; however, Anna does know that Sherry Drury was known to rock some boats and irritate a lot of people. After her discovery, Anna must scramble back to where she gets a radio signal and can alert District Ranger Paul Decker of her find. Thus begins the unraveling of the mystery of this woman’s death, an unraveling in which Anna finds herself deeply involved, and a mystery which brings Anna close to becoming a dead body herself.

Up next:  Iron Lake, by William Kent Krueger

Harriet Engle, a Staff Assistant at the Manheim Community Library, is an avid reader of several authors who write murder mystery series. Look for her weekly reviews highlighting each of these series.

Note: If you decide to start one of the series being reviewed and wish to read the next in the series, go to www.fantasticfiction.com, type in the author, and scroll down to see which book was written next under that series. The Manheim Community Library may not have the book you want, but staff will be happy to order it for you from another library.

You can also find and request the next book in the series right from the LSLC catalog. Search the book you have just read from the search bar at the top right of manheimlibrary.org. Click on the title to open up the book information and then scroll down to the section marked “Series”. At a glance, you can see the series and where the book you searched is in the series. For series of more than 14 titles, click on the button below that says “See Full Series”. To request another title from this section, just click on the cover and it will take you to the screen to request a copy from the Library System of Lancaster County to be delivered to Manheim Community Library (or another library in the LSLC.)

 (If you do not see the full description that includes the “Series” section, you can also click on the book cover. This will bring you to a screen with a blue header and the book cover. Click on the link for Series and it will bring you to a list of all the books in that series. You will need to go back to the catalog to search and request it this way, though.)

Mystery Series Reviews | The Mysterious Affair at Styles Court

THE MYSTERIOUS AFFAIR AT STYLES
Agatha Christie, Hercule Poirot #1

The Mysterious Affair at Styles book cover

Back in England, Agatha Christie introduces Hercule Poirot, the indomitable detective from Belgium, along with detective-in-training, Arthur Hastings in The Mysterious Affair at Styles. It is unclear exactly the time period in which Ms. Christie begins her tales involving Poirot, but it seems to be the in the time of the Great War, for some talk of war filters through, and Hastings is on leave from his military duties.

Hastings narrates the story. He is invited to spend leave at his friend’s estate, Styles Court, near Essex, England, which he does so excitedly. He has not seen his friend, John Cavendish, for many years, and both Hastings and Cavendish have much to tell of their lives. It turns out that John’s widowed mother, Emily, recently married a much younger man, Alfred Inglethorp, who is both disliked and distrusted by the others in the family, all of whom reside at Styles Court.

Emily Inglethorp suddenly dies an unexpected and rather unpleasant, and perhaps suspicious, death. Hastings is aware of the little community of Belgians nearby, in which Hercule Poirot resides. He asks for and receives permission to have Poirot take a look at the situation (the family hopes to keep both the police and press uninvolved). Poirot and his “little grey cells” work diligently to determine who did what and when with the resulting back and forth (he did it; no, he did it; well, maybe she did it) until Poirot gathers everyone together and reveals his findings and, yes, surprising conclusions. An interesting thread throughout is how Hastings fumbles with his own sleuthing skills, or lack thereof, and how he vacillates between doubt of Poirot’s skills and admiration for Poirot’s uncanny abilities of deduction.

Up next: Postmortem by Patricia Cornwell

Note: If you decide to start one of the series being reviewed and wish to read the next in the series, go to www.fantasticfiction.com, type in the author, and scroll down to see which book was written next under that series. The Manheim Community Library may not have the book you want, but staff will be happy to order it for you from another library.

You can also find and request the next book in the series right from the LSLC catalog. Search the book you have just read from the search bar at the top right of manheimlibrary.org. Click on the title to open up the book information and then scroll down to the section marked “Series”. At a glance, you can see the series and where the book you searched is in the series. For series of more than 14 titles, click on the button below that says “See Full Series”. To request another title from this section, just click on the cover and it will take you to the screen to request a copy from the Library System of Lancaster County to be delivered to Manheim Community Library (or another library in the LSLC.)

 (If you do not see the full description that includes the “Series” section, you can also click on the book cover. This will bring you to a screen with a blue header and the book cover. Click on the link for Series and it will bring you to a list of all the books in that series. You will need to go back to the catalog to search and request it this way, though.)

Harriet Engle, a Staff Assistant at the Manheim Community Library, is an avid reader of several authors who write murder mystery series. Look for her weekly reviews highlighting each of these series.

Mystery Series Reviews | Open Season

OPEN SEASON
C. J. Box, #1

Open Season - C J Box coverWe come back to the United States with this review of Open Season, the first in C. J. Box’s series featuring Joe Pickett, the newly hired Wyoming State Game Warden. Joe Pickett replaces the outgoing Game Warden, Vern Dunnegan, and must work with the incompetent County Sheriff, O. R. “Bud” Barnum. Joe’s wife, Marybeth, is pregnant with their third child. Their two daughters, Sheridan and Lucy, are seven and three years old, respectively. Also part of the family is eight-year-old Maxine, Joe’s yellow Labrador.

The setting is the State of Wyoming, Twelve Sleep County, the town of Saddlestring, the surrounding Bighorns, and the Twelve Sleep River flowing through town. The Picketts live about eight miles outside of town. It is Wild West action situated late in the 20th century, and the entire Pickett family shares in the grandeur of the mountains and forests of Wyoming and the life and troubles of a state game warden.

The first book in this series begins with the sound of a bullet hitting flesh. The gun is fired by a poacher, Ote Keeley, whose rationale is, “There’s more animals in Wyoming than people.” Joe begins to write him up for poaching, Ote goes off the deep end, and Joe finds himself staring down the barrel of his own service revolver. It is action, murder, threats, tragedy, protection of an endangered species, and some wrongs made right. It is the beginning of Joe’s life as a Wyoming State Game Warden.

Up next: The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie

Harriet Engle, a Staff Assistant at the Manheim Community Library, is an avid reader of several authors who write murder mystery series. Look for her weekly reviews highlighting each of these series.